Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stone Temple Pilots and Deftones Among Lineup for Epicenter Festival 2012

The 4th Annual Epicenter Festival is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 22 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, California. The festival will feature an impressive lineup of musical talent, including Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Deftones, Hollywood Undead, Escape the Fate, Dead Sara, Crash Kings, Scars on Broadway, Chevelle, Beware of Darkness and more.

The event is presented by Right Arm Entertainment (creators of Ohio's Rock on the Range Festival) and will feature performers on multiple stages. The festival will kick off at 11:30 a.m.

The inaugural Epicenter Festival was held on August 22, 2009 at Fairplex in Pomona, California and featured prominent bands such as Tool, Linkin Park and Alice in Chains.

To learn more about this year's festival, visit their website.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Jane's Addiction Headlining the Doheny Days Music Festival

A diverse array of musical talent will be joining groundbreaking alternative rock band Jane's Addiction for the Doheny Days Music Festival this weekend (September 8-9). The event will take place at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, California. In addition to Jane's Addiction, some of the other bands scheduled to perform at the festival include Jimmy Eat World, The Flaming Lips, Santigold, Steel Pulse, Beats Antique, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, the White Buffalo, and Midnight Hour among others.

The Doheny Days Music Festival began in 1997 and was held annually through 2004. After that, the  festival went on a six-year hiatus and started up again in 2011. The event embraces the eco-conscious beach/surf culture of Southern California and is produced by Omega events, which has successfully operated 26 festivals at Doheny State Beach, including the world-famous Doheny Blues Festival.

To learn more about the Doheny Days Music Festival, visit their website.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Nappy" by The Brides of Funkenstein

"Nappy" is another stellar track from the Brides of Funkenstein's excellent debut album Funk or Walk (1978). It's amazing how many great tracks are on this album. "Nappy" has a nostalgic 1920s flow to it, sort of like P-Funk meets The Great Gatsby. And the groove is quite infectious, with a terrific horn arrangement by Bernie Worrell and Fred Wesley. Worrell also contributes some great piano parts to the track.

 Brides Dawn Silva and Lynn Mabry deliver another quality vocal performance on this track. Their vocal work here further displays their versatility as singers, showing they could skillfully handle a variety of styles. And their voices complement one another nicely.

"Nappy" was written by George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider and Jim Vitti.

Related blog entry: Disco To Go by The Brides of Funkenstein: Jumbo-Sized Funk

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station Set To Release New Album Raise Up

A new album release by music legend and slap-bass innovator Larry Graham has the funk community abuzz. Larry Graham & Graham Central Station's new album, Raise Up, is set to drop on September 25, 2012. It will be the first album that Graham & GCS has released in 14 years. Their last album, GSC 2000, was released on July 21, 1998.

Raise Up consists of 13 tracks, which includes updated versions of three previously released GCS tracks, nine new songs, and a cover of Stevie Wonder's classic "Higher Ground."

Additionally, Raise Up includes contributions from Prince, who's a longtime Graham collaborator and friend. Prince plays drums, keyboards and provides backing vocals on the album's title track. The Purple One is also featured on the song "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" (lead guitar, keyboards, drums and backing vocals) and plays guitar on "Movin'." And songwriter/guitarist/producer Rafael Saadiq makes a guest appearance on the song "One Day," which also includes vocals from Graham's wife Tina.

Graham's new GCS lineup for this album includes guitarist William Rabb; keyboardists David Council and Jimmy McKinney; drummer Brian Braziel; and vocalist Ashling Cole.

I'm really looking forward to this release. It sounds like Graham and company are going to bring a healthy dose of some good 'ol gutbucket funk to this collection.

Download Raise Up at Amazon

Related blog entry: Larry Graham's Ten Funkiest Bass Lines

Friday, August 24, 2012

Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu Performing At The Afro-Punk Festival

A diverse cross-section of musical talent will descend upon Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park for the 8th Annual Afro-Punk Festival on August 25-26. The festival celebrates Afro Punk, which is an alternative black cultural movement that consists of black people and various other minorities who are actively and heavily involved in the punk rock and alternative community, according to the website

The annual festival has become the epicenter of the expanding Afro-Punk movement and has been described by The New York Times as putting “rock and rebellion squarely in the category of African-American music."

Since its debut in 2005, the festival has attracted some of the brightest and promising new artists on the Afro-Punk scene as well as acclaimed established acts. Some of the artists set to perform at this year's festival include Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, Das Racist, Ninjasonik, Toro Y Moi, Gym Class Heroes and Cerebral Ballzy, among others. For more info on the Afro-Punk festival, check out their website.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Flaming Lips and Girl Talk Among Lineup For LouFest 2012

Girl Talk
A plethora of talented bands and artists will be hitting the stage at the 3rd Annual LouFest Music Festival this weekend (August 25-26). The two-day indie music fest is set to take place at Central Field in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO. The event will be open to all ages and will feature national and local bands on three stages. Some of the musical acts scheduled to perform at the event include the Flaming Lips, Girl Talk, Dinosaur Jr., Dr. Dog, Son Volt, Wild Nothing, Phantogram, Wild Barrie, among many others.

The first LouFest took place on August 28-29, 2010 and was held in Forest Park, St. Louis. The event was the creation of Brian Cohen, a documentary filmmaker originally from Abilene, Texas. Some of artists who performed at the inaugural LouFest, included Broken Social Scene, She & Him, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Airborne Toxic Event, the Bottle Rockets, Jeff Tweedy, Fruit Bats and Built to Spill.

To learn more about LouFest 2012 and ticket info, visit their website

"Cool Joe": George Clinton's Funky Ode To a Mack

This swaggalicious tale of a pimp's downfall is one of George Clinton's most underrated tracks. The song's wicked funk groove fits the lyrics extremely well. Clinton and company crafted the perfect mack theme music for this cut. While listening to the groove, you can envision the song's protagonist rollin' down the strip in his tricked-out caddy, perm slicked back, and his super-fine ladies in the back ready to hit the track for him.

Multi-instrumentalist Steve Washington lays down the track's bodacious bottom, and horn legends Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker infuse the groove with a double dose of brass funk. Additionally, Maceo delivers a killer pimp-style sax solo.

"Cool Joe" is a track from Clinton's album R&B Skeleton's in the Closet (1986). While the album is not up there with  his best work, it's a pretty strong collection. In addition to "Cool Joe," some of the album's other stand-out tracks include "Do Fries Go With That Shake?" and "Hey Good Lookin'," which features vocals from award-winning actress/singer and former Miss America Vanessa L. Williams. Clinton assembled an impressive lineup of musicians for the album. In addition Maceo and Fred, some of the other P-Funkers who contributed to the album include Bootsy Collins, Garry Shider and DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight. "Cool Joe" was written by Clinton, Andre Jackson and Kevin Burke.

Download "Cool Joe" at Amazon

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Your Love Is a Miracle" By Average White Band

"Your Love Is a Miracle" is a tasty slab of funk by Scottish groove masters Average White Band. The song is another one of the band's slow-burn funk grooves in the spirit of earlier tracks such as "Person To Person" and "School Boy Crush."

From the prowling horn arrangement to the wicked bass line to Alan Gorrie's soulful lead vocals, this track is a killer. Oh, and let's not forget Steve Ferrone's terrific drumming on this cut.

"Your Love Is a Miracle" was a single from AWB's album Warmer Communications (1978). The track didn't burn up the charts like some of their earlier singles, but it had a respectable showing at #33 on Billboard's R&B singles chart. Warmer Communications is a stellar collection and was the band's last album to go gold. However, the band continued to record and perform great music and still retains a solid fan base. In fact, AWB is currently on tour. Check out their site for tour dates.

Download Track At Amazon

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Funky Chick" By The Majestics

I recently came across this rare old-school cut called "Funky Chick" by the Majestics. The band serves up a heavy dose of raw funk on this bad instrumental track. The syncopated groove crackles with funk, and bandleader Gray lays down a dope percolating bass line. This was the Majestics' first and only record. The track was recorded in 1969 on the Morsound label, which was owned and operated by guitarist E. H. Moore Jr. and his father. They only pressed 500 copies of the record. The song was written by R. Allen and produced by Moore.

And what's particularly impressive is that all the members of the Majestics were still in high school when they recorded this track--their average age was 18 at the time. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented the band from following up on the tremendous promise they showed on "Funky Chick."

The track has experienced sort of a rebirth recently. It's played around the world in clubs, and it's an extremely hot item among funk aficionados and record collectors.  Original vinyl 45 copies of the record have been commanding ridiculously high prices on the collector's circuit.

Download "Funky Chick" at Amazon

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jeffrey Osborne and The Brand New Heavies Among Lineup For Vail Soul Music Fest 2012

Natalie "The Floacist" Stewart
A number of talented artists and bands are scheduled to perform at the the 3rd Annul Vail Soul Music Fest later this week. The three-day festival will take place on August 17th, 18th and 19th at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, an outdoor venue nestled in the mountains of Vail, Colorado.  According to the festival's website, the event is designed to "celebrate the heart of soul music."

The festival will feature top-notch artists from around the world in the genres of R&B, alternative rock, conscious hip hop, blues and Neo-soul. In addition to the musical performances, the festival will offer empowerment events and cultural activities.

Some of the musical artists and bands scheduled to take the stage at the festival include Jeffrey Osborne, Anthony David, Allen Stone, Sugarfoot's Ohio Players, the Brand New Heavies, Julie Dexter, DJ Newlife, and Natalie "The Floacist" Stewart, among several others.

To learn more about the festival or for ticket info, visit their website.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"I Come Off" by Young MC

"I Come Off" is a great old-school cut by rap artist Young MC. The 1990 track has an irresistible beat, and Young MC's flow is right in the pocket while he spits his clever rhymes. Vocalist N'Dea Davenport of the Brand New Heavies brings her sultry soul to the track's hook.

Young seems like such an easygoing, unassuming guy that even on boast tracks like this one he comes across as extremely confident rather than cocky. And the G-rated rapper always kept it clean and classy, which probably cost him records sales with the growing popularity of Gangsta Rap in the early '90s.

"I Come Off" is from Young MC's debut album Stone Cold Rhymin', released in 1989. The double platinum-selling collection featured Young's Grammy-winning hit "Bust a Move."

Young MC was born Marvin Young in London, England in 1967. When he was eight, his family moved to Queens, New York. Young attended Hunter College High School in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He later earned a degree in economics from the University of Southern California (USC). While a student at USC, he met record producers Michael Ross and Matt Dike from the independent label Delicious Vinyl. The two signed Young in 1987 after he delivered a rap to them over the phone. He made his rap debut on the song "Let 'Em Know"(1988).

In addition, Young co-wrote Tone-Loc's rap smashes "Wild Thing" (1988) and "Funky Cold Medina" (1989). Young MC has enjoyed a 20-plus year career in the rap game, and in 2009, he released his eighth studio album titled Relentless.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Slave Burned Up the Charts And Filled Dance Floors With Hit "Slide"

"Slide" is a killer track that Ohio funk band Slave dropped in 1977. The sinister groove is anchored by one of the sickest bass lines I've ever heard. The groove has a smooth funky flow with some nice quirky touches, such as a bicycle horn and a cool ghoulish intro.  Additionally, the track has a blistering guitar solo, tight horn work, and a dope slap-bass breakdown. It's just an all-round badass cut.

"Slide" is from Slave's eponymously titled debut album that was released in 1977. The track was an instant smash. It was played constantly on R&B radio stations and had folks rushing the dance floor at parties and clubs. The track reached #1 on the Billboard Soul chart and #32 on Billboard Hot 100. The album also did quite well. It was certified Gold, climbing to #6 on Billboard's Soul albums chart and #22 on Billboard's Pop albums chart.

Slave was formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1975 by trumpeter Steve Washington and guitarist/vocalist Mark "Drac" Hicks.  In addition to Washington and Hicks, the band included Mark Adams (bass); Orion Wilhoite (alto and tenor sax); Floyd Miller (trombone); Tom Lockett Jr. (sax, keyboards); Tom Dozier (drums); Danny Webster (rhythm guitar, lead and background vocals); and Carter Bradley (keyboards).  Drummer, percussionist and vocalist Steve Arrington and singer Starleana Young joined Slave in 1978, with Arrington eventually becoming the band's lead vocalist.

In addition to "Slide," some of the band's other hits included "Just a Touch of Love" (1979), "Watching You" (1980) and "Snap Shot" (1981).

Download Slide at Amazon

Related blog entry: "Just a Touch of Love" by Slave

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stevie Wonder and Florence + the Machine Headlining Bestival 2012

Florence + the Machine
Bestival will close out the summer with a bang next month. The annual four-day festival will feature a diverse lineup of high-caliber musical talent.  The event will take place at Robin Hill country park on the Isle of Wight, England, and it's set to kick off on September 6th (Thursday) and will run through September 9th (Sunday). Some of the noted artists and bands who will take the stage at the event include Stevie Wonder, Florence + the Machine, New Order, Sigur Rós, Frank Ocean, the xx, Friendly Fires, Del La Soul,  Hot Chip, Adam Ant, Gary Numan and many others.

Now in its ninth year, Bestival began in 2004. The festival was organized by DJ and record producer Rob da Bank as an offshoot of his Sunday Best record label and club nights. The first Bestival drew 10,000 attendees and had grown to 55,000 by 2010. Bestival was voted the Best (Medium-sized) Festival at the 2006 UK Festival Awards, and it was also voted the best major UK festival at the UK festival awards 2010. Bestival is renowned for its  fancy dress themed days, which usually occur on Saturday of the event. For more Bestival into, check out their website.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jay-Z And Pearl Jam To Headline Made In America Festival

Music powerhouses Jay-Z and Pearl Jam will be joining a cavalcade of prominent artists and bands next month for the inaugural Made In America Festival. The Budweiser-sponsored two-day event will take place on September 1st and 2nd and will be stretched across three stages on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.

The festival will feature an eclectic array of musical talent. In addition to Hova and Pearl Jam, some of the other musical acts set to hit the stage include Chris Cornell, Janelle Monae, the Hives, Run-DMC, Mike Snow, Calvin Harris, Jill Scott, Skrillex, D'Angelo, Rita Ora, DJ Shadow, Drake, Santigold, Afrojack and Odd Future, among many others.

Tickets for the event went on sale August 3rd. For more festival info, visit their website.

Spike Lee Unveiling Documentary On Michael Jackson's Bad Album At Venice Film Festival

Spike Lee is set to premiere his new documentary on Michael Jackson's Bad album at the 2012 Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy later this month. The festival is scheduled to begin on August 29th and will run through September 8th. The outspoken filmmaker made the documentary to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bad album, which was originally released on August 31, 1987. Bad was MJ's follow-up to his landmark game-changing album Thriller. And Bad was a huge success in its own right. To date, the collection has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, and it was the first album to spawn five #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The pop/soul superstar launched a record-breaking world tour in support of the album on September 12, 1987.

The documentary will focus on MJ's career during the Bad era. It will contain tons of behind-the-scenes footage. Lee has said that the documentary will have footage that no one has ever seen. It will also feature interviews with people who had worked with MJ, including choreographers, musicians, engineers, songwriters, technicians and collaborators. In addition, the documentary will contain interviews with a number of celebrities who have either worked with MJ or were inspired by him in some way. Some of the celebrities who were interviewed for the documentary include Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Cee Lo Green, L.A. Reid, Martin Scorsese, Chris Brown and Sheryl Crow, who was a background singer on MJ's Bad World Tour.

Lee had worked with MJ a few times and considered him a friend. The acclaimed filmmaker directed two music videos for MJ's controversial song "They Don't Care About Us," which was released in 1996. The first video was shot in two locations in Brazil, a favela in Rio de Janeiro called Dona Marta and in Salvador da Bahia. The second video for the song was shot in a prison and contained video footage of references to human rights abuses.

Additionally, MJ recorded the song "On The Line" for Lee's film Get on the Bus (1996), which is about the historic Million Man March. Lee also directed the official video for MJ's posthumous single "This Is It."

Since MJ's death in 2009, Lee has held an annual celebration in the pop icon's honor. The tribute extravaganza is held each year in Brooklyn's Prospect Park on MJ's birthday (August 29) and is filled with dancing and wall-to-wall music from MJ, the Jacksons and the J5.

In a recent interview, Lee shared his thoughts about MJ and the upcoming documentary:

"I’m more than just a huge fan of Michael Jackson, and having the chance to actually know him and work with him, I deeply care about his legacy. With this BAD project I was able to uncover just what made this such a huge, important coming of age in his career and unearth compelling stories surrounding the making of the album, the long awaited follow-up to Thriller — the best selling album of all time – the short films and the tour that may have never seen the light of day.”

The Venice Film Festival will honor Lee with its "Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker 2012 Award" on August 31st. According to the festival's organizers, the award is given to "a personality who has brought great innovation to contemporary cinema."  Lee is scheduled to debut his yet-to-be- titled documentary following the ceremony.

Here's a teaser from Spike Lee's upcoming documentary on MJ's Bad Album:

Related blog entry: Michael Jackson's Bad: Out of the Shadow of Thriller

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Party On Plastic (What's Bootsy Doin'?)" By Bootsy Collins

Here's a nasty chunk of funk that Bootsy dropped in 1988. The track didn't get a lot of play upon its release in the U.S., but it was cool to know that the legendary bass man was still keepin' things good and funky in the late '80s. The intro features a nice old-school-style rap by female singing/rap duo Pretty Fatt. And Bootsy lays down a massive space bass solo on the song. The song's intentionally cheesy video is a lot of fun and features a giant Bootzilla terrorizing Japan with his monster funk.

The track is from the album What's Bootsy Doin'? (1988). It was the ace funkster's first album after a six-year hiatus from the music scene. On this album, Bootsy reunites with fellow P-Funk alums Bernie Worrell, Fred Wesley and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper. The album also features newcomers such as Mico Wave and Godmoma. Bootsy's late brother, Catfish, also appears on the album.

Download Party On Plastic (What's Bootsy Doin'?) at Amazon

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thomas Dolby Brings The Funk On A Live Performance of "She Blinded Me With Science"

British new wave funkster Thomas Dolby performs his hit song "She Blinded Me With Science" live at Riverside Studios in London in 1983. This version of the song is even funkier than the studio version.

Dolby released "She Blinded Me With Science" along with its zany music video back in 1982. The track did extremely well on the charts, and the music video received heavy rotation on MTV, causing the eccentric synth wiz to blow up. Dolby was one of the vanguards of the synth-pop movement of the early '80s and has consistently recorded interesting and inventive music during his long musical career.

In addition to his solo work, Dolby has produced and written music for a number of distinguished artists. Some of the artists and bands with whom Dolby has collaborated include George Clinton, Joni Mitchell, Lene Lovich, David Byrne, Joan Armatrading, Foreigner, Andy Partridge, Whodini, Imogen Heap, Jerry Garcia, David Bowie and Bob Weir, among a slew of others.

Related blog entry: Hyperactive! by Thomas Dolby: New Wave At Its Funkiest

Friday, July 27, 2012

James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince Show Off Their Best Moves In Funky Dance Off

I've been watching this really dope compilation of three of the baddest performers to ever hit the stage cuttin' loose. The clip is appropriately set to James Brown's funk classic "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine." The video shows James Brown, Prince and Michael Jackson bustin' some of their best moves on stage. One of the cool things about this clip is that it shows what a tremendous influence James had on both MJ and Prince as performers. They both learned a lot from the Godfather, including the ability to completely mesmerize an audience.

It's interesting to watch the three performers distinct styles on stage. All three bring tons of charisma to their live shows, and, of course, incredible dancing. Also, they never disappoint their audiences, always giving it 110 percent for every show. There are very few, if any, current performers who can captivate an audience like MJ, Prince and James. Over the last five years, we lost probably the two greatest performers in music history: James Brown and Michael Jackson. Fortunately, we still have His Royal Badness, who continues to electrify audiences with his high-voltage performances. The video also contains two brief dance segments of legendary entertainers Fred Astaire and Cab Calloway doin' their thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Get Up Off Your Fat" by Rose Royce

"Get Up Off Your Fat" is a great underrated track by '70s R&B/funk band Rose Royce. The groove creeps along at a nice funky stroll and boasts a treacherous bass line. The song also has a cool Sly Stone-ish intro and bridge. It's super-smooth funk and quite irresistible.

This track is from Rose Royce's third album titled Rose Royce III: Strikes Again! (1978), but it wasn't released as a single. I always thought it should have been since it's such a hot track. The two singles from the album were "I'm in Love (And I Love the Feeling)" and "Love Don't Live Here Anymore," which was a pretty big hit. The song reached #5 on the U.S. R&B charts and #32 on the U.S. pop charts. It also did extremely well across the pond, peaking at #2 on the UK charts. Norman Whitfield produced Rose Royce III: Strikes Again! and wrote most the album's tracks, including "Get Up Off Your Fat."

Rose Royce was formed in Los Angeles in 1973 and was comprised of lead vocalist Gwen Dickey (stage name Rose Norwalt ); Kenny Copeland (trumpet, lead vocals); Michael Moore (saxaphone); Kenji Brown (guitar, lead vocals); Henry Garner (drums); Terral "Terry" Santiel (congas); Lequeint "Duke" Jobe (bass); Freddie Dunn (trumpet); and Michael Nash (keyboards).

Rose Royce blew up big upon the release of their soundtrack for the hit comedy Car Wash in 1976. The soundtrack spawned three top ten hits ("I'm Going Down," "Car Wash," and "I Wanna Get Next To You"). "Car Wash" topped both the pop and R&B singles charts. The band still performs today with a few lineup changes and has a strong following in the UK.

Download track at Amazon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The 2012 Soul Rebel Festival Is Set For September 8th

The Mighty Diamonds
The 11th Annual Soul Rebel Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 8th. The festival will take place at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado. The all-day event will run from 1:00 pm to 10:00 p.m.

According to their website, the Soul Rebel Festival is a grassroots reggae, Afro Pop, world, American roots music festival. The festival’s mission is to "provide cultural harmony, understanding and awareness through the positive medium of music and the arts."

The event will feature a great lineup of musical talent. Some of the musical acts scheduled to perform at the festival include the Mighty Diamonds, the Melodians, Yami Bolo, the Yellow Wall Dub Squad, Frankie Paul, DUTONIC KRU, Selasee and Lion SoulJahs, among others.

For more festival info, visit their website.

The Commodores Perform Funk Hit "Fancy Dancer" Live On The Midnight Special

Here's a great clip of the Commodores performing their bodacious funk hit "Fancy Dancer" live on the late-night music variety show The Midnight Special back in 1976. The band was at its funk pinnacle here. The performance is incredibly tight: The bass, horns, drums, vocals, keyboards and guitar are all clicking like a well-oiled funk motor. The groove has an almost seductive flow. You can envision the fancy dancer in the song doing her thing on the dance floor.

I've always felt that "Fancy Dancer" was kind of underrated. I think it's significantly funkier than their signature dance smash "Brick House," another one of the band's funky odes to a sexy woman. The funk is just nastier and rawer on "Fancy Dancer" in my opinion. It's a sick track, and the power of its funk can't be denied.

And it's cool to see Lionel Richie getting waist-deep in the funk with a gritty, sweat-stained performance. People sometimes forget that Richie could funk with the best of them before he left the Commodores in 1982 to embark on an incredibly successful solo career as a polished pop/soul balladeer. In his solo career, he left the funk far behind, which was probably the savvy thing to do from a business standpoint. The genre's popularity was on the decline around that  time, so he utilized his considerable gifts as a ballad writer. That gift shot him from stardom to superstardom. Nonetheless, I still missed him as the Commodore's front man. Richie and the crew made a great unit.

However, I do like a lot of the stuff that Richie recorded as a solo artist, but I still prefer his work with the Commodores. Plus, in addition to the funk tracks, he recorded some pretty amazing ballads while he was a member of the band, including "Easy," "Sail On" and "Three Times a Lady."

"Fancy Dancer" is from the Commodore's fourth studio album Hot on the Tracks (1976). It was written by Richie and Ronald LaPread, who was the bassist for the Commodores. The track had a strong showing on the charts. It reached #9 on the R&B charts, #39 on the pop charts, and #33 on the dance charts.

Downlad Studio Version Fancy Dancer at Amazon

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Eurythmics Perform "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" Live With Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder joins Eurythmics on stage for a beautiful rendition of the British duo's hit "There Must Be An Angel (Playing with My Heart)." The performance is from the 1999 Brit Awards. Stevie delivers a brilliant harmonica solo, and Annie Lennox's voice sounds amazing as usual. Stevie also contributes a few vocals himself and lets loose with a couple of nice runs. I really dig the song's arrangement here. It's more organic and less synth-driven than the original recording, with Dave Stewart playing the acoustic guitar instead of keyboards. The studio version is great too, but this live performance really brings out the soul of song in my opinion. 

"There Must an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" is from Eurythmics' fifth album Be Yourself Tonight (1985). The Motown-inspired love song was penned by Lennox and Stewart, who also produced it. The track has a great gospel-tinged bridge and an angelic chorus. And Stevie Wonder's soul-stirring harmonica solo adds to the track immensely. The song was big hit across the globe, charting in the top ten in a number of countries. It reached #1 in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Brazil and Poland. The song was also a modest hit in the U.S., climbing to #22 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The track has been covered by several musical artists, including Kylie Minogue, Brittany Murphy, Fantastic Plastic Machine and Jessica G. Pilnäs. Eurythmics also performed the song live with the late opera legend Luciano Pavarotti during the concert Pavarotti and Friends in 2000.

Related blog entry: Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This): New Wave Soul

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Marilyn Manson, The Offspring, and RZA Among Lineup For The 2012 Sunset Strip Music Festival

Next month, a slew of talented musical acts will take the stage at the fifth annual Sunset Strip Music Festival. The three-day event will kick off on August 16th and will run through August 18th. The performances for the outdoor portion of the festival will take place on two outdoor stages on Sunset Boulevard between Doheny Drive and San Vicente Blvd. Performances will also take place at the following venues: the Viper Room, Key Club, the Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go-Go and the House of Blues.

The event will feature a diverse lineup of musical talent that includes Marilyn Manson, the Offpsring, RZA, Peter Murphy, Bad Religion, De La Soul, Black Label Society, Hank III, Far East Movement, James Ingram and Quiet Riot, among many others. There will be more than 50 bands performing throughout the day.

The festival will also pay tribute to the music and legacy of influential L.A. band the Doors. The tribute will take place at the House of Blues on August 16 and will feature an all-star band celebrating the legendary foursome's musical legacy. For more info about the festival, visit their website.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"I Can't Get Next To You" By The Temptations

"I Can't Get Next To You" by The Temptations is one of the most joyful songs about unrequited love I've ever heard. Generally unrequited love songs are kind of mopey, and the person singing generally sounds downcast and lovesick. On this cut, the Tempts sound energized by the rejection. If anything, being constantly shot down makes them even more pumped up and determined to win the girl over.

Compare it to their other smash about unrequited love, "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)." On that track, the song's narrator is kind of passive and dreamy. It's just the opposite on "On I Can't Get Next To You," where they are proactive about getting the girl. Their passion is so strong that they feel they can perform miracles: "I can build a castle from a single grain of sand/I can make a ship sail on dry land."

But all their supernatural powers mean nothing without the object of their affection. Hyperbole, a common feature of poetry, is skillfully employed on the song's lyrics. I also dig the tag-team delivery and vocal interplay of the Tempts here. There's a real sense of camaraderie among the five group members, with each Tempt singing a separate line from the song's verses.

The track was penned by the brilliant Motown songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. And Whitfield also produced the track. The legendary Funk Brothers provided the instrumentation for the soulful, high-energy groove.

"I Can't Get Next To You" was the lead-off single from the the Temptation's album Puzzle People, released in 1969.  The song was an instant smash. It spent five weeks atop the Billboard Top R&B Singles Chart and was #1 for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is one of the group's best-selling tracks.

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Related blog entry: The Temptations Deliver The Funk On Hit "Shakey Ground."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bootsy Collins, Jack White, Green Day and Neil Young Set To Perform At Voodoo Experience 2012

Jack White
The 14th annual Voodoo Music and Arts Experience will showcase a slew of big-name talent come October. The three-day festival will take place in New Orleans' City Park on October 26-28. Some of the musical acts scheduled to hit the stage at the festival include Green Day, Jack White, Bootsy Collins, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Dave Stewart, Thomas Dolby, Skrillex, Silversun Pickups and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, among many other talented performers.

The inaugural Voodoo Experience took place on October 30, 1999. It was a one-day event held at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. The festival drew about 8,000 people, and Wyclef Jean and the Refugee All-Stars were the headliners. The festival has grown considerably over the years since its fairly humble beginnings. Now going into its 14th year, the annual event has hosted more than 450 artists and has drawn close to a million attendees. Also, the festival has been twice nominated for Pollstar's Music Festival of the Year. For more info about the festival, visit their website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Everything Is Cool" by T-Connection

Bahamas-born band T-Connection brought the funk on the hot track "Everything Is Cool" back in 1981. The rollin' funk cut has a nice smooth flow with a dope loafin' bass line. There's also plenty of  nasty guitar work, including a few sweet licks on the talk box. It's just a really chill, laid-back  groove but also quite funky.

T-Connection was formed in Nassau, Bahamas in 1975 by keyboardist/vocalist/ guitarist Theophilus "T" Coakley. The other members of the band included Theophilus' brother Kirkwood Coakley (bass/drums), David Mackey (guitars) and Anthony Flowers (drums and percussion). Shortly after their formation, the band relocated to Miami, Florida where they signed a record deal with Dash Records, an offshoot of Miami's T.K. Disco. T-Connection was generally labeled a funk/disco outfit, but their sound was much more varied than that. Their sound was a fusion of pop, junkanoo, funk, R&B, disco and jazz.

The band had its first hit in 1976 with the instrumental track "Disco Magic," which reached #16 on the  U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.  T-Connection scored their biggest hit the following year with the disco/funk track "Do What You Wanna Do." The tracked topped the the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club play chart in 1977, and it peaked at #46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #15 on the U.S. R&B charts.

The band also fared quite well in the UK, posting five entries on the UK charts, with "Do What You Wanna Do" as their highest placing at #11.

"Everything This Is Cool" is the title track from their fifth studio album, which was released in 1981. The song had a strong showing on the charts, peaking at #15 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart.

T-Connection officially disbanded in 1985, but in the last two years, they have reassembled for special performances in the Bahamas. The band has released several retrospectives over the years, including the top-notch greatest-hits collection Classic Masters, released in 2002.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stevie Wonder, Metallica And Neil Young Headlining Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival 2012

Some of the biggest  names in music will be hitting the stage at the fifth annual Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco, California next month. The three-day event is set to kick off on August 10th in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and will run through August 12th. The festival will offer a diverse lineup of high-caliber talent, with more than 60 musical acts on the roster. Some of the artists and bands scheduled to perform at the festival include Stevie Wonder, Metallica, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Beck, Big Boi, Norah Jones, Santigold and Franz Ferdinand, among a slew of others.

The festival made its debut in 2008, and even in its first year, it was pulling in big-name talent, including Radiohead, Beck and the Black Keys. The festival draws 40,000 to 60,000 attendees a day. For more festival info, visit their website.

Jermaine Jackson's "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming (Too Good To Be True)" Featuring Michael Jackson

"Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming (Too Good To Be True)" is a stellar cut by Jermaine Jackson that features his superstar baby bro Michael. The song's hypnotic groove has a mysterious, dreamy vibe that fits the lyrical content extremely well, and it provides a great showcase for Jermaine and MJ's excellent vocal exchanges. Their voices complement one another nicely, evoking memories of the amazing chemistry that the two shared on early Jackson 5 hits.  I think the song is really underrated and is one of Jermaine's best tracks as a solo artist.

The song is from Jermaine's 1984 album Dynamite. It was never officially released as a single due to legal difficulties between MJ's label, Epic, and Jermaine's label, Arista. Nevertheless, the song received tons of airplay. But at the time, Billboard was unable to show the song on any of its "single" charts. However, the track did register on Radio and Records Top 40 chart, a chart based solely on airplay, peaking at # 6 in June 1984.

And the track performed the strongest on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart, where it spent three weeks at #1 in June of '84. Additionally, the song was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group at the 1985 Grammy Awards.

"Tell Me I'm Dreaming (Too Good To Be True)" was written by Michael Omartian, Bruce Sudano and Jay Grusca. Omartian also produced and arranged the track as well as played keyboards and percussion on it. The track also features Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar, Nathan East on bass, and John Robinson on drums. Jermaine plays percussion on the track, and until recently, I thought he was playing the bass part as well. It was kind of disappointing to learn that he wasn't, but he makes up for it big-time with a dope vocal performance.

The song was featured on the set list of the Jacksons' Victory Tour in 1984, and Jermaine held down the bass line himself during those performances.

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Related blog entry: Jermaine Jackson Gets Funky On The Arsenio Hall Show

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Shake Everything You Got" By Maceo Parker

The legendary horn section from the J.B.'s (Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley and Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis) lays down some massive brontosaurus funk on this badass live performance of Maceo's song "Shake Everything You Got." In addition to the tight horns, the rest of the band are bringin' it as well. Bassist Jerome Preston provides some thumpin' bottom, and drummer Jamal Thomas is killin' it on the drums. And guitarist Bruno Speight and keyboardist William Boulware are in the mix keeping the funk good and nasty.  Additionally, Fred Wesley blows up the the stage with a super-funky trombone solo.

"Shake Everything You Got" is from Maceo's two-disc album Roots & Grooves, released in 2007. Disc one features some great covers of Ray Charles classics such as "Hit The Road Jack," Hallelujah I Love Her So," "What I'd Say" and "Georgia On My Mind." Disc two contains original funk tracks written by Maceo, including "Advanced Funk," "Off The Hook" and "Shake Everything You Got."

Maceo will be touring all this month and has a show scheduled  tomorrow at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Check out Maceo's website for more upcoming tour dates.

Download "Shake Everything You Got" at Amazon

Related blog entry: Maceo Parker: Funk's Legendary Saxman

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Detroit Jazz Festival 2012 Kicks Off At The End Of August

Sonny Rollins
The 33rd Annual Detroit Jazz Festival is set to kick off on August 31st and will run through September 3rd. The festival will feature a top-notch lineup of more than 100 acts. The free four-day festival is scheduled to take place over several city blocks in downtown Detroit, from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius Park on five stages. The event will also offer educational activities for adults and children, including fireworks, late-night jam sessions and rare opportunities to meet the artists and much more.

Some of the high-caliber talent scheduled to take the stage at the festival include Sonny Rollins; Wynton Marsalis Quintet; Terence Blanchard Quartet; Pat Metheny Unity Band with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben Williams; Chick Corea, Gary Burton with the Harlem String Quartet; Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, and Brian Blade; among many others. The festival will also have an Art Blakey Tribute, featuring Terence Blanchard as the musical director.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is managed and produced by the Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation, a non-profit organization formed in 2006. For more info about the festival, visit their website.

Faith Evans Brings Some Sultry Soul To Her Song "Mesmerized"

"Mesmerized" is my favorite track by R&B singer/songwriter Faith Evans. The song has a great old-school 1970s flavor to it. It sounds like a track that soul/funk divas like Marva Whitney or Lynn Collins might have recorded back in the day. The track has a bad funk groove and a sick chorus. And Evans tears it up with her sultry, soulful voice. She is extremely underrated in my view. She's a talented singer who doesn't have to rely on Auto-Tune or other studio tricks to sound good. Evans is the real deal.

The track is from Evans' fourth studio album The First Lady, released in 2005. This was the singer's first album on Capitol Records after her departure from Bad Boy Records in 2003. She wrote the song with hip hop/R&B producer Chucky Thompson, and the track samples a part of George Benson's song "Footin' It." "Mesmerized" performed well on the charts, reaching #1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs. It also charted at #19 in both Australia and the Netherlands.

Download Mesmerized at Amazon

Saturday, June 30, 2012

"(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People" By The Chi-Lites

The Chi-Lites get political on the ferocious funk/soul protest anthem "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People," released in 1971. The Chi-Lites were generally known for their classic romantic ballads like "Have You Seen Her?" and "Oh Girl," but on this track the group goes ham and blasts the system and the greedy fat cats and crooked politicians who run it.

The track points out the huge imbalance in the distribution of the nation's wealth where you have many people living below the poverty line while a select few get the the bulk of the wealth. The song demands a stronger voice among all of America's citizens, including minorities, and the disadvantaged. The treacherous groove and the Chi-Lites' soulful, angry vocals give the socially conscious track a sense of power and urgency.

The song is the title track from the Chi-Lite's third album (1971) and was written by lead vocalist Eugene Record. The song had a strong showing on the charts. It climbed to #4 on the R&B charts and #26 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it charted at #32 on the UK Singles Chart.

The album itself also did extremely well. It peaked at #3 on the R&B charts and #12 on the pop charts. The collection also featured the smash "Have You Seen Her?," which topped the R&B charts and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was largely written and produced by Eugene Record. Also, "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People" was featured on the soundtrack to the 1995 film Panther.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Top Bands Heading To Florida For DeLuna Fest In September

Bad Brains
A slew of big-name musical acts will descend upon Pensacola Beach, Florida for the 3rd Annual DeLuna Fest come September. The three-day festival will be held on September 21-23 at Pensacola Beach. The artists will perform on four stages (two directly on the Pensacola Beach sand). The event will offer an eclectic mix of musical styles and a truly impressive lineup of top-name artists and bands.

Some of the performers scheduled to take the stage at the festival include Jimmy Cliff, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Florence and the Machine, Dwight Yoakam, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Bad Brains, Ben Folds Five, Zac Brown Band and DJ Jazzy Jeff, among many others. Sounds like it's going to be one helluva beach party.

DeLuna Fest made its debut in 2010 as a revival of America's original beach party nearly 500 years ago. The festival pays homage to the landing of Spanish Conquistador Don Tristan de Luna on what we now know as Pensacola Beach, Florida in 1559. Upon landing, de Luna and his crew threw the ultimate beach party. DeLuna Fest also marks Pensacola's countdown to its 500-year anniversary. 

The inaugural De Luna Fest in 2010 had a great lineup of performers that included Stone Temple Pilots, Willie Nelson, Bush, Daughtry and Better Than Ezra.

For more info about DeLuna 2012, check out their website.

Willie Bobo's "Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries"

"Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries" is a dope track by the late, great Latin jazz percussionist Willie Bobo. The song's haunting, mysterious groove is a killer. The first time I heard the song was when I was watching a scene from Peter Berg's pitch-black comedy Very Bad Things some years back. And I was floored by the track. It sounded incredible and stayed with me after I had finished watching the movie. So I had to find out who recorded it.

Bobo was born William Correa on February 28, 1934 and grew up in Spanish Harlem in New York City, NY.  He began playing bongos at 14, and only a year later, he was performing with the King of Mambo Pérez Prado. At this time, he was also studying with legendary Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria, while also serving as his translator. At 19, Bobo joined Latin jazz great Tito Puente for a four-year stint.

Pioneering jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams gave the famed percussionist the moniker "Bobo" when they recorded together in the early '50s. During his distinguished career, Bobo played in a variety of styles, including Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Latin soul, Salsa, Latin folk, world fusion and boogaloo. He was highly skilled on several percussion instruments and had performed with jazz giants such as Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery and Chico Hamilton.

"Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries" was written by Bobo and trumpeter/cornetist Melvin Lastie. The track was featured on  Bobo's album Uno, Dos, Tres 1-2-3, which was released in 1966. Santana did a cool live cover of the track at Woodstock in 1969. Bobo died at only 49 from cancer on September 15, 1983.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Snoop Dogg and The Black Keys Set To Hit The Stage At Catalpa Music Festival In July

 Snoop Dogg and the Black Keys are among the scheduled artists to perform at the inaugural  Catalpa Music Festival. The festival will take place on July 28-29 on Randalls Island in New York City. The festival will run from 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm each day. According to their website, the organizers of Catalpa are "striving to be a pioneering New York festival, unique in its programming, atmosphere and aesthetic." The festival will stress on-site artistry, interactive experiences and experimentation in the musical performances.

The 40 scheduled performers at the event will represent a diverse array of musical genres, including blues, rock, hip-hop, electronic, reggae and indie.

In addition to Snoop and the Black Keys, some of the other scheduled performers include Cold War Kids, TV On The Radio, Matt and Kim, Zola Jesus, Felix da Housecat, Dirty Heads, the Big Pink and Fort Atlantic, among many others.

To learn more about the festival and ticket info, visit their website

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Brand New Heavies Bring Some '70s Old-School Flavor To "You Can Do It"

I was checking out acid jazz pioneers The Brand New Heavies' 1997 cover of '70s dance track "You Can Do It," which was originally recorded by Al Hudson and The Partners in 1979. The Heavies effectively channel some vintage '70s magic on this infectious cover. It  really sounds like they could have recorded this back in the party-'til-you-drop "Me Decade."

I really dig the vocal arrangements on The Heavies' rendition. Their voices flow so well together and are at once smooth and extremely soulful. And the groove is tight, with great horn lines, phat bass and some funky guitar licks. And the keyboard part that's played throughout the song keeps things percolating. It kind of reminds me of the main keyboard part on Kool & the Gang's hit "Ladies' Night" or Chocolate Milk's "Girl Callin'." "You Can Do It" is one of those tracks that makes you want to sing along because it's just so damn catchy.

The Brand New Heavies are an acid jazz and funk band that was formed in 1985 by drummer/keyboardist Jan Kincaid, guitarist Simon Bartholonew and bassist/keyboardist Andrew Levy. The three musicians were former schoolmates in the London suburb of Ealing. The three shared a mutual love for classic American soul and funk music from the 1970s. The trio was originally an instrumental act and went by the name Brother International and later added a horn section.

The group changed their name to the Brand New Heavies after signing their first record deal. As the Brand New Heavies, the group gained a cult following in the London club circuit. The group became pivotal figures in the burgeoning acid jazz scene in the UK during the late '80s and early '90s. (Acid Jazz is a beat-heavy genre that fuses elements of jazz, funk and hip hop). Vocalist Jay Ella Ruth eventually joined the group as its lead singer.

Ruth's tenure with the Heavies was short-lived. She was only with the band during 1990. She was succeeded by American singer N'Dea Davenport, who spent four years with the band. The Atlanta-born singer rejoined the Heavies in 2005 and is still with them.

"You Can Do It" is from the group's album Shelter, released in 1997. Grammy-winning and twice Oscar-nominated singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett was the lead singer of the Heavies at this time. She had joined the band in 1996 as Davenport's replacement. In addition to her lead-singing duties, Garrett contributed to the writing of six of the album's tracks, including the hit song "Sometimes." Garrett left the group in '98 to concentrate on her own songwriting.

Garrett was replaced by Carleen Anderson as the group's lead singer. Anderson is the daughter of soul singer Vicki Anderson, who is best known for being a part of James Brown's revue during the '60s and early '70s. Carleen is also the stepdaughter of  the late, great Bobby Byrd, who was James Brown's long-running right-hand man as well as founder and original member of the Famous Flames.

Anderson left the group in 2000. Following Anderson's departure, the Heavies had two other lead singers (Sy Smith and Nicole Russo) before they reunited with Davenport in 2005.

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