George Clinton 2015

George Clinton was back to Birmingham this April at the O2 Arena, Bristol Street with a complete show that includes members of his groups Parliament and Funkadelic plus some new vocalists and family members. George has now shaved off his colourful dreads removed his nappies and long beard in favor of the suit & tie look. I must say the band sounded fab and the two lead guitarists were very rock-ified as you would expect.

Playing bass guitar for George on this tour was Lige Curry. In the USA shows it had been Bootsy Collins, but Lige was very much up-to the job and he provided a steady back rhythm.
Upon his graduation from John Marshall High School in 1975 Lige studied his craft and in 1978 was asked to join Parliament / Funkadelic as a back- up singer, having to wait his turn Lige studied under former Parliament / Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins and Billy (Bass) Nelson as well as current bassist Rodney (Skeets) Curtis and Cordell (Boogie) Mosson. Opportunity knocked that same year when Skeets Curtis left to take a job with the famous Maceo Parker and Boogie Mosson moved over to guitar the door was open for the Lige Curry Adventure to begin!

Extra vocals was provided by Steve Boyd, who sang at Ron Banks' funeral, to as he put it; "Floods of tears". My good friend Bill Randle who also attended Ron's funeral remembers it well and just had to thank him for that after the Show was over. In 1995 George called him to do a couple shows with him in Europe, he thought it would be for just a couple shows because he was signed with Westbound Records and fifteen years later here he is still touring with Parliament Funkadelic “all around the world for the funk”

Two wonderful guitarists with the show were Ricardo Rouse and Blackbyrd McKnight. Ricardo reminded me when he wore  glasses of Bo Diddley. Ricky has played on over 60 platinum albums and toured with a virtual Who’s Who of artists. To list them all would take up a least a whole page but artists like Stevie Wonder, Bobby Womack, Bohannon, The Dramatics, Chaka Kahn, Tupac, Dre and Snoop only scratch the surface. Blackbyd he was the musical director of George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic from 1980 to 2008. Other than working with P-Funk artists such as George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell, Blackbyrd has also worked with Miles Davis and many jazz groups.

Horns on this tour were very tight and bright, provided by funk veterans;  Bennie Cowan (trumpet) and Greg Thomas (alto sax). Bennie was born in Baltimore in 1956, and has performed with P-Funk for a “very long” time. His other bands are “too many to list.” He is recognizable on stage as the “big, black guy.” Saxophonist Greg Thomas is also a Producer, Arranger, Vocalist, Songwriter, Composer and Conductor. Currently Greg is performing and recording with George Clinton and the P‐Funk All‐Stars whom he has been with for many years. He also performs with Raphael Saadiq. He has also performed with other great artist such as Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, Stanley Clark, Dr. Dre, The Gap Band, Cameo, Snoop Dogg, Stephanie Mills, Mtume, The Spinners, Lou Rawls, Patra, Peter Wolf, Crystal Waters, Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, Evelyn King, Too Short, Ike Turner, Al Green, Howard Hewitt, Glen Jones, Phil Perry and various other artist.

The feminine funk vocal touches were provided by Tonysha Nelson (c) Patravia Lewis (r) . Tonysha and Patavian are a team that have their own singular vocal delivery and a beautiful harmonic approach together. They also exhibit the beauty and all the visual and audible aspects to represent wholly their product with the greatest of confidence and undeniable talent. Do not miss the amazing sound that is Kandy Apple Redd!!

Thurteen (c) and Robert 'P-Nut' Johnson (r). Johnson born in Baltimore in 1947, P-Nut started on the road with Bootsy’s Rubber Band and in the studio with P-Funk in 1976. When Bootsy stopped touring in 1979, P-Nut segued to P-Funk. Prior to joining Bootsy’s Rubber Band and P-Funk, P-Nut played with local bands in the Baltimore area

Drumming was provided by Benzal Cowan. Held by Bootsy Collins as a baby, the Baltimore native got his first taste of drumming at the age of 2, and has been gigging as professional musician since the age of 15. As the son of the legendary trumpet player Bennie “The General” Cowan, Benzel was bred into funk music so there was no doubt that he was destined for greatness. He studied early with the likes of Dave Weckl, Steve Smith, Pat Patrillo and Horacio Hernandez, which has made him the versatile drummer he is today.

As with all the Clinton shows an on stage appearance of the acrobat and cartoon character;  Sir Nose is a must ... and the crowd were not to be disappointed. He danced with George and a member of the public and at one point was climbing the speaker stack kicking his legs in the air. The first Nose was Larry Hecksall but his later replacement Carlos McMurray lifted the crowd well.

Michael 'Clip' Payne; bass vocals and announcements. First credited on Parliament’s 1979 release Gloryhallastoopid with “Choir Chours”, he has appeared on over 20 Parliament-Funkadelic collective recordings primarily as a vocalist and keyboardist. Payne, who is sometimes called “The Man in the Box”, typically acts as an on-stage commentator during Parliament-Funkadelic’s live performances. Payne’s first professional work was the recording of Edwin Starr’s “Twenty-Five Miles” with producer Norman Whitfield.

I managed to get this shot when all the audience from right of stage were invited to dance with the show, this included an attractive female midget that the sax player serenaded on his knees.

On the technical side all very professional, no feebacks, missing musicians from the mix, and as you can imagine the sound was very loud and in your chest, mixed by a Soundcraft Vi6 mixing desk that doesn't come cheep at around £24,000 per unit. The last time I saw a Funkadelic show was in the late 70's and I had to leave early because the noise was overpowering, and sadly because of that I then  missed the Mothership landing on stage, this was at the Birmingham Odeon. As a final treat I got to meet George and Steve Boyd, many thanks go out to Bill Randle & Pat Lewis for the invites - much love. [all photos taken by myself - click for larger image]

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