Bluesfest 2015 – Nothing But The Euphoric Funk

Five festival days of performances by 89 international and Australian acts at Byron Bay Bluesfest ended for me with three hours at the main stage frontline having what felt like the most euphoric live music experience of my lifetime.

I was, of course, in the company of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

George Clinton at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

With the greatest of respect to all other performing artists and the Funk Disclaimer below, everything that came before Parliament Funkadelic at Bluesfest 2015 mattered little to me after the P Funk family arrived on stage – and by the end of their gloriously epic set, even less.

Bluesfest Before The Funk

Up until that spiritual Parliament Funkadelic experience, my Bluesfest time had been challenging.

Lenny Kravitz had cancelled and there weren’t many programmed acts left for my own personal musical tastes – and, so many of the 2015 artists were Bluesfest frequent flyers. An unfounded festival greeting by a police sniffer dog didn’t help. Nor did ugly behaviours I saw by some of my fellow festival-goers. Then there was that disappointing Bluesfester who found my camera with its images and sounds so precious to me, and decided not to return it. And amongst all of that I just wasn’t as successful as others in not letting the rain and its resulting inches-deep, stinky mud slush get me down.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Beyond the negative…moving on to accentuate the pre Parliament Funkadelic positive 🙂 …Bluesfest 2015 had some acts that motivated me back through its gates to experience the goodness of their shows.

Jurassic Five and the awesomely-funky sounds of hip hop created by DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark alongside four stellar emcees (Chali 2na + Akil + Marc 7 + Zaakir aka Soup) who might “sound like one” in unison but individually have their own unique melody and tone which makes your body move in delightfully different ways.

Jurassic 5 live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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Gary Clark Jr – an absolute monster on guitar whose sounds reminded me of how good the blues can be and how important it is to the past, present and future of music of so many kinds.

Gary Clark Jr. live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Fly My Pretties – a talented collective of independent artists coming together again in the live arena to represent the distinctive sounds of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Fly My Pretties live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Jimmy Cliff with his astounding level of positive energy and delightful showmanship so many Bluesfests later – and his super-tight Jamaican band.

Jimmy Cliff live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires – akin to a placid James Brown bringing the sounds of funk and soul to the stage.

Charles Bradley live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue who bought his feel-good mix of jazz, funk & hip hop from the lands of New Orleans to get down to in Byron Bay, yet again.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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You can check out Trombone Shorty’s take on funk with this here sample track from his album Say That To Say This….

Trombone Shorty - Say That To Say This album cover

Say That To Say This (2013)

‘Get The Picture’ – Trombone Shorty – Say That To Say This

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Paolo Nutini…whose musical style may not be up my personal alley of taste, but who impressed me nonetheless with his engaging live performance.

Paolo Nutini live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Rodrigo y Gabriela and the way just two people and the stunning sounds of their guitars can so easily fill the space of an entire main festival stage.

Rodrigo y Gabriela live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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No doubt the 100,000+ folks who passed through Bluesfest gates over its five days with leanings towards different musical flavours to me, had lots more of their own experiences of musical goodness.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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All my Bluesfest 2015 experiences both good and challenging, washed away in euphoria within minutes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic arriving on stage to close the festival’s main stage. Some might say that’s a travesty to Bluesfest and its artists to say so, but I do so through the eyes and ears of a long-time devoted Funkateer.

Funk Disclaimer

Funk music has brought me more listening and dancing joy during my lifetime than any other musical style in history. That’s a pretty profound contribution to have made to my wellbeing – one which I am eternally grateful for.

George Clinton and the many incredible musicians, vocalists and visionaries who have flown on the Parliament/Funkadelic/P-Funk mothership throughout its many different historical incarnations have been at the front, centre and side of funk music since the 60’s.

They’ve constantly reinvented themselves and their music to keep it alive in a changing world, musical landscape and life circumstances. George Clinton tells it that all along the way, people in the music industry have repeatedly screwed he and other artists out of royalties and tried to squeeze them down or out.

So to witness and hear George Clinton (at almost 75 years old) on stage in 2015 alongside other P-Funk legends  – still keepin’ the funk alive and fresh – and performing it so energetically and brilliantly for three epic hours, was a super special, blessed thing.

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Amongst those old-school P-Funkers by his side were Robert PNut Johnson (in the P-Funk family since 1976), Michael Clip Payne (since 1977), DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight, Steve Boyd and Lige Curry (since 1978) plus Bennie CowanGreg Thomas and Ricky Rouse (since “a very long time” ago).

P Nut Johnson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Robert P-Nut Johnson

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert- Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Michael Clip Payne (r)

Blackbyrd McKnight + George Clinton - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight

Steve Boyd- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Steve Boyd

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Lige Curry (r)

Bennie Cowan- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Bennie Cowan

 

 

Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Greg Thomas

Ricky Rouse- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Ricky Rouse

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Made Me Do It

The priceless value of George Clinton & co.’s music in my life and to the world of music generally, was more than enough inspiration to make me do things I’ve never done before to take full advantage of the Parliament Funkadelic blessing before me at Bluesfest.

The first was lining up for a George Clinton signing before the show – not to get his name on anything – but simply for the chance to thank him for the profound musical gifts he’s given.

George Clinton at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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The next out-of-character mission was maneuvering my way to the Parliament Funkadelic frontline (in dangerous sound-quality territory) long before their set so I could witness the brilliant chops of each and every one of those artists up close.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Ricky Rouse and Blackbyrd McKnight

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Bluesfest During The Funk

It was there on the Mojo stage frontline at 8.30 pm that all the funk stars aligned and I found myself directly in front of the mothership collective, surrounded by a posse of multi-generational, devoted Funkateer strangers-became-funk-bonded-friends. For the next 3 euphoric hours we watched and listened in awe, danced, and screamed in appreciation whenever asked, for the super-tight live funk delivered by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

On a different day or place I know that live P-Funk explosion could have been even bigger than it was at Bluesfest.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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Long-time musical heroes were joined on stage by a new generation of P-Funk stars who have their own independent music projects going on: Danny Bedrosian – Thurteen – (Garry Starchild Shider’s son) Garrett Shider and George Clinton’s grandkids Tracey “Tra’zae” Lewis-Clinton, Patavian Lewis and Tonysha Nelson

Their presence gives me hope that the funk really can survive long into the future “like it always has” – thanks muchly to George Clinton and so many other artists in the P-Funk family passed and living.

Tra' Zae - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tra’zae Clinton

Tonysha Nelson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson (c) + Danny Bedrosian + Garrett Shider

 

 

 

 

 

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Thurteen (l)

Kandy Apple Redd - George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson + Patavian Lewis

Garrett Shider- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Garrett Shider

Those on stage with George Clinton took their turns to shine – so often at the behest or encouragement of Dr Funkenstein – and unfailingly with his support and appreciation.

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Most P-Funk stars were on stage shining consistently for the whole epic set – including the superb drumming delivered by human funk machine Benzel Baltimore Cowan.

Benzel Baltimore - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Benzel Baltimore Cowan

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We got tasty funkin’ jams and solos, beloved songs of all ages from the vast Parliament/Funkadelic/P Funk discography. as well as new ones showcasing music of the younger P-Funk members like female duo Kandy Apple Redd.

Patavian Lewis - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Patavian Lewis

Tonysha Nelson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson

Carlos McMurray was amongst those youngsters on board the mothership, bringing to life the irreverent but beloved P-Funk character Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk.

Carlos McMurray- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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At the end of those three euphoric hours, the final uncharacteristic thing George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic made me do when I realised the experience was really, truly over and the mothership crew had flown away (maybe never to return) – was to shed a tear.  Dramatic yes? But a true story of the profound goodness of funk music in this life!

Then I moved on to simply be grateful for my music blessing, and relish in the buzz I felt in every cell of my body for as many days as it lasted.

For its shockingly-bad sound quality, I’m loathe to include this video footage from my guardian angel/bodyguard friend behind me at the show protecting my P-Funk dance space, but, dedicated Funkateers might find some goodness in the imagery at least…

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“The Mothership Will Fly Just Like It Always Does”

Thanks to the live experience of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at Byron Bay Bluesfest, it was five days before I could bring myself to listen to any music at all – for fear it might taint that euphoric feeling I so desperately wanted to hold onto.

To try and comfort myself about the mothership’s departure  – and renew my hope that funk music truly will survive into the future, all I could finally turn to was this here George Clinton and The P Funk All Stars song from their seminal 1996 reunion album T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.  Its lyrics affirmed the survival of funk then and always, and funk do I hope that the words remain true into our musical future.

George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars - TAPOAFOM

T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (1996)

‘T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (Fly Away)’ – George Clinton & The P Funk All Stars – T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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At Bluesfest I got to thanks George Clinton personally for the crazy-amazing music he’s gifted the world over five decades. I suppose a benefit of cyber-Beavering is that I can put out here the same deep-felt thanks and appreciation to every other Parliament Funkadelic member past and present – and hope that they or their family might receive those thanks.

Blackbyrd McKnight + George Clinton - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight (c)

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Finally in this long Beaver funk story, thanks has to go to Bluesfest for bringing George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (+88 other acts) back to perform on its stages in 2015.

Greg Thomas - Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Greg Thomas

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Ricky Rouse- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Ricky Rouse

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic devotees can get the low down on their recent Sydney show here and check in to Beaver’s Facebook page for lots more Bluesfest photos coming.

Better yet, funkateers in the U.K and U.S. between now and August can find their own euphoric P Funk experience at one of their Shake The Gate World Tour shows.

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