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George Clinton and Parliament: Funkadelic at the Catalyst, October 17th 2017

By: Devin Lawrence, Zack Holbrook

“Funk is a force that tore the roof off the sucka that is modern music.” -Prince

We’re all very aware of the trope which typifies the band that hit their peak several decades ago, yet continue to perform and tour despite their aggressive mediocrity, having lost whatever chemistry brought them together originally, so far divorced from their original selves, brittle husks of who they used to be. I am still unsure how Lynyrd Skynyrd is still a Band With Members, given that the greater half of the band died in a plane crash, and Sublime with Rome has always struck me as a strange joke played by a kid showing sadistic cruelty to their Sims in The Sims 4. I’m 90% sure that The Unicorns briefly reunited with Arcade Fire to get that sweet opener cash. Would it be cynical to assume that Parliament-Funkadelic, with George Clinton being 76 years of age, has fallen in the same trap? Is it a passionless shut-up-and-play-the-hits-and-leave-for-the-next-venue situation?

You would be cynical and embarrassingly wrong. Woe unto you, thou of little faith! Funk is a powerful force, and I pray this review serves as an effective epistle to you, the reader, on the vitality of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.

My concert buddy & I weren’t aware of an opener, but that’s what we assumed what was happening at around 10pm, when someone started rapping over someone else beatboxing into a didgeridoo. The whole situation seemed alien and generally bemusing, until suddenly there were looped finger-snaps playing (likely off of a laptop), then suddenly someone’s behind the drums, and someone’s on guitar. Things started to make sense. My gearhead housemate beside me broke a key detail:
“That amp costs, like, $5K at least, either they’re using Parliament-Funkadelic’s gear or they know what they’re fucking doing.”
It turned out to be a bit of both. Another guy came on stage to rap, providing some verses, but mostly doing auxiliary rapping things, like ad-libs, or rapping out the last few syllables of a bar with the first guy. I later found out that the first performer to come out was George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic’s grandson Tra’zae, who managed to get the crowd moving upon the realization that this wasn’t a lousy gimmick, this kid’s got a decent flow and sounds good live!

Before the crowd could get upset about this strange Lack of George Clinton at the Show That Advertised George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, a somewhat aged man came onstage wearing a postman’s cap with angular iridescent jewelery affixed to it with an avant-garde white jacket that would look absolutely ridiculous on anyone else; he gave Tra’zae an affirming hug for getting the crowd decently warmed up. Suddenly, we see touring members of the great mothership Parliament-Funkadelic – a couple of singers who danced in minimalist goth outfits, a couple of guitarists (one of which I’m guessing was Garrett Shider), a bassist (who I assume to be Lige Curry), the drummer, a couple of people on brass. The Godfather of Funk had arrived in our small humble town.

I’m still not sure with what exact song the set opened with. Suffice to say it was a solid jam, not that I could make out any solid lyrics beyond the crowd chanting “Shit! Goddamn! Get off your ass and jam!” An educated guess was that what they started off with had “Get Off Your Ass And Jam” integrated into the true song live, given that the song ended with a few shouts that had the words “new single” in there somewhere. This marked a general tendency on my end to be unable to figure out a solid setlist. Either the lines between one distinct song and another were blurred, or we were in a situation where songs were stretched beyond their recorded length. Maybe some of column A, maybe some of column B, maybe both, maybe neither! It’s hard to say or care, given that you can’t help but get off your ass and jam to “Give Up The Funk (Tear Off The Sucker)” and forget what you were thinking about earlier.

The show pulsed with a vitality and camaraderie that flowed through the whole crowd. The crowd was one of the nicest I’ve ever had the pleasure of dancing with, completely lacking drunk monsters who have a tendency to shove anyone within a 30 foot range, no one getting too far into anyone else’s personal space. I noticed that early on those closest to the stage were relatively short, which I’ll assume were the crowd’s tall people wanting shorter people to be able to see Clinton & company. The intergenerational quality of the attendance confirmed that the funk is for everyone to enjoy, from college brats like me who had just turned 21 to the dudes far from middle-age who were still going hogwild to hits like “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up).”  You could see the crowd move, not quite in formation or unison, but heads bobbing & rolling in an ocean of groove, or also be still and transfixed by a super intense saxophone solo. Someone would yell for people to put their hands up, and by god, you’d suddenly find yourself in a veritable sea of hands, waving to the music. If George Clinton told you to clap your hands, you could feel the collective force of other people’s hands clapping with yours. The show was lush in moments for anyone to go buckwild out of excitement, from the moment you realize the dude playing tambourine was now singing Maggot Brain cut “Super Stupid”, to George Clinton borrowing the hooks to “Get Low” by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz or “I Don’t F*** With You” by Big Sean & E-40. I practically lost my mind over hearing  “Maggot Brain.” The amount of call & response in the show was heavy, whether it be the audience singing along to the chorus, having us clap to the beat, raise up the horns, and with every instance someone waggled their fingers to get the crowd to get louder, I’d get more invested in the show.

Perhaps it can be attested that Parliament-Funkadelic isn’t necessarily a band, but more of a brilliant collective that’s headed by George Clinton. By his own guesstimate, there’s around 75 people in the P-Funk family. There are serious people who leave their mark (R.I.P. Eddie Hazel), but the music clearly belongs to everyone, as long as Clinton’s still conducting this musical crazy train. You can see just how many people make up the P-Funk experience on George Clinton’s website, & not all 70 something were on stage. The members which scattered the stage ranged from those barely entering middle school, to those who witnessed the original Parliament’s first performcnce, but it was clear everyone there was a part of P-Funk. P-Funk seems to be open to all ages, as everyone’s invited! Perhaps that keeps P-Funk from growing stale, with new blood maintaining the vitality of the live show. There’s no “optimal lineup” or combination of P-Funk members as far as I’m aware, there’s just P-Funk as it is, one nation under a groove.

For every part of the show that I could expect came parts I wouldn’t expect. I did not expect any serious rapping over a man beatboxing into a didgeridoo. I did not expect to see a character that I now know as The Nose (presumably Carlos McMurray) to show up at the stage in the middle of the set, dressed in beautiful white fur clothes & a belt that spelled out “Nose” in massive cartoon letters (perhaps in rhinestone), sass the crowd with pursed lips, giving us a thumbs-down for not being live enough, throw off his jacket, & proceed to perform some acrobatic stunts on the speakers. There were a few breaks from the funk for some slower R&B songs, but you wouldn’t expect “Get Low”, a trap-inflected song off Funkadelic’s most recent album, to translate so well to a live performance, and you wouldn’t expect the heavy metal interlude that came straight out of left field, supprising the whole crowd.
“Funk not only moves, it can re-move, dig?” – Lollipop Man

Parliament-Funkadelic live is nothing short of spectacular. Through the show, in spite of my bad back and sore feet that usually bedevil me for shows, I genuinely felt healed. The intoxicating atmosphere had me bedazzled until they ended with “Atomic Dog.” I don’t understand some things about the show, whether or not time was dilated in The Catalyst, if I was actually sore or not, or how in the hell George Clinton’s outlived Prince, Bowie, Rick James, let alone how he’s managed to stay awake after hustling through a two hour set.

Here is what I can take away from the show in good confidence: George Clinton for President. If I could ever afford a car in my life, let me put that bumper sticker on it.

 

KZSC Interview: Grieves at the Catalyst

On November 10th 2017, KZSC Volunteer Forrest Murphy met up with Seattle rapper and producer Grieves for a pre show interview at the Catalyst in downtown Santa Cruz. It took us a minute to get up on the blog but it’s finally here & ready for you!

Peep it below.

 

Multi-Platinum Award Winning artist Sage the Gemini interview w/ RIZ aka RSD & Chuck Bass 10.29.17

On October 29th, 2017, RIZ aka RSD & Chuck Bass got to see Multi-Platinum Award Winning Rapper, Singer, Producer, and Songwriter Sage the Gemini at The Catalyst. We were able to land a really fun interview with him after the show as well, thanks to his manager HBK Omar of Active Management. Check out the backstage interview after the show with Sage the Gemini, in addition to the concert review!

The opener Derek King was on point as DJ J12 got the crowd hyped up, then followed by DJ Gio, who had a killer set composed of both hip-hop and electronic tracks. Chuck Bass, the RPM director, described it as a treat to see the crowd get excited by electronic songs, especially when Sage the Gemini is more known of his “party/feel good music” but has recently tapped into the electronic genre.

After the crowd was prepped, Sage the Gemini came out to a huge crowd of patient and cheering fans. He performed songs off of his new album, Morse Code, and a couple of classic tracks that have probably caught your attention as well, “Don’t You,” “Swerve,” “Now & Later,” “Red Nose,” and “Gas Pedal”. Mid-show, Sage made sure to get a nice pump in by doing some push-ups while the crowd counted him offon top with taking his shirt off mid-concert.  It was a really exciting night as we believe that this year’s performance was better than last year’s. We’d like to thank Earl Salindo, the manager of the Catalyst, as well as HBK Omar of Active Management once again for this opportunity. Be on the lookout for Sage the Gemini‘s newest project titled Who Hurt You coming soon!

For now, check out his newest visual “Watchachacha” below!

WARM BREW! Tracing their Footsteps…

     Warm Brew is quintessentially West Coast – the two are synonymous. Their lyrics, though, are anonymous. (you’ll never hear ‘em copy! Top Notch Baby! Never coming less, sky’s the limit, you gots to believe up in… the Brew!) Their songs are riddled with personal experiences, never boasting of falsified encounters, and mainly speaking of their growth amid the sea spray of the Pacific and the concrete edges of the greater surrounding L.A. county. Since their first EP in 2010 – Natural Spirit – they’ve purely embodied their humble, Ghetto Beach Boyz roots. Native to beautiful Santa Monica and Venice, CA, the trio consists of Manu Li (pronounced Manu “Lee” not Manu “L-eye!”), Serk Spliff(ton), and Ray Wright. Manu and Ray grew up together and met in middle school, I believe, the two later linking up with Serk in high school. Shout out SaMoHi, rivals of my alma mater El Segundo High. While Manu was contemplating a future in politics, Ray and Serk were respectively leading their football and soccer clubs to famed victory, Serk himself winning a state championship and Ray earning himself a spot on the Toreros football lineup (Univ. of San Diego).

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     This temporary split halted the trio’s progression, but upon Ray’s decision to return home they decided to channel all their energy and talent into sculpting a greater sound and presence in Los Angeles. Early on as a group they frequented backyard shows and house parties, wrecking shop and turning the hell up as per usual. Put that on hold…

     As a historian, I’ll be taking you through their discography, beginning with Natural Spirit. N.P (July, 2010), featuring the George Benson-Breezy track “Doin’ It Right”, is riddled with terrific samples, scratches, and lyrics that solidified the group’s recognition in the area. This project included Wright’s good friend, Espy, who produced and handled the keys on various tracks. Espy, your production is legit man, bravo. Give it a listen on: www.espy.bandcamp.com/album/natural-spirit As they put it, the album is, “Fun. It’s hard hitting, it’s devastating, it’s mind blowing, and it’s what we make. Straight hip hop, but always fresh and new. Ain’t no half steppin’ on this record.” Word to Big Daddy Kane, they weren’t bluffing. It smacks! My favorite tracks are: “I Know I Got It”, “Natural Spirit”, “Nineteen”, and an instrumental track that finishes off the album… “Now, Los Angeles”. Moving onward, the Brew’s sophomore release was Warm Brew the EP (June, 2011) in which the group diversified their portfolio and explored the realms of contemporary alternative hip hop, but nonetheless had to spring it allll the way back to Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik & Outkast’s famous “Crumblin’ Erb”, a 420 favorite, on their track “Boilin’ Bud (Dungeon Family Tribute)”. Peep “Tommy Pickles” as well. Here’s the album: www.espy.bandcamp.com/album/warm-brew-ep.

     In 2012 Warm Brew released a couple more albums: Kottabos (May, 2012) & Sippin All Day Last Night (December, 2012). Kottabos features a new array of producers including Al B Smoov (current DJ and extensive producer), DeUno, DJ Dahi, the TeQnitionZ, Danny Dee. The group maintains their lyrical fluidity, while experimenting further with tracks like “Get It,” to get that booty shaking, “Creep” where Serk and Ray get CrazySexyandCool to the classic “Creep” track by TLC, and a smooth track “DGPG” which the Brew wrecks on, inspired by The Alchemist’s “Tick Tock” ft. Nas & Prodigy. They get together with South Carolina natives OxyMoron on “SC 2 SC”, in which both groups with similar stories flow off one another tremendously. Check it out: http://warmbrew.bandcamp.com/album/kottabos.

Warm Brew

     Sippin All Day Last Night carries a similar vibe as Kottabos, another feel-good record by Warm Brew that opens up with birdies chirpin’ in “Hear Ya Say”. This album doesn’t get much recognition, and I’ve noticed that various articles on the group have overshadowed this album for one reason or another. Find it here: http://warmbrew.bandcamp.com/album/sippin-all-day-last-night. I view this album as essential to Warm Brew’s evolution. They mention how early on they were having as much fun as they could, making money, spending money, doing shows, etc. But as we see, the next album Warm Brew would release would go on to get them signed, and I find that Sippin All Day Last Night marks the group’s transition into professional work. My picks: “Hear Ya Say”, “Booze Cruise”, “World Wide International”, “Proper Amount”.

     Continuing on their ride, the group released, hah, The Ride (July, 2013) their longest release to date which included an array of features from familiar friends and new faces alike – vocals from Hugh Augustine, Natia, Azizi Gibson, along with production from Al B Smoov, The Teqnitionz, DJ Dahi, Danny Dee, Joe Brown, and Lord Quest. Their track “Wanna Get High” feat. Hugh Augustine would later earn them great recognition by L.A. native Dom Kennedy (see: From the Westside with Love: II) who had been recently holding it down for L.A. on the hip hop scene along with T.D.E. pioneer Kendrick Lamar. After hours of working together, vibing off one another during studio sessions, and getting to know one another more personally, Dom would have Warm Brew sign onto his independent label OPM (Other People’s Money). Here’s The Ride: http://warmbrew.bandcamp.com/ . My personal favorites from the album: “Good Morning”, “The Ride”, “Wanna Get High”, “Word”, “Lightbulb Effect”, “We Don’t Know”, “Loungin”… heck just listen through!

     The group took a bit of a break until releasing last year’s Ghetto Beach Boyz (January, 2015) under Dom’s guidance. They attribute the album’s fuller feel to his mentorship. He versed them on ways to create a body of work that, from beginning to end, holds up against, arguably, many of the hip hop albums that were up for album of the year (in which J. Cole took home the crown at the BET Hip Hop awards). That may be saying a lot, but this album solidified Warm Brew’s influence in the Los Angeles hip hop scene. They began to receive greater recognition, performing overseas in France (Paris I believe), while turning heads throughout the States. Through this all they have continually stuck to their roots, properly representing where they come from on each track. Over past albums, like Sippin, Warm Brew meddled with G Funk, a sub-genre of hip hop that was incredibly popular during the 90’s on the West Coast (Warren G, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, that trio as 213, DPG, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Hi-C, 2nd II None, list goes on.) Their track “W$ Phonk” is purely G-Funk, from the synths, to Ray Wright’s Nate Dogg-esque crooning, to Manu Li’s playful and insightful (text your mother before others, straight up, she’s takes priority over most! It makes me chuckle, but he’s being real!) imagery. The track is golden. But personally, I prefer “We Can Do It”. The track is graciously layered, mellows you down into a distinct and smooth rhythm, and delivers humbled lyrics that reflect on the group’s journey up to this point. Perhaps “A1Day1” serves a better example of them holding it down for those who have stuck it out with them (including family, friends, a big finger to the naysayers), but “We Can Do It” is a living testament that Warm Brew has continually gotten it done, whether you’ve known it or not, and their business here is unfinished. Check out the album on Spotify, I confidently approve of each track, no half steppin’!

     Their latest album Diagnosis (July, 2016) is their first album under Redbull Records. They are actually the first hip hop group on the label, so props guys! The album is on the shorter side, but it serves as a teaser for their coming works, so don’t stress out. Nevertheless, they continue to deliver the goods, teaming up with Swiff D (who has produced for Schoolboy Q), Buddy, SiR (who is on the rise himself as well), and longtime friend Hugh Augustine. Hugh Augustine is also a terrific artist, I recommend his works (see Word is Bond, Massimo Ciabatta, Hurry Up and Wait). Hugh was featured on Isaiah Rashad’s latest album, Sun’s Tirade (see: “Tity and Dolla”)  which Al B Smoov also produced on (see: “Wat’s Wrong,” co-produced by Smoov). Warm Brew lets us know that they’re sticking to the path they view ahead of them: one of wide recognition, anxious and loyal fans, and further development. “Hallelujah” serves the purpose of thanking the one above for allowing the three, after years and years of hard work, struggling to make money, hopping from one job to another early on to save cash, to still be together after it all. They also pay tribute to L.A. legend Kobe Bryant [we’ll miss you Kobe :’( . Mamba forever ] who retired this past season with their track “24 Pivot”. You can listen on Spotify or on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/warmbrew

Phew…

With all that being said, it’s safe to say that I’ve followed the group for quite some time and am anxious to see what the future has in store for Warm Brew. They have the ultimate potential to become one of the best hip hop groups out of Los Angeles, they have some great expectations to fulfill but I believe they can exceed them all. Best of luck for the future, Warm Brew. They’ve already been acknowledged by various esteemed L.A. hip hoppers like Dom Kennedy, The Alchemist, People Under the Stairs, and members of T.D.E. The future looks bright for them, keep your eyes peeled folks.

Warm Brew will be in Santa Cruz tomorrow night, get tickets online at http://www.catalystclub.com/ or Ticketmaster. I’ll be there mobbing with my crew, it’s gonna get rowdy. Also, check out their music videos which they’ve been coming out with throughout the years, just look ‘em up on the Tube! www.youtube.com or go to http://warmbrewla.com/westsidechristmas/

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Tune in to Beats, Rhymes & Life tonight – midnight to 1am – to hear some of my picks live on KZSC Santa Cruz, 88.1FM. Also stay tuned for an interview with Warm Brew I got scheduled. Peace!

– The Tone

New World Charts-mid April

Will April showers bring us May flowers? Well in the meantime lets check out this shower of new world music here at KZSC!

In out top 10 this week we have Salt Petal’s Sea Monster. This tropicál group from L.A graced our station a few weeks ago as they stopped in Santa Cruz on their tour. Painted caves have also come out with their debut album (check out the review of the album by David Anton Savage on our website). We also have new music by Taraf de Haïdouks who are celebrating 25 years with Romanian ballads and dance tunes!

1    SALT PETAL    Sea Monster
2    PAINTED CAVES    Painted Caves
3    SHTETL SUPERSTARS    A Day In The Life
4    TARAF DE HAIDOUKS    Of Lovers, Gamblers And Parachute Skirts
5    WAYNE WALLACE LATIN JAZZ QUINTET    Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin
6    DOM LA NENA    Soyo
7    VERY BEST    Makes A King
8    NIYAZ    The Fourth Light
9    ALEX CUBA    Healer
10    OPA    Russian Festive

KZSC adds this week feature Québecois folk group Têtu, who’ll be at Don Quixote’s next Tuesday, April 28th and also New Kingston, who comes to The Catalyst May 28th.

1    LE VENT DU NORD    Tetu    Borealis
2   ALTAN    The Widening Gyre    Compass
3  NEW KINGSTON    Kingston University

The War and Peace Tour

warpeace September 6th I had the great pleasure to attend the War and Peace Tour at the Catalyst here in Santa Cruz, Ca.  The tour had all-star underground headliners Immortal Technique and Brother Ali speaking their mind about the injustice and corruption brought forth by the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, and the corporate takeover of the media and U.S. government. They brought attention to the hypocrisies in our government’s current reasoning for war with the Syrian government, asked the audience to stop being programmed by the television, and as always, spoke of revolution. These messages were delivered all the while they entertained the pumped up crowd with refined beats, raps, and the essence of true Hip Hop culture. The soft-spoken delivery of Brother Ali made for the perfect balance to the always angry Immortal Technique. After the show they remained loyal to their crowd and stuck around to meet all in attendance and signed whatever anyone had to bring. The tour continues on across the nation until October 4th and I highly recommend you catch one of the dates because it is a show not worth missing.