Downtown Long Beach has been presenting some great shows this summer. They really know their audience and this Saturday should uphold that record with the fourth annual Long Beach Funk Festival. There are some funky veterans appearing this weekend including Motown guitar legend Dennis Coffey and a few witnesses to the hey day of both Sly & the Family Stone and Parliament Funkadelic. Ten hours of sweaty, sweaty funk. Here are a few bands to look out for.
“Gimme that Funk” from 1975
Guitarist Dennis Coffey is of the funky generation that managed to unlock an incredible amount of secrets from the electrified guitar. Much like guitarist Skip Pitts in Memphis, or Phil Upchurch and Pete Cosey in Chicago, Coffey took the guitar beyond just a string nailed to a board introducing new textures to Detroit as a member of Motown's Funk Brothers. Can't miss the man who put the psychedelic in the Temptations' “Psychedelic Shack.”
“Stand Tall” from 2011
Bootsy Collins, the star-eyed, cartoon-voiced, bass shredder will not be appearing at the festival, but he does have a franchise band thriving on his endorsement. The Bootsy Girls have a sound that grabs from every decade of funk, from the background party vocals of Sly & the Family Stone to the crisp guitar backing of Prince. Sisters Sallye and Tamah roll on a R&B wave of empowerment and the occasional saxophone solo. This funk carries a bit of a breeze.
The Family Stone
“Hot Fun in the Summertime” from 1969
With Sly Stone proving himself, how should we say this, unreliable in the last thirty years, other members of Sly & the Family Stone have carried on to keep the essence of one of the greatest bands of the late 1960s, regardless of genre. Original drummer Gregg Ericco, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson and saxophonist Jerry Martini have been punctually taking the message around the globe, bringing that unique blend of rock, funk, and doo-wop that made Sly & the Family Stone so electrifying in the first place.
“Do You Want My Love” from 2011
Despite the fact that the Neville Brothers are currently on a farewell tour, they don't seem to age. That changes when you realize honey-voiced Aaron has a 52-year-old son. Ivan Neville, Aaron's son, has carried on in the family business. His band Dumpstaphunk has a sort of jam band soaked in New Orleans humidity. You want funk? How about TWO electric bass players? This band is loaded with low-end and not afraid to wield it.
Brides of Funkenstein
“Amorous” from Funk or Walk (1978)
The Brides of Funkenstein lent their voices to Parliament records, Eddie Hazel's amazing solo album Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs and managed to put out a few of their own bratty dance floor favorites. That was only after they served as background vocalists for Sly & the Family Stone. Dawn Silva is leading this polygamous afterlife now. Don't mess with these girls.