It went something like this. Around midnight, Secret Agent
Bill hits the boards for some high-energy punk and ska tunes
- good sound, high energy, tight players. Pretty soon George
Clinton takes it to the stage in colored braids and urban
camouflage, and the signature rhymes start to fly: "No
one knows where the nose goes when the doors close!"
he announces for starters. George and singer Ben Stupid jump
down hard on an Agent original called "Nobody Knows."
Now Kei-Key "Bu" joins in on the microphone, heating
up your earwax with some out-on-the-block rock and hip
hop. The band launches a riff-heavy stoner-rock anthem that
bombs along with the chant, "Smoke Dat Dope! Toke Dat
Smoke!" It's clear this Agent/Bu original won't win any
Presidential blue ribbons, but I can tell you it rocks the
house party double time. George Clinton's showcase of new
stars has landed.
By now the sweat factor has been activated as various P-Funkers
rotate into the mix - exactly where are they all coming from?
- Funkadelic drum genius
Frankie "Kash" Waddy, six-string samurai Blackbyrd
McKnight, the sweet sounds of P-Funk sirens Belita "Mother
Funk" Woods, Kendra Foster and Kim Manning.
As 99% of L.A. sleeps, the intensity inside the club spikes
like the safety dials on an overexcited breeder reactor.
George breaks out a hilarious number stage tested previously with Prince
check it out on the Purple One's new CD "One Night Alone Live":
"It would be ludicrous to think that we are new to this.
We do this - this is what we do." And there's another
song in which George stunt-casts himself in the role of a
booty-music dilettante: "What is a booty?" he sings,
"And how will I know if I'm shaaaaking it?"
You turn this way and check out George's son, singer Trey
Lewd, mixing it up on vocals with the original Bride of Funkenstein,
Mallia Franklin, who's arm in arm with the all-purpose player
known as Poo Poo Man, King of the Hollywood Blues.
Over on that end you get Jeff Fogerty on guitar, son of Creedence
Tom Fogerty - Jeff is Secret Agent Bill's producer and engineer.
There's Geo Evans of the Busboys laying down the groove on
guitar, Stuart Hanley from the S.O.S. Band on keys, and rhythm-rider Rob Poole on bass. Right behind George,
P-Funk illustrator Overton Loyd hoists up the magic marker
slogan that seals the moment: "Caucasian Tested, Brother
There you have them, a stage full of revelers, veteran funketeers
pretty girls recruited from the floor, a wide-screen spectacle
of big smiles and beautiful attitudes. Not since "Hee
Haw" has Hollywood hosted a barn dance to rival this
And at the center of it all there's Sonny Cool, Secret Agent
Bill's manager and producer and Bu's daddy. In Sonny you meet
an original Chicago funketeer from the Raw Funk band (Rhythm
Around the World), and, along with
Agent drummer Stefan B., the originator of this punk-funk
"Please don't mess with my dreams." It's the chorus
to a ballad in the key of "Maggot Brain" - Sonny
performs it with his daughter Bu, and together, voices rising
and falling with all the hope and heartbreak of the blues,
they build an emotional peak to the show.
This is the music style known as Cosmic Slop, measured out
with razor sharp chops and served
up hot. Each crescendo yields a new glowing ember of funk
that becomes the landing party's prime directive: locking
on and locking in, stoking the initial idea into a Mardi Gras
parade of improvisation.
It's like a raft ride on a swift current. Hold the phone
- there's George taking the lead to "Turn this muthah
out!" and bring home the golden chorus: "We want
the Funk - give us the Funk!"
To this day no one can ride herd on a buck-wild big band
like George Clinton. I swear some of his screams could split
boulders. Yet the melody is
constantly bubbling up, and the harmony to match. He is a
human earthquake-maker, a bipedal tuning fork of rhythm and
rhyme - there hasn't been a voice this rich and ragged in
the glory of the electric blues since we lost Willie Dixon,
Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters.
With very little advance warning, it seems that a mob of
funk legends, side-by-side with a group of talented near-newborns,
has turned a Tuesday night at the local watering hole into
a musical demolition area, kicking down walls between genres
and letting fly with an arsenal of rock, hip hop, acid grooves
and funky sloganeering led by the planetary mass of music
knowledge known in his inner circles simply as "G."
It made me proud as hell to be an American.