Ohio Player: One-man funkateer Junie Morrison hasn't lost his genius.
By Bill Forman
FUNK GETS STRONGER, PART 2 We all have heroes, major or minor, that we somehow lose track of over the years. In last week's column, while getting all hot and bothered about George Clinton's P-Funk show and the Catalyst, I wistfully wondered out loud how cool it would be if the Godfather of Funk were to reunite with Junie Morrison. Afterward, I began to wonder whatever happened to Morrison, the former Ohio Players frontman (who appeared on their three groundbreaking Westbound albums) who also worked his magic on Clinton records ranging from Funkadelic's "One Nation Under a Groove" up through Clinton and P-Funk's Computer Games album. The last I'd heard of him was an album on Island Records that went nowhere, but included an infectious little number called "Driving in a Porsche" whose chorus still runs through my mind even after not hearing it for 10 years. Turns out Morrison is alive and well and has just released a new album that you can't find on iTunes or even Emusic, but can download from his own website. When The City, he promises, is a new album that will "carry you forward and rekindle your love for music," a promise I found dubious at best, especially after the 30-second samples failed to catch my imagination. Still, out of fan loyalty, I downloaded the album, and was surprised to realize that I haven't stopped listening to it since. Morrison's trademark vocal and keyboard arrangements are as brilliant as ever, harking back to a time when funk and R&B seemed capable of saving pop music. It's good to know that artists like Junie are still as talented as ever, even if they're forced to work on the music industry's periphery as they carry on a tradition mined by Sly & the Family Stone, Shuggie Otis, U.K. funk duo Linx, the late lamented Tony Toni Tone and--when he feels like it--Prince.
REGGAE IN THE PARK Never let it be said that Müz doesn't rush to company events, especially when they offer an excuse to get out of the office on a sunny afternoon. Eager to catch the debut of our sister paper's free summer Music in the Other Park series, we hopped on the 17 to catch Pato Banton and his local band Sol Horizon getting all irie on the San Jose populace. Banton, of course, is no stranger to Santa Cruz, having performed here twice over the last year. This time out, he had a horn section and backup singers along for the ride, which gave him a bigger, if somewhat more unwieldy, sound compared to his Vets Hall gig. Backstage, he told Müz that he and his wife are getting ready to leave behind their lives in his native Birmingham, England, and make the big move to Southern California, where the weather, he says, is better for his skin. Expect Banton and his cohorts to be coming through town even more often in the not-too-distant future.
Metro's Music in the Other Park series continues with Matchbox Romance on June 15, Matt Nathanson and Matt Kearney on June 22 and the Wailing Souls on June 29. It's held in the heart of downtown San Jose at St. James Park, which is located at 105 N. First St. All shows are free with festivities beginning at 5:30pm and headliners going on shortly after 7pm.
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