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[whitespace] Genuinely Funkified

George Clinton's time has come, and now he spreads a gospel of groove to three generations of funkateers

By Janet Blaser

George Clinton is exactly what he seems--sort of. Happily surrounded by those wild multi-colored dreadlocks with swirling garments to match, any observer would never know he was colorblind. He's the grandfather of funk and a literal grandfather of many, living an idyllic but funk-filled existence on a big farm outside Detroit--truly one nation under a groove. And his music, played by a cotillion of outrageously clad (and, I dare say, underclad) world-class musicians, creates a high-energy aura that's deliberately and consciously contagious, backed by a funky beat that's been imitated but never duplicated (except maybe by former bandmate Bootsy Collins--but that's another story).

Back in the '70s, George knew that his time had not yet come--it was his mama, actually, who told him "everything good comes back again." So he's been bidin' his time, living in relative obscurity (if you can imagine) until the last few years, when the Age of Aquarius dawned once more and P-Funk jumped back on the scene. Now with dedicated followers from at least three generations, the master of funk is shining his spotlight/flashlight/whatever on funkateers around the world once again.

From humble beginnings out of a barbershop in New Jersey where he worked as a hairdresser, Clinton's original doo-wop band evolved into the P-Funk style that would change the face of R&B in the '70s, twisting soul into funk and setting dance floors on fire. Now name-checked by modern rappers and other artists who grew up with his music, Clinton shows no signs of slowing down and is more energetic than ever. Who knows, the 40-plus albums he's recorded so far may just be a drop in the proverbial bucket--albeit a funky bucket.

His fans may love the funk, but what does George love? Well, he told me himself: He can't get enough stuffed animals. In fact, he's got a special room in his house just to keep 'em all. And since either his 59th or 60th birthday just passed (depending on who you ask), it would be only polite to bring this shining Leo a present. Find him something special (please, no more Teddy bears) and bring it on down to the Catalyst. Wear comfortable dancing shoes, cuz the show won't end early--Clinton and friends can't resist playing to a dancing crowd, and they won't leave the stage till everybody's ready to go home. Buy tickets now--it's a guaranteed sell-out.

George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars play the Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, beginning Wed (Aug 30) at 9pm. Tickets are $35 adv/$37 dr. (831.423.1336).

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Web extra to the August 23-30, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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