Friday, July 13, 2012

Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Day 2: Neko Case; Charles Bradley; George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic @ Rockefeller Park

Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Day 2: Neko Case; Charles Bradley; He's My Brother, She's My Sister
@ World Financial Center Plaza

George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic
@ Rockefeller Park

New York, NY - July 12, 2012

This was not intended to feel like a two stage festival but considering the venues were a few blocks apart and the timing worked out right, yours truly got two big helpin's of the funk around the second day of the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival.

He's My Brother, She's My Sister seemed alright from what I heard. But I was distracted. Something was calling me. Something making me walk away from the festival and up along the water's edge, bringing me to Rockefeller Park at the other end of Battery Park City. It was the funk. George Clinton had arrived with his cast of characters (including that bastard Cyranno), staring right into the sun, in white cap and some long, gray pajama-type garb. Introduced by the telethon man from Channel 13, and after a reminder from the venue lady that this was a drink-and-drug free zone (did someone tell George?), this was shaping up to be an odd cohesion. In fact, when you're told the port-a-potties must be used before 9 and to "plan accordingly", you know that George had no choice but to tear the roof off the mothersucker. This was one uptight set-up for the freewheelin' P-Funk.

After about 15-20 minutes, meaning about two songs, into the set, I ambled back to the festival to catch Charles Bradley, yet another lost-&-found treasure from Daptone. Steeped in Stax-style soul, this was a calling to church. In fact, Mr. Bradley appears to have a mission all laid out and was holding a meeting. The down times of the last few years weigh heavy on Mr. Bradley's mind, whether it be heard in "The World is Going Up in Flames" or his stirring finale of "tryin' to make it in America". Even the stunning version of Neil's "Heart of Gold" spoke to the state of affairs. This could have been a solemn set, especially as we heard actual devotions to a specific Lord God, but the screamingly on-key voice of CB, backed by some real cats in the Extraordinaires, made it a good time.

But the funk kept calling me back. And so I went back. Hearing how P-Funk wanted to funk us. Speaking of churches, what was this? George Clinton is the best damn cult leader to walk the face of this godforsaken rock in this podunk solar system in an anonymous spiral galaxy in this thing called the Universe. The man and his apostles hadn't finished yet. The crowd had exploded in size and the park was awash in hands and bodies jumping up and down. Who knew "the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire", the last good catchphrase ever uttered by the human race, was still a hot commodity? It almost pained me to leave as the gang got into "Atomic Dog" but if the actor who played poor Gale Boetticer on Breaking Bad could jog by without surrendering to the funk, who am I to give up?

Neko Case started a tad late (probably also trying to extricate herself, or more likely Kelly Hogan, from the funk), and the speaker blew, and it wasn't shaping up to be smooth sailing but hey, look who pulled it out, all aces? Of course she would. She has the voice and the band to do it. Not to mention the songs, though the set had to take a more unexpected quiet turn. Still, "People Gotta Lot of Nerve" "Hold On, Hold On", and  "Margaret vs. Pauline" were in full effect among other workhorses. And yes, goodly Kelly Hogan was there to sing along, though she herself has a nice new record to support (listen to "We Can't Have Nice Things" immediately). So everything was just fine.


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