As any body who’s dropped in on this blog recently knows, I haven’t been active in a good while. Besides the various life circumstances we all face (I know, ya’ll don’t wanna hear about that..JUST WRITE DUDE!) I was also busy for the past year helping my good friend Andre Grindle over at his WordPress blog, “Andresmusictalk.” I had a ball over there writing articles and developing a feature column on that blog, entitled “Anatomy of THE Groove.” This is a weekly post that features new funky music. By “new” music, we didn’t mean music that is out this month, or last month, or even last year. We wanted to focus on music from 2000- that fit the category of funky music. We also wanted to go back and grab joints from the ’80s and ’90s, two decades not considered the best for funk, and talk about and hype them up. The blog went so well and so many new joints kept coming out, including this years #1 smash “Uptown Funk”, that we barely had time to dip back in the ’80s and ’90s like we liked to.
There have been times since I’ve become a huge fan of the funk that I’ve said, “there’s no good music coming out.” Many times you might hear people in your circles say the same thing. The facts are there is a motherlode of funk music to be found on blogs, websites, indie 12″ pressings, and other hyper democratic mediums of distribution. An artist like Madlib can do whole albums in the style of Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis and release them as soon as he has them mastered on the Internet.
But radio is no longer a home for funky music, unless it’s of the independent, listener supported or college variety. For years in the Bay Area we’ve been blessed to hear new funky music from my funk mentor, Rickey Vincent, the author of the “Funk” book, on KPFA radio. He would diligently play new releases from funk veterans and new groups sprinkled in with his classic funk to let us know funk still existed in the present tense. But local radio stations, even the “grown folks” station is no longer the home of funky music, switching to a “Hip Hop Lite” format.
This new weekly feature “Music for the next ONE”, takes over from where my contributions to “Anatomy of THE Groove” left off. Every Saturday I will be featuring songs from any artist of any genre, Funk, Hip Hop, Soul, Rock, Blues, World, Classical, Reggae, that fit the parameters of Funky Music established by James Brown, Stevie Wonder, P-Funk, Cameo, Curtis Mayfield, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Santana, Mandrill, Con Funk Shun, and so many other bands so long ago. The concept is that on a record to record basis, every musician and vocalist has some funk to unleash. If Frank Sinatra ever did anything funky, I’ll find it, share it, and write about it!
It was my observation, along with Andre, Dameion, Frank Jamison and several other friends I discuss music with regularly that today’s music era of streaming, MP3s and downloads bears more resemblence to the early rock and roll 45 rpm dominated era of the 50s and early 60s than the AOR, “Concept album” era of the late ’60s and ’70s. Young people in particular shift through music and pick only the songs they dig. Many other people have made similar observations. Though we miss the day of coherent, strong albums, which are an art to themselves, the current climate is a great one to deal with one funky record at a time. And that’s what this column will do!
When I think of new music I think of my late father. He was the primary music fan in my life who introduced me to a whole lot of music and he always stayed current. To the end of his life he was picking up music by his old time favorites as well as new artists who caught his ear. I remember him enjoying Seal’s (an artist he always liked) rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come” and asking me to get the CD for him when he was in the twilight of his life. His favorite local station, KBLX has changed format a great deal in the six years since he passed. When I hear new funky music from people like Foreighn Exchange and Sharon Jones I think of who’s going to play it? Those artists have great word of mouth, but I also take it upon myself to let as many people know about good music as possible as well using the knowledge of music I have to educate on it as well. Because when a music is not as popular as it once was, the understanding of it decreases as well. So roll with me on this funky trip, and don’t forget to check out my buddy Andre on Friday’s as well for “Anatomy of THE Groove”, as well as the rest of his great content!
Andre Grindle writes at http://www.andresmusictalk.wordpress.com