Those “Air Guitar” players ain’t shit.
Single men wearing Deep Purple “World Tour” T-shirts with wispy hair and chewed finger nails, striking a pose like they’re strumming a Dunlop tennis racket, that’s not what it’s about. Air Funk guitar or “Funk Ax” as it’s known in the male bedrooms of funkadelica, is where it's at. To play Funk Ax you got to go through a little something. Before you can play, preparation is the key. Shut all the windows and pull the blinds, leaving just a small gap so the sunshine rays can cut through the smoke, then grab a sheepskin coat – don’t matter if it’s 30 degrees outside and it’s the middle of summer – you've got to sweat. Next, and this is a crucial part, find someone to kick you in the bollocks. Preferably a woman. Make sure you have a mirror near by so you can see your face seconds after impact. You need to see that pain. Then marvel at the relief and the way your face un-scrunches once the pain subsides. Remember it. Fonk Brother ... you are only 2 more steps away from playing your first Funk Ax - all you need now is a brand new imaginary Fender Telecaster and the most important element ...a Funk mp3. An mp3 with a killer Slop guitar solo by either Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Funkadelic, Eddie Hazel or Rob ‘Fonksta’ Bacon.
Say what? Who the funk is Rob 'Fonksta' Bacon?
Progressive Funk goddess Joi calls him “a baadass”. Legendary maverick producer/artist Raphael Saadiq said “Rob's my brother,” and referred to Bacon (who hails from Detroit) as “a muse” when making his Motown influenced monster “The Way I See It”. Original G-Funk rapper DJ Quik said “Bac taught me how to cry through music”. Put simply Rob Bacon is the funkiest guitarist on the planet. A musician and session pro, residing in Los Skanless (that's Los Angeles my blood) so skilled in the art of Funk that George Clinton called and asked him to be musical director on the super group Funk posse 'Children of Production'.
So Bacon may not be a household name but soulheds in every corner of Google Earth know of him through his guitar playing on stage, in session, or on YouTube as musical director for superstars such as Beyoncé & Babyface and most recently Amp Fiddler & Raphael Saadiq. As a leading musician on the 'Slop' scene (black rock funk'd up with soul = Slop) Bacon is just about to step into the spotlight with the release of his own project in 2010. There’s a taster on his MySpace page (still there www.myspace.com/fonkstarr), an instrumental, expertly funky and soulful ballad called “Let It Go (Mental Enema)” from his forthcoming début album “Earth Smells Funny”. Not since Eddie Hazel's playing on “Maggot Brain” had a guitarist played his guts out with such bare nerved emotion (it would quickly become the Funk Ax song of choice). We had the chance to chat with Mr. Bacon whilst he was between tours, about his new project “Earth Smells Funny”, his work with DJ Quik, Raphael Saadiq, Joi, George Clinton and all things fonky. So imagine if you could sit down/hang with Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Hazel or Prince … what would be the first thing you’d do? That’s right, play some music …
“Funk Is Everything”
“I’m really digging the vibes on there man;” says Rob 'Fonksta' Bacon from his LA crib. To get in the mood I'd given Fonksta a compilation called “Slop”, a CD that featured his contributions to tracks by Amp Fiddler & Joi, along with songs by Cody Chesnutt, Van Hunt, NERD, Nikka Costa & notably a heavy guitar version of the Prince B-side “She's Always In My Hair” by D'Angelo. Rob elaborates; “A lot of people ain’t hip to that D’Angelo cut that he and Raphael Saadiq did. I was mad that he beat me to that because I was gonna cover that too. That’s exactly what I try to explain when I speak about my own project, what me Rob Bacon is doing as an artist.”
As an in-demand session pro Bacon's the soul/funk riff chameleon that the stars go too whenever they need some expert sounds. DJ Quik first hired Rob to replay the funk licks so he wouldn't have to sample them. The other night at the Saadiq gig Bacon was dropping some twangy Shalamar “Night To Remember” riffs all over “Doing What I Can”, whereas at London's Scala performing with Amp Fiddler, Rob was laying down with ease some Chic style chicken scratch guitar. “It just depends what the situation is, with Amp that’s what I was trying to bring to the table. Out here I’m playing with different people and trying to make a living so I have to mix it up and stay versatile. But when you break it down to what I’m really into its far right into that line of funk and rock, 50/50 mixture. Not too far on either side. I would never want to (just) be thrown into the black rock category, same goes for being called an urban artist.”
Slop stars are rarely confined to the one box. Vintage slop albums such as “Sign O The Times” by Prince, “Fire” by The Ohio Players or “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On” by Funkadelic all share a backbone of killer slop tracks whilst maintaining a musical diversity that defies genrification except that it's always funky in some way. Bacon nails it; “People forget, they say Soul is this, or Rock is this but Funk itself is actually the most overlooked. Funk is everything. Funk actually is everything. From the grittiest of rock to the comical classical sound over the blues, which is what Funkadelic were doing with Bernie (Worrell) bringing the classical influence and putting it right on top of Doo Wop. Funk is all inclusive. It’s a religion to me man.”
There aren't that many (if any) Funk artists being signed to major labels in the modern era. Black artists with lead guitar funk chops seem to be instantly dismissed as sounding like Prince. “I fell victim to that,” says Rob “I was signed to Polygram as an artist and living in New York just before D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” came out. In fact I met him at the time because we both had the same music publisher, we jammed in the studio and D’Angelo heard some of my stuff but it was already farther left than Polygram wanted for an artist and they were trying to get me to do a Montell Jordan urban single or some shit.” The first deal fell through, Polygram couldn't handle the funk. No worries though, Bacon intends to independently release the demo's from the project (including his own Slop version of a Prince nugget – “The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker”) in the not too distant future “I hold a lot of those songs close to my heart.” he says, adding “You could hear the (funky) direction.” But before that he's finishing up his début, the long awaited “Earth Smells Funny”. The cuts on his MySpace page provide a taste, including the aforementioned emotional/electrically charged 'Let It Go' (Mental Enema)' uploaded in its full 7 and a half minute glory. There's also the lushwhipsmackwestcoastclimatic “Electro Clone Theory” and a tantalizing snippet of Bootsy style nemofreekaquafunk called “Aural Sex”. How would Bacon describe the forthcoming record? “The album will be kind of like “Games, Dames & Guitar Thangs” (Eddie Hazel’s vintage solo album)” he says, adding “You KNOW I gotta get that funk thing off!” So how does a kid from Detroit called Robert transform into a Fonksta?
<“My mother used to date Melvin Franklin from the Temptations”
The Making of a Funkateer
Seven Years Old
At 7, Lil' Fonksta picked up his first guitar, well actually - it wasn't his...
“If you want a child to play an instrument, put that instrument in the middle of the room and tell them never to touch it. That’s what happened to me. My Dad played guitar and he was gigging around during his college days and on the chitlin circuit in the late 50’s and early 60’s, playing soul in little sugar shacks in the old days. He was from Florida a little backwoods place that isn’t even on the map (laughs).” His mum on other hand was “straight Motown”. Bacon starts to sing ...“Baby love, my baby love” (he laughs), “she could always pick out those hits! So I got my ear and love of music from her, but my love of guitar was from my Dad.”
Ten Years Old ... Breezin'
“With my first real guitar I started picking out George Benson songs and my Dad would show me blues licks but I wasn’t taking it too seriously because I wanted to play Football! But I never used to struggle with the instrument. One day I was playing George Benson’s “Breezin” and my Dad heard me tinkering and said to me “Play that again”. But my Guitar was broken because I only had 3 strings and I was playing it on that. I think that blew his mind.”
12 Years Old ... Cry of Love
“My Dad got my first electric guitar and he gave me a Jimi Hendrix album, “Cry of Love”. That was my first Hendrix album and THAT blew MY mind. I heard this sound and it was out of this world. My Dad was smart enough to bridge that gap for me. He knew I wouldn’t want to hear his older music but he was hip enough to get me an album by this guy Hendrix who is still rooted in blues but hip. And that totally connected everything for me.”
14 Years Old ... The Motorcity
“By 9th grade I caught the bug. I used to excel at school but I got so into music I slipped on my studies. I got kicked out but instead of joining my local school, I took a bus all the way downtown to the legendary North Western High School which is where all the Motown cats went, James Jamerson, Ray Parker Jr, all the Funk Bros and all the artists. You’ll see my picture there to this day; it was also the school my mother went to. In fact she used to date Melvin Franklin from the Temptations. She was in his class with Claudette Robinson from the Miracles. She still has the Miracles first album wrapped in plastic (Titled 'Hi were the Miracles') because they were her friends. Can you imagine how much that is worth now?!” (Laughs)
It wasn't long before Rob started California dreaming; “I could see a lot of records coming out on Warner Bros & Casablanca that were recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, so I got out to LA and lied my way into a couple of studio jobs doing the whole gopher thing. My first job was actually at Record Plant which was the real rock and roll studio, working with the likes of Chris Stone (engineer for Hendrix) and both Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers (Chic). I began by making coffee, parking people’s cars and sweeping up puke for guys that drank too much.” Cool. Though it wasn't cleaning up vomit that persuaded Bacon to leave, he wasn't getting enough time to gig or do sessions.
“I got another job delivering recording equipment which allowed me to punch in and out and pursue the career in the evenings. It was then I got my first recording session with Bernadette Cooper from Klymaxx. She was the drummer and singer/rapper who used to say “Don't slap me, I’m not in the mood”. Well she sent her assistant in to rent a microphone at the equipment shop and Bernadette was sitting outside in her Mercedes. I guess her assistant went out there and said “There’s this guy in there and he’s kind of cute” (laughs), so Bernadette came in and my supervisor starts telling them “yeah he’s a musician and he can sing” so I was like man be quiet! I didn’t want to advertise myself like that. They asked me if I had a demo, I said I’d get it to them. My supervisor got her number but told me not to bug her! Well I didn’t call her for months (laughs); her assistant was like “Damn! I know we told you not to bug her but we thought you would call!!” (laughs) I then worked on Bernadette’s solo album ‘Drama’ (a track called “Nothing You Can Do”) but after that I started working with Quik, who wanted to replace his samples with some live instruments.”
“No no, don't touch that baby”
Quik's G Funk Player
In 1990 Bacon began working with DJ Quik, initially on “8 Ball” a song included on his soon to be platinum début set “Quik Is The Name”, Bacon explains “(Quik) had an Isaac Hayes sample which I replaced with guitars and bass and we worked the groove, basing it on Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”. That was the first thing I ever played with Quik on and after that he never stopped calling (laughs)!” Fonksta's funk proof is all over the 12” of Quik's “Tonite (Seasoning Salt Remix)”, a gurgling, simmering bass led jam with a nice bluesy line of Miko Weaver style guitar playing (a moment that has Quik drooling “so nice!”) and a slab of vinyl well worth the WWW hunt (Rob says about the remix “I knew exactly where Quik wanted to go and we connected”). Bacon went on to co-produce DJ Quik's next record, the gold selling “Way 2 Fonky” in 1992. “I fell into the West Coast gangster thing, not because I’m a rap guy at all but they were just sampling so much funk. When I came out and they heard me playing it helped start a new wave. It was Quik and what we were doing and Dr. Dre’s camp. That laid down the foundation for keeping the live element alive, on the west coast at least.”
Fonksta's seminal guitar work on Quik's 4th album, 1998's underrated G-Funk classic “Rhythmalism”, is timeless. 2 cuts in particular stand out - the instrumental version of “Medley For a “V””, where like a speedboat cutting through the ocean Bacon's own liquid guitar backdrop is chopped up by his razor sharp lead guitar solo. The 2nd cut “We Still Party” features a 3 part harmony guitar riff of disco guilt (think Abba, Bee Gees or Brian May) chogged by Bacon for a Chicmeetshiphop track that became one of the jams of the 90's. Where did the idea for the riff come from? “I cut that song in Quik’s living room. He was babysitting and whilst I was playing that his little niece kept messing with my guitar strings (laughs) she kept reaching out and touching the strings so I have to give her the credit because some of the notes came out because she was messing with my guitar! I was like “no no, don’t touch that baby” (laughs).”
Bacon's rap connections enabled him to work with Tupac Shakur, playing bass and guitar on one of his best songs “Dear Mama” (Bacon would also go on to appear on 2Pac's 9x platinum “All Eyez On Me”) The “sweet Sadie” hook from “Dear Mama” was sung by Rob's friend Reggie Green. “Reggie was a keyboard player in my band; we were on a lot of gigs together playing for likes of Babyface when he came to town to appear on The Tonight Show. That was a trip man.” Rob would now become in demand on the gig circuit, as Musical Director for acts including Destiny's Child. In 1996 just as he began hitting the tour circuit he met Mr. Raphael Saadiq.
“These guys are keeping you in the back pocket” - Raphael Saadiq
Turns out Raphael was a fan, “Raphael got hip to me through the DJ Quik projects and got in touch through my buddy G-One” Bacon hired G-One - who like Raphael is from the Bay area - to play drums in Quik's band when he spilt for New York to do the solo thing. He got back and G-One said 'Raphael's looking for you'. Invited up to Raphael's house for a weekend the two musicians traded guitar licks “It was funny because when Raphael invited me out to his crib he was like picking my brains!” Bacon laughs; “We were just vibing and I remember Raphael said to me 'Some of these guys are keeping you in the back pocket, they're keeping you locked in the closet!'” Both Bacon & Saadiq had been playing in their respective towns since they were 9 years old “(we said) If we’d have grown up in the same place we’d have been in the same band. We were so much alike, it's like Marvin Gaye & Leon Ware. So Raphael's like my blood brother musically, that’s my kin right there.”
Fonksta & Saadiq
DJ Quik produced a remix of Tony Toni Toné's “Boys & Girls” and in his trademark style got Fonksta to do the sample do-over, in this case borrowing the awesome funk riff from Sly & The Family Stone's “Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”. That was the first time, albeit indirectly, that Rob 'Fonksta' Bacon and Raphael Saadiq appeared on record together (back in 1997). 13 years on, scanning the credits of the songs Raphael has produced, you can see that Saadiq regularly called his friend for instrumental assistance. As an expert in string plucking funkmanship himself, it's not a necessity for Saadiq to bring anyone else in. Often he can do without Drummers or Keyboard players too, hell when producing Earth, Wind & Fire's “Show Me The Way” Raphael didn't even need Phillip Bailey! (Saadiq's the bloke in a high voice duetting with Maurice White). But Bacon was one of the few additional musicians to appear on Raphael's largely self played authentic soul masterpiece “The Way I See It”. “I would have had Rob Bacon play with me the whole album but he had another gig” explains Raphael. “I gave it (the almost finished album) to him to listen to at the end of the project and Rob said to me “You don't need nothing else ... you got it!” and I was like “no man, just listen to it and any guitar parts that you can hear that are missing (you can play)” Raphael continues “Sometimes on the back beat he'll hear a “Cha-Chink! - Cha-Chink!” - well he (then) added that (to “Love That Girl”). And like at the end of “Keep Marchin” where it gets aggressive ... that’s me and Rob playing together.”
Fonksta & Spanky
Listening to Bacon's own production work around this time on the overlooked Trey Lorenz “Mimi Presents” (an unusual Mariah Carey spin off concept), its apparent that both Rob & Raphael are on the same analog wave length when it comes to sound authenticity - The Jackson 5 clone “Broke & Lonely” is so on point musically it could have been produced by Berry Gordy and the CorporationTM . Fat funky arsed fuzz guitar over a foundation of hopscotch rhythm licks, topped off with a sweet tangy riff on the bridge ... incredible. But his stand out contribution on Saadiq's album is the mean n' meaty Chuck Berry style riff featured on the current single “Let's Take A Walk”. Whilst were in the mood, check other Saadiq productions featuring Rob - the sugarrushlovedup “I Found My Everything” by Mary J. Blige (also featuring the late, fucking fantastic Spanky Alford), John Legend's sublime sunset lullaby “Show Me” & Amp Fiddler's fastcarfunkstrut “Faith” (Rob helped co-write the last two). But if '”Faith” is at least funkier than a pair of Fat Joe’s gym socks then the genuine Funk enlightenment was attained on Joi's superfunkycalifragisexy Slop killer “Dance With Yesterday”.
Dance With Yesterday
Joi, Tennesse Slim, Sexy Red, Star kitty, Hot Heavy & Bad
“That is one of my favourites,” explains Rob “one day Joi walked into the studio (The Raphael Saadiq owned Blakeslee Recording Studio in North Hollywood, California) and said “I’m feeling Prince today, I want to channel Prince today” and she said that just as I was playing the riff on “Dance With Yesterday”. I’d had that riff forever on some shit I was doing. So I picked up the Telecaster, you have to pick up the Telecaster when you’re playing Prince! And Joi did the Linn drum program. I then played over that, Raphael started playing the bass and laid that down live and I did some overdubs. Kelvin Wooten did the keyboard part, he was supposed to do some more stuff but what he did ended up being the shit. I went off to do a gig somewhere came back a week later and Joi had done the vocals.” To herald the song purely on its Prince style credentials would be an injustice to Bacon and the other two producers (Joi & Saadiq) because whilst the track is an unerringly accurate Prince homage circa 1980, Joi's feminine, soulful lyric and performance propel the song ahead of anything the purple genius ever produced on one of his guurrl groups/artists (that includes Vanity, Apollonia, Jill Jones, Susannah Melvoin or Sheila E). Bacon credits Joi for the edge; “The melody was almost like Stevie Nicks, it could have been Blondie or Missing Persons, whose melodies were so strong. The music is all cocained out. But where Joi took that melody its dope.” Fonksta is rightfully proud of the song; “It’s like when Raphael and D’Angelo did “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”. That's one of the best songs Prince never did. D’Angelo’s from the same school when we all get together and vibe on Prince, we (all) listen to the first four albums.”
Now Prince is a whole 'nutha subject ... But just the 1st 4 albums? That's pre-“Purple Rain”, pre-“Sign 'O' The Times”? At this point the interview digresses (or rather progresses) to talking Prince & Funk...
Fonksta on Prince
“I‘m a Prince head as well, but when I think Prince I think of the albums from his 2nd self titled set, the one with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” through to “1999” and that’s it, those four albums (and some of “Sign 'O' The Times”). He’s one of my idols; he’s like a combination of all the cats that I’m into. Funkadelic & James Brown all in one. It just so happens that at my most impressionable time coming up in high school Prince and The Time were happening. 81-84 that was it, it was all about Prince - he turned everybody out.” So did Prince lose him at “Around The World In a Day”? Not quite “I dug that too, that was a funky album and so was “Parade”. But when I think Prince I prefer him when he was still naïve musically. Right now he’s playing with the best musicians he’s ever played with; it’s very precise and clean. It is great, it shows a lot of growth and maturity and he’s started playing Vegas (however) back when he didn’t know as much he had that edge. I know were taking Prince now but I first saw him around the time of “Dirty Mind” in Detroit, which is like his 2nd home. Back then there was this guy called Electrifying Mojo and he was the cat! He was the reason I did my homework at night. If I came home and I was fucking around and didn’t do my homework I didn’t get to listen to the Mojo show! Cause he would come on at 7/8 at night and play everything. He’d play a Funkadelic song but then put on “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, then a Bob Seger song then something by Joni Mitchell. Then he’d come back and play some Commodores. That was what Prince was about. So Detroit became the city that urbanized what Prince was doing. We also had the European New Wave invasion and Prince came out wearing his trench coat and panties but with a Funk rock attitude. As a 9th grader I’m soaking all that up! I like that real dirty new wave pop punk, especially songs like “Irresistible Bitch” & “Gotta Stop Messing About”; I want to bring back the B-Side (like both the aforementioned songs) that keeps everybody hyped up for the next record. That was the shit; he got that from James Brown. You can tell Prince is my man (laughs)! He makes me want to be in entertainment. Hendrix, Eddie Hazel and all those guys, they make me want to play guitar.”
Clearly George Clinton's Parliafunkadelicment thang and in particular Funkadelic's guitarist Eddie Hazel were both massive influences.
Fonksta on Funkadelic
“The Funkadelic thing ... that is probably where Jimi Hendrix was going before he died, but people forget Eddie Hazel was making records at the same time as Hendrix. Funkadelic with Eddie Hazel, that shit was out at the same time!” Who was a bigger influence? Hendrix or Hazel? There's no hesitation in Bacon's answer “Eddie Hazel was the ghetto; he was the back alley version of what Hendrix was doing. Jimi was playing more blues but Eddie Hazel was coming from a doo wop attitude. You can hear Doo Wop in his phrasing so for me, in my playing you can hear a little more Eddie Hazel. It was more of a soulful phrasing. Eddie was making you feel exactly what was going on in his head at the time.” With so many great tracks to choose from, can Bacon nail it down to his favourite song? “First of all the true Funkadelic song, as far as overall vibe, was “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow” because of the way the band creeps in. Also if you look at the album artwork there’s a picture of them inside in black and white (see above). You got Eddie Hazel sitting next to Billy Bass and he’s wearing a white fur coat and its like that whole attitude… that’s my shit. That's Amp Fiddler’s attitude too. I love the whole “Free Your Mind” album and especially the song “Friday Night, August 14th” because that is the ultimate example of what Eddie brought to it but the first album ‘Funkadelic’ with “Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic?”, “I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing” and “Music For My Mother” that whole (starts to sing) “Wohh hi yayyy, woh hah hahh” chant. The first 2/3 records were very gritty soulful. By the time “Tales of Kidd Funkadelic” came out they were starting to make that transition into what Parliament became, which was George Clinton's answer to disco. Michael Hampton plays guitar on that album and I use a lot of Hamptonisms in my soloing when I go into those classical runs, but tone wise I got a lot from Eddie Hazel.” Realizing that he's in the groove and has just named more than one favourite Bacon laughs “But that’s hard man I can’t break it down to one!” “Actually one of my favourite songs by George Clinton & Eddie is a Parliament song called “The Goose” from the “Up For The Down Stroke” album ... in fact you got that album around there? Put that song on ...”
Yep it's in the CD rack; snug between Funkadelics “Cosmic Slop” & “Standing On The Verge OF Getting It On” (placing CD's in chronological order is like placing the beat on the one). Drop the CD in the tray, skip to track 3, and it begins ... “ooh ahh yeah you’re so sweet…” – I fade it down once the vocals kick in – but its too early for Bacon's liking, “Man you got to listen to that all the way because Eddie starts going off! He starts soloing, he spins it out. See what I'm talking about with the doo wop vocal? That heavy 3 wino’s on the corner vocal and that bluesy Hendrix style riff underneath it? That’s one of my favourite tunes … that should have been a Funkadelic song.”
Who Says A Funk Band Can't Play Rock?
Children of Production’s Baadaas guitarist
Undoubtedly it's this nous to the art of the Funkadelic that led George Clinton to pick up the phone and ask Bacon to be the musical director on a super group Funkadelic tribute band called Children Of Production. Supporting on several dates of Clinton's own P-Funk All Stars tour in 2005 the band featured the cream of the contemporary US Funk Mob ... including Amp, Saadiq, Joi, Keisha Jackson, Preston Crump, Cat Daddy & Stephen Perkins covering the likes of “Who Says A Funk Band Can't Play Rock?”, “March To The Witches Castle” & Bacon's beloved “Friday August The 14th”. For Bacon and Saadiq the music just felt right. So they formed a compact, tight Slop band called Hazel and tested the formula in 2006 at a handful of European shows, “We tried that to see how Raphael took to doing the bass and vocal thing like Sting in the Police. It also gave me more freedom on guitar and afterwards we loved it, so we were like “wow, we stripped it down”” says Bacon. Rumours of a pending group project leaked before they'd had a chance to record the demo's “I was like Ok man (to Raphael) you put it out there, now we gotta do it. I said it should have a heavy Eddie Hazel influence and he was like “We should call it Hazel, it has a vibe to it” and I thought that was hip. We got about 3 grooves in the can for the project; we just got to get our schedules and time together to work on it.” The live European dates (billed as Saadiq shows) opened with the exciting slopadelic re-work of Saadiq's “Instant Vintage” bonus cut “By & By”. As a purely live performance, the whole gig was beautiful but a stolen moment. A gig that left those with the Funk in their hearts, which need sustenance everyday, a gaping whole in their personal music stash. A band project where Fonksta hand picks the musicians like he did with Children Of Production? That'll work. It might just work commercially.
Funk Is Everything (Reprise)
Indeed some of the most historically successful popular recording artists played both funk and slop. Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Prince, Chaka Khan, James Brown & Outkast were just a few, but the black music industry focus has shifted away from musicians to be about formulaic Techno pip pop that none of the kids will still have on their next generation iPhone playlists in 5 years time. Funk lives on with contemporary artists still carrying the torch, artists that may at times have got their fingers burnt, but are still doing it funkier & coldblooded. The braves include Andre 3000, Amp Fiddler, Joi (Hot Heavy & Bad), Van Hunt, Saadiq, Erykah Badu, ?uestlove, Rahbi, George Tisdale, Yahzarah, Dirty Fuzz & Janelle Monae. And when Rob 'Fonksta' Bacon delivers his long awaited debut set it'll have Funk solo's that we can all Funk Ax too. As UK world class Funk Ax player Justin 'Don’t-hurt-em' Merton said recently “I’m getting tired of playing along to the same old licks, where's the new badarse shit for me to shadow to?” If the killer jams displayed on Fonksta's MySpace page are anything to go by it won't be long. When he finishes committing those monstrous grooves to digital, it could be part of the movement & instrumental genesis that helps rejuvenate the derelict urban contemporary musical landscape, cause right now the Earth Smells Funny.
You can find Rob 'Fonksta' Bacon holding a lead guitar at a Raphael Saadiq concert near you. Hit www.myspace.com/fonkstarr for the calendar.
Thanks to Rob for his wisdom, slopiness, plec theory & the fuuunnnnk. Can't wait for the album.
Shawn Bacon for your help and navigating the timezone
And Little Richard for kicking off the original groove.