Up Close and Personal With Original P-Funk (In Baltimore 8/18/2007)
("I met Jesus once, I saw him walking down the street in Baltimore, eating a tunafish sandwich.."
--Richard Pryor
)


Up Close and Personal With Original P-Funk (In Baltimore 8/18/2007)

I had a wonderful day yesterday just plain hanging out in Baltimore with one of Soul-Patrol's oldest friends. Original P-Funk was one of the very first major artists to lend their support to Soul-Patrol back in the early days of the site.

Of course for them much has changed over the course of the past 7 years.

- Calvin Simon has left the group to become a solo artist in Gospel music.
- Ray Davis has passed away

So the "Original P" is now down to 2 members.
- Grady Thomas
- Fuzzy Haskins

(and of course George Clinton now performs with a different set of band mates)

For those of you who don't recall, the whole idea behind "Original P" was to form an aggregation composed of the ORIGINAL Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame vocalists from "1950's - 1970's Parliaments" (Grady, Fuzzy, Ray & Calvin) minus George and combine them with a new version of "Funkadelic", anchored by their kids (Geno Thomas - guitar & Derrick Davis - bass) plus other former members of "Funkadelic" from the past.

This formula worked quite well during the early part of this decade, with "Original P" playing venues all around the world to sold out shows to audiences across all demographics who just couldn't get enough of "tha funk". They developed a reputation for putting on CRISP & KILLER live shows focused on the legacy of Parliament-Funkadelic.

And of course Soul-Patrol had been a big part of it all as we have followed them around the country, documenting many of these great live shows. In fact when we first started out internet radio operation, Original P donated one of their fantastic live shows to the station, which you can still hear playing at the following link:

http://www.soul-patrol.net/op_live.ram

Yesterday "Original P-Funk" was scheduled to play a gig in Baltimore at an event called the "Stone Soul Picnic". Since I hadn't hung out with them in a very long time, I took yesterday as an opportunity to once again "spend the day with p-funk". Now this is not an activity that I would recommend for the "faint hearted", because there is ALWAYS "drama". Sometimes it's "silly drama", sometimes it's "serious drama", and sometimes it's both. But there is ALWAYS drama and yesterday there was BOTH "silly drama" and "serious drama". I have long ago come to accept this as simply "part of the deal", when dealing with P-Funk. The details don't matter, it's just a part of the landscape.

I arrived in Baltimore at about 1:30 in the afternoon to find the band checking into their hotel. They had just arrived from the soundcheck at Baltimore's Druid Hill Park, the site of the Stoned Soul Picnic event. They had gone directly to the soundcheck after driving all night long from various parts of the United States. So they were all whipped, by the time I encountered them in the hotel lobby. Nevertheless I was greeted like a long lost family member. There are a dozen or so members of the band and at least that many others who are part of the "extended family" all of whom had their own "individual drama" going on. There is a multiplier effect with this drama, because it also extends to past, present and future members of Parliament-Funkadelic, their families, friends and associates. This means of course that it really extends to hundreds of people who simultaneously love and hate each other. So I got to hear about all of that. But I don't just get to hear about it, because I am also a part of it. You see, that's part of what makes it all special for me. I'm not really an objective reporter in this situation. I am a part of that "extended family". They want to know what's happening with the site. They have a vested interest in it's success. They want to make sure that they are doing what they can to assist me. They ask me about the Soul-Patrol Convention. They ask me about things they have read in the Soul-Patrol Newsletter. They also want to know about Soul-Patrol's coverage of the other "splinters" of Parliament-Funkadelic. For example, they knew that I was at the George Clinton/P-Funk All Stars show in July in Philly and they wanted the details of that, both from the concert and the "behind the scenes".

Are you an "information junkie"? These people both possess and consume a mother lode of information. If I were a gossip columnist, I could probably build an entire career just on reporting "P-Funk related gossip". With the advent of social networking sites like MySpace, this has all grown to a level of intensity that is totally bizarre, yet at the same time its also totally normal. It's also a reporters dream. For example, due to a series of minor events that happened after the actual show, I ended up "trapped inside of a car with Fuzzy Haskins" for almost 3 hours. How many music reporters would love to be trapped in a car with the lead singer of a Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame band, who has 50 years of stories to tell, most of which can't be repeated? Later one of the other people in the car asked me if I had my tape recorder rolling. I said that I thought about it, but that if I had, then the conversation would have been very different.

At the end of the day, none of the "drama" matters.
It's really all just another day in the life.
What does matter is that these people endure.
And they perform.
And when they perform they perform great.

Yesterday afternoon, in front of a crowd estimated to be between 50,000 - 100,000 people, smack in the heart of the Baltimore ghetto, Original P-Funk turned it out. I won't go into the details of the show itself, I'll leave that for our own "Dr. Brookenstien" to report on. But they did a crisp & killer set of P-Funk songs for an hour and they had the crowd mesmerized. Those songs have by now become such a part of the American lexicon that their lyrics have become burned into the DNA of Black folks, regardless of their age. For example a little boy, no more than 5 or 6 years old, was pulled up on to the stage. He danced up a storm on stage in between father & son Grady & Geno Thomas. In 2007 the mass media questions the "family values" of Black Americans. Well that sight of that little boy from Baltimore, doing his thing up on stage with Original P would have been a serious shock to the system of those "black culture experts" in the mass media.

Up Close and Personal With Original P-Funk (In Baltimore 8/18/2007) As I looked into the crowd during the performance I could see (and hear) teenaged girls screaming out the lyrics of songs being sung by men who are damn near 70 years old. I loved every moment of it because, after all this is the same hit making music machine my own teenage days. And it makes me feel great to see both the songs and the musicians of P-funk extended into a new generation.

You see it really is a great legacy that was created by Parliament-Funkadelic.

A legacy in language, style, art, culture and communication that endures and will continue to endure.
Taken as a whole, it provides us with a definition for Black culture that is embraced in a positive fashion by people all over the world. They all want to get FUNKED UP. Because to be FUNKED UP is to be at the core of Blackness and despite how they treat us, they all want a piece of that special thing. They all want to possess that "special thing" that is at the core of just why & how we have endured as a people. It's truly a magical thing, that's why advertisers use their music in what sometimes seems like too many TV commercials, movies, etc. It's because they know that even to hear just a snippet of a P-Funk song, will automatically bring a smile to the face of even the most cynical person regardless of their age, race, gender or nationality.

For example, there came a point in time during the afternoon at the hotel, where the "Today's R&B" group Jagged Edge (who was also to perform at the Stoned Soul Picnic) came down into the lobby and I met them and their manager. I took that moment to introduce them all to the members of Original P-Funk. What ensued was a great intergenerational musical conversation full of admiration for the past and respect for the future. Later I interviewed Jagged Edge and during that conversation they talked about the music of P-Funk and how it influenced them.

For "Original P-Funk" it seems too often like funk really is "supposed to be its own reward."
The money never seems to equate with the adulation.
Sometimes that is the fate of GREAT ARTISTRY.
As music fans we generally don't care about that.
For the artists this is sometimes painful.
However they also realize that for them it is the art itself that remains paramount.

For me personally I had a great day.
It was the first time that I had had a chance to see and talk with most of the band since the funeral of Ray Davis.
However I miss the late Ray Davis.
His missing, booming bass voice and infectious personality hung over the proceedings.
He was a personal friend of mine and did a lot to both influence and enable me in doing many of the things that I do today.

I have no doubt that yesterday Ray Davis was looking down on the city of Baltimore.
Perhaps it was he, who provided almost a picture perfect day of weather for his band to extend their legacy out even further for an exclusive group of 50,000 - 100,000 people to experience, embrace and absorb the magic of P-Funk.

TEAR THE ROOF OFF THE MOTHASUCKA
(indeed)
--Bob Davis
earthjuice@prodigy.net





  • Live concert performance by ORIGINAL P (Parliament-Funkadelic) at the Roxy in Boston - : The ORIGINAL brotha's (Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas) who started the whole P-Funk Mob thang off, along with George Clinton, back in the 1950's. They have reformed today where they tour the country presenting one of the Slaminist P-Funk shows that your hard earned dollars will buy you. You are going to hear LIVE versions of Maggot Brain, One Nation Under a Groove, Knee Deep, STOMP and Flashlight as performed by Soul-Patrollers ORIGINAL P!

    Hosted by Soul-Patrol.Net Radio's "nightrain"


    Soul-Patrol Remembers Ray Davis (Bass Singer From P-Funk, Temptations, Zapp, Original P, etc...)



    Ray DavisI was all set to give yall a sterling report from the Vocal Group Hall of Fame Inductions.
    However on my way back tonight my cellphone was burning up with calls, not unlike what happened to me on Friday afternoon with Luther Vandross. I was getting phone calls all the way from Chicago to NJ from members of the P-Funk family.
    Right at this moment I don't feel much like writing anything

    Ray Davis the GREAT bass singer for P-Funk, Temptations and Zapp passed away this evening. At various points in his career, Ray had been a member of all three groups.
    However he is best known as one of the founding members (along with George Clinton, Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas and Calvin Simon) of a relatively unsuccessful/long suffering doo wop group from Plainfield New Jersey called the "Parliaments" back in the late 1950's.

    They later went on to great fame as "Funkadelic", then later "Parliament" and of course as "Parliament-Funkadelic" during the 1970's. Ray Davis's is voice is famous for having delivered some of the most memorable and lasting lines in the history of FUNK MUSIC. In fact some of his most famous lines have become a part of the lexicon of the American language as we know it today and will last well into the future. And for those accomplishments and more, Ray Davis was enshrined into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

    Later he joined Zapp where he played a similar role. Then he joined the Temptations, replacing Melvin Franklin. It is Ray's bass singing that you hear on what was in my opinion, the last great album by the Temptations ("For Lovers Only" - 1995). After that album Ray was forced to leave the Tempations because of the onslaught of lung cancer. When the cancer receded Ray along with Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas and Calvin Simon formed a group called "Original P" touring the country performing P-Funk, Temptations and Zapp songs.

    Ray Davis was a member of the Soul-Patrol mailing list for many years and he loved it, although he never made more than a few postings He was one of the first artists to become "internet savvy" and as such was a big supporter of what we were trying to accomplish here on Soul-Patrol. He opened many doors for us, that we otherwise would not have been able to walk thru...
    He was a friend to me.

    I am going to miss Ray Davis quite a bit....

    NP: "We gonna tear the roof off the muthasuka, tear the roof off the muthasucka, tear the roof off the suka..."
    --Ray Davis


    Bob Davis (7/2005)



  • Live concert performance by ORIGINAL P (Parliament-Funkadelic) at the Roxy in Boston - : The ORIGINAL brotha's (Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas) who started the whole P-Funk Mob thang off, along with George Clinton, back in the 1950's. They have reformed today where they tour the country presenting one of the Slaminist P-Funk shows that your hard earned dollars will buy you. You are going to hear LIVE versions of Maggot Brain, One Nation Under a Groove, Knee Deep, STOMP and Flashlight as performed by Soul-Patrollers ORIGINAL P!

    Hosted by Soul-Patrol.Net Radio's "nightrain"


    A few More Thoughts About Ray Davis



    Ray DavisAs you all know, I have been somewhat out of pocket this week while attending the Vocal Group HOF Inductions. Nevertheless the death of Ray Davis has weighed heavily on my mind all week. He is someone that will be missed.

    While I was at the Vocal Group HOF Inductions on Wednesday I brought with me a printout of the piece that I wrote on Tuesday night about Ray's Death. I passed out the printout to as many people who were there that I thought would care.

    As it turned out quite a few people there cared. As it turned out quite a few people who were there knew and loved Ray Davis.

    These were artists that most of us fans would probably never even place in the same room with P-Funk. Folks sometimes forget that Ray started out as a "doo wopper" in the 1950's.

    People like Danny & the Juniors, O'jays, Dells, Stylistics, Mary Wilson, Flamingos, Martha Reeves, Drifters, Platters, Coasters, Impressions, Clovers, Orlons and more. They had all knew and worked with Ray Davis. They were all in shock when I informed them.
    Their eyes all wailed up. They all then began relating stories to me about working with Ray at various points in their careers

    Much like going to a Victor Wooten show, and seeing tons of Bass players show up, going to the Vocal Music Hall of Fame Inductions you are in a place where there are tons of bass singers. I mean SERIOUS BASS SINGERS (who all have voices so deep that they make "mere mortals" like myself feel like we need an injection of testosorone in order to be in the same room with them.......lol).

    ALL OF THESE GREAT BASS SINGERS KNEW & RESPECTED RAY DAVIS.
    (after all he was "one of them")

    Even the redneck bass singers from the Jordanaires (Elvis's backup singers) knew about Ray Davis.

    As a funkateer sometimes I think of the music/culture that surrounds FUNK as being inside of it's own little self contained world. Then something like the death of Ray Davis and things become crystal clear....

    FUNK...the bastard child of Blues, Soul, Rock, Gospel, Jazz, Doo Wop, etc. isn't really a thing unto itself. It is however more like the Rosetta stone, the primordial building block of ALL of the above.

    Or as someone very wise once told me....
    FUNK = "the essence of ALL black music"

    Ray Davis was the living, breathing, walking and talking embodiment of that simple fact

    "Music so low, you can't get under it..."
    --Ray Davis

    Bob Davis (7/2005)



  • Live concert performance by ORIGINAL P (Parliament-Funkadelic) at the Roxy in Boston - : The ORIGINAL brotha's (Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas) who started the whole P-Funk Mob thang off, along with George Clinton, back in the 1950's. They have reformed today where they tour the country presenting one of the Slaminist P-Funk shows that your hard earned dollars will buy you. You are going to hear LIVE versions of Maggot Brain, One Nation Under a Groove, Knee Deep, STOMP and Flashlight as performed by Soul-Patrollers ORIGINAL P!

    Hosted by Soul-Patrol.Net Radio's "nightrain"




  • Original P ( Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas, Calvin Simon) - LIVE concert featuring Maggot Brain, One Nation Under a Groove, Knee Deep, STOMP and Flashlight LIVE from the Roxy in Boston, broadcast via Soul-Patrol.Net Radio


    The ORIGINAL PARLIMENTS (Funkadelic Relics?)

  • (photos courtesy of David Brooks)



    Original P - Live at BB King's in NYC 7/14/00
    Here is my review of this show, which featured 4 of the 5 ORIGINAL PARLIMENTS who started the whole P-FUNK MOB!!!

    My notes are sketchy and no, I don't know who played what instruments or who alternated on what cuts (folks I don't keep track of that kinda stuff when I go to a show)

    You all know these songs...

    As always, my apologies to Rickey Vincent for the format of this review

    THE MUSIC:

    1. STANDING ON THE VERGE - The band started off playing this cosmic cut, Calvin (Looking something like the Hooded Claw) started things off by
    announcing.

    Welcome to the ORIGINAL P show featuring the ORIGINAL PARLIAMENT:
    Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas and myself Calvin Simon. Grady came out and said "I know yall might have come here to BB King's club tonight, but yall are about to get FUNKED.". Fuzzy was dressed in some kind of a wild fishnet body/jump suit and work a cap that sorta looked like a German Kaiser helmet with multicolored glitter all over it. Grady was dressed as a "sheik wearin purple shorts and shades" and Ray was looking like a "doo rag wearin pimp". Then they started jamming and bout midway during the song these 3 chicks came out looking like a cross between EBONY OILDED DOWN BIKINI BABES and Afronaut hookers from Deep Space Nine..lol


    2. UP ON THE DOWNSTROKE - Grady on lead, implored "EVERYBODY GET UP.." and the audience did as they were commanded..lol


    3. TEAR THE ROOF OFF THE SUCKA - We gonna turn this MOTHA out.


    4. PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE - Ray took the lead on this one, and it was kind of a surprise, but it shouldn't have been. As everyone here knows, Ray Davis took the place of Melvin Franklin in the Temptations after Melvin's passing and you can hear his wonderful BASS singing on the album "For Lovers Only"


    5. MOTHERSHIP CONNECTION - Radio station W-E F-U-N-K


    6. COSMIC SLOP - This was a guitar lovers delight..ORIGINAL P has not one, but TWO STANK Hendrix/Hazel style guitar players and they BOTH took solos that were awesome.


    7. ATOMIC DOG - For this song I left the area where I was sitting and moved to the back where there was a group of brotha's that I joined in dancing and "WOOFFING"..BOW WOW WOW YIPIE O YIPPIE A ..O ATOMIC DOG


    8. ONE NATION UNDER A GROOVE - Fuzzy announced at the beginning.. "We gotta start acting like we truly are ONE NATION, if we don't where will that leave our children."


    9. STOMP -

    CALL: "OP ARE YA WITH ME."
    RESPONSE: OH YEAH, WE GOT THE FUNK, WE AIN'T GOIN NOWHERE."

    Those 9 songs took them 1.5 hrs to play
    The second show was the same as the first, except they added "FLASHLIGHT" to the set

    THE PEOPLE:

    The crowd was about an 80/20 White/Black mix and people were dancing all over the place, in the aisles, at the bar, in between tables anywhere they could. Fuzzy kept telling the crowd to push the tables aside and create a dance floor. Nobody did that because they were most likley afraid to actually touch the marble table tops else be sued my the management.....lol

    BB King's Club is located on 42nd St. in Times Square and is easily the most OPULENT/UPSCALE Blues Club I have ever been in (and I have been in many Blues Clubs). You walk down a carpeted spiral starecase with brass railings to enter the club. At the bottom of the stairs you are greeted by a lovely hostess who asks if you want dinner ($20 cover charge) or just the show ($10 cover charge). When you get to the bottom a 15,000 square foot room opens up with a bar that goes for the entire length of the joint. There are TWO huge video screens which flank the stage (which is also huge). The hostess seated me at my table, which had a marble top and the chairs had musical notes carved out in the back. Not a bad seat in the house.
    I did some research and learned that the club is NOT owned by BB King, but is in fact owned by the same people who own the Blue Note down in the Village. This club is part of the on going "restoration" of Mayor "Ghouliani" which is turning Times Square into something that looks more like a Disney property than NYC. I have no doubt that if I were to do further research that I would find the "black hand" of the so called Blues Music Association (BMA) or BOWEL MOVEMENT ASSES (thank you POP EB) lurking behind this club!

    (& no, I am NOT thru with the BMA)

    One last poin't (mah peoples....where were ya last night?)

    THE ONE:

    Between the two shows I hung out with Calvin, Grady, Fuzzy and Ray for about an hour and we kicked it. As I entered the dressing room, they hugged me and of course they gave props to all Soul Patrollers for your diligence in making sure that the history of Black music/culture is told correctly, and more importantly told by the people who created it in the first place, and NOT by "culture bandits".

    Ray Davis immediately said:
    "You and I are cousins, right.."
    I said:
    "Yeah, we were probably on the same plantation together."

    Everybody started cracking up..lol

    We then sat down and talked about many things including their new CD that they are working on, past times, future times, Plainfield days, good times and bad times with the "Maggot Overlord" and more Let me just say this, I had a BLAST last night and thanks to these brotha's warmth and fellowship I think that I made some new friends last night



  • Live concert performance by ORIGINAL P (Parliament-Funkadelic) at the Roxy in Boston - : The ORIGINAL brotha's (Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas) who started the whole P-Funk Mob thang off, along with George Clinton, back in the 1950's. They have reformed today where they tour the country presenting one of the Slaminist P-Funk shows that your hard earned dollars will buy you. You are going to hear LIVE versions of Maggot Brain, One Nation Under a Groove, Knee Deep, STOMP and Flashlight as performed by Soul-Patrollers ORIGINAL P!

    Hosted by Soul-Patrol.Net Radio's "nightrain"


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