Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Funk You (Flavor for Yo Ear Drum)...Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins Getting Down!!!

                Of all the concerts I have been to, in my life (and of course NOT counting the ones I have played in)...there are a few shows that stand out in my mind...but of course, one of them stands out better then the time I saw the Smut Peddler’s play at Coconuts, in Capistrano Beach…where every single member of my Prop 36 drug-diversion class was present, and all turned out to be BIG FUCKING LIARS about their state appointed sobriety, as they would all brandishing drinks in one hand, and pipes in the other.

More memorial then watching Stanley Clark play at the Galaxy, in Santa Ana, CA, where members of my swing band and I all car pooled with me, driving my 1985 Volkswagon Vanagon...then rendezvousing with another driver…ariving at the show entirely too early, and had to sit through an awful opening band, with was comprised of 9 musicians, and one of them was tambourine player, who never learned what the word "tacit" or "rest", or "just shut the fuck up and stop playing that God awful creation" meant.

           The Chinese water torture of the the tambourine player was followed with an elixir of the living-legend him self...Stanley Clark!.  The torture known as "crappy music" was not felt in vain, for the reward was front row seating with the master...to yet, once again, finding myself flabbergasted at the unusual site witnessed several hours later, after the show...I had left my VW Vanagon bus unattended, with the sliding door WIDE OPEN!!!  My stand up bass, my equipment, exposed to the world of thieves and derelicts…and yet not a single parking ticket, pack of matches, or empty Taco Bell bag was missing (maybe it was the power of God because I did park my bus at a church that night).

More energetic then watching my personal favorites, Medeski, Martin and Wood at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano…where the experience of watching that trio play was just, well, you got to go check them out, I can’t begin to come CLOSE to justifying the sound of THAT BAND…

The most POSITIVE, and just plain ole’ “feel good” show I had the privilege of seeing was Bootsy Collins, the bassist from George Clinton’s Parliament Funk-a-delic.  Kevin Lum, a dear friend, school mate, and band mate of mine, called me out of the blue on one drab December evening.  My life was in pure chaos at this time, and I was a total mess...aimlessly trying to distract my self for another night in hopes that the New Year would just hurry up and waive its ugly head.  My options for the night were either

A)     Go back to my friend Craig's pad where I was crashing, and listen to him bitch about everything on the NEWS that he didn’t like, which was everything…

B)      Go smoke heroin off of tin-foil provided by the Taco Bell on Harbor Blvd, by the 22 Freeway, right after telling the cashier that I blew a fuse in a car I didn’t own (you got to give a semi-valid reason to be provided with a drug smoking apparatus).

C)       Answer my phone, and agree to go see the master of funk up in Hollywood

I went with plan C, said good buy to the local junkies, and then called Craig and told him to hold his breath with his thumb up his ass, because "I was going to the Playboy Mansion" and they didn't allow old fat slobs that bitch about everything in.

I waited for K-Dowg (Kevin) to pick me up at a local gas station.  I had a guitar with me, was broke, and bored…so…I waited at the gas station by the freeway, and played to pass the time away.   Kevin showed up about an hour later, which probably would have been right about the same time the police would have showed up to escort me off the property.  The clerk who ran that ARCO by that on ramp and I have a long standing rivalry, and his goatee rivalled my side burns.  For this reason, we were sworn enemies.  He also resented the fact that people would go into his station, buy gas, and then proceed to buy me beer, as a token of appreciation for my “busking” skills and superior cheer as an entertainer. 

A little bit of the show!!!

With the traffic being lite for a Tuesday night, we were off by 11pm.  Kevin and I reminisced about the good old days, when it struck me...the last time I went with him to go see a concert in Hollywood, we got lost, ended up at a McDonald's with armed security guards on staff, and then I had consumed so many pain killers, that I nodded out, and promptly threw up, all over the side of his van…was that four...five years ago?  I couldn’t remember…

We made it up to Hollywood with no traffic, no accidents, and no one trying to car jack us.  Smooth sailing.  Kevin, being a conservative driver, had his eyes on the road...while I looked around at hookers, police beatings, and the rest of the fine culture that Hollywood will produce on a Tuesday night at 11pm.  No free parking anywhere, and $20 was the average price to park, we settled for a spot by the club that charged $10.  After parking, we scurried to the club…hoping not to miss Bootsy.  While waiting in line, it occurred to us that we may be late for the main event, but of course, in no rush to see a tambourine man again.  We could here the sound of authentic funk coming out of the auditorium.

"Wait Wylie, is that them or a recoding?"

"Oh brother, I saw that movie PCU like 80 TIMES NOW, every one questions what they are hearing at first...IT'S REAL BROO!!! NOW FUNK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!"

I was smoking a bowl of marijuana out of an apple, when the bouncers said “NEXT”. 

“Hey man, aren’t you going to get in trouble for that?” Kevin asked me

“Absolutely not…this marijuana is prescribed to me for a rare unsightly acne condition, it will be fine”…
         The bouncers let us in, no drama, and nothing about my dermatological smoke ables, and we had arrived just in time.  The sounds of the bass, grove so deep, it was ripen the pocket, high energy and positivity filled my ears, my mind, my soul.  I had never really listened to P-Funk, let alone watched Bootsy Collins play.  I was familiar with a lot of the classic George Clinton tunes, but to FEEL the music here…WOW.  Both Kevin and I smiled, and our grins stayed on our faces the entire night. 
Some more of the concert!!!

         Pure feel good magic.  What’s great about funk music is that it is very danceable, and no one gives a flying fuck how you dance.  The kinetic energy was in infectious as the band jammed one song after another.  Flavor for my ear drum.  The show was so enthralling; I didn’t leave once to smoke a cigarette.  Toward the end of the night, Bootsy Collins jumped into the crowd to hug the audience members, and just jump around with them…”fuck this” I thought to myself, I’m not going to miss this opportunity.
         Despite the fact that we were standing in the back, I made my way to the front where the action is.  I tracked down the man, and when Bootsy Collins saw me (yeah there were like 300 people in the club so who knows if he saw “Me” per say) I extended my hand, and hugged the master of funk.  I felt like I had just met Jesus…fucking awesome.  After the show was over, Kevin and I walked around Hollywood and reflected on the show.  As I was hitting on some snobby rich girl from Beverly Hills, a fight broke out.  Kevin, felt nervous about the scenario, and started for the car while I, of course, started for the riot. 
The street riot that broke out afterward because the Bootsy show ended!!!

        Not wanting to be left stranded in “Holly weird”, I said good buy to my future ex-wife, and hoped in the car with Kevin.  The next day, all I could do was sing “Flashlight” and show pictures to everyone.  Later that day, while I was riding a bus from Anaheim, I started to tell the bus driver who I saw play last night.  The bus driver kind of looked familiar to me.  I told him about the Bootsy show, and he smiled and said...

                “Hey man, I was George Clinton’s drummer back in 72…yeah Bootsy is a wild cat…”

What a small world it is we live on ....