Silver sequins, go-go boots and funkateers invaded The Bayou Sunday night in anticipation of The Original Parliament’s unmistakable funk.
After all, it is funkadelic. What could be expected?
Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas, Calvin Simon and Ray Davis strutted in full costume, playing P-Funk classics such as “Flashlight,” “Cosmic Slop,” “Atomic Dog” and “Testify.”
Glitter, psychedelic lights and trippy ’70s costumes weaved with a mind-blowing groove to energize the crowd into a frenzy for two and a half hours at the Georgetown venue. The group’s unique look and sound made the performance unforgettable.
The ostentatious show proves contradictory to the band members’ true personalities. They are charming, funny, down-to-earth performers with strong spiritual and philosophical beliefs. They are not pretentious about their fame – they simply love music.
“Funk is fun. We’ll stop and play anywhere,” Haskins said during a backstage interview after the concert.
Haskins said the band encourages young people to stay off drugs and away from alcohol. Funk music provides a natural high – their performance at The Bayou made that evident.
After playing together for almost 40 years, the members of The Original Parliament Funkadelic are bound by more than just hit songs. They have become a family that has changed music history.
Most of the band members said they were introduced to music singing in church choirs. They said their influences include The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, The O’Jays and The Platters.
The band got its start during the late 1950s, when it originally formed as The Parliaments with George Clinton. The band sang doo-wop and released a series of singles on labels such as ABC Records.
A decade later, a new group emerged – Funkadelic. It was then that the members started to develop their own funk philosophy – music that embodies pure fun.
Funkadelic continued through the ’70s and ’80s, releasing many albums, including Mothership Connection, Chocolate City, Best of Parliament, Give Up The Funk and Tear the Roof Off. In 1976 and 1977, the group embarked on the famous Mothership Tour.
The Parliaments – minus Clinton – have come back together only recently to form The Original P.
The Original P. did not just reunite the original members – it added new talent to the funk family. Now the band has genuine family connections – the slew of new members includes Davis’ son, Derrick Davis, on bass and Thomas’ son, Gene Thomas Jr., on guitar.
The Original P. has been on tour this year, and returned recently from the Pacific Northwest.
“We’re glad to be back in D.C. – this is where it all started,” Simon said. The concept of the band and P-Funk music originated in the District.
The Original Parliament Funkadelic has traveled a long journey – both literally and musically. Performing for its avid fans required the band to tour all across America, usually by bus.
“We’re the Grateful Dead of funk,” one band member said casually.
The band members said they are the happiest they have ever been right now. Haskins explained happiness is part of the journey in life, not the final destination.
The band seems to follow that philosophy. The band members spend most of their spare time doing what they love – practicing funk.
The Original P. will continue to provide its characteristic entertainment for funk fans, touring for the next two years and then releasing a new single and mini CD, “What’s Dat Shak’n.”
-Jay Crystal contributed to this report.