The audacity of funk

Didn’t score a ticket to GW’s inaugural ball? Spend the evening with the Fort Knox Five and hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa.

In honor of Barack Obama’s inauguration, Fort Knox Five, a local funk group (think Public Enemy meets A Tribe Called Quest pumped with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic) is throwing their own inaugural bash, Funk 4 Peace.

The inaugural concert marks the third time the DJ collective – started in 2003 – will hold a Funk 4 Peace celebration.

“The first Funk 4 Peace took place after 9/11, and a portion of the proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross,” said founding member Sid Barcelona. A year later, Funk 4 Peace took place again, as a commemorative concert.

“This time around, we knew we wanted to do something for the inauguration, a celebration, since the ones in the past were more commemorative,” he said.

The Five took a stance on the election by releasing a YouTube video for their song “Funk 4 Peace” earlier this year. The video – which originally featured Afrika Bambaataa speaking about hope for the future – was soon replaced with footage of Barack Obama after his acceptance of the Democratic nomination. It was through the video that The Five developed a fondness for creating politically infused rhythms.

“The greatest thing is that through this video people who had never voted Democrat or who were on the fence about who to vote for were inspired to vote for Obama,” said Barcelona. “That was great.”

From that moment on, he said, political themes have played a larger role in the group’s music.

“Since we are a band in D.C., it’s hard to escape the political aspect, and there are political themes within our music,” said Barcelona. “But we’re unique in the sense that we’re not in your face or preachy. Instead our music is a dance and party, infused with political messages.”

Barcelona said Fort Knox Five looks forward to a certain opportunity that night: performing an inauguration set with Afrika Bambaataa.

“We’re playing with the godfather of hip-hop who really started everything and brought people’s music off the street and into the mainstream, much in the same way Barack Obama has changed the political system,” he said.

Fort Knox Five’s Funk 4 Peace will be held at 8 p.m. at Modern, 3287 M St. Also to play: Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Slant and Rex Riddem. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of.

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