Plunky Sees Brides of Funkenstein in VA

Sheidia, my publicist in France, contacted me to say she was coming to Hampton, Virginia to see Brides of Funkenstein, one of the two female groups that were a part of George Clinton’s  Parliament-Funkadelic mega-entourage in the 1970’s and 80’s.   Sheidia was coming from Paris because she wanted to meet with original Brides member, Dawn Silva, to discuss working with her on promotions and gigs in France.  

Somehow, Sheidia knew about this gig and I didn’t; but I went online and found the following notice: 

Brides of Funkenstein in Concert in Hampton, VA: The Brides - Original Member of Parliament Funkadelic Performs a fundraising concert in support of Survivors Not Victims (SNV) in Hampton, VA Sunday June 12 at 8:00 pm.  Brides member Dawn Silva, Parlet's Jeanette Washington-Perkins, and renowned singer-songwriter, Sue Ann Cardwell stand together on center stage once again for a worthy cause.  

If Sheidia was coming all the way from Paris then certainly I could go the last 75 miles from my home in Richmond to catch the show, especially since Sheidia indicated that there was the possibility for me to do some collaborating or gigging in the near future.  I was just a bit skeptical.  I hadn’t heard about the gig other than through Sheidia and my own research online.  I didn’t know the venue, the Hampton Entertainment Center.  And a Sunday night was not the most advantageous day for that kind of show in VA.  Plus I had a tennis match Sunday at 6:00 PM.  

Nevertheless, after my tennis match, my son, Fire, and I drove down and arrived at the recreation hall-type venue at 9:30 PM.  As soon as we entered the place I ran into A. K., a local promoter, who said he had just been talking about me because he wanted to me to play a couple of dates for him, including his birthday celebration in September, so right off the bat that made the trip worth it to me!  He told me I could go backstage and along the way I ran into and exchanged pleasantries with a few other people I knew, including another local promoter; J.Lang, a radio station manager; and Chris B., a dear friend and former guitarist with my band.  The audience waiting for the show to start was extremely small which confirmed that a lot of other Funkateers hadn’t heard about the show.    

I went to the dressing room where the group was having pictures taken and I immediately took some photos with my high-end camera just as if I was supposed to be there.

Two members of the band, drummer Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey, and guitarist Lenny Holmes, acquaintances of mine from Richmond who have played with George Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars, greeted me warmly, making me feel right at home.  The show was about to start so I made my way back out front where I found Fire, Sheidia and her two girlfriends who came with her from France.  

When the show began with a drone of the two guitars and keyboard, I had to wonder how this aggregation would gel; but once the bass and drums kicked in any apprehensions I had were dispelled almost instantaneously!  The funk was in the room and I was immediately drawn to the center of the dance floor hypnotized by the groove.   The sound was incredibly strong and clear and after some very brief feedback issues were quickly resolved we were all bathed in the power of the music.  The small audience pressed themselves to the front of the stage in order to be as close as possible to the vibe of those making this super funky sound. 

I didn’t get the names of the keyboardist or sax player.  The second guitarist was introduced as a former member of Larry Graham’s Graham Central Station band.  The bass player was Cherokee of the original Parliament-Funkadelic and he, Lenny on guitar and Bigfoot on the drums were simply superb; they were funkin’ rock & roll personified.  Jerome’s bass drum kicked us in the chest and the bass kicked ass!  And Lenny’s guitar sparkled with crystal clear, razor-edged precision and clarity.

The new Brides were more than credible, singing with passion, prescience and joy.  Dawn Silva, Jeanette Washington-Perkins and Sue Ann Cardwell blended their voices and improvised their dance moves and worked the length and breadth of the stage to create a party on the platform and mesmerize the entire intimate gathering.  Dawn was the mistress of ceremonies who led the group through the repertoire of George Clinton hits and a couple of new original songs, exhorting the band and the audience of Funkateers to higher heights.   What a fantastic night of the P-Funk! 

Fire was impressed too.  He hadn’t been sure that he wanted to come with me to this show; but five minutes after it began, he was elated that he did.  We took turns shooting pictures and video and I made a great digital audio recording of most of the show. 

Afterwards, Fire, Sheidia and I went back to the dressing room for congratulatory conversations, hugs, picture taking and thank-you’s all around. 

I gave Dawn a Plunky On Fire CD and a few days later she would email Sheidia to say she liked my music and couldn’t stop listening to the album.   I will edit my audio and video recordings into a demo that Sheidia and Dawn might be able to use to promote future endeavors and maybe some collaboration.  

Funk not only moves, it can remove and take you on a trip and on that Sunday night it was certainly well worth the journey…