Sunday, May 20, 2012

Get Down, Baby

If Chuck Brown was going to go, at least Sir Joe came.

How appropriate that the week that the world lost the go-go pioneer, Richmond was lucky enough to get Sir Joe Quarterman and the Funk Ark to bring the soul and funk to the capital city.

The ticket told you everything you needed to know.

On it, Sir Joe is pictured circa 1973 (the year he had his biggest hit) with a 'fro and porn 'stache.

I heard someone say, "Is that Isaac from "The Love Boat"?" but I thought it looked like a stellar way to spend a Saturday night.

The show is part of Soul Power's fifth anniversary party going on all weekend and soul/funk DJs took turns spinning while people danced before the Funk Ark finally appeared around midnight.

They launched into an extended instrumental, setting the tone for the dance music that was to follow.

The Funk Ark had drums, keys, guitar, bass and horns and while they were decades younger than his original band Free Soul would have been at this point (all, that is, except the bass player, who seemed to be a peer of Sir Joe's), they knew what they were doing.

Horns gotta wail, bass gotta thump.

Once we had been sufficiently warmed up, Sir Joe came in wearing a headband (a late arrival asked me half seriously, "Where do you buy a headband like that?") and a suit and carrying his trumpet, ready to go to work.

And dance. Sir Joe did not hesitate to bust whatever moves were necessary to spread his funk energy over the room.

"Everybody, dance!" he yelled time and time again.

His enthusiasm was contagious and almost all of the crowd was dancing by the second song, which included his version of "Respect."

It was an interesting crowd, more diverse than your usual Balliceaux show, but late arriving and in not nearly the numbers I would have expected.

I was happy to see multiple DJ friends (always a sure sign this is a show that should be seen), an editor dancing his ass off, and a woman with hair that reached below her knees.

As in when she sat down, her braid looped around her hip and rested in between her calves.

She stayed put but the crowd continued dancing non-stop.

A musician I know observed, "This is so awesome, but I think they brought in ringers for dancing. Did you see how good some of those people are?"

I didn't have the heart to tell him that they may not have been ringers, just people responding to hearing true seventies-style funk.

It does make your body move whether you want it to or not and the bass line is going to pretty much decide where it goes.

"I brought you here to have some fun, We're just getting started and you're ready to run." Sing it, Sir Joe!

A curmudgeon came up and complained, "Is it me or do those guys look thirty years younger than in the  pictures?"

Personally, age wasn't a factor for me and I was more than happy with Sir Joe and whatever backing band he'd brought with him to Richmond.

When they finished their set, Sir Joe took leave of the stage and the crowd chanted "Sir Joe! Sir Joe!" until he returned to his rightful place, eventually singing, "It's like thunder and lightening. The way you love me is frightening."

That's an encore for the ages.

And then it was all over and DJ Pari went back to playing vintage funk to keep the party going.

Asking for my check, I was surprised when it arrived with a note written at the bottom, saying, "Stay awesome!"

All I can do is hope.

But after having Sir Joe's funk energy showered over me tonight (that and a loopy girl's drink), I feel sure that getting down, baby, is a sure-fire way to stay awesome.

I will not, however, be wearing a headband.

That I'll leave to Sir Joe.

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