Legendary funk and jazz saxophonist Maceo Parker is most widely known for his work with James Brown in the 1960’s and George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic in the late 1970’s. He has amassed a huge following the last two decades, thanks to his hard work, spirit and sheer talent. By releasing more than ten albums and collaborating and recording with the likes of the Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deee-Lite, De La Soul, and others. His work with Prince, both in the studio and on the stage, has been hailed by critics as ‘pure genius’. https://bluessoulfunk.com/
On a cloudy and cold late-April evening, Maceo Parker made a stop in Ashland, Oregon and treated the funk-charged crowd to a night they won’t soon forget. Playing in the small and intimate confines of the Historic Armory, where the acoustic quality is largely dependent on the crowd size, his name alone inspired a sold-out crowd to venture out on a chilly Tuesday night to take part in funk.
The evening started out with blues band ‘The Rogue Suspects,’ who are best known for backing up Bo Diddley and opening for James Brown. This band was added late to the bill, playing to a mingling crowd, mostly who were either just showing up to the venue or waiting in the long line at the concession stand. The band sounded out of tune in the beginning, although they did pick up the tempo as the crowd got larger. Sounding like a pale mix of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Steely Dan, the Suspects provided a pleasant backdrop for the real festivities, which were about to begin.
Next up in the evening, Ashland, Oregon funk band, Funkamungus. Bringing a large local following, and citing Maceo Parker as a main influence, Funkamungus hit the stage with energy and confidence. Led by founders bass player, Johnny Di Frucia and vocalist Chris Keefe (who, in 2009, named his son ‘Maceo’), Funkumungus warmed the crowd to a fever pitch. Some in crowd, sporting the band’s logo on t-shirts, stated that they were there mainly to see Funkamungus. Loud and brilliantly entertaining, they performed as if it were their last show.
After a short intermission, it was time to bring on the legend. Backed by ‘The Greatest Little Funk Orchestra on Earth,’ bass player Rodney Curtis, formerly of Parliament-Funkadelic, Ron Tooley on the trumpet, who also played with James Brown, Dennis Rollins on trombone, drummer (and nephew of Maceo) Marcus Parker, guitarist Bruno Speight, and vocalist Martha High, Maceo Parker hit the stage to electric reaction from the crowd. Starting off with music from his newest album, Roots and Grooves, Maceo and his sax screamed into the night at the wide-eyed spectators. Some of whom were Funkamungus fans, who were hearing Maceo for the very time first time, or so they thought. The classic, ‘Pass the Peas’ had the crowd literally jumping for the ceiling in front of the stage. Even the barriers of the VIP area were brought down to accommodate the sudden rush to the stage. People of all ages jumped, jived, danced, and smiled well past midnight, before Maceo left the stage, and the building, very quickly.