Saturday night (April 28) was a night full of goodbyes, as the Mothership landed in Times Square. George Clinton brought his mystical band and singers Parliament Funkadelic to New York City’s B.B. King Blues Club and Grill.
It was the second to last show for the richly historic building that has seen the likes of JAY-Z, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Keith Sweat, Aretha Franklin, Brandy, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Busta Rhymes, The Roots, Cardi B, O.T. Genasis, Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe, Brandy, Monica, Ryan Leslie, Ashanti, Ja Rule, Mya, Faith Evans, Das EFX, Naughty By Nature and The Godfather of Soul James Brown all grace its stage the past 18 years. The venue is shutting down due to increased rent by the building’s owners.
Clinton has the played the venue a plethora of times during its two-decade-long run, and he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss the closing, even if it meant getting onstage after just recently having a pacemaker operation. The 77-year-old pioneer sat for most of his set, allowing his troupe of musicians, rappers and singers (about half of whom were his grandchildren) to do the heavy lifting. Some of Clinton’s family watched from the crowd with proud smiles.
“They treated him like family,” George’s third oldest child, Warren, said backstage of why his pop wanted to perform at B.B. Kings one last time. “They always had his back. When he was low he was here, when he was up he was here. It’s good for them to close it out.”
For the elder Clinton, it is also his opportunity to start saying farewell also. He announced last week he’s retiring from touring and letting his family get the keys to the Mothership.
“To see him doing his thing, maybe his last year or so, it’s been a good ride,” Wareen beamed. “It’s good to see he still has the energy to still hang in there and do his thing. He’s got his second wind. It’s a blessing to see him come back.”
Stepping away from the grind of the stage doesn’t mean his dad is packing it in entirely.
“Not retiring from the funk altogether, but it’s my understanding he’s gonna fall back a little bit,” Warren added. “Let the band pick up and they carry it on. He’s still gonna be on the outside orchestrating, but he’s not going to be out there hopping around. I want what’s best for him and I think it’s a good thing for him to take it easy and reap what he sowed, all the benefits. “
The new generation of Parliment Funkadelic includes Clinton’s duo of granddaughter songstresses named Kandy Apple Redd, as well as a grandson named Tra’zae who raps and sings with a group called God’s Weapon, calling their music “Trap Funk.”
Clinton’s collective also includes a gaggle of the original members who have toured with George for over 40 years. On Saturday they went back and forth letting the new generation introduce their songs and going into the classics.
“One Nation Under a Groove” jammed out for about to 10 minutes and weaved seamlessly into “Flashlight.” “Knee Deep” lasted a delightful 15 mins and had everyone dancing.
“The girl is a freak of the week,” George said. “Let’s party like its 1978 up in this piece. Are you ready to party? are you ready to jam?”
Clinton and company were serious about jamming as they stayed on stage for about three hours with no breaks. The Atomic Dog had one final hurrah, and B.B. King’s was the perfect stage.
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