On Monday, September 5, 2011, funk music grandmaster George Clinton brought the latest incarnation of Parliament-Funkadelic to the stage of the 14th Annual Arts, Beats and Eats festival. The festival showcases local and national artisans of various kinds, in conjunction with hip restaurant booths and both local and nationally prominent musicians. Clinton and his original collaborators are rightfully considered godfathers of hip-hop, as many of their records have directly or indirectly influenced the legions of hip-hop MCs and producers in the years following the funk ensemble's heyday. Several of the band's seminal albums were recorded forDetroit-based indie label Westbound Records, and so Detroit usually shows up en masse to see Uncle Jam and company when they perform locally.
The crowd gathered in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak was shoulder-to-shoulder as far as the eye could see by the time the concert got going. The eclectically-dressed multi-piece band, featuring alternating male and female leads, shook things up with P-Funk standards like "Tear the Roof off the Sucker", "Flashlight", "Mothership Connection", "One Nation Under a Groove", "Not Just Knee Deep", "Atomic Dog" and more. Clinton, wearing a blue grand marshal's outfit (and sporting what seemed to be a recent hair-and-beard makeover), held court with his raspy baritone, surrounded by the Funkateers, who were occasionally heckled by the dancer/contortionist who does the Sir Nose routine now (there was also someone dressed with a giant skeleton's head meandering the periphery of the stage, and late into the show a hula-hoop dancer crashed the set.)
The climax of the show was a searing rendition of "Maggot Brain" led by the guitarist, a fitting tribute to storied, late band member Eddie Hazel (who says a funk band can't play rock?) The encore of "We Want the Funk" closed the show and the festival, with the audience still energized for more.