21 Jun 2012
- Written by Warren Roseborough
I left my house knowing that funk was in my near future, fully expecting it to fill my camera lenses to overflow.
Yes it was Funky in Memphis on Saturday (June 16), particularly at the Mud Island Amphitheatre, where a capacity crowd gathered to get funked up at Funk Fest 2012.
It was a show of stars, from hip hop to R&B crooners to some nasty funk. You want names? OK, try these: Frankie Beverly & Maze, Charlie Wilson, El DeBarge and Slick Rick.
Announced as a two-day affair with many more acts, the Funk Fest was slimmed into one day, with four acts. The finished product – the work of Variety Entertainment – was soul satisfying.
EL DeBarge showed that the "ladies' man" label still fits him, as most of the ladies screamed and cooed from the beginning of his performance until the end.
I've seen Charlie Wilson on several occasions in recent years, and he literally seems to be getting better each time. The crowded was dancing all over the amphitheatre. The high-energy performance was punctuated by at least four costume changes. At one point, Wilson and crew even performed in a fluorescent scene with only the colors on their clothes showing.
Slick Rick performed a short set before Frankie Beverly. He threw down on a medley of his hits, including "The Show," "La-Di-Da-Di," and "Children's Story."
Is there a better festival anchor than Frankie Beverly and Maze? I think not. Frankie came out in his usual white. I had to go change my batteries between acts and all I heard was that funky introduction to "Laid Back Guy" and the group being announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Maze, Maze!"
Radio personalities Stan Bell, Stormy and Angela Jackson of V103 did a great job emcing the show. Bell did his roll call, and with the music playing, he had the crowd doing the "Wobble" and myriad other dances. Memphis represented well.