It’s not every day that a tour like George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic‘s One Nation Under A Groove rolls into town. With the Prime Minister of Funk at the helm, this fully-loaded vessel featuring DopapodThe Motet with Shira EliasJosh Schwartz, and Chris Brouwers (formerly of Turkuaz), Pimps of Joytime, and Blue Eye Extinction found a port at Salvage Station in Asheville, NC on Thursday.

For the working folk who regrettably missed Pimps’ hard 6 p.m. start time, The Motet and friends acted as the starting gun to the musical marathon. As this reporter worked to prove the veracity of his claim to a spot on the guest list, the Denver, CO funk institution ironically was in the midst of “Get It Right”. We got it right thanks to the professionals at Salvage Station, who were never want of a logistical fire to put out all throughout Thursday’s concert.

Shira Elias made “Supernova”—an original of the band’s Lyle Divinsky-fronted days–all her own as the former Turkuaz members effortlessly coalesced with The Motet. Elias, Schwartz, and Brouwers added new blood to the time-tested body of The Motet, making for a Frankenstein’s monster of funk. The extended ensemble also paid tribute to The Whispers with “And The Beat Goes On”. Motet originally released the cover with Nigel Hall on vocals last year, and though it’s hard to rival the Lettuce keyboardist/vocalist Shira and Schwartz put up one hell of a fight.

Thursday’s performance was evident of Motet reclaiming its place as a frontperson-less jam-funk band. Just like how The Horn Section (Schwartz, Brouwers, and Greg Sanderson) is perfect for improv-focused bands that aren’t ready to commit to a full-time brass section, so too is Shira ideal as a plug-and-play vocalist. In the end, however, it all comes back to The Motet and its leader Dave Watts who alongside Ryan Jalbert, Joey Porter, Garrett Sayers, and Drew Sayers “Keep On Don’t Stoppin'”.

Up next came Blue Eye Extinction with the penultimate set ahead of George Clinton & P Funk (in a bit of creative scheduling, Dopapod’s set was moved indoors at 10 p.m. following Clinton, more on that later). The first-pumping rap-rock funk of Blue Eye Extinction acted as George’s introductory hype men, getting the crowd good and rowdy ahead of the main event. Toward the end, Dr. Funkenstein crept onstage and completely overtook the vibe, quite possibly giving the atomic “your 30-minute set is over” signal.

Following an evening of musical tapas with small plates brought out every 30–45 minutes, it was time for the main course with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. Though Clinton, 80, may have people to do the crowd work and most of the singing for him, his stage presence is undeniable. When he simply throws his hands in the air—and invites you to do the same—none of that artistic outsourcing matters.

Clinton is a true American original. Like seeing Willie Nelson or Bob Dylan or any other legend of a certain age, they may not be in the best of shape but when they come to your town you can’t ignore the frequency.

At a certain point in the 75-minute set, you feel yourself becoming fluent in Clinton’s unintelligible hollering, hanging on every guttural utterance. Ironically, some of his most significant vocal contributions came during a breakdown of Lil’ John‘s “Get Low”, as the massive jam session surrounding George continued to expand as more and more people walked onstage.

Clinton doesn’t get with the times, rather he is the times. With a career spanning six decades, he has consistently carved out a space on the cutting edge of musical development, with much of his current set taking a heavy hip-hop slant. Ultimately, however, Clinton is honor-bound to contact the Mothership and take audiences back to the Parliament Funkadelic heydey of the 1970s with songs like “Get Off Your Ass And Jam”, “P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)”, and of course “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” before he climbs back aboard the craft and returns to the galaxy from whence he came.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic – Salvage Station – Asheville, NC – 6/30/22

Over on the indoor stage, Dopapod offered a palpable change in energy from the moment the quartet opened with “Vol. 3 #86”. Rather than succumbing to the truncated set times that beleaguered the rest of the bands, Dopapod found a way around the system by instead electing to play after Clinton indoors. In total, Dopapod played just about as long as the headliner, much to the benefit of both the band and its fans. Dopapod relished in the freedom to stretch out, fully engaging late-night mode despite the fact it was only 10 p.m.

The band obliged the overall funk vibe and brought out Greg Boyer on trombone to give the group’s hard-hitting music some extra bounce. As shown in the “Nerds” that followed Boyer’s departure, however, Dopapod is still Dopapod and the band is going to do what it does—no matter where or how that fits in with the rest of the bill. “French Bowling” allowed keyboardist Eli Winderman to throw his entire frame behind the clavinet in an effort to keep the funk alive before a run through “Black Holes” from the band’s new self-titled album.

Part of what makes Dopapod such an appealing live act is the band’s originality coupled with its humor. On a tour supporting one of the grand masters of funk, covering Styx‘s sing-along epic “Come Sail Away” may not seem like the most conventional choice, but that’s exactly what Dopapod did for a set-closing walk-off as Winderman exclaimed, “We wrote that!” Returning to the Salvage stage, the keyboardist started up the piano intro once again, only to abandon the starship and instead take the band into “Mucho” to close the enchanted evening.


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Check out photos from the George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic One Nation Under A Groove Tour stop at Salvage Station in Asheville from photographer Steve Wittenberg/MeanPony Productions.. The tour continues tonight, July 1st, in Knoxville, TN.