Dâm-Funk Museum of Fine Arts, Houston January 31, 2014
A museum by its very definition is a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest are stored and exhibited. Our very own Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has an impressive track record of doing just that, combining stellar visuals with impressive sounds through its Mixed Media event series.
In the past, these productions have delivered memorable sets by Shepard Fairey, Grandmaster Flash, Peanut Butter Wolf, and many others. Guests are provided the opportunity to drink and dance among priceless works of art with approximately 2,000 of the city's most fashionable, hippest and overtly talented individuals.
Local vinyl spinster DJ Sun has been tapped as the newest curator of this series, and along with DJ Melodic kicked off the festivities as the crowd trickled into the big art house on Bissonnet Street. We arrived just prior to the 8 p.m. start time to avoid the long lines, which soon snaked all the way beyond the corner and nearly towards Hermann Park. Dressed to impressed and with their dancing shoes on, the crowd would soon begin to move and groove to a mix of classic East Coast hip-hop, Latin beats and smooth Chicago house tracks. Sun's ability to select just the right record for the moment is almost unrivaled in this city.
Everything about the night, from the free mini-margaritas, the food truck, the Smilebooth photo booth, to the lighting and the sound, seemed a perfect fit for enjoying the pleasantly cool Friday night in H-Town. Besides the docents enforcing the "NO FOOD OR DRINKS" border line on our way to the restrooms, party patrons were free to mix and mingle as they saw fit, laughing and smiling as they connected with old friends and made new ones.
Once the opening DJ sets came to a close, the crowd anxiously anticipated the entrance of the night's headliner. Damon Riddick hails from Pasadena, California, and is known to call himself a Modern-Funk artist, while others proclaim him to be the Ambassador of Boogie Funk. Whatever he's called, this vocalist/DJ/producer/rapper exudes cool from his body even before he touches the mike, turntable or keyboards. Dressed in a checkered blue plaid shirt, futuristic Loc-style shades, and with a lit cigarette perched upon his lips, Dâm-Funk hit the stage ready to party. Oh, and its pronounced "dame" and not "dam/damn" -- as the event's MC, Ky Meyer, kept repeating all night.
"This one is for 1979!" stated Funk as he hopped onto the turntables. Rolling through a combination of funk classics and early hip-hop dance records, he attracted the majority of the night's attendee's towards the front of the stage, all of whom danced and yelled in appreciation towards the headliner's record choices. From the start, the selection of Lakeside's "It's All The Way Live" and other bouncy beats fed the crowd's appetite for groovy, smelly, down-low dirty funk. By the time he dropped De La Soul's "Me, Myself, and I", he was already the night's champion.
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Soon we would be entertained with tracks from his latest project entitled 7 Days Of Funk. This collaboration with Snoopzilla (aka Snoop Dogg/Lion) was released late last year, and embodies both artists' devotion to funk music and their dedication to continue the legacy of the genre's pioneers such as George Clinton, Herbie Hancock and Prince.
Once the opening drum kicks of "Hit Da Pavement" filled the air, both Funk and his fans begun to bounce with the rhythm and bob their heads as they smiled wide. Both Funk and Snoop have mentioned that this project is one of cosmic proportions, and that they set out on a journey to reconnect to the mothership of funk. Judging from the approval of the Mixed Media crowd, they definitely succeeded in reaching that goal. "Faden Away" followed, and those who could did the Crip-Walk, and those who couldn't did their best to keep up.
Once Dâm-Funk jumped onto his Micro-Korg XL synthesizer/keyboard for an extensive solo, it was almost time for the party to end. But the absolute love of music in general, and funk in particular, pushed this headliner to squeeze out every last ounce of time he had left to entertain the now-dwindling audience.
Live for the funk. Die for the funk.
Personal Bias: I'm not a white boy, but I play the funky music any chance I get.
The Crowd: Lovely, live, and loud.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I'm glad I got dressed up for this. It feels like a fashion show in here!"
Random Notebook Dump: I remember sneaking into the Mixed Media show that featured Grandmaster Flash some years back. We stood in line for what seemed like forever, then we were told the show was over capacity. So I walked around the building where the smoking section was and walked right in just in time. That was fun.
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