Unprecedented collaborations and all-star supergroups rule the roster of an upcoming festival in Northwest Arkansas. The Great Unknown Festival is a unique occasion, spawning a brand new band called The Unknown Allstars, who will perform for the first time.

"Unknown" is an outformational description, since the band includes former members of The Meters, Parliament Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone, and Aquarium Rescue Unit. The very foundations of funk are present.

Jeff Sipe Leo Nocentelli, original guitarist of The Meters, and keys wizard Bernie Worrell (from the early days of P-Funk), are genuine progenitors of funk rock. Worrell's latest release is with Col. Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. He's also performed with Talking Heads and his own Woo Warriors. The duo of Nocentelli and Worrell is an indicator of the deep psychedelic funk you can expect, along with utterly far-out improvisations and some serious in-the-pocket playing. What rhythm section could keep up with these cats?

The drum unit is Jeff Sipe and Count M'butu, both members of Col. Bruce Hampton's Aquarium Rescue Unit, and brothers of rhythm from numerous collaborations. The deep underpinning of the funky ensemble is San Francisco's Bobby Vega on bass. He played with Sly & the Family Stone as a teenager, then did a stint with Tower Of Power, and later played with Steve Kimock in Zero, KVHW, and SKB, including a string of a dozen shows in nearby Fayetteville, Arkansas over the years.

Nobody knows what could happen in this unprecedented collaboration. All the prolific members of this off-the-wall conglomeration sport decades of touring and recording accomplishments with numerous bands. Improvisation is the essence of the Great Unknown, as this lineup convenes for the first time.

Count M'butu The Unknown Allstars have also proclaimed that they are open to collaborations with other musicians at the festival. Several high-caliber friends are expected to be milling around the area.

The Great Unknown Festival roster also includes heavy-hitters Stockholm Syndrome, and Grease Factor, each sporting several interesting connections to the Unknown Allstars and friends. The lineup will also feature Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Brothers Past, Addison Groove Project, Melvin Sparks, Speakeasy, Mountain Of Venus, Eckobase, Flipoff Pirates, The Station, Bockman's Euphio, Shanti Groove, Moonshine Still, and Future Rock. The MC will be Emmy-award winning narrator Jim Hinde.

An all-star lineup of this caliber has never before shared the stage at a festival in Arkansas. This could be a historic festival, and magical Unknown things are bound happen. Pick up advance tickets and make plans to experience The Great Unknown.

The festival will take place October 8 - 9, 2004, at Kings River Retreat near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. On-site camping and late-night shows are included in the ticket price.

Tickets are available for the $55 in advance and available on JamBase. For more information go to

Daniel Gold
JamBase | Arkansas
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[Published on: 10/4/04]

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