RonKat Spearman’s Katdelic with George Clinton :: 08.29.14 :: Moe’s Alley :: Santa Cruz, CA
The air was warm and moist with human energy well before a decked-out for the freak-o-lution Katdelic emerged, on time and ready to roll – a virtue not to be under-appreciated when it comes to live music. The crowd was primed to pop and as soon as special guest George Clinton entered right from the get-go – a rarity for the often stylishly late to the party Atomic One – the cork blew. Theirs is a sound one feels first, the body receiving pleasant impulses before the brain can really make sense of what’s going down. Forthright yet subtle, devilishly so, Katdelic is just plain seductive and they were out to charm at Santa Cruz’s finest, long-running speakeasy, Moe’s Alley.
While folks often know RonKat from his lengthy lead guitar education at P-Funk University, since 2010 Katdelic has been his pride and joy, and the care and consideration behind the choices in his own band are apparent. Sure, there’s plenty of nasty guitar but not as much as one might expect given his pedigree. There’s a Prince-esque leanness to Spearman’s shredding that’s nothing but double-plus good. Nile Rodgers also springs to mind, particularly in the neatly carved, quite contemporary originals. Yes, there’s a healthy selection of Parliament-Funkadelic classics, but the real show is what’s happening in the group’s homegrown material. Hot Chip once said they liked Zapp not Zappa but Katdelic reflects groovy creators that have given a fair ear to both camps and come away with respect for all and plenty of inspiration for their own curious explorations.
A post-show spin of Katdelic’s latest studio album, D.O.T.M.S. (Dancing On The Mothership) revealed how on-point lyrically, musically and vibe-wise this band truly is – seriously one of the best albums of 2012 most of us straight missed. Besides, One Nation Under A Groove-era Funkadelic and Gloryhallastoopid period Parliament (with keyboards dialed way back), D.O.T.M.S. carries echoes of post-2000 Prince, Kool & The Gang, a host of vintage slow jam pros (12 Play R. Kelly would love this band), and the aforementioned Hot Chip, but boiled down to an essence that’s identifiably Katdelic. Even after just two shows, I’m starting to look forward to hearing their originals as much as the more familiar, revered P-Funk tunes, which makes sense since this isn’t a tribute band but a new tributary off funk’s mighty, muddy river.
But, back to the show, where the beach sanded locals yelled, chanted and got down with every boisterous prod from George. And while the benediction of the Original Dogfather is no small thing, especially when he’s decked out in Prohibition-era gangster chic and clearly feeling the crowd, this is Katdelic’s show and even the big man was a guest, albeit a special one. A sexy feedback loop developed early, tangible engagement in a satisfying way that reminded one how often people just aren’t very present at concerts these days. This evening one saw a lot less cell phone staring and a lot more rump shakin’. Amidst the trademark snippets of P-Funk classics (few songs were played in their entirety with George) and earthily chortled randiness from Clinton, it must be noted that Katdelic and their sharp as a straight razor leader shined brightest during George’s breaks. This isn’t said as a dig against Clinton, who still belts ‘em out a mighty voice of creation and unruly power, but Katdelic’s diversity, tightness and true charm came through clearest when they didn’t have to compete with Clinton’s ginormous shadow and widescreen presence.
RonKat Spearman (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Patrick Simms (guitar), Kirk Peterson (bass), Rob Poole (bass), Alan Williams (trombone), Adam Lipsky (drums), and vocalists Lesley Grant & Genevieve McDevitt- Mauldin (the ladies are thunder ‘n’ lightning, Grant’s earthy sugar mingling with Genevieve’s Betty Davis-like grit) are serious musicians that pleasantly don’t take what they do TOO seriously. It’s a tough thing to be simultaneously tight and loose but they pull it off, just like George and the gang did back in the day. But, more importantly, they fly their own flag, march their own path, and chase that thing – the one that’s so funky you can smell it – with their own hunter-tracker hoodoo, vaguely familiar but essentially their own animal, and kids, trust me you want them to rub up against you and leave a little fur behind.
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