Give up the funk

“Funk is its own reward” is an aphorism that George Clinton, funkateer in chief and commander of the electric spanking of war babies, has asserted on numerous occasions.

But whence did the funk come? Some say the mother ship beamed it down sometime in the late 1960s, in a visitation as important as when the Annunaki—extraterrestrial fish people from somewhere near Sirius, the Dog Star—contacted the Dogon tribe in Mali, West Africa, eons ago (or perhaps it’s that the Annunaki visited the Sumerians in what’s now Iraq, and the Dogon heard about it later; these stories tend to get mixed up over time).

Others give the funk a more mundane source: In July 1965, R&B singer and bandleader James Brown—who had been pushing his particular brand of emo-soul toward a more sharply percussive and rhythmic brand of dance music, with all the band’s musical components conspiring to pump up the beat—released a new single called “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” Its electrifying stop-start cadences set the music world on its collective ear and set in motion an escalating rhythmic onslaught that still is reverberating today.

It is this particular genesis that two local music figures will celebrate this Sunday evening, July 27, in a dance party at The Distillery, at 2107 L Street. Larry Rodriguez, longtime spinner of funk, R&B, world music, old-school and jazz sides at his local club-based “Dance Party” shows, and Scott Soriano, longtime KDVS DJ and proprietor of the Moo-La-La record label, will be celebrating the 38th birthday of funk by spinning loud, rhythmic homage to James Brown and His Famous Flames, along with that group’s various offshoots—the J.B.’s, Sweet Charles, the Dee Felice Trio, Bobby Byrd, the Last Word, Lyn Collins and others. The music starts at 10 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m., it’s a 21-and-over event, and the cover charge is $3.