Bring on the Funk! Downtown music festival showcases legends of funk

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funk-festivalOn Saturday, Aug. 29, from noon until midnight, internationally recognized legends and local bands alike will lay down the funk along Pine Avenue for Downtown Long Beach’s first funk fest.

Made possible by the Downtown Long Beach Associates and the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency as part of the downtown Summer and Music (SAM) concert series, the funk festival is being coordinated by Bobby Easton—a Long Beach resident and 20-year veteran of the national funk scene.

Long Beach Funk Festival expects to draw more than 10,000 funk fans to Pine Avenue for 12 hours of free, all-ages entertainment, non-stop dancing and infectious energy. It’s sure to be the grand finale of Summer And Music (SAM)—Downtown Long Beach’s hugely successful, re-vamped summer music series featuring more than 40 free shows.

“This event is special for music fans in many ways,” Easton said. “It’s meant for the old school funk fans who grew up listening to funk in the 70’s when it was topping the charts and funk fests were drawing crowds of 80,000 people, but we also want to target and educate the youth who don’t know what funk is. We aim to rekindle the spirit of these 70’s funk fests, because funk music, along with jazz and blues, is a national treasure and part of our cultural heritage. More people need to know that.”

And if you don’t know what funk is, you will never forget after this. In the street closure at Broadway and Pine, legends of funk Mandrill, Dawn Silva of the Brides of Funkenstein, Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and The Meters’ Experience (featuring Leo Nocentelli) will bring the foundation of funk to the streets of Long Beach. Local funk favorites like Delta Nove, Breakstra, OO Soul, Slapbak, Baby Stone (Daughter of Funk Icon Sly Stone) and Danny Bedrosian and Secret Army (coming all the way from Florida and featuring current members of Parliament Funkadelic)—will get you on the good foot, too.

To help round out the funk experience beyond the music and add to the festival’s vibe, LBFF will also feature the George Clinton Art Exhibit presented by Getdown Entertainment, showcasing the bright and energetic visual creativity of one of funk’s finest.

Special guests on the bill include Blackbyrd McKnight of Parliament Funkadelic, Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini of Sly and the Family Stone, and LBFF Master of Ceremonies Rickey Vincent—author of “Funk” the Music, the People, and the Rhythm of The One,” the definitive study of the history of funk. The addition of Cynthia and Jerry is extra special, as this August marks the 40-year anniversary of Sly and the Family Stone’s legendary appearance at Woodstock. And, to make the date even more special, Aug. 29 is Michael Jackson’s birthday, so the performances are sure to feature tributes to the King of Pop.

The festival’s motto, “Sustaining our future through funk,” speaks to both the need to preserve and celebrate funk music in America and the commitment to do so in an environmentally responsible way.

To that end, LBFF aims to be a green-driven event, raising environmental awareness by using green vendors and sponsors throughout the festival. Alternative energy and alternative modes of transportation are also integrated and encouraged, and free bike valet parking will be available, courtesy of Long Beach Cyclists.

As SAM’s major sponsors, Downtown Long Beach Associates and the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency understand the draw and appeal of live music, and that there is too much incredible funk music to ignore. So, they’ve partnered with two local event-savvy music gurus—Justin Hectus (co-founder of Schooled In Song) and Rand Foster (owner of popular Belmont Shore record shop Fingerprints)—to plan this summer of stellar sound. Better still, under the knowing and funky mind of Easton, Long Beach is fulfilling the mission: one nation under a groove.

The Long Beach Funk Festival takes place August 29 from noon to midnight. Visit for more information.

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