RedEye

SXSW 2013: Chuck D-Bootsy Collins summit

AUSTIN, Texas -- In his keynote address at the South by Southwest Music Conference, Dave Grohl hit on the theme of "voice" and the importance of the individual in music. On Friday, funk pioneer Bootsy Collins and Public Enemy's Chuck D focused on the primacy of community.

"Groove-ment," Collins called it, conjoining the terms "groove" and "movement" as he spoke to the power of collective action. King Records in Cincinnati was Collins' first label, where he worked with James Brown. The label was a one-stop shop, where records were recorded, mastered, pressed, boxed and shipped. Dreams became songs that turned into tangible artifacts, a product that could be sent around the world.

"Funk is making something out of nothing," Collins said, and funk took root in the South, particularly in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, and worked its way around the globe in the late '60s and '70s. Even in the disco era, "funk was all over New York," Chuck D said. It was the voice of the black community and an essential building block of what would become hip-hop. "Without you, I wouldn't be here," Chuck D told the bassist.

Collins remains a slender and flamboyant cartoon character/jokester/musical virtuoso, looking as if he just stepped off one of Parliament-Funkadelic's 1970s album covers with his top-hat, jewelry and shades. Chuck D, with his flipped-back baseball cap and T-shirt, was the scholarly rebel, who called for greater emphasis on regional scenes and music.

"How do you expect the community to support the arts when the arts community can't support the artists?" he said. He called for an "occupy the airwaves" movement that would focus on local radio programming and a renewed emphasis on local music.

Such idealism was ground in the realities of what it takes to become a successful musician. Collins laughed about how no matter how well he and his bandmates played, James Brown found fault. "You had to bring your 'A' game every night... It made me practice even more because for James Brown it was never enough," he said.

With George Clinton in P-Funk, freedom prevailed for Collins and his gang, apparent from their first meeting. Collins said he stepped into Clinton's home in Detroit in the early '70s and entered complete darkness except for a black light illuminating Clinton, who was wearing a white sheet and oversized "chicken feet."

"I didn't care what he said," Collins said, "I already knew this is where I belong."

greg@gregkot.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Yep, I took my dad to Lollapalooza

    I suppose I should be old enough to know by now that something doesn't become un-cool just because your parent is there.

  • Lollapalooza style portraits

    Lollapalooza style portraits

    Concertgoers pose at the three-day fest in Grant Park.

  • Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    And just like that, there’s only one day left of Lolla. Here’s what stood out to us from day 2. Best: The Tallest Man on Earth: Maybe it was just a right-mood, right-set situation, but boy this was the perfect mid-day act to take a breather, sit in the sun, and just chill and listen to and enjoy....

  • 50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    Shots in The Dark at Parliament Nightclub with 50 Cent and The Underground Nightclub with Wyclef Jean and Joey Fatone July 31st

  • Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    One day down! Here’s the best and worst we saw at Lolla on Friday, plus a few superlatives from day 1. Best: Anyone who knows me knows I was bound to pick Paul McCartney as my favorite act of the day. The Beatle came out and gave it his all with more than two hours of hits, tributes and jokes about...

  • Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    What can you really say about Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, pop music pioneer, worldwide cultural icon, and all-around great guy, that hasn't already been said? I mean, seriously. With the Beatles changing music for the better, becoming a pop culture institution and being "more popular...

Comments
Loading
70°