It was a bittersweet goodbye at the final performance of the 2011 Music Festival, a later-than-usual 10:30 p.m. performance by funk legend Maceo Parker. There might have been more time spent looking back on the highs and lows of the last 17 days, but it's a good thing there wasn't because the crowd was there to dance.
Parker earned his rank of saxophone legend in some of the hardest working bands in show business history - the JBs and Funkadelic - and decades later, those ingrained lessons in showmanship are now second nature. He knows the stage, and knows how to have a good time.
During a bass solo, when half of Parker's octet had stepped off stage to take a break, there he was playing around at the back up singer's vacant microphone. Later in the show, he used an interlude between songs to lead the rapt audience in a call and response of increasingly difficult scat phrases.
After calling out "We're gonna freeze," not only did the band all stop on a dime, but they all remained completely motionless on stage while the crowd cheered.
"We don't play jazz," Parker told the crowd. "This is what we do not play," he added kicking the band into an uptempo bop number that probably would've pleased quite a few festival goers at a different venue. Parker broke off the number and kicked into the JB classic "Make it Funky."
During the rest of the show, Parker and the band delivered exactly what was promised, a funky dance party.
They touched on a few classics from the James Brown catalog, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "Pass the Peas," as well as a notable Parliament tune or two. The rest of the show was driven by the band's musical chops, which were abundant, and seasoned by Parker's charisma.
After a two hour set, the band bid everyone a fond, protracted farewell, and the audience, who heeded Gibson's opening request to make use of the dance floor, left sweaty and smiling.
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