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Sunday, May 11

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic

Ural Thomas & The Pain

8 p.m. doors, 9 p.m. show

21 and over

$25 advance, $27 day of show

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic

George Clinton is one of the foremost innovators of funk music, and was the mastermind behind the bands Parliament and Funkadelic. Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.

Clinton started his career with the Parliaments, a barbershop doo-wop ensemble, which scored a major hit with "I Wanna Testify" in 1967. Clinton then began experimenting with harmonies, melody, and rhythm, and taking cues from the psychedelic movement, forever setting himself apart from the Motown era.

By the early 1970s, the group's tight songs evolved into sprawling jams around funky rhythms. They dropped the "s" from the band name and Parliament was born. Around the same time, Clinton spawned Funkadelic, a rock group which fused psychedelic guitar distortion, bizarre sound effects, and cosmological rants with danceable beats and booming bass lines. Funkadelic recorded a number of influential concept albums, including Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, Maggot Brain, and America Eats Its Young.

Parliament and Funkadelic captured 40 hit R&B singles, including No. 1 hits "Flashlight," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Aqua Boogie," and "(Not Just) Knee Deep." Clinton's collaborators included keyboardist Bernie Worrell, guitarist Eddie Hazel, bassist Bootsy Collins, saxophonist Maceo Parker, trombonist Fred Wesley. On stage, spectacle ruled the day, with an enormous mothership, outrageous costumes, and marathon performances.

In the 1980s, Clinton emerged as a successful solo artist. He released Computer Games with the No. 1 hit single "Atomic Dog," produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers' pioneering Freaky Styley, and signed with Prince's Paisley Park label. He also began to experiment with the urban hip-hop music scene, as a generation of rappers reared on P-Funk began to name-check him.

Clinton has become recognized as the godfather of modern urban music. Beats, loops, and samples of P-Funk have appeared on albums by OutKast, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, De La Soul, Fishbone, and many others. As Clinton has said, "funk is the DNA of hip-hop and rap." In 1996, Clinton released the solo album The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership, which reunited him with Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins.

In 1997, Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guitar Center's Hollywood Rock Walk, and earned a Lifetime Achievement Award at the NAACP Image Awards. In 2002, Spin voted Parliament-Funkadelic No. 6 of the 50 Greatest Bands of All Time.

Over the past decade, Clinton has continued to play sold-out shows across the globe, while a countless number of his songs have been licensed for film and television. Currently, he is compiling new and old songs for an exclusive online-only release, fighting for artist rights through the P-Funk Initiative, and blogging about these issues on his website, Clinton also continues to support the youth through the Mother's Hip Education Foundation, and through donations to the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield, New Jersey. 

In October of 2011 at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York, an all star line up of entertainers including Bootsy Collins, Paul Schaffer, Questlove, Fab Five Freddy, and countless others came out to pay tribute to Dr. Clinton for 50 years of music making. The event called "Absolute Funk" also benefitted New York City hospitals.

At the start of the 2012, Berklee College of Music President Roger H. Brown present Dr. Clinton with an honorary doctor of music degree in recognition for the funk icon's enduring musical and cultural contributions. Dr. Clinton spent four days with the Berklee students culminating in a collaborative concert with the music pupils.

In the midst of non stop touring that took Dr. Clinton and P-Funk all the way to jazz festivals in the UK and France earlier this summer, the septuagenarian rock star took time out to break ground at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in late June. During the groundbreaking on the National Mall, P-Funk headlined a concert called "Bring Back the Funk" with Ivan Neville and Meshell Ndegeocello. The museum also acquired The Mothership, the iconic stage prop made famous in P-Funk's 1970s live shows. The ship, donated by Dr. Clinton, will help anchor a permanent music exhibition when the museum opens in Washington, D.C in 2015.

Other highlights of Dr. Clinton's 70th year include running a campaign to help digitize and preserve P-Funk's amazing catalog of master analog tapes. Dr. Clinton is an also an advocate for artists rights through fighting for his right to the copyrights of his work and raising awareness of copyright issues. His efforts were recently the subject of an in depth piece on National Public Radio.

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Ural Thomas & The Pain

Article below from Willamette Week by Matthew Singer

Ural Thomas has lots of stories. He's been around the block, you might say, even though he's lived in the same North Portland house-which he claims to have rebuilt himself, using all recycled materials, after it burned down in the mid-'70s-for the past four decades. In his youth, Thomas was a hot-shit soul singer, with a voice of equal parts grit and grace, who went from performing on street corners to sharing stages with R&B royalty. He says he opened the Rolling Stones' first show in America and one of Otis Redding's last. He played the Apollo with James Brown. He tells tales of record companies piling money on his bed and sending women to his hotel room, trying to seduce him into signing a contract.

Hearing him recall those days, from a seat in the cluttered rehearsal room at the rear of his home, it's hard to parse fact from fiction, the exaggerations from the misremembrances. But Thomas, 73, who speaks in soft, mannered tones, never sounds boastful. Those memories, for him, aren't about personal glory, but pain and disenchantment. Yes, he met his idols and became their peer, but he found many of them cold, dismissive and mean. He was lied to by labels, ripped off by managers and betrayed by his own friends. No matter how accurate the details, the stories Thomas shares say everything about who he is, and why he eventually returned to the neighborhood where he grew up and never left again: He just didn't have the heart to make it in the music business.

"I didn't have a clue it was like that," Thomas says, a glint of that boyish innocence still lingering in his large, watery eyes.

But second acts are big in 21st-century American life, particularly when it comes to forgotten soul singers. If it were up to certain people, Thomas-like Sharon Jones, Lee Fields and Charles Bradley, artists whose careers were revived after years in obscurity-would enjoy his own moment of rediscovery. And some are actively working to make it happen: Earlier this year, a group of young Portland musicians convinced Thomas, who's performed only sporadically in the last few years, to dust off his old songs and let them back him up. The band, dubbed the Pain after Thomas' big-band weeper "Pain Is the Name of Your Game," has already played two rapturously received shows, and calls this week's Doug Fir gig its true "coming out." For Thomas, the son of a minister, the opportunity to play his music again, free from the pressures of the industry, can only be a gift from above.

"Everything we do comes back to us," Thomas says, "good or bad."

Discovering Ural Thomas was just as much a gift for Scott Magee. A drummer and deep-soul connoisseur, who spins rare 45s as DJ Cooky Parker, he'd been looking to start a cover band, and was hoping to find a singer authentic enough to re-create the voices on those crackly old records. He came across reissues of Thomas' late-'50s doo-wop group, the Monterays, and was amazed to learn he still lived in town. To gauge where Thomas stood musically, Magee attended one of the open Sunday jam sessions Thomas has held out of his home since the '70s.

"It all happened real quickly, because he still has it," Magee says. Instead of simply reproducing bits of R&B arcana, Magee-along with the nine-piece band he's assembled-is helping bring a lost piece of Portland's past back to life. "I just feel fortunate that, here in Portland, we have this person who has this history and is still with us and is now performing, to add to what we have, in a real way."

The ultimate goal, Magee says, is to eventually get Thomas in the studio and record a set of all-new songs. Thomas already has a concept, framed around stories even older than his own: his mother's. Some are supernatural; others relay encounters with brutal racist violence. The idea is to show how our past is never that far behind us. It's something he knows well.

"I want to tell the history of man, and how cruel he is to himself," Thomas says. "People need to come together and really understand we're on this ship together, and if this motherfucker sinks, we're all going down."

-Matthew Singer, Willamette Week Nov 6, 2013