I mingled with
the crowd -- there were a lot of technical people in town for the
NBA Playoffs, and they generally dressed like me, in casual black-on-black
clothes. The P-Funk 1 jersey was an instant ice-breaker. Many
were from the East and Midwest, and had seen some incarnation of Parliament,
Funkadelic, or Bootsy's Rubber Band over the years.
Some of the younger patrons told me of a legendary winter concert
at Bruce Willis' place in Hailey, Idaho a few years before.
Hampton wearing his
black-on-white ONE jersey.
Two: ... of the saga of the black souvenir jersey from
the 1998 Missoula P-Funk concert. Lead guitarist Mike Hampton
wore a white version while I wore a black version. We both
wore them backwards with the letters P-FUNK 1 showing
at the front. "Nice shirt!" he said.
The story continues a few months later at the NBA Playoffs
in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls series
was tied. The sold-out game had been shown free on huge video
screens outside the downtown arena.
When the street party broke up, I recalled that the nearby
Zephyr Club featured live music, and went over to see what
I could hear. The doorman took one look at my P-Funk jersey,
and immediately escorted me inside...
Author in his white-on-black ONE jersey.
first sight that greeted me when I came through the door was
a tall red-haired lady at the edge of the stage above my head.
She was dressed in smooth brown leather, and sang this high,
strong, keening note which resonated throughout the whole room.
Next moment -- song was over, and so was the band's set. Everybody
filed offstage and went wherever they went.
"That was a nice note!" I said to myself, "I
wonder if she has any more notes like that?" When the band
came back, I settled in to listen. They were called the Disco
Drippers and, true to their name, specialized in playing
popular dance classics of the late 70's. They also delved into
soulful R&B like Love Roller Coaster -- whether inspired
by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or the Ohio Players, they kept
the humor of the song intact.
I was most impressed by their lead singer Lisa Rogers. Musicians
in Salt Lake rarely dress for the stage, but she was made up
to the NINES, plus she stylishly moved with purpose and feeling
as she performed. Much more than that, she sang like one of
God's own angels. To top it off, her sister Tamara stood behind
the microphone next to her, and was blessed with the same divine
gift of song.
Yes, we all heard those powerful notes again and again, and
the audience agreed with me that she was FUNKY, in the best
sense of the word. Considering that they mostly came from bigger
cities than Salt Lake, and were more African-American than usual
in a Utah crowd, their praise was as significant as it was heartfelt.
to R) Tamara and Lisa Rogers together onstage
Rogers matches Thelma Houston's bravura
vocal prowess on Don't Leave Me This Way.
I was doing temporary work in town, but I saw the Drippers once
more that Summer before I went back to Montana. A second impression
gave me some perspective on the rest of the band when they played
outdoors for the grand opening of the Hard Rock Cafe. Their
lead guitarist was VERY fleet, and supported the horns exceedingly
well. The bass player used Mutron effects at times, just like
Bootsy Collins. They started the show off with a laugh -- doing
Jungle Boogie, so that everybody would Get Down,
Get Down, and we sure did! Nothing was better
than the Rogers sisters singing Abba's Dancing Queen,
though -- those gorgeously combined sibling voices made me lightheaded
-- since it was over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, I drank another
bottle of water.
Late October found me in Salt Lake again, between jobs this
time. I was working at my computer when the power went out.
"Why are you sitting here at 9:30 on a Friday night on
Halloween weekend?" I said to myself in a moment of lucidity.
"Those ladies who sing so well are performing at the bottom
of the hill tonight!"
of Putting On The ONE will be coming SOON: Featuring P-Funk
veterans Bernie Worrell, Gabe Gonzales, Rodney (Skeet) Curtis, Greg
Boyer, and Maceo Parker
I used a flashlight to find my drawing tools, grabbed my black
hooded jacket to go with the jersey, and bought a pair of glow-glasses
as an improvised costume -- with my hood up, I could say I was
the Unabomber, since I was from Montana. I had a good night
at the Zephyr with my pad and pencil. I whipped out one particularly
fast sketch of a lady wearing an outrageously pink feathery
boa in about 45 seconds. When I looked up, the Rogers sisters
were on both sides of me, looking over my shoulders. Tamara
said, "He sure nailed HER!" (Meaning the person in
the picture -- some fifteen minutes later, I sold it to my subject's
boyfriend for twenty bucks.)
Lisa, Tamara, and I became friends that night, and eventually
everyone in the group got to know me. I set my troubles aside
when I was in Salt Lake City on weekends by sketching the very
active scene around the Disco Drippers band at the Zephyr
Club and their alternative venue at Liquid Joe's in the suburbs.
THAT story, and the related drawings, deserve their own web
page, and they will have it before long.
(Watch this space!)
Rogers is a decathalete among theatrical divas.
Her powerful solos DEFINE dynamic artistry.
color digital images are from sketches originally made at the Zephyr Club
in Salt Lake City on October 30, 1998
digital images made from personal photos and drawn from memory. Copyright
Michael R. Evans