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Putting on THE ONE
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Part Four ... Bernie Worrell at Steeps Restaurant in Park City, Utah
The story continues in the clean air of the Wasatch Mountains at the foot of the main ski hill at Park City Resort, in the now-demolished Gondola Building. On the last night of the 1999 Sundance Festival, a REAL party was going on ...

Moonlight view of the slopes at the Park City Resort
The morning after Bernie Worrell's show at The Ritz, I started working on another series of digital portraits. The Woo Warriors had all been open and friendly with me, so I wanted to make a gift for each of them.
I went back on the Web to get shots of spaceships, stars, and recent gig pictures from Dave Brooks' remarkable website. Dr. Brookenstein seemed to review almost every P-Funk related show within a day's drive of New York. His descriptions were vivid, his criticisms were well-reasoned, and he usually posted some decent photos of the musicians in action.
It may seem dull to report that I spent six hours making and printing the original collages you see illustrating these pages, but that's what I did during that foggy gray day in Salt Lake City.
Around 5 O' Clock I called my neighbor Sherri Berg to say that I'd join her party at the restaurant, rather than drive up with them. An hour later I shaved, showered, gathered all the prints together, and put on my black clothes -- the official clothing color of Sundance Festival goers, topped by the P-Funk 1 Jersey.

It was always refreshing to drive out of the midwinter muck of the Salt Lake Valley. The cold, clear night skies above the inversion layer were lit by a waxing moon, and the temperature was still bearable without a heavy coat, but I kept one in the car anyway. Skiffs of snow could breeze through at any time, and the elevation was close enough to 8000 feet to feel the cold all the way to your bones.
I parked my car and ran up three flights of stairs into Steeps as Bernie finished the sound check. Vinyl were playing at a Sundance party that night after the Award Ceremony was over, so the evening belonged to the Woo Warriors. I renewed my acquaintences from the previous evening, and started giving out mounted versions of the musicians' portrait/collages. I kept an unmounted copy, and asked each one for their autograph. I brought along this beautiful free-flowing silver pen, but it wasn't the easiest thing to write with, as you can see from the runny writing all over this page.
Gabe Gonzales and Moon Ruben both commented on my P-Funk 1 jersey.
"This is the way Hampton wears it,"
I said, "Whatever else, this shirt is definitely ON THE ONE!" I looked down, scratched my head, and added, "Or is THE ONE definitely on this shirt?"
Whatever -- it made the two laugh.

Gabe Gonzales knew George Clinton from childhood. P-Funk cover artist Ronald "Stozo the Clown" Edwards used to baby-sit for his parents. He had played in the P-Funk All-Stars when they recorded Dog Star (Fly On), and he had his OWN band Enemy Squad.

"Lady Bass" McPhearson was as bright and friendly as could be. I have praised her musical skills already, and will do so at any time. I finally spelled your name right, Donna, and digitally moved your nice words down onto the image.

Michael "Moon" Ruben has the surest, lightest touch I've ever seen on an electric guitar. He also CONCENTRATES to a degree which is entertaining in itself, as his fingers do all the moving.

The show started with Greg Fitz calling the crowd to action with the classic spoken introduction to Make My Funk The P-Funk. He keyed-in the horn parts through the magic of Midi, and the dance floor filled up. Several hundred people came out to see them, and they could not resist the urge to move their bodies to some of the wickedest grooves on the planet -- played LIVE by one of the original composers. What George Clinton puts onstage with twenty-five musicians, Bernie Worrell can duplicate with six -- and he proved it that evening.
It's easy to tell about what I saw, but to accurately convey what I heard is tricky indeed. Judie Worrell asked me to post a review, and send it to her publicist (It has long since dropped off the Web) -- but those things are more of a stylized way of selling a show, or convincing others to see somebody perform, if you prefer, than communicating the effect of all that fine music as it resonated through that huge wooden building and touched even the most oblivious apres-skiers. Two out of every three people wore polar fleece, and they stripped away layers of the stuff as the bass-driven rhythms knocked off succeding layers of social inhibitions.
I met another DJ from KRCL-FM who I had known ten years previously when he did the Saturday Reggae show. All I could remember was that his name was John, and all he could remember was that I was named Mike -- that was cool. His wife was amused about that exchange. I asked him if he could remember the name of the instrumental that Bernie was playing at the moment, but he couldn't quite place it until his wife laughingly shouted out (along with the Woo Warriors) Burning Down The House!

I was watching for Chris Snarr to show up. He'd left early the night before with his bandmate Tosh Brown, since they had wanted to hear Vinyl play. Chris and Tosh led their own Funk band Slapdown separately from the locally popular Disco Drippers. No one had a surer ear for that kind of music than Chris, so he wanted to see what the Woo Warriors were like on their own.
Besides the bar, Steeps had a water cooler station near the entrance at the top of the stairs. I was recharging and watching for Snarr, when a young couple came in: "That music!" said the lady. "It's P-Funk!" said the gentleman. They looked at me and asked "Who's that?" "Bernie Worrell, from P-Funk and Bootsy's Rubber Band," I said. The lady almost shrieked as she said, "We saw them in Chicago!"
The gentleman said, "We're here on our honeymoon."
I said, "You came to a great place for it," and they both nodded -- actually they started dancing immediately as Fitz was preaching:
People whatcha doin' out there -- Standing on the verge of gettin' it on ?!  (Baby, gettin it on-nn!)

Brenda "BJ" Nelson was irrepessible and fun -- a terror on the
pool table, and a strong-voiced lead singer on the stage.

Gabe Gonzales drew this Doctor Funkenstein for me.

Bernie Worrell wearing his Grand Piano robes.
The last night of the tour, his Woo Warriors concert from Santa Clara was streamed over the Internet -- both video and sound. After Burning Down The House, guitarist Buckethead joined in for The 7 Laws of Woo from Praxis' 1st album, and I was listening!

And so the night continued under the moon and stars -- I danced with Sherri Berg, and a whole lot of strangers of different ages -- from sixtyish to sixteenish. I stepped outside every so often to admire the snow and feel the tall structure shaking in time to Bernie's pounding music.
I finally spotted Chris Snarr sitting at a table with a broad smile across his face. He had arrived during Standing On The Verge, so he experienced the best half of the show.
Bye and bye ... the concert ended with one of my favorite jams -- Night of the Thumpasaurus People. It consists of two sections -- a slow part that builds up on a lyric largely consisting of variations of Ga Ga Goo Ga -- followed by a MIGHTY bass riff -- co-created by Bernie and his musical brother Bootsy Collins, which mutates and melds into unspeakably moving sonic textures.
As the crowd thinned out, I continued my little autograph party with the remaining Woo Warriors. The young married couple stopped by and visited while Greg Fitz worked a clog out of the silver pen. He was thrilled to hear how they had seen him play with Bootsy's Rubber Band at an outdoor show the previous summer on Lake Michigan.
As Steeps closed it's doors, Bernie and Judie summoned me downstairs to finish my business, and chat some more as they were packing to leave. Bernie's costume bag weighed almost 80 pounds, but it was fun helping with it because I got to see his favorite grand piano robe up close -- the one in his portrait. (See detail at left.)
Conversations went on until late.
Judie Worrell asked about the interstate highway to Seattle. I told her how much better it was than the icy roads in Colorado, where they had suffered a minor collision near Durango. Judie was relieved -- twenty years earlier a P-Funk crewman lost his life because of a winter accident in the Rockies. Their own mishap brought back some bad memories, and she was glad the worst was over. They would convoy with Vinyl all the way to the Seattle gig two nights later. Together they worked their way down the West Coast, and even performed with George Clinton in San Francisco, along with their friend Dawn Silva, from the original Brides of Funkenstein duo.

Part Five of Putting On The ONE follows NEXT: Read about Maceo Parker, Greg Boyer, and Rodney "Skeet" Curtis.
Return to Putting On The ONE (Part 3)
Check out Putting On The ONE (Part 5)
Digital images by Michael Evans Pictures were drawn from memory with aid of photos. P-Funk alumni and Woo Warriors are primarily montaged from photographs by David Brooks. Dr. Funkenstein's drawing is by Gabe Gonzalez.