Among the performance nom de plumes George Clinton assumed back in the late ’70s, when his Parliament-Funkadelic collective was offering a neo-psychedelic groove alternative to a then full-blown disco movement (and chalking up five-digit attendance figures at area concerts, including a 1977 date at Rupp Arena) was Dr. Funkenstein.
The character was a space-suited, Afro-centric and fully empowered performance creation. It also was the commercial summit of a wildly progressive R&B career that had begun creating a fan base more than a decade earlier.
But here’s the wild part. With his return to Lexington tonight in a concert at Buster’s, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Clinton, 71, will truly be Dr. Funkenstein. Well, not exactly in name. The costuming (most of it, anyway) and theatrics will be replaced by a more streamlined merger of the rugged funk and soul that Clinton has pioneered with Parliament and the more guitar-fortfied psychedelia he simultaneously piloted with Funkadelic. But having received an honorary doctorate in February from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, the artist stepping onstage at Buster’s this weekend can be addressed in more official terms. OK, maybe he isn’t really Dr. Funkenstein on paper. But he is now and forever, Dr. Clinton.
Will that figure prominently into what Clinton will offer at tonight’s show? Perhaps not. Expect the performance to be the usual P-Funk party, from soul-savvy Parliament hits such as Flashlight to epic Funkadelic guitar workouts such as Maggot Brain and more. And it is likely to be loose in design, with a lengthy roster of artists that will expand and contract, allowing the music to indulge in everything from massive funk party pieces to extended groove jams.
In short, the doctor will be in tonight – very in. And he will be staying put for a while, too. It’s nothing for a Clinton concert to bleed past two or three hours in length, so plan on making a long night of it all.
George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic perform at 9 tonight at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. Tickets are $30. Call (859) 368-8871 or go to Bustersbb.com