NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series has been bringing us some of our faves up-close-and-personal for nearly 10 years. The latest artist to join the Tiny Desk family is none other than the Prime Minister of Funk himself, George Clinton. For the intimate showing he brought along more than just the P-Funk All-Stars; he also brought the funk to the Washington, D.C.-based office, turning it into an all-out party in the process and keeping the small crowd on their feet in the process.
Clinton might have been dressed down compared to the colorful character he’s best known for, but that doesn’t mean that he’s lost his touch in the slightest. He gets right down to business, opening his three-song set with his 1974 classic, “Standing on the Verge of Getting It On,” before transitioning seamlessly into the 1978 hit, “One Nation Under a Groove.” They sound good, you’ll be hard-pressed to not dance in your seat as you sing along to the fun, game-changing song. They don’t miss a beat as they then jump right into the set’s final song, “Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker).” It is a great finale for this legendary performer as he leads the crowd in song.
His eight-piece band is trump tight as they power through the short-but-sweet set. The chemistry between Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars is tangible and for good reason, each member is connected to Clinton and his original band in some way. Original members Blackbyrd McKnight and Lige Curry join their longtime bandleader, while drummer Benzel Cowan is the son of original trumpeter Bennie Cowan, who still performs with the band frequently. The rhythm guitarist Garrett Shider takes the place of his late father of the same name, who was also known as Starchild back in the day, while Clinton’s own grandchildren, Tonysha Nelson, Patavian Lewis and Tairee Parks, provide the backing vocals.
The best part of the performance is seeing the genuine joy that spreads across Clinton’s face as he sings the crowd favorites. Although George is older and perhaps a bit slower than he was 40 years ago, it doesn’t stop him from dancing and working the audience into a funk-induced stupor. He even lets out a whistle towards the end as he makes his way into the adoring crowd. Clocking in at just over 13 minutes, Clinton’s Tiny Desk performance is one for the books, proving that the funk still lives within, even two decades later.