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Last Night: Maceo Parker at House of Blues

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Maceo Parker with Grand Pianoramax February 27, 2008 House of Blues

Better than: Pretty much anything, save a second performance.

Self-described on his live album Life on Planet Groove as "2 percent jazz, 98 percent funky stuff,” Maceo Parker brought a funk explosion to the House of Blues Wednesday night. To sing the accolades of this legend, one would need much more space than this article will afford me, so for those of you not hip to Maceo, your homework assignment is to go to his Web site and read more about him.

The crowd was light early, giving me the opportunity to score a table. In short measure, I was served up the tasty freestyle of funk and spoken word of Grand Pianoramax. They did an outstanding job of setting the bar high for the night with a unique hybrid of analog synth and breakbeat drums, and the spoken word artistry of Celena Glenn was phenomenal. Keep an eye out for this group. Pianormax may be the future of funk.

The future came before the past and present on this night, as Maceo Parker and his incredible band took the stage in timely fashion at 9 p.m. Anticipation was apparent on the faces of those surrounding the stage. Parker wasted no time, firing into "Funky Fiesta" with fervor, and quickly bringing the crowd to its feet ...and later to the stage. Almost instinctively, every head began to nod, and by the time Parker and Co. hit "Off the Hook," there wasn’t a single person not fixated on the stage.

Parker's show is just that: a show. Parker spins tales that speak to everyone from power jams like "Shake Everything You’ve Got" and sultry ballads like "My Love." Throughout the night Parker gave tribute to artists like James Brown and Ray Charles who inspired him.

Every members of Parker's backing band was a true master. On the hip, head-bobbing jam "Uptown Up," Corey Parker (backing vocals) strutted his stuff with a taste of hip-hop, helping us all to recall that “without the funk, there would be no hip hop.” Plus, flaunting the family line with his son covering backing vocals isn't such a bad thing.

Parker doesn't tour the Big D too often, so if you missed it, it'll be awhile. In the meantime, pick up the new album, Roots & Grooves. It’s a two-disc set, with disc one being a tribute to Ray Charles. The list of names of artists contributing is like a who’s who of funkdom. -- Darren Burgfeld

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Funk is in my blood, even with the blue eyes, and I’ve been a fan of Maceo Parker since my first James Brown record. So I came into this show with a lot of love in my heart, and left with a satisfied soul.

Random Moments: I was really surprised at the demographic of the crowd. It makes me regain faith for the future of funk and jazz to see such youthful enthusiasm. If you were there and you’re under 28, give yourself a funky pat on the back.

Artist Suggestion: If you like Maceo Parker, then I suggest you check out Denton act Villain Vanguard and Dallas' Coalition. Both acts are sure to keep your funk batteries charged.

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