Editor’s Note: Day 7 coverage of the Utah Arts Festival continues with previews of a some of tomorrow’s performers – RonKat Freekbass Connect and Fareed Haque and The Flat Earth Ensemble. And, look for an afternoon posting about SLC artist Dave Borba. Tomorrow’s coverage continues with festival award winners on several fronts as well as other festival highlights.
DID YOU KNOW?
Today, slam and performance poetry dominate the literary arts scene with the festival’s first ever team competition featuring five teams including two from SLC, and the others from Mesa (AZ), Phoenix, and Denver. The competition begins at 8:30 p.m. at the Big Mouth Cafe. Seth Walker, a team member of the fabled Austin Poetry Slam, will perform twice today – 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Earth Garden Cafe. And, the master sonosopher himself, Alex Caldiero, opens his Poetarium twice today as well – 3:30 and 8 p.m. at the Big Mouth Cafe.
The Blues music mini-fest gets rolling with Utah’s Blues on First at 8:15 p.m. on the Amphitheater Stage, continues with The Huckleberries at 9 p.m. on the Park Stage and concludes with the hard-hitting Cafe R&B at 9:45 p.m. on the Amphitheater Stage.
RONKAT FREEKBASS CONNECT
“Playing music is my primary passion. If you stuck me on the back of a flatbed truck with a string and a bucket I would be happy. I of course am closest with my band, and this is how I started doing my thing, but I love playing with as many folks as possible. I think it helps to keep what I am doing on my own fresh.” – Freekbass, in a recent published interview (Props to Live Music News and Review)
This is one collaboration not to be missed at the Utah Arts Festival – RonKat Spearman, a Grammy nominated songwriter, BMI Award winner, and member of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, with Freekbass, the protégé of Bootsy Collins and a master of funk in his own right with bands including the funktronica Freekbass and Tobotius.
RonKat Freekbass Connect will close out the festival (9:45 p.m., Amphitheater Stage) and tomorrow’s (June 27) funk music mini-fest which includes Funk Fu (7:45 p.m, Park Stage), The Soulistics (8:15 p.m., Park Stage), and Philadelphia’s Joe Jordan Experiment (9 p.m., Park Stage).
For his part, RonKat, a self-taught musician who has played percussion, bass, guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals professionally since the age of five, has been blazing the club scene in northern California. His Katdelic project integrates hip hop, gospel and soul-jazz funk into a dance-charged hard pop fusion that has been described as the true realization of a dream mega-collaboration of Prince, The Rolling Stones, Roots, Sex Pistols, Al Green, and Meters. RonKat’s discography and portfolio of collaborations reads like the definitive history of American music.
Freekbass has made plenty of history as well. His releases include “Junkyard Waltz” with guest appearances by Phish bassist Mike Gordon, guitarist Buckethead, keyboard wizard from P-Funk/Talking Heads Bernie Worrell, and was produced by Collins. He also will be doing a third instructional DVD, to include DJ Logic, with The Rock House Method as part of the Learn Funk Bass with Freekbass series. Recently, Freekbass and Tobotius put together a video remake of “We are ND” for Notre Dame as a request from the head of the school’s video department in the intercollegiate athletics office who was inspired by Freekbass’ video of his Reds Fan song. (Freekbass is from Cincinnati.)
Both artists answered questions by email which are featured below.
SE: Increasingly, many performers and ensembles eschew any genre or constraining classifications and characterizations, preferring to infuse their music and performances instead with a healthy sense of pluralism and creative independence. Any comments specific to your work would be greatly appreciated here.
RONKAT: My music has always been eclectic. I love to infuse music and sound. It allows me to tap into all my influences which are many and create some things that even I myself have never even experienced before to allow myself and my audiences to experience something new. It’s a good way to bring people together. Funk is the DNA of my music but my music is multi genre – influenced with Rock, Hip Hop, maybe some blues, jazz, gospel, Middle Eastern and whatever else I’m feeling or that makes me feel good.
FREEKBASS: RonKat and I have tried to create a bit of a ying-yang of the funk. He works with and is close with George Clinton; I work with and all of my CDs are produced by Bootsy Collins. Ronkat’s group started touring on the west coast; I started touring on the east coast. He is a guitarist who plays some bass; I am a bassist that plays some guitar. We have been bumping into each other at different festivals we were both playing at for a long time, and thought it was the right time to combine wonder-twin powers and see where it took us. We had our first shows last winter in San Francisco, and everything felt like the pieces fit just where they should.
SE: What makes the arts festival venue particularly appealing for performers and, more specifically, for the Utah Arts Festival appearance?
RONKAT: I’ve done hundreds of festivals all over the world with Parliament Funkadelic over the years and it’s been my experience that people want and need to ‘Gotta Give Up The Funk’ and believe the Utah Arts Festival is no exception.
FREEKBASS: I have heard about the Utah Arts Festival from many musicians I meet on the road, and have always heard great things.
SE: What plans do you have for tours, special appearances, recording, etc. continuing further into the summer and well into 2011?
RONKAT: I’m working on my next Katdelic CD and that will be dropping in September. Also working on the RonKat Freekbass Connect collab with Freekbass. And of course, touring as much as possible.
FREEKBASS: As well as doing more dates with RonKat-Freekbass Connect, and my own group, I will be doing another tour with a project I am in called ‘Headtronics’ with DJ Logic and Particle’s Steve Molitz. I also am going out on the road for a few dates with a trio of percussionist Mike Dillon (Les Claypool, Garage A Trois), saxophonist Skerik, and myself on bass.
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