Bootsy Collins Returns for Kinfolk's Soul Food Festival this Weekend

Funk superstar Bootsy Collins returns to South Florida to play his own music for the first time in 36 years. He'll be performing at the Kinfolk's Soul Food Festival tonight and tomorrow in both Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Usually, even the most talented and forward thinking musicians have a chance to change the musical paradigm once in their lives. But Bootsy Collins managed to do it three times.

As a teenager, he happened to be in the right place at the right time as a King Records session musician. That's when James Brown's band quit and told the Godfather of Soul to take his low wages and military discipline and shove them where it didn't feel good.

Bootsy and his band the Pacemakers (which included his brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins and drummer Frank "Cash" Waddy) transformed into the "JBs" and stripped Brown's big funk band sound down and turned it into a "Sex Machine" that ran on "Soul Power."

Bootsy with James Brown in Rome, 1971

After 11 months of touring the world with James Brown, Bootsy's desire to collaborate with musicians who were his peers led him to Detroit, where he joined Funkadelic. Bootsy quickly became a primary conspirator with George Clinton, playing bass, drums, and spinning off the psychedelic sounds of Funkadelic into the space-age afronautics of Parliament. Bootsy co-wrote many P-Funk hits, including: "Flash Light," "Give Up the Funk," and "Funkentelechy."

When the band boomed into an arena-rock spectacle in the mid-1970s, George Clinton encouraged Bootsy to spin off as a solo act, and thus, Bootsy's Rubber Band was born. Bootsy wore a futuristic rock star uniform complete with space bass, star child shades and the former Pacemakers backing him up. The Rubber Band hit gold with their first three albums, and had a #1 R&B hit with "Bootzilla."

Bootsy's Rubber Band played the Miami Jai Alai in 1978. Save for the few minutes Bootsy spent boarding the Jam Cruise earlier this year and performing with the the Experience Hendrix Tour at Hard Rock Live in 2012, this weekend marks the first time in 36 years to catch him performing his own sounds in town.

Bootsy live with the Rubber Band in 1976

For that, we have to thank the Kinfolk's Soul Food Festival, an insularly promoted touring festival that is taking place twice this weekend in South Florida: today in West Palm Beach at the Meyer Amphitheater and tomorrow at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Lauderhill. Joining Bootsy Collins and his Funk Unity band are fellow funkateers: Cameo ("Word Up," "Candy"), Morris Day & The Time ("Jungle Love"), Confunkshun ("Ffun") and Lakeside ("Fantastic Voyage"). It is an embarrassment of funk riches. But in order to enjoy it all, you will have to get there early. Friday's show in West Palm Beach starts at 5 sharp and Thursday's show in Lauderhill begins at 4. And be sure to eat only a light lunch before you head down there. It's called it the "Soul Food Festival" for a reason.

Kinfolk's Soulfood Festival takes place Friday, May 23, at Meyer Amphitheater, 105 Evernia St., West Palm Beach. Tickets are $35 at the door. Gates open at 4 p.m. It also takes place Saturday, May 24, at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, 3700 NW 11th Pl., Lauderhill. Tickets are $35 at the door. Gates open at 3 p.m.

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Tom Bowker