The San Francisco Funk Festival was founded by Robbie Kowal and John Miles of Sunset Promotions (www.sunsetpromotions.com) in the Fall of 2001. The event is based on the academic work of UC Berkeley and KPFA’s “Funky Professor” Dr Rickey Vincent. In his seminal book “Funk: The Music, the People and the Rhythym of the ONE” Dr. Vincent not only provides a thorough history of funk, but puts it in a societal and artistic context. Mr. Vincent argues convincingly that like jazz and blues, the funk transcends the realm of “music genre” to become a great American artform because it encouraged stylistic shifts in other artistic avenues (like fashion, film, and fine art) as well as serving as the soundtrack of a great sociological shift, the civil rights movement.
In 2001, Robbie Kowal and John Miles, of San Francisco’s boutique production company Sunset Promotions, decided to put Mr Vincent’s academic hypothesis into action and with the help of funk afficionado Mike Burns, founded the SF Funk Festival. The goal would be to create a run of events that elucidated different aspects of Vincent’s vision, and illuminated different branches of the funk tree.
The first SF Funk Fest took place in November 2001 and featured the likes of Mandrill and a reunion of many of the original members of Sly & the Family Stone (listed as SF Funk All Stars). In 2002, SF Funk returned with a massive 3-week run that began with the “Art of Funk” art show featuring the work of P-Funk album artists, including Pedro Bell, Overton Lloyd, Stozo the Klown, Tym Stevens and George Clinton himself. This was followed by a massive Parliament-Funkadelic show at Ruby Skye. Other artists included the Meters’ Zigaboo Modeliste, Walter Wolfman Washington, DJ Z-Trip, and the Sugarman 3. “Funk on Film” featured 3 nights of movies, including “Shaft”, “Superfly” and “Wattstax”.
In 2004, SFFunk included the legendary Headhunters, Grandmaster Flash, Goapele, and Martin Luther. In 2005, the SFFunk featured “Funk School” an allday event at the SF Art Institute featuring workshops, a breakdance demo, and a performance by New Orleans legends, Rebirth Brass Band. From 2006-2007, the festival was on a brief hiatus as Sunset produced over 300 other shows, including performances by funk icons James Brown, Dr John, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jurassic 5, Afrika Bambaataa, and dozens of emerging artists.
In 2008, the festival came back as strong as ever featuring performances by Galactic, Alice Russell, Cut Chemist, Kraak & Smaak and the Herbaliser. In 2010, the Funk Fest stayed active with its annual DJ party, this time featuring Bay Area legend Q-Bert and DC Nufunk hero All Good Funk Alliance.
In 2011, the SF Funk Festival will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary and is coming back strong with its biggest lineup in years. Stay tuned here and at www.sunsetpromotions.com for more info….
• Funk: the Music, the People and the Rhythym of the One by Rickey Vincent
• Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman by Fred Wesley
• Funk: Third Ear – The Essential Listening Companion
• James Brown: I Feel Good by James Brown
• Funky Good Time: The JB’s Anthology
• Make It Funky: The Big Payback – James Brown
• Funk Power: James Brown
• Mandrill: Anthology
• Sly & the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits
• The Meters Anthology
• Funkin on the One (Compillation)
• P-Funk Live 1976-1993 (4 Discs)
• The Breakestra – Live Mixtape
Previous SFFF artists include:
• George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic
• the Headhunters
• the SF Funk All Stars
• Rebirth Brass Band
• Grandmaster Flash
• Cut Chemist
• Kraak & Smaak
• DJ Q-Bert
• Robert Walter’s 20th Congress
• Zigaboo Modeliste & the New Ahhkesstra
• DJ Greyboy
• Walter Wolfman Washington & the Roadmasters
• the Breakestra
• DJ Shortkut
• Papa Mali & Jerkuleeze
• Martin Luther
• Hairy Apes BMX
• The Spam All Stars
• The Sugarman 3
• Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes
• Leo Nocentelli
• Greg Errico
• Cynthia Robinson
• Jerry Martini
• Brian Jordan
• Gayle Muldrow
• Media Sirka