Tuesday, July 12, 2011
We're Going to Have a Funky Good Time- Fred Wesley
Ran into unbelievable luck this weekend at the Smithsonian Folk/Life Festival here in D.C. at the mall.
This year, the event included a rhythm-and-blues stage which on Sunday featured a performance from Fred Wesley, who in the 1970’s played trombone for James Brown and served as band leader and music director for Brown’s band, the J.B.’s. After leaving Brown’s band in 1975, he went on to play for another seminal funk pioneer, George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic.
On stage that Sunday with his current band, the New J.B.’s, Wesley played a 75-minute set that included a number of funky songs made famous the old J.B.’s. A former member of the Count Basie Orchestra, he occasionally steered his six-piece group into jazz. I used my I-phone to record some of those songs. Happily.
But the best was yet the come. I did not go there with the intention of doing an interview. But halfway through the performance, I thought “Why not?” After the show, I asked his daughter and manager, Joya Wesley, if I could have a few minutes, and they agreed! They took me into his trailer for the following interview:
I couldn't do this post without including some of the music. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
If you didn't catch this in the interview, Wesley and former sidemen Maceo Parker (saxophone) and Peewee Ellis (saxophone), are planning a reunion gig at Ellis Town Hall in New York City on October 6, 2011. There's going to be a ton of guest musicians, and I bet it's going to be a blast. Anyone interested in tickets should look at his website at