Funk legend William "Bootsy" Collins is staging the first in a series of annual tribute concerts honoring his funk mentor James Brown on Saturday (Dec. 22).
Funk legend William "Bootsy" Collins is staging the first in a series of annual tribute concerts honoring his funk mentor James Brown on Saturday (Dec. 22). Proceeds from the event will go toward the rebuilding of Brown's early recording home, Cincinnati-based King Records, and the eventual launch of a museum. Brown died Christmas Day 2006.
Organized through Collins' Bootzilla Productions, the inaugural James Brown Tribute Concert will take place at the Madison Theater in Covington, Ky., located across the bridge from Cincinnati. Featured acts include Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, rapper Lil' Boosie, Buckethead, Freekbass and Brown's most recent band, The Soul Generals.
Also on tap: an appearance by members of the JB's, Brown's original backing unit, including Collins, his brother Catfish and drummers Clyde and Jabo. On hand as well will be comedians Michael Colyar, Tommy Davidson and Brown's longtime MC Danny Ray, as well as members of the Brown family and the family of late Brown collaborator Bobby Byrd.
Collins says plans for the annual tribute took root in earnest seven months ago. "We didn't want a rock star hoopla kind of thing," says Collins, who notes that ticket prices range from $10 for advance sale to $25 on the day of show. "I want to keep the focus on Mr. Brown; I don't want people to forget what he's done. To me, he's like the Martin Luther King Jr. of music."
His relationship with Brown began when Collins was 17 years old. "I was this kid off the street without a dad in the home," recalls the singer/bass player. "Coming right off the street into the JB organization ... man, that was some deep stuff."
As for the museum, Collins says the city of Cincinnati has also signaled its support. He envisions an interactive experience whereby young people can learn about music and instruments, participate in workshops and perform live.
"We're losing the feeling in music," adds Collins who plans to release a new album, "The Money Monster," in summer 2008. "This generation doesn't have a clue that it's being slowly programmed out of us. I want to do as much as I can to help keep the feeling there."