Boom Boom Tales: PART I, Episode I: On The Road to meet THE WIZARD

(The Staxx Brothers head down SF to jam with George Clinton)

By Davin Michael Stedman 

It all began with a phone call to Everett, WA on November 18th 2010. A word of advice: When Boom Boom Room owner Zander Andreas calls from his rotary phone somewhere in the speeding heart of San Francisco you better pick up. It's because no matter how crucial his information is, you might not catch Zander again until he appears out of a storming dust cloud of wizard smoke (only to disappear again). I remember a number of gigs when I wouldn't spot Zander until around midnight, when he would be ceremoniously carried into his cigar box shaped funk palace, like Sean Puffy Combs or King Ramsey II. From there the Sun King would observe from his VIP booth within elbow reach of the bar, surrounded by stunning Brazilians and an occasional South American emissary, or head of state.   

You miss Zander's phone call and you might never know what you were missing out on. Prince might be playing 3 on 3 in Oakland, Sly Stone might have materialized again in the men's bathroom. Prince might need a silky small forward like myself to fill in because Larry Graham twisted an ankle. So when I saw the words 'Zander Boom Boom Room' pop up on my android screen, I dove hard for the phone, shaking the entire house as I crashed headlong onto my queen size bed. A nanosecond later I answered the phone in a fetal position, mustering enough dignity and cool calm to answer, "Hey Zander, what's up?"

At the time I took that call, Zander was still entertaining the idea of managing The Staxx Brothers. He worked some magic, but ultimately looking back he may have oversold our prowess on stage to our detriment. The management of bands like Galactic allegedly responded with a 'nay' upon hearing his pitch. Because after all, who want a support act that Zander claimed, 'could destroy entire suns by manipulating space and time.' I worried that he was at it again, talking us up to the Gods, but leaving us on hook. I could hear it in the Tommy Gun patter and the urgency of his voice. It was indicative of a man that was repeatedly winking at some accomplice waiting in the wings. But this news was better than before. As he revealed each juicy detail, baiting me to scream like a school girl, I imagined him winking at an exhausted yoga instructor or an insatiable Mexican soap star sprawled out in his circular rotating bed. This news was good.

Zander explained that he just got off the phone with George Clinton. Parliament-Funkadelic was playing at Yoshi's and their headlining performance would be ending as we were taking the stage for another San Francisco style Marathon engagement. He said that George was going to send down his best troops to see if we were really as good as Zander was claiming up and down Fillmore Street. Maybe George Clinton was on a rightful mission to see if we deserved our name. Maybe like a Roman emperor Clinton would sic his gladiators upon us. And if we were unworthy, would they pin us down? There at the Boom Boom Room, with me bleeding from the nose without a surrender, he would give us thumbs up or down. Live or Die. Zander interrupted the death grip of my imagination when he mentioned that George Clinton himself might even get on stage that night. He instructed us to be ready to back him up on "We Got The Funk".

At that moment I took a deep breath and turned up the music in the background a little bit. I needed it to drown out the sound of me shitting bricks. On the surface I collected myself and retained a placid, almost medicated calm. But Zander's news got my inner child higher than David Ruffin singing 'My Girl' along with his car radio back in 87-88'. I was turnt all the way up, facing a tsunami of anticipation and creeping fear. Truth be told, I didn't know 'We Got The Funk'. At least not beyond the brand it had burned on our culture's collective consciousness. It's the obvious song you learn because you need an extra banger for a wedding gig to keep the dance floor on fire. If your set list came up short you might have to take your chances playing 'Footloose' and 'Twist & Shout' twice at the end of the night. That was an honest gamble. Don't get me wrong, 'We Got The Funk' is a delicious double cheeseburger. It's an American classic. It's Clinton's signature. His anthem. His Living on a Prayer. But as a unit, The Staxx Brothers didn't know more than a couple licks of it, and we had no time left to formally rehearse. 

Thankfully we were opening all of our big shows at the time with 'Red Hot Momma'. Overtime we developed a faithful, yet fresh take on Funkadelic's unheralded Funk Rock masterpiece. It was also a great way to profile a crowd for the real P-Funk heads in the building. The Staxx Brothers also became adept at stretching out shows with an instrumental version of 'Cosmic Slop' that we typically laced with improvisation and free style rap. At least we had some ammo. We had the makings of a short Funkadelic set we could stretch forever. 

The next day the band set our controls directly towards San Francisco. In the van we listened to 'We Got The Funk' on loop complete with passionate air bass slaps and epic drums fills. Our confidence grew, until we knew that if Parliament-Funkadelic got on stage with us, we could really make a go of it. As with any opportunity of this magnitude, like a decent record deal, or a bitchin' threesome, it probably wasn't really going to materialize. Even if it did, it might not be pretty. But there was no way were going be caught with our pants up looking like fools, if our heroes bum rushed the stage. We had to be ready to whip out an impressive rendition of 'We Got The Funk'.   

We drove down I-5 on a mission from Zander; hot boxed with red glowing eyes, playing dice with the devil. 

To be Continued...