June 19, 2019

KEEP FUNK ALIVE:

HOW THE CAPITAL OF FUNK IS FIGHTING TO KEEP ITS LEGACY ALIVE (Stephen Starr, JUN 19 2019, OZY)

[N]either Webb nor Dayton is giving up: They're fighting to keep Dayton alive as a funk hub for future generations. Billboard-topping artists and groups from the city such as Steve Arrington, the Ohio Players and Zapp are still touring, reminding fans of that legacy. Last year, street murals were unveiled depicting Dayton's legendary funk artists. This summer, the city is organizing 52 outdoor concerts, including four dedicated funk acts. Webb, meanwhile, is desperately searching for alternative accommodations for the Funk Center. He's in the midst of a GoFundMe campaign to raise $50,000 that would help secure a $100,000 state grant, and he continues to be on the lookout for a venue in downtown Dayton. At stake is one of American music's modern legacies.

"I think something's going to come together for us," says Webb. "We're a one-of-a-kind museum in the world."

Dayton's claim as the funk world capital has been rarely disputed. Local musicians, DJs and scholars estimate that between 1972 and 1998, 16 funk and R&B groups connected to Dayton produced more than 110 charting singles. Zapp's 1980 track "More Bounce to the Ounce" was named in 2016 by Billboard as the greatest funk song of all time. Without Dayton, there'd likely be no Daft Punk or "Uptown Funk."

Unlike Detroit's Motown, the "Dayton sound" was not rooted in a producer-driven theme but in an organic, eclectic mix of divergent voices. Zapp star Roger Troutman's use of the talkbox voice synthesizer in the 1980s was the precursor to tracks such as 1996 hit "California Love" and a sound sampled by a generation of West Coast rappers and R&B artists. Furthermore, instead of moving to major cities, groups such as the Ohio Players stayed in Dayton, helping to encourage and develop new acts.

Posted by at June 19, 2019 12:00 AM

  

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