Funky Music Fest Returns in September

Updated 17 weeks ago

 Whether it is blended up with jazz, hip hop, R&B, EDM, rock and roll or all of the above, the funk is alive and well - and we have the festival to prove it.

Local musicians and festival organizers, Parry Casto and Joe Troubetaris are again teaming up with the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District to put on the second annual Funktafest, which is set to flow with 10 free hours of continuous funk on two stages on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at the Ritter Park Amphitheater in Huntington, WV.

Free and open to the public, Funktafest will run noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 30 and will be headlined by Bootsy Collins' protégé, the globe-trotting Cincinnati beast of the bass, Fre3KBasS and his powerhouse funk trio The Bump Assembly, that includes funk legend Razor Sharp Johnson on keys/synths and George Clinton & P-Funk alumni Rico Lewis on drums.

Other bands on the bill providing the aural fireworks include Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based smooth neo-funk unit, Charles Walker Band, Echo Mecca, a genre-blending EDM duo from near Athens, Ohio, Lima, Ohio-based drum and bass duo, Hellnaw, as well as a pack of well-respected regionally traveling units including Morgantown's Fletcher's Grove, the reggae-funk unit, Beggars Clan (Charleston), the Charleston all-star funk unit, John Inghram’s Slugfest (featuring John Inghram and guitar slinger extraordinaire Ryan Kennedy from Bob Thompson's jazz band), Colten Settle's rock-funk-fusion unit, The Settlement, and last but not least, Casto's Huntington-based, regionally traveling and highly entertaining funk band, The M.F.B., which features keyboard phenom, Randy

Gilkey (of the Boatmen). Two veteran DJs, DJ Charlie Blac, of Huntington, and DJ Tim Hoover, of Charleston, will both be spinning funky sets throughout the day to get the groove bouncing and flowing.

Casto, a Point Pleasant native who helped put on five years of free summer festivals called Sweatstock Music Festival, said that he and Troubetaris, who for several years organized the free Ritter Live concert series, said they've been hustling to get enough sponsors to provide a diverse and funky, free day of music for area families.

"This is a free event," Casto said. "Free, free, free, so just show up and enjoy the day and that is it. We're doing it all in the spirit of Ritter Live and the Sweatstocks that we used to put on. We want to make it free for the community and that is it. If we get to the point where we break even or go beyond we would like to give some back to the community as well."

In addition to the music, Funktafest will also include inflatables for the kids, local food trucks and a craft beer tent as well.

Casto said that he and Troubetaris put together the event last year as a final cap on the Ritter Live concert series which Troubetaris volunteered to run for several years.

"Last year we maybe had two months to organize this thing and we couldn't have asked for anything better," Casto said. "We maybe had 300 people there throughout the day and the Park District helped us work out an arrangement to make sure all the money was going right back to the artists so even in the first year we were able to pay every musician a fair amount. We counted up all the musicians and split it all up evenly."

In addition to the main, free fest, Funktafest is also announcing its first after party concert (it rolls from 10 p.m. to 2:45 am.) Saturday, Sept. 30 at the V Club with Cleveland-based touring electro-funk unit, Broccoli Samurai, local R&B legends Stratus, from Charleston, and after the headliners, a late night set with local hip hop duo Dinosaur Burps, featuring emcee B Rude and DJ Squeazle from Charleston and their self-described “Intergalactic Snack Rap,” as well as local veteran DJ, Charlie Brown Superstar. Opening the night will be Colten Settle’s (of The Settlement) side project and improvisational “free funk” group Ultraviolent, from Huntington.

Taking a page from other regional festivals, Casto said they will also be hosting three pre-parties for Funktafest with bands that are featured on the Funktafest festival or after-party bill. The first pre-party will be held at The Empty Glass in Charleston, West Virginia on Saturday, July 29 with DJs Tim Hoover and Charlie Brown Superstar, as well as Dinosaur Burps with two of B-Rude's rapper friends, Cody Jones and Ialive rolling in from Pennsylvania.

The second pre-party will be held at The V Club on Friday, Aug.18, with Echo Mecca, The Settlement and DJ Charlie Brown Superstar. The third pre-party will be held at The Boulevard Tavern in Charleston, Saturday, Sept. 9, with The M.F.B., Beggars Clan and DJ Tim Hoover.

"All of those events are three weeks apart from each other so be ready for a freight train of funk coming your way," Casto said. "We are trying to get out the word on the fest and trying to raise some more money which is going back to the artists."

Casto, who launched Funktafest last year thanks to a $500 Create Huntington mini-grant, said he and the other bands and festivals in the region are all trying to work together to help build a grass-roots creative culture here to help fuel the economy and the region's collective soul.

"We all feel like the scene is really coming together and there's a lot more collaborations with everyone in other towns," Casto said. "We love connecting Charleston and Huntington more. They are only 45 minutes apart but sometimes it can feel like an ocean away, but it is so close and it is ridiculous to not want to make it more connected... As we grow this we are using HMAF (Huntington Music and Arts Fest) as a model. Our date is far enough away from HMAF so we don't interfere with what they are doing, which the week leading up to Labor Day weekend. Then two weeks later you have Kickin’ It On the Creek (another local music festival held in Kentucky) and then we are two weeks after that. We are trying to find our niche in providing an alternative palate for everybody to choose from."

For more information on FUNKTAFEST, please contact: Parry Casto / Joe Troubetaris at funktafest@gmail.com and go online at http://www.facebook.com/funktafest/ for more info

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