The Herald Bulletin

November 10, 2012

'Essence of funk'

Rico Lewis and band will raise cancer awareness, funds at concert

By Scott L. Miley
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Rico Lewis knows how to describe funk: “The essence of funk I think is freedom. ... It’s more of a feel. You’re supposed to be able to let your hair down, do what you feel.”

Lewis should know.

He played drums for 15 years with the influential Parliament and Funkadelic bands led by funk guru George Clinton, who once reportedly said, “Funk is nothing but jazzed-up blues.”

Lewis recently retired from the band to move back to the Midwest and to focus on his newly created not-for-profit, Funk for the Cure. Lewis, his brother Maurice Jackson and Funk for the Cure co-founder Michelle Draper hope their organization will benefit such groups as the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

The Komen foundation raisers awareness and funds to fight breast cancer.

Cancer is a disease that has struck members of their families.

“Cancer has really affected all of us and not in a good way. Our grandfather died of cancer a few years ago. My grandmother died of cancer,” said Maurice Jackson. “We want to do something to give back and help.”

On the day earlier this year when Jackson and Lewis’ grandmother, Virginia Patterson, was buried, Draper’s mother passed away. Her mother had worked with the Komen foundation in Florida.

“My mom passed away in May and that’s what inspired me,” Draper said. “Our main goal is raise funds and get more awareness out there.”

Funk for the Cure organizers hope that by bringing live — and funky — music to are venues, attention will be drawn to the cause.

“It’s not a young thing; it’s not an old thing. It’s not a black thing; it’s not a white thing,” said Lewis. “It’s a unity thing. I want people to come to the concerts and support a good cause.”

They’ll kick off the concerts with a performance by Sons of F.U.N.K., a Lewis-led band that is scheduled to include some members of the Parliament-Funkadelic (P-Funk) family. Also set to perform are Lewis’ cousin Teddy Patterson, who was a member of the funk group Power Train. The Patterson family still gets together for a reunion where they play music. Rico Lewis is the brother of well-known basketball star Troy Lewis.

Though Rico Lewis can define the essence of funk, he’s hoping the music presented at the Nov. 21 concert will appeal to all.

“We’re catering to everyone’s needs for this Thanksgiving bash,” he said.

“I had the privilege to grow up when music was music. You had to know how to play something,” said Lewis. “My mother grounded me once because I missed marching band practice. But I’m glad she did. It made me the person I am today.”