George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic

George Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic crew return to play another marathon set for their Bay Area fans with these two shows in Oakland and Napa.

Though he came after originators James Brown and Sly Stone, George Clinton has undoubtedly earned the title "Godfather of Funk." Colorful, subversive and groundbreaking, Clinton fused rock and R&B in the '60s, set the dance floor on fire with disco classics in the '70s, helped usher in computer-based new wave and was a cornerstone of hip-hop since the '80s.

He started in the '50s as a vocalist in New Jersey soul group the Parliaments, but Clinton soon relocated to Detroit to try to jump aboard the Motown gravy train. Though he did some songwriting work, the iconoclast took cues from acid-rock era giants Jimi Hendrix and Cream (not to mention the influence of Detroit rockers the MC5 and the Stooges) to make Funkadelic one of the first bands to bring together soul grooves, psychedelic guitar and an outrageous stage show.

By the '70 Clinton was leading both Parliament and Funkadelic from underground status to chart success and extravagent arena productions that put the group on the same strata as Earth Wind and Fire. Clinton's excellent ear for talent also brought some of the best players in the business to his outfits including the late psychedelic guitar giant Eddie Hazel, keyboard scientist Bernie Worrell, and former James Brown sidement like Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley.

Combining humorous, satirical lyrics and space-age concepts with ferocious grooves, Clinton has remained an influential original throughout his career. Even as his solo star waned after early '80s hits like "Atomic Dog," Clinton's songs were soon being sampled relentlessly by hip hop's new guard (Dr. Dre and N.W.A, Digital Underground, De La Soul and Tupac to name just a few). 

Though his live performances during the 2000s added loose-limbed improvisational element that took away from the bite of his funk, Clinton has returned to performing and recording with a vengeance since breaking a longtime addiction to crack cocaine. The funk maestro detailed his triumphs and tragedies in the revealing memoir Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? that came out last year to glowing reviews. More importantly, Clinton and his collaborators issued the first new Funkadelic album in over three decades.

A sprawling three-disc release that touches on the classic Funkadelic sound (soaring corrosive guitar solos, tongue-twisting vocals and scatological humor), First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate finds Clinton adding modern elements of hip-hop production and Auto-Tuned vocals to the mix. Clinton plays new material and seminal hits when he and Parliament-Funkadelic throw down at the New Parish on Thursday night, followed by a performance at the Uptown Theatre in Napa on Sunday.

George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic

Thursday, Oct. 29, 9 p.m. $49.50.-$60 (sold out)
Concord Pavilion

Sunday, Nov. 1, 8 p.m. $35-$65
Concord Pavilion