Haight St. Voice

by Loose Lane
KATDELIC winner of 2016 Best of the Bay is a S.F. treasure. Led by Grammy winning song writer RonKat Spearman, Former guitarist of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and a Lifetime P-Funk Allstar.
Katdelic is headlining this years Earth Day, April 22nd, https://www.facebook.com/EarthDaySF/. There will be over 100 Earth Friendly vendors and thousands of attendees. Fest hours are 10 AM to 7 PM and this year it’s at SF Civic Center Plaza.
Katdelic’s live show features guitar, drums, keyboards, dj loops, two basses and lead vocals by RonKat, background vocals by Lesley Grant. Katdelic makes original funk that is a unique hybrid of Soul, EDM, dub step, Rock and Pop. The resulting groove is infectious, futuristic and sophisticated, giving audiences an insatiable need to dance. - more information at http://katdelic.band
I recently had the opportunity to distract RonKat Spearman from his songwriting craft for a little while and ask him a few questions about his music, his process, his motivations and about KATDELIC.
Loose Lane: I've seen you perform with KATDELIC for many years, in fact, I never miss a show. How do you keep it as fresh as you do? It always has a different twist, always a musical surprise
Ronkat: My main objective is to show people a good time by keeping them on the dance floor with the beats, I spend hours and hours making beats that a and then I rehearse them with Katdelic. True Kat heads will enjoy! And I'm never afraid of trying new funky things The Kat heads come to funk n party and so do we like to wear the grooves out! We want people to just let go and let groove! take over.So I guess that keeps it fresh it sure is funkin fun anyway to know we’ve made a connection with each other by sharing a funk offering. Katdelic is a DJ friendly band.
It's a trip to think that I write these songs maybe in bathroom, at the airport, on a plane, in a restaurant , after an argument or on scenic road trip on a highway. It sometimes is exposing the deepest part of my soul.
LL: You write a lot of songs that are available on your websites that you don’t often play in the clubs unless you are doing your acoustic set. The songs reflect statements about current events regarding topics like Climate Change, Racism, War and all the various, horrific daily news items we read and watch each day.
Your approach is subtle. For example your songs “One World” or “Invisible” are gorgeous songs yet, your message is strong and obvious. Do You think you “walk softly but carry a big stick” when you are trying to convey your positions on current world events through your songs?
RK: In terms of the stick I carry it has six strings on it And I come to bring the funk.
I'm am just one human being and for Some reason I have been blessed to express my feelings thoughts and Ideas through music. It is very painful at times when you are watching humanity hurt one another and at other times it lifts you up when people stand and show there is still compassion in the world. It's like being in an Ed wood sci-fi film, you know the script is f 'd up, it would be a much better film with a much better script, but there is something about it that keeps you engaged. It's so quirky you can't believe what's going on. Then the phone rings an idea out of nowhere comes to you. You can save the world! Wow ! (One World) the music the words all come to me at all the same time. You feel good about it you live love it believe it share it. And at that same moment you realize That we are all just sparks within a flame and being good to ourselves and each other and to the earth. It is very powerful. Spreading love is the best thing You can do it sounds so cliche but it's true.As I answer this question 45 is releasing Tomahawks on Syria. I mean damn!!! wtf! Very bad script writers! Gonna have to re write the script for peace and Love this script sucks and so do the actors!
LL: How will your music at the Earth Day event reflect this urgent situation and still manage to make people feel uplifted?
RK: I'm honored to get the opportunity to play for Earth Day. It makes you feel good and has a lot of truth and love and fun in it. Stand for Love it is the way! Respect for the Earth ,Love and man kind is peace! Anything else is un funky!
LL: On the lighter side of things, it must be great to see the familiar faces return and then watch new people come for the first time and then become more familiar faces. I'm sure it's satisfying when they sing the lyrics and request favorites?
RK: One the greatest reason for playing music is the connection you make is when you are being felt by the audience and you become one even if it's for a moment, When it happens a with those familiar faces and when new faces become familiar over time it keeps Katdelic going and it inspires us to bring a better show each and every time. As George Clinton says “this is what we do”
LL: Yes you certainly do introduce a new in different funk but it is still raw and takes the best parts of the old school and your music is very innovative. Your ten years with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic gave you a new twist on the P rather than you just doing your own 'imitation' Your really do have your own sound. What keeps you current while incorporating what has been keeping the funk alive since the early days?
RK: Dad (George Clinton) wouldn't want us to do it any other way. He would want us to do our thang !who we are as individuals artist and musicians and then he would come and sprinkle a little extra funk magic on us just for fun. Being on Stage with the P was one of the greatest experiences ever where funk is Concerned. That is Something can never ever be taken away from me And I take it and share it everywhere I go . can’t help it. In terms of being current.........I really don't give a fuck about that! I'm a song writer first and foremost And I gravitate to songs that are good, that move me. I keep my ears and eyes on the streets The beats, the Dj's what the people move to. I've always had the ability To make ‘em dance and sing. And really really love so much.
The technology sometimes changes The sound and certain sounds can date The music. And when you say funk Sometimes these days it sends them in the other direction cause think it's gonna be some old played out shit And really who's to say but i have worked hard to make sure I represent my P Funk family in the funkiest way possible And the true testament to know if it hot or not Is the peoples’ appreciation for it smell like funk to me!
LL: Thanks RonKat for taking the time to contribute to our Haight Street Voice. Also Thank your amazing manager for all her help with this.
RK: Ha! It was my pleasure.

Relix

Relix Magazine, the second longest-running music publication in the United States, teamed up with ReverbNation to find the best new artists each month. Here are some of their recent selections.

Katdelic was selected for Jan 2017 play list #HateGotToMove

The Bay Guardian

Katdelic has been voted BEST BAND in the Bay Guardian's  Best of the Bay 2016 - this is truly an honor - Thank you to all who voted for us.

http://48hills.org/2016/10/20/best-bay-2016-arts-entertainment/

SF Sonic

Opening the night was Katdelic, the project of Ronkat Spearman (one of the many P-Funk alumni). They laid down thick slices of good dirty funk driven by two bass players that instantly warmed up the crowd. Honestly the bookend bass players threw me at first, but it added so much bottom end to the sound I couldn’t help but be converted. This band was terrific. And Ronkat, who looks like Kool Keith’s version of Black Elvis, was tearing it up on guitar and vocals with true P-Funk grace. If you want to go out to have a good time and shake a tail feather, you can’t lose with this band….they play oceans of deep funk. Check out their next show at the Boom Boom Room on New Years’ Day.

 

Santa Cruz Good Times

RonKat Spearman is “authorized to play the funk.” The Parliament Funkadelic Allstar is bringing his band, Katdelic, one of San Francisco’s hottest groups, to Moe’s Alley for an all-night dance party on Friday, July 24.

The leftie who could strum the guitar like a right-handed player, RonKat showed an aptitude for music at an early age and left his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., for Los Angeles to realize his dream of making it in the music industry. The ultra talented, composer, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist got his start writing hits for dozens of artists including, Jade, Toni Braxton and El Debarge, earning him Grammy nominations and a BMI Songwriter of the Year nod for the song, “Don’t Walk Away.”

In 2000, RonKat was personally asked by George Clinton to join Parliament Funkadelic, where he would spend the next decade touring as a guitar player and vocalist.

While he, “drew deep inspiration from playing with P-Funk,” Ronkat continued to develop his own style as songwriter and composer for what would become, Katdelic.

Fresh from performing at the The High Sierra Festival with Katdelic Acoustic, a smaller version of the Katdelic family, RonKat spoke withGood Times ahead of his Moe’s Alley show.

So how was performing with Pimps of Joytime and Katdelic Acoustic at The High Sierra Festival?

RONKAT: I’m surprised you think I’m in the Pimps of Joytime, haha, but I do work with them a lot! I played with my band Katdelic Acoustic and I played with a HSMF tradition called Guitarmegeddon. That’s a mash up of a lot of guitar players and this year’s theme was Watkins Glen, one of the original Rock Festivals from the 1970s in New York. I am friends with Brian Jay from the Pimps and we do play together in NOLA for the after Jazz Fest shows that the Boom Boom Room Presents. One of our bands is called, Jungle Jane. We did that band for the first time this year and the other is the WHIP. I dig the Pimps and it was good to hear them at HSMF and to hang with Brian Jay after the set.

Do you get to scratch a separate “musical itch” with each of your different projects?

RONKAT: Katdelic keeps me busy; I was in Parliament Funkadelic from 2000 to 2010. Then I decided, with George’s blessing, to do Katdelic. I’m a songwriter and producer and as much as I love the P-Funk, I have music of my own to express. A lot of it is influenced by the P-Funk vibe and the grooves, but I have my own Katdelic funk. We played at Moe’s last summer and George sat in with us, it was cool, he was going to come out on the fourth or fifth song, but he came out on the fourth or fifth note. He was on stage most of the night. Having someone you respect so much dig my music is like a confirmation to keep on going. When P-Funk is in town, I’m on stage with them. It’s the ‘funk mob;’ once you get in, it’s for life. They are my family and when I stand in my spot it’s like going home.

When you were getting your start in LA, cutting your teeth writing songs for artists like Jade, Toni Braxton, and Rick James just to name a few. What was it like as a young artist hearing your music played by legends like that? Is writing music for other artists something you’ve continued to do as your career progressed or plan to do again?

RONKAT: My writing partner and I put JADE together and the album went double platinum. Toni Braxton had a hit album already but she was also young. They are all very talented and it feels great when your music is sung and played by artists of that caliber. It was an honor to work with Rick James and we became friends and wrote together and I played guitar for him and was in his “Sex Me Funk Me” music video. I wrote for Earl Klugh, Chaka Kahn, El Debarge; I collaborated with Lenny Kravitz, there was a slew of them when I lived in LA. Once I went on the road as a musician I never stopped writing songs. I am a songwriter first but playing live music is right next to it for me. They run neck-and-neck.

Your upcoming Moe’s Alley show is dubbed a “dance party.” I would imagine with a group as funky as Katdelic every show is a dance party.

RONKAT: Every Katdelic show is a dance party and this one will be no different. We have our older favorites and always come with new songs and grooves. It is our mission to keep that dance floor full all night.

I know you and the band are no strangers to Santa Cruz.

RONKAT: We love Santa Cruz. We have some friends that live ‘off the grid’ in Santa Cruz and we are planning to shoot a video on their land this year. Other than that though, unfortunately, we get into town just in time to sound check and then after the show we are back on the road. When you are on the road you get to be in so many places but there’s never a lot of time to get into any activities other than eating somewhere close to the venue. We are happy to hit the club and meet the people who come out to see us and “Dance On The Mothership” with us.


Info: Katdelic. 9 p.m. Friday, July 24. Moe’s Alley. Tickets: $9/$12. Photo: RonKat Spearman via Facebook. Credit: Ashleigh Castro.

 

 

Dark Beauty Magazine

We spoke with musician Ronkat Spearman about his future funk project Katdelic. Ronkat was a member of George Clinton and the P-Funk Allstars for 10 years and continues to carry the musical torch which burns bright. He leads a fusion of musicians on a quest to take you higher with their funktastic sounds.

Interview Meikee Magnetic

Tell us about your Funk beginnings, where did you grow up?
My funk beginnings began at birth in Michigan jazz in the room next door to my baby crib rock n roll soul on the radio all day, funk and blues at my aunt Bertha”s house my head was swimming in music. My dad took me out to the clubs to play percussion with Jazz bands when I was six or seven years old, at first they would say take that kid home, he would tell them to just let me play one song. I’d do that and then when I’d get up to leave they would say, no don’t leave, stay where you are. My dad also gave me my first guitar, I’m left handed, he gave it to me upside down and I’ve been playing it that way my whole life.

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What San Francisco, Oakland venues are your favorite to perform at?
We have a residency at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco, we’ve done Boom Boom Room Presents shows at The Chapel. I love to play at The Independent when they allow me, The Fillmore, Great American Music Hall and when it was around, Yoshi’s SF.  I think Leo’s and The New Parrish are cool, I like a lot of them for different reasons. Sometimes it may be a little hole in the wall club but it may have a certain charm and appeal where you can really connect with an audience. Then you have your bigger venues where you can really capture and share your vision with  an audience because of better lighting and sound. A place where you can really stretch out on stage artistically. We play at 19 Broadway in Fairfax, Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz, Zodiacs Petaluma and the G Street Wunderbar in Davis on a regular basis.

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UPCOMING GIGS:
The Boom Boom Room SF, Ca May 1st
The Awaken Cafe in Oakland, Ca May 15th
G Street Wunderbar in Davis, Ca May 30th

Who is in your band line-up and what are their roles?
RONKAT SPEARMAN – Lead Vocal and Guitar
Lela Caro – lead and back up vocals
Genevieve McDevitt – triggers loops and back up vocals
Adam Lipsky – Drums
Rob Poole – Bass
Kirk Peterson – Bass
*We also have Aaron Saul, Alan Williams and Danny Cao on Horns

katdeliclive

I have so much respect for the musician, you are definitely keeping the Funk alive. What’s your take on the music industry, massive EDM Festivals and the direction things are going?
I feel like the music industry has had a severe heart attack and is in some sort of rehab making everyone really revaluate their positions, if they even have one at all. There are those in it that are still thriving so it appears, there’s nothing like having or being a part of that machine when it’s working properly though. Now it’s about the artist connecting straight and directly with the consumer because he or she can with out the middle man. That can be really cool until all of of sudden you are selling a billion downloads and now you’re the big record company and you need to hire people to help you run things. I guess fair and good business practices help. I love the EDM music scene it’s dope, I like to add elements of it to my show. It’s exciting and it surprises the audience when I do it and I think in a good way.  

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Future Funk, Afro-Punk, Glam-Jam are some words that come to my mind when listening to your music. How would you put your sound into words?
I love Future Funk but there’s so much more to me when I think Funk. We call ourselves Katdelic because we think of a multitude of things. Our music is very “Delic” it’s mixed with Funk, Rock, Hip Hop, you might here EDM and Pop. It’s one big soup.

What’s your relationship with George Clinton and how did you meet?
George is my Funk Father, he is my friend and mentor. I met him through a mutual friend in 1998. He recorded at my studio when I lived in LA, we were meant to meet. He brought me up to San Francisco where I met some of the friends I have till this day. I eventually moved to the Bay Area in early 2000 and joined the P Funk band and stayed until 2010. Eventually I felt like I needed to go back to writing and performing my own music. I left P Funk with George’s blessing and still play with them whenever I’m in the same city they are in. George and P Funk are my family.  

GEORGE CLINTON - FUNKADELIC By Barry Schultz George Clinton

Which song or songs did your write for Rick James?
I wrote a song called “Funk Wit Me” it was on his last album “Deeper Still”.

rj Rick James

Do you have a personal story you can share about Rick?
I spent a lot of time with Rick. One time I was sitting in between Rick and Ike Turner, Rick was having vodka and Ike got mad because he wasn’t drinking anymore and said “Don’t offer me that shit” and Rick was like “loosen up man”. They were schooling me on the business and they treated me like family.

3222de2694a56fb54f6a6eda6771d28d Rick James

I love the Josephine Baker tribute in D.O.T.M.S. Tell us about the making of your “Dance On The Mothership” video:
I’m so happy that you got that, because a lot of times in artistic expression people don’t actually get what you’re trying to convey sometimes. What they might get is something that you didn’t even think of yourself, which is cool too. That Josephine Baker tribute was specific and I’m happy you got it.

josephine-baker-4x3 Josephine Baker

The making was awesome, our friend Chris Manners directed and edited it for us. It was a DYI project as well as a great party, all our friends showed up. Gina Hall and Linda English styled it, Zander Andreas from the Boom Boom Room drove us around San Francisco in his vintage Cadillac for some of the shots. We did the rest of it at the SupperclubSF and then we also added some green screen. I love making videos.  

We’d love to find out who your musical heroes are and why:
(In random order) David Bowie, Prince, Marilyn Manson, Kanye, Jay-Z, Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton, Slave, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, The Beatles, Lady GaGa, Madonna, Jack White, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, U2 and Lenny Kravitz. There are just too many to list. These artists break the barriers, they make us think, they help us to love, they make us cry and they make us dance.

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What instruments do you play? Which one is your speciality?
I play guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion. I also program, create beats and loops. I don’t really have a specialty, I love playing them all but I play my guitar the most.

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We love your style, where do you find your clothing?
Some things we have made, I picked up a lot of pieces while touring the world with P Funk. Other things I have had embellished or embellished them myself. I also shop online and in stores around San Francisco. I love things that are unusual and also classic things like a cool white shirt and a tie. I just put them together so they’re funky.

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Let our readers know about your future plans, tours and new music:
A new CD is in the making, it should be out by the end of 2015. I have plans for a short film and we are working on our tour dates for the rest of the year. We’re confirmed at Guitarfish Festival in the Sierras on 7/30/15 but we have a lot more stirring in the pot.

What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
It has edge to it. It’s like a rose with thorns and has great beauty in so many ways it makes you do a double take. When you see it sometimes it always grabs your attention but it will destroy you if you don’t respect it.

MORE INFO:
http://ronkat.net/

 

Jambase

Words By: Dennis Cook

 

RonKat Spearman's Katdelic with George Clinton :: 08.29.14 :: Moe’s Alley :: Santa Cruz, CA

The air was warm and moist with human energy well before a decked-out for the freak- o-lution Katdelicemerged, on time and ready to roll – a virtue not to be under-appreciated when it comes to live music. The crowd was primed to pop and as soon as special guest George Clinton entered right from the get-go – a rarity for the often stylishly late to the party Atomic One – the cork blew. Theirs is a sound one feels first, the body receiving pleasant impulses before the brain can really make sense of what’s going down. Forthright yet subtle, devilishly so, Katdelic is just plain seductive and they were out to charm at Santa Cruz’s finest, long-running speakeasy, Moe’s Alley.

 

 

[Photo by Cliff Warner]

While folks often know RonKat from his lengthy lead guitar education at P-Funk University, since 2010 Katdelic has been his pride and joy, and the care and consideration behind the choices in his own band are apparent. Sure, there’s plenty of nasty guitar but not as much as one might expect given his pedigree. There’s a Prince-esque leanness to Spearman’s shredding that’s nothing but double-plus good. Nile Rodgers also springs to mind, particularly in the neatly carved, quite contemporary originals. Yes, there’s a healthy selection of Parliament-Funkadelic classics, but the real show is what’s happening in the group’s homegrown material. Hot Chip once said they liked Zapp not Zappa but Katdelic reflects groovy creators that have given a fair ear to both camps and come away with respect for all and plenty of inspiration for their own curious explorations.

A post-show spin of Katdelic’s latest studio album, D.O.T.M.S. (Dancing On The Mothership) revealed how on-point lyrically, musically and vibe-wise this band truly is – seriously one of the best albums of 2012 most of us straight missed. Besides, One Nation Under A Groove-era Funkadelic andGloryhallastoopid period Parliament (with keyboards dialed way back), D.O.T.M.S. carries echoes of post-2000 Prince, Kool & The Gang, a host of vintage slow jam pros (12 Play R. Kelly would love this band), and the aforementioned Hot Chip, but boiled down to an essence that’s identifiably Katdelic. Even after just two shows, I’m starting to look forward to hearing their originals as much as the more familiar, revered P-Funk tunes, which makes sense since this isn’t a tribute band but a new tributary off funk’s mighty, muddy river.

 

 

[Photo by Cliff Warner]

But, back to the show, where the beach sanded locals yelled, chanted and got down with every boisterous prod from George. And while the benediction of the Original Dogfather is no small thing, especially when he’s decked out in Prohibition-era gangster chic and clearly feeling the crowd, this is Katdelic’s show and even the big man was a guest, albeit a special one. A sexy feedback loop developed early, tangible engagement in a satisfying way that reminded one how often people just aren’t very present at concerts these days. This evening one saw a lot less cell phone staring and a lot more rump shakin’. Amidst the trademark snippets of P-Funk classics (few songs were played in their entirety with George) and earthily chortled randiness from Clinton, it must be noted that Katdelic and their sharp as a straight razor leader shined brightest during George’s breaks. This isn’t said as a dig against Clinton, who still belts ‘em out a mighty voice of creation and unruly power, but Katdelic’s diversity, tightness and true charm came through clearest when they didn’t have to compete with Clinton’s ginormous shadow and widescreen presence.

RonKat Spearman (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Patrick Simms (guitar), Kirk Peterson (bass), Rob Poole (bass), Alan Williams (trombone), Adam Lipsky (drums), and vocalists Lesley Grant &Genevieve McDevitt- Mauldin (the ladies are thunder ‘n’ lightning, Grant’s earthy sugar mingling with Genevieve’s Betty Davis-like grit) are serious musicians that pleasantly don’t take what they do TOO seriously. It’s a tough thing to be simultaneously tight and loose but they pull it off, just like George and the gang did back in the day. But, more importantly, they fly their own flag, march their own path, and chase that thing – the one that’s so funky you can smell it – with their own hunter- tracker hoodoo, vaguely familiar but essentially their own animal, and kids, trust me you want them to rub up against you 

JamBase

2. RonKat Spearman’s Katdelic – 10:15-11:30 PM – Vaudeville Tent

Best damn Funkadelic music I’ve heard in ten years. Yes, I’m putting it that straight and clear, kids. As a lifelong funkonaut – my first P-Funk show was Funk On The Green in 1979 in Oakland (age 12) - who lost faith in the George Clinton lead outfit about a decade ago, Katdelic was like making out with an old flame I’d really, really, really missed. Every feature was just right – the clothes and hair, the tough musicianship, the alluring mix of wildness and expert control, the pheromones pouring off the stage and right back from the getting down crowd. It was almost enough to make a man slip on a diaper in tribute to the late Garry Shider and remind everyone around that you got a thing, I got a thing, everybody got a thing. And this ain’t no ghost dance! Sure, they nail the classic P-Funk cuts with aplomb but the original tunes hold their own against one of the great American songbooks. This is precisely where most funk falls apart for me – the tunes – and RonKat has the goods, as well as fine instincts for what old numbers to trot out and where to place them in the mix. A incendiary guest turn from Stanley Jordan, who’s current look was a natural fit for Katdelic, just amped things up to ri-dunk-u-lous. I’m now officially up for the downstroke ANY time RonKat and his crew wanna work the churn!

FUNKATROPOLIS A BLOG ABOUT MUSIC.

Over the last few years, P-Funk Allstar RonKat Spearman has been shaking up the San Francisco music scene with his unique and potent brand of funk. The Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer and vocalist has been busy writing tracks, recording, and fronting his ten-piece band Katdelic. RonKat and Katdelic have been electrifying audiences across the Bay Area with their super-funky, high-energy shows and have built a devoted following. And the band plays regularly at San Francisco’s world-famous Boom Boom Room where they never fail to tear the roof off. Also, in addition to being a gifted musician and songwriter, RonKat is a charismatic showman who knows how to connect with an audience. And he gets strong support from Katdelic, a crew of some of the baddest players in the Bay Area.


The lineup for Katdelic is the following: RonKat (guitar, bass, keyboards, lead vocals); Adam Lipsky (Drums); Kirk Peterson (bass); Patrick Sims (rhythm guitar); Alan Williams (trombone); Lela Caro (vocals); PTFI (gadgets and background vocals); Rob Poole (bass and background vocals); Genevieve (background singer); and Rasa Vitalia  (dancer and Pussy Kat). 

Katdelic’s core sound and jumping off point is funk, and from there they mix it up with other genres, such as rock, hip hop, gospel, soul and jazz. The band achieves its unique and dynamic sound through the melding of these different styles, while still maintaining a solid funk foundation. 

RonKat describes his sound as a “new fusion of funk."

“It’s a fusion of old and new beats,” he explains. “And I don’t want to discredit The Funk.  I’m just mixin’ it up and keepin’ it fresh.” 

RonKat says one of the things that he enjoys most about being an artist/performer is seeing audience members having a blast during his shows.

“If you’re making people happy, and they’re dancing and singing along with you, you’re doin’ it right,” he says. “That’s what I do it for. I want people to have a good time, and that’s what I think funk brings.”

RonKat says that touring with George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic for 10 years (2000-2010) was an invaluable learning experience and helped him grow as both an artist and performer.

“Man, I learned so much from them about live performing and recording,” he says. “It’s like I really graduated from that school. Things will come back to me that they did or said, and that diploma is in effect. All those guys are seasoned professionals, and there’s a reason why they got all those accolades.” 

With George Clinton’s blessings, RonKat took a hiatus from P-Funk in 2010 to focus on recording and performing with his band Katdelic, which had been an off-the-road project while he was still touring with the legendary funk outfit. However, he makes it clear that he’s still very much a part of the P-Funk family.

“Man, you don’t leave P-Funk. It’s like the mob,” he laughs. “Yes, I’m doin’ my own thing, but if they call me to do something, I gotta go. I strap up, put the guitar on, and they plug me up.”

RonKat formed a close friendship with George Clinton even before he began touring with P-Funk. 

“Me and George were always friends,” RonKat says. “I call him dad; he’s like my dad, anyway. And the rest of them were like brothers. They were real encouraging. And me and Garry Shider [aka Starchild or Diaper Man] became really cool. He became a really good friend of mine as well.”

Additionally, RonKat says being a part of P-Funk opened up many opportunities for him to travel to different parts of the world and share the stage with some of music’s biggest names. 

“It’s truly been an honor and a blessing,” he says.  “I mean, I’ve been on the stage with some of the greatest [artists] in the world.”

In addition to George Clinton and P-Funk, some of the other notable artists with whom RonKat has recorded, co-written songs, or shared the stage include Billy Preston, Smokey Robinson, Prince, Bobby Womack, Chaka Khan, Henry Rollins, Rick James, Bootsy Collins, El DeBarge, Lenny Kravitz, Shock G and Tommy Lee.

RonKat even had the opportunity to work with rap superstar Kanye West. Around 2008, he worked on a musical Kanye was producing.  For this project, RonKat spent some time in the studio with Kanye, Lamont Dozier (of legendary Motown songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland) and Tony Williams, who’s Kanye’s first cousin and was a singer in his band. No music has surfaced from those sessions as of yet; nonetheless, RonKat says it was a great experience to have worked with the acclaimed hip-hop artist, as well as Dozier and Williams. 

Katdelic funking things up at the Boom Boom Room

As a kid growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, RonKat caught the music bug early and began playing at the age of five. His father was a musician, and he instilled his love for music in his young son.

“My dad had all these records, and he would call me in to listen to them,” RonKat says. “I was just kind of soakin’ it all up.” 

RonKat adds that his father’s eclectic taste made him appreciate many different music styles. 

“Man, he played everything, from like the hardest core jazz –like Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery—to  some Isley Brothers to some Earth, Wind & Fire,” says RonKat.

And even before RonKat had a real instrument, he’d create beats on whatever was available around the house.

 “Yeah, I could make music out of anything,” he says.  “Man, I’d beat on a TV with no tube in it, anything.”

RonKat says his first real instrument was the drums. He really took to them and would play along with his father’s records for hours.  RonKat was eventually proficient on several instruments, including guitar, bass, drums, percussion and keyboards. He had no formal music training and was completely self-taught.  And he says that there was never any question that music would be his path, stating, “It was something that just took its own place in my life.”

He says his parents’ constant encouragement was instrumental to his growth as a musician and performer. 

“They allowed me the freedom to just kind of create,” he says. 

When RonKat was seven, his father began taking him around to clubs to sit in with some of the “hot musicians who came to town.” At first, the seasoned professionals were skeptical of the grade schooler’s playing abilities and would give his father a hard time.

“They’d be like, ‘Ah man, you need to get on and take him home. It’s past his bedtime,’” RonKat laughs.

But his father eventually convinced the incredulous musicians to let his son play the congas for a couple of songs with them, and everyone was blown away by the gifted young musician’s chops and wanted him to stay.

“They’d be like, ‘Hey, where you goin’ man?  Let him play some more!’” says RonKat.

And in addition to improving his playing abilities, RonKat was also developing his songwriting skills.  He says from an early age, music ideas would constantly come to him.

“I’ve always had melodies and lyrics and things in my head all the time,” says RonKat.  “It’s kind of crazy.”

RonKat says he formed his first band when he was in the fifth grade and continued to hone his skills as a musician, songwriter, singer and performer throughout his adolescence. Finally, encouraged by stories of big record deals from his musician friends, RonKat moved to Los Angeles when he was around 20, hoping to get a foothold in the music business. However, once he arrived in L.A., the reality was much different from the glamorous picture his friends had painted.

“I thought everybody was makin’ it,” says RonKat. “I was like, dang, my boys just got signed, so let me go out there and see if I can make it.  Man, when I get in the door, the electricity’s off. It’s like roaches everywhere. I didn’t know they had gotten dropped from the label. And I asked, ‘What’s up, you don’t have a record deal anymore?’ And they were like, ‘Nah man, we’re still tryin’ to get a deal.’”

It was rough going for awhile for the young musician, but he resolved to tough it out. 

“All them cats ended up going back home, but I stayed,” he says. “I was kind of roughin’ it for awhile, sleepin’ on the floor and stuff. And, man, I worked every kind of job you can imagine. Name a job, and I bet you I worked it.”

Things began to turn around for RonKat when he was introduced to composer/producer and multi-instrumentalist Vassal Benford. Benford had already had some success in the music business by the time RonKat met him.

“He was already touring and had played with people like the Jacksons and Earl Klugh,” says RonKat. “And he had gone to the Conservatory of Music.”

He says the two really hit it off and began writing songs together. They landed their first hit with the song “Good Love,” which they wrote for the popular all-female R&B/funk band Klymaxx. The track climbed all the way to #4 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart in 1990. The two had an even bigger hit with the 1993 smash “Don’t Walk Away,” a track they wrote for R&B trio Jade. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

Additionally, the songwriting team earned a Grammy nomination for penning Toni Braxton’s 1994 hit “I Belong to You,” which was a single from her self-titled debut album. The song also earned them the BMI “Songwriter of the Year” Award. And the two even scored a soundtrack together. It was for the comedy Class Act (1992), which starred hip-hop duo Kid ‘n Play.  RonKat and Benford remained songwriting partners until 1997.

RonKat’s life and music career took a major turn when he met P-Funk mastermind George Clinton. 

“It was just an instant friendship,” says RonKat. “George, when he met me, I think he saw all the things that I had gone through before I could even say a word.” 

RonKat would let Clinton use his L.A. studio free of charge. And in 1999, Clinton took RonKat to meet Prince for his birthday. Also, the two collaborated on a song for the film comedy The Breaks (1999). 

Clinton would always ask RonKat to go out on the road with P-Funk. Initially, RonKat was hesitant to tour with the influential funk band, because he had his own thing going and was doing well. Clinton eventually convinced RonKat to tour with them. When RonKat looks back now, he says he’s really thankful that he made that decision. However, they didn’t make it easy for the new recruit to Uncle Jam’s army at first.

“Man, I went through the hazing period of my life with those brothers,” RonKat laughs. “Yeah man, I’m gonna write a book about that shit some day. It was crazy.  But after awhile, the hazing stopped.”

So equipped with the performance chops and life lessons acquired through a decade of touring with P-Funk coupled with the songwriting and production knowledge gained through his partnership with Vassal  Benford, RonKat was ready to set the world on fire with his own thing, and he hasn’t disappointed.

RonKat released his latest CD, D.O.T.M.S. (Dance On the Mothership), on October 11, 2012. He wrote, produced, arranged, performed, engineered and mixed all 16 tracks on the collection, which is a brilliant mélange of funk, rock and new pop, with a little hip hop sprinkled in the mix for some extra flavor.  The album features guest appearances from George Clinton and various P-Funk members. 

RonKat says that he learned how to do everything in the studio out of necessity. 

“Yeah, I had to, because, you know, as a musician, if you’re tryin’ to be in entertainment, you wanna be able to know how to do more than one thing,”  he explains. “You gotta be able to multitask, because like say, for instance, someone asks you to come out and sing backup for them for six months, or, you know, ‘Why don’t you come out and play bass for me, man, or come play guitar for me.’ You see what I’m saying? It’s like in any situation if you know how to play all of the positions, sometimes you won’t be out of a job.”

RonKat is a prolific songwriter and has recorded tons of great music over the years, which covers a wide range of styles and moods. In addition to D.O.T.M.S., some of his other CD releases include Funky NationCheddarJoy to the Funk and Little Monsters (CDr, EP). And a couple of months ago, he dropped the single “Give Me Back My Funky Music,” which he co-wrote and sang with George Clinton. The track has an irresistible, smooth funk groove that will have you bobbin’ your head.  There’s also a remix of the track done by DJ Spankalicious, which has a cool club vibe going on.

RonKat describes his songwriting process: 

“You know, it varies,” he says. “Sometimes I might get the whole song all at once. I might get the lyrics, the beat, the guitar, the bass, the whole thing all at once. You know that happens a lot,” he continues. “Or I might just get a phrase, and the phrase might linger in my head, from anywhere to a year to weeks to a day. Or I might just get the guitar part, or I might just get all the music.”

And his songs cover a myriad of topics, such as bigotry, the economy, love, politics, the environment, etc.

He says some of his biggest musical influences include Prince, Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, Metallica, Kanye West, Nirvana and Jay-Z.

And as far as more recent artists on the music scene, he says he really enjoys the work of Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, Miguel and Adele.

RonKat talks about some of the things he’d like to accomplish with his music and future projects:

“I would like to score, and I’m working on a musical,” he says. “I’ve been working on it for at least four or five years, trying to get that up on its legs. And I would like to continue to tour and just continue to make great music that touches people and inspires them to do some cool things.”

So there’s a lot more to come from this multi-talented artist. Get ready for the next chapter of RonKat’s funky journey. 

Santa Cruz Weekly

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