10 Musical Artists Who Are Keeping Funk Alive

Funk music never died, the torch just passed on to these new-school innovators.

FILE - In this July 6, 2005 file photo, James Brown performs on stage during the Live 8 concert at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. A judge has ordered South Carolinas attorney general to turn over documents to a freelance journalist investigat

From its inception in the mid-1960s, funk music has been all about the rhythm, groove, and unmistakable cool of its (sometimes ridiculously attired) frontrunners.

While bandleader James Brown paved the way, the trail he blazed was shortly followed by fellow innovators. Sly Stone, The Gap Band, Chaka Khan, The Commodores, and a slew of others brought the noise - each with their own unique flair - and inspired both contemporaries and future generations, who blended elements of the style into their own genres.

Those halcyon days are long past, though, and the golden age of the genre is but a distant memory. Just because it isn't mainstream any longer, though, doesn't mean that funk died. It has merely evolved, with the banner passed on to a new crop of artists intent on upholding the sacred tenets of rhythm and soul.

Though the old guard might not be as active as it once was, these fresh(er) faces are keeping the tradition alive, helping breathe life into the genre by hitting us hard with inventive, unadulterated, and undeniably funky grooves blended with new school production values and top-notch instrumental skills on their latest albums.

10. Space Orphan

The organ has long played a central role in funk music, providing subtle melodies over the syncopated basslines and extended chords typical of the genre. The tones of the Hammond B3, perfected by artists like Jimmy McGriff and Booker T., remain a shining example of how the instrument should sound at the fingertips of a true master.

Jon Wirtz of Space Orphan is a worthy claimaint to this title. His keyboard work is reminiscent of the soul-inspired heyday of bands like the MGs, with the complexity of jazz and bebop greats like Jimmy Smith thrown in for good measure.

It's not just Wirtz that impresses, though. Guitarist Taylor Scott, drummer Eric Imbrosciano, and bassist Todd Edmunds take their turns laying down the rhythm, while the horn section adds to the richness of the punctuated melodies. Even DJ Check One gets a chance to shine with his deft turntable work.

Their debut album, Shut Up About The Sun (2016), is a unique fusion the band has coined "progressive old school." It showcases the group's immense command of their instruments while simultaneously laying bare their heavy funk/soul roots, and even made 2016s list of the 20 Best Funk Albums.

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Former government stooge turned musician, photographer, and writer for-hire.