funk Concerts

Find upcoming concerts of popular funk touring artists.

Funk music is a genre of music that originated in African-American communities in the 1960’s. It is derived from soul, jazz, and gospel music.

The term itself originally meant a strong odor, a bad smell. In musicians’ parlance, they often told each other to “put some stank on it”, if they wanted them to play music that the audience really wanted to dance to, “stank'' having the same meaning as “funk”. Since the early 1900’s, some jazz songs had the words “funk” or “funky” in their title.

However, the word started to refer to a musical genre in the 1960’s. James Brown, originally a gospel, then soul singer since the 1950’s, changed up his style so much that it warranted a description as a new genre. He was inspired by the styling of R&B musicians in New Orleans, Louisiana, some of whom he hired for his backup band. Brown inspired other musicians, such as Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and the new band Funkadelic, to pick up the new style. Funk lost a lot of its popularity by the late 1970’s, but it did have somewhat of a resurgence in the mid-1980’s in the form of funkadelic rap.


Despite legendary American singer-songwriter Prince once saying in an interview that “if you can describe it, it ain’t funky” after struggling to come up with a definition of funk music, there are many objective claims we can make about music that has been described as funk over the years.

A lot of funk’s signature character comes from its rhythm. It is somewhat slower than pop and rock. An average funk song runs at around 90 to 100 beats per minute. The slowing down allowed for changes between 16th notes, which resulted in a more broken-up style. Another staple of funk is the so-called “downbeat”, which refers to the fact that in a funk song, it’s always the first beat of every 4-beat measure that has the most emphasis on it.

This genre typically features electric guitar, bass, trumpet, saxophone, and drums in its instrumentals. The bass is especially prominent on the tracks. The vocals are energetically performed, with occasional shouts. You can also sometimes hear call and responses, which is more typical for soul songs. A call and response is when one phrase in the music is immediately followed by a second phrase which offers a direct commentary of the first. This is most evident in vocals, but it can be done through instrumentation as well (as it is done in jazz sometimes).

“Groove” is a commonly used term when discussing funk music. It is quite an abstract idea, referring to the feeling that the song’s rhythm, especially the bass line, gives the audience - it is a feeling that makes them want to get up, then get down on the dancefloor!


Funk song lyrics are typically about the music itself, dancing, partying, drugs, alcohol, but also social issues, especially the hardship of the black experience in America.


These days, it’s hard to find any artist who specializes in funk music per se. However, there are quite a few who have put out some great songs in the genre.

Stevie Wonder has been around since the music scene since the 1960’s and is still performing today. His catalog includes “I Wish” (1976), and “Black Man” (also 1976), both funk singles. The funk band from the 1970’s, Earth, Wind & Fire is also still active and doing live shows to this day. British DJ Mark Ronson put out his smash hit “Uptown Funk” in 2015, featuring American superstar Bruno Mars.

As for funk bands of the more recent years, the Los Angeles-based Orgone's biggest hits to date are “I Get Lifted” (2007), and “Don’t Stop” (2013); while Pigeons Playing Ping Pong from Baltimore, Maryland has “Horizon” (2014), and “F.U.” (2014). However, neither of these groups have achieved major commercial success yet.


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