today I mention justin bieber

Funk Guitar, Daft Punk and New Licks

by Chris Dawson
Can I do a slightly uninformed op-ed on Funk? I have been giving this some thought lately and am prepared to make an argument, so here it is. I think funk should make a comeback. A full comeback though, not just a blip on the radar. Let me explain.

I'm not much for pop music, nor do I closely follow the trends, but I definitely can remember the first time I listened to the most recent Daft Punk record, "Random Access Memories". I don't know about you, but it was so simple to hear the first 30 seconds of that record and know it was going to be a hit. It's ice cream for your ears. It is innocent enough to listen to passively, yet intriguing and layered enough for active listening. It's just good music. About a week after listening to it, I fully internalized it. At it's core, it is contemporary funk music with a sprinkle of modern day flavor.
Obviously the impact of the Daft Punk record can't be understated. It sold 339,000 copies in its first week (that is a lot). It is one of the best selling digital albums of all time. It sold millions of copies, won multiple Grammy awards, and was probably played and digested by every teenager on the planet. Mr. Dawson, why should I care about this? Because if you care about the current state of music, I am hoping this is a turning point. It gets people talking about guitar again. It gets teenagers looking up Nile Rodgers. It puts a footprint of awesome guitar playing in the minds of a new generation. Optimistically, it could be a turning point for Bieber generation to finally die off. And this is a good thing.

Fast forward to this week. I am casually browsing Reddit when I stumble across this little gem. A virtually unknown group of dudes called "Portmanteau" from Leeds (West Yorkshire, UK) bringing the groove (view Facebook page here). If you have a soul in your body, then you can't help but bob your head to this. And to me, this is the essence of funk music. Groove. Chill. Stress free. Warm hearted. Unintentioned. Altruistic. Funk encourages you to leave your worries at the door. Funk isn't music trying to be cool. Funk IS cool.
If these modern interpretations of funk make you move in your chair, then cheers... we are cut from the same cloth. Understanding the funk, and the role of the guitar in the landscape is another topic, and in order to move forward, we must study the past. I would like to give you a small sampling of funk licks from one of our resident instructors, DJ Phillips, who has an entire series of funk licks for you to digest. Each also comes with a bit of a history lesson and an achievable lick to practice. Let's do it.