The theme of Saturday’s sixth annual Funk Parade is, appropriately, “Keepin’ the Funk Alive.” Last year, the event nearly died due to a lack of funds. This year, it’s under new leadership — D.C. youth music education nonprofit The MusicianShip — but much remains the same: free music on stages near U Street NW (1-7 p.m.), a parade of marching bands and dancers heading from the Howard Theatre to the Lincoln Theatre (5-6 p.m.) and a music festival (7 p.m.-midnight). Here’s what’s new(ish) this year.
Last fall, co-founders Justin Rood and Chris Naoum approached The MusicianShip about taking over the Funk Parade. “They’re helping support the musical culture of the city and a new generation,” Naoum says. MusicianShip CEO Jeffery Tribble Jr. was an easy sell: “City officials love this, the community loves this and the artists love this,” he says. “It’s our job to ensure that we bring them more of what they love.”
New this year is a conference at U Street Music Hall (10 a.m.-2 p.m., free), dubbed #DontMuteDC after the grassroots movement to restore go-go music to Shaw’s MetroPCS store. Panel discussions will focus on social justice, D.C.’s arts and culture, the upcoming census and housing in the city. “The overarching umbrella for us is emphasizing education and emphasizing enrichment,” Tribble says.
Night music festival
Last year, the event introduced wristbands for the night music festival as a new revenue stream. This year, wristbands return: $10 gets you priority access to free post-parade concerts and drink and food specials. The featured showcase show — moving to Prince Hall Lodge (8 p.m.) — costs $20 and will include sets from D.C. soul singer Michelle Blackwell and a collab between singers YahZarah and Wes Felton.
A funky brew
For the first time, the Funk Parade has its own beer. Last week, Northern Virginia brewery Aslin released cans of Keepin’ the Funk Alive, a purple-hued sour ale with dragon fruit, passion fruit, blackberry, milk sugar and vanilla. On Saturday, Aslin will sell cans out of a beer garden at the HFA Lot Stage at the corner of Ninth and V streets NW. Select bars will also carry the brew.