The first clue that this was no ordinary day at the Art and Drama Therapy Institute was “Atomic Dog” blasting from the loudspeakers.
The second: funkmaster George Clinton in the house.
After concerts for the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and at the Howard Theatre last weekend, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer made his first visit Monday to ADTI, a facility for adults with developmental disabilities.
“I don’t question my feelings,” he told us. “When I got here, I knew it was the right thing to do. I trust the funk.”
Co-founder Margaret Dickinson (who everyone calls “Dr. Do”) was beyond thrilled. She’s been trying to get Clinton to her facility since it opened in 1992 – and has been a devoted follower for two decades before that. Finally, local music promoter Darryll Brooks persuaded him to make the visit.
“We’re funkateers!” gushed Dr. Do. “Fans forever!!”
So yeah, this was a huge day for the Institute. Dickinson led him through the sprawling space in Northeast Washington, filled with art, photos and themed rooms. In the ’50s diner, there was a working jukebox with his songs on it. Of course they were – everyone in Washington has memorized, danced to, or heard something by Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic.
The music legend, 72, sported a blue-checked satin sport coat, fedora and wide grin – but not his signature dreads. He cut those off about a year ago, giving him an almost conservative look. (Conservative being a relative term when you’re talking about George Clinton.) It was time for a change, he said . . .or maybe the new reality show had something to do with it.
Clinton just shot the pilot for “The Clintons,” with Randy Jackson as a co-producer, said his 21-year-old grandson, musician Tra’zae Clinton. The show will feature Clinton’s extended family and the copyright battles for his catalogue of hits.
The highlight of the visit was a concert by the institute’s choir. The guest of honor proclaimed, “I’m going to sit here and enjoy myself.”
But of course he jumped up and joined in during the hour-long funkfest – first singing along with the choir’s version of “Flashlight,” and again during the big finale of “Atomic Dog.”
“It was like a Parliament-Funkadelic show,” Clinton said afterward. “Everyone was having such a good time it drew us in. I was having a ball.”
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