Actually, it is somewhat of a Christmas miracle that Bradley has time to do his annual run of Holidelic shows at all. Bradley is currently a member of the E Street Band, performing as a percussionist and singer on Bruce Springsteen’s massive world tour for his new album, “Wrecking Ball.” Bradley is also a playwright, having co-created the Broadway show “Swing.” He was also nominated for a Grammy Award for his work with “Stomp.”
Bradley said keeping up with so many creative endeavors is quite the challenge.
“It is difficult, but it does help that Christmas only comes once a year, so I don’t have to delve into it until September,” he said. “This tour this past year, to add that to the list of other things going on, is difficult but manageable. What helps me get through is that it is all inspiring to me. It feels right. It feels like people and music that I want and need to be a part of, and that helps me get through every day.”
When PGN caught up with Bradley, it was the day after he had performed with Springsteen on “12-12-12: The Concert For Sandy Relief,” which featured a star-studded roster of performers including Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones and The Who.
Surprisingly enough, even with all those superstars milling about all night, Bradley opted to watch a lot of the six-hour concert from home.
“I actually left and came home to watch the rest, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open,” he said.
“Holidelic” is celebrating its 10th year, and Bradley explained the shows came out of songs he wrote in reaction to the events of 9/11.
“I wrote a Christmas record called ‘Toy,’” he recounted. “It was inspired by the events of 9/11. Along with a friend of mine, we decided to write a Christmas song to heal ourselves from the event. It just flowed naturally. I got inspired, and I wrote 14 new songs. It was released in 2002 and we would perform the Christmas songs every year and people would line up around the block to see it. Then a drummer friend of mine knew that I had a passion for Parliament Funkadelic and he said I should do a P-Funk-style show. So the fourth year of the Christmas show I re-titled it ‘Holidelic’ and I transformed on stage. I had a Christmas package on stage and I had a fur coat inside, a white fro, glasses, sparkly 6-inch platform boots and a new attitude.”
We’re going to pause and get the young people reading caught up on P-Funk, just in case we lost you.
Parliament Funkadelic, basically two bands founded by George Clinton, pretty much made the 1970s very entertaining for a generation of music fans with their outrageous fashions, psychedelic stage shows, sly lyrics and massive booty-shaking grooves. There may have been some recreational drug use thrown in the mix as well. OK, there was a staggering amount of recreational drugs. It was the ’70s.
Anyway, the music went on to be highly influential in the hip-hop realm, and people who were around in theatperiod still rave about how legendary the shows were.
Bradley carries the musical torch lit by Clinton in his “Holidelic” show, but in his travels and work in the music industry, he has never had the opportunity to meet the living legend.
“I haven’t and I’m dying to meet him so bad,” he said. “First of all, because he’s inspired so much. But I’m such a fan and I do really think he would enjoy this, especially since someone is continuing his legacy of the funk.”
When asked about Clinton’s influence on popular music, Bradley said you can still find newer artists who have the same vibe as Parliament had in the 1970s.
“I just saw Janelle [Monáe] and felt like she kind of gets it,” he said. “She’s got this groove thing going and giving you a little James Brown and she has horns in her live show. I feel like she, out of the ones I’ve seen, embraced that era. I feel a little of that with Beyonce too because her band is growing and getting bigger and funkier too.”
The “Holidelic” show changes from year to year as Bradley likes to write and incorporate new songs, as well as keep the show loose enough to accommodate guest performers.
“We always have guest artists from the community that we’re playing in,” he said. “We want it to feel like a community when we play and embrace all that is around us. So that helps the show change and I always write new material every year and I always have new costumes. People expect it. They know I’m going to wear something stupid. What I offer is the alternative to the Rockettes. It’s a downtown dirty version of what you may see uptown. But it still has the warm fuzziness. The meaning is still there but you have this incredible need to shake your ass.”
The straightforward, blue-collar everyman vibe of Springsteen and the E Street Band and the flamboyant freakiness of Parliament might seem on two opposite ends of the spectrum, but considering the essence of both groups, they’re good-time bands with music and a message that reaches across all social lines. It is a vibe that Bradley said is important to “Holidelic.”
“All-inclusiveness is an underlying theme in their music,” Bradley said. “I promote all-inclusiveness. That is the reason why the band is so eclectic and why we dress so outlandish. We want everyone to feel at home. And when we say everyone we mean black, white, straight, gay, big, small and all ages as well. We get a lot of the older demographic because they remember this music, but kids are enjoying it too because of the dance aspect of it. They are used to hearing this stuff on the radio but not used to hearing it for Christmas.”
Bradley added that a lot of the younger fans he sees at “Holidelic” shows were introduced to funk by their parents.
“Some of them have parents that have been spoon-feeding them this music. But I do feel like I’m introducing this music,” he said. “They get the ‘Holidelic’ album and they also discover Sly and the Family Stone and Funkadelic because I do talk about it in the show. I think there is a bit of that going on, probably not as much as parents educating them about that era of music and what that meant to them and what it means now.”
Everett Bradley brings “Holidelic” to town 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. For more information or tickets, visit www.holidelic.com or call 215-222-1400.