Funk show has roots

While Pasadena might not be thought of as the funkiest town around by the general public, Damon Riddick, a.k.a. Dam-Funk, has never stopped representing his hometown in his decades-long musical career.

Now, with a critically acclaimed album and years of international touring under his belt, Riddick is bringing his funk sound back to Pasadena at the beginning of what might be one his last tours.

On Friday, Riddick will perform with his backing band, Master Blazter, at the Terrace on Colorado Boulevard before heading up the West Coast for more shows.

Dam-Funk’s sound is an elegant reincarnation of ’80s electro-funk and g-funk, with massive synthesizers layered over claps and snares in a way that is instantly familiar to funk fans.

Playing his material live with Master Blazter, Riddick’s vocals and keyboards are supplemented by Computer Jay’s synthesizers and J1’s steady drumming.

Riddick was born in Culver City, but his family moved to Sunset and Hammond in Northwest Pasadena when he was 1. He said that, having lived in Pasadena until a little after high school, his musical style grew out of his experiences in the area.

“I feel that my music is representative of the way I grew up and the kind of things I grew up in,” Riddick said. “Jackie Robinson Park on Sundays … it was just a lot of great memories.”

Citing Pasadena as a funkier place than most people give it credit for, with musicians like the Mizell Brothers and Patrice Rushen living in Altadena, Riddick said Pasadena’s nature helped form his sound.

“I feel that the Pasadena funk sound is different than Compton, Watts, South Central, all that stuff,” Riddick said. “My funk is more sophisticated. It’s the way Pasadena was, how we grew up.”

Riddick, who now lives in Ladera Heights, said that while Pasadena didn’t get talked about like Compton when he was a teen there in the 1980s, it was still a rough place.

“That northwest side, it looks nice, but you definitely don’t want to get caught slipping up in there on the wrong path,” Riddick said. “I saw a lot of things growing up around there, but I really kept things tight with my music. That’s what kept me out of all the stuff.”

After a two-decade-long music career, starting out working as a session keyboardist and DJ-ing before releasing his debut full-length album, “Toeachizown,” on Stones Throw Records in 2009, Riddick said he is excited to bring his material back to where he started.

Riddick said was sure he wanted to play in Pasadena, and his booking agent found the Terrace because Stones Throw label head and DJ Peanut Butter Wolf had spun there before.

“I don’t want it to be at a huge place, and I’d rather it be a small spot where everybody can enjoy the show,” Riddick said.

If you’re into funk, be sure to catch this show, because Riddick says he won’t be playing many more live gigs. Although he plans to keep DJ-ing in L.A., Riddick, who turned 40 earlier this year, said he’s ready to focus on producing and composing.

“People don’t realize that I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Riddick said. “I think this might be one of the last tours, and then I want to start being more behind the scenes on some Danny Elfman, [Dr.] Dre-type level.”

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