Fun with a K!

Sons of F.U.N.K. at Middletown’s Old Crow Bar

As hype man or behind the kit, Rico Lewis lives for fun(k)

By Allyson B. Crawford

“Funk is freedom!” Sons of F.U.N.K. bandleader and hype-man Rico Lewis tells the Dayton City Paper. Lewis sat behind the drum kit with George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic for 15 years. He’s also the current drummer for Freekbass & The Bump Assembly. During his time with Clinton, Lewis studied everything he could about the music business. Along the way he was plotting his own foray into the funk scene.

“I decided I wanted to start a whole new funk era,” Lewis admits.

Parliament-Funkadelic is a collective of rotating musicians headed up by George Clinton. The bands have performed and recorded continuously since the 1960’s. Parliament brings the funk while Funkadelic brings the rock. Lewis wanted to bring both those influences together in his new project.

The Sons of F.U.N.K. was formed while Lewis was based in Connecticut and still performing with George Clinton. Eventually, Lewis made the move to the Miami Valley to be closer to his childhood home of Anderson, Indiana. The result is a mix of East Coast and Midwestern musicians. Some share blood with Rico and some don’t, but the collective was pulled together for the love of the groove. A few of the musicians were picked up when they were just “pups” as Lewis would say.

“That’s what George used to do. He used to get the young people with fresh ideas and a new vision on life and put them in the studio.” For Lewis the question was pretty simple: if this worked for Clinton and so many other music pioneers, why couldn’t it work for him, too?

“I was doing a function in New Jersey and singer Nate Turley was performing with a different act. I heard his voice and was like ‘Wow!’ He sounded just like Glenn Goins, one of the original Parliaments. We talked and come to find out… Nate is a decedent of Glenn Goins. That’s his cousin. So now I’ve got the voice.”

The Sons of F.U.N.K. also features sax players, a drummer, a bass player and of course a guitarist.

While a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, Lewis also served George Clinton as his personal valet for a time. This meant a lot of private time together and the chance for Lewis to pick the brain of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

“I would ask him how I could do this and that. He would say ‘Do what you feel. Feel the crowd and know the direction to take the crowd.’ With Sons of F.U.N.K. I’m the lead person – the hype man. I started studying George on stage because I’m an entertainer too and I like to run the front. I bring that to the table as far as the orchestrator, the conductor, the class clown. I put it all together.”

Fans of funk know each show is an event with comedy, extended jam sessions, some solos and a whole lot of fun.

“We go out and we do the hits from Parliament-Funkadelic. We want to make people happy. I believe that’s why I’m here. Whatever problem you have in the world at this specific point in time, we are here to release those feelings. Get lost within the fun and it’s actually funk. Fun is just funk with a ‘K’ at the end,” laughs Lewis.

As the hype man, it’s Lewis’ job to go out and find venues so he can spread his good word of the funk. The band is currently working on its debut album. There’s already an album full of songs ready to go but Lewis isn’t quite satisfied yet. So for now, there’s the single “3WayWoo” and Lewis’ smooth talking that helps him book shows. Just getting into the Midwestern market, Lewis is picky about the venues he selects and is always looking for a city that really appreciates live music.

“I think the Midwest is a great market for live music in general. I don’t knock music on the radio [these days]. People are listening to it and people make money from it. But I think at some point in time, live music got lost in some type of shuffle… I’m still running into places that still appreciate live music. To me, everything is funky, all the way down to country. When I see places that appreciate live music, I know that’s where we need to be. That’s when I found The Old Crow.”

The Sons of F.U.N.K. will play The Old Crow Bar in Middletown on Friday, March 9. The bar has recently undergone a renovation. There’s new paint, two stages and a fresh atmosphere for music fans. On February 17, John Fugate died after falling on stage and hitting his head. Fugate was a 46-year-old musician and booked bands for The Old Crow. Lewis formed a bond with Fugate over their mutual love for live music and was deeply saddened to learn of the accident.

“Come to the show. We’re going to funk in John Fugate’s honor,” adds Lewis.

The Old Crow Bar is located at 1217 Jackson Lane in Middletown, 513-422-1905. The cover charge for The Sons of F.U.N.K. is $10. For more information, visit

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at

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