By Keith Spencer with Photos by Kyle Spencer and John Andrews

SALEM – Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket and Danny Bedrosian’s Secret Armytook the stage in Salem on Friday, filling Ames Hall with their unpredictable, rhythmically driven sound for a Night of the Funkin’ Dead. It was Creative Salem’s inaugural Halloween event, drawing over 300 funk aficionados and supporters of the creative community to what has become the holiday’s celebratory epicenter.

“The night was smashing success, and featured a funky blend of music, art, community and culture that are the pillars of Creative Salem,” said Chief Creative Facilitator John Andrews. “The evening was planned keeping local creatives and their fans in mind all the while bringing another option to Downtown Salem and this gorgeous venue.”

Both bands boast lineups of gifted musicians that embody the essence of the ever-evolving funk genre that kept the crowd grooving into the early hours of Saturday morning. Both bands blasted out tunes that layered syncopated bass lines and drumbeats, accented by instruments that entangled in an elegant, rhythmic counterplay.

“We believe in bringing in top level entertainment from all over the world that can compliment some of the wonderful local artists we work with daily,” Andrews explained.

“Danny was suggested, and his work was an obvious and satisfying fit. His music embodies natural, raw funk in its purest form with a level of energy and sheer passion for the genre that clearly comes through live.”

Bedrosian is a Lawrence native seemingly too young to be considered a superstar of funk, yet the keyboardist and all-around music man has acquired a resume comparable to the most decorated of musicians, even performing on The Late Show with David Letterman less than a week before playing Salem.

” I grew up in the Merrimack River Valley, but this is my first Halloween in Salem,” Bedrosian said before the event. “It’s so exciting to see the craziness all the while being a part of what Creative Salem has put together.”

Danny is currently celebrating his eleventh year as the keyboardist for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, and has already played two international and several domestic tours in 2014. He also has had a successful run with his Secret Army which includes two other members of P-Funk: Seth Cedars on drums and Lige Curry on bass.

“We may be a band of only three, but we carry a large sound,” Bedrosian said of his Secret Army. “We represent three different generations of P-Funk’s existence. There’s lots of funk, lots of new progressive ways of looking at it with our own spin. Really foot-stomping and heavy pocket.”

Lynn-based band Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket was the evening’s headliners as the group has been blazing their own indie, underground trail across the region since 2009. The Bucket has brought their truly original sound to nearly every local festival and club when the mainstream industry continues to pump out cookie-cutter pop and hip-hop acts.

“Salem on Halloween feels like New York City on New Year’s Eve,” Big Ol Dirty Bucket singer Sarah Seminski relayed after the show. “People from all over New England and the world were celebrating together, crazy costumes and all. It was a huge party, and there is nothing like it.”

The Bucket chose Night of the Funkin Dead to launch their latest album, Bucket ExpressSeveral tracks feature some of The Bucket’s greatest influences from the legendary world of funk, including Michael Hampton, Parliament Funkadelic, John Norwood Fisher of Fishbone, and Galactic.

“Our fans can expect a more honed-in sound, and we think that we’re really finding our niche,” Bucket emcee Lord Micah told us before the show. “We got to work with so many of the greats who have inspired us and it shows a lot on the album.”

It was also an emotional evening for The Bucket and their fans as the group parted ways with two of their members at the end of their set: lead vocalist Sarah Seminski and keyboardist and husband Brett Badolato.

“I’ve been with The Bucket for five years, and its been such a great experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world,” Sarah explained, “but if you are a lover of all musical genres like I am, it’s tough to be pigeonholed into a band that caters to a specific genre.”

“I look forward to spreading my wings and making music that pushes me to exciting and new places, but I know the Bucket will keep going strong. I will most definitely continue to perform some stuff we wrote together. Who wouldn’t? The music is incredible.”

Andrews also offered encouragement during this transitional moment in their creative courses, thanking the band for their support of Creative Salem.

“I’ve worked with Brett and Sarah on more than a dozen projects in varying capacities,” Andrews detailed. “I was overjoyed The Bucket could be a part of this first for us, and they offered up exactly what their fans expected: a performance that brought out the passion, sweat, tears, and love that go into seeing them live.”

The evening also included a special VIP lounge, a photo booth fromLauren Poussard Photography, and a live body painting demonstration by Donovan Wilcox whose artistic vision and exploration of this unique art form brought out the dead to enhance the evening.

Those attendees who had never visited the restored Ames Hall were treated to a gorgeous setting for the evening with a set developed by Katherine Gerolamo of the Creative Salem team appropriate for an evening of awakening the dead. Flanked by a cemetery of graves, pumpkins, cobwebs, and zombified animals, the stage was backlit by cascade of colors and a wicked silhouette appropriate for an event in witch city.

The evening is just the first in what Creative Salem hopes is a series of quality events and programming to come from their team, collective of partners, volunteers and professionals. They would like to thank the evening’s sponsors:

Lauren Poussard Photography, Witch DR, Tache Real Estate, Sullys Brand, Adriatic Restaurant, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Mayflower Brewing, Notch Brewing, Finz Seafood and Grill, DRIBBBLE, and the Scarlett Letter Press.


WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE THEME FOR NEXT YEAR BE?

Find all the images from the Photo booth here: http://laurenpoussard.zenfolio.com/funkindead 

For Social Palates Photos visit: http://on.fb.me/1se0IFo 

For Photos from our friends at NOBO Magazine visit: http://www.nobomagazine.com/2014/11/04/creative-salem-funks-up-halloween/