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Blackbyrd McKnight: Press

George Clinton gives a glimpse of what Parliament-Funkadelic will be like without him


On “Maggot Brain,” of course, it was to guitarist DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, who impressively replicated the late Eddie Hazel’s legendary guitar solo.

Playboy Jazz Festival 2018

 

The 10-piece Miles Electric Band—headed by the legendary trumpeter’s nephew, drummer Vince Wilburn—came out with a hard-hitting fusion set highlighted by blazing solos from guitarist DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight and Pelt on trumpet.

George Clinton, WAR Funk Up Santa Barbara Bowl

DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight also wowed with a face-melting guitar showcase for Maggot Brain's title track

Jeff Moehlis - Noozhawk (Jun 8, 2018)

Interview with Progressive Funk-Rock Guitarist DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight

 

As well as funk is a style, it’s also a way of life. It is a musical feeling and expression, but more so than that, it’s what you feel inside of you.

- Blackbyrd McKnight

Parliament Funkadelic - Thalia Hall, Chicago

But the highlight of the entire show for yours truly was Dwayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight's spirited performance of Eddie Hazel’s classic “Maggot Brain” (song) which arrived mid-set. One of the most epic guitar jams of all time (which is essentially one long-ass, mind-blowing solo), McKnight channeled the spirit of Eddie Hazel beautifully with a scorchingly fantastic display of soulful, acid-fried guitar playing that had the crowd roaring in approval. Legend has it Clinton originally told Hazel back in the day to “play the guitar like your mother just died”, and McKnight did a great job of conveying that type of emotion and spirit through his instrument. Incredibly awesome.

Zach Johnson - Soundblab (Feb 3, 2018)

PREMIER Guitar February, 2018
OPENING NOTES

November 18, 2017
Empire Control Room & Garage
Austin, TX
Photo by Roger Ho

Funk mater "Blackbyrd McKnight", onstage with P-Funk, gets freaky with the Framus Diablo Pro he acquired in 2011 - the only guitar he uses on the road these days. Mostly stock, its primary mod is a set of custom Bartolini pickups. "I have many guitars and love them all, but this guitar pretty much has everything I need to get the job done, " says McKnight. "It's also very easy for me to set up and maintain on the road."

George Clinton and The Parliament Funkadelic at The Sound Board Theater, Detroit, MI

“Super Stupid” sent bolts of lightning into the audience, followed by “One Nation Under The Groove,” “Flashlight,” “Nation,” and the Hendrix-like, fretboard melter “Maggot Brain.” P-Funk’s long-standing guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight, flows with the skills and prowess of a legend. Modern day finger tapping, Hendrix style runs, and some unique Funkadelic riffs make his contribution to the P-funk team a welcome balance to a powerhouse rhythm section. 

The 2016 San Francisco Jazz Festival Hits A Cool Vibe

Blackbyrd McKnight exhibited a dexterity on electric guitar that made Eric Clapton look like he has slow hands. Hard to fathom a more professional, traditional and progressive set of jazz musicians all in one band.

Funkin’ Around with Blackbyrd McKnight, Guitar Powerhouse

As one of the lead guitarists in funk juggernaut Parliament/Funkadelic for over 30 years, McKnight’s well established as one of the most dexterous players in music. But his skills go far beyond propelling the Mothership with his funky fretwork. McKnight has a keen melodic sense, which can be heard on his strong 2009 solo debut ‘Bout Funkin’ Time. He also has a versatility that extends beyond the realms of funk rock and goes into jazz, where he’s worked with genre legends Charles Lloyd, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis.

Jim Shahen - The Beat (Mar 8, 2016)

Parliament Funkadelic: A Funk Guitar Roundtable

“Blackbyrd McKnight is one of the greatest guitar players around,” (George) Clinton says. Prior to joining P-Funk in 1978, McKnight was in the Headhunters and worked with jazz legend Charles Lloyd. “He was in the band with Dennis Chambers—they were the Brides [of Funkenstein] band—and they were the band that just kicked Bootsy’s ass and our ass.”

Miles Electric Band Sizzles at SFJAZZ

Guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight got a serious solo workout early in the set following a long introduction by the conga player. His muscular playing was stellar throughout the evening.

Return to the Dark Side of the Moon

Dewayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight is considered a formidable, living bridge between the worlds of funk, rock and jazz—an improvisational powerhouse whose lead lines and rhythm work earned the respect of legendary musical visionaries. A member of Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking fusion group The Headhunters from 1975 through 1978, he later earned worldwide renown as a featured player with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic from 1978 though 2008. He served briefly as guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers after the death of Hillel Slovak in 1988 and played briefly with Miles Davis in 1986.

The Best Los Angeles Jazz Concerts of 2012

For the Miles Davis tribute, between a straight-ahead, throwback set from Kind of Blue drummer Jimmy Cobb and a crowd-pleaser '80s homage from Marcus Miller, the amps were cranked for Miles' electric period. Guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight cut loose as Nicholas Payton filled the trumpet position with strength and attitude. The stage was loaded with wattage and they made the most of it. It was a pleasantly deafening assault that future jazz shows could learn from.

Dope Dogs (Japanese Version) (1995)

(Parliament - Funkadelic - P-Funk All Stars)

It starts off with the utterly brilliant "Dog Star (Fly On)", a heavy guitar tune that stands up to the best Funkadelic cuts ever made. It stars Blackbyrd, absolutely dominating the scene with amazing solo after solo.

Bootsy Collins landed the funk mothership at ACL Live Sunday

There were several high points but the image seared into our memory is McKnight at the edge of the stage playing his guitar with his teeth moments after he finished a Jimi Hendrix inspired solo of "The Star Spangled Banner" followed by a great rendition of "Purple Haze". In fact, it was hard to decide who to watch as the band worked through the set. Should we focus on Worrel and the crazy, trippy sounds coming out of his Moogs? Or watch the masterful McKnight as he peeled off incredible riff after incredible riff? Or fans could elect to stare in amazement at Collins as he gleefully sang.
Greg Ackerman - Examiner (Jun 21, 2011)

Interview Guitar Center

We had Blackbyrd McKnight, who is an amazing funk player, just an amazing psychedelic wizard of the guitar.

By Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers

'Bout Funkin' Time

The greatest improvisational guitarist in rock. Period. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to indoctrinate a newbie into the dense musical stew of rock/funk/ gospel/ doo-wop psycheclica that is live P-Funk, only to have that person come out of the venue and ask the immortal question: “Who in the funk was that unfunkinbelievable axeman standing stage-left?!?”

Indeed. Mention the name DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight in any round table discussion amongst jazz/fusion & funk purists and the mere thought at what this man’s body of work suggest sends shivers into the earhole. Unfortunately outside of that circle, the name is less well know if at all, which is a travesty.

After a 30- year tour of duty as band leader of Parliament Funkadelic’s greatest show in rock circus, the Blackbyrd is ready to spread his wings and “Fly On”. On any given night onstage with George, we found him ripping up and constructing new arrangements over such P classics as Atomic Dog, Pumpin’ It Up, Generator Pop and Dog Star. The Dr. would simply holla “Byrd” in that crusty, funky growl, next thing you know you had been taken into an outer metal spaceway with another mind-boggling 20 minute solo rendering these classic songs complete shred fests.

Byrd lives to play guitar. GC says, “don’t mess with his amp, when he wants to play he’s gonna play now and he’s gonna play loud”. By the time he debuted with the P on Funkadelic’s 1979 classic Uncle Jam LP and lead axe in the Brides of Funkenstein crack touring unit, he had already introduced electric guitarisms into the legendary Headhunters on the “Survival of the Fittest” album of 1975.

A straight-up Guitar God badass whose absence from Clinton’s bands is sorely missed. Byrd has now boldly taken off into his own territory and as these tracks attest, he takes you where no mere mortal has ever dared to tread while playing an axe.

His playing is so spontaneous that no matter how many times you’ve seen him do his thang in concert, no matter how many bags you’ve attempted to put him in, he naturally universally escapes categorization. Here he takes that live spirit and translates it into studio majik not yet found this side of Hendrix’ Electric Ladyland. These cuts sweat, bang and vamp hard with a wall-shaking, earth-rattling body-bumping snasty funk/metal groove.

From the time he launches into the definitive“Funkarockaholic”Byrd shreds, slices and dices thru 10 ear-splitting guitar jams that pounds the listener, in the know and uninitiated alike, into a frenzied state of ultra energetic satiation. He just wears your ass out, when I finished digesting my first listen to this all I wanted to do afterwards is just roll over and take a deep breath. Dayum!!

And oh yeah, if you missed the Blackbyrd doin’ his thang with Clinton & Co. don’t fret, he just co-founded the experimental rock collective Socialybrium with Bernie Worrell and his back on the road with his own show as well. McKnight’s incredible musical journey has now come full circle and he is “Funkin Where You Belong”, dare to kick the volume up another notch, if you can hang.

Jazz-Funk Fusion – The Chameleon

The group (The Headhunters) later added black psychedelic guitarist Dewayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, a gifted improviser whose guitar, according to one critic, “can become a sarod, synthesizer, melotron, and laser all at once.” Blackbyrd later went on to join George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic thang in 1978.

Socialibrium finds its groove in Aspen

 .....But as soon as Worrell finished flashing his technique, the band began to switch gears as Stevens and McKnight warmed up their respective axes. Within a minute, the guitars were blazing, and farewell any thoughts of a deep, contemplative sort of groove. This was full-on funk fire.

.....McKnight channeled his flamboyant energy through his guitar, playing a hammering-on technique usually associated with heavy metal.

Time To Get Superfunkified

 Fans of funk guitar will swoon over the fact that none other than Mr. Groove Central, Dewayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, is the guitar genius behind Socialibrium. McKnight, known for his work with P-Funk, The Headhunters and Herbie Hancock, was also the first guitarist to replace Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak after his death in 1988.

One Nation Under a Groove

George Clinton, Roxy, September 6

The psychedelic “Maggot Brain,” featuring guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight, was exceptional.

George Clinton with Parliament Funkadelic

At Plush Nightclub on Sunday, March 4

In fact, one of the highlights came when Clinton left the stage with all the musicians save for a bass player, drummer, rhythm guitarist, keyboard player, and amazing lead guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, who rocked some psychedelic blues that would have sent our own decidedly unfunky Steve Newton into interplanetary overdrive.

Afrofunk Alchemy at Fais Do-Do

 

-but the wildest guitar solo this reporter's ever heard in 25 years of concertgoing was carved out by one Blackbyrd McKnight. It occurred at a jam session much like this evening's bill, about a decade ago at the old Music Machine, where McKnight was backing Thelonious Monster singer Bob Forrest. McKnight, a P-Funk mainstay who's also worked with Miles Davis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was filling the room with these insane note flurries, ripping off the audience's collective head and slinging it 'round the galaxy. The notes flew endlessly from McKnight's frets, building to an anticipated apocalyptic finale, and we all might still be there waiting for it, except Forrest accidentally unplugged the guitar cord while stomping around the stage.

Falling James - LA Weekly (Dec 19, 2003)