by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Mike Gales, who’s played with George Clinton’s Parliament since ’97, recently signed an agreement with Blunt Logic Records. With distribution as part of the deal, recordings made with his funk/ jazz band, the Warriorz, will now be available in every city they play. That’s a long list. Although Mike shares a Chesterfield home with wife Alisa and daughters Bria and Myka, he spends months out of the year on the road as a busy working musician.
Originally from Jamaica, Queens, Mike moved to Richmond as a child, and has rarely sat still since. “The association with George has opened up a lot of doors for me,” Mike says. “I’ve been touring with him all over the United States. I’ve been abroad, to Tokyo and to Europe with P-Funk. I think it basically broadened me as a musician, to see the different dynamics and cultures.”
When Mike isn’t working with P-Funk, he supports Verve Records recording artist, funk/jazz keyboardist Bernard Wright. Yet he still manages to gig frequently with the Warriorz, including about three shows a month in Richmond.
“In the market today, especially with the Internet, even big acts will market themselves [online.] A lot of people aren’t touring,” Mike says. “But I just learned from being with P-Funk, [touring] is the key. George has been touring for forty years, as long as I’ve been alive. I think that’s what got me into working so much. My guys will tell you, that’s just what I’m used to.”
The core of the Warriorz includes Steve Bider on drums, Chris Lawyer on bass, and percussion player, Enrique Rodriguez. Drew Lewis and Peter of Battlemaster often join him. Their sound is eclectic, but showcases their skill with spontaneous musical invention.
“The key with improvisation is that you have to know your instrument,” Mike says. “You don’t want to be repetitive. It’s constantly a metamorphosis. That’s what a Mike Gales show is; very spontaneous, very free. It’s high energy, very groove oriented. My whole doing what I do, of course, I think it’s a gift from God. But also, I think I like to make people stimulated. It’s a very danceable vibe. If you want to come out and have a good time, come to a Mike and the Warriorz show. It’s guaranteed.”
Mike is happy to be working as much as he does, and he’ll be ready to hit the road when Clinton calls: “When you say ‘funk,’ everybody has different connotations,” he says. “But when George Clinton gets onstage and can have a crowd of everybody from age 15 to 55 years old jumping up and down, that’s funk to me.”
Still, he knows his family will be happy to see him more, and he doesn’t expect to continue “relentless touring” forever.
“What I’d like to do here in Virginia is basically open up a true jazz club and bring cats in to play live; an intimate setting, where you can sit not that far from the crowd; a true jazz club like in the Village and just have beautiful acts come into seven nights a week,” Mike says. “That’s what I want to do in Richmond.”
Just when you think Mike Gales might be talking about settling down, he adds, “And hopefully get a Grammy along the way somewhere.”
See Mike Gales & the Warriorz Friday Jan. 2 at Breaker’s West End, 9127 W. Broad St.