No longer the sideman, Maceo Parker has spent the past 20 years establishing himself as brilliant solo artist and funk saxophonist.

No longer the sideman, Maceo Parker has spent the past 20 years establishing himself as brilliant solo artist and funk saxophonist.

Recognized as one of the early pioneers of modern funk, Parker has played with the best of them, including James Brown, George Clinton, Ray Charles, Ani DiFranco, James Taylor, Dave Matthews Band and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Parker and his band, known as the "greatest little funk orchestra on earth," deftly navigate between 1960s soul and '70s funk along with mellower jazz and hip-hop grooves, in keeping with his catchphrase, "Two percent jazz and 98 percent funky stuff."

Parker will play that funky music at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., Ashland. The show, organized by Ashland-based SugarTime Presents, will open with Ashland's The Rogue Suspects, featuring vocalist Shae Johnson and the Rock Hard Horns, and Funkamungus playing New Orleans funk and modern funk, respectively. Visual artist Johnathan Singer will create a multimedia background for the performers, using digital images and live video.

"If you like funk, this is the place to be," says John Di Fruscia, founder of Funkamungus, "the valley's only (exclusively) funk band."

Di Fruscia moved to the region five and a half years ago to discover that there were no local funk bands and only a small pool of funk musicians from which to form a band. In his search, he uncovered several young funk whizzes at Southern Oregon University and recruited them to join the band.

Formed in 2008, Funkamungus is vocalists Chris Keefe, Marria Casul and Shannon Harris; bassist Di Fruscia; guitarist Peter Gross; drummer Ryan Güt; keyboardist David Scoggin; trombone player Sedi Waroff; trumpeter Jim King; baritone saxophonist Rico Salas; and tenor saxophonist Gordon Greenley.

The funk-starved Rogue Valley heartily welcomed the new band.

"Every single show we've done in the valley, we've sold out," says Di Fruscia.

Funkamungus steers toward more modern and less traditional James Brown funk.

"James Brown was very horn-oriented," says Di Fruscia. "It was all about the horns. The modern funk might be more about the keys, like synthesizers, and bass guitars. The horns can all be there, but backing up the band."

On Tuesday night, Funkamungus will warm up the crowd with a one-hour set, featuring The Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Tower of Power, Prince and Erykah Badu.

"The night is about Maceo Parker," says Di Fruscia.

" I'm really glad somebody had the guts ... to book a big name like that in Ashland, and I'm proud to be part of it. "

The show at the Armory is limited to ages 21 and older. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Music Coop in Ashland, Bad Ass Coffee in Medford or at VIP, front-row tables for 10 are available for $500. Call 808-281-5244 or see

"When you listen to funk music, it's not like rock, where the guitar player is featured," says Di Fruscia. "When you listen to funk, it's about everybody putting in a little bit of themselves to make that groove happen."