RonKat Spearman is “authorized to play the funk.” The Parliament Funkadelic Allstar is bringing his band, Katdelic, one of San Francisco’s hottest groups, to Moe’s Alley for an all-night dance party on Friday, July 24.
The leftie who could strum the guitar like a right-handed player, RonKat showed an aptitude for music at an early age and left his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., for Los Angeles to realize his dream of making it in the music industry. The ultra talented, composer, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist got his start writing hits for dozens of artists including, Jade, Toni Braxton and El Debarge, earning him Grammy nominations and a BMI Songwriter of the Year nod for the song, “Don’t Walk Away.”
In 2000, RonKat was personally asked by George Clinton to join Parliament Funkadelic, where he would spend the next decade touring as a guitar player and vocalist.
While he, “drew deep inspiration from playing with P-Funk,” Ronkat continued to develop his own style as songwriter and composer for what would become, Katdelic.
Fresh from performing at the The High Sierra Festival with Katdelic Acoustic, a smaller version of the Katdelic family, RonKat spoke with Good Times ahead of his Moe’s Alley show.
So how was performing with Pimps of Joytime and Katdelic Acoustic at The High Sierra Festival?
RONKAT: I’m surprised you think I’m in the Pimps of Joytime, haha, but I do work with them a lot! I played with my band Katdelic Acoustic and I played with a HSMF tradition called Guitarmegeddon. That’s a mash up of a lot of guitar players and this year’s theme was Watkins Glen, one of the original Rock Festivals from the 1970s in New York. I am friends with Brian Jay from the Pimps and we do play together in NOLA for the after Jazz Fest shows that the Boom Boom Room Presents. One of our bands is called, Jungle Jane. We did that band for the first time this year and the other is the WHIP. I dig the Pimps and it was good to hear them at HSMF and to hang with Brian Jay after the set.
Do you get to scratch a separate “musical itch” with each of your different projects?
RONKAT: Katdelic keeps me busy; I was in Parliament Funkadelic from 2000 to 2010. Then I decided, with George’s blessing, to do Katdelic. I’m a songwriter and producer and as much as I love the P-Funk, I have music of my own to express. A lot of it is influenced by the P-Funk vibe and the grooves, but I have my own Katdelic funk. We played at Moe’s last summer and George sat in with us, it was cool, he was going to come out on the fourth or fifth song, but he came out on the fourth or fifth note. He was on stage most of the night. Having someone you respect so much dig my music is like a confirmation to keep on going. When P-Funk is in town, I’m on stage with them. It’s the ‘funk mob;’ once you get in, it’s for life. They are my family and when I stand in my spot it’s like going home.
When you were getting your start in LA, cutting your teeth writing songs for artists like Jade, Toni Braxton, and Rick James just to name a few. What was it like as a young artist hearing your music played by legends like that? Is writing music for other artists something you’ve continued to do as your career progressed or plan to do again?
RONKAT: My writing partner and I put JADE together and the album went double platinum. Toni Braxton had a hit album already but she was also young. They are all very talented and it feels great when your music is sung and played by artists of that caliber. It was an honor to work with Rick James and we became friends and wrote together and I played guitar for him and was in his “Sex Me Funk Me” music video. I wrote for Earl Klugh, Chaka Kahn, El Debarge; I collaborated with Lenny Kravitz, there was a slew of them when I lived in LA. Once I went on the road as a musician I never stopped writing songs. I am a songwriter first but playing live music is right next to it for me. They run neck-and-neck.
Your upcoming Moe’s Alley show is dubbed a “dance party.” I would imagine with a group as funky as Katdelic every show is a dance party.
RONKAT: Every Katdelic show is a dance party and this one will be no different. We have our older favorites and always come with new songs and grooves. It is our mission to keep that dance floor full all night.
I know you and the band are no strangers to Santa Cruz.
RONKAT: We love Santa Cruz. We have some friends that live ‘off the grid’ in Santa Cruz and we are planning to shoot a video on their land this year. Other than that though, unfortunately, we get into town just in time to sound check and then after the show we are back on the road. When you are on the road you get to be in so many places but there’s never a lot of time to get into any activities other than eating somewhere close to the venue. We are happy to hit the club and meet the people who come out to see us and “Dance On The Mothership” with us.