James Brown's JBs guitarist deserving of special notice

Funk has lost another one of its founding fathers.


Last week, guitarist Phelps "Catfish" Collins died in his hometown of Cincinnati. Catfish and his bass-playing younger brother William "Bootsy" Collins formed the backbone of James Brown's JBs in the late 1960s and early '70s. It's his minimalist style you hear on Sex Machine.

Later, after leaving the employ of the late, great Brown, he would perform a similar service on the equally iconic Parliament/Funkadelic tune Flashlight.

I was talking to Keith Jenkins, one of the final guitar guys employed by Brown, about Catfish passing. Jenkins said that while there were more musicians who passed through the James Brown bands -- be it the Famous Flames or JBs or Soul Generals -- than most people realize, Catfish was one who deserves special notice.

He said Catfish, like his brother Bootsy and Fred Wesley and the late Bobby Byrd, could be counted as one of the dozen or so sidemen whose contributions to the Brown sound were iconic and important.

His particular style became funk's razor-sharp edge, cutting through the bouncing bass and syncopated drums and giving grooves a sense of insistence. It's a style that has been copied countless times and, with the advent of hip-hop, continuously sampled.

Cancer might have taken Catfish from his fans (count me as one), but his contributions and those countless funky riffs will continue to enchant, entrance and incite us to dance.

MUD PUPPY MISFORTUNE. Tara and Kevin Scheyer, best known as the married half of the entertaining kid-centric Augusta act Tara Scheyer and the Mud Puppy Band, have recently taken a hit. The couple, when not singing songs about crawdad holes and alligator kings, own Fetch, the dog boutique on the lower level of Surrey Center.

Earlier this week, the store was broken into and the cash register was stolen. While more of an inconvenience than a business killer, it has slowed the couple's canine roll.

If you're a fan of the Mud Puppies, or just puppies in general, go lend some support to the Scheyers. I promise they would be happy to sell you either a ticket to the band's Aug. 29 show at Fort Discovery (only $8 -- a bargain) or some doggy treats.

Perhaps both.

VERY VEARA. I've never been, musically speaking, the biggest fan of Augusta-bred band Veara's music. Far too much affectation for my taste. Still, it does the heart good to see this hard-working band continue not only to survive, but thrive.

The band, which signed with the iconic punk label Epitaph earlier this year, has recently signed on to do some touring in Australia and Japan.

Drummer Brittany Harrell -- the real star of the Veara show in my opinion -- also seems to have lined up some top-flight endorsements with Vater sticks and SJC drums. That's real rock star stuff.