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Proof is in the performance, says Maceo Parker

Who: Maceo Parker

Where: Boot Pub Fairgrounds

What: Zoophorus music festival

When: Aug. 31

Despite demanding schedules, saxophonist Maceo Parker takes time with his interviewees.

And you always wish you could have a little more.

A member of the "greatest funk orchestra on earth" with 300 shows per year, the Kinston, Carolina native is one busy man.

"When I was at a crossroads way back and thinking about teaching music, I chose to do this," he says.

"I do it for the music and for the arts. I love people, and love having something to give," says Parker, by phone from home after touring Europe this summer.

Part of this weekend’s Zoophorus Festival, Parker and his band funk up the Boot Pub Fairgounds tomorrow afternoon.

Keeping the shows fresh is never a problem for Parker, whose stylish signature suits add flair from the days of the dressed-up gig.

"You get fuelled from the reaction of the crowd, you really get something from the performance. I do pretty much the same thing, but you can also make something different. It’s sort’ve hard to explain."

He calls his music "2 per cent jazz, 98 per cent funk."

"I present the talent I have. The music has a fallout kind of thing at performances."

And after 11 albums, including his top selling CD titled Life on Planet Groove (Verve/Minor Music, 1992), Parker says the proof is in the pro.

"It’s not the same as something like watching tennis or baseball. People really get something out of performing – you’re entertained because you can’t do that, and say to yourself, I don’t know anybody that can hit a ball like that or what those pros do," adds Parker, whose bio extends back to days with George Clinton and James Brown in the ’60s and ’70s.

Modern collaborations with artists like guitarist Ani DiFranco and German musician Candy Dulfer have brought Parker’s signature sound to new listeners worldwide.

He opened for 10 Dave Matthews shows in the summer of 1999.

"I was opening for Ani and noticed while I was playing, she was over there dancing in the wings and she’s performing in the next 10 minutes, but she’s over there partying," recounts Parker.

"That’s unusual, but it really showed she likes what we do, and from that we played on each other’s albums. Now it’s like a family relationship, she’s almost like a daughter to me."

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