t's a Friday night at Club Congress, and there's a blow-up doll at the microphone. The house music goes down, and a dreadlocked dude in a red Speedo and a cape leaps onstage, grabs the doll and lifts it onto his face.
Welcome to the world of Cosmic Slop.
The guy in the cape is Dondi Marble, a capoeira instructor who first began a Funkadelic-inspired group called Cosmic Slop in 1976 that didn't work out. But after Marble put on a talent show with his students, he realized that maybe the time was ripe to reform the band.
"I saw these guys had other talents in other arenas and stuff," Marble said, "so we decided to put a band together."
Cosmic Slop is composed of a dozen musicians who play guitar, drums, keyboards, saxophone and harmonica. There are four vocalists, and every show seems to feature a different lineup of members. One June 9 at Club Congress, only nine people were onstage. Marble explained after the show that three of his band members were in Africa.
Missing band members don't seem to phase a group like Cosmic Slop, who embrace the theatricality of funk and the flexibility of psychedelic rock. Songs delve into dueling guitar solos; the keyboards sustain a hypnotic melody, and Marble whispers sweet nothings to the audience, like "I'll lick your soul if you suck my sweet emotion."
"Our band members are from all over--some people are from Tucson; I'm originally from the Bronx; we've got someone from Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, from New Orleans--we're all over," Marble said.
And the "all over" means more than just their geographic roots. "We have songs that go all across the board, from, like, vampirish type of sex songs to whatever, you know," Marble said. "But our basis is the funk and rock."
Which means Cosmic Slop can slip effortlessly from swirling psychedelic into a funk freakout: One minute, the band is lulling the audience into a stupor, and the next, they're shouting, "Shit! Goddamn! Get off your ass and jam!"
Since the band is composed of so many musicians from different backgrounds, one would think it'd be hard to bring everybody together toward one common, funkified goal, but, said Marble, "We all bring stuff to the table, it's all collaboration--the songs, the lyrics and everything."
And Cosmic Slop is nothing if not a crazy orgy of musicians having a lot of fun and using the word "nasty" as often as possible--heck, they have a song called "Spit Don't Make No Babies," and then there's "Skunk Funk," where Marble sings: "Cosmic Slop coming hot with the skunk funk. Nastier than not washing your ass in a month." Marble chants during shows that Cosmic Slop does not have groupies--they have "Sloppettes and Sloppers gettin' sloppy."
At that Club Congress show, though, Cosmic Slop was a bit toned down, but that didn't stop Marble from inviting lots of girls onto the stage during their last song. Girl after girl climbed up with a drink in hand, and soon, the stage was full of bodies as the band sang, "We're here to party!"
Marble even offered to clean up the spilled beer once soundman Matt Marcus pointed out that it was all over the stage. Cosmic Slop may be dirty, but they clean things up when they need to.
The group has recorded four songs with Jim Waters at Waterworks, and is working on four more, Marble said. More shows are always in the works--the band particularly likes playing at The Hut, "because they let us do our own thing," Marble said.
Cosmic Slop's own thing being, of course, their "own brand of funk rock."