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An Interactive Guide to Funk

A good funk drumbeat is a thing of beauty. The thump of the kick, the shiver of the hi-hat—but without the right ears, you might never be able to figure out what the drummer’s actually doing back there.

That’s where the Funklet comes in. It’s an interactive guide to those mysterious beats, courtesy of a lifelong funk aficionado and some clever Web work. So if you want to break down a classic funk beat—say, the powerful break from Bill Withers’s “Use Me”—the Funklet can show you the exact notation along with an interactive play-through tool that lets you speed it up and isolate the channels, along with a few other toys.

For the rhythmically inclined, it’s a pretty cool way to while away a Thursday afternoon. And for everyone else...there’s still time to learn.

Extraordinary Moments in Soul Train History

Earlier this week, Don Cornelius, the beloved host and creator of Soul Train, chose the Gunter Sachs method of treating Alzheimer’s disease: he shot himself in the head. Though terribly sad, it’s not at all surprising that men like Cornelius and Sachs—both unceasingly proud and dignified individuals who lived fairy-tale lives—opted to stare down the barrel of a shotgun rather than the dim, tapering tunnel of dementia.

Many under the age of 30 had likely never heard of Mr. Cornelius before this week, since his 22-year tenure as tour guide on “The Hippest Trip in America” ended in 1993. But any fans of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Run-DMC or countless other artists whose careers began on Soul Train owe a healthy bit of gratitude to Don Cornelius.

To that end, we present you with three of the most extraordinary moments in Soul Train history.»

Mods Vs. Rockers


Actors and even a few writers can put up a fight, but rock stars will always be the coolest people in the room. The trick is getting a few snaps while they’re there.

Backstage Pass is the latest roundup of rock star photos, with essays by Griel Marcus and style guy Glenn O’Brien (among others) to sweeten the pot.

The haul includes a surprisingly sartorial Mick and Keith, plenty of shaggy Beatle shots, and a rare shot of James Brown at work in front of a piano. As usual, they’re at their most stylish when you catch them at work.

See the pics»

Windows Of The Soul

  • Jared Paul Stern


Two years after the great James Brown's passing, Christie's is selling off the Godfather of Soul's most prized possessions this Thursday in an auction featuring everything from his multiple music awards, well-worn hi-fi, and metallic green vinyl sofa to childhood mementos and photographs.

The big ticket items are his custom electric organ and baby grand piano at est. $20,000 - $30,000 and $15,000 - $20,000 respectively, along with dozens of jumpsuits in denim, polyester and other flammable fabrics (and all the colors of the puke rainbow) in the $5,000 - $7,000 range.

However we were entranced by a couple of the collections Big Brown amassed, including the keys to 11 cities he was presented with over the years (est. $2,000 - $3,000), and especially this assemblage of 83 pairs of shades he wore during countless concerts and debauchs - a steal at only $1,000 - $1,500. If only they could talk…