BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (1999)
Simply for rarity, this slice of Minnesota pop life was worth the wait. As the deep-voiced, string-popping bassist for Sly and the Family Stone and the leader of Graham Central Station, Larry Graham had inspired a generation of '70s funk practitioners, not least a young Minneapolis resident named Prince Rogers Nelson. And on this cold February day, after more than a year of touring and woodshedding with his adopted "Little Brother," Graham celebrated the release of a breezy new Graham Central Station album on the Artist's New Power Generation label, somewhat hopefully titled GCS2000. In the crowded confines of the Electric Fetus record store on February 18, 1999, graying fans with old records to be signed mingled with New Power newbies wondering if the Artist would show. After Graham walked in (late) wearing his trademark white cowboy hat, he launched into a set of classic Sly songs and originals that had the crowd swaying. Then it happened: The children dancing on the CD platforms, the energized New Power Generation band, and Graham's steady right thumb pushed the moment past the attendant hype into deep funk ecstasy. Thank you for letting us be ourselves, indeed.