ConFunkShun bringing ‘Love’s Train’ to Stockbridge Fourth

Silk Sonic members Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak meet Con Funk Shun members Michael Cooper and Felton Pilate. Silk Sonic recently covered Con Funk Shun's "Love's Train."

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Silk Sonic members Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak meet Con Funk Shun members Michael Cooper and Felton Pilate. Silk Sonic recently covered Con Funk Shun's "Love's Train."

There’s a “Love’s Train” that’s coming to Stockbridge this Fourth of July, but it’s not being led by Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak.

ConFunkShun, the “conductors” of the original song that topped the adult R&B charts this spring for Anderson’s and Mars’ group Silk Sonic, will play a concert in the Henry County city Monday along with ‘70s favorite Dazz Band and singer Sal Valentinetti from “The Voice.” The free event is sold out, Stockbridge leaders said.

Michael Cooper, one of the authors of “Love’s Train” for ConFunkShun, said Silk Sonic’s cover of the song has opened the door for the group to play in arenas and festivals, venues they were never invited to back when their version first hit the airwaves in 1982.

“Places that we never got calls to play are calling us,” he said, including the Kentucky State Fair, the Ohio State Fair and the Blue Note in Napa, California. “There are a lot of casinos and amphitheaters, including the very nice one in Stockbridge.”

The group, which hails from southern California, has been together as ConFunkShun since 1971 and racked up a number of hits through the ‘70s and ‘80s, including “Shake and Dance With Me,” “Too Tight” and “Chase Me.” Their name, which is both spelled ConFunkShun and Con Funk Shun, comes from a song by jazz-funk band The Nite-Liters. Cooper prefers the one-word spelling.

And it’s not only “Love’s Train” that has been covered by others. One of the group’s marquee hits, “Ffun,” has been sampled by Ice Cube, DJ Quik and the Rebirth Brass Band. A slower-tempo marching band version of the song was used as Beyonce’s entrance music in the pop superstar’s 2018 “Homecoming” show at Coachella.

“There have been quite a few rappers who have looped it in and rapped over it,” said Cooper, who added he would love for Robin Thicke and Atlanta’s Usher to cover one of the band’s songs. “We’ve had our share of surprising checks show up in the mail.”

The group broke up in the late 1980s, with Cooper launching a solo career. They reformed with three of the group’s original members in the early ‘90s.

The buzz from Silk Sonic’s “Love’s Train,” which was released on Valentine’s Day, led the group to playing 40 dates around the nation this year. ConFunkShun chose 40 dates because it’s been 40 years since the song was introduced.

The song, about a love triangle between a woman and the two men she was seeing, was born from real life. Cooper and Felton Pilate, the co-author of the song, were dating the same woman when Pilate began working on the song. After he finished his version, he sent it to Cooper, who changed the lyrics to reflect his hurt during that period.

“It was quite, as they say, ‘A hot mess,’” Cooper said. “It was lemons to lemonade.”

Cooper said he’s working on a memoir, “On Love’s Train: The Life, the Love, the Man, the Music,” about his years in music, the business, world news and his thoughts on politics. He also is trying to get the band a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The band has finished about 90% of a new album, which will be a follow-up to 2015′s “More Than Love.”

One of the biggest challenges Cooper said he faces today is getting Silk Sonic’s cover of “Love’s Train” out of his head when he’s on stage. In a recent Baton Rouge performance, he missed a cue for an ad-lib because he was thinking of Silk Sonic’s version.

“I had to admit to the guys that I had forgot to sing the ad-lib of the first vamp fooling around with Anderson and Bruno in my head,” he said.


EVENT PREVIEW

ConFunkShun, Dazz Band and Sal Valentinetti at the Stockbridge Fourth of July extravaganza

6:30-10 p.m. July 4. Sold out. Stockbridge Amphitheater, 4650 N. Henry Blvd., Stockbridge.