The John Hickey Band
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The John Hickey Band

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"What The Funk?"

John Hickey, now of Edison, was driving a van for legendary P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell when the guys took a break and visited a music store.

"The way Bernie tells it, he heard (but didn't see) a guy playing guitar in the store and he didn't know who was playing," said Hickey, the mystery guitar player. "From then on he brought me up on stage with him, the other guitar player left, and I got the gig-full time."

These days, John Hickey is one of the fastest rising stars on the funk music scene. The John Hickey Band performs tomorrow night at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick with Funk Kin, whose members are the next of kin of P-Funk.

P-Funk comes up often when Hickey is discussed. The guitarist played several shows as a member of the Plainfield-born funksters.

"I had been around as Bernie's full-time guitarist for a year, maybe two years, when he was going back with P-Funk," Hickey said. "He needed somebody to set up his keyboards and he said to make sure that I brought my guitar with me. (P-Funk member) Gary Shider talked to me and said, "Look, this is my amp. When I call you up, this is what you play.' "

Mind you, Hickey is not the first white dude to play with P-Funk.

"The guys would call me Ron Bykowski at the sound check," said Hickey, referring to P-Funk's 1970s-era member.

No, Hickey didn't wear an astro suit or a diaper on stage, as is the P-Funk norm. But he did take to wearing a helmet with Viking horns.

"When I was playing with Bernie one day in Albuquerque," Hickey said. "We went into a costume shop, and we went in and checked stuff out. I found this stupid Helga helmet and I said, "That's pretty stupid,' and I was looking to wear something on stage. It turned into a way for people to remember me."

Hickey came to the area from a far off land — Edmonton to be exact. And after a stop off in Texas, Hickey attended Rutgers University and hit the local club scene.

He was introduced to Worrell by local legend Big Nancy Swarbrick, who is, incidently, opening tonight with guitarist Bernie Brausewetter for blues great Sonny Rhodes at Orphan Annie's in Stirling.

Hickey's band is led by keyboardist Gregg Fitz of Plainfield, a member of Bootsy Collins' New Rubber Band and Worrell's Woo Warriors. Cissy Fitz, vocals; William "Perk" Puryear, bass; and Troy White, drums, all of Plainfield, round out the lineup.

The group is featured on Hickey's latest release, "The John Hickey Band Live." The band merges an earthy blues vibe with a funky cosmic slop sound for a music experience that's out of this world.

"I really didn't have to look for a band," Hickey said. "I couldn't ask for better musicians." - Home News Tribune


Down With The Ship 2004
The John Hickey Band Live 2005



Having played and recorded with George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, and Bootsy Collins, John has been thoroughly schooled by the masters. Yet despite the undeniable influence of these classic funksters, John’s music remains fresh, personal, and always groovin’.

In addition to touring with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and Bernie Worrell & the WOO Warriors, The John Hickey Band has been gigging throughout the Northeast since the summer of 2004. 2005 began with a bang for the band as they opened for Parliament Funkadelic to a full house in Sayerville Nj. It’s the bands abiltiy to take this big show mentality into more intimate settings that wins fans over. In addition, the band is also recognized by their peers as a band to see. Among others, band members from P-Funk, Sly Stone, Deep Banana Blackout and Ween have been spotted taking in a show on a number of occasions. Members of the John Hickey Band have played with the likes of Bootsy Collins, Cameo, Sly Stone, Bernie Worrell, P-Funk, The Toys, & Eddie Hazel. This solid funk foundation combined with John’s blistering guitar, makes seeing the John Hickey Band a truly electrifying experience!

Ever since the 2004 release of his debut album, “Down With the Ship,” John has been busy bringing his version of funk to clubs all over the east coast. The result is the band’s newly released album, “The John Hickey Band Live.” The cd features a number of songs from “Down With The Ship” along with some brand new tracks. In either case, the band makes their way through these selections in a furiously funky way. Aside from John, the other members of the band all hail from Plainfield NJ. The “Plainfield sound” is synonymous with funk and was instrumental in launching the funk super group Parliament Funkadelic. The members of the John Hickey Band are: Gregg “Daffy Duck” Fitz (Keyboard, Vocals -- Bootsy, Sly Stone, Cameo, Kool & The Gang), Cissy Fitz (vocals –Garry Shieder, the Toys), William “Perk” Puryear (Bassist – Funkin, Eddie Hazel Band) and Troy White (Drums).

In the last two years, John has produced two of his own albums, toured the U.S. with Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, played on numerous other albums and set himself apart by his artistic and professional integrity. In short, he is an emerging artist to watch.