Sly and The Family Stone one of the iconic bands of the ‘flower power’ era.
With tracks such as Family Affair, Dance To The Music, and iconic political track, Stand!, their Funk, Rock and Soul helped forge a scene.

Today, some of the members still play together, minus frontman Sly, as The Family Stone.
Jerry Martini, who’s been on brass with the band since the very start back in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury, is very much in reflective mode when we ask him to tell us about The Family Stone today.

“I’ve never had a real job,” the 74-year-old explains. “The only other thing I’ve ever done is spent a bit of time as a booking agent, but this really keeps me happy.
“It’s amazing to get the chance to do what you love all your life.
“I still remember Woodstock, which was a real mess,” Martini recalls, picking out the legendary American cultural turning point as a highlight.

“We played Glastonbury a few years ago, and in a way it was quite similar – 200,000 people in front of us while we played.
“They don’t arrest people who try to jump the fence, they just drive them a few miles away and release them.
“It reminded me a lot of the Woodstock, love thing.”

Martini plays saxophone, and says that at 74, he’s still very much in performance mode.
“I still jump around a lot on stage. I think it keeps me young,” he says. “I’m always writing, too. We don’t really perform new songs, though. Sly wrote so many great things.
“He’s been one of my best friends for 50 years. I like to write my own songs, but Sly’s songs are so good, those are the ones we play. Good songs don’t get old.”
“We’re still adding songs that are not on the greatest hits, songs that haven’t been played live before.

“We would be open to new ones, but they’d have to be as good as the ones we’re already playing, and that’s a difficult thing to do.”
The band are still very much a family act, though former frontman Sly hasn’t been a part of the band in their original sense since he departed due to reliability problems associated with drug use way back in 1975.

Sylvette Robinson, daughter of Cynthia, now takes Cynthia’s role. “I still struggle with her loss, it hit me really hard,” Martini says of the founder member’s death in 2015.
”Sylvette’s great, just like having her mum there, and I think her being in the band is what Cynthia would have wanted.”

In fact, Martini feels the band are now as good as they’ve ever been.
“There were a couple of times in the past when maybe we appointed people as singers because they looked or felt like Sly,” he recalls.

“The guy we have at the moment, Swang Stewart, is just a really great vocalist. He nails it, and that was the important thing.
“Things are going really well. I feel in great shape, too. As good as ever. At the moment,I’m just really, really enjoying it.”

So any regrets from it all? “I just wish out first album had gone over better,” Martini says.
“It was loved by Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. It was a real diverse, underdog album and I think it was us at our best, before albums had to be similar for commercial reasons.
“It was different, because it had all four singers on lead in different songs and really showcased us. But it’s been an amazing ride.”

The Family Stone play Beatyard Festival in Dun Laoghaire on August 3.
They’ll be joined across the weekend by The Jacksons, Kamasi Washington, Orbital, The Wailers and Little Dragon.

Tickets are €59 (per day) or €150 (for the weekend).

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