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Michael Bendure typically paints on the floor in the one-room studio in his Norman home.

Featured Article

Trusting the Funk

Michael Bendure Shares Positivity, Inclusivity Through Music and Art

Cleveland County musician and artist Michael Bendure began a love affair with funk music during the pandemic, and since then, he has learned to just “trust the funk.” This has proven to be an effective mantra, as his love of funk music has allowed him to do what he loves most: creating and sharing original art and music.

Michael, who describes himself as “just an old-school Norman kid,” graduated from Norman High School before completing a degree in communication from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. 

He spent a decade as the communications director at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus before serving as the communications director at OU’s Price College of Business shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many, he had no idea how much the pandemic would ultimately change the course of his life. 

“I pitched an idea of a music podcast exploring funk music to my friend Jim [Johnson, program director at KGOU] to get his feedback,” Michael explains. “He thought the idea was good, but it would be too expensive for an individual, due to the copyright restrictions. He was looking for new, original content, so he offered to bring me on board to host a radio show. I loved the idea, but with a full-time job, a family and playing in a band, I wasn’t sure how to find the time.” 

Michael took a leap of faith and agreed to host the radio show, and Tonic: the Funky Groove Show was born in March 2020. He signed his contract with the radio station one week before the pandemic began, and the resulting shutdown found him producing the entire radio show from his home. The show, which features a mix of instrumental funk and groove music spanning the past six decades, airs from 9-11 p.m. Fridays on KGOU.

“The first three letters in funk are literally ‘fun’,” Michael says, laughing. “It’s music that makes you feel good when you listen to it. It just makes you feel uplifted and energetic.”

“The show lets me play music that nobody else is playing on the radio, including soul, disco, jazz, hip hop and more. It provides me with a great way to share positivity and inclusivity. It encompasses all races, genders and ages. Funk music sprang up out of the civil rights, so it has always been music that brings people together.”

The response to Tonic was overwhelmingly positive, and the show became a creative springboard. By August 2021, he stepped away from his desk job to pursue his creative endeavors full-time. He began painting and debuted an interview-based music podcast called 40 Minutes of Funk.

The podcast allows Michael to interview a wide variety of bands and musicians involved in contemporary funk music. Each episode includes interviews and original recordings, which allow listeners to dive deeper into the genre. 

In 2021, Michael also made his visual arts debut, showcasing art that explores color and texture. He has since become an award-winning visual artist who specializes in colorful abstract paintings. 

“During the pandemic, I started dreaming about painting. I woke up in the middle of the night and started drawing with the only thing I had on hand, which happened to be colored pencils. I bought paints and started painting the things I was dreaming about,” he explains. 

Michael had his first art show in August 2022 at Norman’s Second Friday ArtWalk, and has since shown works at the Norick Art Center at Oklahoma City University, The Depot in Norman, the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival and the Oklahoma Art Guild Small Works Show. Last summer, Michael had his museum debut as part of an exhibition called Quality of Light at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum. He currently has numerous works on display at the Water’s Edge Winery in Moore. 

“All of my biggest creative endeavors—the podcast, the radio show and painting—all emerged because of the pandemic,” he adds. “All have a common thread of positivity, optimism and life. The pandemic was the ultimate dark days. These creative things became a way to spread some light.”

Michael is also a popular singer/songwriter who plays in numerous local bands. Heartbreak Rodeo, an acoustic trio featuring Michael on guitar, is his most established band. The band will celebrate its 10th anniversary by playing the Norman Music Festival in April. He also plays bass guitar with The Whiskey Gingers, an acoustic trio that also includes his wife, Jenny, who perform original music and cover tunes ranging from folk to contemporary pop. Both bands have albums available on Spotify.

Currently, his most active band is called Eventides, a quartet that includes both Michael and Jenny. He also plays in a cover band called Raiders of the Pop Chart, with friends from across the state. During the spring and fall, Michael plays live gigs with his various bands two to three times per week. 

“The greatest thing about live music is playing with people you trust and love,” he adds. “I love that I play in two bands with Jenny, and we get to make music together. There is nothing like seeing her shine on stage.”

As for his future creative endeavors, Michael says he will keep “trusting the funk” and go where doors of possibility open. 

“I will keep doing this as long as there is opportunity, and just keep developing and changing as I go,” he concludes. “I can’t wait to see what is next!”

Find Michael’s visual art at, find more about his radio show at, listen to two seasons of his podcast at, and find information about his bands at and On Instagram and Facebook, follow @40MinutesofFunk, @ArtbyMichaelB, @EventidesBand, @RaidersofthePopChart and @funkygrooveshow.

  • Michael Bendure typically paints on the floor in the one-room studio in his Norman home.
  • Sorting through his collection of vinyl records for his radio show is no small task: Michael's collection numbers near 500.
  • OKC-based IT company amshot has been hosting a large, solo art installation of Michael's work, continuing through mid-February, titled "Disruptions!"
  • Eventides performs throughout Norman and OKC, including regularly at Royal Bavaria. From left are Jeff Cole, Michael Bendure, Grant Wells and Jenny Bendure.
  • A full spectrum of paint is necessary when bright colors are the preferred palette.)

“The first three letters in funk are literally ‘fun’."

"During the pandemic, I started dreaming about painting. ..."