Soulive is back and full of energy for their fourth annual BOWLIVE Residency held at the ever-popular Brooklyn Bowl. Bowlive is an exciting time for the New York City music community, which was made clear last night as Soulive performed to a sold-out crowd. A crowd who showed up to RAGE with Eric Krasno (guitar), Neal Evans (drums), and Alan Evans (Hammond B3 organ, bass keys, clavinet) while a blizzard whipped around outside.
A few things have changed this year. There are eight nights instead of ten, there are more guests than ever and you should expect surprises every night. However, one constant that never falters is Soulive’s devotion to diversity. Their mission is clear. Showcase multiple genres of music by hosting amazing guests backed by the trio’s own diverse talents.
With the most powerful kick-off in the last four years, the rocking Jazz Funk Fusion of KUNG FU opened the run at 8:30 on the dot. KUNG FU is made up of keyboardist Todd Stoops (RAQ), bassist Chris DeAngelis (The Breakfast), saxophonist Rob Somerville (DBB), guitarist Tim Palmieri and drummer Adrian Tramontano (The Breakfast). They powered through their set-list with crushing intensity and warmed up the crowd with favorites “Do the Right Thing,” “Popcorn,” and “Scrabb.”
Then came the moment the crowd had been waiting for since the rosemary-scented close of Bowlive III. The power trio began their set with the electric “Outrage,” as the crowd leapt off the floor, fists punching the air. The raging Soulive classic “Hat Trick,” a psychedelic “Shaheed,” and rocking “Tuesday” followed, with the venue filling with Soulive’s tight and full sound.
Blues harmonica player John Popper (Blues Traveler) was the first guest to grace the stage with Soulive. Choosing the classic Beatles tune “Come Together,” fans were delighted to watch the traditionally instrumental song be sung by Popper himself! The Blue Traveler’s tune “Mulling It Over” closed the set with high intensity and passionate fans screaming their praises.
The trio that never ceases to amaze wasted no time with long set breaks. Only a few minutes went by before the boys were back on stage, this time with slide guitarist Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) demanding the audience to “Shake What Your Momma Gave Ya.” While our attention generally would have been on the musicians, the crowd’s attention was pulled to the bowling lanes where four dancers in mod outfits shook their own asses up and down the aisles for the surprised crowd. A wonderful, fresh idea that reminded us that the guys are just as fun as they are talented.
With the crowd popping with energy and excitement, Soulive continued to tackle our musical senses with Luther Dickinson singing a ripping version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic.” During George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the amazing guitar styling of Dickinson and Eric Krasno were showcased through stunning solos.
Percussionist Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) joined the stage for the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Bob Dylan’s “Someday Baby,” and “Shake ‘Em on Down,” a country-style blues song recorded by Bukka White in 1937. The Dickinson brother’s southern-blues flavor enhanced every tune.
When Cody Dickinson knelt down and put on his washboard and his thimbles, the crowd paid deeper attention as they knew something unique was about to take place. Cody’s metal tipped fingers danced around on the electric washboard, closing the set with his rhythmic sounds backed by amazing bass licks from Neal Evans.
Final guest, DJ ?uestlove (The Roots), was unable to make the show due to circumstances out of his control. Eric Krasno announced to the audience that the power trio would continue playing and the crowd went wild. Then, the first unannounced special guest, Saunders Sermons (Tedeschi Trucks Band), sang and provided trombone for the Bill Wither’s cover “Kissin My Love.” It was a wonderful close to the first night of what promises to be another outstanding run.
Over the next seven nights, Soulive fans will hear music from legendary bass player George Porter, Jr., the heavy rocking London Souls, the soulful singing of Alecia Chakour, the powerful blows of the Shady Horns and so many more surprise artists who sit on the sidelines, hoping and itching to have a chance to join Soulive’s stage. Tonight, put your dancing shoes back on for pedal steel slide guitarist Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band) and soul singer Lee Fields (Lee Fields and the Expressions).