Archive for March 29th, 2010

Last Thursday, March 25, 2010, there were a few great musical options to choose from and I was having an internal struggle. MoonAlice and Some Cat From Japan were playing at The Brooklyn Bowl for $5, while Tower of Power was playing at B.B. Kings for $30.

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

If I had planned better, I could have attended the 7:30pm show of Tower of Power and ran to The Brooklyn Bowl to catch Some Cat From Japan at 10:30pm. While on the phone with a friend debating on my plan of action, I was feed a little anecdote.  He explained how when it comes to these seasoned bands, it’s best to attend the later show so that they can use the earlier show as a warm-up.  When it was all put into perspective, I knew what decision I would make!  TOWER OF POWER, and for many reasons…

1. I had never seen them before!!

2. I was on the guest list so $30 back in my pocket

3. I wanted to stay closer to home and this was in Manhattan vs. Brooklyn

4. I had never seen them before!!


Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado

Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado

Being that this was an event scheduled on the NYC Funk Live’s Meetup group site, I knew I would be with some music heads to enjoy the show with.  I arrived first and joined the LOOOONG line outside which stretched all the way to the end of the block.

Sometime between February’s Fat Tuesday Show with George Porter Jr. and tonight’s Tower of Power show, a thought-provoking mural had been erected along 92 feet of Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado the sidewalk down West 42nd Street commanding the attention of all who walked by with its loud and vibrant portrayal of “Strong Women.”

The mural was envisioned and designed by Sofia Maldonado, a Puerto Rican/Cuban artist.  She was commissioned by the Times Square Alliance to create a work of art and that she did. Go check it out:

While studying the mural and getting completely lost in its intricacies and the statement that is was screaming at me, members of NYC Funk Live group started arriving and our section of the line began to bubble out as our group grew while waiting.

After 25 minutes of waiting in 3 stages of the line, we were finally in.   There were tables lining every inch of available dance space. By the time were we ushered in, there were only a few available tables left, all with horrible sight lines of the stage. Not that it mattered as none of us wanted to eat, nor did we want to have to pay a minimum of $20 a person for drinks. And , of course, we certainly didn’t want to SIT at a funk concert…PERIOD!!!

Tower of Power took the stage within minutes and we were immediately confronted with more confusion. Obviously we had to stand but where?  Where could we put our jackets/scarves/bags since there is no coat check?   Where do we dance if there is no dance floor?  B.B. Kings strikes again…but let’s get to the good stuff!!!!!

Tower of Power is a horn-heavy jazzy, funky explosion of sound.  One of the first funk/pop groups to incorporate multiple ethnicities, Tower of Power blasted out of the 60’s and remains a founder of funk today, empowering and inspiring younger musicians. Below is the only video I took of the night! Too busy dancing…

The wonderful group of musicians that blessed the stage that night as Tower of Power were:

  • Larry Braggs – Lead Vocalist
  • David Garibaldi – Drums
  • Tom E. Politzer – Lead Tenor sax
  • Emilio Castillo – Tenor Sax
  • Roger Smith – Keyboards
  • Adolfo Acosta – Trumpet
  • Stephen “Doc” Kupka – Baritone Sax
  • Jerry Cortex – Guitar, back up vocals
  • Mic Gillette – Trumpet, Trombone, Flugelhorn
  • Francis Rocco Prestia – Bass
Al Chez w/ TOP (03.25.10)

Al Chez w/ TOP (03.25.10)

Special Guests that night included Al Chesnovitz, or Al Chez, former TOP member and Letterman Show band member, and Lenny Pickett, Former TOP Lead Tenor and Musical Director for Saturday Night Live.

Set ListWhat is Hip?, This Time It’s Real, You Got To Funkifize, You Ought to be Having Fun, So Very Hard to Go, There’s Only So Much Oil in the Ground, Get Yo’ Feet Back on the Ground, Hip Street, and Give Me the Proof, and Walking up Hip Street!  ~~~~ (I am sure there are a few I didn’t catch but they only played from 10pm-1130 so there wasn’t room for many songs.)

Larry Braggs of TOP (03.25.10)

Larry Braggs of TOP (03.25.10)

Lead singer, Larry Braggs, is utterly amazing. AMAZING!!!!  I can absolutely see why all the women were swooning while he sang the slower ballads and why they drooled when he blasted out louder, funkier songs like This Time It’s Real.  During Startime, the James Brown tribute melody from the “Great American Soulbook,” I literally had tingles down my spine when he sang.

I have only recently been focusing on the singing/vocals when I attend shows. Normally, I take apart the entire song and pick and choose which instruments to focus on at any given time and then phase them all back together in my head to hear the song.   The vocals fall by the way side because they are just poetry to me and I can just read them later.  But with Larry, I was always drawn away from the instruments and back to the vocals. It wasn’t the lyrics, it was just his voice.  This has only really ever happened with a few male singers as I am drawn to female voices. Very strange.

Doc & @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Doc & Emilio Castillo @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

It was during the more well-known songs, What is Hip and This Time It’s Real, that the folks sitting at the tables were able to find their dancing legs and rise.  However, it only took a few notes out of the horn section during the first song to get those of us with the NYC Funk Live group dancing.  Meredith N., our group’s founder, found us a tiny sliver of dancing space to the left of the stage in front of an abandoned reserved table.  It was a horrible space to view the band but we HAD to boogie…so, priorities!!  And move we did….it became infectious.  Meredith proceeded to dance up and down the aisles of BORING seated patrons which got a few laughs and eventually a large group of people were on their feet or silly business men were trying to dance with us haha.

Roger Smith @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Roger Smith @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

I LOVE the Baritone Sax, so naturally, Stephen “Doc” Kupka was a favorite. That instrument pinged thorough my head with every note. Apparently, it was Doc’s birthday that night as well.   Happy Birthday Doc!

I have to say, though, that the keys player, Roger Smith, killed it during his solos.  During Hip Street, the horn section left the stage leaving Roger to solo on the B-3 and David Garibaldi to back him on drums.  I knew I wanted a picture of Roger and I was immediately pulled in his direction when the solo began.  Unfortunately, I was focusing too much on his solo to take a decent shot.   Eventually, the horns joined back in, the song was complete and I could care less about the picture as Tower of Power had just laid one on us with that song and was about to hand us another rager with Give Me the Proof.

Tower of Power @  B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Bass player, Jerry Cortez, joined the group last year but only started touring with them in January so this was a treat.  His background vocals blended well with Larry’s but I was more interested in hearing him play that bass.

The band went on at 10pm, finished their set at 11:21 and came out for one more song. We were out of there by 11:50pm after we helped Meredith N. hand out her NYC Funk Live notices.  Walking to the subway with my funky friends, we all agreed that despite the lack of dance floor, we were all very pleased with the high octane funk that we were just delivered.

Tower of Power @  B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

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So, instead of going back and writing about all my musical adventures that I have on my computer but have yet to release to the public, I am just going to list them by month and if you are interested, you can follow the links to my reviews on other websites or ask me for info and pictures later if you like.

Jaaaaaamuary 2010:

2-9 – Jam Cruise

20 – Robert Randolph and Friends @ The Brooklyn Bowl (Read my review on FestivalFamily.com)

22 – moe. @ Roseland Ballroom, Man

26 – Charlie Hunter Residency @ Roselive, Bklyn


February 2010:

2 – Poetry Slam @ Bowery Poetry Club, NYC

5 – Tea Leaf Green & Galactic @ Terminal 5, NYC ~ (Read my review on FestivalFamily.com)

5 – Will Bernard’s Galactic Afterparty @ Bar 9, NYC

9 – Adam Deitch w/ Louis Cato and Yuki Hirano @ Rose Live, NYC

13 – Toubab Krewe and Lotus @ 930 Club, DC

14 – Hackensaw Boys & Umphrey’s McGee @ Rams Head live, Baltimore, MD

16 – Fat Tuesday with George Porter, Adam Deitch, Henry Butler and Leo Nocentelli @ B.B. Kings, NYC ~ (Read my review on FestivalFamily.com)

19 – Ryan Montbleau Band & Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave. @ Highline Ballroom, NYC

20 – EQUIFUNKL: Eric Lindell @ Sullivan Hall, NYC

20 – Jay Rodriguz & Adam Deitch @ The Blue Note, NYC

25 – Umphrey’s McGee & Chapter 2 @ Nokia Theatre Times Square

26 – North Mississippi Allstars @ Highline Ballroom, NYC

27 – Brother Joschephus and The Love Revolution Orchestra @ The Brooklyn Bowl


March 2010:

2 – Drummer Residency: Bobby Previte duo w/ Briggan Krauss & Coalition of the Willing Trio @ Rose Live

3 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Raul Midon @ Brooklyn Bowl ~ (Read my review on Festivalfamily.com)

4 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Ryan Zoidis & Sam Kininger & Blake Hillard @ Brooklyn Bowl ~ (Read my review on Festivalfamily.com)

5 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Sam Kininger and Tash Neal (London Souls) @ Brooklyn Bowl

5 – Bowlive: After SL – Q-Tip the Abstract (DJ Set)

6 – Bowlive: Soulive with Ivan Neville and Robert Randolph @ Brooklyn Bowl

6 – Will Bernard, Charlie Hunter and Eric Kalb @ Nublu

9 – Drummer Residency: Billy Martin @ Rose Live

9 – Bowlive: Rubber Soulive with Charlie Hunter @ Brooklyn Bowl

10 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Oteil Burbridge and Kofi Burbridge @ Brooklyn Bowl

11 – Joe Krown, Walter Wolfman Washington, Russell Batiste with special guests @ Sullivan Hall

12 – Allman Brothers Band @ The United Palace Theater

12 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Marco Benevento & The London Souls @ Brooklyn Bowl (Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi showed up after ABB)

13 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ DJ Logic @ Brooklyn Bowl (Warren Haynes showed up after ABB)

15 – Allman Brothers Band @ The United Palace Theater

19 – Will Bernard w/ with John Ellis and Matt Pavolka @ Bar Next Door

22 – Marco Benevento & Friends (March residency) @ Bar 4

And now we come to the beginning of my blog 🙂

25 – Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings

26 – Perpetual Groove @ Bowery Ballroom

30 – Will Bernard Trio w/ Todd Sickafoose and Ches Smith @ The Stone

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Welcome Friends

After great debate and hundreds of friend requests from people I do not know who are interested in my pictures, stories and show schedule, I have decided to write about my musical adventures through this medium.

Where as I love posting my pictures on facebook, there is really no outlet to write about my musical adventures in an organized fashion where friends could enjoy the adventures with me.

In this blog you will find writings about any musical adventure I  am blessed enough to experience around the Tri-State, Washington Dc, and Boston areas.  As well, from time to time we will have submissions from other writers who were able to make special events that I was unable to make.

Recently, The Tiny Rager Blog has been asked by Highline Ballroom and Sullivan Hall to work with them in giving away free tickets to choice performances.  Keep your eyes peeled for these contests as they come along.

Disclaimer:  During the summer months, there is so much to do/see/hear that my posts will be slightly late in their postings.  This site will be much better suited for those of you who dislike going out in the winter months while the rest of us are raging through blizzards to fulfill our addictions.

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