I have come to figure out that this writing thing is time consuming. HAHA! Especially for a ADHD person like me who likes to integrate random facts into the articles and gets completely sidetracked every 10 minutes, without fail. So, I am running around a few nights ago packing for ROCK THE RESORT, trying to START and then finish up this review, clean my apartment, etc. My sister gets on my phone and says, “Ummm, all you need to say is IT WAS AWESOME…STAY RIGHTEOUS!!!” She said it with force! I loved it! Because you know what? She had a point. It was awesome! It was righteous…..in fact, that is exactly why I need to explain this Revolution more in depth…..Full Righteous Love Rage!
I spent Easter Sunday, other wise known as my 30th Birthday, with some of my best friends at Highline Ballroom to see Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra perform their second Annual New Orleans Easter Brunch event. Oh man, oh man!!! So much fun!
My girlfriend and I made our way to Highline Ballroom around noon when the doors were expected to be open. If you are ever around that venue, take a moment to walk on The Highline, the newest park addition to Manhattan’s West side. I met my sister at the door and various members of the crew began emerging. (ADHD moment: how great is it when you see that familiar face light up when you first spot each other in the mix?) Having been at Highline a few days earlier for Rebirth Brass Band and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, it was fun to be in the same venue under completely different circumstances.
As we entered the venue it was chaos as per Highline’s usual. Staff hollering at those of us in line as to where to go. There is VERY minimal space to actual accommodate people filing in for a show. Considering we had just been at a sold out show last Thursday, and this mess was still going down for an Easter Brunch? Sorry Highline, not sure where the kink in your chain is, but it’s there as far as your entrance into the venue is concerned. Other then that, I love this venue. When we finally made it through the gates of entry hell, we were seated at two lovely reserved tables right up in front of the stage. There was a little dance floor space set aside, THANK GOD! It’s not like at B.B. Kings that takes up every inch of danceable space with a table to turn a profit!
Forget the music for a minute, and lets discuss the energy of this group. First of all there is power in numbers but sometimes that can really destroy a group if it is not uniformed and cohesive. Being only 2 years old, this 23 piece Orchestra of Love is on point. But I digress…the energy…the energy. The women in the group are sexy, feisty, hyper, movers and shakers. They dance with fierceness and strength when they rage their songs. It is impossible to snap a poor picture of the ladies of this group as they are always groovin and always smiling. The Revolutionaries wear a pallet of white that allows for their beads and other righteous paraphernalia to stand out! Now with 23 people in the ranks, the Revolution’s ability to swarm the venue is possible. And that is exactly what they do.
Calling it the Easter Day Parade, but a signature move for the group at all their shows, the horn section and vocalists with their parasols came out from the side of the venue and paraded around through the tables blowing, singing and dancing. The event had barely begun but this is the moment of the entire event that I was waiting for so I could see all my friends faces light up with a smile. And that is EXACTLY what happened. The friends that were helping me celebrate my birthday that day were not your typical music going friends. This is not something that they would have ever chose to take themselves to and if it were not for being my birthday, they never would have come. So, to see their faces light up and their heads start bouncing was magical for me. Once on the stage, they came out guns blazing….
A Child Shall Lead The Way brought us into a vocally charged rush of words that brought gospel right to the stage. Can I get an Amen? As the song played, the dance floor FILLED with tiny little people of all shapes and sizes. My friend leans over and says, “Now, please don’t go hip checking all the kids cause you want the front.” Dean blows the whistle and we are transported to church! Amen! Tambourines, choir, Easter, gospel, horns, birthday Bloody Marys….A Child Shall Lead the Way is one of my favorites. Because a child WILL lead the way….You know it’s true. Whitney schooled yall on that years ago right? The children are the future, Amen! Now, yall know I don’t care too much for lyrics, but the lyrics are one of the MAJOR draws of this band for me. I am biased with nostalgia due to an insatiable love for peace and happiness but…”Before wretched times start creepin’ in/Don’t try to tell me that she’s born with sin/Her smile could teach this world how to love again/and a child shall lead the way!!” Watching the children dance up there, the last thing I wanted to do was hip check them. I wanted to join them and smile with them as a tear came to my eye thinking about all the grand adventures they would all have one day and I hoped that music would be involved!
Another original, Bon Temps Roulez, followed. Straight from church, we were transported to New Orleans with this jumpy, feisty tune. Love the ohhh la la la la la’s. This song has a great hook that forces you to shake your hips. You know, Brother Jo’s voice is reminiscent of J. J. Grey’s; full-bodied, scratchy, southern. Love it!
So, they have opened the show with two originals and are gearing up for another song when Brother Joe picks up the microphone and announces that it’s somebody’s birthday. Awesome! A funky, New Orlean’s-tinged Happy Birthday was sung in honor of my 30th birthday. After the first few measures, that was it. Samia beckoned me to join the dance floor. I was up in a flash rockin’ the boa my Aunt had sent me days earlier and in all smiles. Samia jumped off the stage and shook a little with me before gathering my friends on the dance floor. The dance party had officially begun! My girl would later tell me that tears came to her eyes during this song. It was the first dance of the day and I was surrounded by all my beautiful friends who were beaming smiles. The rest of the venue had risen and joined in. She couldn’t help feel the power of it all. She wasn’t alone. By the end of the song, everyone was on their feet, everyone was on the dance floor, everyone was up, up, up! Isn’t that what music is meant to do? Raise you so high that you can’t see the ground and your dancing on air? And it happened during a version of Happy Birthday sung for me. I had turned 30 years old surrounded by my best friends, feeling younger then ever, raging with a band that preaches love and compassion and strength. Who could ask for more? As my sister, put her arm around me and I realize even my biggest problems don’t compare to how hugely wonderful my life is during the good times. What a great thing to be able to say and feel. That was my happiest moment of the entire weekend.
After Happy Birthday, we had big fun on the bayou with a Hank William’s cover of Jambalaya and another original titled Strollin’. I love when Bro Jo pauses during their song to have dialogue. In the background sparatically come the responses from the rest of the Revolutionaries. It’s witty and always garnered laughs. Midnight Moon, another Bro Jo original, was next; a bluesy song, reminiscent of the 20’s. I especially love the keys & whistling intro to the tune. After Olden Days, it was time for a beloved kids song that had all the darling children jumping up and down. Shhh, don’t tell but it had a few of us big kids jumping as well. Bro Jo fell joyfully into “I Wanna Be Like You! Who doesn’t love the JUNGLE BOOK!!! It was upbeat, it was familiar, and it spoke to the child in all of us! Good Times, a beloved TV theme, followed, which spoke to the adults in MOST of us. Man, what a great song for this band to cover. With all the voices singing the chorus, there is room for all vocal ranges to be met.
Burbon Street, a jazzy tune written by Paul Barbarin, kept the dance party going until Bro Jo slowed it down with the lovely Don’t Give Up On Love! The female Revolutionaries start ooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing as they head into Don’t Give Up On Love. This is my favorite slow song of theirs. It’s Easter and we are surrounded by people who love each other, friends who are really family, family who are best friends! When I feel music I let it take me over as best I can. I drop tears in the middle of concerts all the freaking time. Feelings from realizing how far I had come since last year plus a combination of my lack of sleep from the days prior and the joy I felt in the moment prompted tears that went down hard during that song. My sister put her arm around me and we swayed to the lovely radio worthy melody. The song also knocks out a full horn jam that never fails to please. “Sometimes a melody is all you got/don’t you see?/A melody is made to stand alone/magics in the harmony” A perfect song for some Aretha type vocals. Not sure about the horns at the end though, they could use a fat guitar solo right there. With that kind of beautiful arrangement there could be massive play with each instruments against the melody.
Samia Mounts must be mentioned as she has a fabulous voice and knows how to throw it. I have heard her sing Freddie Mercury’s Somebody to Love at a few other shows. Every time, it sounds better and she brings a dancing venue to a halt as they stare with their jaw wide and on the ground. Hardly a dry eye in the house, everyone has to catch their breath when she closes the song. She belongs on Broadway, straight up.
Mighty, Mighty Chain of Love, another original, got us back up, up, up with horns a blowin’ and Rev. Dean Dawg blasting away on the keys. A traditional New Orleans favorite, When the Saints Go Marching In, brought the venue to it’s highest that point of the afternoon. Another familiar song, it’s fun when everyone in the venue can join in on the singing and enjoy the tune as one. The horns threw it out during this song. The three original members on stage happened to make up the horn section. Each one gave us a gorgeous solo on their respective instruments before Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra reprised A Child Shall Lead where they invited all of the children on stage to dance amongst the instruments. Seeing all the children up there, at first being a little shy and then just ripping into whatever kind of dance style that would be, you couldn’t help but feel your heart melting.
If you take nothing away from anything, just know that this group comes out blasting and doesn’t stop for anything. They leave dripping in sweat as we all do!! Forget the little kids loving this, this 30 year old big kid LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The greatest part of this entire day was when I was home relaxing. Throughout the night, my friends texted “I love you”, “Thanks for introducing me to that music”, “Thanks for a great day”. I had introduced new music to great friends and they left with a light and happy heart that stayed with them throughout the day and into the night. That was the best present of all, besides the amazing Jam Cruise photo album my sister got me…friggen awesome!! At the end of the day, I’ve always known that my life is going to be a wild ride, but this whole 30 thing…watch out life, it’s on!!!! Because with great music continually being played out there, there is no way I am slowing down.
I have found if you love life, life will love you back. – Arthur Rubinstein, Musician