Bowlive V: Night I – Soulive feat. DJ Logic, Nigel Hall, The Shady Horns, Eddie Roberts, Adam Smirnoff and Questlove (03.13.14)
Hitting a milestone fifth year, Soulive is back for their annual “Bowlive” residency at the Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, New York.
This is an outstanding achievement for Eric Krasno (guitar), Neal Evans (drums), and Alan Evans (Hammond B3 organ, bass keys, clavinet), who, over the past four years, have performed 40 nights of strong, energetic, exciting shows including musical collaborations with artists from all genres. The jazz/funk trio’s “Bowlive” event is now solidified as a staple in the land of famous musical NYC residencies. You can be certain that this year will not disappoint.
For a recording of the evening’s music, click here!
DJ Logic, Leroy Justice, Jon Cleary, Alan Evans Trio, The London Souls, WOLF! and Sonya Kitchell will open for Soulive over the eight night run. Special guests include Bowlive DMC (of Run DMC), Susan Tedeschi, John Scofield, Talib Kweli, Joe Russo, Marco Benevento, George Porter Jr., Bill Evans and more. All the while, the Shady Horns will be on point each night rounding out Soulive’s house band.
“Thank you Soulive. Thank you Brooklyn Bowl. Thank you Madison House. Thank you Peter Shapiro. Thank you Royal Family Records. Thank you. Thank you. Thank You.” ~ K.D.
“There’s just something about Soulive at the Bowl that is so amazing. It’s like the old school Knicks at the Garden, with Nigel playing, John Starks firing up the crowd, and everyone just relaxed and amped at the same time.” ~ B.M.
For the opening night of Bowlive V, turntablist DJ Logic (Project Logic, Zen of Logic, For No One in Particular, The Anomaly), was on hand spinning upbeat grooving, funky, soulful tunes. Logic is a standout DJ in the jam band scene and electronic jazz community. Working with latter-day jazz saints such as Vernon Reid and Medeski, Martin and Wood, Logic shares the same musical passion as the jamming musicians that he began performing with many moons ago. He relishes in the improvisational spirit of jazz and makes you want to shake your ass.
Turn It Out
Our favorite power trio took the stage at 9:30 pm. In previous years, there have been Mod dancers in the bowling lanes and other visually stimulating nuggets to aid the group in the residency kick-off. This year, there was no fanfare; nothing to distract the audience from what was truly important: the music. The members of Soulive, dressed in their signature black suits, simply walked out on stage, smiles on their faces and after a few seconds of checking their instruments, went right into “SO LIVE!”
While at The Allman Brothers Band residency the previous night, Eric Krasno shared with me that they would be playing their first album, “Get Down” in its entirety. It took everything in my power not to blast this news out over the world wide web at that moment. However, yesterday, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and spread the word to as many friends as I could because I knew that dropping this knowledge on them would draw those who were on the fence to the venue.
“Get Down” was recorded in 1998-99 and released in 2002. For many of us in the audience, we were transported to a time in our own musical history, when this CD was instrumental and meaningful in our daily lives. I was surrounded by friends and Soulive enthusiasts who couldn’t stop commenting on the power this album had on them when it was released. Having listened to the album for over a decade myself, nothing compared to the live musical experience we were about to be delivered.
The trio finished their first tune and Krasno took to the microphone. “We truly appreciate you guys being here,” he proclaimed as he began clapping, getting the audience involved. As we all clapped along to the beat, Alan Evan gave his first drum solo of the night, leading the boys into “Uncle Junior,” a major staple and fan favorite of the Soulive catalog. Neal Evans was on fire during this organ-driven tune.
“Cliff Robinson turned to me as Neal was grooving and said, “No matter how many times I hear these guys, it feels like the first time.” ~ G.F.
Only two songs into the set and it was outstanding. The animation of the guys on stage was infectious and it was evident that they were feeling great and on point. We would have been satisfied if it had remained just the three of them on stage but it wouldn’t be BOWLIVE without a certain someone. That someone was Mr. Nigel Hall, soul singer and keyboardist extraordinaire.
During the first Bowlive in 2010, The Nigel Hall Band opened for Soulive every single night. He is the one Bowlive veteran to play as a guest every year. As the audience hollered, Alan Evans introduced Nigel Hall and shouted excitedly, “Get Down, Brother Nigel! Get Down!” It was now Nigel’s turn to shine, and while Krasno was twinkling away at the strings, Nigel grabbed the microphone and said, “You guys just keep doing that while I tell a story.” And with that he recalled his childhood memories of listening to “Get Down!” with his mother, while sitting on their porch in Washington DC, smoking weed. He continued on:
“The song I am about to play on has meant something to me for many years. I used to live in Bangor, Maine and I played in a band there. One time, we had a gig in Portland and while we drove from Bangor to Portland, we listened to this one song the entire two hour trip. When the gig was over, we drove back, listening to the same song for another two hours. We listened to that song for four hours. I have asked the guys (Soulive) to let me play it with them and they said, “No! No! No!,” until now. Do you know what this means to me, to my soul?” ~ Nigel Hall
And with that, Nigel Hall put his hand over his heart and then crushed “Cash’s Dream.” I don’t know where to begin praising Nigel Hall for his performance during this song. Having transplanted to New Orleans from New York City since Bowlive IV, Nigel Hall has clearly fine-tuned his talent on the keyboards. The speed at which he played; the precision on his runs over the keys. It was an outstanding solo and performance. The camaraderie on stage was ignited.
“The musical moment I enjoyed most was Soulive playing Cash’s Dream. Nigel sat in on this tune and told a touching introduction about listening to this tune in 1999 with his since deceased mother. They went on to play an amazing rendition of this song which I have never heard live with an awesome piano solo by Nigel.” ~ A.S.
“Five years ago when we saw Nigel Hall playing, he was good. He has always been good. But this performance…something has changed. He is AMAZING now.” ~ R.A.
After the song, Nigel high-fived his way off the stage as Alan spoke on how it was true that Soulive hasn’t played that song in a while and how playing these songs now brought back cherished memories.
My favorite part…is that they’re playing 15 year old songs for the nth time and Kraz is still marveling at how Neal is crushing the hand bass and Hammond. I just fucking love Bowlive. ~ B.M.
“Brother Soul” was next, bringing out DJ Logic and The Shady Horns, consisting of Eric Bloom (trumpet), Ryan Zoidis (saxophone) and James Casey (saxophone/percussion). Each of the horns took their turn soloing while DJ Logic scratched his turn tables, adding a great texture to the remaining songs.
The big surprise for the end of the first set was the arrival of Eddie Roberts, guitarist for the supremely funky British band The New Mastersounds. His soaring hard-bop guitar playing complemented Soulive’s final tune of the set and the last track off the album, “Right On.”
The Shady Horns never seize to amaze me. I think this trio of Zoidis, Bloom and Casey may be my favorite. Special love for James because he was at our wedding and seems to be blowing up!!! ~ R.G.
“My favorite moment and also one of my favorite 2 Soulive songs ever is “Right On,” which I’m not sure I’ve ever heard them play. We watched Eddie staring at Krasno’s fingers for the first part of the song, and then both followed with dueling solos that crushed the crowd. As good as all that is, I’m reminded if what a genius Neal is holding bass line down with the left (hand) while soloing or laying down melodies with his right (hand).” ~ R.G.
The only song that wasn’t played from the album was Track 6, titled “Bitch-Ass Ho.” Considering that it’s a 23 minute track, that is probably why it was left off the first set.
“Bowlive kinda kicks of the festival season and spring off for us for the past 5 years. Watching them, I’m reminded of what truly gifted musicians they all are. The choice to play their first album was perfect and a punctuation to the obvious synergy these guys must have had since day one.” ~ R.G.
DJ Logic returned to the tables during set break and kept the energy level high for the audience. During this time, I generally like to take a walk around the venue and listen to the reactions of the audience. The buzz over the album was prevalent while many people were speaking individually about each artist or their favorite song. The Eddie Roberts sit-in had some audience members inquiring about the New Mastersounds. It was clear to me that the people in the audience were true fans, Soulive lovers and most of them men with bro-crushes on the band. Jen Durkin from Deep Banana Blackout was standing 20 feet away from me on the right while Basketball All-Star Cliff Robinson towered behind me most of the evening.
Tuesday Night Squad
Don’t Change For Me
Gimmie A Sign
Leave Me Alone
The second set started as simply as the first and with just as much energy. Eric, Neal and Alan took to the stage, joined by the Shady Horns and Nigel Hall for a fantastic rendition of “Tuesday Night Squad.” At one point during the song, Nigel got up from his keyboards, ran across the stage and jumped on the Clavinet with Neal Evans for a good 20 measures of excellent showmanship and musicianship. Talk about a highlight of the evening. The crowd went wild.
“I was mesmerized watching Neal and Nigel play the Hammond/bass keys together last night…they were having so much fun!! and the antics/keyboard trickery it was like a choreographed dance between two ridiculously amazing boards men – ducking under each other’s arm, jumping back and forth with their hands. Yeah, it was something fierce.” ~ A.R.
“Nigel getting up from the keyboard second set to lead the crowd was awesome.” ~ L.H.
“The hottest moment if the night was Neal and Nigel switching positions on the keys while never missing a note in the bass line!!! SUPER HOT AND ENTERTAINING!!!!” ~ R.G.
Nigel’s smooth voice overtook us with “Don’t Change For Me,” a bluesy tune that had Krasno’s guitar strumming along sweetly in our ears. At one point, Nigel was on the ground, on his knees, singing directly to the lucky folks in the front row. His signature soulful scream resonating throughout the crowd, as we all melted into his vibe.
Nigel Hall’s original tune, “Gimmie A Sign” was next. He spoke about the new Brooklyn Bowl Vegas and how much he loved it there but how the original Brooklyn Bowl will always be home. This proclamation extended to Soulive as they have played The Brooklyn Bowl more times then any other group, while Krasno has played the Bowl more then any other artist.
When The Root’s drummer, Questlove, walked on stage for “Layaway,” Nigel’s latest musical creation, the audience went wild. Alan Evans moved to vocals while Questlove added his signature groove to the song. Questlove has a standing DJ gig every Thursday at the Brooklyn Bowl. If you are ever in the area, bring your dancing shoes because his long-standing set is one of the hottest dance parties in the city.
The entire night, Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff (Lettuce) had been hanging in the wings, looking sharp in his suit. We all wondered when we would get a chance to hear this amazing guitarist and “Leave Me Alone” gave us that chance. We now had a slew of amazing musicians on stage and the sound was so tight. Nigel asked Shmeens to “tell us a little bit about yourself” and with that, Schmeens went into a disgustingly rich, hearty guitar solo. Eric Krasno beamed at Schmeens as he played, recognizing the hotness we were being delivered through his strings.
“Any night that you get to see Shmeeans, Kraz and Eddie Roberts play together in a show is funk guitar at its best. All three are so amazing in their own way. Kras crushing leads, Shmeeans playing rhythm guitar timed to the perfection of a Swiss watch, and Eddie Roberts who swings back and forth between amazing leads and perfect rhythm. For us guitar heads, it was a night to remember.” ~ J.R.
Encore: James Brown Medley
There Was A Time
For the encore, Soulive, Nigel Hall, The Shady Horns and DJ Logic delivered a rousing James Brown medley of “Lickin Stick” into “There Was A Time.” Alan Evans continued holding down the beat on the drums while his brother, Neal, slayed the keys. This brotherly duo demonstrates quality, seasoned musicianship with every note they drop.
“The James Brown Medley was this band at its finest. So good, so tight and they played so well with each other.” ~ G.F.
“Last night was one of my most favorite Bowlive ever. The vibe in the bowl was magical and everybody was really into it. I can’t wait for tonight!! Always great to hang! George matters and bring Nigel back on stage!! He was so happy last night!” ~ L.H.
With out a doubt, Neal Evans, Alan Evans and Eric Krasno enjoyed the first night of their milestone fifth year of Bowlive. We all did. I pray every year that they will come out with a DVD of these adventurous nights of music simply because no words do justice to the energy and animation of these three wonderful men. Three wonderful men who have created a treasured event based around love, music and friendship.
Tonight’s Special Guests will be the famous funky bassist from The Meters, Mr. George Porter, Jr. and Leroy Justice will open at 8:30 pm
On to the next one….. 🙂
List of Special Guests and Openers:
TUESDAY MARCH 18 – Special Guest: JOHN SCOFIELD
Opener: & Special Guest: JON CLEARY
WEDNESAY MARCH 19 – Special Guests: JOE RUSSO & BILL EVANS
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY
THURSDAY MARCH 20 – Special Guest: DMC (of RUN DMC)
Opener: ALAN EVANS TRIO
FRIDAY MARCH 21 – Special Guest: MARCO BENEVENTO
Opener: SONYA KITCHELL
SATURDAY MARCH 22 – Special Guest: BILL EVANS
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger