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Bowlive III: Night Nine – Soulive w/ George Porter Jr., Ledisi and Skerik ~ Extended Review + Media (03.09.12): Bowlive Finale White Party Ledisi, The London Souls, and The Royal Family All-Stars TONIGHT!

Fire! Fire! Fire! These three little words are the simplest yet perfect definition of what occurred on the Brooklyn Bowl‘s stage last night for the ninth night of Soulive’s third annual ten night residency, Bowlive. So far, nine epically diverse nights of music have now been devoured by sold-out crowds of rabid NY music fans. The members of Soulive, the amazing Neal Evans on organ and bass keys, Eric Krasno, and the backbone of it all, Alan Evans on drums, were back at it for the last weekend of this fantastic run. After eight nights of raging musical collaborations, Soulive continued to deliver with an onslaught of some of America’s most influential musicians. The members of Soulive, The Bowlive Horns, George Porter, Jr., Eldar, Ledisi, Mark Whitfield, Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour invested all their energy into making last night’s audience react just as powerfully as these musicians performed.

Last night’s opening act is one of the newest musical collaborations within the Royal Family. Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour took to the stage with a “little help from their friends” to deliver a set of beautifully arranged classics.  These soul-filled vocalists are being compared to some of the greatest soul singing duos of our era and deserve all the love and recognition that comes their way. Supporting their slow, soulful vibe was drummer Adam Deitch (Break Science), trumpeter Eric Bloom (Diana Birch), guitarist Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce), saxophonist James Casey (6figures), Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce), and Alecia Chakour’s brother, bassist Alex Chakour. Nigel Hall sat behind his Rhodes keyboard while Alecia dominated the crowds command from the front of the stage. Performing such classics as Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” Hall and Chakour made the music their own with beautifully blended voices and arrangements of the songs. These two voices were meant to find each other and the audience couldn’t have been more invested in the harmonies and beauty resonating between them. Pure soul perfection. Keeping with the “Family Affair,” Mitch Chakour, Alecia and Alex’s father, was invited on stage to play keys for Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From my Friends!” When Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour join forces on stage, their bond through music and their passion for soul pours out of them. This was only the second time the duo had performed as an organized set all their own and fans can be sure that it will not be their last. There is magic in this musical union that doesn’t come around often.

After such an touching set, NY-bsed DJ, Wyllys, spun on the 1’s and 2’s to keep the crowds elevated before Soulive took to the stage. When Soulive finally hit, they came out blasting with “Steppin.” This was the final weekend of Bowlive and the trio, who have been delivering us powerful sets for two weeks, raised their own bar a little higher.  After the short set with George Porter Jr. (The Meters) the previous night, Soulive jumped right into the second song by inviting New Orleans funkiest bassist back out on stage for “Pungee” and “Need More Time.” There is an energy that George Porter, Jr. brings to a stage that is tangible. Nigel Hall was back to join Porter for “Leave Me Alone,” but not before Nigel bowed at Porter’s feet letting the crowd know that this “was the funkiest black man in the universe!”

When special guest New Orleans singer-songwriter Ledisi was announced, the venue erupted. This portion of the set was so smokin’ that heat was rising from the stage. Performing “Knocking,” with Adam Deitch now on drums, Ledisi wowed the crowd with her powerful, demanding vocals and sensual style. There is no doubt that she deserves the multiple Grammy nominations that have come her way in the past few years as this was the definition of pure entertainment. “Chain of Fools” followed with The Bowlive Horns, Porter, and a surprise sit-in by Eldar, a fellow Grammy nominated pianist and composer. Surely one of the hottest portion of the night, confirmed by the buzz heard through the audience, Eldar delivered a complex piano solo while Ledisi scatted atop his gorgeous improvisational composition.  George Porter Jr. and the remaining musicians on stage supported this musical bliss to end one of the most magnificent sets of the run. Ledisi’s vocals supported by George Porter Jr. funky bass and combined with the jazzy vibe from Soulive and surprise guest Eldar was truly inspirational, uplifting and touched the audience’s soul. This is what Bowlive is all about, the deliverance of truly developed artists who are masters at their craft!!

Wyllys was spinning again for set break. Never using a set list, Wyllys kept the energy UP with choice selections of funk, R&B, and soul tunes. He kept the crowd dancing before Soulive came back for “Cannonball” supported by the Bowlive Horns. Always ready for something special and new, Soulive invited hard bop jazz guitarist Mark Whitfield on stage next for an electric rendition of George Benson’s “World is a Ghetto.” Following this amazing sit-in, George Porter, Jr. came back on stage and took the lead for the rest of the night performing multiple tunes from The Meters catalog, “Funky Miracle,” “The Dragon,” “People Say,” and “Ain’t No Use.”  The consistent funky bass lines and powerful, invested vocals coming from Porter during these selections fueled the set as well as the musicians sharing the stage. They were long arrangements making room for each artist to share their talent with rousing solos and epic extended jams. Tears were in the eyes of their audience as Eric Krasno and friends ended the set with a stunning, gorgeous arrangement of “Out in the Country.”


There are some music performances that are simply impossible to describe with words. Last night was one of those nights and any attempt at doing justice through written word seems unfulfilling after witnessing the magic of last night. The musical genius that poured off the stage resulted in emotional ballads and extended improvisational jams that expanded on the already amazing two weeks that Soulive has provided it’s audience. It’s painful to even imagine that this adventure is coming to an end. However, we still have one night!  A single night to enjoy one of the sickest musical residencies to happen to our musical community. Every night Soulive has stepped up their game, tightened their sound, and put together an arsenal of talented musicians to play some of the greatest songs ever written.  Tonight, Soulive invites Ledisi, The London Souls, and the Royal Family All-Stars to close out the residency. You can expect nothing but pure gold this evening as these boys will surely be going out with a bang! 

 Karen E. Dugan

– Photo courtesy of Marc Millman

*To see photos of these musicians and lots of other live music, please check out: http://www.marcmillmanphotos.com/music

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Bowlive III: Night Eight – Soulive w/ George Porter Jr., Zach Deputy, Citizen Cope and Alice Smith ~ Extended Review + Media (03.08.12)

For the eighth night, Soulive members, Eric Krasno, Alan Evans and Neal Evans, performed at the Brooklyn Bowl for their annual residency, Bowlive.  In its third year, Bowlive has become one of the most interesting, engaging, educational and smoking residencies in New York City. There are some, who might argue, in America. Each night has gotten heavier, deeper, tighter, and energetically more invested with each guest who joins the stage to breath more life into the already amazing trio.

The Alecia Chakour Band opened last night to a huge crowd. Chakour joined the Bowlive rooster last year.  In the masculine crew that makes up the artists on the Royal Family Records Label, Alecia Chakour is a breath of fresh female energy. With a voice and range as powerful as Aretha Franklin, Chakour rightful deserves to be on stage with the talented musicians who make up Soulive. Chakour’s band members consisted of trumpeter Igmar Thomas (The Cypher), organist Neal Evans (Soulive), bassist and brother Alex Chakour, drummer Miles Arntzen (Antibalas), guitarist Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine), and saxophonist James Casey (6figures).  A highlight was when surprise guest artist Kofi Burbridge (The Derek Trucks band) lent his fluttering flute to the bunch on their new tune, “Surely.” The Alecia Chakour Band is a sick, tight, funky crew who fit right into the rotation of amazing acts that we have so far seen over the two week run.

Soulive members (guitarist Eric Krasno and soul brothers Alan Evans on drums and Neal Evans on clavinet) welcomed numerous guests on stage last night, some announced and some a surprise. This is always to be expected and they never disappoint. “Steppin” was the only song Soulive ever stood alone on stage for. After that, the flood gates opened with Kofi Burbridge jumping in on “El Ron” with the Bowlive Horns: saxophonist James Casey, trumpeter Eric Bloom and tenor saxophonist Ryan Zoidis. Special guest and Brooklyn resident Citizen Cope was next to join the stage to perform his original “Bullet and a Target,” and “Something to Believe In.” Cope’s raw, uncommon chords and proactive lyrics have been recognized and covered by likes of Carlos Santana, Dido, Sheryl Crow and Slipknot. His vocals transformed the bowl into a new vibe, a slower yet passionate part of the set. Alice Smith, the second vocalist billed that night, joined for Cope’s last tunes, “Ain’t Gonna Stand for It” and “107 Degrees.” Alice Smith’s voice melded beautifully with Cope’s the same way that Alecia Chakour’s voice melds perfectly with Nigel Halls. She is aggressive, serious, powerful, and passionate with a 4-octave vocal range and stunning stage presence. Cope exited the stage and Alice Smith, with the Soulive trio backing her, performed Cee Lo Green’s, “Fool For You.” The Bowlive Horns helped closed out the set with “Tuesday Night Squad,”as trumpeter Eric Bloom’s excitement spilled out of his animated solo and Nigel Hall took over the keys.

The second set was dedicated exclusively to the musical power of New Orleans yet contained special guests of varying styles. This was definitely one of the best sets of the entire run. Special guests, world renowned New Orleans bassist George Porter, Jr. (The Meters), drummer ?uestlove (The Roots), Billy Martin (Martin, Medeski and Wood), flautistKofi Burbridge and saxophonist Skerik, out for his third night, piled on stage with Soulive and the Bowlive horns. Covering New Orleans and Meters favorites “Just Kissed My Baby, “Hey Pocky Way,” “Come Fly with Me,” and “Funkify Your Life,” the musical entourage on stage was the definition of a Jam Room. George Porter, Jr. brought such life to the younger musicians who were surrounding him. Each artist took their turn power housing their instruments because Porter believes in the journey of the song and allowing it to unfold, which is exactly what happened on “Africa,” when Skerik took his solo and the classic song turned into a completely different creature.

Experimental jazz percussionist Billy Martin was left to his own devices with a pile of instruments to create sounds with after drumming for “Hey Pokey Way.” Martin is the drumming member of his own jazz, funk trio so his addition to Soulive allowed for experimental sounds that enhanced the layers of the music. “Everything is Everything” closed the set with Nigel Hall on vocals and another night of Bowlive ended, this time without and encore.  ?uestlove’s Bowl Train DJ set saw out the rest of  the night and everyone danced their way through funky, old skool tunes until their weary bodies said enough.


It’s unbelievable to think that the members of Soulive have been going full speed for eight crazy nights. What a testament to their level of stamina, creativity, and their ability to surprise and entice their audience.  For those who can’t make the last two nights, check out the live feed on iClips.net. For those of you with the ability to make it this weekend, you won’t be disappointed. Continuing his New Orleans flavor from last night, special guest George Porter Jr. will be joined by Ledisi with Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour opening. We can only speculate who the surprise guests will be, but you can be sure they will bring in Bowlive’s final weekend in FULL RAGE!!!

BUY SINGLE DAY TICKETS NOW!
Can’t make the LIVE RAGE? Stream It on iClips.net!

 Karen E. Dugan
– Photo courtesy of Phrazz

Youtube Videos

Soulive feat. Citizen Cope – “Bullet & a Target” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoFGGhF_z2s

Soulive feat. George Porter & Nigel Hall – “Come Fly Away” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azUKgsH7ztY

Soulive feat Alice Smith & Citizen Cope – “107 Degrees” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdVFSkp-YEg

Soulive feat. George Por ter, Nigel & Kofi – “Voices Inside” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cRBqKlyAHc

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Bowlive III: Night Seven – Soulive w/ Skerik, Kofi Burbridge & Lettuce ~ Extended Review + Media (03.07.12)

Zach Deputy opened night seven of Bowlive III with his Caribbean Ninja Soul flavor. His one-man-band sets always seem to force happiness out of the audience.  He is the purest definition of jolly as he sits behind a massive rig of equipment, creating and layering every element of his songs. Over the past two nights, Deputy has been throwing us all new tunes except for two different versions of “Lincoln Continental.” This would set a theme for a night of new tunes to be delivered by the members of Souilve, Lettuce and Alecia Chakour!

Experimental “saxophonic” saxophonist Skerik and the NY’s premiere urban funk band Lettuce continued into second night as special guests. However, following their formula of the previous week, Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno, organist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans initially hit the stage solo. Alan Evans dominated “Rudy’s Way” with his best drum solo of the run sending the audience UP!  A fixture of Bowlive since its inception, Kofi Burbridge of the Derek Trucks Band surprised the audience when he walked out on stage with his flute for “Cash’s Dream,” a warm, softening addition to such an organ-heavy song.

The Bowlive Horns, consisting of saxophonist James Casey (6figures), tenor saxophonist Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce), and trumpeters Eric Bloom (Diane Birch) and Rashawn Ross (The Dave Matthews Band) were next to join Soulive. Special guest Skerik completed the brass entourage and “Upright,” “Vapor” and “Flurries” delivered us a massively long horn-heavy rage. The various musicians on stage rotated solos starting with Skerik who inserted his wild element of experimental jazz while Rashawn Ross’s melting-pot experience defined his style per song. Everyone continued through the trio of songs jumping from tambourines to maracas and other various percussion instruments filling all voids with extremely tight and organized sound.  Special guest and opener Zach Deputy lead the stage for his original, “Thrill is Gone.” To see Deputy explore his guitar talents with a full band is quite a different experience. His sound completely changes because he isn’t worrying about layering the beats, the bass or the horns. The massive crew on stage closed the set with “Aladdin” and the always funky “El Ron.”

The entire Lettuce ensemble (The Bowlive Horns including Skerik, guitarists Eric Krasno and Adam Smirnoff, bassist ED “Jesus” Coomes, and drummer Adam Deitch) raged the stage for the second set kicking it off with “King of the Burgs.” Rashawn Ross lead with a killer trumpet solo while drummer Adam Deitch made his presence known after Alan Evan’s domination of the kit in the earlier set. Last night was an amazing night for drumming fans, to be sure. The funkiest band on the planet followed last night’s rage by releasing more new songs off their upcoming album to an eager, elevated crowd. On Tuesday night, we heard “Mean Fonk,” “Lettuce Play,” and the jokingly named tune “Brooklyn Bowler,” a word play on the wonderful venue housing Soulive’s ten-night residency and actually titled”Bowler,” reflecting organist Neal Evan’s signature hat. Last night the explosive audience members (and iClips.net online viewers) jumped and danced their bodies weary to new tunes, “Bump Tubby,” “Fast Kraz,” “Ghost of Jupiter,” and “New GoGo.” Alecia Chakour joined the stage for to sing the sultry “Do Ya Thing,” a first time cover for both Chakour and Lettuce. Flautist Kofi Burbridge played throughout the entire set while Skerik could be seen enjoying the set by the sound board. ED “Jesus” Coomes’ bass playing was a crucial element to the entire set as his glasses literally fogged up from the heat coming off his playing. Toubab Krewe’s Luke Quartana was back for a second night front and center on stage with his Djembe drum for “New GoGo,” while saxophonist James Caseyplayed the congas with drum sticks. Krasno was nowhere to be seen for this tune while the stage exploded into one of the sickest 11-piece percussion rages this super fan has had the privilege of watching. The amazing, soulful voice of Nigel Hall helped close the set with “Making my Way,” into a Curtis Mayfield medley of “We’re a Winner” and “Move on Up!”


Two nights into the second week and already we have had two surprise guests, Oteil and Kofi Burbridge, on top of the amazing special guests, Zach Deputy, Skierk and Lettuce. Soulive changes things up tonight with the invitation extended to Citizen Cope & Alice Smith, the legendary funk bassist George Porter, Jr. (The Meters), drummer Billy Martin (Martin, Medeski and Wood), Alecia Chakour Band, and ?uestlove (The Roots) on the 1’s and 2’s. RAGE!!

BUY SINGLE DAY TICKETS NOW!
Can’t make the LIVE RAGE? Stream It on iClips.net!

 Karen E. Dugan

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