Bowlive V: Night VII – Soulive w/ Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, Roosevelt Collier, Felix Pastorius, Oteil & Kofi Burbridge, and Brandon Niederauer @ The Brooklyn Bowl (03.21.14)
Sonya Kitchell Set
Follow Me In
The seventh night of Bowlive V at the Brooklyn Bowl started off on a more mellow vibe than the previous night openers. Bowlive V has produced rocking sets by The London Souls and Leroy Justice and the wonderful, jazzy Alan Evans Trio but now it was time for a chick flick of musical sorts.
Sonya Kitchell made her Bowlive debut with Jesske Hume on bass, Nate Wood on guitar and the amazing Neal Evans on drums and keyboards. Neal Evans on drums, you say? Yes, drums! When Neal is not playing with Lettuce or Soulive, he holds down the drums for Sonya Kitchell.
“I had a blast rocking the drums last night. Drums were actually my first instrument” ~ Neal Evans
Both Soulive and Sonya Kitchell were signed under Velour Music Group for a while but both have since graduated to new management. This explains their affiliation but there was a larger reason behind choosing Kitchell to open for the last night of Bowlive. Kitchell’s musical resume is filled with gems but she is most noted for touring with Herbie Hancock in 2008 after she helped him on his record River: The Joni Letters.
This set was was a defining characteristic of a Bowlive Residency. Was it what everyone wanted? I don’t think. Was it it as jamming as it could have been for a Friday night opener? Not really. However, Soulive enjoys changing up the game, introducing us to their favorite artists, mixing up the genres and giving exposure to the music world in whatever way they can. And please, do not get me wrong, Sonya Kitchell is a beautiful songstress and writer. I remember hearing Kitchell on Pandora about seven years ago singing “Let Me Go,” off her Words Came Back To Me album which was released on my 26th birthday. I bought it the next day. However, I am a lyric-loving female and the audience was filling up with dude after dude.
Kitchell’s band, was dressed all in white, definitely an artistic expression. White, almost as pure as her sweet, hopeful voice. Her set consisted completely of new tunes, some off the new, yet-to-be-released album, some even newer and some not recorded yet. There was a nice treat when Marco Benevento came out and played piano for her tune, “Family,” a beautiful melodic tune. “This Feeling” was truly felt with Sonya Kitchell‘s effervescent vocals, Marco’s twinkling keys and Alan Evan’s consistent drumming.
Overall, Sonya Kitchell is a silent but deadly rager. A little grungy, a little edgy, a lot of sex appeal and her high registry and ethereal voice was captivating. She is soft, yet intense and today, she continues to impress the underground music community stretching those high notes and flipping between genres with every song.
3rd Stone From The Sun –> Lenny
The intensely dedicated members of Soulive, drummer Alan Evans, keyboardist Neal Evans and guitarist Eric Krasno, stomped out an audience favorite, “Shaheed,” to open the first set. It was Friday night at the Brooklyn Bowl and if anyone knew what that meant, it was this trio. They brought the fire. The “Swamp” brought out the Shady Horns and there was just some gnarly, funky, connected vibing happening on stage. It got so deep that Alan Evans, for the second time this week, broke his snare drum.
“No snare drum can contain Alan Evans.” ~ G.F
“Brother Soul” showcased saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, who got a jumping ovation because everyone was already standing and as his solo peaked the crowd could be seen jumping in rhythm to his playing. This was a “GROOVER,” as John Scofield would say. Light Technician Victor Cornette supported the music wonderfully with his light work, uplifting the audience that much more. Next on deck was “Reverb” into “Aladdin.” Sonya Kitchell was on vocals in line with the Shady Horns while Neal musically defined the namesake of the song.
“Reverb is created when a sound is produced in an enclosed space causing a large number of echoes to build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air” ~ Dictionary.com
Jimi Hendrix’s “3rd Stone from the Sun” and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Lenny” was next and The Shady Horns exited the stage. This is always an epic pairing of tunes but when you add in a child guitar prodigy, who only turned 11 last week, things get nuts. The amazing Brandon “TAZ” Niederauer made a big name for himself on Jam Cruise this year. Here it was now that this virtuoso guitar player I had heard so much about was going to show off his skills next to one of the best guitarists in the world.
“Everyone pulled out the Fire for night 7. Taz. Wow. Alan and Neal said it perfectly. Music starts in schools and our support needs to go there. Taz is a prime example of pure unadulterated raw talent. Was really humbling to hear him play and shed his soul on all of us. Can’t wait to say “I heard him play when he was 11″ to my kids one day.” ~ A.L.
“My friend Dan said about Taz – “he’s not just playing he is feeling it. He’s just got it” ~ K.G.
“The crowd on the back half of the dance floor all turned to the screen to watch when Taz started playing!” – R. L.
When they broke into Hendrix’s “Manic Depression,” it was slow going but then Taz just took it away. Krasno gestured to the sound guy to turn Taz’s sound up. Measure after measure, Taz just built and built upon himself, delivering his solo so intensely, yet wearing such a stoic expression. Not even a little smile. Totally in his head. Everyone’s jaws were on the ground and there were moments when the audience was just screaming in shock and awe. Taz sounds and acts like a seasoned veteran of the stage and watching him grow up musically is going to be a wonderful experience so keep your eyes peeled.
“This is why we need instruments in school y’all.” ~ Alan Evans passionately spoke into the microphone.
Alan Evans called out for “Felix” and shouts, “Where’s Marco?” The unannounced bassist Felix Pastorius was introduced by Alan and special guest Marco Benevento joined the stage. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better Felix Pastorius shows up to play some cranking bass for us. Felix is a fantastic musician in his own right but it would be foolish not to mention that he is the son of the late virtuoso jazz fusion bass player from Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius. Many members of the audience could be heard talking about the excitement of seeing Jaco’s son play at Bowlive. Felix did not disappoint adding a groovy jazzy bass sound to the Soulive mix.
The Shady Horns were back. The set-list listed Jaco’s soulful “The Chicken” next but they nixed that and went into Billy Cobham‘s “Stratus” instead. Both songs are famous jazz fusion standards but only one made the cut for what turned out to be a psychedelic mash-up of musicians, literally the definition of fusion.
“This was my favorite song of the entire run” ~ T.P.S
Jesus Children of America/Stay
The “In Crowd”
Benny and the Jets
When My Guitar Gently Weeps
She’s S0 Heavy
Alan Evans handled the vocals for the Stevie Wonder cover, “Jesus Children of America,” while his feel-good drumming kept the beat. “The Dump” is actually a Lettuce tune off their first album, Outta Here, which really brought the crowd up. However, it was when Marco Benevento came out for “The ‘In’ Crowd,” a song composed in 1964 largely for pianos and horns, when the stage might as well have caught on fire from the heat. Marco laid down a beautiful melody of keys while each member of the horn section soloed starting with James Casey, to Ryan Zoidis and then Eric Bloom. Bloom’s trumpet solo was reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie and Casey brought it all home. At one point, Alan Evans pointed out that Marco was wearing a Soulive shirt and the crowd cheered.
“Marco has a special relationship with his piano and the audience. The bond is not to be taken lightly. His sensitive side is what makes him talk to the piano and relate to the audience.” ~ H.H
Miami’s acclaimed pedal steel guitarist, Roosevelt Collier from The Lee Boys, was the next guest for the evening. He began by to sitting in on The Beatles’ “Revolution.” It was a special treat for Bowlive fans to see this uniquely talented musician play his equally unique instrument, the lap steel guitar. The Bowl shrieked with the lovely sounds echoing from Rosie’s instrument. Collier was also in town for an Allman Brothers Band after-party gig at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Times Square the following night. There was wonderful playfulness between Neal Evans and Collier. Marco was in his own world crushing so hard. It’s quite possible that Marco gets better with every note he plays. Roosevelt added a fantastic layer of sound with his lap steel-guitar as he and Krasno battled it out in a full on jam session for the ages. Pure hot-sauce.
Soulive added another piece of musical history to the Bowlive run when, with Roosevelt Collier and Marco Benevento’s help, they jammed out their first ever Elton John tune in Bowlive history: “Benny and The Jets!” What a crowd pleaser. Sonya Kitchell was back on vocals, in line with the Shady Horns and then Marco got up from his rig and dangled the microphone over the heads of those in the front row. “Just these guys!” said Marco and the audience joined in on the biggest sing-a-long of the run. The funny man continued to swing the microphone around heads before going back to his keyboards to have a duel with Collier.
The magic continued with “My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Soulful Strut.” What more is there to say that I haven’t already said. Classic after classic, this group of musicians, all seasoned jamming artists, continued to slay the audience with solo after solo. Jam after jam. Collier and Krasno continued to duel it out on the strings while the Evans brothers held down the rhythm so tightly. Audience members had their hands extended towards the sky as if they were worshiping to their gods. Their Gods of Rock!
For the next tune, it was fun to see Marco opened it up with the famous John Bonham count-in, “We’ve done four already but now we’re steady and then they went: One, Two, Three, Four.” BOOM!!!! The audience was immediately washed away by a rousing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.” It’s particularly nice to hear this tune performed during Bowlive with Marco because Led Zeppelin doesn’t have a keyboardist in their band, making this arrangement unique.
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
The set was supposed to end there but it was Friday night and Soulive was on fire. So, they pulled out Encore #1 with Beatles’ tune, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Ironically, on this day in 1984, part of Central Park in New York was renamed Strawberry Fields in honor of John Lennon.
The stage empties for about 60 seconds. At that point, Alan Evans is back on the microphone stating, “We were going to end the set but we have some more surprises y’all, all the way from the Beacon Theatre, Oteil and Kofi Burbridge.” Eric Krasno leans into the microphone with a huge grin and says, “Burbridge Brothers in the building!” Oteil Burbridge has been the bassist for The Allman Brother’s Band since 1997 and his brother, Kofi, has been playing flute and keys for many bands on the jam scene for years as well. Hearing Kofi’s flute in the mix of “So Live!,” “Cash’s Dream,” and “Nubian Lady” was stunning. He fluttered through the songs, bouncing back and forth between the piano and his flute, both instruments he dominates.
During “Cash’s Dream,” the Shady Horns joined the stage while Oteil Burbridge really let it rip on his bass. Oteil guided the song to a really spacey place. Victor Cornette used the lights to enhance the mood and there it was, the pinnacle of the evening with Ryan Zoidis adding effects to his horn, bringing it that much higher. In the end, it was just one epic extended solo, each musicians playing off each other and feeling the family vibe super hard. People were jumping on their feet with both hands in the air. Just a full on Jam Session between friends and as we danced with our own friends in the audience, it was a great way to end a Friday night. Thank you Soulive, Roosevelt, Marco, Oteil, Kofi, Sonya and all the amazing musicians that made last night another night for the books.
Tonight, the last night of Bowlive V, you will get an array of surprise musicians playing a laundry list of amazing songs. That is just how it goes down on the finale night of a Bowlive run.
List of Special Guests and Openers
SATURDAY, MARCH 22 – Special Guest: BILL EVANS,
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger