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Bowlive III: Night Ten – Finale Recap for Soulive w/ Ledisi, Derek Trucks and The London Souls ~ Extended Review + Media (03.10.12)

After nine nights of warming up, Soulive members Eric KransoNeal Evans and Alan Evans tore the roof off the Brooklyn Bowl Saturday night for the final night of their 3rd annual ten-night residency, Bowlive. Over the course of the last two weeks, Soulive presented their audience with talented guests from across the musical spectrum. Virtuoso guitarists such as jazz legend John Scofield, southern blues rocker Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), and the hard-bopping Warner Brothers artist Mark Whitfield created slaying duets with guitarist Eric Krasno. Renowned bassists Oteil Burbridge (The Allman Brothers Band) and George Porter, Jr. (The Meters) rocked the stage, adding to the cool bass keys Neal Evans plays so strikingly. Hip-hop drummer ?uestlove (The Roots), experimental percussionist Billy Martin (MMW) and world beat drummer Luke Quaranta took their turns leading the rhythm when the smoother than smooth Soulive drummer Alan Evans stepped aside to play rhythm guitar.

Guest vocalists Nigel Hall, Allen Stone, Jennifer Hartswick and Alecia Chakour brought their own style of strength and soul to the mic, Citizen Cope and Alice Smith sang an eclectic mix of blues, laid-back rock and folk while Rhazel and Ledisi delivered beat boxing and R&B/Soul into the eager ears of their audience. As well, for two night and two full sets, Royal Family recordings artists Lettuce, consisting of guitarist Adam Smirnoff, drummer Adam Deitch (Break Science), bassist ED “Jesus” Coomes, and The Bowlive horns, seared the stage with their urban funk flavor.

The Bowlive Horns, consisting of saxophonist James Casey, trumpeters Eric Bloom and Matt Owens and tenor saxophonist Ryan Zoidis were joined over the course of the run by numerous big name brass players.  Trombonist Sam “Big Sam” Williams (Big Sam’s Funky Nation), flautist/saxophonist Karl Denson (Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), trumpeters Rashawn Ross (Dave Matthews Band) and Jennifer Hartswick, flautist Kofi Burbrudge (Derek Trucks Band) and wild improvisational saxophonist Skerik, rotated throughout the ten nights creating one of the sickest brass ensembles some have ever seen.

Other surprise guests included virtuoso pianist Eldar and organist Mitch Chakour while DJ Wyllys spun the ones and twos in between the weekend sets. When Soulive didn’t open the show themselves, the one man band, Zach Deputy, Royal Family recording artists The Nigel Hall Band, The Alecia Chakour Band and The London Souls amped the energy of the evening before Soulive took over to lay devastation upon the stage. It has been a two week rage of full on face melting, mind warping, soul filling, gut busting musicianship that accelerated with power each night and with audience members wondering how it could be topped.

Saturday night was the tenth and last night of Bowlive III. The audience, clad in white outfits for the evening’s White-Out Party theme, could be heard whispering their ideas of who the special guests might be. The London Souls, Ledisi and The Royal Family All-Stars were billed which could only mean that a surprise that couldn’t be named was being prepared.

The London Souls opened the evening with their Hendrix-style rock and roll sound. It is quite impossible to remain calm when guitarist Tash Neal, bassist Stu Mahan, and drummer Chris St. Hilaire are slamming away on their instruments.  The perfect opening for the end of a great run.

Soulive’s set started off with the super horn heavy, high-energy “El Ron”  However, during “Upright,” some unexpected technical difficulty occurred.  What could have been a rough moment turned into something special. There was three minutes where Alan Evans and his team worked at lightning speed to repair a broken drum head while the remaining members on stage worked together to keep the audience engaged. The audience clapped and cheered, supporting their favorite trio because there was importance in this moment. The band’s talent was exposed so much more during this time as they kept it together. The power from the applause in the audience when Evans’ silver shimmering drum kit was finally lifted in the air and put back in place was outstanding. It was a killer moment in rock n roll, a killer moment in Bowlive History. The trio ripped into the end of “Upright” and kept the momentum UP, UP, UP! They rolled through “Tuesday Night Squad” and Nigel Hall sang on the lively “Too Much” and the beautifully arranged “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears that segued into Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes.”

When Ledisi was brought back on stage for the second night, the crowd exploded. Her R&B flavor had brought such joy to the previous night’s performance and we wanted more. Singing “Love Never Changes” off her Turn Me Loose album, Ledisi unleashed her massively powerful voice upon the audience. Her range and strength were unbelievable as she swiftly scatted her way through “Them Changes,” a Buddy Miles cover off of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys. Tash Neal also performed on this song where he and Krasno playfully raged a duet to end the set.

The second set began as multiple white balloons were tossed out into the audience while Soulive played “One in Seven.” The second technical difficulty of the night occurred as Neal Evans’ clavinet finally gave way after nine nights of solid pounding. Not to miss a beat, Alan Evans began jamming on his kit, delivering a tight an extended drum solo as the back line team fixed the issue.  It was then time for some Beatles love as they played an electric run of “Eleanor Rigby,” “She’s So Heavy” and “Get Back.”

Finally, the last surprise guest of this amazing musical journey was invited on the stage. Southern rock, slide guitarist Derek Trucks (The Allman Brothers Band) walked out on stage with Nigel Hall and Ledisi to perform Sam Cooke’s Civil Rights Era anthem “A Change Gonna Come,”. It was no wonder that while Ledisi and Hall sang with all their passion and Derek Trucks made his guitar cry, audience members began to weep where they stood. The meaning and epic delivery of this song wasn’t lost on a single soul. Soulive flipped the emotional script by following Cooke’s song with the raging Jimi Hendrix’s tune, “Manic Depression!” Derek Trucks, Eric Krasno, Neal Evans and Alan Evans delivered a sick rendition of the song with Trucks and Krasno playing off each other and Trucks taking a ripping solo to end the set.

Before the encore, Brooklyn Bowl owner, Pete Shapiro, came on stage with Rosemary and Lavender plants in his hands. He explained that everyone on the floor was to take a piece of the plants being passed around the audience in hopes that the aroma therapy would help us gather our strength for one last song. Ending their epic ten night run the way they began, our favorite trio, just the three of them, took the stage for “Aladdin.”

Bowlive III is now over, leaving some New Yorkers wondering what to do with themselves.  For two weeks, dedicated fans came to the Brooklyn Bowl to see Neal Evans, Alan Evans and Eric Krasno play their hearts out, touching on every musical genre and playing with many of Americas most talented musicians. Let us give thanks to Soulive for the dedication to their craft and their ability to express it through the creative outlet that is Bowlive. Thanks for their want to educate us on new talent, their need to put new twists on old classics, and their determination to raise the bar each and every night.

Let us give thanks to The Brooklyn Bowl, because without them there would be no Bowlive. Thanks for their wonderful environment, staff and treatment.  For the last 2 weeks the Brooklyn Bowl has been our community’s second home. We’ve feasted on their fantastic Blue Ribbon cuisine, felt at home on their plush leather couches and enjoyed their attentive staff.   Soulive + The Brooklyn Bowl = Bowlive and don’t you forget it!

A change has come to New York City. A change has come to the music community.  Soulive has created something so special in Bowlive.  There is nothing else like it in our scene and it’s through that unique way of doing things that Soulive will remain one of the most influential groups in our music community. Bowlive is the development of a passionate dream that is now reality. After three years, Bowlive is no-doubt a game changer in the music community and will continue to be for many years to come. Thank you Soulive!

 Karen E. Dugan
– Photo courtesy of Phrazz

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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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