I had the pleasure of writing for Royal Family Records website for all ten nights for Bowlive III. So, if you care for the shorter, not so critical and emotional charged recaps, head over to RoyalFamilyRecords.com and read up there as you all know the following post will be full of extra details and a much longer recap. Available videos are linked to the song titles! With that said:
HAPPY BOWLIVE NEW YORK CITY!!
BOWLIVE RAGERS!!! (Photo by Phrazz)
I must start this recap by giving mad love to the Brooklyn Bowl. If you have never been, what are you waiting for? Their food is killer, their big, leather couches lining the bowling lanes and open feel makes it one of the best venues in Brooklyn, if not all of NYC. Owner, Pete Shapiro, is one of the most humble, caring, proprietors of an establishment that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His connections and passion to the music scene are evident as he joins the audience when amazing performances are taking place. For an example of his kindness, Josh (My Mega Rager) and I got engaged last week in Mexico and are frequent attendees at Brooklyn Bowl performances. It is our favorite venue in the city and not just because Josh and I met there at a Karl Denson show two years ago.
Josh and I thanked Pete last night for providing us with such a great platform to meet. He bought us a bottle of champagne and we all shared a celebratory “Cheers.” Josh and I are not drinkers but that didn’t stop the toast because when Pete Shapiro buys you a drink, you take it 🙂 I have now only seen Josh take a shot of tequila (a gift from the Brooklyn Bowl on his birthday) and now a glass of champagne. Thanks again Pete and all the staff who run the Brooklyn Bowl for providing us such a wonderful place to engage in our musical passions, to engage with our musical family and friends and for your killer fried chicken. As well, the addition of the hooks under the bar and upper level viewing deck did not go unnoticed and had both male and females singing the praises of having their purses and jackets now off the sticky ground 🙂 Quality upgrade!!! Now, on to the real magic.
Bowlive III – Night 1 Recap
Faithful fans of Soulive descend upon the Brooklyn Bowl, one of Brooklyn’s premier music venues, on February 28, 2012 for the first night of the highly anticipated ten-night residency, BOWLIVE III.
Faithful Fans (minus a few) (Photo by Phrazz)
Alan Evans (Photo by Phrazz)
In previous years, Bowlive audiences have had the pleasure of witnessing diverse line-ups of well-known (Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Maceo Parker) and up and coming musicians (The London Souls, Alecia Chakour and Mel Flannery), taking their turn on stage with guitarist Eric Krasno, organist and bass keys player Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans, the soulful trio who inspire these ten nights of musical magic. Bowlive III was no different with scheduled collaborations by Zach Deputy, Big Sam, Karl Denson, Questlove, Lettuce, Rahzel, Allen Stone, Jennifer Hartswick, and the Alecia Chakour Band. More additions were added continuously over the run so I keep my eyes (and ears) open.
Mike Gibney, The Royal Family’s announcer or HYPE BOY, if you will, came out on stage to announce the band. He is a hilarious, happy, charming, funny man who never fails to pump up the crowd with his wit and humor or hilarious Cosby Sweater-styled outfits. Tonight, pimpin’ a nice suit, he would scream out how proud he was of himself for being “undefeated in Bowlive History!” I had to scream “ME TOO!” as loud as I could as there are literally a handful of fans AND staff who have actually attended all ten nights the previous years. I have gone to 29 out of 30 Bowlive shows.
Straying from the formula of the past two years, Soulive hit the stage early, opting out of an opening band until the weekend performances. The trio stated slow with the appropriate “So Live.” Their energy was calm and they warmed up nicely into the explosive “Hat Trick,” which would set the tone for the rest of the night. Opting out of an opener really placed full responsibility on the trio to ensure the energy was up, to ensure that we stayed engaged, and to ensure that they made the point that they were back!!! Having seen these three musicians grow since 2000, there was nothing standing in their way last night.
Neal Evans (Photo by Phrazz)
You know when you see the same band over and over and it sometimes appears that they are going through the motions? I have seen Soulive and its members in their various projects for over a decade now. I hold them to a very high standard as the point of all of this is growth. Growth as a band and as individual musicians. Bowlive provides a platform for these men to expand their musical catalog by infusing their material with the styles of the special guests that join them. Because of all these collaborations, it could be easy as the hosts to, perhaps, not invest as much power and passion into the solo songs where the trio played alone. Of course, this is something that SHOULDN’T happen, and on this first night, it didn’t. I looked forward to watching this monster of a musical run grow beneath our feet and in front of our eyes and to watch the exposure of stamina and talent of these three musical masters were going to have to project as time goes on.
Eric Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)
The Legendary John Scofield (Photo By Phrazz)
John “Sco” Scofield, one of America’s greatest Jazz guitarists and composers, was the first guest to appear on stage this year. I absolutely adore seeing Sco and Krasno collaborate. Joining the trio on the third song, “Tabasco”, a Sco original, Krazno and Sco immediately engaged in each other. Coming ever so close to each other, face to face on stage, they played off each others rifts with the Evan brothers blasting their rhythms. A Billy Cobham cover, “Red Baron,” followed allowing for each musician on stage to throw down some lightening rod solos. Sco’s time on stage brought a range of psychedelic jamming and jazz infusion to the trio’s sound that only Sco can help create. This was an exciting show simply because of the fact that John Scofield, Eric Krasno and Luther Dickinson would all be performing together in various combinations throughout the night. For guitar loving rockers like me and every other male that was in that audience, this was FIRE!!! What a great way to start it off.
Nigel Hall (Photo by Phrazz)
Nigel Hall joins Neal Evans on Keys (Photo by Phrazz)
Nigel Hall (The Warren Haynes Band, Dr. Klaw) was next to join the stage, initially jumping in on the keyboards with Alan Evan during “What You See Is What You Get.” The Nigel Hall Band actually opened almost every night during the first Bowlive in 2012. This run, however, Hall took to the microphone only once with his band to deliver the sultry, sexy Donny Hathaway cover “More Then You’ll Ever Know.” Hall’s emotional connection to this powerful ballad was evident as he melted the hearts in front of him. I watched men kiss their girls passionately, I watched bros hug it out on the main floor and I felt my own heart melt. Hall left immediately for home after the song and I texted him to let him know that his connection was so clear to those who were paying attention. His response: “Thank you! When you’ve been in love, you can relate.” I hoped that we would get to experience more of him during this run but at the time, nothing was scheduled. We kept those fingers crossed.
John Scofield and Soulive (Photo by Phrazz)
“Boozer,” another Sco original, end the KILLER first set with Sco thanking Soulive for allowing him to join the party and calling Nigel Hall a “genius.” That statement is powerful and honest and to hear it ring from Sco’s lips, I know for a fact that Nigel’s heart swelled. Mine certainly did.
Nigel Hall connecting with John Scofield (Photo by Phrazz)
After a short intermission, the Evans brothers and Krasno were back on stage, alone, performing the beautifully composed “El Ron,” followed by a raging “One in Seven.” No special guests needed to be on stage to ensure that fire was coming off it. The trio was living up to their responsibilities and taking the songs we have seen them play a million times and breathing fresh life and RAGE into them.
Luther and Soulive (Photo by Phrazz)
Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)
When southern-style slide guitarist Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi AllStars) joined the stage, all hell broke loose. Literally, broke shit up all over our brains and faces. Booker T. and the MG’s cover “Hip Hug Her” started slow and simple, a playing quality that Luther Dickinson has perfected with his understated simplicity and lightening fast fingers. Initially, after the great versions of Soulive’s original songs had just brought the energy up, Dickinson’s simplistic playing and calm warm-up seemed to bring the energy down but only for that first song. The set continued with Dickinson, Krasno and the Evan brothers elevating their quality of playing to the peak of high energy for the evening, downright melting the audience’s faces with solo after solo after solo.
Dickinson and Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)
At one point, the wonderful Alan Evans was left alone the stage for an isolated drum solo lit by a single house light. His serious composure throughout the evening provided the foundation for all this musical majesty to take place. Neal Evans’ organ play was deep, intense, raw and when paired with the slide guitar of Dickinson, brought Soulive’s sound to new heights. It is collaborations like these that make Bowlive so special. How can we watch the same group for ten nights in a row and not get bored? Well, that is their job and they do their job RIGHT!
Luther and Soulive (Photo by Phrazz)
At times when a song is taking off, I like to take a walk through the audience and listen to them, their comments, their critics (if they know what they are talking about) and just engage in the energy around me. When they broke into “Hear My Train” by Jimi Hendrix, the rage that ensued both on stage and in the audience was palpable. “Holy Shit” and “Do you see what is happening on stage?” were common statement that could be heard throughout the sea of heady heads. People hushed those around them talking too loud and eyes were transfixed on the stage ~ (Some might say STFUAD – Shut The F*&K Up And Dance). The foursome encored with another Hendrix song, “Stone Free,” a tight, jamming song that cemented the power of the evening and left the audience screaming with thunderous applause.
WINNING!!!! (Photo by Phrazz)
Bowlive III had begun in New York City!! We only prayed that we could handle it because after the freight train of rage that was released that night; there would be no stopping it. The power that slides off of these performances are unlike any regular 2-set performances you attend. The energy and collaborations that I would enjoy in the coming weeks would far surpass many musical runs I might experience. TEN NIGHTS!!!! That is a superb feat for any musician of ANY age to accomplish. For those of us with day jobs and for those of us expected to process material by the next morning, it’s even more of a feat. One that I have been proud to be a part of for the last two years.
The Initial Setlist!
Pictures by Phrazz
Videos by Marc Millman and mkdevo
Words by The Tiny Rager
Check out some amazing Bowlive Shots by Michael Jurick here!
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