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Soulive members, the rhythmic Evans brothers Neal and Alan and guitarist Eric Krasno transformed The Brooklyn Bowl from a guitar god’s wet dream to a world of funk and Beatle Mania on the third night of Bowlive III.

However, before the show could start, there were a few adventures I went on that I would like to share.  The most silly adventure was first. On Jam Cruise this year, a girl named Harmony held a pet adoption with stuffed animals (mostly sheep) of varying styles and sizes. What first occurred at The Catskill Chill Music Festival on a small scale last summer had now made it’s way to the Jam Cruise world on a large scale. As a result, musicians and their children, like New Orleans trombonist Big Sam (Big Sam’s Funky Nation) and Marco Benevento‘s daughter Ruby, adopted animals. Big Sam adopted a sheep and named her…what else? Harmony!

What's with the stuffed animals, you ask?

What’s with the stuffed animals, you ask?

Front row rage with Jessica, Laurie and LUCY!

Front row rage with Jessica, Laurie and LUCY!

Jam Cruisers and their animals were all over the Bowlive scene during the ten day residency but Big Sam is the only artists who engaged in the enjoyment of his adopted pet publicly. Before the show, I was with a friend who had brought her lamb, Lucy. We ran into Big Sam and asked about Harmony. He had her in a plastic bag in his hand. Right then and there, Harmony was brought out and Lucy and she “played” and “danced” a bit together before Big Sam took Harmony backstage! Over the run, Lucy (NY), Smiley-Face (MD), Harmony (NOLA), Fluffy (VA) and Jimmy (NJ) would make their way from various parts of America with their adoptive parents to enjoy Bowlive shows from the front row.  Big Sam’s Harmony, however, was the only one who engaged in the back stage rage and got to dance on stage. Enjoy the clip:


At the end of the day, this new vein within our scene is representative of the curiosity and connection that we all posses and/or seek. Just as The Karma Wash and Fan Club Headquarters are relevant, so is this fun idea. Amazingly, lots of people have mascots and the addition of this adoption program has spawned multiple mascot meetups and adoptive front row rages around our scene. Be sure to look for a stuffed sheep or mascot near you and share a dance 🙂

Neal Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

Neal Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

The previous two evenings, the trio infused their sounds with special guest southern slide guitarist Luther Dickinson and jazz great John Scofield. On this night, Karl Denson (Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), Sam Williams (Big Sam’s Funky Nation), and Rahzel (The Roots) graced the stage with their flute and saxophone, trombone and beat boxing, respectively.

The organ-based jazz trio kicked off their set with “Steppin,” off their 2010 Live at the Blue Note Tokyo album and “Uncle Junior,” 2007 Get Down album. As the three core leaders of Bowlive, they immediately established that there would be no slowing down. By the middle of “Aladdin,” all three men on stage were fully invested.  Krasno was taking his solos at the edge of the stage, sometimes rising onto his toes, while Neal Evans dominated the song with his bass keys and organ play and Alan Evans slammed his drums with ferocity.

Karl Denson (Photo by Phrazz)

Karl Denson (Photo by Phrazz)

Karl Denson was announced as the audience was told that he “just got off a plane and walked on this stage.”  Karl Denson is one of the hardest working musicians in the business and his passion for his craft drips off every note he plays. He is a fast, funky band leader who is always consistent in his delivery.  “The Swamp” and “Rudy’s Way” followed with Denson choosing to add his flute to the beautifully composed songs.  The addition of Karl’s flute to the sound of our favorite trio added another dimension of emotion to the songs.  They continued with “Shaheed,” off their 2001 album Doin’ Something where Karl’s flute provided a softness to the hard-edged song. Krasno raged his guitar till the strings broke and had to change to a new guitar and Neal Evans kicked a drum solo into the audience’s guts.

Alan Evans, Karl Denson, Big Sam, and Eric Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

Alan Evans, Karl Denson, Big Sam, Eric Krasno & Nigel Hall (Photo by Phrazz)

Joining the foursome on stage next was Nigel Hall (The Warren Haynes Band) and Sam Williams (Big Sam’s Funky Nation). There can be no doubt that the danceable and excitable energy that Big Sam brings is something you can’t find in many artists. The New Orleans native, formerly the trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, danced out on stage with his horn, picked up a stage prop that he had brought (his stuffed sheep named Harmony) and began to dance all around the stage. Nigel and Big Sam began grooving it together and the entire audience couldn’t help but beam over the energy of it all.  These are serious performances but it’s ALWAYS appropriate to have a good time and with just his presence; Big Sam will lift any crowd. The powerhouse of funk on stage slowed the rage down for the soulful, “Leave Me Alone,” sung by Hall. Karl Denson changed to his saxophone and kicked us a lightning fast solo to end the set.

Rage (Photo by Phrazz)

Rage (Photo by Phrazz)

Rahzel Set Break Set (Photo by Phrazz)

Rahzel Set Break Set (Photo by Phrazz)

Straying from the formula of the first two nights, during this set break the audience would not be staring at an empty stage waiting for the first set to start. Instead, Beat Boxer Rahzel, the “Godfather of Noyze,” came out to keep them engaged.  Watching the audience react to this amazing addition to the night was almost as exciting as watching Rahzel. Specialize in the “fifth element of hip-hop,” Rahzel’s instrument is himself and a microphone.  He is a vocal percussionist who uses his breath, mouth and body to imitate sounds, instruments and voices.  He projected unmistakable beats from the Wu-Tang Clan and Run DMC. He became a DJ scratching records, created a buzzing insect around his head and brought Optimus Prime (Transforms) to life on stage with his robotic sounds. His signature song, “If Your Mother Only Knew” is always the highlight of a Rahzel performance. Rahzel simultaneously sings the lyrics and works the beats. It is quite difficult to even comprehend how Rahzel does what he does!  AMAZING!

Rubber Soulive Album

Rubber Soulive Album

Before Beatle Mania could kick off the first set, Soulive joined Rahzel on stage and performed “I Am the Magnificent” and it was just that, magnificent.  The entire first half of the second set consisting of songs chosen off Soulive’s latest album, Rubber Soulive.  “Come Together,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The audience sang along to the first song while the psychedelic lights and trippy sounds emanating off stage for “She’s So Heavy” was reinvented through the jazz trio.

Karl Denson, Big Sam, Nigel Hall and Lenesha Randolph (Photo by Phrazz)

Karl Denson, Big Sam, Nigel Hall and Lenesha Randolph (Photo by Phrazz)

Questlove (Photo by Phrazz)

Questlove (Photo by Phrazz)

Big Sam, Karl Denson, Nigel Hall and now, Lenesha Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band) joined the stage for “Too Much.” Randolph and Hall sang the up-beat tune while Karl and Big Sam took their turn at the mic delivering some of the hardest, funkiest horn solos that Bowlive audiences will experience this run.  They kept up the pace with Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and Questlove (The Roots) replacing Alan Evans, who picked up a guitar.

Full Stage Rage (Photo by Phrazz)

Full Stage Rage (Photo by Phrazz)

The entire crew of Soulive and their special guests kicked off the end of the set with “Tuesday Night Squad.”  Big Sam dominated a 3 minute long trombone rage, Alan was back on killin it on the drums, Nigel was on the Bongos before heading over to Neal where the pair did a little dance, if you will, shifting back and forth past each other to manipulate the various levels of keys that Neal’s kit provides.  Hall sang James Brown’s “Beweildered,” a deep, soulful song that required Nigel to reach the top of his range, and then he walked off stage.  It was back into “Tuesday Night Squad” to close the set.

Nigel and Neal Rage the Boards (Photo by Phrazz)

Nigel and Neal Rage the Boards (Photo by Phrazz)

There was never really an encore because every musician on stage was so into the music and feeling the audience’s energy that they chose to just play through and give their fans that extra five minutes of music that every audience desires.

Download Night 3 Sound Board Audio Here!

In three days Bowlive III had now brought us jazz, soul, psychedelic rock, New Orleans funk, hip-hop and southern-style blues in only three nights. The following evening, the party continued with Karl Denson sticking around for a second night and Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) joining with her funky trumpet and soulful voice.

Pictures by Phrazz

Videos by: I can’t believe there are no videos for this entire night. If anyone finds some, send them my way

Words by The Tiny Rager

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Neal Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

Neal Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

The second night of BOWLIVE III at The Brooklyn Bowl started similarly to the previous evening with Soulive members Eric Krasno and brothers Neal Evans and Alan Evans taking the stage alone for the first two songs.  “Shaheed,” from band’s 2001 album Doin’ Something, and “DIG,” from their 2003 self-titled album started the set. With the members of Soulive choosing to open the sets themselves, they took on on the entire responsibility of pumping up their audience. They fully succeeded.  By the end of the second song, audience members were whispering that this night was even hotter than the last.

Eric Krasno (Picture by Phrazz)

Eric Krasno (Picture by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

For those who couldn’t make this night due to responsibilities, I understand your pain. This evening would be one that would go down in Soulive history. For those of you who chose to come to the first and not the second, purely on issues related to laziness, I know you feel pissed enough. I won’t rub it in. Seeing how Luther Dickinson and John Scofield didn’t get on stage together with Krazno in the first night, one could logically assume that following day would see our hope delivered. All three guitarists on stage…at the same time!!

Luther and Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther and Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

John Scofield, considered one of the “big three” of America’s current jazz guitarists, joined the stage for a second night with a pink guitar and giant smile.  “Nealization,” off their 2003 album Turn It Out, which Scofield performed on the album for this song, was next on the energized set-list. The energy level for a Wednesday night at the Brooklyn Bowl that was two-thirds full was stellar. The players on stage had picked up where they left off the night before and continued to elevate throughout the entire night.

Nigel Hall, the soulful vocalist and keyboardist from The Warren Haynes Band, was a much larger presence last night coming out on the Billy Cobham and George Duke tune, “Stratus.” Hall’s passion for the Fusion genre, especially George Duke, runs DEEP so you can only imagine how tight, invested and amazing he was performing the tune. Absolutely CRUSHING with Scofield distorting his rock-oriented sound! John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Provo” followed.

With Nigel still on stage, delivering a fun Moog solo half way through, they performed the Scofield original, “Hottentot.” Alan Evans was clearly feeling this song as he threw in slight change ups in his beats that altered the style and sound in a great way, if only for a few seconds. His eyes closed and his lips pursed during the intense moments of connection to his instrument, Alan Evans was fully engaging and stood out as a leader on stage that night.

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

Ending the set with Nappy Brown’s 1957 cover made popular by Ray Charles, “The Night Time is the Right Time,” Soulive and guitar god history was made. Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), John Scofield and Eric Krasno were all on the stage at the same time, for the first time. This was the moment that the die-hard fans were waiting for.  Nigel Hall sang the bluesy love song while the audience witnessed the three guitarists take their turns playing in their own unique and respective styles in a solo.

Luther Dickinson eventually left the stage as the song continued. Then, what I definitely considered one of the most interesting guitar banters of the musical run, took place. Scofield and Krasno played off each other’s rifts in one of the most unusual and gorgeous ways this super fan has ever witnessed. The Evans brothers lightened their presence, tapping a little lighter and recognizing the moment that was taking place. It was almost as if the two guitars were holding a conversation. The audience was silent when the song ended and then they erupted. THIS WAS WHY THESE MEN DO WHAT THEY DO! These rare moments of musical collaborations are what define Bowlive.

During set break audience members engaged in the Brooklyn Bowl’s amazing Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, played a game of bowling and could be heard comparing the two evenings. Everyone was in agreement that this night kicked the previous night out of the water.

The second set started with Luther Dickinson joining the stage immediately for “Outrage” and stayed on stage for the entire set. “Bubble” and “All Night Long” were simply fantastic. There was no warming up this time, no taking it slow and simple. It was a full speed ahead.

Luther Dickinson and Eric Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson and Eric Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

Nigel Hall (Photo By Phrazz)

Nigel Hall (Photo By Phrazz)

Neal Evans was a force to be reckoned with during the second set with his heavy-handed organ play sounding excellent partnered with Dickinson’s slide guitar for “Shake Your Momma.”  Nigel Hall came out on stage once again to perform Muddy Water’s “Champagne and Reefer,” which had the audience laughing in agreement to the lyrics.

Alan Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

Alan Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

The encore was spectacular. Leaving the stage for only 120 seconds, Soulive and Luther Dickinson literally ran back on stage to perform “Spanish Castle” by Jimi Hendrix.  Their excitement was evident as Dickinson sang the verses and Alan Evans sang the chorus. No one wanted the show to end but the audience accepted the fact that these talented musicians needed their rest.

We had eight more days to go and Soulive’s passion and desire to strive would ensure that the coming nights continue bringing straight fire. Tommorrow’s rage would consume me with the FUNK as Karl Denson, Big Sam and Rahzel continue where Luther Dickinson and John Scofield left off.

Download Night 2 Sound Board Audio Here!

Pictures by Phrazz

Videos by Marc Millman and mkdevo

Words by The Tiny Rager

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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)

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)

Faithful Fans (minus a few) (Photo by Phrazz)

Alan Evans (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)

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)

Eric Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

The Legendary John Scofield (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 (Photo by Phrazz)

Nigel Hall joins Neal Evans on Keys (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)

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)

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 - Outstanding Performance

Luther and Soulive  (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson (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)

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 - Outstanding Performance

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!!!!

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.

Setlist Rage!

The Initial Setlist!

Download Night 1 Sound Board Audio Here!

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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