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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
Hurricane
Dust
Broken Heart
Follow Me In
Catapult
Mexico
Family
This Feeling
At First

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.

Neal Evans by Mark Dershowitz

Neal Evans with Sonya Kitchell by Mark Dershowitz

Sonya Kitchell Setlist

Sonya Kitchell Setlist

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.

Set I
Shaheed
Swamp
Brother Soul
Reverb
Aladdin
3rd Stone From The Sun –> Lenny
Manic Depression
Stratus

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.

1960's photo of John Scofield working with Jaco Pastorius

1960’s photo of John Scofield working with Jaco Pastorius

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

Set II
Jesus Children of America/Stay
The Dump
The “In Crowd”
Revolution
Benny and the Jets
When My Guitar Gently Weeps
Soulful Strut
The Ocean
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.

Encore I
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.

Encore II
So Live!
Cash’s Dream
Nubian Lady

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.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

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.

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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. 

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List of Special Guests and Openers

THURSDAY, MARCH 13 – Special Guests: NIGEL HALL, EDDIE ROBERTS, more TBA

FRIDAY, MARCH 14 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. and SPECIAL GUESTS TBA
Opener: LEROY JUSTICE

SATURDAY, MARCH 15 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. feat. a special #LONDONSOULIVE joint set
Opener: THE LONDON SOULS

TUESDAY, MARCH 18 – Special Guest: JOHN SCOFIELD
Opener and Special Guest: JON CLEARY

WEDNESAY, MARCH 19 – Special Guests: JOE RUSSO and SUSAN TEDESCHI
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY

THURSDAY, MARCH 20 – Special Guest: DMC (of RUN DMC)
Opener: ALAN EVANS TRIO

FRIDAY, MARCH 21 – Special Guests: MARCO BENEVENTO, ROOSEVELT COLLIER, OTEIL and KOFI BURBRIDGE, FELIX PASTORIUS, and BRANDON NIEDERAUER
Opener: SONYA KITCHELL

SATURDAY, MARCH 22 – Special Guest: BILL EVANS,
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger

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Soulive: Photograph Courtesy of Calabro Music

Soulive: Photograph Courtesy of Calabro Music

Bowlive V: Night IV – Soulive feat. Jon Cleary and John Scofield @ The Brooklyn Bowl (03.18.14)

As the members of Soulive settled in over the years, their Brooklyn Bowl based annual residency, Bowlive, has became as institutional as the music itself. During the first week, the audience was privileged enough to enjoy the musical styling of vocalists Nigel Hall and Nicki Bluhm, turntablist DJ Logic, rocking guitarists Warren Haynes and Eddie Roberts, legendary bassist George Porter, Jr., and house band, The Shady Horns. Full band performances and collaborations by Leroy Justice and The London Souls added to the marvel. Every song sailed down the middle of the stage, rolled by the trio with the consistency of a pro bowler. This consistency, of course, has been the key to Soulive’s longevity.

“When Soulive hit the stage, I was surprised at how they constantly matched the energy from the previous nights. I’m always reminded of the 80’s power trio bands that filled a room with just three musicians and am amazed how these guys do it. A modern day jazz/funk power trio like no other.” ~ R.G.

Commencing with their second week of Bowlive V, Neal Evans, Alan Evans and Eric Krasno have put together another long list of talented musicians to keep us satiated for the remaining five nights. Over the next few evenings our musical senses will be overloaded with the likes of Joe Russo, Susan Tedeschi, Jon Cleary, Bill Evans, Alan Evans Trio, DMC (of Run DMC), Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, and WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger. You can also count on some surprise guests.

For night IV, Soulive made all the right moves, showering the audience in musical genius, making sure no one would regret coming out on a Tuesday night. With Jon Cleary and John Scofield as the special guests last night, it was the perfect kick-off for the second week. And what a kick-off it was. It was truly stimulating. Soulive and their guests performed one long extended set with Jon Cleary opening to a packed house at 8:30pm.

“Notes from the front line, my first encounter with Bowlive! Thank you Soulive and Brooklyn Bowl for making our first Brooklyn Bowl/Bowlive experience a very memorable one. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed by the staff and had a great pre-show dinner, followed by the acquisition of the highly coveted John Warner Bowlive poster, which are limited to 15 posters per evening. After seeing some fellow Pittsburghers and Jam Cruisers, we secured our spots on the platform area with a killer view of the stage.” ~ M.M & L.M.

Jon Cleary Set
Unknown
I Feel So Damn Good I’ll Be Glad When I Get the Blues
Cheating On You
When You Get Back, We Gonna Cha Cha All Night Long
The Crave (an emotionally complex piece.)
I Get The Blues When It Rains
Unknown (Boogie Woogie Tune)

Phone Capture Courtesy By Rob Mishaan

Phone Capture Courtesy By Rob Mishaan

The venue was packed with devoted music fans. This wasn’t your average audience who was there to drink and chat it up with their friends. Almost every eye was fixated on the stage as Jon Cleary opened the night with a solo piano set showcasing his vested studies in the music of New Orleans. Having moved from Kent, England to study the music of New Orleans, Jon Cleary is arguably the best out there right now. A disciple of Professor Long Hair and James Booker, Cleary’s voice is salty-sweet and he is a master of the piano, organ and guitar. You may know him best as a member of Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal‘s bands and his own group, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. With his blend of jazz, blues, soul, gospel, and honky-tonk, Cleary epitomizes New Orleans music. His set was evidence of his extreme caliber of musical knowledge.

Jon Cleary started the night of music off right, as I was immediately intrigued by his silky smooth voice and Deniro-esque looks. His “Big Easy” style was quite a cover for his British heritage. This new musical discovery for me had me Googling his discography this morning to see what else I could find out about this man!” ~ M.M. & L.M.

“Having just booked our trip to Nola for jazziest the night before I could not have asked for a better punctuation. Watching Jon Cleary play keys in such classic New Orleans style blew us away. I could only wonder if Neal Evans was peeking down the stairs to watch this guy.” ~ R.G.

Set I
Shaheed
Come Together
One in 7
For Granted
Cannonball
What You See Is What You Get
Nealization
Something’s Got A Hold on Me
Motherless Child
Walk With Me
Don’t Need No Doctor
Turn It Out
Hottentot

Encore: Get Back

Last night, there wasn’t three sets or even two sets, there was one long extended set which ended promptly at midnight. Soulive, The Shady HornsJon Cleary and John Scofield would command the stage with various genres of blues and jazz, filling every second of the evening with prodigious music. The set started out with the members of Soulive performing “Shaheed,” The Beatles‘ tune, “Come Together,” and “One in 7.” During “Come Together,” the audience sang along with heads bobbing and the stage lights flashing, while “One in 7” was played with a delightful intro. It was also during this time that there was some malfunction with Neal’s keyboards. Times like these can break a musical moment but Alan Evans picked up the slack by drumming his heart out while the chords on his brother’s rig were being fixed. When the audience heard the rejuvenation of the bass keys, it was on!

“Upon completion of Jon Cleary‘s set, Soulive took the stage, embracing me with their soul soothing sounds and reminding me that Neal Evans is a true bad-ass! Watching him lay down those bass lines with his left hand as his right hand plays the Hammond chords was literal music to my ears! The Beatles‘ cover “Come Together” got the crowd singing along, but you could see the anxious anticipation for the arrival of John Scofield, who was the special guest of the evening. Having the pleasure of watching such musical prowess and interplay in such close proximity was truly a treat.” ~ M.M.

“For Granted” and “Cannonball” were both played with the help of The Shady Horns. Ryan Zoidis (baritone/alto saxophone), Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) and James Casey (alto saxophone/percussion) always bring a special vibe to the stage when they join Soulive. As much as they is a respected jazz trio, their vested interest in funk runs deep. The audience is blessed to have a horn ensemble in the mix of some of their favorite jazz tunes. “For Granted” was a wonderful showcase for the widely talented Ryan Zoidis, while James Casey absolutely stole the show with his performance on “Cannonball.” Eric Bloom took his liberties with his pedals and effects during his solo, as well.  These two songs were meant to showcase The Shady Horns and boy, did they deliver.

The Shady Horns were dead on, once again. Eric Bloom‘s effects-enhanced solos and James Casey killed it, as always, while Ryan continues to be the mainstay. Gonna get some more rest today so I can get back there tonight with Tedeschi!!!” ~ R.G.

The eyes say so much, and they speak even louder when a musician closes his eyes and is fully immersed in song. This happened to Krasno throughout the remainder of the set. When Scofield came on the stage, Krasno was in a blissed-out state of being, eyes closed, in total focus. “What You See Is What You Get,” a major hit for the Dramatics in 1971, is Scofield’s interpretation of Detroit soul music.  The beautiful thing about John Scofield is that even though he covers many old tunes, the arrangements are all his own. “Nealization,” obviously composed by Neal Evans, was a fantastic representation of his talent. Scofield played lead guitar while Krasno played rhythm. The entire crew on stage was grinning from ear to ear while the ax-men played off each other, trading delicious licks on their guitars.

“I have been a fan of John Scofield since the first time I saw him at The Bottom Line in NYC in 1980. I always mark this night as a must go. Even having stayed home from work sick, I got the energy up to get there. I was not disappointed!!! It is so obvious that Kraz uses Sco as a mentor and has used him as one of his many inspirations. As it is equally obvious how Sco is impressed with Kraz. There dueling solos blew the entire audience away. Sco has a way of making his guitar sing.” ~ R.G.

“Can someone explain to me how Neal Evans solos on keys with Soulive while also dropping funky bass? Meanwhile, I can’t even rub my tummy and tap my head at the same time…” ~ K.S.

“Neal Evans is the most underrated bass player in music. His right hand gets so funky, we forget his left is leading us to the promise land.” ~ J.S.

The next two songs were songs off John Scofield‘s latest album release, Piety Street. The Rev. James Cleveland cover, “Something’s Got A Hold On Me,” was first but it was “Motherless Child,” a traditional negro spiritual born out of slavery and sung by Cleary with sharp new harmonies, that grabbed the audience’s attention. 

“When I heard “Motherless Child,” I almost didn’t recognize it. I recognized that I was hearing the words of a song I knew but the arrangement was so different from the versions I’d previously heard.  I am aging myself by saying this but I remember the first time I ever heard that song. I was just 15 years old. It is the hidden song within Track 11 off the Cracked Rear View album by Hootie and The Blowfish. Y’all remember that? Darius Rucker sings the song in it’s traditional A-Capella style. It was as beautiful to back then as it was now, hearing it in this new style and arrangement. I adore when modern musicians take classic songs and make them their own.” ~ K.D.

“One of my favorite moments of the evening, was when the stage was packed with everyone on the bill, Soulive, The Shady Horns, Scofield and Clearly as they played a tune that featured three part harmonies of Alan EvansJon Cleary and Eric “Benny” Bloom. I look forward to finding that show on Archive.org to relive that moment and sing along with them!” ~ M.M.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

Then, the jazz/organ trio pulled a new maneuver out of their Bowlive bag of tricks. Jon Cleary and John Scofield remained on stage, while Soulive and The Shady Horns exited. This would be the first time in Bowlive history where the band allowed the stage to be commanded solely by the guests. It was not a coincidence that Jon Cleary and John Scofield were the two guests playing on the bill last night. Cleary is not only renowned for his ability to play the ivories, but he also composes music and went on to write and join John Scofield on the the road singing and playing with Scofield’s Piety Street Band. Needless to say, the combination of the two artists performing their song, “Walk With Me,” was electrifying and unique. Cleary sat back and watched as Scofield took a few measures for himself before joining in the song.

Through great applause, John Scofield leaned into the microphone. Referring to Cleary, he says, “This guy can play a mean piano but did you know he is an amazing guitarist, as well?” With that, Cleary jumped from the keys and moved to guitar while Krasno picked up the bass for “Don’t Need No Doctor.” Scofield continued, “John Mayer used to sing this song, but you should hear Cleary sing this song.” The audience laughed. The horns had left the stage but James Casey remained playing percussion. Casey is an amazing horn player but his talent by way of understanding sounds in percussion has grown exponentially since we saw him last year at Bowlive IV.  During the song, Scofield could be seen bouncing around, pointing to the next member on stage he wanted to pull a solo.

“I want to say that my highlight was “What You See Is What You Get,” “Nealization” or “Hottentot,” but honestly I had two highlights. (1) Cleary killing it on guitar with Kraz killing it on Bass, and (2) Scofield directing traffic. Maybe it’s an elder statesman thing, but the respect that guy engenders on stage is impressive. He was absolutely in charge and was clearly enjoying going tit for tat with everyone. I especially loved when [John Scofield] made a point to give Alan some play time, because, give the drummer some! Am I right? All in all, just a beast of a show. I fucking love Bowlive.”  ~ B.M.

Jon Cleary‘s turn was up and he retired backstage. The Shady Horns were also held back as Soulive and John Scofield played, “Turn It Out.” This was the time for all the jazz heads to revel in the genre. As much as Soulive likes to give us the funk, jazz is their priority and their growing reputation on this musical path is what has brought them this far. Scofield’s reputation in the Jazz community runs deeper and Krasno’s idolization of Scofield’s style is evident in how Krasno, himself, plays. So you can imagine how equally graceful and intense this part of the set was.

“Seeing two guitar gods trade licks was invigorating, and truly impressive at the same time, as you could see the admiration that Krasno has for Scofield as they both played their hearts out! It was ON, for sure!! “Turn It Out” brought back some great musical memories for me, as I harkened back to a January 2003 Soulive show that took place in an Italian restaurant in the tiny mountain town of Makawao, HI on the island of Maui. It reinforced the fact that we made a great decision to make the trek for our first Bowlive and it’s got me jazzed looking forward to what I’ll get to experience tonight! Thank you Eric, Alan and Neal!! You and your friends bring me musical delight!” ~ M.M.

We love you madly,” said Scofield, “This one is a groover, called ‘Hottentot,’ so let’s keep dancing.” And dance we did. The venue never emptied out like in previous nights and this was a true testament to the musicianship on stage. Like I mentioned previously, this wasn’t your average audience of bar goers. There were super fans in the audience for each of the artists on stage and they were there in full support all night. Alan Evans was featured on a rousing drum solo during “Hottentot.”  He is honestly one of the best jazz drummers around and the audience was overheard speaking on how they were looking forward to the Alan Evans Trio opening for Bowlive on night six.

Everyone was brought back on stage for the single-song encore, “Get Back.” A Beatles‘ tune, it was expertly played by the musicians on stage, having all worshiped the Beatles at some point in their musical careers.  The audience was invested as well and sang along with bodies bouncing. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful collaboration of musicians.

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Tonight, Jon Cleary will return with special guests jazz saxophonist Bill Evans, acclaimed Brooklyn drummer Joe Russo and southern vocalist and guitarist Susan Tedeschi. 

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List of Special Guests and Openers:

THURSDAY MARCH 13 – Special Guest: NIGEL HALL, EDDIE ROBERTS, more TBA

FRIDAY MARCH 14 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. & SPECIAL GUESTS TBA
Opener: LEROY JUSTICE

SATURDAY MARCH 15 – Special Guest: GEORGE PORTER JR. feat. a special LONDON SOULIVE joint set
Opener: THE LONDON SOULS

TUESDAY MARCH 18 – Special Guest: JOHN SCOFIELD
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY

WEDNESAY MARCH 19 – Special Guests: JOE RUSSO & SUSAN TEDESCHI
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY

THURSDAY MARCH 20 – Special Guest: DMC (of RUN DMC) and TALIB KWELI
Opener: ALAN EVANS TRIO

FRIDAY MARCH 21 – Special Guest: Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, Roosevelt Collier, Felix Pastorius, Oteil & Kofi Burbridge, and Brandon Niederauer
Opener: SONYA KITCHELL

SATURDAY MARCH 22 – Special Guest: Bill Evans and more TBA
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger

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Bowlive IV Night 6 Recap w/ John Medeski, Bill Evans, George Porter Jr & Shady Horns : Tonight Porter, Leo Nocentelli & Shady Horns

To many New Yorkers, Thursday signifies the start of the weekend. Music venues bulk up their staff and bands slated to perform anticipate an audience that is ready for a party.  Last night was the sixth night of Soulive’s Brooklyn Bowl residency, Bowlive IV. The foundation was set for a rocking night of music with the Brooklyn Bowl stocked with staff and Soulive ready to throw it down.

With so many amazing musicians sitting in with Soulive over the past six nights, it has been challenging to ensure proper love is given to everyone. Especially during residencies, focus on special guests and their performances become the unexpected highlights of the articles and sometimes people forget to focus on the core members of the residency themselves. Credit must be given where credit is due.

Guitarist Eric Krasno, drummer Alan Evans and Neal Evans, along with the Brooklyn Bowl, have created something extremely special and unique for the New York music community. Since it’s inception in 2010, Bowlive has turned into a musical Superbowl that pushes the skills of the best of the best. For eight to ten nights, these three rock stars provide a fusion of styles that showcase numerous artist and instruments with Soulive’s distinct sound providing the base. The shared respect between musicians to musicians, and musicians to fans amps the frenetic creative energy that flows from the first downbeat to the final bow. Eric, Alan, and Neal are all at the top of their game and are now standing out among the greats, using the glory of Bowlive to cement their place as a musical dynasty. A dynasty that began in 1999.  It speaks volumes that the trio can support an eight to ten night residency that packs the house every night and attracts some of the biggest names in live music. Last night continued the tradition of amazing collaborations with keyboardist John Medeski and saxophonist Bill Evans.

The power trio had to make a few changes to the musical formula last night. Due to a benefit concert earlier in the day, last night was the first and only night of the run where the power trio did not have a rocking opening band to set pace. Without an opening band, Soulive was tasked with pumping up the eager crowd that was filled up with party animals, packing the dance floor to the brim. By doing so, they completely reinforced to the fans why any of us were there in the first place. Soulive original, “Aladdin,” began the set, providing the first platform for Krasno to open up and slay his guitar.  Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” followed, a song that everyone can geek out on, especially the musicians playing the tune. After six nights, the guys were thoroughly warmed up and just crushing solos left and right on The Beatles tune, “I Want You.”

Enter The Shady Horns, consisting of trumpeter Eric Bloom, saxophonist James Casey, and baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, for “Backwards Jack.” These three horn players provide a platform for the trio to open up and rage. Over the run, Eric Bloom has been experimenting with a guitar Wa Wa pedal during his trumpet solos, while James Casey has broken out the flute and provided percussion on many songs.

Continuing his guest appearance from the fifth night, London Souls guitarist Tash O’Neal joined the stage for the Beatles, “Get Back” and a slow “PJs.” Quality choices off their 2010 album, Rubber Soulive, made up the bulk of the first set before the audience was hit with a special unannounced guest.  Alan spoke to the crowd, “I am sorry for those of you who can’t come tomorrow night. You know, it’s a real shame that you won’t see George Porter, Jr. tomorrow. But it’s ok! Because you can see him now!!!” This was special.

Bassist George Porter, Jr. is an icon, legend and mentor, not only to the members of Soulive, but any true musician or music lover who loves funky, deep, in-the-pocket bass lines. A member of the legendary group, The Meters, Porter’s unique sound can be heard on recordings for Warren Haynes, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, David Byrne, Johnny Adams, Harry Connick Jr., Earl King, and Tori Amos, to name a few. Soulive is so well-versed on Porter’s catalog that the end of the set list simply read, “Whatever GPJ Wants!”  They cranked out Meter’s covers “Check Your Mind” right into “Funky Bitch,” without missing a beat.

Soulive continued to descend upon us with new musicians, adding keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood) and saxophonist Bill Evans to their Bowlive IV roster for the second set. A set that is hard to describe in words. Let’s just start with knowing the fact that Bill Evans was in Miles Davis’s band at the age of 22 and John Medeski was asked to perform on Jaco Pastorius’s 1981 tour while still a teenager. Along with Soulive and the Shady Horns, Medeski and Evans played a mind-blowing set.  Medeski’s avant-garde jazz quality added an incredible layer of sound to the stage, either filling every empty space with a melodic note, or simply striking one key and locking eyes with Neal. The set was filled with songs from Spark, a collaborative album with Karl Denson, released in March 2012. “Spark!,” the title track, kicked it off with Bill Evans crushing a sick solo on his soprano sax. Trombonist Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band) was the next unannounced sit-in who lent her sound on “Povo.”  “Nubian Lady” and “Liquid” followed, sounding exactly like the names suggest. The musicians were so tight, fluid, and everyone on stage was cranking out their notes in improvisational ways, yet sounded as if they had been rehearsing the same songs for years.  Unannounced drummer ?uestlove, who holds a standing DJ set on Thursdays for the Brooklyn Bowl, snuck in for “Nautilus” and proceeded to slam our heads into the beat of the song.  It was inspiring. Soulive encored with an extended, jamming “Tuesday Night Squad.”

Tonight’s jam sessions will start at 8:30 with Leroy Justice opening. Special guests will include bassist George Porter, Jr., guitarist Leo Nocentelli and The Shady Horns will be back in full effect to give their fans one extreme night of funk and fury.

Karen E. Dugan

http://tinyrager.com

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Bowlive IV Night 5 Recap w/ Marco Benevento, David Hidalgo & The Shady Horns : John Medeski, Bill Evans & The Shady Horns

Soulive’s Brooklyn Bowl residency, Bowlive IV, reached it’s fifth night last night.  In past years, this would signify the middle of the run and the end of the residency’s first week. However, Soulive has chosen to pack more talent into eight days this year and continue to impress upon us just how talented they truly are. As if we didn’t know already.

The equally impressive power trio and Bowlive alumi, The London Souls, opened with a fury that paralleled Bowlive IV’s previous night openers. Eric Krasno made a point to remind the audience that this is one of his “favorite bands!” That was a powerful statement from a powerful guitarist who sees and appreciates the talent in his peers and a clear invitation to Soulive fans to pay attention. The London Souls are a classic rock band consisting of shredding guitarist Tash O’Neal, drummer Chris St. Hilaire and bassist Stu Mahan.  Tash’s sound is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix; the comparisons are just inevitable. However, as a group, they seamlessly flow from multiple styles while improvising styles all with undertones of pure Rock ‘n Roll! Their wickedly expansive sound, something every power trio hopes to accomplish, shone through vibrantly in their performance of originals “Old Country Road,” “Easier Said Than Done,” and the old-timey tune “Bobby James.” The audience rocked out to AC/DC’s “Long Way To The Top” and The Souls closed their set with a rousing cover of Frank Zappa’s “Apostrophe.” So much to say, so little time.

The London Souls Set List:
Lucille Cover
Under Control
All Tied Down
Old Country Road
Honey → Long Way To The Top (AC/DC)
Bobby James
Some Day
Easier Said Than Done
I Think I Like It
Apostrophe (Frank Zappa)

Many times, the relationship between Soulive and their guests is one that has been cultivated in New York City, in front of Soulive fans who get to witness local musical guest sit-ins during local shows.  Last night’s first guest, avant-garde pianist and organist Marco Benevento, a long-time NYC resident now living in Woodstock, is a Bowlive alum that fit this category. Benevento adds an element of improvisational psychedelia and locks right into the groove of every tune he touches with a specific experimental jazzy sound that defines his music. Soulive, with the help of the Shady Horns, churned out “El Ron” and teased Bob Marley’s “WAR” before a crushing “Reverb.” Saxophonist James Casey, Baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom went into a hot, circular jam session, just the three of them, before Benevento joined the stage for another Soulive original “Upright.” Benevento made his presence known with an extended face-melting solo of his own. He remained on stage for the rest of the set, seamlessly layering his sound amongst the trio’s for “Swamp E” and The Beatles cover, “Revolution.”  As much as Benevento is known for his own amazing techniques and stand alone performances, he is also part of a wonderful Led Zeppelin tribute band, Bustle In Your Hedgerow, which New York jam band music fans fawn over. So, when Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” began, Benevento fans and beyond went ballistic and everyone’s musical taste buds were satisfied.

Set I:
El Ron
Reverb
Upright (w/ Marco)
Swamp E (w/ Marco)
Revolution (Beatles cover w/ Marco)
The Ocean (Led Zeppelin cover w/ Marco)

The second set came quick as the excitement of the next guest was something that could hardly be contained by the members of Soulive. Los Lobos guitarist David Hildalgo came out on stage and became the newest musician to join the Bowlive roster. Granted, he snuck into a few tunes the previous night but now was his time to shine.  For those of you who don’t know, Hildalgo is a world renowned guitarist who has played on albums of Buckwheat Zydeco, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Gov’t Mule, and even G. Love and Special Sauce. The list of collaborations goes on as does Hildalgo’s ability to play multiple instruments and styles. However, tonight, his vocals and guitar skills would be the highlight of the second set.  Soulive performed “Shaheed” alone before Hildalgo picked up his guitar and walked out to a screaming audience.  He veered completely off the setlist and performed a fantastic version of Traffic’s “Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring.” The energy on stage was magnetic and the foursome pushed the boundaries of memorable Bowlive collaborations to the limit with Hendrix’s “3rd Stone From the Sun,” and Los Lobo’s tunes, “Dream in Blue” and “Chains of Love.” The Shady Horns threw out killer solos amongst the jams and a highlight of the evening was watching Hildalgo and Krasno trade licks off each other for Jerry Garcia’s “West LA Fade Away.” The tie between Garcia comes from Hildalgo writing “Evangeline,” which the Jerry Garcia Band covered regularly.  Hildalgo and Jerry  played together on numerous occasions and had a huge respect for one another’s playing.  The musicianship on stage was outstanding and the set was pure fire. It’s impossible to replay into words sometimes and for those who were present, they know what I am talking about!

Finally, last evening’s encore could easily rank high in Bowlive History as one of the best. It wasn’t just an encore…It was a “Neil-Core”:  Soulive ended the night with a Neil Young medley for the ages, touching on three distinctly different parts of Neil Young’s career. There could not have had a better supporting cast of guitarists to bring the screeching Neil Young chords to life with David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Tash Neil (The London Souls) on stage alongside Eric Kranso.  The first song in the Neil medley was “Ohio,” a political song written by Neil Young about the 1970 Kent State shootings and the protest movement that it helped shape. “Ohio” was followed up by a spirited version of “Down by the River,” a tune Neil Young and Crazy Horse played on the album Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.  Alan Evans, who was lending his drum kit to The London Souls’ Chris St. Hilaire, shared the vocals on that tune with Tash O’Neal. Seeing Alan in the middle of the stage with a microphone in his hand was new and fun. He seemed to be having a blast.  Soulive went even deeper into the Neil Young catalog by playing “For What It’s Worth,”  another powerful protest song written by Neil’s band mate in the Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills. These three songs forced those remaining at the Brooklyn Bowl into a dancing frenzy of happiness.

Set II:
Shaheed
Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring (Traffic cover)
Dream of Love (Los Lobos Cover) >
3rd Stone From the Sun (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Chains of Love (Los Lobos cover)
Revolution (The Beatles cover)
West LA Fade Away (Grateful Dead cover)
Stone Free (Jimi Hendrix cover)
-Encore-
Ohio (CSNY)
Down By the River (Neil Young and Crazy Horse)
For What it’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield)

Sure, it was Wednesday night and the audience was weary from dancing their legs off the previous nights, but true music fans love hearing famous covers performed by their favorite bands. Soulive has been consistently banging out tight versions of their own originals but it’s the rousing covers of popular classic rock songs that brought the jam band crowd of the Brooklyn Bowl to their Nirvana last night. These collaborations also feed the members of Soulive. Marco Benevento and David Hildalgo expanded the consciousness of Soulive last night and the audience was just in awe.

Tonight’s guests will include organ wizard (and possibly a regular wizard as well) John Medeski and saxophonist Bill Evans along w/The Shady Horns. Because Brooklyn Bowl is hosting a fundraiser for The Brooklyn Nets this afternoon, so there isn’t an opener tonight.  Doors will open at 8p with Soulive on close to 9p.  On to the next one……

Written by Karen Dugan
Www.TinyRager.com

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Bowlive IV Night 4 Recap w/ Booker T, David Hidalgo & The Shady Horns | Tonight Hidalgo Returns, Marco & The Shady Horns

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Dedicated music lovers brought themselves out to the Brooklyn Bowl for the start of Soulive’s second week of the Bowlive IV residency. Guitarist Eric Krasno, bass keyboardist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans are back with a new week and new musical adventures.

_DSC4418Last week’s roster was packed with sit-ins by southern blues rock guitarist Luther and percussionist Cody Dickinson (The North Mississippi Allstars), the fierce harmonica playing of John Popper (The Blues Travelers), the 70’s flare of vocalist Lee Fields and his Expression Horns, the pedal steel slide guitar styling of Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band), the soul-filled flavor of vocalist Nigel Hall and the spinning talents of DJ Logic. Surprise guests included the amazing Allman Brothers Band guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks and trombonist Sanders Sermon (Tedeschi/Trucks Band).

One of the highlights of Bowlive this year has been the killer opening bands kicking off every night. Kung Fu absolutely blew the roof off the first night, setting a pace of rage for the rest of the week. The second night followed with the powerful 8-piece Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds who kept the energy high and the Alecia Chakour Band delivered their sultry sounds on Saturday. You can read about those shows in earlier posts here on TinyRager.com.

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Following one of the best first weeks in Bowlive history, the formula would to remain the same. The high powered, high energy, talented horn-crunching musicianship of saxophonist Cochemea Gastulem (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings) and his band, The Electric Sounds of Johnny Arrow, showcased a different style of music to Soulive fans. The sounds of Africa’s Fela Kuti and 70’s baritone player Lekan Animashanu provided influence to the tunes. One’s hips couldn’t help but begin to grind to the pulsating percussion infused music. After the opening set, there were members of the audience who could be overheard discussing these new sounds that Soulive had introduced to their Bowlive roster.

Set List:

Dark City
Carlito
Impala 73
You’re So Good To Me
Heleyos
Lluva Con Nieve
Fathom 5
No Goodbyes

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The theme for the rest of the night was simple. Play one strong, satisfying Tribute to Stax Records with one of the coolest, hippest, electric blues keyboardist of all time, Booker T. Jones (Booker T. and the MG’s.) However, the audience had to be patient. Soulive purists still needed to see their favorite trio stand alone. Alan, Neal and Eric performed “Outrage” and “Dig” before the Shady Horns joined the stage. Baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom (Lettuce) and James Casey (Trey Anastasio Band) brought another layer of funk to the vibe with “Hatrick” and even more horns joined when Cochemea’s baritone saxophonist Freddy Deboe and Lee Fields band’s saxophonist Mike Buckley sat in on “For Granted.”  Their powerful horn solos overwhelmed the speakers causing feedback that took a minute to control and it was back into full funky rage.

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When Booker T. Jones came on stage, the crowd went wild. To experience an entire set with Booker T. and Soulive was liberating. However, to see how excited Soulive was, well, that was just icing on the cake of what was a delicious remaining night of music. Krasno put it best as he spoke to the audience, explaining that as much fun as it is for the fans, it’s equally as fun for Soulive, as they are fans themselves. Fans that have the distinct pleasure and honor of inviting their mentors and influences on stage to join them. The passion for Booker T. was also evident as you looked around the audience and saw other famous Jam-world faces such as Erik Kalb (Deep Banana Blackout), David Bailis (Pimps of Joytime), and Alecia Chakour (Alecia Chakour Band).

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Booker T. and Soulive crushed out iconic Booker T. and the MGs hits “Hip Hug Her,” “Hang ‘Em High,” “Time is Tight,” and more. They then played “Born Under A Bad Sign,” which Albert King made famous but was written by Booker who along with the MG’s and The Memphis horns appear on that studio version. There was the catchy instrumental versions of Cee Lo Green’s “Crazy,” and Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything,” with each instrument on stage taking the lead on each song.  It was sharp, stunning and solid. The Booker T’s Memphis Soul Sound was supported wonderfully by Soulive, all three of whom were grinning from ear to ear throughout the entire set. Finally, it wouldn’t be Bowlive without a surprise special guest. Guitarist David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), in town a night early for his Wednesday night Bowlive appearance, would pop out halfway in the middle of tunes then disappear again. This would continue through the set, teasing us with what would be seen on night five.

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The Booker T. encore was the most recognizable tune of all, the instrumental classic, “Green Onions,” with its ripping Hammond Organ line were both Neal and Booker T. enjoyed trading licks on their keys. That song threw everyone, of all ages, back into the soundtrack of 1993’s The Sandlot, back riding around in their 1962 Chevy Impala Convertible with the top down. It is a song that defined the ages and every one of all ages was invested.

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Capping off the night, the trio stood alone on stage for “Tuesday Night Squad,” a nod to the night and perhaps Soulive’s way of naming the dedicated tribe who supported them on such an early weeknight.  The Tuesday Night Squad we became and Bowlive fanatics should hold that badge with honor, the same way Soulive was visibly honored to perform for us last night with such an amazing icon of music.

Last night’s tribute to Stax Records was a pleasure.  Tonight get there on time for another stunner of an opener with the ever-rocking London Souls and guests Marco Benevento (keys) and guitarist David Hidalgo (Los Lobos).

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Set List:
Hip Hug Her
Hang ‘Em High
Born Under A Bad Sign
Crazy
Time is Tight
Something
Everything is A Everything

Encore:
Green Onions
Tuesday Night Squad

Written by Karen Dugan
Tinyrager.com

Photos By Andrew Blackstein & Allison Murphy

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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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