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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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