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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 #2 Recap w/ Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Lee Fields, Robert Randolph & More : Nigel Hall & DJ Logic Tonight

IMG_3535For those super-fans, like myself, who have never missed a Bowlive show, (that’d be 31 shows, counting last night), the epic musicianship of Eric Krasno (guitar) and brothers Neal Evans (Hammond B3 organ, bass keys, clavinet) and Alan Evans (drums) is what drives us to come each night. However, it’s the un-announced musicians that also fuel a real fire in our motivation. The surprise third set that gets announced at the start of the night begins driving the rumor mill and the audience wonders how our favorite jazz trio is going to deliver us their musical spread for the evening. Let’s be honest! If Soulive/Bowlive fans keep it real about one thing they have learned over the last three years, it’s that Soulive will always keep us guessing and they never fail to deliver. The second night of Bowlive IV was no different.

The eight-piece powerhouse, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, kept the energy going from the first night, opening to another packed house. The sexy, sultry voice of Arleigh Kincheloe led the group, consisting of brothers Jackson Kincheloe (harmonica) and Bram Kincheloe (drums), Sasha Brown (guitar), Josh Myers (bass), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), Ryan Snow (trombone) and Brian Graham (baritone sax). They rocked through their originals tunes, “Freight Train,” “Too Much,” and “Dirt.” However, they brought down the house when they covered AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”

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IMG_3662 copySoulive blasted out of the gate with “El Ron,” showcasing the magnificent drumming skills of Alan Evans. After Alan removed his jacket and introduced the band, the trio took their time grinding into the melodic “DIG.” The first half of the first set contained jamming, old skool originals like “Uncle Junior” and “Azucar” before vocalist Lee Fields and the Expressions horns joined the stage. It was then that the audience was transported back to the 70’s, with the Brooklyn-based singer, wearing a killer silver suit, knocked the audience down with his powerful vocals.  Performing his famous “We Fought for Survival,” recorded in 1970, and “You’re My Weakness,” Lee Fields danced and grooved around on stage and into the audience’s hearts with his James Brown-style. The crowd was electrified.

IMG_3468 copySet II began with the jazz-funk trio performing “Aladdin” with Neal Evans standing out significantly on the bass keys. They brought the energy level right back to where they left off at the end of the first set when pedal steel slide guitarist Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band) walked out wearing a silver sequins mask. With Alan Evans on vocals, they crushed Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” Randolph sang his radio friendly tune, “It Don’t Matter,” breaking the first of three chairs that he would eventually bend due to his climbing and jumping upon them. Lee Fields joined the stage for a rousing improvisational jam entitled “C# Funk Blues.” Then, Randolph and the trio took a risk, slowing the pace down for the beautiful “She Feels So Good.” At first, the crowd was lost in conversation but Randolph and the guys quickly reeled them back. Randolph was on his knees while playing The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and The Expressions’ saxophonist, Leon Michaels, delivered a long and majestic saxaphone solo to top it off. The set list called for Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” to end the set. However, Randolph wasn’t done with the stage. Randolph drove past “Crosstown Traffic” into a five minute nameless jam to solidify his reign for this year’s Bowlive run.

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After Robert Randolph’s set, the venue emptied out a bit and many who remained had no idea that they were about to be rewarded with an amazing third set. Every year as the Brooklyn Bowl gets down to the Funky sounds of Soulive, there is always another residency raging in New York City at the Beacon Theater.  That would be the the Allman Brothers Band residency.  Many fans of both bands split their time between the two residencies during their annual extended March runs. There are also many who leave the Beacon and make a beeline to Brooklyn hoping to catch the end of the later running Bowlive performance.  And on a few evenings, they hope to see members of the Allman Brothers Band sit in with Soulive.  Earlier in the week, Eric Krasno was a guest of the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theater.  But tonight, it would be Kraz’s turn to play musical host to two of the Jam universe’s biggest heroes, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes.

IMG_3828 copyLong before the surprise guests took the stage, the buzz had flown around the Brooklyn Bowl that the possibility of a Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes appearance was eminent. Everyone waited in anticipation of the third set, which would surely bring together an epic combination of guitarists.  Krasno and the Evans brothers went right into a fast paced version of “One in 7.”  Kraz played a great solo, perhaps anticipating the push he would feel from the two greats appearing later in the song. Finally, we were delivered our present as Derek Trucks came out during the raging “One in 7” and within 120 seconds, he and Krasno were standing next to one another, trading off screeching leads and bringing the crowd into a state of blissful guitar heaven. The audience was going ballistic and became a sea of cameras and arms.

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IMG_4051 copyWarren Haynes came out as the band got ready to play their next song.  He stepped right up to the microphone for vocals on “The Thrill is Gone,” backed by Derek and Kraz joining in for a super jam near the end.  The rest of the set had the crowd mesmerized as three guitar legends traded licks. However, there was still one more guitarist who had to re-join the party before it was all over, Robert Randolph.  Robert came out and sat at his pedal steel as the band ripped into a mind-blowing version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Them Changes.”

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Seeing those four finger picking maestros on stage together will be a once-in-a-lifetime moment for many fans in the audience. Those are the moments that scream at the music-lover in all of us. Warning, or rather,TELLING us not to miss the next show. Another amazing Bowlive memory for the books. We should be thankful that, for now, it’s a never ending series!

Tonight, Soulive will host Nigel Hall, who opened all ten nights of Bowlive I and is a staple in the Royal Family projects. As well, be prepared to be awed by the powerful vocals of Alecia Chakour Band and the DJing talents of DJ Logic.

Written by Karen Dugan

Pictures by Allison Murphy

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Soulive is back and full of energy for their fourth annual BOWLIVE Residency held at the ever-popular Brooklyn Bowl.  Bowlive is an exciting time for the New York City music community, which was made clear last night as Soulive performed to a sold-out crowd. A crowd who showed up to RAGE with Eric Krasno (guitar), Neal Evans (drums), and Alan Evans (Hammond B3 organ, bass keys, clavinet) while a blizzard whipped around outside.

A few things have changed this year. There are eight nights instead of ten, there are more guests than ever and you should expect surprises every night. However, one constant that never falters is Soulive’s devotion to diversity. Their mission is clear. Showcase multiple genres of music by hosting amazing guests backed by the trio’s own diverse talents.

44439_10151538968272755_2083839976_nWith the most powerful kick-off in the last four years, the rocking Jazz Funk Fusion of KUNG FU opened the run at 8:30 on the dot. KUNG FU is made up of keyboardist Todd Stoops (RAQ), bassist Chris DeAngelis (The Breakfast), saxophonist Rob Somerville (DBB), guitarist Tim Palmieri and drummer Adrian Tramontano (The Breakfast). They powered through their set-list with crushing intensity and warmed up the crowd with favorites “Do the Right Thing,” “Popcorn,” and “Scrabb.”

Then came the moment the crowd had been waiting for since the rosemary-scented close of Bowlive III. The power trio began their set with the electric “Outrage,” as the crowd leapt off the floor, fists punching the air. The raging Soulive classic “Hat Trick,” a psychedelic “Shaheed,” and rocking “Tuesday” followed, with the venue filling with Soulive’s tight and full sound.

Blues harmonica player John Popper (Blues Traveler) was the first guest to grace the stage with Soulive.  Choosing the classic Beatles tune “Come Together,” fans were delighted to watch the traditionally instrumental song be sung by Popper himself!  The Blue Traveler’s tune “Mulling It Over” closed the set with high intensity and passionate fans screaming their praises.

The trio that never ceases to amaze wasted no time with long set breaks.  Only a few minutes went by before the boys were back on stage, this time with slide guitarist Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) demanding the audience to “Shake What Your Momma Gave Ya.” While our attention generally would have been on the musicians, the crowd’s attention was pulled to the bowling lanes where four dancers in mod outfits shook their own asses up and down the aisles for the surprised crowd. A wonderful, fresh idea that reminded us that the guys are just as fun as they are talented.

With the crowd popping with energy and excitement,  Soulive continued to tackle our musical senses with Luther Dickinson singing a ripping version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic.” During George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the amazing guitar styling of Dickinson and Eric Krasno were showcased through stunning solos.

Percussionist Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) joined the stage for the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Bob Dylan’s “Someday Baby,” and “Shake ‘Em on Down,” a country-style blues song recorded by Bukka White in 1937. The Dickinson brother’s southern-blues flavor enhanced every tune.

When Cody Dickinson knelt down and put on his washboard and his thimbles, the crowd paid deeper attention as they knew something unique was about to take place. Cody’s metal tipped fingers danced around on the electric washboard, closing the set with his rhythmic sounds backed by amazing bass licks from Neal Evans.

Final guest, DJ ?uestlove (The Roots), was unable to make the show due to circumstances out of his control. Eric Krasno announced to the audience that the power trio would continue playing and the crowd went wild. Then, the first unannounced special guest, Saunders Sermons (Tedeschi Trucks Band), sang and provided trombone for the Bill Wither’s cover “Kissin My Love.” It was a wonderful close to the first night of what promises to be another outstanding run.

Over the next seven nights, Soulive fans will hear music from legendary bass player George Porter, Jr., the heavy rocking London Souls, the soulful singing of Alecia Chakour, the powerful blows of the Shady Horns and so many more surprise artists who sit on the sidelines, hoping and itching to have a chance to join Soulive’s stage. Tonight, put your dancing shoes back on for pedal steel slide guitarist Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band) and soul singer Lee Fields (Lee Fields and the Expressions).

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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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