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Bowlive IV Recap Including Day & Night 8 Reviews

We’ve officially been “Bowlived” for the fourth year as Soulive reached the finish line of their 4th Annual residency, Bowlive, on Saturday night. It’s a bittersweet feeling; similar to the feelings you get when you have to leave an amazing few weeks at summer camp. For the members of Soulive, seeing the regular faces and New York City fan dedication is a wonderful energy for them to play off of throughout the run. In turn, fans get to see their favorite artists night after night, performing exquisitely executed originals and crushing covers with spectacular guests. All the while, both fans and band dance around with each other, their friends, and other musicians in the audience who are there just to bare witness. Everyone smiles and engages each other, soaking up every glorious note. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is hard to fall away from after being dipped so deeply for eight nights. So, when the end comes, we must remind ourselves that these residencies are special because they only happen once a year! Soulive reminds themselves that they have something special to look forward to as much as the audience does. And each year, the audience witnesses the unfolding of a beautiful musical dynasty that Eric Krasno and brothers Neal and Alan Evans have created.

 Unlike the three previous year’s run, Soulive chose to focus their energy into eight shows instead of ten. This choice applies great pressure to any band who chooses to change the formula of a well-established and respected event. Bowlive fans expect a certain caliber of guests, a high level of surprise sit-ins, and some spectacular musical experiences that sometimes end up being a once-in-a-lifetime moment.  Soulive knows this to be true and always takes the time to consider such factors. How about having Mod dancers bust out into the bowling lanes during the second set of Night I?! It was just go time at that point!

Over the course of eight nights, guitarist Eric Krasno, bass keyboardist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans provided a stage and support for fantastic and exciting artists. They played endless jams in multiple styles across the musical spectrum, which is an important goal of the residency every year. Special guests included rocking Southern Blues brothers, guitarist Luther Dickinson and his brother, drummer Cody Dickinson, the 1970’s soul vocalist, Lee Fields and his modern day counterpart, Nigel Hall. There was the unmatched pedal steel slide guitarist Robert Randolph, legendary jam scene DJ, DJ Logic, and The Shady Horns lent their wall of sound during the second week with the help of crushing saxophonist Bill Evans one night. Some of America’s most outstanding keyboardists, 1970’s Memphis blues keyboardist, Booker T. Jones, mad scientist and keyboard wizard, John Medeski, and the ever experimental Marco Benevento, dominated their time on stage. Stepping in to melt faces on guitar was the astonishing Los Lobos’s David Hildago and The Meter’s Leo Nocentell. Soulive closed out their epic week playing with America’s most famous funk bassist, George Porter. Jr.

Another exciting element of Bowlive each year is the choice opening bands Soulive picks to set the audience’s mood each night. Due to a benefit at the Brooklyn Bowl on Night Six, there were only seven opening groups, all delivering a variety of musical power. The ridiculous ragers who make up Kung-Fu opened the run with so much fury. It was a perfect choice. The rocking Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, The London Souls and Leroy Justice got the dance floor grooving. It was also a great pleasure to see two powerful females amongst the male-dominated residency by way of Alecia Chakour (The Alecia Chakour Band) and Arleigh Kincheloe (Sister Sparrow). The soul and flavor of love got shot to our hearts with The Nigel Hall Band, the Alecia Chakour Band and Cocheme Gastulum’s The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow. You’re encouraged to read about them all in the previous night’s posts.

Then, you have the unannounced guests who are a separate list of continual, crushing talent. The Allman Brother’s southern rock guitarist Warren Haynes and slide guitarist Derek Trucks surprised the audience with a secret full third set on Night Two. Trombonists Sanders Sermon (Tedeschi/Trucks Band) and Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastatio Band) and trumpeters Maurice Brown and Igmar Thomas, and saxophonist Cocheme Gastulum (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings), enhanced the wall of horns over the run on various nights. Behind everything, the chemistry and talents of Eric Krasno, Neal Evans and Alan Evans, are what make Bowlive possible.

Perhaps the most special show for many Soulive fans is the Kids show. Soulive held another KidsBowl performance early Saturday afternoon from 2pm to 3pm. These specific types of shows bring Soulive’s music to both the fans children and the unknowing adults who bring their kids to bowl on a Saturday, not knowing what a treat they are in for.  For dedicated Bowlive fans, the kids show is a wonderful way for the individual dancing alone at night to bring his or her family to meet one another.  The reality of life becomes evident as the adults were in “parent” mode, not “party” mode. Babies were crawling on the dance floor and children of all ages were running around in bowling shoes. The lights were on and bumpers were out. In their hour, they performed a few Soulive originals and brought Meter’s bassist, George Porter, Jr. It was when the set was over that the real raging began, however, when the children were allowed on stage to play with instruments and dance.

KidsBowl Set:

Uncle Jr.

Vapor

Hat  Trick

Turn It Out

Hey Pockey Way (w/ George Porter, Jr.)

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

 It was back to party time with the evening show and The Alecia Chakour Band opening. Her blues siren vocals backed by Neal Evans on keys, bassist Alex Chakour, drummer Caito Sanchez, saxophonist Cocheme Gastulum, and trombonist Dave “Smoota” Smith, were perfection.  After a lovely instrumental intro, Chakour sang seven band originals, including “Runaway,” “Over Again,” “You Didn’t Tell Me,” and “The Sun.” Each member of her band taking solos and leads amongst her sweet sounding vocals. This was a fantastic group of soulful musicians and a perfect choice to transition into the funk-filled evening.

Opening Set:

1. Instrumental

2. Runaway

3. Over Again

4. You Didn’t Tell Me

5. The Sun

6.Ghost

7. Shirley

8. Everything Time I See You (Stevie Wonder Cover)

The important point of all of this, simply, was the music. Music that creates a passion within Soulive and luckily, that passion is extended to the fans. For the final evening of their amazing residency Soulive would play host to their mentor in funk, Meter’s bassist, George Porter Jr. But not before bringing it home for the Soulive purists, proving once again what a sick power trio they truly are.  The first set was pure fire, and with help from the Shady Horns, there was nothing to divert our thoughts from what was most important.  The set was full of sick Soulive originals, “Uncle Jr.,” “Aladdin,” and “One in Seven.” “Lenny,” a Stevie Ray Vaughn cover and highlight of any set, allows Krasno to open up a can of whoop ass upon your ears. He broke his string during his ripping solo. Enough said. The London Souls’ Tash O’Neal (guitar and vocals) and Chris St. Hilaire (drums) joined for the a “cover” of their own “Steady Are You Ready” then stayed on to help deliver a crushing version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killin’ Floor” in the vein of Electric Flag’s version. Remember, as we learned on Night Four, Krasno is a huge Tash O’Neal fan, so you can imagine the chemistry.

Set I:

Uncle Jr. (w/ Shady Horns)

Aladdin (w/ Shady Horns)

Come Together (Beatles cover)

Lenny (Stevie Ray Vaughn cover)

One In Seven

Steady Are you Ready (London Souls cover w/ Tash O’Neal & Chris St. Hilaire)

Killin Floor (Howlin’ Wolf Cover…Electric Flag Version w/ w/ Tash O’Neal & Chris St. Hilaire)

 Soulive performed a beautiful rendition of “El Ron,” before George Porter, Jr. was introduced for Set II, continuing on as one of Bowlive’s greatest musical mainstays.  During this tune, the Shady Horns, with the help of guest saxophonist Cocheme Gastulum, broke off into an extended improvisational blowing session with Alan supporting on drums. For lack of better words, it could best be described as a drum line for horns. A Hornline, if you will?! The entire second set evolved into of slew of classics from The Meter’s catalog.

“People Say,” kicked off a funk-fueled set with James Casey delivering a rousing solo. Casey has carried a saxophone around his next all week and when he plays, it’s clear that he was meant to blow a horn.  However, it must be mentioned that over the run, Casey provided grooving percussion on the congas for many songs. It was a dance party for “Hey Pockey Way,” as Porter announced that, “Everyday should be Mardi Gras!!!”  Then, audience participation time for the fun tune, “Hand Clapping Song.”  The next Meter’s original, “Out in the Country,” was performed in the style of Porter’s slow emotional arrangement from his It’s Life album. This was a gorgeously played ballad that tugged at the heartstrings of the crowd in a deep way. From a personal perspective, it brought tears to my eyes, almost opening the floodgates until I reeled it back in.  I wasn’t alone in this outpour of emotions. Again, acknowledging that this super-stimulating, night time version of summer camp, full of friendly faces, is like ending an addiction cold-turkey. Bowlive is an institution in the Jam Band universe at this point, it lasts longer than many music festivals, and it’s not easy for the die-hards when it ends.

The set ended and no one moved.  There was just endless screaming and shouting of Krasno and the Evans brother’s names. Then, Brooklyn Bowl owner, Peter Shapiro, stepped onto the stage. On the last night of every Bowlive, right before the final encore of the run, Peter Sharpio does something special for Bowlive’s loyal audience in an effort to show his gratitude for their support of live music.  At the end of the first Bowlive, 700 shots of tequila were handed out from the stage.  He kept it entirely mellow last year by passing around Aromatherapy plants: Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, asking that the audience to grab sprigs of each plant and inhale. This was to encourage a revitalization within our body, mind and soul for the energy to dance on for one more song. Not missing a creative beat, Peter Shapiro took the mic on this final night and thanked us for our loyalty in proper rockstar fashion. He alerted the audience that this was a milestone 40th show for Bowlive and that the he had had made t-shirts with “40” on the back and “BOWLIVE” on the front. XL shirts went flying around the venue and Shapiro asked that the audience put them on right away before Soulive would deliver us our double encore of “He Bite Me (The Dragon)” and “Ain’t No Use.” The gifting of the shirts was a smart and fun way to end this year’s Bowlive.

Set II:

El Ron (w/ Shady Horns and Cocheme Gastulum)

People Say

Take A Chance

Hey Pockey Way

Jezebel

Hand Clapping Song

Out In the Country

Encore:

He Bite Me (The Dragon)

Ain’t No Use

Soulive has truly cemented their reign as a musical dynasty. A talented trio on top of their game in this unforgiving musical bastion of NYC. The magnitude of music overheard during the last two weeks was dynamic and inspiring.  The guests and the musicians solos were magnificent, diverse and captivating. Soulive always gives us something to look forward to every single night of Bowlive and this year was nothing less.

On personal note, I hope these reviews have helped supplement the wealth of musical knowledge that Soulive bequeathed upon us during Bowlive IV.  It is a delight and a  privilege to witness Bowlive every year and count Soulive and the Brooklyn Bowl as part of my local music scene. It also goes without saying that it is an honor and a true highlight of my career to be blessed to write for this amazing phenomenon called Bowlive. Thank you to Peter Shapiro, the Brooklyn Bowl, all the staff and production crew. Thank you to Royal Family Records for the opportunity to cover such a delightful event. A giant thank you to all the guests who lent their sound to the stage. Finally, the biggest congratulations and thank you to Alan Evans, Neal Evans and Eric Krasno for making it all possible. Your fans eagerly await to see what you have in store for Bowlive V!

Karen Dugan

tinyrager.com

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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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Night 4 Recap with Karl Denson, Jennifer Hartswick and The London Souls :: Marco Benevento and Jennifer Hartswick Tonight!

The fourth night of Bowlive took place at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg last night to a sold-out crowd of dedicated Soulive fans. Drummer Alan Evans, guitarist Eric Krasno, and organist Neal Evans took it easy as guitarist Tash Neal, bassist Stu Mahan, and drummer Chris St. Hilaire opened the evening with a hard-rocking 30-min set. This was Stu’s second live performance with the London Souls and he couldn’t be a better fit. Tash is an aggressive guitarist and Chris’s powerhouse drumming makes you want to full on head bang. Perhaps you have heard their song “Steady As You Ready” off of Mob Wives, which they killed last night! Eric Krasno could be seen in the audience bopping his head to one of his favorite bands in our scene. The London Souls return to Bowlive on Saturday, March 10th.

When the endless lines outside the Brooklyn Bowl had finally been let in, Soulive took to the stage and played “El Ron” with such a fierce level of energy, shouting out musically that the weekend had begun! In that first song, Krasno was at the edge of the stage on his tiptops shredding his guitar into the faces of those in the front row. Keeping up the energy, “Dig” followed with teases of Snoop Dog and Lettuce mixed in.

The first tribute of the run was to the great Melvin Sparks. Soulive’s highly anticipated latest release, Spark, had only just shown up in Vinyl form that morning to the Brooklyn Bowl. Melvin Sparks was an American guitarist who passed last year. His soul jazz, hard bop and jazz blues influence can been seen in every one of today’s talented guitarists. Spark is a collaboration between the members of Soulive and Karl Denson. That pretty much is all that really needs to be said to convince you to check it out.

Flutist and saxophone player Karl Denson was special guest for his second night. He joined the stage for the song “Spark,” which had audience members fully engrossed. Karl added a gorgeous level with his flute while drummer Alan Evans, once the drummer for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and the rest of the stage passionately layered their sound atop one another. A lovingly delivered tribute to the end.

Trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick, the second special guest billed last night and the first female presence to grace the stage for the run, joined for another song of Spark titled “Povo,” another head banging rock song that at times turned psychedelic is an instrumental by Freddie Hubbard. Krasno and Hartswick bantered playfully with their instruments and Karl now back on his saxophone. When Jennifer took her solo, she slammed the audience so hard with her talent that afterwards, the place erupted! Female Power!! A beautifully executed “Nubian Woman” was the choice off their latest cd with a more psychedelic jazz flavor. The members on stage were feeling the Melvin Sparks vibe flowing through them freely.

When Jennifer Hartswick moved from horn row to the front stage, those in the audience who realized the treat they were in store for began screaming. Saxophonist James Casey (The Shady Horns) also joined the stage. The musicians teased Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” as Jennifer hummed the tune to warm her voice and to tease us with her sultry sound before delivering  the goods. Her voice shook the rafters on the high notes and as the cool James Casey rocked the audience a killer solo, the shades on his head fell over his eyes in true rockstar fashion.

“Bowlive Staple,” as Krasno called him, Nigel Hall joined the stage now as the entire vibe was slowed down for a song that would, regardless of it’s slower speed, would trigger fond memories and raise the energy of the minds in the audiences. Tears for Fears cover “Everyone Wants to Rule the World” is a song that Soulive has perfected with their own style. Something every artist hopes to accomplish, especially when it’s a cover. Nigel Hall on vocals was heart melting as always while Alan and Krasno filled in the backup vocals. Towards the end of the tune, Nigel flowed seamlessly into “The Light” by Bobby Caldwell. An absolutely gorgeous, mellow, yet powerful mash-up to end the set.

Soulive opened up the second set with the fuly raging “One in Seven.”  Neal Evans, who has been on fire this entire run, continued his trend while brother Alan was then left on stage for a calculated isolated drum solo. After witnessing his drum solos each night, it is fun to enjoy the different tricks Alan pulls out of his bag to ensure that we get a taste of his various abilities. And then it was back to close out One in Seven.

Tash Neal (The London Souls) was the next guest invited out on stage to perform the famous Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song “Ohio!” Unbelievable guitar rage between he and Krasno. The Evans brothers were crushing it as Karl Denson couldn’t miss this wonderful performance and ran out on stage grabbing a tambourine. Tash and Karl left as the trio, now alone on stage, executed a gorgeous rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Lenny,” a beautiful love song Vaughan wrote for his wife and performed beautifully and emotionally by Krasno.

Karl Denson joined for the raging “Turn It Out,” where he delivered a beautiful flute solo. They continued on into “For Granted,” where he was joined by James Casey, Jennifer Hartswick, and Nigel Hall on keys with Neal. The playful song gave each artist a dedicated two minute solo to showcase their instruments. Starting with Krasno establishing the musical chorus, Karl followed, then Hartswick, and James Casey, who crushed it so hard Karl Denson began fanning Casey’s fire off with a towel giving him the props he rightfully deserved.  Nigel Hall solo followed with Neal filling in the blanks. Each solo established that these musicians had chops. That they were the best in their game and at that time, they were making sure we recognized that fact.

Neal Evans, now alone again on his rig, started off “Jesus Children” with a heavy, deep organ rage, before Hall started singing. It was here the set ended. The flavorful Wyllys, a DJ and Jennifer Hartswick’s husband, would be following the show so the high-energy of live music had to end. However, Wyllys has an extensive vinyl collection of some of the hottest tunes and with the help of Quincy Jones and other amazing samples, he got everyone back on the dance floor and fully engaged.


A killer beginning to what is going to be a jam-packed weekend of Delicious Soulive rage, the party continues tonight with Jennifer Hartswick and her band coming out for her second night with new special guest unique jazz improvisational keyboardist Marco Benevento. Seriously? The excitement of seeing Marco and Neal together is going to be worth the measly $15 it will l take to experience the musical magic!

 Karen E. Dugan
– Photo courtesy of Phrase

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