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Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings (07.27.10)

Speech – Lead vocals
JJ Boogie – Guitar
Montsho Eshe – Vocals and dance
1 Love – Vocals and DJ
Rasadon (aka Don Norris)– Drums
Tasha Larae – Lead Vocals
‘Za – Bassist

Arrested Development Promo shot

Arrested Development Promo shot

There are shows you attend because you want to see remarkable musicians manipulate their instruments and bring innovation and something new to the musical tables. Then there are shows one goes to see to be slammed against the wall with nostalgia. You already know every note, every lyrics and you just want to hear everything familiar.  Tonight, I would be seeing Arrested Development perform at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill in Times Square.  Tonight…it was  all about nostalgic progressive hippie-rap.

Buy Storm! Out Now!

Buy Storm! Out Now!

Touring mainly over seas since  getting back together in 2000, Arrested Development hasn’t been in our neck of the words for some time.  However, it didn’t take them long to make their second rounds on the American musical community.  With the release of their new album, Strong, and holding top-10 positions on International music charts, they are proving that a positive message, no matter when delivered, is relevant at any age!

Speech of Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

Speech of Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

Their albums speak of political issues, ethical dilemmas, they celebrate feminism and masculinity and project mounting peace and love in an overwhelming society fueled by negativity.  My Arrested Development albums were literally some of the first Cds (other then my Grateful Dead Cds) to be played out.  Arrested Development was also my first introduction to hip-hop.  I was immediately listening to beats that I normally would not have been hearing had I only listened to my Grateful Dead or Allman Brothers Band cds.  This was all around 1993 when I was 13 years old so….I heard them, listened to them, and started researching their influences.  I remember being very shocked at the contrast in gansta rap bein’ spit by Dr. Dre vs. the positive lecturing by Speech in the Arrested Development tracks.

One Love of Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

One Love of Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

We walked in during We Rad, We Doin’ It. A harmonic, danceable song with the messages of Peace and Love, with sections of One Love inserting his DJ rapping intelligence in the middle.  With a tambourine and a hard rock guitar throughout, Speech gave us the message: “I Get Up / I Keep Going / I Get Over It.” One song in and the stage was already bouncing and the dance floor was already bumpin’.

Montsho Eshe of Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

Montsho Eshe of Arressted Development @ B.B. Kings

And right into what might be my new favorite Arrested Development tune.  The World is Changing. SO HAPPY, motivationally charged in the music, I couldn’t help but just dance all over the front row with the audience.  The members on stage were just as energized.  I was lucky enough to be in standing in front of Montsho Eshe. Upon her introduction, Speech mentioned that she had been with the group since she was 13 years old.  AND HOLY CRAP!  That woman has some dancing raging energy.  With someone dancing in front of you like that, and the bass pumping like that, do you blame me for not taking notes or good videos? See…..

Rasadon of AD @ B.B. Kings

Rasadon of AD @ B.B. Kings

One of the things I noticed immediately was that the front row was filled with drunk young faces.  With my research showing that the average audience age for Arrested Development being in the 21-25, it is clear that they have been rediscovered by the younger generation as I was in my teenage years when they were influencing my life back in the 90’s.  That stat was CLEARLY reflected in the drunk (possibly 21??) sloppies who were falling into themselves, other audience members, the stage and trying with all their might to touch their idols hands and feet.  Luckily, I had an unlucky buffer by way of a 6’2 African American woman who was clearly trying to remain calm and enjoy her show while remaining upright from being drunkenly danced into.  I felt bad for her but happy that they were not bumping into me.

Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings

JJ Boogie of AD @ B.B. Kings

JJ Boogie of AD @ B.B. Kings

The vibrantly dressed group proceeded to play all the wonderful nostalgic tunes I came to see:  Tennessee, Mr Wendal,  People Everyday. The audience continued to shout out the names of these songs until they were played.  From their new album, Strong, they performed We Rad, We Doin’ It, LA LA LA, The World is Changing, Bloody and Haters.

LA LA LA is a more sexy, soulful, loungy songs in the repertoire that incorporates some really great voice manipulations, Afrocentric beats and Speech spittin’ his lyrics.  Bloody gave us a more deep, heavy, reggea-ish vibe fueled by issues of genocide and the deconstruction of souls.   It sounded like a song to march into battle with…Militaristic for a reason, with it’s politically charged lyrics.  I suppose I hit the nail on the head as I have just found the video and see it playing out my description…check out the video…what a message:

The strongly spiritually charged Tennessee, Mr. Wendal and Everyday People just BROUGHT DOWN THE HOUSE.  I was thrown back into high school dances and the entire night was exactly what I wanted and expected.  They presented us with a ton of their new material but also balanced their set list with all the songs that brought us to the stage that night in the first place. If you ever enjoyed their music, check them out.

Arrested Development Tour Dates

Proposed Set list from stage list: Rock Intro, We Rad We Doin’ It, Motivational, LA La La, World is Changing, Fishin’ For Religion, Dawn Of Dreads, Bloody, Easy My Mind, Africa’s Inside Me, Tennessee, Wet Your Voice, Haters, Inner City, Mr. Wendal, Freestyle, I Got the Feelin’, Honeymoon Day, Raining Rev, Redemption, Miracles, I’m Bad, Mama’s, People Everday.

Actual Set list: Rock Intro, We Rad We Doin’ It, The World Is Changing, Fishin’ For Religion, Dawn of Dreads, Bloody, Ease Mind, Africa’s Inside Me, Tennessee,  Wet Your Voice, Haters, Mr. Wendal, Freestyle Drummer rage, Inner City,  Redemption, Mama’s, Everyday People.

Arrested Development YouTube Channel

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Last Thursday, March 25, 2010, there were a few great musical options to choose from and I was having an internal struggle. MoonAlice and Some Cat From Japan were playing at The Brooklyn Bowl for $5, while Tower of Power was playing at B.B. Kings for $30.

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

If I had planned better, I could have attended the 7:30pm show of Tower of Power and ran to The Brooklyn Bowl to catch Some Cat From Japan at 10:30pm. While on the phone with a friend debating on my plan of action, I was feed a little anecdote.  He explained how when it comes to these seasoned bands, it’s best to attend the later show so that they can use the earlier show as a warm-up.  When it was all put into perspective, I knew what decision I would make!  TOWER OF POWER, and for many reasons…

1. I had never seen them before!!

2. I was on the guest list so $30 back in my pocket

3. I wanted to stay closer to home and this was in Manhattan vs. Brooklyn

4. I had never seen them before!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado

Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado

Being that this was an event scheduled on the NYC Funk Live’s Meetup group site, I knew I would be with some music heads to enjoy the show with.  I arrived first and joined the LOOOONG line outside which stretched all the way to the end of the block.

Sometime between February’s Fat Tuesday Show with George Porter Jr. and tonight’s Tower of Power show, a thought-provoking mural had been erected along 92 feet of Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado the sidewalk down West 42nd Street commanding the attention of all who walked by with its loud and vibrant portrayal of “Strong Women.”

The mural was envisioned and designed by Sofia Maldonado, a Puerto Rican/Cuban artist.  She was commissioned by the Times Square Alliance to create a work of art and that she did. Go check it out:

While studying the mural and getting completely lost in its intricacies and the statement that is was screaming at me, members of NYC Funk Live group started arriving and our section of the line began to bubble out as our group grew while waiting.

After 25 minutes of waiting in 3 stages of the line, we were finally in.   There were tables lining every inch of available dance space. By the time were we ushered in, there were only a few available tables left, all with horrible sight lines of the stage. Not that it mattered as none of us wanted to eat, nor did we want to have to pay a minimum of $20 a person for drinks. And , of course, we certainly didn’t want to SIT at a funk concert…PERIOD!!!

Tower of Power took the stage within minutes and we were immediately confronted with more confusion. Obviously we had to stand but where?  Where could we put our jackets/scarves/bags since there is no coat check?   Where do we dance if there is no dance floor?  B.B. Kings strikes again…but let’s get to the good stuff!!!!!

Tower of Power is a horn-heavy jazzy, funky explosion of sound.  One of the first funk/pop groups to incorporate multiple ethnicities, Tower of Power blasted out of the 60’s and remains a founder of funk today, empowering and inspiring younger musicians. Below is the only video I took of the night! Too busy dancing…

The wonderful group of musicians that blessed the stage that night as Tower of Power were:

  • Larry Braggs – Lead Vocalist
  • David Garibaldi – Drums
  • Tom E. Politzer – Lead Tenor sax
  • Emilio Castillo – Tenor Sax
  • Roger Smith – Keyboards
  • Adolfo Acosta – Trumpet
  • Stephen “Doc” Kupka – Baritone Sax
  • Jerry Cortex – Guitar, back up vocals
  • Mic Gillette – Trumpet, Trombone, Flugelhorn
  • Francis Rocco Prestia – Bass
Al Chez w/ TOP (03.25.10)

Al Chez w/ TOP (03.25.10)

Special Guests that night included Al Chesnovitz, or Al Chez, former TOP member and Letterman Show band member, and Lenny Pickett, Former TOP Lead Tenor and Musical Director for Saturday Night Live.

Set ListWhat is Hip?, This Time It’s Real, You Got To Funkifize, You Ought to be Having Fun, So Very Hard to Go, There’s Only So Much Oil in the Ground, Get Yo’ Feet Back on the Ground, Hip Street, and Give Me the Proof, and Walking up Hip Street!  ~~~~ (I am sure there are a few I didn’t catch but they only played from 10pm-1130 so there wasn’t room for many songs.)

Larry Braggs of TOP (03.25.10)

Larry Braggs of TOP (03.25.10)

Lead singer, Larry Braggs, is utterly amazing. AMAZING!!!!  I can absolutely see why all the women were swooning while he sang the slower ballads and why they drooled when he blasted out louder, funkier songs like This Time It’s Real.  During Startime, the James Brown tribute melody from the “Great American Soulbook,” I literally had tingles down my spine when he sang.

I have only recently been focusing on the singing/vocals when I attend shows. Normally, I take apart the entire song and pick and choose which instruments to focus on at any given time and then phase them all back together in my head to hear the song.   The vocals fall by the way side because they are just poetry to me and I can just read them later.  But with Larry, I was always drawn away from the instruments and back to the vocals. It wasn’t the lyrics, it was just his voice.  This has only really ever happened with a few male singers as I am drawn to female voices. Very strange.

Doc & @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Doc & Emilio Castillo @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

It was during the more well-known songs, What is Hip and This Time It’s Real, that the folks sitting at the tables were able to find their dancing legs and rise.  However, it only took a few notes out of the horn section during the first song to get those of us with the NYC Funk Live group dancing.  Meredith N., our group’s founder, found us a tiny sliver of dancing space to the left of the stage in front of an abandoned reserved table.  It was a horrible space to view the band but we HAD to boogie…so, priorities!!  And move we did….it became infectious.  Meredith proceeded to dance up and down the aisles of BORING seated patrons which got a few laughs and eventually a large group of people were on their feet or silly business men were trying to dance with us haha.

Roger Smith @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Roger Smith @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

I LOVE the Baritone Sax, so naturally, Stephen “Doc” Kupka was a favorite. That instrument pinged thorough my head with every note. Apparently, it was Doc’s birthday that night as well.   Happy Birthday Doc!

I have to say, though, that the keys player, Roger Smith, killed it during his solos.  During Hip Street, the horn section left the stage leaving Roger to solo on the B-3 and David Garibaldi to back him on drums.  I knew I wanted a picture of Roger and I was immediately pulled in his direction when the solo began.  Unfortunately, I was focusing too much on his solo to take a decent shot.   Eventually, the horns joined back in, the song was complete and I could care less about the picture as Tower of Power had just laid one on us with that song and was about to hand us another rager with Give Me the Proof.

Tower of Power @  B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Bass player, Jerry Cortez, joined the group last year but only started touring with them in January so this was a treat.  His background vocals blended well with Larry’s but I was more interested in hearing him play that bass.

The band went on at 10pm, finished their set at 11:21 and came out for one more song. We were out of there by 11:50pm after we helped Meredith N. hand out her NYC Funk Live notices.  Walking to the subway with my funky friends, we all agreed that despite the lack of dance floor, we were all very pleased with the high octane funk that we were just delivered.

Tower of Power @  B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

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