Bowlive V: Night VIII ~ Soulive w/ WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger, Bill Evans, Saunders Sermons, Mark Rivers, The London Souls, Sonya Kitchell and Wyllys @ Brooklyn Bowl (03.22.14)
Bowlive, Soulive‘s annual musical residency at the Brooklyn Bowl, has reached the conclusion of its fifth year. Eric Krasno, Neal Evans and Alan Evans started Bowlive V with a bang on Thursday, March 6, 2014, and continued to remain on top of their game for the remainder of the run. A musical residency is not an easy task to accomplish. A few years before Bowlive I, Peter Shapiro, the owner of the Brooklyn Bowl, approached Eric Krasno with the idea of holding a musical residency at some new bowling alley/music venue he was opening. At that time, Krasno didn’t see the same vision that Shapiro saw. A residency at a Bowling alley? Yet, here we are; five years later, 50 Bowlive shows deep, with another year to look forward to. Absolutely incredible. A massive congratulations is in order for these three geniuses for such an accomplishment and a massive thank you to Peter Shapiro for producing such a vision.
“When you see something and you don’t know how it’s done, that is what dreams are made of, that is what art is, and that is what inspires someone to be an artist. I can only imagine how many people were inspired by these performances.” -K.D.
“I think night 8 was a perfect encapsulation of Bowlive! Guests nonchalantly coming and going from the stage to sit in, playing a mix of classic Soulive tunes and covers. Like I said after Night 1, Brooklyln Bowl is just 100% Soulive’s home turf and I feel like this run encapsulated it more than anything–many of the shows felt relaxed…Sometimes feeling more like jam sessions with their friends than organized concerts, and I can’t get enough. I always joke that Bowlive is Funk Camp–and despite the hearing loss, and very tired legs, I freaking miss Funk Camp. Bowlive for life! “~ B.M.
Covering eight sensational nights over the last two weeks, the members of Soulive, with the help of The Shady Horns, delivered a wide array of new musical partnerships and memories built on trust and appreciation of one another. Many times the audience gets to experience the return of Bowlive alum and they are often lucky enough to see debut artists who begin what eventually turns into a longer relationship with the jazz/organ trio. Bowlive V did everything above and more with the help of over 35 amazingly talented guests.
2014 Bowlive V Guest List (alphabetized)
Adam ‘Shmeeans’ Smirnoff (guitarist)
Beau Sasser (organ)
Brandon ‘Taz’ Niederauer (11 year old guitar)
Bill Evans (tenor & Soprano saxophone)
Chris St. Hiliaire (drums/vocals)
Danny Mayer (guitar)
DJ Logic (turntabalist)
DMC (of Run DMC) (rapper)
Eddie Roberts (guitarist)
Eric ‘Benny’ Bloom (trumpet)
Felix Pastorius (bass)
George Porter Jr. (bassist)
James Casey (tenor saxophone/percussion)
Joe Russo (drums)
John Scofield (guitar)
Jon Cleary (keyboards)
Jon Shaw (bass)
Kofi Burbridge (flute/piano)
Marco Benevento (piano)
Mark Rivers (vocalist)
Maurice Brown (trumpet)
Nicki Bluhm (vocalist)
Nigel Hall (vocalist/keys)
Oteil Burbridge Bass)
Roosevelt Collier (pedal-steel guitar)
Ryan Zoidis (alto & tenor saxophone)
Saunders Sermons (trombone/vocals)
Scott Metzger (guitar)
Sonya Kitchell (vocals/guitar)
Stu Mahan (bass)
Susan Tedeschi (vocals/guitar)
Talib Kewli (rapper)
Tash Neal (guitar/vocals)
Taylor Floreth (drums)
Warren Haynes (guitarist)
Special guests saxophonist Bill Evans, trombonist and vocalist Saunders Sermons, vocalist Mark Rivers and Sonya Kitchell, and acclaimed trumpeter Maurice “Mobetta” Brown were on call tonight for a non-stop jam session of epic proportions. It was all about the music tonight, as it is every night. The featured artists came and went from the stage as they pleased. The energy never once seemed to diffuse as the music was so crisp and tight and the friendships and relationships between the artists on stage with Soulive were completely evident. Enjoy the review…
WOLF! featuring Scott Metzger
For the final night of Bowlive V, WOLF! featuring Scott Metzger opened to an eager audience. WOLF! is a very young band, not in age but in performance mileage, having formed in 2011 with a philosophy of “Time. Tone. Taste. Touch.” The instrumental trio consists of seasoned guitarist Scott Metzger, bassist Jon Shaw, and drummer Taylor Floreth. The guitar playing talent of Metzger was undeniable as he shredded through one jamming rock tune with using a drumstick on the frets, into a finger-picking, foot-stomping song, right on into a psychedelic demolition on stage with the help of Shaw and Floreth. Shaw and Floreth support Metzger equally and match his fierceness, creating a vibrant sound that filled the Brooklyn Bowl. It is wonderful when a trio can fill the space as it is not an easy task. There was even audience participation as Metzger asked the audience if they preferred him to play a “fast or slow song.” The audience preferred fast! The members of WOLF! can be found performing frequently on the New York City music scene and you should check them out any time you can.
“Metzger’s country fried telecaster, finger pickin good!” ~ C.Z.
The first set really gave the audience an idea of how the night would play out. Aside from the first instrumental tune, “Bubble,” played solely by Soulive, every other tune had a guest performing alongside our favorite jazz trio. The Shady Horns, comprised of James Casey and Ryan Zoidis on saxophone and Eric Bloom on trumpet, were brought out on “Uncle Jr.” and continued through “Backwards Jack.” Both horn-heavy songs demonstrated the proficiency and technique of each horn player. Bloom’s mastery of the trumpet has changed dramatically since he began playing with Pretty Lights. His new found knowledge with the effect boards has been exposed throughout the entire Bowlive run. The moxie of James Casey dripped off the stage as he bounced between blowing his saxophone and raging the congas. Finally, Ryan Zoidis, the original founding member of The Shady Horns, continually brought the heat with extended technical solos proving that he is worthy of leadership.
“The Shady Horns added breadth to the solos and depth to the already monstrous sound. Nealzilla is relentless on the clav, while brother Alan drove the grooves and Kraz conjuring fantastic ideas in the eye of the storm.” ~ C.Z.
“They put the acid in acid jazz.” ~ W.S.
Guitarist Scott Metzger, who had just finished his opening set, jumped back on stage for a playful “Brother Soul,” with him and Krasno trading guitar licks. According to JamBase, in 2002, James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, told Metzger that his guitar playing is “Frightening! I swear you play so much guitar it scares me!” That pretty much sums him up. If you were to open up Metzger’s veins, blood wouldn’t pour out, musical notes would.
Special announced guest, saxophonist Bill Evans, joined the stage for the remainder of the set. Evans played the tenor saxophone on Soulive‘s original tune, “Cannonball” and he exemplified a snake charmer with his soprano saxophone on the Dr. Yusef Lateef cover, “Nubian Lady.” “Povo,” a tune off the latest collaborative album, Spark!, between Soulive and Karl Denson, ended the set. Spark! is a tribute to the late Melvin Sparks, an American soul and jazz guitarist who passed away in 2001. Everyone who understands the history of a horn looked up to this musician and still does even postmortem. It was also on “POVO” that the first unannounced surprise guest, Grammy winning trumpet virtuoso Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, came out. As the timbres of horns played around the stage, the audience reacted in kind, hooting and hollering enthusiastic praise.
“Bowlive.. Just what the doctor ordered. These guys never fail to bring it. Their continuous gelling with so many different artists shows that they are some of the highest level of talent out there. As a long time fan of Soulive, I can truly say that every show gets better & better. So thankful to them & the Brooklyn Bowl for bringing us all together.” – J.B.
During the set breaks, turntabalist Wyllys, whose real name is Wade Wilby, spun records of all styles to keep the energy up. The last thing anyone wanted on the last night of Bowlive, on this raging Saturday night, was to have the energy drop. Wyllys is a Bowlive Alum from Bowlive IV and has also hosted Bowlive After-Parties in past years.
Beginning as the Lighting Crew Chief for Umphrey’s McGee, Wyllys eventually made his name in the DJ and Jam Band community for his elevating demeanor while spinning. Every impression the audience gets from Wyllys is that he is doing something fabulous and fun. He always looks like he is having such a wonderful time, dancing and just power grooving to his own set along with the audience. The choices he pulls out are based solely on the reflection of energy he feels from the crowd he is playing to. His in-the-moment choices can range from pop to funk to disco and just like last year, he was the last musician standing as he spun a set after Soulive completed their run. But it’s not over yet….on to Set II.
Tuesday Night Squad
Maybe Grandma’s Hands
When I’m Kissing My Love
Inner City Blues
Finally, notwithstanding the encore, the last set of Bowlive V was upon us. Wyllys had kept the vibe up and the high expectations from the audience members were now directed towards the stage. Soulive had to bring the jazzy, funky ferocity that would leave a lasting impression in the minds of Bowlive addicts. The trio came out on a blazing “El Ron,” one of their most powerful opening songs and one that allows Eric Krasno to manifest monstrous solos. “Tuesday Night Squad” might be a horn-heavy tune but the rhythm of the piano is crushing. The range of Neal Evan‘s ability is endless. Musical ideas are literally at his fingertips and his excitement is contagious. That being said, it was Ryan Zoidis‘s alto saxophone solo that stole this song away from the rest of the band members on stage.
“Neal Evans might be one of the Great Americans, like up there with the guy who founded the Red Cross or Buzz Aldrin” ~ E.M.
“You could drop Krasno into any indigenous people’s music circle, anywhere in the undiscovered world, and he’d be able to play.” – E.M.
The beautiful Sonya Kitchell was back for a second night and was invited on stage for “Grandma’s Hand’s,” a widely influential Bill Withers tune he wrote about his own grandmother. Kitchell wore a slinky black dress, which was quite a change from her all-white, layered ensemble from the previous night. This change of vibe was enjoyable because the audience was being shown a different side of Kitchell. Her style of singing did not bring the funk last night and now, she was crushing the audience with her soul. During this tune, trombonist and vocalist Saunders Sermons assisted on the harmony, while falling in line with The Shady Horns. Special unannounced guest vocalist Mark Rivers (Tedeschi/Trucks Band) was front and center for Marvin Gaye‘s emotional tune “Inner City Blues.” This portion of the set really gave vocalists time to pull out all the stops. Scatting is improvised vocalization that does not contain lyrics and Rivers proceeded to dominate the audience with a lengthy, incredibly difficult and perfectly pitched scat session that lasted a good six minutes.
“Mark Rivers scatting solo was absolutely stunning. Right now, Esperanza Spaulding is the only young artist who I have felt can hold her own on every note when she attempts this style of vocal improvisation. Ella Fitzgerald made the style famous in my house when I heard my father playing her music. What Rivers accomplished on that stage was nothing short of a male reincarnation of Fitzgerald. Happy to add Mark Rivers to my list of phenomenal scatters. It is so difficult and he made it look effortless.” ~ K.D.
Special guest for the evening, Bill Evans, joined the stage for “When I’m Kissing My Love,” another Bill Withers‘ cover. The stage was now filled with an entirely different horn section. The Shady Horns were now replaced by Saunders Sermons on trombone, Bill Evans on saxophone and Maurice “Mobetta” Brown on trumpet. Mark Rivers was on percussion. All four now backed Soulive for the remainder of the set. Saunders Sermons brought his trombone to the microphone and delivered the second extemporized vocal scatting solo with some trombone blasts accented throughout. It is moments like these that continually define the meaning of what BOWLIVE tries to portray; the sharing of each others talents, putting other artists on the pedestal and in the spotlight. Sonya Kitchell could be seen in line with the horns breaking down the dance moves as she sang along. Let’s not forget the dynamic Evans Brothers duo holding down the rhythm section.
“On the final night, Zoidis kicked the horns in with a blistering alto run that brought the crowd to a frenzy. Later, Benny Bloom brought the chill factor with the hauntingly electronic trumpet solo. Solid tenor solos by James Casey complemented the more eccentric playing of Bill Evans. Maurice Brown silenced the crowd as his sublime trumpet evolved from the primordial to a force that brought Soulive, and the crowd, back in hard. Saunders Sermons added crisp, soulful vocals while the crowd got a bit closer to each other, sexy time at Bowlive.” ~ C.Z.
“Almost shit myself when that cat picked up the trombone!” ~ E.M. referring to Saunders Sermon
At the end of the set, Krasno announced that it was Saunders Sermons‘ birthday and then followed up by letting us know that at midnight, it would also be Alan Evans‘s birthday. A lovely moment was shared between the musicians on stage and the participants on the dance floor. We all sang “Happy Birthday” to Alan as the Brooklyn Bowl staff brought out a birthday cake with candles for him to blow out. What a way to celebrate! Alan had his best friends, fans who adore him and a venue full of people who praised him. But it still wasn’t over.
Encore – 1:30am
The London Souls
Down By The River
The guests kept on coming when the members of The London Souls came out for the encore. A few nights earlier, Soulive and The London Souls combined on stage for a raging LondonSoulive set. It was one of the most aggressive, rock-n-roll sets of the run. The audience wasn’t sure if this set had been scheduled all along or if this was a last minute decision based on the success of the LondonSoulive night, but here they were again to close out one of the greatest residencies New York City music lovers will see all year. The Shady Horns joined the guest horns, Alan Evans moved to guitar and vocals while Chris St. Hiliare took over the drum kit and Stu Mahan was back filling in the rhythm on his bass. Eric Krasno and Tash Neal matched each others energy, absolutely melting the faces of the audience with their alternating musical antics. When the Neil Young tune, “Down By The River,” was played, the crowd went wild. The audience, especially the men, were singing along, many at the top of their lungs. This song was an excellent choice for the rocking musicians on stage. Traffic‘s “Feelin’ Alright” kept the power pumping as the solos and individual performances of the musicians on stage just rolled out one by one. The audience continued to sing along on these vintage tunes before going into another “Happy Birthday” for Alan Evans, this time sung by his brothers Neal. It was pure BOWLOVE, yall!
“The greatest musicians in the business are masters of their craft but are humble about it at the same time. I think that is what shines most throughout Bowlive. And never did it shine brighter than when Al Evans gave up his kit to Chris St. Hilarie and the London Souls were brought onstage to close out Bowlive 5. ~ K.G.
That’s a wrap folks! The fifth year of Bowlive is over. I won’t wax poetic about everything I have already covered in the previous wrap-ups but I will leave you with these final thoughts. Bowlive is the ultimate musical residency! It creates opportunities for Soulive to invite all manners of artists on stage for a time and takes them away from their normal environment and obligations. It provides a time of reflection and remembrance for the audience members and a time of presentation, research, and production for the band, musical guests, back line crew, writers and photographers. It also allows each individual artist to explore his or her talent within another musical community; meeting new people, performing and creating new material, and experiencing life in a new location. This residency emphasizes the importance of meaningful and multi-layered musical collaborations and in the end, we are all artists, playing a role in this thing called Bowlive.
“Every year I make too many friends, too many memories, and have way too much fun at Bowlive. Somehow Soulive continually manages to bring out the best people (musicians and fans alike) for two weeks of genre defying sets, all under the amazing intimate roof of the Brooklyn Bowl.” ~ N.G.
“Eric Krasno said the nicest thing last night and called us all family.” ~ A.S.
“The sheer power of Soulive that was on display at the Brooklyn Bowl was an honor to witness. Like a fine wine they get better with age, Soulive kept us dancing and smiling for eight nights!!! I can’t wait for Bowlive Six!” ~ L.H.
“Wow, two days in a row of live music and my soul feels like it’s been on a mini vacation. However, my body is aching from the Funk of Bowlive V.” ~ H.H.
Thank you Peter Shapiro for your brilliant ideas and to the ever appreciative Brooklyn Bowl staff for always taking care of this Tiny Rager and all my Soulive-loving friends, who so graciously provided the quotes for the articles. Thank you so much to Hilary Gleason and Tory Pittarelli of the The Mischief Collective for covering Night 6 for this weary writer who needed a much needed night of relaxation with her family. Thank you to all the folks who donated media like photographers Mark Dershowitz (Headyshots), Greg Horowitz (Creative Solutions Music Promotions), Marc Millman (Marc Millman Photography), Andrew Blackstein (ASB Photography), and Scott Harris (LanguageStrange Photography). Thank you to all who took videos and posted them on Youtube. A giant thanks to the music tapers, who make it possible for everyone else in the world to experience the soundtrack from the best musical run EVER! Finally, thank you to the talented members of Soulive for your never ending energy and love that you poured over us the past eight nights. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Until next year….
To read the previous seven night Reviews, click on the links below: