Thursday, September 03, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

We know you love a great soul set. So if you live in the areas around Chicago, Pontiac (MI), Columbus (OH), Washington, D.C., New York City, or Brooklyn, Numero is bringing its Eccentric Soul Revue tour to you. Even if you DON'T live near one of those places, schedule a getaway (even if it's by yourself). From the looks of this trailer, the show looks absolutely fantastic.

Here's the press release:

Motown had one, so did Stax. Three soul-deep acts and one smoking hot band to back them up. The triple-header of R&B: the soul revue. Once a mainstay of theaters, gymnasiums and VFW halls everywhere, the soul revue ultimately vanished in the late seventies as recorded sound pushed live performance out of the limelight and onto car stereos and refrigerator-sized boom boxes. The performers returned to their day jobs and the world was the poorer for it.

That is, until April 4th, 2009, when your Numero Group mounted the first Eccentric Soul Revue, packing Chicago's Park West Theater with soul-hungry acolytes, satisfying them and then some with the real thing: a 17-piece band backing The Notations, Renaldo Domino, The Final Solution, Nate Evans, and Syl Johnson, putting on a show that combined 70s slick with revival-meeting fervor.

It was a magical evening, as the past lived and breathed and got on down, right here in the present. Those in attendance went home that night knowing they'd seen something that just wasnt done anymore. And wanting more. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, New York, Brooklyn, or Washington D.C., the wait and the want is over. The Numero Group is taking this show on the road.

Eccentric Soul Revue hits the East Coast in November with the totally explosive Syl Johnson, the silky smooth Notations, and the man with the voice like Domino sugar, Renaldo Domino, plus special guests, a slide show, and an autograph line.

There is absolutely nothing else like The Eccentric Soul Revue. A ticket is a time machine. Be there.

Saturday Nov 7th
Lincoln Hall
Chicago, IL
With special guests TL Barrett, Sharon Clark & Linda Ballentine

Sunday Nov 8th
Crofoot Ballroom
Pontiac, MI
With special guests Velma Perkins & Bobby Cook

Monday November 9th
The Lincoln Theater
Columbus, Ohio
With special guests the Four Mints and Marion Black

Tuesday November 10th
The 9:30 Club
Washington DC

Thursday November 12th
Grand Ballroom
New York, New York
With special guest Missy Dee

Friday November 13th
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, New York
With special guest Missy Dee

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

posted by O.W.

As promised, one of my two NPR pieces on Lee Fields. This music list includes music I didn't include in my post from the other week.


Lee Fields: Bewildered b/w Tell Her I Love Her
From 7" (Bedford, 1969)

Just picked this up at the Groove Merchant over the weekend - supposedly Fields very first single, released back in '69. I'm really feeling "Bewildered" especially - so Southern soul!

By the way, if you're in New York and need something to do tonight.... But hey, if you don't live in NY, you can still listen in live.

Speaking of which, the audio for this won't be up until 4pm PST, but here's my review of the new Lee Fields album for NPR's All Things Considered.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

posted by O.W.

For Blossom Dearie fans in the Bay Area, Jacqui Naylor is doing a tribute concert at Yoshi's:

Jacqui Naylor, "Remebering Blossom Dearie", 4/19/2009 - SF Gate


Monday, March 23, 2009

posted by O.W.

Bummer news - the Axelrod anchor leg of the incredible Timeless series has been called off.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

posted by O.W.

You know how we do!

Soul Sides has three pairs of tickets to give away. If you slept on the previous two Timeless wack! Don't make it a hat trick and miss out on Arthur Verocai.

Emails drawn at random at the end of Friday. Email us with the subject line "Verocai giveaway". Make sure to include your full name.

I confess, I don't know a ton about Verocai except that I always associate him, rightly or wrongly, with Brazil's Tropicalia movement of the late 1960s which was both an intense period of both cultural and political collisions and musical evolution (check out Brutality Garden if you're really interested).

Verocai's 1972 album on Continental is a straight up Brazilian holy grail LP and personally, if you listen to how intricate his arrangements are, how brilliant his fusions of Brazilian and American styles come together here, you can understand why people jones for this album so badly.

And he's going to be playing in LA with a 30 piece orchestra? No brainer.

Arthur Verocai: Caboclo
Arthur Verocai: Na Boca Do Sol
From S/T (Continental, 1972)

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Monday, February 23, 2009

posted by O.W.

Last night's "Suite for Ma Dukes" performance (part of the Timeless Series) was a really beautiful event. Even though I arrived halfway through the first set (which, I think, was mostly a live performance of what appears on the EP), I could already tell the evening was going to be special.

What really works about the whole conceit is that part of what made J-Dilla beats so memorable was his understanding of musical and emotional texture. It was never just about a loop or riff or beat (though, of course, he was gifted in working with those); it was about what those sounds could evoke. And in the hands of three dozen musicians, plus the energetic - even theatric - conducting of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson - I think they did a beautiful job of really capturing, expressing and transforming some of the emotional range that Dilla played with in his music. Most of what was played last night were not attempts at recreations, but rather flights of musical imagination inspired by Jay Dee's works and to me, that was all the more meaningful as a tribute.

And there were many people who loved Dilla in the mix that night - from his mother, Maureen Yancey, to his brother, Illa J, to his former roomie and collaborator Common, to vocalists Bilal, Amp Fiddler and Dwele, to Talib Kweli and De La Soul's Posdnuos (the latter two performed over a recreation of the "Stakes Is High" beat).

I have to say - there's two more shows in the Timeless series, one with Brazil's Arthur Verocai, the other with LA's own David Axelrod - but somehow, I can't imagine anything really topping tonight...not b/c the other men are incapable of transcendent moments of musical composition or performance but I just think, for the audience that the series is aiming at, for the sheer level of creative challenge that Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Niño rose to to make this music work. to the sheer amount of love reverberating through the room last night...this was something that went beyond the music in honoring and celebrating Dilla.

And with that, I end with one of my favorite Jay Dee beats, one that will never age or fade.

Pharcyde: She Said (Jay Dee Remix)
From 12" (Delicious Vinyl, 1995)

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

posted by O.W.

Update (2/19): As promised, we have tickets to give away for the "Suite for Ma Dukes" show, coming up this Sunday night.

I'll draw three winners at random from those who email me, with the subject line "Ma Dukes Contest". Good luck!

Next in the Timeless series, following on Mulatu Astake's performance from the other week, is "Suite for Ma Dukes," a four-part suite celebrating the career and life of J-Dilla (whose birthday would have been tomorrow) by Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson.

I admit, I was a bit skeptical as to what this would sound like - the idea of having a 36 piece orchestra playing compositions inspired by J-Dilla felt like it could be an aesthetic mish-mash, like when bands try to recreate hip-hop beats. But I was very pleasantly moved by the songs I heard from the EP which, far from trying to work in a hip-hop vein, are fully fleshed out jazz compositions that borrow aspects of Dilla's tracks without being strictly beholden to them (or their original samples).

Here's some streaming audio of one of the Suite's best songs:

The EP itself is currently available on iTunes and will be released on LP/CD in April (pre-order here).

The performance will be on February 22nd (Sunday night) at the Luckman Center (Cal State LA campus). I should have some tickets to give away for it as we get closer to the date.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

posted by O.W.

...and you're NOT going to one of these, you need to ask yourself: what's wrong with me?

More info here.

UPDATE: As it turns out, we have three pairs of tickets to giveaway for this Sunday. Short notice but better late than never!

To win a pair of tickets:

Listen to this song:

...and answer this question: Which Mulatu Astatke song is being sampled and what album is it from?

Send your answers in an email, subject titled "Mulatu contest", to me. Three random winners will be chosen from all correct answers by noontime tomorrow.

Good luck!


Monday, January 26, 2009

posted by O.W.

Just got back from seeing Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. Decent crowd for a Sunday night - about 2000 in attendance - including ?uestlove who was down in the main bar area, eating Rice Krispies treats.

This is the third time I've seen them perform in a little over a year (last two times were at the El Rey and Hollywood Bowl) and even though their stage show is fairly consistent, tonight was especially cool because they debuted at least three new songs from whenever their upcoming new album (not sure on when that's dropping but one would assume later this year). Sharon also added "A Change Is Gonna Come" to her set list which I thought was awesome given 1) the obvious timing of it and 2) the fact that she pulls it off competently[1].

Speaking of which, I have to say that the single best song in her live repertoire is "Let Them Knock." I don't know why I never paid that much attention to it on the album itself, but in concert, the song is amazing. See/hear for yourself:

After this LA gig, she's headed up to the Warfield in S.F., then Portland, Seattle and back home to New York for two shows at the Nokia in Manhattan. After that, it looks like they're probably hunkering down to finish the album since they don't have any more tour dates (aside festivals) listed.

By the way, I was just thinking about this tonight but for all the built-up drama of Amy vs. Sharon back in 2007, that all has more or less petered out to be nada given that Amy is now milkbox material while Sharon's still out there, doing her thing, and paving a way that, in 2008, saw artists like Raphael Saadiq, Solange Knowles and several others following closely behind. Notch a few wins there for the Dap-Kings.

Before I forget - new Daptone's 45 (on their Ever-Soul subsidiary) is available soon: Eddie and Ernie's "Bullets Don't Have Eyes." I'll blog about this eventually but you can sample it here in the meantime.

Also, while I have your attention. If you're into hip-hop, in the LA area and are looking for something to do on a Monday night, come out to Claremont McKenna tonight for a panel discussion that includes my friend Jeff Chang and colleague Ebony Utley.

And while we're on the topic of upcoming shows, if you're not already up on the Timeless Series (which kicks off next weekend), don't waste time, getting tickets. Mulatu! J-Dilla tribute! Verocai! Axelrod! All backed by orchestras! Holy sh--!

[1] I regret to inform that I was excited to see that Lorraine Ellison does the song on her Heart and Soul LP (which is where "Stay With Me debuted) but it's a pretty terrible version - the arrangement is ill-fitting which forces Ellison to sound somewhat shrill in the process.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

posted by O.W.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are playing the Hollywood Bowl this Sunday (along with Feist) and I wrote a feature in this week's LA Weekly about the Dap-Kings specifically (no disrespect to Sharon but I had written about her before, everyone writes about her, surprisingly few people write about the Dap-Kings, ergo...). Tickets are still available, beginning at $10. Sure, those are nosebleeders but if you've never been to the HB before, it's a great summer venue.

For those who are really cheap, on Saturday, the Budos Band (which shares members with the Dap-Kings) is performing at the Getty Center for free (well, you still have to pay for parking) as part of their Summer Sessions series.

In honor of the two shows:

Charles Bradley and the Bullets: This Love Ain't Big Enough For the Two of Us
Lee Fields: Could Have Been
Both from Daptone 7" Singles Collection Vol. 2 (Daptone, 2008)

Earlier in the summer, Daptone Records released the second volume of their 7" releases - most of these songs had never been on any format besides 7" vinyl - and that includes Charles Bradley being backed by the Budos Band back when they were called the Bullets. Fierce and funky!

Lee Fields, who's mostly worked with Truth and Soul in recent years, cut a few sides with Daptone in the early 00s, including the included ballad here. Slow and patient, you have to love how this song builds and rests on the strength of Fields' impassioned voice.

Hope to see all you Angelinos this Sat or Sun.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

posted by O.W.

The Darondo show last night in Costa Mesa was...ok. At first, I was really impressed so many people would turn out for a Darondo show but then I realized this was part of the Abstract Workshop's 10th anniversary party and that's probably why the crowd was so deep (and young).

There has been a divided camp around whether the Nino Moschella band, who backs Darondo at these shows, works with the singer's sound or not and I'm afraid I have to fall on the side that says, "no." That's no diss on Moschella's group (who opened for Darondo last night) - I enjoy their variation on a post-Sly/Stevie, squiggly fonk/soul aesthetic and he seems like a genuinely nice and talented guy but I just didn't think their sound fit with Darondo's music. It's one thing if they're trying to update his sound with new songs but it's more jarring to hear that aesthetic applied to "Didn't I" or "Let My People Go." I'm not saying you gotta keep the man locked in a time capsule but had he sat with a guitar - and nothing else - and played "Didn't I", that would have been considerably better than hearing a more cluttered sound that lacks the simple beauty of the original.

You know, like this (recorded live by Justin Torres, 2005).

Darondo himself was great - as a performer, especially one who had been out the game so long - he seemed to have a command of the stage and his performance and still kept it raw, especially with a bit about how to "treat your woman right" involving cherry sauce and some whipped cream.

Some pix:

This first image is from a t-shirt worn by Nino's keyboardist. I was on the fence about whether it was clever or crass. To go back to the "Frisco" this case, I was thought the use of Frisco was "meh."

Nino Moschella



Also don't forget this earlier post: my good friend from the Yay, Justin Torres, is interviewed here by Studio 360, talking about the career and music of Darondo. Great interview, peep:

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

posted by O.W.

As noted, I went to go see Joe Bataan play the Crazy Horse in West Covina. It was cool insofar as there were a lot of older, hardcore fans of his who rolled through and that's always great to see. But for once, I'd like to see him play a venue where the average age isn't 42 - he deserves a wider audience but so far, promoters out here in Los Angeles seem to only book him in places where things skew considerably older. If someone wants to help me work on this, holler.

A small, unexpected, very pleasant surprise: at the beginning of the show, Joe came into the audience and was handing out photocopies of this. It reminds me: I really should scan the original in since the issue is sold out.

In the meantime, enjoy these:


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Sunday, March 23, 2008

posted by O.W.

I don't know if marketing/promotions fell short but last night's gig to celebrate the release of Fania Live 03 at the Crash Mansion L.A. was thinner than I expected. That hardly dimmed the enthusiasm of those of us who came out to see DJs Sake-1 and Bobbito spin alongside an incredible set of performances by Francisco Aguabella and his Latin Jazz Ensemble, with special guest pianist, Chuchito Valdes.

Great, great, great show. And humbling insofar as I was reminded that despite my intense interest in Latin over the last decade or so, I'm just a babe in the woods when it comes to the depth and breadth of the music.

Some pix from last night:

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

posted by O.W.

Brownout: Laredo 77 + Barretta
From Homenaje (Freestyle, 2008)

I've recently been enjoying the sounds of Brownout, a Latin funk outfit out of Austin, Texas. They've been around for a minute in the form of Grupo Fantasma except here, they're strictly instrumental. What I like about these guys is not only that they have their chops down but rather than following a strict revivalist route, their sound has a clear Latin influence but isn't holden to simply trying to sound like it's East Harlem 1968 again.

There's an impressive diversity of styles on the album and the two cuts I pulled out above can't do it proper justice. "Laredo 77" reminds me a lot of the Calbido's Three (who I really should get around to blogging about one of these days...note to self). Super laidback and smooth Latin-flavored soul-jazz.

"Barretta" goes in the other direction: dark, funky. with a slick kick and thump. I may very well have to play this out at my next gig (heck, I'm tempted to spin out half the album, just to see how it sounds loud).

Here's the extra treat for Los Angelinos: Brownout is playing two shows, starting tomorrow night:
  • Thursday at The Root Down
  • Friday at Soul Sessions

    These guys ain't local so use the opportunity to catch them at least once while they're out here!

    More info:
    Brownout on MySpace

    Oh yeah, one last thing: I'm forever indebted to Brownout for putting this video on their myspace page. Now I can see how the boogaloo is danced, by JB himself!

    Speaking of gigs, Murphy's Law and myself will be back at the Short Stop next Thursday, Jan 31. Hopefully, this will turn into something regular there. More info on this later.

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  • Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    L.A. People: Brasilintime Coming Soon!
    posted by O.W.

    This promises to be one of the great set of musical events in Los Angeles this year. Brian Cross, aka B+, holds it down like few folks do - hyper-talented photographer, author of one of the definitive books on L.A. hip-hop, and now, two-time documentarian. Brasilintime promises to be another outstanding project. I highly recommend people try to come out for either, but especially the Live show on the 19th.

    More info on the events.

    Buy the DVD!

    Peep the trailer:


    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Cut Chemist + DJ Shadow: Hard Sell @ Hollywood Bowl, 6/24/07
    posted by O.W.

    It's been a long, strange journey.

    I've been following the 7" trail left by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist for over seven years now[1]. Brainfreeze was enough of a phenomenon to begin with but it's hard to imagine that some 8 years after that first show at Club 550 in S.F., Cut and Shadow would bring the same concept to the Hollywood Bowl, only this time, in front of a crowd of at least 12,000, under a perfect Los Angeles June night sky. When they first took stage, it was staggering to think about that evolution. It's not like the two haven't played big venues before but if you've never been to the Bowl, the sheer size of it is humbling and again, we're talking about a performance centered around playing 45s.


    This thought obviously crossed their minds too since the Hard Sell show opened with a short, humorous "instructional video" as to what people were about to witness during the evening, effectively, "yes, we're playing records" but why such an endeavor would be artistically and musically worthwhile of the Bowl's attention. For DJ-educated types, such an explanation was unnecessary but for those who think, "wait, they still press vinyl?" such an intro was likely quite useful in setting the stage for what was about to happen.

    But here's the thing: even for those who cling tightly to their original copies of Brainfreeze and Product Placement, it was clear early on that this was NOT going to be a predictable part tres in that series. Unlike the previous two performances, built specifically around funk 45s, Hard Sell was far more ambitious and eclectic. Now the two DJs split eight turntables between them plus effects processors which allowed them new options in creating and sustaining tones and loops. It was an entirely different kind of performance, less oriented on playing dozens of obscure records in a row and more about building a series of conceptual sets - all made using records, but less about the actual records and more about what one could make with them.

    That's why it's a little pointless to run down the playlist for you - it's hard to communicate the overall feel of the night by noting, "oh yeah, and at one point, they went from "Passin' Me By" to "Made U Look"" since that snippet can't represent the whole. Suffice to say though, there were a few sets that were built around records - i.e. identifiable pieces of music - but there were just as many that involved long passages of sound interspersed by drums or scratching, but were more like pieces of musical composition (John Cage meets David Axelrod meets Grandwizard Theodore...). In that respect, Hard Sell seemed closer to DJ Shadow's Private Press shows than what I've seen of Cut Chemist in the past but then again, Cut's recent works have become more compositional and conceptual as well.

    So there were a variety of different moments (two of which I discuss in greater detail below), including a short segment of "world percussion" where African drums became blended in with a samba line or these long, almost prog rock-like passages of noise and tone. In the background, a VJ executed a compelling set of background videos and images in synch with the music's rhythms and themes (looks like the same team that worked on Shadow's shows), including a Transformer Jukebox that shoots 7"s (that I'm guessing is not in the upcoming Michael Bay adaptation).

    But let's get to the point: Creative? Definitely. Experimental? No doubt. Entertaining? Well...ear of the beholder. Personally, I liked it. I thought the attempt to transcend the themes of Brainfreeze and Product Placement was interesting and daring, I liked the attempt at simply doing "more" with the concept of playing 7"s. But I also think it was fair to say that the overall performance was significantly less coherent and cohesive. It felt more like a scattered set of pieces that hinted at a larger picture but it wasn't clear what that image was meant to be. And maybe that was the whole point but no doubt, folks expecting another session full of funky 45s were left wondering, "wait, what was that?" And maybe that was part of the point too.

    By the way, closing the evening was Kim Fowley. Crazy random. I met him at the afterparty and he's a trip. But more on that another time.

    One last thing: there were moments where the sets had small glitches - drums doubling up, missed cues - and I actually liked seeing/hearing those, not only because it reminded you "this is live" but it's suggestive of how improvisational and challenging this new set is and frankly, I doubt most in the audience caught them anyways. I do know Shadow was chuckling about it during the afterparty and assuming him and Cut take this on the road (which I think they are), I imagine these will all get ironed out in due time.

    Two personal highlights from the show:

    The opening set was, from what I could tell, an attempt to speak to the event itself: a summer time concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and what spilled forth was what could be best described as an homage to the days of jukebox joints, East L.A. sweet soul and oldies AM radio. It had some strange moments, including some electro cover of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock Tonight" as well as - I kid you not - another eccentric cover of "Eye of the Tiger" but then they dropped the Flamingos' great romantic ballad, "I Only Have Eyes For You", complete with spinning disco balls when the verse, "are the stars out tonight?" came on.

    The next song was this:

    Eddie Holman and the Larks: This Can't Be True
    From 7" (Parkway, 1965). Also on This Can't Be True.

    Sure, Holman wasn't from L.A. and didn't record his single there but this is some straight, East L.A., Impalaville sweet soul. I. Love. This. Song. And it really captured the moment of where everyone was - relaxing in the cool summer air of Hollywood.

    However, it didn't give any clues as to what would happen next and that would be par for the course for the evening. The next set was more hip-hop focused, including drops of "Passin' Me By," "Made U Look," "Dwyck" and then...they went into a short mini-set of original De La Soul breaks from the 3 Ft. High and Rising era. My mind was blown for a few reasons, including, 1) this was such "my sh--" and 2) I would have been impressed if even 5% of the crowd had a clue what was going on. Seriously, when they were re-creating "Plug Tunin," who would have followed?

    The moment I was waiting for - and which was delivered - was this song:

    Maggie Thrett: Soupy
    From 7" (Dyno Voice, 1965). Also on The Label That Had to Happen.

    For those old enough to even remember "Jenifa," this is the 45 that powered the main loop. I could swear this is a variation on Jr. Walker and the All-Stars' "Shotgun" but regardless, it's a great mid-60s cooker that makes me hungry for more songs in this vein. (Thanks to Jared at Big City for putting me onto this).

    As for whether Hard Sell will make it onto CD/ guess (and this is purely a guess) is "yes" though I'd be curious to hear how this plays as purely recorded performance. As for whether or not this is the last chapter in the Cut/Shadow 7" Saga? We'll have to see how that plays out later.

    Just for the sake of cataloging: I missed the very first show in San Francisco where Brainfreeze was introduced but I was on-hand to see the last show on the tour, at the El Rey in Los Angeles, having written a preview of it for the LA Weekly (this is still one of my favorite pieces I ever wrote). I also did coverage on Product Placement for the first issue of Waxpoetics and if that wasn't enough, I also interviewed the two DJs for the DVD version of Freeze.

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