Bowlive III: Night Four 3.2.12
Words By Karen Dugan (www.tinyrager.com)
Photos By Phrazz
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.