Bowlive IV Night Five: Soulive feat. Marco Benevento & David Hildalgo
Words By Karen Dugan (TinyRager.com)
Soulive's Brooklyn Bowl residency, Bowlive IV, reached it's fifth night last night. In past years, this would signify the middle of the run and the end of the residency's first week. However, Soulive has chosen to pack more talent into eight days this year and continue to impress upon us just how talented they truly are. As if we didn't know already.
The equally impressive power trio and Bowlive alumi, The London Souls, opened with a fury that paralleled Bowlive IV’s previous night openers. Eric Krasno made a point to remind the audience that this is one of his “favorite bands!” That was a powerful statement from a powerful guitarist who sees and appreciates the talent in his peers and a clear invitation to Soulive fans to pay attention. The London Souls are a classic rock band consisting of shredding guitarist Tash O’Neal, drummer Chris St. Hilaire and bassist Stu Mahan. Tash’s sound is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix; the comparisons are just inevitable. However, as a group, they seamlessly flow from multiple styles while improvising styles all with undertones of pure Rock ‘n Roll! Their wickedly expansive sound, something every power trio hopes to accomplish, shone through vibrantly in their performance of originals “Old Country Road,” “Easier Said Than Done,” and the old-timey tune “Bobby James.” The audience rocked out to AC/DC’s “Long Way To The Top” and The Souls closed their set with a rousing cover of Frank Zappa’s “Apostrophe.” So much to say, so little time.
Set List: Lucille Cover, Under Control, All Tied Down, Old Country Road, Honey → Long Way To The Top (AC/DC), Bobby James, Some Day, Easier Said Than Done, I Think I Like It, Apostrophe (Frank Zappa)
Many times, the relationship between Soulive and their guests is one that has been cultivated in New York City, in front of Soulive fans who get to witness local musical guest sit-ins during local shows. Last night’s first guest, avant-garde pianist and organist Marco Benevento, a long-time NYC resident now living in Woodstock, is a Bowlive alum that fit this category. Benevento adds an element of improvisational psychedelia and locks right into the groove of every tune he touches with a specific experimental jazzy sound that defines his music. Soulive, with the help of the Shady Horns, churned out “El Ron” and teased Bob Marley’s “WAR” before a crushing “Reverb.” Saxophonist James Casey, baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom went into a hot, circular jam session, just the three of them, before Benevento joined the stage for another Soulive original “Upright.” Benevento made his presence known with an extended face-melting solo of his own. He remained on stage for the rest of the set, seamlessly layering his sound amongst the trio’s for “Swamp E” and The Beatles cover, “Revolution.” As much as Benevento is known for his own amazing techniques and stand alone performances, he is also part of a wonderful Led Zeppelin tribute band, Bustle In Your Hedgerow, which New York jam band music fans fawn over. So, when Zeppelin's “The Ocean” began, Benevento fans and beyond went ballistic and everyone’s musical taste buds were satisfied.
Set One: El Ron, Reverb, Upright (w/ Marco), Swamp E (w/ Marco), Revolution (Beatles cover w/ Marco), The Ocean (Led Zeppelin cover w/ Marco)
The second set came quick as the excitement of the next guest was something that could hardly be contained by the members of Soulive. Los Lobos guitarist David Hildalgo came out on stage and became the newest musician to join the Bowlive roster. Granted, he snuck into a few tunes the previous night but now was his time to shine. For those of you who don’t know, Hildalgo is a world renowned guitarist who has played on albums of Buckwheat Zydeco, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Gov’t Mule, and even G. Love and Special Sauce. The list of collaborations goes on as does Hildalgo’s ability to play multiple instruments and styles. However, tonight, his vocals and guitar skills would be the highlight of the second set. Soulive performed “Shaheed” alone before Hildalgo picked up his guitar and walked out to a screaming audience. He veered completely off the setlist and performed a fantastic version of Traffic’s “Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring.” The energy on stage was magnetic and the foursome pushed the boundaries of memorable Bowlive collaborations to the limit with Hendrix’s “3rd Stone From the Sun,” and Los Lobo’s tunes, “Dream in Blue” and “Chains of Love.” The Shady Horns threw out killer solos amongst the jams and a highlight of the evening was watching Hildalgo and Krasno trade licks off each other for Jerry Garcia’s “West LA Fade Away.” The tie between Garcia comes from Hildalgo writing “Evangeline,” which the Jerry Garcia Band covered regularly. Hildalgo and Jerry played together on numerous occasions and had a huge respect for one another’s playing. The musicianship on stage was outstanding and the set was pure fire. It’s impossible to replay into words sometimes and for those who were present, they know what I am talking about!
Set Two: Shaheed, Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring (Traffic cover), Dream of Love (Los Lobos Cover) >, 3rd Stone From the Sun (Jimi Hendrix cover), Chains of Love (Los Lobos cover), Revolution (The Beatles cover), West LA Fade Away (Grateful Dead cover), Stone Free (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Finally, last evening’s encore could easily rank high in Bowlive History as one of the best. It wasn’t just an encore... It was a “Neil-Core”: Soulive ended the night with a Neil Young medley for the ages, touching on three distinctly different parts of Neil Young's career. There could not have had a better supporting cast of guitarists to bring the screeching Neil Young chords to life with David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Tash Neil (The London Souls) on stage alongside Eric Kranso. The first song in the Neil medley was “Ohio,” a political song written by Neil Young about the 1970 Kent State shootings and the protest movement that it helped shape. “Ohio” was followed up by a spirited version of "Down by the River," a tune Neil Young and Crazy Horse played on the album Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Alan Evans, who was lending his drum kit to The London Souls Chris St. Hilaire, shared the vocals on that tune with Tash O’Neal. Seeing Alan in the middle of the stage with a microphone in his hand was new and fun. He seemed to be having a blast. Soulive went even deeper into the Neil Young catalog by playing "For What It's Worth," another powerful protest song written by Neil's band mate in the Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills. These three songs forced those remaining at the Brooklyn Bowl into a dancing frenzy of happiness.
Encore: Ohio (CSNY), Down By the River (Neil Young and Crazy Horse), For What it's Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
Sure, it was Wednesday night and the audience was weary from dancing their legs off the previous nights, but true music fans love hearing famous covers performed by their favorite bands. Soulive has been consistently banging out tight versions of their own originals but it’s the rousing covers of popular classic rock songs that brought the jam band crowd of the Brooklyn Bowl to their Nirvana last night. These collaborations also feed the members of Soulive. Marco Benevento and David Hildalgo expanded the consciousness of Soulive last night and the audience was just in awe.