Bowlive IV Night Four: Soulive feat. Booker T.
Words By Karen Dugan (TinyRager.com)
Dedicated music lovers brought themselves out to the Brooklyn Bowl for the start of Soulive’s second week of the Bowlive IV residency. Guitarist Eric Krasno, bass keyboardist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans are back with a new week and new musical adventures. Last week’s roster was packed with sit-ins by southern blues rock guitarist Luther and percussionist Cody Dickinson (The North Mississippi Allstars), the fierce harmonica playing of John Popper (The Blues Travelers), the 70’s flare of vocalist Lee Fields and his Expression Horns, the pedal steel slide guitar styling of Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band), the soul-filled flavor of vocalist Nigel Hall and the spinning talents of DJ Logic. Surprise guests included the amazing Allman Brothers Band guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks and trombonist Sanders Sermon (Tedeschi/Trucks Band).
One of the best parts of Bowlive this year has been the killer opening bands kicking off every night. Kung Fu absolutely blew the roof off the first night, setting a pace of rage for the rest of the week. The second night followed with the powerful 8-piece Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds who kept the energy high and the Alecia Chakour Band delivered their sultry sounds on Saturday. You can read about those shows in earlier posts on RoyalFamilyRecords.com. Following one of the best first weeks in Bowlive history, the formula would to remain the same. The high powered, high energy, talented horn-crunching musicianship of saxophonist Cocheme Gastulem (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings) and his band, The Electric Sounds of Johnny Arrow, showcased a different style of music to Soulive fans. The sounds of Africa’s Fela Kuti and 70’s baritone player Lekan Animashanu provided influence to the tunes. One’s hips couldn’t help but begin to grind to the pulsating percussion infused music. After the opening set, there were members of the audience who could be overheard discussing these new sounds that Soulive had introduced to their Bowlive roster.
Set List: Dark City, Carlito, Impala 73, You’re So Good To Me, Heleyos, Lluva Con Nieve, Fathom 5, No Goodbyes
The theme for the rest of the night was simple. Play one strong, satisfying Tribute to Stax Records with one of the coolest, hippest, electric blues keyboardist of all time, Booker T. Jones (Booker T. and the MG’s.) However, the audience had to be patient. Soulive purists still needed to see their favorite trio stand alone. Alan, Neal and Eric performed “Outrage” and “Dig” before the Shady Horns joined the stage. Baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom (Lettuce) and James Casey (Trey Anastasio Band) brought another layer of funk to the vibe with “Hatrick” and even more horns joined when Cocheme’s baritone saxophonist Freddy Deboe and saxophonist Mike Buckley sat in on “For Granted.” Their powerful horn solos overwhelmed the speakers causing feedback that took a minute to control and it was back into full funky rage. When Booker T. Jones came on stage, the crowd went wild. To experience an entire set with Booker T. and Soulive was liberating. However, to see how excited Soulive was, well, that was just icing on the cake of what was a delicious remaining night of music. Krasno put it best as he spoke to the audience, explaining that as much fun as it is for the fans, it’s equally as fun for Soulive, as they are fans themselves. Fans that have the distinct pleasure and honor of inviting their mentors and influences on stage to join them. The passion for Booker T. was also evident as you looked around the audience and saw other famous Jam-world faces such as Erik Kalb (Deep Banana Blackout), David Bailis (Pimps of Joytime), and Alecia Chakour (Alecia Chakour Band).
Booker T. and Soulive crushed out iconic Booker T. and the MGs hits “Hip Hug Her,” “Hang ‘Em High,” “Time is Tight,” and more. They broke out covers like Warren Haynes’ “Born Under a Bad Sign,” with Booker T. on vocals. There was the catchy instrumental versions of Cee Lo Green’s “Crazy,” and Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything,” with each instrument on stage taking the lead on each song. It was sharp, stunning and solid. The Booker T’s Memphis soul sound was supported wonderfully by Soulive, all three of whom were grinning from ear to ear throughout the entire set. Finally, it wouldn’t be Bowlive without a surprise special guest. Guitarist David Hildago (Los Lobos) would pop out halfway in the middle of tunes then disappear again. This would continue through the set, teasing us with what would be seen on night five. The Booker T. encore was the most recognizable tune of all, the instrumental classic, “Green Onions,” with its ripping Hammond Organ line were both Neal and Booker T. enjoyed trading licks on their keys. That song threw everyone, of all ages, back into the soundtrack of 1993’s The Sandlot, back riding around in their 1962 Chevy Impala Convertible with the top down. It is a song that defined the ages and every one of all ages was invested. Capping off the night, the trio stood alone on stage for “Tuesday Night Squad,” a nod to the night and perhaps Soulive’s way of naming the dedicated tribe who supported them on such an early weeknight. The Tuesday Night Squad we became and Bowlive fanatics should hold that badge with honor, the same way Soulive was visibly honored to perform for us last night with such an amazing icon of music.
Last night’s tribute to Stax Records was a pleasure. Tonight get there on time for another stunner of an opener with the ever-rocking London Souls and guests Marco Benevento (keys) and guitarist David Hildago (Los Lobos).
Set List: Hip Hug Her, Hang ‘Em High, Born Under A Bad Sign, Crazy, Time is Tight, Something, Everything is A Everything
Encore: Green Onions, Tuesday Night Squad