In honor of Black History Month here is a look back at the history of African-American music and how it has influenced musicians today, including some photos of today’s top musicians.
African-American music is a term covering a diverse range of music and musical genres largely developed by black Americans. Jazz, blues, gospel, soul, and more recently rap constitute the principal genres of African-American music.
Their origins arose out of slavery characterizing the lives of black Americans prior to the American Civil War. The earliest forms of African-American music originated from those experiences with field hollers, work songs, improvisation, and blues notes.
Following the Civil War, black musicians began playing European music in military bands, developing new musical styles such as ragtime, which later transformed into jazz. Jazz has been one of the most influential styles in music to date, with a wide-ranging and profound influence over the development of music around the world. The earliest jazz greats included Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington.
The ‘50s saw a harder blues sound and the introduction of doo-wop. Berry Gordy founded Motown records in 1959 which catapulted black music to the forefront of the American music scene. In the ‘60s Motown introduced acts such as The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, and The Supremes.
The ‘70s saw an explosion of black artists in the music world with The Jackson 5, Roberta Flack, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, The O’Jays, and Gladys Knight & the Pip, all tearing up the music charts. As music evolved in the ‘70s hip-hop was born and made popular through artists like Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC, while George Clinton and Sly and the Family Stone introduced the world to some funky music.
Throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today the African-American community of musicians grew with big names such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and Lionel Richie. During the ‘80s there was a wave of black female artists with Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston leading the way for future artists like Beyonce.
African-American music has had a profound influence on all genres of music through the years and will continue to evolve and influence generations of musicians for years to come.
Smokey Robinson was instrumental in the founding of Motown with Berry Gordy in 1959 and one of the most influential artists of his time. Smokey Robinson and The Miracles was the first act to sign on with Motown Records.
Robinson has over 4,000 songs to his credit and has been performing for over 50 years. He’s responsible for such hits as “Second that Emotion,” “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “Tears of a Clown” and “Tracks of My Tears.”
George Clinton is considered to be one of the most sampled musicians ever, and is one of the artists responsible for bringing the funky to funky music with his band the Parliament-Funkadelics. Dominating in the ‘70s with over 40 R&B hit singles, including three number ones and three platinum albums.
Clinton is also a notable music producer working on almost all of the albums he performs on, as well as producing albums for Bootsy Collins and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.
The Sounds of Success band, better known as SOS is fronted by Mary Davis. They were initially famous for the hit “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” in 1980. They had a string of R&B hits including “Just Be Good to Me,” “Tell Me If You Still Care,” “Borrowed Love,” “No One’s Gonna Love You,” “Just the Way You Like It” and “The Finest.”
SOS still tours today with founding members Mary Davis and Abdul Ra’oof. They are scheduled to perform on the BET Honor’s show scheduled for February 11, 2013. You can get a sneak preview of their performance here.
Kool & the Gang
Kool & the Gang started out as a jazz band, but through the years transformed themselves into one of the leaders in R&B and funk. Arguably their greatest albums were “Light of Worlds” and “Spirit of the Boogie” released in 1974 and 1975 respectively.
Kool & the Gang is responsible for such hits as “Joanna,” “Get Down on It,” “Ladies Night” and probably their most memorable and often played hit “Celebration.”
Leading the way for the rappers of today Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to ever be signed by a major label and is responsible for a number of hits by The Fat Boys and Run DMC. A few of his hits include “If I Ruled the World,” “Christmas Rappin’” and “The Breaks.”
Kurtis is a fully ordained minister and was an active participant in the Artists Against Apartheid record “Sun City”. He’s worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Operation Push and the Rainbow Coalition in Chicago.
Morris Day started out in a band with classmate Prince, who, as everyone knows, left the band to pursue his own style of music. The Time, as the band was known didn’t do much in their early years. It wasn’t until the ‘80s when Day worked with Prince on the movie “Purple Rain.” Eventually The Time was billed as Morris Day and The Time.
Day played the antagonist to Prince in his feature films “Purple Rain” and “Graffiti Bridge,” helping establish Day’s playboy stage presence. He was typically escorted by his valet, “Jerome” (Jerome Benton), winning fans with his exaggerated vanity as he would yell “Jerome bring me my mirror!” This persona was exploited for comic effect on The Time’s records, on songs such as “Chili Sauce” and “If the Kid Can’t Make You Come” from the album Ice Cream Castle.
His greatest and most memorable hit was “Jungle Love.”
The multi-talented Brian McKnight is a singer-songwriter, arranger, producer, and R&B musician. He is also a multi-instrumentalist and can play eight instruments including piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet.
McKnight signed on to Mercury Records and in 1992 released his self-titled debut album which peaked at 58 in the Billboard 200 chart. The album featured the ballad “One Last Cry”. He followed up with two more albums for Mercury with “I Remember You” and “Anytime”. “Anytime” sold over two million copies and was nominated for a Grammy.
When McKnight signed on to the Motown label he released his best-selling and most memorable album “Back at One.”
McKnight has the dubious distinction for a record 16 Grammy nominations without one win.
Gym Class Heroes
Gym Class Heroes formed in 1997 when Travie McCoy met drummer Matt McGinley during their high school gym class. The band’s style includes hip hop, rock, funk, and reggae infused with rap. Their debut album “The Papercut Chronicles” gained the band a strong fan base as they toured promoting the album at festivals such as The Bamboozle and Warped Tour.
Their album “As Cruel as School Children” spawned their hit singles “Cupid’s Chokehold,” reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Clothes Off!!” peaking at No. 5 in the United Kingdom.
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. better known as Lil Wayne is a hip-hop artist and in 1991, at the age of nine, joined Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label, and half of the duo, The B.G.’z, with fellow New Orleans-based rapper B.G.
Wayne’s debut studio album, “Tha Block Is Hot” was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His next albums, “Lights Out” and “500 Degreez”, were certified Gold.
In 2004 Wayne released the album “Tha Carter” which included the single “Go D.J.” which saw a surge in Wayne’s popularity. Continuing the success of “Tha Carter,” he released “Tha Carter II” in 2005.
“Tha Carter III” which was released in 2008 saw over one million copies sold in the first week, becoming Wayne’s most successful album to date. It included the number-one single “Lollipop”, as well as “A Milli” and “Got Money”, and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
William Leonard Roberts II, better known as Rick Ross, and sometimes referred to as Ricky Rozay, is one of the more controversial rappers of our time. He founded the record label Maybach Music Group (MMG), on which he released his studio albums “Deeper Than Rap,” “Teflon Don” and “God Forgives, I Don’t.”
In recent news Ross canceled the last leg of his tour (Dec. 2012), citing several reasons as to the cause of the cancelation, including lack of organization on the part of the promoter, and death threats. Gangster Disciples, a street gang that originated from the Chicago area, has been battling with Ross for some time and they’ve posted YouTube videos threatening the rapper.
In January of 2013 Ross crashed his Rolls Royce into a store after several shots were fired at his vehicle. No arrests have been made and no one was hurt in the drive-by.
I am extremely sad to report that Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, the colorful and flamboyant lead singer for the Ohio Players, died yesterday at the age of 70.
UPDATE: In an official family statement released by Scott Hanover the family said, “Yesterday, Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner passed away quietly in his hometown of Trotwood-Dayton, OH. While his family, friends, colleagues, and fans mourn his passing they celebrate fondly his memory, music, and legacy.”
The statement continued, “Humble yet charismatic, soft spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics, and music has influenced countless other artists, songs, and trends. He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on. More details and an official historical perspective of his career will soon be forthcoming.
His Facebook page is available to all to post comments, reflections, and testimonials of this wonderful and gifted man: https://www.facebook.com/sugarfootsohioplayers.”
The Ohio Players were originally formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1959, and were known as the Ohio Untouchables. After a brief breakup the band regrouped in 1963 adding Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner on lead guitar and eventually he went on to front the band.
The band’s first big hit single was “Funky Worm”, reaching #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1973, selling over one million copies.
The band had seven Top 40 hits between 1973 and 1976 including, “Fire,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “Who’d She Coo?”
Recently the master of funk brought the Ohio Players to Thunder Valley Casino Resort (read review). Sugarfoot was helped onstage and appeared frail. However, backstage he was jovial and very friendly to the staff and fans as they lined up to meet the ‘70s icon.
The band started around 10:30 p.m. and the crowd immediately responded by clapping and jumping to their feet, with a number of couples spilling into the aisles to dance.
The San Francisco Bay Area based band got their start in the late 60’s when founding members Emilio Castillo (tenor sax/vocals) and Stephen “Doc” Kupka got together. Joining the two founding members onstage were long standing members Francis “Rocco” Prestia (bass) and Dave Geribaldi (drums), along with Larry Braggs (lead vocals), Roger Smith (keyboards/vocals), Tom E. Politzer (lead tenor sax), Adolfo Acosta, (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jerry Cortez (guitar/vocals), and Sal Cracchiolo (trumpet).
Starting their set with “I Like Your Style” and “Ain’t Nothing Stopping Us Now,” the horn section is obviously the cornerstone of Tower of Power’s musical style, as Castillo, Doc, and Rocco started flexing their horns causing the audience to cheer even louder.
When TOP, as their fans refer to them, started playing their slower songs like “Just When We Start Making it” and “Me and Mrs. Jones,” droves of fans left their seats and headed to the aisles to slow dance.
As the New Year arrived, the band struck up “Auld Lang Syne,” as everyone donned their hats and noise makers (compliments of Thunder Valley), as hundreds of balloons started tumbling to the floor.
It was quite a sight to see, and hear, as some people popped balloons, while others were hitting them back up into the air.
Once things settled down, Tower of Power continued with “Young Man” and “Soul With a
Capital S,” leaving many of their fans wanting more.
Those with any energy left headed to the casino for their 1:30 a.m. drawing, where someone won a share of $25,000, including the grand prize of $10,000.
Tower of Power still has a lot of energy left after all these years. Couple the two founding members with the younger members of the band and they still have a recipe for success.
I Like Your Style
Ain’t Nothing Stopping Us Now
Oil in the Ground
Can’t You See
Come Back Baby
Just When We Start Making it
Maybe It’ll Rub Off
So I Got to Groove
Me and Mrs. Jones
Jame Brown Medley of songs
Hard to Go
Auld Lang Syne
What is Hip
Soul With a Capital S
Thunder Valley Casino Resort along with World One Presents, Maita Honda, and local radio station V101.1, brought Naughty by Nature, the Sugar Hill Gang, and Kool Moe Dee to Thunder Valley’s Pano Hall for a hip hopping Halloween Friday night. Emcee for the night was V101′s Big Al.
A number of fans dressed up for what turned out to be an awesome show as Bay Area artists Rory and Reed opened the show with a brief 10 minute set.
The crowd went crazy when Kool Moe Dee took the stage. Moe Dee brought along Special K and L.A. Sunshine as they sang hits like “They Want Money,” “Rise & Shine,” and of course “Wild, Wild, West.”
By the time Sugar Hill Gang took the stage the crowd was in full party mode with most fans gathering around the catwalk and dance floors.
Sugar Hill Gang consisted of original band members Wonder Mike, Master Gee, and Big Bank Hank. Keeping the audience completely engaged with their past hits “Apache,” “Eighth Wonder,” and “Rapper Reprise,” they seemed to just be hitting their stride when they finished their set.
As Naughty by Nature stormed the stage the crowd went wild as they all started bouncing up and down to the beat of the music. Original band members Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee, put on a great performance as they played “Everything’s Gonna be All Right,“ “O.P.P.,” and “Hip Hop Hooray.”
This is the first year with an expanded venue at Sunrise MarketPlace, and my first time visiting. It was spacious with beer, wine, and Margaritas available along with various food choices such as hotdogs. Depending on where you were seated, you could be lazy and have a waiter/waitress get your drinks.
I found the sound lacking on the side bleachers, but still pretty loud. If you’re one of those purists who must have their sound just right, then you may want to get your tickets for the center area.
There really isn’t a bad seat in the house with a great view from pretty much any seat in the amphitheater. There are a few seats around the spotlights that may feel “cramped” if you are sitting right next to the platform, but that area is general admission and you can sit where you want – so don’t sit next to the lights, unless you think that’s Kool.
Many amphitheaters have monitors, or big projector screens for the cheap seats, but with such a small footprint fans didn’t have a problem seeing the action onstage.
Ok enough about the venue and on to the action, and there was plenty of action, with the exception of an overly long set-change.
Just prior to the concert someone came up to me and said he almost didn’t come out to the concert after he found out that Lionel Richie was no longer with The Commodores. Seriously!? Where have you been for the last 30 years!? Richie is gone people, get over it.
The Commodores stormed the stage playing “Too Hot Ta Trot,” followed by “Easy” with most fans on their feet and singing along. As for the great seating, that all goes down the proverbial crapper when everyone in front of you stands up to boogie down.
The three front men for The Commodores put on a high energy show and were in constant motion their entire set. They were founding members Walter Orange, William King, and longtime member J.D. Nicholas.
They headed into their encore with “Brick House,” but deviated in the middle with a bit of audience participation as they were simply jamming and yelling out to the audience with phrases such as “Say Yo Yo,” leading back into, and finishing off the set with, “Brick House.”
Walter Orange was kicking himself after their set. He told me he just wasn’t “feeling it” during his performance. Orange said it doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it really bothers him because he believes he can bring it up to a whole other level.
The set-change went way too long. According to my calculations, it took over 45 minutes, which is not a good thing for the fans, as some headed towards the door.
Making a very Kool entrance Kool & the Gang, all dressed in white, came out singing “Fresh,” followed by “Tonight.” The crowd was pretty enthusiastic, but appeared to have more energy during The Commodores set. I attribute that to the lengthy intermission.
As they slowed it down with “Joanna” and “Too Hot,” most of the fans were singing the chorus along with the band. However, during the slower moments you could see a number of fans heading towards the door.
Kool & the Gang didn’t really hit their stride until late into their set. The vocals were lacking in the beginning songs, but seemed to smooth out as the night went on.
They really shined with “Get Down on It” leading into their finale with “Celebration,” which had the remaining crowd on their feet dancing and singing.
It was a great concert, but whenever you have 30 minutes, or longer, for a set-change you’re going to lose some people. In this case Kool & the Gang wasn’t able to reenergize a number of their fans. I believe that impacted their performance, since bands and fans alike feed off each other’s energy.
As for the Sunrise at Night Concert Series – What can I say? It’s a nice little venue with an intimate feel and free parking, but more importantly they serve food and have a limited selection of alcohol, just be careful driving home!
Don’t miss Blondie and Devo as they bring their Whip it to Shreds tour to the Sunrise MarketPlace on Friday September 14th.
That’s what fans did at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Friday evening, when it turned into one funkalicious night as old school favorites Morris Day and the Time, S.O.S., Kurtis Blow, and Midnight Star tore it up for over three hours playing to an overflowing and extremely energetic crowd.
As Midnight Star took the stage and started playing “Electricity,” the crowd jumped to their feet and started dancing. There were very few occasions during the three hour show when the audience wasn’t standing.
Last time I saw Midnight Star I felt they were a little flat, but not tonight. They definitely brought their A-game as they continued with “Wet My Whistle” and “Midas Touch.”
Band members consisted of Belinda Lipscomb (vocals), Melvin Gentry (guitar/vocals), Bo Watson (keyboard/vocals) and Bill Simmons (keyboards), Kenneth Gant (bass), and Bobby Lovelace (drums).
As they infuse pure energy into the crowd after ending their set with “No Parking (On the Dance Floor),” many in the crowd headed to the amphitheater bars, or remained standing and dancing to the music in between sets.
Kurtis Blow, The first rapper to ever be signed by a major label, came out blasting “If I Ruled the World” as he fully engaged the audience by saying ‘Say Yo!’ and then pointing the mic to the audience as they all screamed in unison ‘Yo’.
Blow (ha! I said blow.) just wouldn’t shut up as he kept shouting out to the audience as only a true rapper can. In between songs he would continue rapping about being in Sacramento and giving a shout out to the audience. Some of the audience members started mingling more than paying attention to Blow, as a number of people headed to the bar, or bathroom, probably both.
Sounds Of Success (better known as S.O.S.) got everyone’s attention as they started up “Just the Way You Like It” and continued with “The Finest,” as fans were back on their feet dancing and singing. The crowd was on their feet bouncing to the music for the remainder of their set.
Founding member and lead singer Mary Davis was on fire as she blasted through their hits and finished with a flourish with the song that catapulted SOS to stardom back in 1980, “Take Your Time (Do It Right).” Fellow members included original member Abdul Ra’oof (vocals/trumpet), with Celia Georgie (background vocals), Sultan Muhammad (saxophone), Reginald Ward (guitar), Ben Smith (keyboards), Allen Smith (keyboards), and Crystal Martin (drums).
After a brief set change, Prince Classmate and protégé, Morris Day made his way on stage with his personal assistant in tow. As only Day can do, he was continually checking himself in the mirror as he strutted around the stage.
Starting off with “Get It Up” Day had the crowd singing through most of his songs as he worked the crowd with his signature moves, classic sound and his stylish attire.
Decked out in a yellow paisley patterned suit the 53 year old Day continued with “Cool” as his assistant followed him around mimicking his moves as he spelled out the chorus C.O.O.L.
For the fans that still had their butts glued to their seats, band members would shout out for everyone to get on their feet and wave their hands in the air. The band member names I did catch were Ricky “Freeze” Smith (bass), Torrell “Tori” Ruffin (lead guitar), and Jellybean Johnson (drums).
Part way through his set Day explained that he was still cool regardless of sweating. He said it was condensation which cooled him down, meaning that he was still cool. It was at this point he headed off stage to cool down. When Day came back out he flawlessly sang “Gigalos Get Lonely Too,” which had many in the crowd dancing with their significant other.
Towards the end of his performance Day had a large number of fans up onstage to strut their stuff. You could see the excitement in many of their faces as they attempted to groove with the likes of Day.
While a few people left the show early, the amphitheater was still packed as Day completed the night with “Jungle Love,” leaving people dancing in the aisles and wanting more.
This was one of the more high-energy shows at Thunder Valley Casino Resorts Summer Concert Series.
Six-time Grammy winner Earth Wind and Fire (aka EWF) took over Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s outdoor amphitheater Saturday, transforming it into one big funkalicious delight of disco, R&B, soul, and a whole lotta lights!
As original members Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and Ralph Johnson, made their way on stage it was obvious the standing room only crowd was in for a treat, as lights started gearing up for an evening of dazzling displays, blazing colors, and an overpowering sense of deja vu.
Joining them onstage was an array of talent, as some members were jumping from one instrument to another. They were Myron McKinley (keyboards), Philip Bailey Jr. (background vocals), B. David Whitworth (vocals, percussion), Greg Moore (guitar, vocals), Morris O’Conner (guitar), John Paris (drums, vocals), Gary Bias (saxophone), Bobby Burns Jr. (trumpet), and Reggie Young (trombone).
Kicking off the show with “Boogie Wonderland,” EWF had 4,500 plus fans on their feet from the first beat to the last, as the crowd waved their hands in the air and grooved with the music.
As EWF danced their way through “Sing A Song” and “Shining Star,” the crowd remained on their feet, singing and dancing.
Towards the middle of the show, as EWF played a handful of love songs like “Love’s Holiday,” “Can’t Hide Love,” and “After the Love,” some audience members took a breather and sat down, while the majority of the crowd remained standing. Some made their way to the nearest aisle to slow dance, only to find the aisle already jammed with people swaying to the music.
As night began to take hold, the stage became a steady stream of eye-candy, as psychedelic patterns were displayed on three different backdrops, along with flashing lights and neon painted instruments.
EWF finished strong with “Let’s Groove,” “Mighty Mighty,” and “In the Stone.” As they finished their last song, fans reluctantly made their way to the exits. Some fans kept looking back at the stage hoping EWF would pop back up and give up one last song.
This was an awesome show, with great music, talent and lights!
Randy’s Rant (continued from last review): Now this is how an aging band puts on a performance. All their songs were hits from their heyday. While they have a few newer songs out, they stuck to the originals that made them popular back in the day, and they didn’t bother trying to introduce newer material. Every time I walked by the merchant booth, there was a line of people.
Next Friday Power Balance Pavilion and 107.9 The End brings you EndFest with Demi Lovato, Adam Lambert, and more. On Saturday, again at Power Balance, watch your favorite American Idol from last season’s show as they bring you some new and not-so-new material.
Don’t forget to check out the remaining shows out at Thunder Valley Casino Resorts Summer Concert Series, as they bring you the likes of Creed, Jeff Dunham, ZZ Top and more!
Parker, best known for his work with James Brown in the 60′s, as well as with George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic in the 70′s, has since come into his own and has been touring under his own name since the 90′s.
Prior to Parker slapping down some funk, Fresno native Jeanette Harris took the audience on a magical ride of silky smooth jazz, with a bit of attitude. Starting off with her single “You Can Dance,” from her ingeniously titled album Saxified, Harris sounded more like a headliner than an opener.
Not disappointing, Harris continued the journey with a little bit of jazz and a dash of funk with “Down Wit’ It.” As she weaved her way through “All I Do” and “Take Me There,” I was beginning to wonder if Parker should have had someone else open for him. The band was flawless, including her brother Michael who was on the drums, Robin Bramlett (bass) and Aaron Thompson (keyboards).
Prior to Parker making it onto the stage, his manager introduced each of the members of the band while they played “Funky Fiesta!” Members included Will Boulware (keyboards), Rodney “Skeet” Curtis (bass), Bruno Speight (guitar), and Marcus Parker (drums).
Once Parker hit the stage it was obvious why he was headlining. This guy was bursting at the seams with funk, as his whole body was shaking to the beat, or maybe he just had to go. You know it happens to the best of us. (Ok already! It was a joke ““ back-off.)
Parker kicked the set off with a very funkalicious version of “Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag,” providing the band a chance to show off their seamless and funky tones.
As Parker transitioned from one song to the next, the band kept up their funky beat. Most noteable was bass player Speight pounding out one bass note after another, adding to the musical tension between songs.
At one point Parker explained how a lot of people refer to his band as a jazz band. He led the audience through a brief jazz session with keyboardist Boulware as Parker played sax (It would have been a great opportunity to bring out Harris). Once he was satisfied everyone understood what jazz sounded like, he kicked it into funk mode with “Make it Funky,” complete with horns ““ gotta love them horns!
It was disappointing to see such a sparse crowd at Pano Hall while two very talented musicians kicked some serious butt. However, the crowd made up for it in energy and enthusiasm as they clapped and hooted throughout the evening.
Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players took it old school Saturday night at Thunder Valley Casino Resort and turned Pano Hall into party central, or should I say funk central.
The 69 year old master of funk Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, along with eight of his friends, brought the house down as they played hit after hit from their massive collection of songs from the 70′s and 80′s.
Looking frail and using a cane from time to time, Sugarfoot started out with “Who’d She Coo,” and “Skin Tight.” The mixed crowd, of both young and old, were on their feet for most of the performance.
Joining Sugarfoot onstage was Grammy Award winning and longtime band member Trae Pierce (Musical Director/Bass), Derwin Daniels (Sax), Courtney “Big Luv” Girlie (Drummer), Emmanuel Cook (Keyboards), and Earl Fleming (Keyboards). I know that’s only five, but I didn’t catch all their names ““ so if anyone knows who they were, I would love to hear from you.
This was funk at its finest with a tight three horn section, a phenomenal drummer, keyboards, and of course one of the greatest bass players. The band weaved their way from one song to another, making for some wonderful transitions between songs.
Sugarfoot’s voice was no worse for wear. Granted he doesn’t sound the same as he did in his younger years, but he can still bring it. His signature sound came through as he continued with “Fopp,” “Jive Turkey,” and “Honey.”
The crowd erupted into cheers, and anyone not standing was soon on their feet, when the band started playing “Love Rollercoaster,” leading into a superbly performed bass interlude.
As the band left the stage, you could feel the tension in the room as everyone cheered for Sugarfoot and his team to come back out onstage and play just one more. Of course they came back out and finished with everyone’s all-time favorite “Fire.”
The funk doesn’t stop here!!
Catch George Clinton at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on March 25th.
Who’d She Coo
Sweet Sticky Thing
I Wanna Be Free
A late start didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm as Grammy Award-winning A Taste of Honey, featuring original band member Janice Marie Johnson, stormed the stage. Johnson was decked out in a pink sequin dress and high heels and sporting her bass guitar.
As soon as the band kicked into gear, the audience was on their feet, as the band played all their hits like “I’m Talking About You” and “Disco Dancin’.”
After a quick wardrobe change into an orange kimono, Johnson sang her hit song “Sukiyaki” as the audience settled back in their seats.
The audience catapulted out of their seats as Johnson finished the set with their biggest hit, “Boogie Oogie Oogie.”
Prior to the show, Johnson was backstage meeting some of her fans. I’ve attended a number of meet-and-greets, and Johnson was one of the most down to earth artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She asked everyone their name, repeating it back to ensure she got it right. She would give them a hug and then start asking them questions while they were getting their picture taken. Class act all the way!
(Updated: I’d like to thank the anonymous caller who was kind enough to take time out to inform me that I was incorrect when I stated Kenneth Gant was a longstanding member. The fact is he was an original member of Midnight star).
After a longer than expected break to change out equipment, the audience was back up on their feet as original Midnight Star members Belinda
Lipscomb (vocals), Melvin Gentry (guitar/vocals), Bo Watson (keyboard/vocals), Bill Simmons (keyboards), and Kenneth Gant (bass) took the stage with longtime bandmate Bobby Lovelace (drums).
Pumping out their signature R&B electro-funk sound, they had the crowd singing and cheering to “Electricity,” leading into a brief version of “Headlines,” “Wet My Whistle” and “Midas Touch.”
I thoroughly enjoy bands like Midnight Star that take the time to choreograph their moves for each song. It adds a completely different dynamic to the performance, and it just plain looks good. Obviously the crowd agreed, because as soon as the band started moving in sync with each other, the audience responded with a round of applause.
After ending their set with “Freak-A-Zoid” and “No Parking (On the Dance Floor),” it was obvious the crowd was quite satisfied with the night’s performances by both bands.
Final analysis: The headliner of the show should have been A Taste of Honey because of their recognizable hits and extraordinary energy onstage. I don’t mean to take anything away from Midnight Star and their wonderful sound and choreography ““ they were superb and worked the crowd, but at the end of the day I would have liked to have heard more from A Taste of Honey.