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The Soul Show Christmas (pre) Show, S.O.S. at AWC, Beni at Village Tavern, Kenny at Backstage

The Soul Show’s annual Christmas Edition is on 12/22, but…this year there will be two, because of my recent collaboration with WTJX-fm in the US Virgin Islands.  The WTJX show goes by the same name, is also 3 hours, and is also on Saturdays.  It’s recorded it in my basement studio (built by a TSS supporter).  My approach to the playlist is a little less eclectic/daring, but things are evolving.  

If you’d like to hear a blackish holiday mix before Saturday, here is the WTJX edition for your early and on-demand listening pleasure: 

S.O.S. Band opened the much-awaited inaugural We Want The Funk Festival on 12/14/18.  The August Wilson Center team went all out with the Afrocentric offerings for both adults and children all day Friday and Saturday.  

Okay, on the music front, let me begin by saying that S.O.S., although solid, never felt to me on the same echelon as Cameo/Brick/Lakeside/O. Players/Con Funk Shun.  Maybe it was that the mechanized 80s sound was in full swing when they hit it big.  Given my slight predisposition, I was hoping to be swayed.  Mary’s voice was strong and she was energetic for 75, but overall the band looked a little corny of step and a bit flat.  Most significantly, though,  the sound was not at AWC’s normal level of excellence.  The bass cabinets at the stage corners sounded muddy, and I’m wondering if the band brought their own sound team and extra gear.  It didn’t sound like the home team.

In balance, I bounced my thoughts off of another attendee whom I respect, and he thought everything was fine.  

Beni Rossman plays Village Tavern every 3 months or so, and I spent Saturday evening enjoying  local talent.  This time the trio included Chris Potter, Beni’s bandmate in Starship Mantis, and Olga Watkins’ drummer Subha Das.  At the end of the 60 Seconds of Pittsburgh video is a sweet rendition of Hathaway’s “This Christmas.”

60 Seconds of Pittsburgh – Beni Rossman Trio

Village Tavern is a family business owned by Ray Hanis, who spent many years as an actor in California. That’s him (front) with his son and brother.  His second love is music, and the bands he brings in often invite him to sit in on percussion.  I think he told me Denzel used to stop in while filming “Fences.”

As I walked into Backstage Bar yesterday evening, Kenny Blake was killin’ “Always There” by Ronnie Laws.  As WESA host Bob Studebaker explains, it is tradition that Kenny play on the Tuesday leading up to Christmas.  It was packed.  

KB at BB

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