After the high of PIJF every year, Cleveland’s jazz festival became the next logical event. With TRAF’s brown lineup reaching higher heights this year, it can be a whole month of weekend fun. When Tri-C Jazz Fest announced the Christian McBride tribute to Bobby Womack, that looked like a big reason to make the trek. Now Nona Hendryx and Nigel Hall are part of the bill, and it sounds insane.
soulshowmike’s Shows of Note
JazzLive at Katz Plaza, June 25
Subha Das Trio at Flagstaff Hill, June 26
Interval Jazz Night at Spirit, June 26
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Band at Ace Hotel, June 27
Elias Khouri at South Park Amphitheater, June 28
Juneteenth Celebration, Downtown/Hill/Point State Park, June 29
Stars at Riverview Jazz at Riverview Park, June 29
‘Jazz On The River’ boat ride with Roger Humphries, June 30
Theron James at Metropolitan Club, June 30
Pittsburgh’s Homegrown R&B at Hartwood Acres, June 30
As I write this quick entry, there is a discussion on (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist) Scott Mervis’ FB wall about War vs. Lowrider Band. I thought I’d post a quick summary of the situation as I understand it, along with (1) some photos from Lowrider’s 2015 performance in Wheeling, WV and (2) some wonderful interview segments with Howard Scott on The Soul Show.
There are 7 original members of War: Howard Scott, Harold Brown, Lee Oskar, Lonnie Jordan, B.B. Dickerson, Charles Miller (deceased), Papa Dee Allen (deceased).
There was a legal decision that prevents Scott, Brown and Oskar to use the name War; they have performed ever since as the Lowrider Band. (Dickerson is not able to perform due to illness)
Jordan currently leads, and is currently the only founding member in, the band War.
The Howard Scott Interview on The Soul Show (WYEP, circa 2015)
They came back for the third or fourth time to a full house at TRAF. It was zany, it was political, it was mood swings, it was spoken word, it was headbanging.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe was originally slated for a weekday performance, but scheduling issues brought him to primetime at the festival weekend finale. The crowd was smaller than hoped, maybe because of the weather concerns, but that same crowd braved the late rainstorm until the end. Karl told the story of a Mr. Small’s concert several years ago, and how the song “Millvale, PA” came to being on his latest album, “Gnomes & Badgers.”
Tangent: Backstage before the show, I met his guitarist DJ Williams, whose band Shots Fired I saw open for Soulive at Ardmore Music Hall near Philadelphia last year. It would be great for Shots Fired to bring it here one of these days.
Nona Hendryx (and Funky Fly Project)
Two members of the proto-funk trio Labelle will be at Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Patti Labelle and Nona Hendryx. Nona, a founding member of the Black Rock Coalition, joins forces with Detroit’s Jessica Care Moore to deliver “Black Women Who Rock,” a tribute to Pittsburgh’s own Betty Davis. If I had to pick one must-see piece of PIJF 2019, it is this.
Nona graciously recorded an interview for The Soul Show in 2016, right after she spearheaded the acclaimed Bernie Worrell tribute concert in NYC. I replayed a segment on WYEP on 6/15. (This episode also features a new Funky Fly Project track that will be officially released at the end of June.)
Here are some of the individual segments from the original airing. The first one covers the origins of Labelle.
soulshowmike’s Shows of Note, 6/17 – 6/23
In addition to virtually the entire set of PIJF offerings,
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust continued to step up the diversity of TRAF for 2019. The Friday evening primetime events were off the chain, starting with Lyndsey Smith and India Arie. More to come! Here are the upcoming events I plan to attend:
Kaia Kater, Wednesday evening (6/12/19) – she’s a new name for me, but I like to catch good talent early.
Tank & The Bangas, Friday evening – Pittsburgh was fortunate to have Tank visit before she catapulted (thanks to the local Music Night on Jupiter production company), then during the ascension (Hartwood 2017), and now as the huge star she is. You will love this.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Sunday evening – this show was moved to weekend primetime, and I’m really excited about that. Big band, great frontman (Karl), hard funk.
India Arie (TRAF 2019’s opening night)
Lyndsey Smith didn’t take long to make her TRAF debut, and she did it justice as India’s opener. With much of her regular band, Lyndsey brought in Cheryl Rinovato of Soulful Femme as guitarist. I would say more here, but her spotlight comes in the next section of the soulBlog.
By the time India Arie hit the stage, it looked like this. Terri Bell (Pittsburgh Cultural Trust VP) and I participated in the introductions, and we agreed that we couldn’t remember it like this, ever.
India Arie got spiritual right off, and she had everyone in a trance for the rest of the evening.
The final cap was Terri Bell’s block party on Stanwix. It was a great night.
Lyndsey Smith Farewell Concert, Hard Rock Café
We knew the day was coming for Lyndsey Smith to finally pack up for New Orleans and take the next step in her career. The Farewell Concert began very nicely with hunnycomb and Starship Mantis. In addition to her band, Lyndsey had a singer squadron. Also in support were the Steeltown Horns, who screeched into Station Square after an Ohio gig earlier on.
I never know what Lyndsey’s peak is. This may have been a new one.
I realized at some late point that I should be protecting the ears, especially with all of the shows attended, and especially since photography draws me right into the danger zone of big speakers. Here is what I have been wearing for the past 7-8 years. They were recommended by a colleague at WYEP. They seem expensive (15.00), but they are comfy and very effective at reducing volume without affecting the frequency balance of what you hear. While you’re at it, get a gift pair for another music-lover, and maybe get a bag of cheap orange spongy ones for random acts of kindness to desperate souls. You’ll spot them easily in the crowd.
James Royce of the new Pittsburgh outfit Royce recorded an interview on The Soul Show. Segments aired on the TSS 6/8/19 episode. You can listen to the whole show (which includes their tracks “Daggers” and “Sanctuary”), listen to the segments, or listen to the entire uncut interview. James talks about his gravitation to rock, the associated hurdles, and the support of mentoring artists.
and here is the full uncut interview:
Sirens & Queens by Anqwenique
BOOM Concepts continues its fine collaboration with Chamber Music Pittsburgh. “Sirens & Queens” by Pittsburgh vocalist Anqwenique explored the contributions of black female composers and singers. Our Shanyse Strickland played French horn and flute, and Lisa E. Harris of Houston participated in a discussion.
In July, take note that Ms. Strickland will be exploring intersections of classical and hiphop in another Chamber Music Pittsburgh joint presentation. Check the Concert Calendar at soulshowmike.org for more details.
Thundercat at Roxian Theatre
Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner is part of the important West Coast jazz/hiphop collective that includes his brother Ron, Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Trevor Martin, Jr., Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, … He played to a huge Roxian Theatre crowd two weeks ago.
Note that Flying Lotus comes to Pittsburgh this year; check the soulshowmike.org Concert Calendar. Also, Kamasi Washington teams with Herbie Hancock in Philadelphia in early August. The significance of that show is that Hancock’s planned collaborations with the new wave have been the buzz for awhile, and this is one of the early manifestations of that. Well worth the trip.
soulshowmike’s Shows of Note, week of 6/9/18 (plus Sunday 6/16/18)
(see details in the soulshowmike.org Concert Calendar)
JazzLive Series – Mark Strickland at Katz Plaza
David Murray & Kahil El’Zabar at Gardenalia
Kaia Kater at TRAF
Jazz On The Steps (2019 Kickoff) at CLP Homewood
Tank & The Bangas at TRAF
AWB at Meadows
The Wailers at Roxian Theatre
Ghost-Note at Roxian Theatre
Note: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe has been moved to the TRAF weekend finale on 6/16/19!
James Royce has a new band with a newer EP called “Black Rock.” I met him at Pointbreezeway at a Soulful Femme show. SF’s Stevee Wellons and Cheryl Rinovato introduced us, then gushed about him and his project.
The EP Release Event was held at Cattivo in Lawrenceville. Stevee and Cheryl sat in, plus I saw B. Michael Smith on harmonica for the first time in a long while. Right before they went on, James and I talked about what black rock is, and it’s too bad that I didn’t have the Tascam recorder in hand. However, we have a phone interview tonight to cover that and more. Listen to The Soul Show on Saturday 6/8 for interview segments plus Black Rock tracks.
Additions to Concert Calendar – see the Concert Calendar section of soulshowmike.org for details
Roger “Feralcat” Romero released his EP in a joint billing with Starship Mantis on 6/1/19. I’ve been following him for the past few months, and asked for an interview to coincide with the release. So, The Soul Show’s interview segments are presented here, but you may want to listen to the entire uncut tape, also below, that includes a discussion about the musical emergences of his siblings Hansel and Allan.
…and here’s the full TSS episode with the three interview segments AND three Feralcat tracks to go with them. Enjoy.
Vine Rewind Festival
Tim Gaber, proprietor of Pittsburgh Winery, sent the promo materials for the Strip District festival that’s just outside his Penn Avenue establishment. Highlights include the return of Jasmine Tate, who started her career in Pittsburgh, then moved to TX. Also, there’s this group called “Beni’s Gospel Brunch w/Steeltown Horns,” which hints of B. Rossman, who will be there with his Starship Mantis. Lyndsey Smith returns for Vine Rewind as well, so I’m expecting something amazing like what we saw at the 6/1/19 SM Album Release (see yesterday’s soulBlog). Byron Nash will be there as well.
Here’s some madness from last year:
Details for Vine Rewind Festival can be found in the Concert Calendar at soulshowmike.org.
Pittsburgh funk act Starship Mantis pulled out all stops for their Mr. Smalls Theatre event on Saturday. To celebrate the release of their second release, “Black Hole Radio AM/FM,” they invited Markila Sherman, Lyndsey Smith, Steeltown Horns and Subha Das to perform with them. As I told frontman Langston Kelly at night’s end, this had been a show of national quality.
Roger “Feralcat” Romero, also with a 6/1 album release, opened the night. We’ll cover that in an another soulBlog later this week.
soulshowmike’s Shows of Note
Toots & The Maytals at Roxian Theatre, June 4
JazzLive Series outdoor opener, followed by Kenny Garrett at Greer Cabaret Theatre, June 4
India.Aire at Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 7
Parliament Funkadelic at Rivers Casino (Geo. Clinton’s final tour!), June 7
Lyndsey Smith Farewell Concert w/Starship Mantis and hunnycomb at Hard Rock, June 8