A night of life for and by L.I.F.E. I really didn’t get to the bottom of why Chrisette Michele wasn’t at the Pageant for a benefit concert, mainly because I was so glad that because of her absence, I was able to catch another one that I would have been even more disgusted than I was already geared up to be, had I missed it. Ferguson resident Brian Owens and his Ferguson based L.I.F.E. Arts Inc. honored Ferguson native Michael McDonald – yes, the blue eyed soul O.G. – at a benefit concert where proceeds went not only to the nonprofit started by Owens to train artists in every element of the music business, but a portion also went to Todd Shelton, the McCluer South-Berkeley High School football coach who was paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a shooting earlier this year. That show and the energy flowing from both sides of the stage was the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in a minute Sunday night at The Touhill. The fact that Michael McDonald was being honored with whole concert speaks to how invested he is in the healing of his hometown. And before I go any further, let me just say if Delores Shante is ever honored for a lifetime of beating these streets, I want Owens and his team to organize the tributes. They had everybody from Pat Riley to Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan singing the praises of Mr. McDonald via video on his special night. Now let’s get on with the show. Owens had the most masterful band – including not one, not two, not three, but four keyboardists –including Alvin Quinn killing it on the bass and a whole host of others. Shedrick Mitchell, Peter Martin, Pops Jackson and Michael McDonald were an absolute dream team on the keys. Brian was clutch on the vocals and Michael McDonald served up a show like he was playing Busch Stadium. I can’t say enough about it. And let’s talk about the composure of Kennedy Holmes, when her mic was trippin’ just before she was to be Michael’s stand-in Patti for “On My Own.” When I was 14, if I was on stage singing alongside my freshman concert choir and the microphone didn’t work, I would have dropped it, run through the crowd and out the door never to be seen again. Kennedy grabbed that mic and belted like nobody’s business. Michael – and the rest of us – couldn’t help but be impressed. The whole night was life indeed.
A packed out Peacefest. Speaking of packed and positive energy – let me tell y’all about Better Family Life’s Peacefest 2019 at Bella Fontaine Park Sunday afternoon. I thought I was going to be able to pull into a spot and head straight to mingle with other guests and catch a taste of Dirty Muggs and it be as simple as that. There were so many folks that slid through that they had to have parking monitors direct traffic through the park like it was Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. I was so happy to see BFL get the community support it deserves – and to hit up those food vendors before I kicked off my post-salute 30 recovery program on October 1.
Boyz II Men breezing through the hits. Because they have been suited and booted their last few visits to town, I was surprised the veteran R&B trio came out quite casual in their last all-white grown and sexy party attire for the season at The Fox on Friday night. Wanya was doing the absolute most – not only with his neck, but his whole body as he danced around during their show opening performance of “Motown Philly.” He was a dancing machine! It was a cute show, but when it was over, I was like “that was quick.” Their show ended so early that if I hadn’t had other spots to hit, I could have caught the last bit of “Dateline.” Folks didn’t seem too bothered by the brevity, because they packed so much into their little time. I peeped that gospel singer BeBe Winans was in the audience acting like he didn’t want to be bothered with any fans at the same time his sister was on stage at The Touhill. I guess he’s seen her sing enough to come to town just to visit and catch a little “Cooleyhighharmony” while she was giving the faith-based folks their life. Speaking of life, who else felt all warm and fuzzy by how the folks were in perfect harmony with the group as they belted out Mariah Carey’s part for “One Sweet Day?”
Shift 58’s Dark Room takeover. Because Boyz II Men’s concert ended like they were on punishment for not getting home before curfew, I was able to walk right over to the Dark Room and catch the last sip of Shift 58 setting up shop in the intimate listening room in the lobby of the Grandel Friday night. As with mostly all of Shift 58’s sets, It was so cute – full of beautiful people partying with a grown folks influencer energy.
Biko and Agile One were good to the last drop. How do you know when a DJ is blazing the tables? When instead of sprinting to the nearest elevator to make your escape from a rooftop party that the rain won’t let be great, the folks huddle under an awning and groove like nothing’s happening. That’s how it went down at the Last Hotel Saturday night when James Biko and Agile One had the rooftop looking like a diverse hipster rom-com club scene. Who was that woman in the green romper serving up that Dollar Tree Paula Abdul choreography, like the rain wasn’t coming down? I can’t say I’ve seen a kicking it set so integrated – at least without a crossover national celebrity – in a long time. As I was leaving out, the rain came pouring out of nowhere – and cleared up just as quickly. But not fast enough to save the silk presses of more than a few young ladies. It’s me. I’m the young ladies. I went from whipping my leftover Salute hair back and forth like a ‘tween Willow Smith, to rocking rough and stuff with my afro puffs.
Another fine Freakum dress festivity. Jenni Lovette had her annual gathering of the freakum dresses Saturday night at Blue and I saw people paying homage to everyone from Shug Avery to Oaktown 357 with their seductive ensembles. Do biker shorts and bodysuits usually count as freakum dresses? Well they did Saturday night I’m going to say that Jenni’s beaded green and black form fitting little ditty was my favorite of the night. The fellas came through with their freakum blazers and actual going out attire too. And by fellas, I mostly mean Will Henton.