Friday night I made my way to the Stifel Theatre for the first time since the name change to watch legendary band Earth, Wind and Fire do their thing. After several tours with Chicago, their audience Friday looked like St. Charles, but we still had a ball up in there as we made our way to Boogie Wonderland. I’m not sure if he suffered some breakage over the past couple of years, but Verdine White’s lengthy press-n-curl has become a bob. It seemed like he was still getting used to not having hang time when he whipped his hair back and forth while going to work on that bass and shaking his moneymaker in his head-to-toe sequined outfit. Verdine does the absolute most as far as flash and overall “extra,” but he is so sick with it on his instrument that he is rightfully one of the few folks who gets away with it. Verdine was killing it, but he wasn’t by himself. The whole band was serving family reunion soul realness in the flesh. I got my whole entire life from that show – do you hear me?! And the fact that Philip Bailey can still hit those high notes like that after 40-something years made me want to get on that stage and slap his face! The audience was feeling every bit of it. If it weren’t for the abundance of khaki pants and Sperry loafers, it looked like your average holiday cookout – including the inebriated uncle that is doing too much. Sir – yes, you the blonde gentleman of a certain age with the belt buckle – trying to dip and twirl the ushers was a bit much!
Over the top praise for Under Cover Weekend. Some kind of way the entire existence of An Under Cover Weekend was never on my radar before this weekend. But I will be back from here on out thanks primarily to Theresa Payne and TreG. The event consists of three nights of concerts featuring local artists covering national acts from a particular decade. I heard Theresa Payne was going to do Whitney Houston and was like, “Okay girl, if you mess up I will be forced to eat all of the praise I’ve given you over the years.” Well, Nippy was probably shouting down from heaven with a “Girl, you better sing.” I knew from the satin gloves and big, wet, juicy wig that I was in for a treat. But had I known then what I know now, I would have recorded – and sent it to major labels and sold it at every chop suey that has an open door policy for bootleggers. I know somebody is doing Whitney justice when they can cover “You Give Good Love” and not make me cringe. And she wasn’t the only one who got it all the way in on the AUCW stage. That TreG came to slay when served up a sample from Usher Raymond’s catalog. Let me give props to TreG, the band and the background singers. But can I please take a moment to flip my gypsy locks in homage to those dancers – particularly TreG’s little brother (sorry I don’t remember your name sir). Because it is an intimate venue, the Delmar Hall stage barely has room for a robust band. Yet, here this crew of dancing machines was doing duck walks and death drops. How they managed to do on that stage without falling off is beyond me. The curation of TreG’s medley of my favorite Usher jams was epic – as was the performance. I now have AUCW on my weekend on my radar to stay.
Café Soul is now a tween. I didn’t even bother moving my car when I went straight down the street from the Stifel to the House of Soul for Café Soul’s 12-year-anniversay. It was like a family reunion up in there – and some of the folks I hadn’t seen since Lucas Schoolhouse. Angie, Nichol and Tendai are everybody’s favorites (not just mine), so the folks came out of their crypts to kick it Friday night – and jam to the sounds of the Dirty Muggs. Rhoda G. also set the crowd off with her saxy (yes, saxy) rendition of Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up.” If I had a nickel for every second she can hold a note, I could retire from my Partyline duties altogether. The folks were definitely feeling the Dirty Muggs. Although I can’t say that I’m a fan of them adding G-Eazy’s “No Limit” to their set list, I still had a great time – which is always the case for me at Café Soul.
One time for the Trap Run. Although it doesn’t necessarily fall into my beat, I must give the organizers of the Trap Run STL a huge shout out for such a wonderful event. I was dog-tired from tearing the club up the night before, but so glad I yanked myself out of bed to see a 5K with a route through the Ville that was a resounding success! I was in awe of seeing the folks run through a historically black neighborhood as hip-hop played at the finish line. It was absolutely everything.
Sunday night Funny. For the third Sunday in a row I have moseyed on over to the Laugh Lounge and all but have to perch in the DJ booth because it was so packed. This past Sunday I came through to check out Damon Williams and it was packed to the gills yet again. I was able to squeeze in last week for Shawn Morgan, who had me hollering. But this week, I was like, “I’m gonna have to cop a squat on this stage, because there is seriously no seat to be had.” As per usual, Jessie Taylor made a space for me. And as per usual I was laughing so hard at Damon Williams that I thought I was just going to fall out and start kicking and screaming. He is seriously one of the most underrated in the game. Of all the times I’ve seen him, I only think I’ve ever heard him say the same joke twice a handful of times – and that bit where he pretended to be a gangster and then switched into his regular swag during the height of the “Def Comedy Jam” and “Comic View” days is the only one that comes to mind. He may not sell out stadiums, arenas or theatres but if you want to laugh for the sake of laughing and can appreciate funny outside of the “name brand” comedians, then he should be your go-to guy, because he brings it every single time.