Soul power at Stifel. When I hit up Stifel Theatre for Urban Vibe Ent’s “An Evening of Soul” Sunday night, I was expecting to have a good time. You know what, I was expecting to have a great time. Even still, I was surprised that I enjoyed Vivian Green’s little sip of an opening like I did. What? She has a good voice, but her songs just don’t really do it for me. I must say that her live show was quite and energetic. Most people seemed annoyed that her set included so a lengthy mix of a throwback cookout mixtape facilitated by my former hip-hop crush Kwame on the tables. But I was okay with it, mainly because until Sunday I thought her original music was mostly a snooze. But I learned from the show that her upbeat stuff is kind of tight. Speaking of tight, she wasn’t lying when she sang about running 3 miles on “Emotional Rollercoaster” because that body was snatched as she sang to those tracks. She wasn’t the only one sowing financial seeds into somebody’s CrossFit/functional fitness coach business. Because Eric Benet is as toned now as back when he was first singing about femininity. He’s gone from “Mr. Steal Your Girl,” to “Mr. Steal Your Mama and Your Oldest Auntie!” And then he had the nerve to seduce in skinny jeans and sound even better than he looks. Those high notes and him singing Tamia’s part like it was second tenor instead of first soprano and the rest of those high notes reminded me why I’ve been rocking with him from the get. Since I’m talking about high notes, who was that hollering woman in the crowd that screamed from the top of her lungs that could hold that holler so long that I wouldn’t be surprised if she could deep sea dive without an oxygen tank? Listen she cut up on Anthony Hamilton. I just thank my heavenly father that I wasn’t sitting anywhere near her, because I would have probably suffered from migraines for the rest of my life – even after I summoned security to escort her away from me. Now don’t get me wrong, Anthony threw all the way down and deserved all the audible adoration we had to give – just not at the expense of my eardrum. He got it in with that show that felt like a pot of soul gumbo that deliciously blended the old and new.
St. Louis black girl music magic. Since I’m already talking about splendid soul music, let me take a moment to shout out a trio of ladies that used their talent to put on for our city at various events. Not only did they make me even more proud of our musical legacy, it gave me all kinds of hope as far how bright our future. Friday night I made it my business to stop by SLAM Underground, the monthly nighttime set usually framed around an exhibition that blends the nightlife experience with the visual arts. Since “The Shape of Abstraction,” which is a sample of The Ollie Collection – a huge donation of black abstract art to the Saint Louis Art Museum by Ronald Maurice Ollie in memory of his parents. But back to my point. Bassist and vocalist Tonina Saputo was the featured musical entertainment. And she threw down with her music that is inspired from various cultures and ethnicities blended to make a sound all her own. She had the Dancer of Life (a Twilight Tuesday regular with her own “eclectic” style of dance) doing low kicks and spins the entire set. Right after Tonina hit her last note, I booked it down Lindell to hear Katarra tear it up at the Dark Room for her Cocoa Voyage album release party. Listen, it was a whole entire vibe anchored by her lovely soulful voice. There was barely a place to stand up in there as she gave them a live rendition of the record that was absolutely everything – I’m talking life from start to finish. Then on Saturday night I caught my girl Theresa Payne doing her thing alongside rapper Indiana Rome at the Gaslight. Girl, who did that beat on your face. I might have to secure their services for Salute to Young Leaders in February. But anyway. These three women, with three totally different types of voices slayed the microphone in ways you would have to see to believe and I was proud to be a black woman from St. Louis after seeing them.
Life from the Lemon Pepper Kickback. On Thanksgiving Eve I scooted downtown to the Met building for the 3rd Annual Lemon Pepper Kickback. I didn’t taste the food, so I can’t say for sure, but I think the name is inspired by the menu that is served. Either way, it was a blast fellowshipping with folks with a house party game night vibe. The way it was set up with the couches and game stations, I promise it was like kicking it in the living rooms of the coolest people you know. It was a great variation from the regular nightlife roundup.
That 90s Jam diversity. DJ Neco held it down for James Biko for the latest installment of That 90s Jam Wednesday night at The Ready Room. For whatever reason, the pre-Thanksgiving edition was the most ethnically diverse one I’ve ever attended. At first, I thought the healthy mix of general population folks was the result of a spillover from an earlier show. But then I started looking at them mouth all the words to these 90s R&B and hip-hop joints. I was totally convinced that they came for the genre/era when a woman randomly started reenacting the chair dance routine of Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna” on those big black couch seats.
A House of Soul Thanksgiving. I can’t say enough about all the folks who took time from their regularly scheduled holiday programming to give to those who need it most. There were folks all over the city giving turkeys and groceries. And a space that I usually hit up for nightlife festivities opened its doors to give a holiday meal to homeless and needy residents on Thanksgiving. Listen, I’m low-key getting teary eyed thinking of all the folks who get judged for being on the entertainment and nightlife side of things join forces to give a memorable Thanksgiving to those who wouldn’t have had a feast otherwise. I’m going to leave some folks out, but Nichol Stevenson played host at House of Soul and it was touching to see the intention and care that went into the meal.
Hey Luv was a holiday hit. Saturday night I made my way to the .Zack building and it was absolutely bumping with R&B (old and new), rap and reggae. I must say that the folks came through to dance and kick for the Thanksgiving weekend edition of Hey Luv. Can I just ask the folks wo request for me to hold the elevator for them not to body roll their way to the door, so I won’t seem like I’m holding everyone up.
Shy Glizzy’s sold-out Saturday night. On my way home from Hey Luv, I saw an influx of traffic on Locust and decided to see what the fuss was about. I honestly don’t think Dre and Melanie could have fit another person into the Marquee to catch rapper Shy Glizzy get it in on stage. It hasn’t been that packed since Jeezy was up in there. I can’t say I felt one way or the other about Glizzy, but he clearly has a solid fan base up in the STL.