Swag Snap of the Week: James T. Ingram & Will Downing

American columnist James T. Ingram met up with Will Downing on more than one occasion when the R&B veteran came to town for a special show Saturday at Harris-Stowe State University.

The blues we could all use. I’m not gonna lie, I have the time of my life when I head over to the Chaifetz Arena for the St. Louis Blues Festival – and Friday night was absolutely no different. I have so much fun that I picked Theodus and Pokey Bear and ‘nem over R&B diva Patti LaBelle – who played a sold-out house over at Lindenwood. As much as I love her, I just knew that the blues show would make for better Partyline material. I was absolutely right. Y’all’s mannish grandparents, great aunties and uncles outdid themselves as they broke it down to the blues. None of the folks in that building can say a single word about the twerkers after they did “the dog” and bumped and grinded on each other in the aisles. Somebody’s 71 year-old great-granny in some Shoe Dazzle “suede” stilettos and leggings dropped it during the old school dance contest like she heard “Cash Money taking over the 99 and the 2000s.”  And the performers put them to shame. Theodus Ealey needs to come with a parental advisory warning – even if the average age his fan base is over sixty. I can’t say I was mad at her for doing it, but can anyone tell me how Shirley Brown can go from bragging about her “skills to pay the bills (edited to make safe for Partyline) in one song and have a praise break for the next one. I rock with Terry Wright, TK Soul and Sir Charles Jones too. But I must admit that I don’t get what draws y’all to that Pokey Bear. Hey, if y’all like it, I love it. I hate that the show went so long, because by the time Calvin Richardson came on stage looking as clean as the board of health  (what? This is a blues item. Great Migration slang is totally appropriate) most of the crowd was done for the night. That plaid suit and the musclebound body underneath were pure life. And he had the nerve to sound good too. I just hate that he had to cut the show short, and what little bit of show he had, the folks were walking out on because they had been their all night. I also learned at the blues show that the whole music industry has been going about their Aretha Franklin tributes all wrong – well, with the exception of Fantasia. They should have been tapping these blues divas on the shoulder to pay homage. A surprise guest named Chick Rodgers and Shirley Brown made your faves look like fools and should be booked for every Aretha tribute hence forth.

A legendary night of rap. Speaking of Cash Money and the Chaifetz, you could not have told me that Juvenile, DJ Quik, Bun B, 8Ball&MJG, Scarface and Too Short sold out the arena for their Legends of Hip Hop Show if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. This is not a diss. With Scarface and Quick at the Pageant, Too Short and Juvenile at Mystic and 8Ball &MJG at the Marquee over the course of last year, it just didn’t’ seem like they would pull a 10K crowd when you add up the capacities at the aforementioned venues. Well they did. And to the promoters, I know when the show is selling well – it’s tempting not to come up off of reviewer tickets – but you need me to tell everybody else who wasn’t there about the win. Quik came out first. He was dressed to prove to the Migos that we started the colorful silk blouse trend. The whole show was hype. And the energy from the audience was downright bananas. I haven’t seen an audience lit like that since the acts on stage were in style the first time. If I had to pick a favorite performance, I’d go ahead and give it to Bun B. Him and Scarface were neck and neck until ‘Face started having technical issues. He powered through. I’ll still follow them around like Deadheads do the Grateful Dead, but I was quietly underwhelmed by 8Ball & MJG – mainly because they didn’t perform “You Don’t Want Drama.” I can’t believe they would skip it for the sake of time. Perhaps they didn’t want the energy to shift when they started singing the hook. But everybody was grown enough to know it’s just a song. Speaking of, who else was afraid that a riot was gonna break out when Juvenile left the stage without performing “Back That Thang Up?” And who else was surprised that when he returned to the stage after the crowd rumbled, the folks where already over it and started walking out. I still had a ball at the show though.

Lamont’s long opening. I have been going to shows since The Ambassador was at Northland Shopping Center – and I cannot for the life of me remember an opening act that went on as long as Lamont Hadley did when he warmed the stage for the one and only Will Downing Saturday night at Harris-Stowe. Since the show started at 6:30 p.m.,  I thought I would have time to catch almost the whole thing before I scooted down the street to Chaifetz for the rap show. Wrong (in my Charlie Murphy voice). Lamont Hadley gave what I believe was a 90-minute opening act. It was good, don’t get me wrong. He gave some cute covers and showcased his diversity as a cover artist by singing everybody from Luther, to Babyface, to Keith Washington, to Kem. But because he took his sweet time leaving the stage, I was only able to catch a sip of Will Downing. He sounded good and I really don’t remember him being so mannish (I mean that in a good way) which tickled me. I just hate that I didn’t get to hear but about a one-third of his show. Shout out to Witherspoon Ent. and Breakaway Productions for bringing him to town though. I heard nothing but great things about the show regarding Lamont and Will. And let me say that hostess with the mostess Niecy Davis looked super cute in her Brandin Vaughn Collection ensemble.

Trap.Soul.Paint returns. Since I’m on the subject of grown folks getting hype, I might as well remind y’all that Trap.Soul.Paint will be happening this Sunday at the House of Soul. Last month was extra lit because of Mocha Latte and her twin/daughter Sidney’s birthday celebration. That turn up was real, honey. But Trap.Soul.Paint is all the way live regardless. Where else can you get the refined taste of visual arts and itch your inner ratchet with a random twerk session amongst an understanding group of sophisticated ladies and gentlemen? Things usually kick off around 6. Visit trapsoulpaint.com for more information.

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