Swag Snap of the Week: The Isley Brothers

Kevin C. Johnson and F. Afua Bromley backstage with music legends The Isley Brothers following their fantastic show Saturday night at Lindenwood University’s Scheidegger Center for the Arts.

Tonight, we celebrate our love for Young Leaders. I know y’all are thrilled that I referenced a Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson duet as the hour arrives for the St. Louis American Foundation to pay homage to a group of young people making a difference on all fronts in the metro area. I won’t take too much time with this today, since you should already be there. But I will say that if you are reading this between the hours of 4:30 and 5:30ish p.m. on Thursday, February 20 and are not at least on your way to the Four Seasons – put this paper down, go into your closet and hop into your best “corporate realness good clothes” and get yourself down here with us for the 10th Annual Salute to Young Leaders Awards and Networking Reception. We’ve got some name brand folks that we will honoring. Side note: see for yourself in the special section made just for this occasion. And mistress of ceremonies Rebeccah Bennett is ALWAYS good for an inspiring word. If you happen to be reading this  earlier in the morning or afternoon, visit www.stlamerican.com or call (314) 533-8000 and get your tickets.

St. Louis Muted Festival. Listen, there are probably still some people at Chaifetz Arena waiting for Bobby Brown to sing “My Prerogative” after the St. Louis Music Festival turned into the concert that never ends with microphones we never heard. I must say that the folks were much more polite to these folks than they were to Master P and ‘nem, mainly because it was clear from the get that the issue was the sound and not the artist. A trusted inside source told me that the contractor sound company and engineers gave the promoter and stage manager the absolute blues with their “nightmarishly bad quality.” El DeBarge was up first and it was a mess. He didn’t look to be in top form and when the sound started tripping, he didn’t know how to recover. So he just sat there, sang here and there while playing keys over a few tracks and hit it. When they finally got the track to “Rhythm of the Night” to play, he cued it up to the “la la la la” part and two-stepped right off the stage. DJ Kut took his “keeping it real” game to new heights when he essentially said “we’ve all got somebody in our families going through the same thing, so treat him like our cousin and keep him in our prayers” before playing El’s finale all the way through. Speaking of Kut, if a promoter wants to skimp out on the sound for the artists, they better hire Kut as the DJ. I feel like he is the only reason why there wasn’t a lowkey revolt. Anyway. After waiting forever, Jagged Edge emerged. I think one of the twins was fighting off the coronavirus because he was sweating and coughing and had a towel wrapped around him like a shawl. They came out looking like the Snow Patrol from SuperFly 2.0. They did alright considering the microphones were in and out. Doug E. Fresh powered through and did his thing. But poor SWV wasn’t so fortunate. I feel like one of the sound people had it out for Coko, because for the first three of their four songs, her microphone wanted no parts of the performance. I say that it was a vendetta against her because Taj and Lelee’s mics would be working, and they would hand their mics to her, and when she would try to serve us that soprano, we got whispers. Lelee solidified her status as my favorite member of the group when she cussed the sound people out and read the other acts and the promoter for filth because they didn’t get a sound check. She accused another act, who she was gracious enough not to name, of lip syncing and said they should have been the ones with a soundcheck because SWV actually sings. Help. Then she let all the male performers on the bill know that she was none too pleased because they didn’t extend any type of Valentine’s gesture to them. I know it had to be frustrating to hit those little soft shoe steps knowing that folks couldn’t get into the singing – because there wasn’t any. If Coko was so mad she cussed on the mic, you know it had to be bad – because she has a gospel album. Anyway. Word on the curb is that there was also issue with who was going to close the show. Even though Teddy Riley and Blackstreet were the designated headliners, Bobby Brown reportedly made a fuss about closing the show. Which he did at 12:20 a.m. Aside from the audience – who was held against their will for at least two hours longer than we expected – Teddy and Blackstreet (including David Hollister, who sounded great) were victims in this as well. Because they gave a great show, but everyone was so bothered by the logistical nightmare that they couldn’t really get into it. And Bobby’s finale was short at least three of his hits. I guess it’s his prerogative whether he does the song or not. The promoters and the performers were not to blame, but suffering through that show was still traumatic. For me, the trauma was also rooted in missing every.single.other.place I had planned to attend and shout out among the many events being held in the name of love Friday night – which is why I’m so light on variety, as far as my recaps go for this week.

The Isley Brothers got it in. Listen, Ronald Isley made my heart skip a beat on the day after Valentine’s Day when he stepped out on to the stage Saturday at Lindenwood with a three-piece suit made from my grandmother’s Christmas tablecloth with matching top hat and shoes. I was able to get my whole life from the fact that he opted out of a suit shirt and was serving us shoulders, elbows and upper chest so seductively I could barely focus. His voice has seen better days, but the performance sold me on absolutely everything about that show – including Ernie’s sickening guitar solos. They did all the hits – except for anything Mr. Biggs related, which is understandable considering the current status of the collaborating partner in that persona. But the Isley Brothers don’t owe me a thing for that show! It’s easy to forget our icons’ musical contributions when you don’t have them packaged together on the regular. The singing, the dancing, the praise break... I was checking for all of it. And his wife and her sister threw down as backup singers. And I was thrilled to my core that Ronald gave his ex, St. Louis’ own Angela Winbush (his ex-wife and the reason he still resides here to this very day) a shout out for her songwriting contribution to the group!

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