Tag Archives: soul music

Not a Music Journalist goes to Harmony In Life April 18, 2009

I decided to call all the blog posts about live performances Not a Music Journalist. One because I'm not, I'm a fan. Two because a lot of my time at performances is spent singing along, dancing (lots of that) and getting with the overall energy of the artist. The set lists won't ever be right, nor complete because I am singing, dancing and vibing. However, I feel like the live music experience is so beautiful, I share it anyway, in a very non-journalistic, everyman fan/stan sort of way.

I stumbled upon the Harmony In Life Show via a tweet on twitter from @EarwaxRecords (thank you!). I'd never heard of Harmony in Life before, all I knew was that Eric Roberson and N'Dambi were going to be performing and I had to be there. Based on the previous soul performances sponsored by Harmony in Life rest assured they are doing a good thing promoting Soul music in Atlanta. Check out their bio on Myspace.

This edition featured six artists. The first two I'd never heard of but they did some really nice albeit short sets. The opening act was Heston. Mellow music and a really sweet breezy vocal. Heston as with all the acts are backed by the Harmony in Life house band Misty Rose (young, tight and can play anything). Second up was Kameron Corvet a product of Morehouse, soulful but with more of a folkish rockish vibe. Would like to see both him and Heston in more extended sets and expect to do so in some upcoming shows. Third up was Rhonda Thomas whose name I was familiar with but really couldn't associate her in my ear with a particular sound. She has sung previously with the legend, Issac Hayes and with one of my favorite's India Arie. However I still don't have a good idea of her sound based on this performance. Definitely want to hear more.
Next up were the heavy hitters. Listeners to WCLK 91.9 fm in Atlanta, particularly Jamal Ahmed's show are familiar with Atlanta's own (via Birmingham England) Julie Dexter.She shut it down. Funky, soulful, jazzy, she had it locked down. I definitely need some more Julie Dexter in my life. Hope you get you some 
The next to the last performer was the Energy known as N'Dambi. My BFF whom I attended the Saadiq concert with turned me on to her when she released Little Lost Girls Blues and I've been checking her ever since. Her performance is energetic, her vocals, deep, truthful and fun, which is something you don't see a whole lot of. I don't recall seeing an artist smile the way that she does throughout the show, she's serious and she's seriously enjoying the experience. My girlfriend, who had heard none of the artists on tap that night REALLY enjoyed her. I am breathlessly awaiting her next release and performance in the A this summer.
Finally the man we were all waiting for (in the pressure cooker of Sugar Hill) Eric Roberson stepped to the mic and let me tell you some folks fell in love that night, with him and with each other. He was fresh off a performance late that afternoon in Charlotte NC and you would never know it. He sang the jams Couldn't Hear Her, Softest Lips which he broke down into Prince's Adore midway (approached a faint on that one),  Head to Toe (on which my girlfriend melted), Been in Love, a freestyle song he made up about air conditioning and other words shouted out from the audience and more. The thing about Erro is that he could sing Old McDonald and that voice would knock you out. I need to catch him again… and again and again when he comes to the A.
Overall I love what Harmony in Life is doing for soul music here in Atlanta. You know for the last decade or so this town has been dominated by hip-hop or what is passed off has hip-hop. Don't get me wrong I love it, but soul music is closet to my soul and I appreciate what they're doing. The line-up was all soul and all unique, the house band is excellent as is the host. The venue Sugar Hill is a night club, a very HOT nightclub and some folks were having trouble with the heat. However the set up is good because you can stand on the dance floor all the way up to the stage and the club is u-shaped with an upstairs. 
If you're in the A, be sure to ch
eck out future shows, HIL is doing beautiful things.

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His Majesty Raphael Saadiq

Raphael Saadiq, Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA

March 28, 2009

The moment I heard that he would be in Atlanta it wasn't a question. I bought two tickets with no concern who the second would be for. I had to be there and I'm so glad that me and my BFF from back home were able to be in his presence. First things first.

The show opened with a trio (plus drummer) called Tha Boogie. The music, fresh, their energy high octane, the sound I  would call the funky future. I quite enjoyed the set, because they aren't playing what you hear on the radio (if you listen to such things). You can check them out on their Myspace. Now for the main event.
The lights dropped, the band, then the two back-ups then Saadiq, in his 60's David Ruffin-ish glory. Let me first gush, he looked fantastic, but as good as he looked, the performance was the star. The tour is in support of his most recent output, The Way I See It. The set included The Way See It nearly in its entirety, with a standout extended performance of Big Easy, inspired by post-Katrina New Orleans. The band killed this one, in the sense that the sound put you right down in the heart of Big Easy. The performance was also sprinkled with hits from Tony Toni Tone, including Lay Your Head on My Pillow, Anniversary, Lucy Pearl I Wanna Dance Tonight and cuts from his solo debut  Instant Vintage, You Should Be Here, Still Ray and closed out the show post encore with an extended play of Skyy Can You Feel Me. 
The performance from the opening act to the close of Saadiq's set was fantastic. The energy, was high throughout, his female backup singer an absolute spitfire and his keyboardist, surprised every when he started BLOWING out of the blue on Can you Feel Me. What I would have liked to see more of? Energy from the crowd. As a middle age person, who's first concert was Parliament/Funkadelic and is used to dancing for an entire show (which I did) I was disappointed at how some of the crowd on the floor were barely bobbing their heads. What I would like to have heard more of? Music. Most curious thing about the show? Not really curious but Saadiq is wildly averse to cameras during the performance. I had my BFF working one for me (He's tall) we got our shots and put it away out of respect, but the crowd on the floor was soooo focused on getting the money shot, I'm not so sure they enjoyed the show. Anytime the cameras were shooting, Saadiq was dancing, moving and spinning in the other direction. He even called out (in a very nice way) one particular photog offender. The beauty of the end? After he and his band left it all on the floor. Saadiq shook hands, signed autographs and posed for phone pictures.
In all, this continues a string of great performances that I've witnessed at Variety Playhouse. Saadiq et all, held it down. If he comes through your town (he's heading to Europe now), put your money down on some tickets. Just make sure you put your dancing shoes on and your cameras down.

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