Evan Ginzburg’s Summer Mini-Concert Reviews
Anybody who knows me realizes that I take full advantage of the smorgasbord of great music, much of it free, in NYC every summer. These are the shows I’ve already seen.
Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra June 14 Bam R&B Fest Metro Tech Brooklyn
Following in the mighty footsteps of his legendary big band leader and arranger father, Chico O’Farill, Arturo and his 18 piece band of virtuoso musicians do it right. With so few orchestras still out there today, Arturo is a must see.
Happy Together Tour 2012 Westbury Music Fair June 23 Westbury Music Fair
Oldies shows are always a mixed bag. This one was no exception.
The three hour extravaganza opened with The Buckinghams who are still solid vocally. Although never one of my favorite’s bands, Kind of a Drag remains catchy and fun hearing live.
The Grass Roots, meanwhile, don’t really feel like the Grass Roots, with only one original member on stage and a new lead singer (with Rob Grill having recently passed). Nonetheless theirs is great music which remains timeless.
Gary Puckett of Union Gap fame also has a great repertoire, but that once great voice has suffered the ravages of time. Still good enough, but not nearly as powerful, the difference vocally was unfortunately noticeable.
Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees also isn’t a tremendous singer, but still possesses infectious energy and humor. He scored a knockout with his set, climaxing with several Monkeys tunes. Although dismissed by many as just a TV band, their songs were written by some of the greatest talents in music history and hold up remarkably well.
Then there were The Turtles.
And man, do I ever love The Turtles.
Whether it’s Happy Together, Eleanor, or You Showed Me, the timeless duo can make you laugh and touch you at the same time; how many groups can do that? Still vocally impressive with an ultra tight band backing both them and all the acts, I can see them again and again and never get bored. Beyond nostalgia, this is a band that is still great on stage and just plain leave you happy which is the point of these gigs anyway.
All in all a wonderful night of music and memories.
Third World Rockefeller Park June 27
This always great reggae band sings of peace and love and brought that happy vibe on a hot, summer day. Now That We’ve Found Love and Try Jah Love are just two of their joyful classics. If you’ve never caught them live, you damn well should.
Fishbone June 28 Bam R&B Fest Metro Tech Brooklyn
Like George Clinton and Sun Ra, Fishbone walk that fine line between genius and madness and make it all work with their unique combination of ska, punk, metal and funk. Their two hour plus set even included a cover of Chuck Brown’s classic Bustin’ Loose. The brilliantly eccentric lead singer, Angelo Moore, ended the memorable show tongue firmly in cheek by telling the adoring crowd, “Thank you and kiss my Black ass.” That pretty much tells you all you need to know about Fishbone. First time I caught them and sure glad I did.
Garland Jeffreys and Shemekia Copeland June 30 Stuyvesant Town Concerts
Garland Jeffreys is one of those great performers who never really got “his due.” With a passionate cult
following who realize that even at nearly 70 he’s one of the greatest showmen still out there, he doesn’t fit into any one musical “category” and thus airplay has always been tough. Combining rock, soul, reggae rhythms and everything in between, Jeffreys commands a stage like few others, even with only two hours of sleep after a long trip home from a gig in Chicago.
Blues great Shemekia Copeland didn’t fare quite as well as the Yuppie crowd sun bathed, read their “women’s magazines,” many with backs turned to her, and pretty much treated her as background music. A few even left when her mighty voice and tight band invaded their space. A case of casting pearls to swine; she gave it a valiant try on a scorching hot day, but just never fully connected.
Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Orchestra & Betty City Winery Hudson Square Music and Wine Festival July 3
Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Orchestra is a 12-piece party band. They are the epitome of a “joyful noise.”
From the minute they come out, marching through the crowd New Orleans style, to their hand clapping finale, these folk know how to have fun and have the chops to back it all up. A good time was had by all, and why not with a three piece horn section, two tremendous female singers, and a ton of fun-loving musicians on stage. This jaded journalist gives them my highest recommendation. Brother Joscephus and crew are a “happy pill” for sure.
Openers Betty were also well worth seeing. With three female leads up front, and two males behind them, they were just catching on fire when their set was given short shrift after a half dozen or so numbers. I’d love to see them headline their own show, because they’re certainly worthy.