August is well on its way and along with it some superb music. Earlier in July I attended Diane Birch’s performance at Joe’s Pub. That was my first time at that space and I eagerly wished I could return. My wish was granted this past week when I was invited to see a soon to be legendary musician Rachel Brown who won my heart. This woman has everything a music fan wants, plus she was stunningly beautiful. Her performance was only made grander by her band that is the most hip group of people I have ever seen.
I lazily arrived at Joe’s Pub to a lingering and large crowd in the museum lobby. I wanted to get there early after a day of hard rain in the city. Since my art studio was nearby, I planned on going painting after the show. There was an eclectic mix of all ages and creeds in the space sparking loud conversations. I sensed a jovial atmosphere. As I watched more people enter and hug their friends, I learned that tonight was a sold out show. After a short wait, the doors to the hall opened and we were seated. I sat right by the entrance with some colleagues and had a perfect view of the stage. I was surprised to learn that there was to be a full band on stage. As guests entered the hall, a digital billboard hung in the background advertising other acts that were set to perform in the pub this month like Diane Birch and Jane Lynch. Our table was full and I ordered a Sixpoint Pilsner to start the evening off right.
Even the crowd was much more lively compared to last time I was here. Everyone was chatting away and the anticipation was high. My beer arrived just as a photographer was setting up next to me. Finally, the stage got dark. Out walked the coolest band ever in all their glory. Rachel’s band warmed up with some soul funk to get us ready. Almost immediately, out came the angel of the night. She wore a full summery white dress of which she loved to twirl throughout the evening. With her hair up she smiled that lovely smile and had the crowd in the palm of her hand. We were ready. She started off with a rock and roll style song infused with some soul.
Miss Brown’s eight-piece band was impressive to say the least! The crew consists of Manny Laine (drums), Yacouba Sissoko (kora), Patrick Andy (bass), Gil “XL” Defay (trumpet), Bendji Allonce (percussion), Eli Menezes (guitar), Marcus Miller (saxophone) and the lovely Shawna “Sir” Corso (vocals). It was at this point when I became entranced with Shawna who had a mouth that could wake the heavens. With her huge smile and constant swaying of the head, she was in her own element. In fact, I could watch everyone that night. They were a group of entertaining artists that used their talent in music as well as their stage presence to keep us entranced. Patrick with his Afro smiled and was happily grooving. Both the Manny and Bendji made eye contact throughout the show laughing as they played. Gil and Marcus wielded their musical weapons and were synced in their sound and choreography. Eli was probably the most relaxed man there, wailing on and off with inescapable solos that had us hooked. Last but certainly not least, Yacouba had his strong moments where he closed his eyes and completely devoted himself to his craft. They all had such a great vibe that night. The combination of this musical perfection resounded in a collective choir of musical serenity for the entire audience. I could not see a single frown on anyone’s face.
Rachel was totally in her place and loved it. She unleashed a power that was full of confidence. At times, she was swinging away and dancing lightly as if she was alone at home with nobody watching. The band was all smiles. Eventually, the horn section came out for reggae like song. Four Leaf Clovers was my favorite song that evening. Rachel Brown was so happy. Remarkably, the band shifted gears everywhere. Each member was able to merge different genres together for a sound that was a blend of everything amazing.
Despite some technical issues towards the end Rachel and her band kept entertaining. They brought it down beautifully with such a soft yet powerful soul voice. Rachel Brown is a hard lady to link. I couldn’t quite place her as I racked my brain for reasoning. Was she a soul daughter of Erykah Badu? While she brought out the ukulele for a Hawaiian style song she mentioned her connection with African Jam Nights and how her style was formed. The best I could do was to link Rachel as a female Santana of African music. Not a great categorization, but the best I could do. Could she be the answer to a jazz-African-funk-rock-rhythm and blues following? Well, that was answered with a Rockit Herbie Hancock tribute Jam session. She ended the night with here great song You Got Me followed by a joyous encore. Man, what a night of music! I highly recommend you all go see this woman and her fantastic band. They are worth every penny and will be on the airwaves to come. You will not regret it!