Review | Soulive & Guests | Bowlive - Night Seven | Brooklyn

Words by: Chadbyrne R. Dickens

Soulive :: 3.21.14 :: Bowlive - Night Seven :: Brooklyn Bowl :: Brooklyn, NY

“Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can old sport.” – Jay Gatsby

On March 21, Soulive commenced the seventh night of their fifth annual Bowlive residency. Buoyed by a bevy of brilliant sit-ins, it was an exemplary night of music at Brooklyn Bowl in NYC.

Bowlive, initially thought up by Brooklyn Bowl owner, Peter Shapiro, as a vehicle to showcase the talents of the band Soulive, has emerged as one of the most exciting must-see concert events of the year. The annual residency is an established musical tradition expressing classic sounds, professional skills and uniquely varied sit-ins. During the 2014 run the rotating list of guest artists included Nigel Hall, Eddie Roberts, The London Souls, John Scofield, Scott Metzger, Joe Russo, Susan Tedeschi and DMC.

[Photo by Adam McCullough]

The jazz/funk trio known as Soulive consists of Eric Krasno (guitar), Alan Evans (drums) and Neil “Octopus” Evans (keys). Having released over a dozen studio albums, the band has been delighting audiences since 1999, but has seen increased attention and love from a rabid fan base in recent years despite limited touring. A marked talent of the band is their delivery of smooth and alluring tunes through professional musicianship and contagious energy.

The band took the stage alone for a few well-known classics including “The Swamp” from the group's Up Here record and “Reverb” off the Break Out release. Krasno’s intense facial expressions underscore a subtle guitar style that ranks him as one of the most respected six-stringers in the genre and perhaps an uber-talented man who remains under-appreciated by the masses, despite his professional chops and extensive skills. Kings of the slow-burn, the trio knows how to deliberately build a groove to its pay off. After settling in with the crowd and effectively setting the mood, a memorable night of sit-ins began.

An early highlight from the action-packed proceedings was the inclusion of 11-year-old guitar prodigy Brandon “Taz” Niederauer. Taz made an indelible mark on the most recent Jam Cruise and has been seen collaborating with many impressive artists of late including an appearance with Dumpstaphunk last month at BB King’s. Niederauer, overflowing with natural ability, exudes a cool and stoic confidence well beyond his years while his playing is fresh, inspired and jaw-dropping to many. He joined the band in ideal means to showcase his stellar work with the axe. Covers of Jimi Hendrix's “Third Stone from the Sun” and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Lenny” witnessed the band stepping up to a higher gear and each featured a cohesively tight performance from the unit. All eyes were focused on Taz and his interplay with Kraz for “Manic Depression,” which ultimately concluded in a scorching solo as it reached a crescendo.

[Photo by Andrew Blackstein]

The crowd was primed and fired up as Brooklyn’s own Felix Pastorius, son of legendary bass man Jaco Pastorius, and Marco Benevento took the stage for an inventive, jazzy take on Billy Cobham’s “Stratus.” The Shady Horns (Ryan Zoidis, James Casey, Eric Bloom) entered the stage at times and added a fiery depth of sound from their brass musings. The second set started with Alan Evans on vocals for Stevie Wonder’s "Jesus Children of America," which led into a take on "The Dump" off the first Lettuce album. In apropos fashion, Bowlive repeat offender (playing at his third consecutive residency) Marco “The Wonderful Wizard of Weird” Benevento wore a Soulive t-shirt. Marco is no stranger to the Bowl, having played it often as a solo artist, as a member of Bustle in Your Hedgerow and other band incarnations. Benevento remains the premier keys player in the scene and the energy was palpable when he returned to the stage. Even the venue's LD, Victor Cornette, had Marco lit up as bright as the band seemingly out of respect. After some time octave scaling during "The 'In Crowd,'" Marco added beautiful fills to “Revolution” – a song he played during Bowlive in 2013 as well, yet this year he provided a completely different feel to the Beatles cover.

[Soulive & The Shady Horns - "The Dump" - Shot by Barry2theB]

Sacred steel guitar master, Roosevelt Collier, took the stage in the middle of “Revolution” and immediately showed off his magical finger work and impressive tone. The soft-spoken South Florida native has been on a tear of late, garnering a legion of new ardent fans, by touring with his band The Lee Boys and sitting in as a solo artist with noted greats including The Allman Brothers, Funky Meters, Lettuce, Umphrey’s McGee and Yonder Mountain String Band.

Judging from the raw energy and crowd reaction, the peak of this remarkable night was the cover of “Bennie and the Jets” led by Benevento. A staple of his live shows for years, this version was powerful, frenetic, inspired and included background vocals by opening act, Sonya Kitchell. Towards the end of the song, Marco stood up from behind the ivories to consistently push the extended microphone into the crowd to successfully entice more participation. The room was so loud that the level of applause rivaled that on the studio- enhanced live cut released by Sir Elton himself.

[Photo by Adam McCullough]

The main portion of the show closed on a fiery and mesmerizing note with a take on Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean,” which left fans out of breath and fully satiated. The encore brought even more amazing guest musicians. Krasno exclaimed, “Burbridge Brothers are in the building!” as Oteil (bass) and Kofi (flute) joined the fray after rushing from the Beacon Theatre following their Allman Brothers gig. “So Live,” “Cash’s Dream” and “Nubian Lady” were well suited to show the Bowlive veterans’s skills, with Kofi's flute flying heavy in the mix.

It was a spectacular display of live music at the “playground for adults,” with six guest musicians and the horns, where one felt on this particular night that Soulive is the only band that matters. If the past is any indication, Soulive and their Bowlive residences should amaze fans for years to come.

Set One: Shaheed, Swamp, Brother Soul, Reverb, Aladdin, Third Stone From The Sun > Lenny, Manic Depression, Stratus

Set Two: Jesus Children of America/Stay, The Dump, The "In Crowd," Revolution, Bennie and the Jets, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Soulful Strut, The Ocean,

Encore: She’s So Heavy, So Live, Cash’s Dream, Nubian Lady

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[Published on: 3/27/14]

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