Celebrate Withers w/ J. James


Bill Withers - Hal Wilner inset
On Saturday, August 9 the 30th summer of Celebrate Brooklyn! continues as the visionary music producer Hal Willner and his Co-Artistic Director Janine Nichols return to the Prospect Park Bandshell to explore the music of acoustic R&B pioneer Bill Withers in a multi-artist celebration for the ages. The FREE concert, the final free concert in Celebrate Brooklyn!'s 30th Summer season and the last concert in the WaMu Concert Series, will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," "Lovely Day," "Use Me" and "Lean On Me" only hint at a body of work that ranks him among our greatest songwriters. Withers released eight albums in the 1970s, beginning with the landmark Just As I Am in 1971. His musical legacy has influenced succeeding generations of writers and performers and inspired a generation of soul and R&B artists, especially in terms of subject matter: his unwavering focus on the state of black manhood in America. Withers' recordings are frequently sampled for hip-hop records, and covers of his songs crop up in nearly every genre, from pop and jazz to country, classical, rhythm and blues, gospel and hip-hop.

JIM JAMES, ANGELIQUE KIDJO, THE SWELL SEASON, COREY GLOVER, JAMES BLOOD ULMER, THE PERSUASIONS, NONA HENDRYX, SANDRA ST. VICTOR, ERIC MINGUS and many more! Plus an all-star band featuring Lenny Pickett, Steven Bernstein, and Cornell Dupree will be among the ensemble.

Withers' extensive catalogue offers the visionary producer Willner an exciting opportunity to explore, shed light on and take liberties with Withers' work. The song list for this "concept show" will draw on now-obscure album tracks and live performance recordings throughout Withers' career. What's familiar will be re-invented; what's been lost will be found again.

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BGsteveBG Fri 8/8/2008 10:07AM
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Jim James is so fucking awesome

rjd999 Fri 8/8/2008 10:08AM
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this looks awesome. 'just as i am' is a classic, one of those landmark soul albums. check this out if you have the opportunity, bill withers had one of the purest voices ever, and he was an outstanding songwriter, so im sure that these tributes will be tasteful. oh, and james blood ulmer is a killer too, fantastic guitar player.

iwantstogetfunkedup starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 10:32AM
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This looks great. Use Me is one of the funkiest jams of all time and probably one of the most covered. A band with Lenny Pickett on sax too. That will be some good shit

hardingmr starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 10:59AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Ok it's official I am going to start a new religion and Jim James is my deity. Who wants to join?

DELYEAH starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 11:02AM
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Use Me gets my head bobbin every time! It never gets old to me!

sunnbear starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 12:07PM
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Grandma's Hands - another great song.

GratefulHokie starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 12:24PM
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hardingmr - I'm a believer! ~ I'm definitly headed out for this one. The olympics can wait! :P

Cola21 Fri 8/8/2008 12:28PM
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Jim James is a hero. But the Swell Season is unbelievably beautiful. Just fantastic.

BrotherCal starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 07:01PM
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Jim James is cool. But the other James is the diety here. James Blood Ulmer!

Amazins86 starstarstarstar Sun 8/10/2008 04:54PM
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So I went to this show last night. And I am so glad I did!!! What an amazing night! I knew some of Bill Withers classics like “Lean on me”, “Use me”, and “Just the two of us” just from being alive on this earth for the past 29 years. But for some reason I never gave Bill Withers collection of music a good listen until last night when Jim James called me out to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I hadn’t seen Jim perform live since Radio City and when I heard about this FREE show just 40 minutes from my apartment in Riverdale (the Bronx) I had to go. The venue at Prospect Park is awesome and it was a gorgeous night! There must have been about 3 thousand people there for the show. I sat back and listened to a number of different classic R&B musicians do Withers songs. His music is very soulful and moving. Bill Withers came out and did “Grandma’s Hands” in the first set with James Blood Ulmer in the first set. Jim James then followed with “Ain’t No Sunshine” to close the first set. Great tune! I have heard it before but was not very familiar with that song. However from talking to people at the show “Ain’t No Sunshine” is one of Withers most famous songs and the people I talked to said Jim James did a great job with it. No one knew who JJ or My Morning Jacket was but they thought he had a great voice. I recommended that those folks pick up some MMJ, as I went home last night and bought Withers greatest hits off itunes. Anyway the second set was still to come but I wasn’t sure if Jim was done for the night? The other band I came to see was the Swell Season, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (have you seen the movie “Once”). They played one of Bill’s songs to start of the second set, however I forgot which one?

They both have such great voices. As the second set was coming to an end and I wasn’t sure if JJ was going to play another? Then BAM!!! JJ walks out on stage to join the Persuasions, an A Capella group from 70s. The rest of the musicians from the night also took the stage and helped sign back up but JJ took lead vocals to sing “Lean On Me”! The song just didn’t want to end as the group of about 20 musicians keep signing, hugging kissing each other as Bill Withers himself worked his way around the stage to thank everyone. Finally “Lean on Me” ended and I thought the night was over as some people started for the exits but Bill took the mic and said “we’ll do this any night at your house for just $119.47”. Hilarious! He didn’t want to leave the stage and was hamming it up. He then called his daughter out to sign “Just the two of us”. And she killed it! Bill orchestrated the band as his daughter sang “Just the two of us” to here father. So cool!

That’s all I got…