Get Ready For New Years Eve
Soulive & N'Dambi | 12.01.01 | 9:30 Club | Washington, DC
Soulive & Robert Randolph & The Family Band | 12.02 | Recher Theatre | Towson, MD

This years countdown to New Years Eve has officially begun. Soulive just completed a four night east coast run with the last night in Towson, Maryland. This was a sneak peak at New Years featuring Robert Randolph & The Family Band opening the show. The two very diverse bands make for an interesting pairing. The things they share most in common seem to be their home base (NY/NJ) and their meteoric rise on the scene. If you have any doubts about what to do this New Years Eve, cast them aside. This is the show to see!

If you've been keeping up with Robert Randolph & The Family Band this past year, you've seen them grow from a local phenomenon to a band that is taking the national scene by storm. If the reports from their recent trip through Colorado are any indication, the buzz is really catching on. Tonight at the Recher Theatre in Towson, Robert and the Band were starting off a southern tour which will also take them through; NC, VA, TN & GA. This was the furthest from home that I've seen Robert so far and I was curious about the reaction of some first time "marchers." Right before the show started I spotted a kid wearing a home made "I came to stomp my feet" shirt and that coupled with the buzz in the room assured me that tonight was going to be great.

The Band has been working in some fine new originals lately but tonight's set was full of most of the "classics" that us in the NYC area have come to know and love. We showed the folks in Maryland how to "March." Robert reminded us to "Press On" during these tough times. And of course, We Stomped Our Feet. All in all it was a solid show with the band in fine spirits and suffice to say... I wish I was in Asheville tonight.

But I got ahead of myself. The weekend began with a roadtrip to Washington, DC to see N'dambi and Soulive at the 9:30 Club. This was my first visit to the 9:30 Club and I was psyched as I had heard very high praises from fans and artists alike. I was not disappointed. The place was laid out well with a wrap around balcony giving nice views. Great sound and a cool staff rounded out the 9:30 experience.

N'Dambi is a band out of Dallas comprised of musicians from Erykah Badu's band and featuring N'Dambi (one of Erykah's backup singers) on lead vocals. They bring a soulful, funky groove to the party that really serves as a great appetizer to Soulive's soulful & funky but much edgier entrée. So the obvious thought in my mind was, "How great would it be if these guys (and gals) all jammed?" Well I didn't have to wait long.

Opening with "Steppin'," Soulive kicked into high gear early on and never let up. The addition of Sam Kinninger as a full time member really rounds out the bands sound. Sam's saxophone playing is always right in whichever pocket the rest of the band decide to take things. About midway through the set members of N'Dambi joined Soulive for a smokin' version of the funk classic "Soul Power." The set never let up from there and the crowd of just less than 1000 people left with big smiles on their faces.

As I went to bed and reflected on that night's show, my anticipation for Sunday's show as a prelude to New Years continued to grow. In Towson, Soulive once again kicked off with "Steppin'." The band was very happy with the previous night's show and the setlist was very similar. These guys could play the same setlist yet have a very different show every night. I've never been around a musician who breathes music like Neil Evans does. If he is anywhere near a keyboard, turned on or not, he's playing. He'll play forever if someone doesn't tell him it's time to get off stage.

Now, as I was getting psyched for this show the obvious thought was, "Will Robert play with Soulive?" Furthermore, what will it sound like. As previously stated, I didn't see these two bands musically sharing too much common ground. Well, midway through the set Alan Evans introduced Robert and the band launched into their version of "It's Your Thing" and boy were things getting hot. Robert picked up on things right away and seemed to be having a lot of fun up there. When Robert was done, he remained on the side of the stage to catch more of the show. Details of what went on next are a little hazy but let's just say that the band kicked it up so hard that Robert took all the money out of his pocket and proceeded to put it on Neil's B3 like it was the collection plate in church. Near the end of the set the band began their version of the Stevie Ray Vaughn classic "Lenny." Robert, still taking in the show, seemed to almost be in pain. Then, when he couldn't take it anymore, he got back behind the pedal steel guitar and joined in. This was certainly one of the highlights of the night. The crying pedal steel behind Eric Krasno's soulful licks brought goosebumps to the crowd.

When it all was over, there was no doubt anymore. Soulive with Robert Randolph & The Family Band will be a New Years Eve show like no other and we are lucky to get to see two bands each coming into their own, share a stage in the capital of the world. See you at Irving Plaza.

Words and Photos by Dino Perrucci
JamBase At Large
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[Published on: 12/5/01]

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