My first exposure to Aloe Blacc‘s music was years ago (late 90’s) when he was performing as a rapper/singer in a hip-hop group called Emanon with the producer Exile, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I really started to get interested in his sound. The HBO series Entourage had just ended, and its fans (like me) were anxiously waiting for HBOs new series How to Make It in America, hoping that it would have the same kind of energy and characters of its predecessor.
I was always impressed with Entourage’s soundtrack, so I anticipated How to Make It in America to have as good a soundtrack. As soon as the show’s intro song played, I had to run to my computer and perform a google search to find out the name of the song and who performed it. It was Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar“, a modern recording with a vintage sound, a sound that I am very partial too, and strong social commentary.
As a native Southern Californian, his closing of the Soul Revue festivities was apropos. Backed by a full band with a terrific horn section, and dressed in a form fitted black suit with a fedora, his set was both visually and sonically the embodiment of traditional soul music. His doting fans lapped up the performance and clearly appreciated every theme of Aloe’s music which ranged from groove shakers to songs of substance.
During his set he called the well known poet, IN-Q, to the stage to recite a poem titled “85”. By that point in the evening, the camera in my battery was dead, so I couldn’t video record it, but thankfully, a video of it being performed at Witzend was posted Jan 11, 2013. A truly lovely performance.
After his set closed, Aloe was cheered back to the stage for an encore. The audience clearly didn’t want the day of soul music to end, but curfew ordinances are curfew ordinances and the glorious day of soul music had come to an uplifting conclusion. I went backstage to get some water before moving on with my evening, and happened to see Aloe hanging out with some friends and/or fans. I “happened” to have his 12” single recording of “Get Down” in my backpack so I asked his manager if he could sneak me a signature. He graciously obliged, and not only did I get an autograph, but I also got a pic with Aloe . As I’m typing this right now, I’m wondering why I don’t have an LP copy of Aloe’s “Good Things” (would totally be worth having on vinyl).
It was a terrific day of soul music, and I hope that the festival organizers can put together another strong line-up for the soul revue next year. Kudos are deserved for KCRW and The Echo for putting together a terrific lineup. It was a great way to end the summer.