Aloe Blacc | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Allen Stone) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

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.

IN-Q performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
IN-Q performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

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).

Me and Aloe Blacc (with his 2006 12'' Single of "Get Down") at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Me and Aloe Blacc (with his 2006 12” Single of “Get Down”) at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

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.

Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Aloe Blacc performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Allen Stone) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Allen Stone | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Allen Stone at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

About a year ago, while searching the web for new music, I came across a youtube video of a white soul singer from Seattle, Washington singing a soulful, acoustic version of one of his own compositions.  The chorus of the song, and the voice the singer, hooked me instantly.  The songs was called “Another Break Up Song” and the singer’s name was  Allen Stone.

On October 19, 2012, I was able to see him perform at The Fonda Theatre. His performance that evening was so good that it made it into the top 10 of the concert events I went to in 2012. Since I missed his early afternoon set at Coachella this year, I was ecstatic to hear that he would be performing at the Beach Ball Soul Revue.

If you are unfamiliar with Allen Stone, I would describe this self-professed “hippie with soul” as a throwback to those soul legends who sang lyrics embedded with social commentary. Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway … I’m talking the heavy hitters. Lofty comparisons for a relative newbie in the music industry, but with a tenor voice as soulful as his, and poingnant songwriting ability, it’s hard for me not to make them.  Back in October 2012, I professed on my Facebook page that Allen Stone could be an artist that we’d see performing at the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre sooner rather than later. I’m going to stick to my guns.

His performance at the Beach Ball was as good as I remembered him at the Fonda, if not more energetic. He fed off the energy from the crowd, who sang along to Allen’s more well known songs. The crowd loved his performance, and clearly loved the messages of love and togetherness Allen professed throughout his set.

After all of the concert festivities for the evening had concluded, I meandered to my “Cheers” (Ye Old Kings Head in Santa Monica) for a few drinks with friends. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Allen and his crew were tucked away in a corner of the bar. Being the gregarious person I am … though, I’m sure the double Dewars I had just consumed also helped … I walked over to Allen’s table and introduced myself. I recall telling him that I was at his show at the Fonda, that I enjoyed his set on the pier, and how I’m always hoping that I’d get to hear him perform “Another Break Up Song”.

Me and Allen Stone at the Kings Head after the Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Me and Allen Stone at the Kings Head after the Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

I offered to buy him a drink, but he told me that it was his turn to be the designated driver. I think I may have bought his manager a drink though. Not wanting to be a leech, I told Allen that I was really looking forward to hear his next album, and snapped a quick pic before minding my own. A friend of mine who manages the Kings Head has offered to hang a picture of me and Snoop on the celebrity wall of the Kings Head, but I’ve always refused because Snoop’s never been to the Kings Head.  I just may have to give him my picture with Allen.

Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Maceo Parker | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

 

Lee Fields at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Lee Fields at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

If you’re a fan of soul or funk music, you’ve probably heard Maceo Parker play … even if you don’t have any of his solo albums.  After all, his sax play is also over James Brown most famous recordings. “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, “I Got You (I Feel Good”), “Sex Machine”, “Cold Sweat” … yup … that saxophone solo? That sound that’s a building block of funk music? That’s Maceo. That’s his sound.

What’s that you say? You’re not a James Brown fan? What about Parliament-Funkadelic, Keith Richards, Red Hot Chili Peppers, De La Soul, Prince, Deee-Lite or Living Colour? Well, he’s played on their records too. Point? The man is an integral part of music history. Perhaps, one of the most prolific sidemen in the history of music. But let’s not get it twisted. His solo albums are pretty damn good too. I was excited to have the opportunity to watch this saxophone legend play up close at the Beach Ball Festival. I was ready to get funky and to shake my groove thing.

Maceo and his band brought their musicality and funk to the stage. Maceo not only played like the legend he is known to be, but he also brought a level of showmanship that could only come with years of seasoning. His set seemed to cover the entire the breadth of his career (as a solo artist and sideman), touching on a few James Brown classics and even incorporating a tribute to one his greatest influences, Ray Charles, during which Maceo donned a pair of sunglasses. He gave time to each of his players to allow them to shine on their instruments, proving that each was capable of holding their own, but at the end of the day, as the sun set into the Pacific, it was Maceo who shined the most.

Lee Fields at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker and his band performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker and his band performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Maceo Parker performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Lee Fields and the Expressions | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]

Lee Fields has been doing his thing for over 40 years, but I only got really familiar with his music this year. A work associate was selling some LPs in his collection, and while I was looking through his rack, he pulled out Lee Fields LP “Problems”. He assured me that it was an excellent listen, and I trusted him. I’m so glad I did.

When I played “Problems” on my record player, I was immediately immersed in some deep, soulful funk that I was embarrassed to realize I was unfamiliar with. “Problems” was released in 2002,  and I realized that I was over 10 years late to the party … but as they say, “better late than never”.

I found out later that he was scheduled to perform at the Troubadour in support of his most recent album “Faithful Man”, but was saddened to discover that the show had sold out. I didn’t see any tickets for sale on second hand ticket brokers websites, so I can only assume that those who were lucky enough to snag tickets, were keeping them for themselves. My extreme loss. Thankfully, for my sake, he was scheduled to perform at the Beach Ball Festival.

Critics compare Lee Fields to artists like Wilson Pickett and James Brown, but those critics should really just focus on what Lee Fields brings to the current music scene. Perhaps, if Lee’s latest albums were released back in the hey day of soul music (i.e. the 60’s), he may have been talked about in the same breath with the soul stars of that time. But, they weren’t. Rather, the albums are part of the current music scene, and they are diamonds in the rough. Current artists, and popular music, don’t make albums like Lee Fields. There are only a handful of artists today (Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, to name a few) that provide modern day music fans with the kind of throwback soul that existed back in soul’s hey day. That kind of music is unique in today’s musical landscape, and should be judged on their own merits. Just my thoughts …

Lee Fields brought his brand of retro-soul to the stage, and knocked the audience out. Dressed in his bright red, yellow and blue, plaid blazer, he brought an infectious energy to the stage that the crowd couldn’t help but feel. Interacting with the crowd, strutting and dancing back and forth across the stage, swooning and belting the lyrics to his music, his performance was the embodiment of soul music, and he had me smiling dimple to dimple throughout the whole set.

My "Problems" LP signed by  Lee Fields!
My “Problems” LP signed by Lee Fields!

After his performance, I head back to the back stage area with the hopes of meeting Mr. Fields. Some people may think that I take my music too seriously, but I felt compelled to bring along my copy of the “Problems” LP in case I was lucky enough to meet him to get it signed. The soul stars must have been lined up, because as soon as I made my way back, Mr. Fields was snapping some pictures with a photographer for the event. I got him to sign my LP and snap a picture, told him how much I enjoyed the show and wished him the best for the rest of the tour.

Mr Fields, terrific set. The pleasure was all mine.

Me and Lee Fields.
Me and Lee Fields.

Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields in repose at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields in repose at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | Santa Monica Pier | September 21, 2013

Instagram: @methodman13
Instagram: @methodman13

I LOVE soul music. I listen to all genres, but if I had to guess, I’d venture to guess that probably a third of my music collection (iTunes indicates that I have 19,452 songs that last 54.4 days) consists of soul tracks and about half of my vinyl collection consists of soul LPs. From Aretha Franklin to Amy Winehouse, Marvin Gaye to D’Angelo, I have a thing for soul music. Period.

When I heard that KCRW, in association with the Echo/Echoplex, was having a Soul/Reggae Festival, I was excited. As soon as I saw the line-up, I bought tickets. The Bay Area soul duo, Myron and E; The prolific and enduring Lee Fields; one of the architects of Funk, Maceo Parker; the hippie with soul, Allen Stone; and the former rapper turned soul-man, Aloe Blacc: I knew and respected all of these artists and there was no way I was going to miss out on this full day of soul music. I bought an “early bird” VIP ticket which only cost me $45, and my Saturday, September 21st was set.  Below is a list of the artists whose performances I had the pleasure of catching.  Click through on their names to read my thoughts, see pictures and watch performance snippets.  If there is a “(pending)” notice next to the name, follow my blog, twitter (@methodman13) or Instagram (@methodman13) for updates.  Hey…. these entries just don’t write themselves! LOL.

  1. Myron & E
  2. Lee Fields and the Expressions
  3. Maceo Parker
  4. Allen Stone
  5. Aloe Blacc

Beach+Ball++Soul+Revue++Reggae+Fest+BBPOSTER11x17_FIN

Myron & E | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Lee Fields, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festiva 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Myron & E are a soul duo based in the Bay Area. They are currently signed to one of my favorite independent labels, Stones Throw, so even though I wasn’t too familiar with their catalog, I was relatively sure I would be pleased with their music.

The Stones Throw website introduces the band as follows: “The vocal duo is something of a rarity. There have been countless solo stars, trios, quartets and quintets, but the pairing of equally talented singers isn’t nearly as common. Sam and Dave, Ashford and Simpson, the Righteous Brothers and the Everly Brothers comprise a short list of standouts. Enter Myron & E.” A tall order to live up to, for sure, but I’m willing to bet that the Stones Throw folk know what they’re co-signing on.

They had the earliest set in the day so the crowd hadn’t reached critical mass yet, but they had their die-hard fans in the trenches, wearing their screen-print Myron & E T-shirts, and they performed with the type of gusto to satisfy their own, and to drawn in new fans. Half way through their set E mentioned it was Myron’s birthday, and the crowd joined in on an impromptu singing of “Happy Birthday”.

It was a solid set to establish the “soul” mood for the rest of the day, though at times I felt that some of the vocal tuning was a bit off, which I could attribute to the blazing midday sun, but it was good enough want me to follow them on Facebook so to keep up with their music and see how their sound develops.  You should too.

They are touring domestically and throughout Europe throughout the fall, so check them out when they are in your neck of the woods.

Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festiva 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Myron of Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Myron of Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
E of Myron of Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
E of Myron of Myron & E at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Lee Fields, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.