Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 28 years, UCLA has hosted a music festival called the JazzReggae Festival. Originally, the first day was devoted to Jazz and the second day was devoted Reggae. Though the first day has morphed to a “Jam” day, the festival has always been able to pull in outstanding talent for the price of admission. If you are ever in Los Angeles during the Memorial Day weekend, and looking to enjoy a music festival at an extremely reasonable price, I suggest that you check out the lineup to see if any artists you like are on the bill.
Armed with a photo pass for the event, I was able to take pictures of the artists listed below. Click on the link to check them out!
I was a fan of Aloe Blacc before he was … Aloe Blacc. Being a fan of the underground, L.A., hip-hop scene back in the mid 90s, I was listening to Aloe Blacc’s music before he broke-out, commerically, with “I Need A Dollar” in 2010.
I saw Aloe Blacc first perform at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue September of 2013. As much as I liked his hip-hop leaning music from back in the day, I absolutely love his soulful leaning music that he’s focusing on today, so not hearing his jams like “Blind World” or “Close To Me” was something I could easily accept … although, I wouldn’t mind him sprinkling in a song or two in future sets.
Dressed in a classy fitted suit, topped with a sharp fedora, he took the sun drenched stage and dazzled the audience with his bright personality and hit singles. From “I Need A Dollar” to “Wake Me Up” to “The Man”, the audience was treated to songs that have been permeating the radio airwaves for the past several years. He even performed a slowed-down cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that really had the audience eating out of his hands.
I wasn’t able to find a set lit of the of the songs that Aloe Blacc performed at UCLA’s Jazz Reggae Fest, so if you happen to know which songs were performed, please leave them in the comments below and I will add them to this post.
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.