Welcome To The Soul-Patrol Newsletter
I Just wanted to welcome you all to a very special edition of the Soul-Patrol Newsletter, which this week features two of Soul-Patrol.com's very favorite artists. Tre Williams and Angela Johnson. There are several reviews below, both writen by our friend ELP and that is a good thing, since I have writen so much about these artists in the past, I thought that you might like to read a more objective opinion.
Although this is mostly about Tre Williams, I would be remiss for not using this space to mention the fabulous Angela Johnson as well.
Scroll down and check out the album review for Revelations Featuring Tre Williams - "Concrete Blues," and the smokin concert review for Angela Johnson and what our friend ELP calls "The Revelations Revue." After that there is a short commentary that I was inspired to write about a year & a half ago, after attending a Tre Williams show in New York. He is an artist that truly inspires me on multiple levels.
Let us know what cha think?
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com
Album Review: Revelations Featuring Tre Williams - Concrete Blues
The last time I saw a torch get passed so obviously and willingly it was when MJ presented JB BET's Lifetime Achievement (Vanguard/Sammy Davis Jr.?) Award a couple years ago. Like Ali frail and wobbly making his way through in that Olympic Torch lighting ceremony, Brown was waaaay ready to give it up but there was seemingly no takers. Enter MJ and the deal was sealed in one of the most memorable moments (TV or otherwise) ever.
So now we see Lattimore, the bad black lion passing the torch of Southern Soul to a not-so-young-but-young-enough-for-government-work (and the purposes necessary therein) Tre Williams. The new album is called Concrete Blues.
The irony here is that all of that in-studio wizadry (trickery?) is conspicuous by it's absence here. No sound gates, gone are the hokey horn patches and it's all replaced by the sparest of spare rhythm section (replete with a nice greasy Hammond b3 organ), bari and tenor saxes and a trumpet player. Horns are only on a couple tunes but their presence is so effective that it's another one of it's great selling points. Due to Mr. Williams' age the subject matter and delivery while very similar in some ways to Lattimore's is informed instead by the reality of black male life TODAY!
It also borrows heavily from the PEAK days of this genre. Luther Ingram, Johnny Taylor, Sam Cooke, Bobby Womack, Otis Redding along with the guitar playing of a Curtis Mayfield or Steve Cropper are all invoked. Anthony Hamilton comes to mind as well as his soul emits the exact same kind of emotionally charged maturity through the vagaries of the life experience. Jaheim got it too but those two are a lil more 'caught up' in 'today-isms' to matter as much as they could. By 'today-isms' I mean the 'hot' 'happenin' studio stuff.
One of the things that always endeared Tre Williams to me was his totally organic approach to music making. It's authentic, honest, traditional and fresh all at the same time. What Lattimore sang on the Ladies Man CD (All Said And Done) that "there aint nuthin new under the sun when it's all said and done" he had to be channeling this guy.
Maybe because of the sadly deteriorating aspects of our culture through broken dysfunctional nuclear families and the subsequent impairment of the black community, so many of today's young artists lack the continuum of tradition necessary to move forward. I believe that this is the main contributing factor informing this need for 'the next hot thing'. Cats acknowledge the presence of the Masters and all of their groundbreaking pioneering efforts only to abandon the same in search of this ever elusive 'Eldorado' of relevance.
Forget it! Just stop, NOW!
There's nothing on this album HALF as suggestive or even crude as anything Lattimore sang. Even by hip-hop standards Tre Williams stuff is so unobtrusive that it's tame by way of comparison. But this cat's voice, the angst of a broken heart, the despair of city life and the claustrophobic blues of being 'behind these walls' of prison are given to us in just as raw and unfettered a manner.
There's not even one cuss word here for God's sake. That alone should push this to the head of the class but today 'commercial' actually means to be as obscene and ignorant as humanly possible...especially when it comes to black music. Ever notice Maroon 5 and Coldplay and Katy Perry and all of those great R&B influenced 'hottest-of-the-hot' dance/club/pop acts have nary a cuss word or obscenity contained in their lyric or presentation? Doesn't anybody see that scene in Malcolm where (I forget the character's name in the flick) he gets informed through an education session with a dictionary the defined meaning of the words 'black' (filthy, bad, blackest night etc.) and 'white' (good, pure, as pure as new fallen snow etc.) Reborn in today's music and the presentation of same?
This is an EXCELLENT album that'll keep you warm during this chilly winter season to come. It's a brown likka experience through and through! There's really no upbeat fast dance stuff goin on here like on the previous album. What it DOES have is great musicianship, spare but effective production, reflective lyrics and more potential HITS than could be found on many an album these days.
1-Something's Got To Give- not the best home opener but you may disagree. A haunting thumping drum and bass line augmented by the heartbeat of a youngun arriving at that moment where no dough meets hungry bellies and all the tension built up from that despair. A Southern Soul answer to Billy Joel's Pressure
2- Concrete Blues- same, same made slightly less melodramatic because the groove while equally haunting (think Grapevine meets Love And Happiness) is driving and the horns dig in deep to almost make you forget the Concrete Blues.
3- Behind These Bars- to quote Tre here: "it's hard, said it's hard, said it's HARD, lovin somebody when you're locked behind these bars". Nuff said
4- Trouble Man- bluesy 6/8 blues about (again) getting up when knocked down and bein something more than a nobody to all of the somebodies in one's life. If JB did this you'd be riveted because he might have more breaks and horn punctuation. As it is the bluesy but GREAT guitar playing pull you in and keep you there.
5-How Could You Walk Away- the closest thing to a 70's style slow jam on here and even that like most of the rest of this CD is mid-tempo. A tender love song with a lot of really sweet hooks.
6- One Reason To Stay- probably filler. A nice easy going 'beg-for-forgiveness type tune.
7- Until You Get Enough Of Me- a SMASH hit just as Concrete Blues, Don't Wait and many other of these tunes would be. This is the infidelity tune in the spirit of Me and Mrs. Jones. But DAYUM this horn line and vocal smacks of some Solomon Burke. Tre's got a growling thing goin on that is lacking in much of the music to which we listen today.
8- I Gotta Have It- might as well be lifted lock, stock and barrel from Bobby Womack's A Woman's Gotta Have It except the concept here is reminiscent of Jaheim's dance floor smoker Aint Leavin Without You. Lip-smackin, booty shakin groove.
9- Lonely Room- I've gotta say here that most of this album pulls on me in an almost emotional way because of the earnest honesty in Tre Williams heartfelt soulful delivery. Throughout there's this something in his crooning of the urgings of his love, his soul, his life that endears and makes this music of a lasting enduring quality. Ladies if he sang this to you you'll be crying, opening the door to your heart and saying yes, yes, YES all at the same time! He even gives the band a nice 24 bars or so to vamp out in the end.
10- Don't Wait- THIS TUNE BLEW ME AWAY!!!!!!!! Completely and totally. A stocking stuffer of a tune to fill the Black holes surely to be dark and void real soon! This jaunt is magnificent. It sounds like Burt Bachrach era Chuck Jackson meets Make It Easy On Yourself era Jerry Butler. Powerfully delivered with only trombone and baritone sax, uplifted by a single flute and completely 'pop' inflected with swirling, heady, exhilarating strings. Didn't I Blow Your Mind and it's French Horns have NOTHING on this! Bad, bad tune. Y'know how on many Babyface tunes (i.e. Tony Braxton, After Seven and his own work) they do this silent Marvin Gaye tribute by intoning the word 'woo' (just as he used to do often) either obviously or inconspicuously? There's several
places on this tune where you have to stand back and just say wooo!
There's three bonus trax on this CD. Two of which (Everybody Knows and I Don't Want To Know) are featured on the previous CD. The other is entirely apropos because it is exactly why and where the torch is passed from
Lattimore to Tre Williams symbolically saying take this and do in remembrance of all of the greats that opened the door. Continue doing such a great job bringing forth this Soul music into the 21st century! The tune is Lattimore's Let's Straighten It Out and it is well done indeed.
Hire A Band
Revelations Featuring Tre Williams - Concrete Blues
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com
Concert Review: Revelations Featuring Tre Williams (w/Rell Gaddis and Mia Pace) + Angela Johnson
On a typically chilly Saturday night in downtown West Philly (aka University City) The World Cafe Live got 'souldified'. The Revelations featuring Tre Williams and his pardnuh-in-crime Rell Gaddis and hyper kinetic beauty Mia Pace invaded our fair city and it'll never be the same!
Opening for Mr. Williams and his 'revue' were the wonderful Angela Johnson and her group. Ms. Williams appearance was a wonderful surprise as I've heard much about her here at Soul Patrol but have never heard her music or seen her perform. Unfortunately I have little to report of her set because I was about 1/2 hr late.
However of what I saw there was present a vivacious and talented lady who plays keyboards almost as good as she sings. It's always nice to see/hear any musician that can accompany themselves. It presents their art from a dual perspective as they must both perform as the 'frontground showdawg' and anchor all of that in the bed created by themselves and their band mates. I heard only three or four tunes and of those easily the standout performance was of Ms. Johnson's rendition of Aretha Franklin's Rock Steady. This was a very forthright, proud, chest-stuck-out-smacking-cocky thowin do wn! Angela's playing on this was nothing short of frenzied! The drummer thwacked the hell out of the drums, the bass was percolating and the guitarist shang-a-langed through n through.
Ms. Johnson played lead/melody lines, horn lines and organ seamlessly and effortlessly-even if it looked like the keys were taking HER for the ride of her life! Man they rode that horse right out onto Walnut St. and onto the Drexel Campus...and if any of the students were around they rode it as well!
Rock Steady is a decidedly rhythm section workout what with all of the Bernard Purdie-isms (eg. Purdie shuffles, Drum solos, signature sock-cymbal barks etc) with horns added for sweetening. Here is was strictly a rhythms section affair as there were no horns for this set. One tune and they rained about 40 days and nights of FUNK on em. THAT's what you're supposed ta do when given the opportunity. Smack the HELL out the crowd and call paramedics later if necessary!
The other tunes were either mid-tempo or outright ballads and were notable for both their execution as well as their artistry in subtlety. Les the drummer made tasty use of a midi pad configuration that had all manner of clicks and chimes programmed. The guitarist also had a few toys of his own. Afterward Ms. Johnson and the band were more than gracious and accommodating to me in a somewhat private meet-and-greet. Nice to see an open, unpretentious dressing room area. I'm not one who generally seeks backstage audience but I know Tre and em and the vibe was very open and receptive. I was comfortable in approaching these artists. Angela Johnson! Philly welcomes you and we certainly look forward to your return....SOON!
The Revelations featuring Tre Williams
Lest I bill them any other way I need to say again: The Revelations featuring Tre Williams!!!! The Revelations are a very serious mix of musicians dedicated in a non-obtrusive, completely inconspicuous, perfectly believable way to the deliverance of some of the deepest grooves known to man on THIS planet! This aint necessarily JB or Wilson or Otis or Kool or The JB's or even Tower Of Power. If anything these cats are of the Booker T and the MG's school of white cats that simply LOVE this music but don't come off with those snarky-assed white boy attitudes that come off as pandering, obnoxious and condescending. IMO the Dap-Tones, Brand New Heavies and a few others display this sort of thing. TOP, AWB, The old Markeys and the aforementioned Booker T and the boys are more like it. Like Dr. John or Harry Connick Jr, these cats could be rednecks for all I know (they're not) but it's apparent that they have been breastfed this milk of blues n soul from infancy.
Much like my MAIN man Carlton J. Smith's 'revue'-style presentations but minus the fanfare or suspenseful drama inherent with this performance style, The Revelations featuring Tre Williams offers a full rounded entertainment experience with top-notch musical accompaniment.
This show replete with in-show mini sets by the ubiquitous Rel Gaddis and the lovely Mia Pace might be considered a post-hip-hop tribute to days such as this gone by. When I say 'post-hip-hop' I don't mean neo-soul but a true answer to our black hole dilemma by younger folk for an any age audience that however is peopled by some of Ms. Johnson's crowd, early middle-aged white folk and a smattering of 40 something black people.
All have apparently signed up for a huge dose of soul music much like Southern Soul but full of so much more.
Opening up with a thumping groove the Revelations bring out Miss Mia Pace. She's comes mincing out in her stilettos, no stockings on gorgeous legs and one of those old-time female mini dresses that alternately shimmer with sequins (not this one) or shake and shimmy like a sequined flapper dress (yeah...like that). back in the day the girl groups might wear it but the artist that is probably most associated with this look of the soul era would be Tina Turner. This lady has TONS of Tina Turner charisma and moves to boot! She slid, glided and hoofed her way across the stage alternately pumping the band with strong stage presence and command of the already deeply grooving band.
Daddy Rolling Stone- not to EVER be even slightly confused with Papa Was A Rolling Stone! This is a show opener supreme and on a lesser headliner just might've STOLEN the show OUTRIGHT!
Let Me Be Your Lovemaker- a midtempo grind-em-up bluesy tune
Pay To The Piper- our late friend General Johnson's kick ass funk jam from The Chairmen Of The Board that was every bit as funky as the original.
Ms. Pace's only dilemma as I see it is a bit of a disconnect from her tribute source material. Tine Turner could only be imagined or seen on TV or in some movie or you tube by this young lady hence there are points where she needs to 'fill-in-the-blanks' with some thing more from her OWN experience. That's what we do. We cop from the masters and add a little bit of 'us' for the necessary sweetening that rounds out a presentation or performance. Other than that her set was dead on the double butt GOOD! Besides unlike her peers (Ms. Pace could've been 30 if she was lucky...mo like her late twenties) she gave it her all in her dedication to the 'bit'....Job well done my dear!
Tre Williams- Pt.1
My man Tre Williams is a very interesting character. As I've said in the past, I swear he reminds me of the Black Snake Moan Sam Jackson. Just a lil paunchy but he's more of a just a big lovable guy also in the Bill Withers everyman mode. His singing skills are so incredible that in my haste to see a STAR of huge magnitude he dispels all of that with his overall appearance and presentation.
As Mia exited and the band kicked into the opening strains of Take Me To The River out of seemingly nowhere this guy walks sideways onto the stage, facing the band, back to the audience and smiling slyly he slowly turns to address his audience...and the crowd went wild!
He was dressed in what looked like one of those ass-kicking zip-up jackets that a bus driver might wear, a black t-shirt, a pair of grey-blue stonewashed jeans, a pair of Lugz boots and topped off with a black cool cap (i.e. Kangol).
If I hadn't just spoken with him backstage I would've thought he was part of the maintenance or stage crews. He is very unassuming and actually his mannerisms are reminiscent of somebody's uncle who after a couple tastes
wanders up to the stage apron, suddenly lurches onto the stage and proceeds to 'happy dance' until escorted off the stage. He directs the band but not with any style or seriousness. He throws himself on, around and about the stage with reckless abandon. He's no drunk nor druggie. He's a cat having the time of his life and we've been allowed to share in that with him. He turns and asks are we ready? He thanks both Mia as well as Angela
Johnson for their contributions thus far.
And then he sings. All the way from the deepest pits of somewhere near his testicles he moans, cajoles, whines, hums and growls. A little squall here and a smooth as silk butter-soft note there, this cat on ONE tune has slain his captive audience and could right there have left us all for dead.
Take Me To The River- the funk and drive of this alone just makes me smile and grin from ear-to-ear. Cats have begun to work up a sweat from Mia so they're cooking amiably now. Tre is urging us to Take Him while Rell, the
drummer (Gintas Janusonis) as well as the guitarist (Wes Mingus) apply choirboy-like background vocals.
Graceful Bow- undistinguishable but nice mid-tempo jam that morphs successfully into Love And Happiness.
Let's Straighten It Out- Lattimore's classic delivered with a taste of Syl Johnson FUNK laced with Ike Hayes Walk On By grooveyard. Screw Southern Soul for a minute. These cats are serving up muscular blue collar lunchpail funk!
Because Of You- nicely performed bluesy tune
The Rell Gaddis Show
As Tre asks for a mini-break he turns the mic over to Rell Gaddis. All of this time Rell has basically been the Bobby Byrd of this outfit-except he's really more Lou Rawls-to-Sam-Cooke as his singing skills are independently strong and dependable. they're so good they're actually stand alone but apparently my man knows on which side his bread is buttered. Tre did what I always expect those amongst the best singers to do: cede the lead and slide into the background for vocals and support.
The Reason Why You're First- Almost reggae/Groove Me bouncing lil tune.
Nice groove and nicer harmonies from Tre and the rest of the crew.
It's Too Late- Carol King probably never expected anyone to take her sad song so literally turning it into weepy, dirty forlorn blues. Nice guitar work here.
Tre Williams Pt.2
You really would like a new jacket or a cape or.......not to be. If it's wet it's sweat. If it looks funky it might just be but it's part of the ambience and overall performance. Not one soul left or even tried to leave. This is the 'evening drive' of the show.
Concrete Blues- title cut from the new cd and yet another romper-stomper.
Trouble Man- another hit from the cd- this time a lil more laconic and bluesy
Everybody Knows- THIS is my JAM!!!! Old time r&b walking groove. Like the original the grooves of Aint No Way or World of Fantasy or Gonna Take A Miracle.
I Don't Want To Know- assuredly the showstopper here. Nasty, oh-so-nasty funk version of Why I Sing The Blues complete with nice guitar solo work. Tre Williams works almost as hard as JB but in a completely unassuming almost quirky sort of way. He's got trumpet,sax and bari saxophone players for horns but they NEVER get in the way. Neither Chicago nor TOP these guys feel like they were stored in a time warp from the Stax-Volt days and recently reborn for The Revelations purposes.
Heavy Metal Blues- Jody's Got Yo Girl and Gone revisited for the new millennium. Same never-ending chest pounding, heart stopping thump we've been hearing all night.
The band was set loose for individual solos and they did not disappoint. This was the show closer. They came back for an encore with the tune Stay Free- a uptempo blues with heavy rock leanings and chord progressions.
So, there's hope at least for those younguns that are interested to come on out and get it...or make purchases at their friendly neighborhood internet wrecka stowe. The Revelations Revue (which is what I need to call it) featuring Tre Williams, Rell Gaddis and Mia Pace as well as Ms. Angela Johnson are ready, willing and able to carry out the mission of rescuing our musical culture from the doldrums of banality and edify the people with some of the finest music ever made!
CD's were available throughout the night and the sound system was appropriately adequate. Hardly what you guys have been writing about in AC but decent just the same.
Hire A Band
Revelations Featuring Tre Williams - Concrete Blues
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com
Culture War In Black Music/Culture (maybe oil & water really doesn't mix?)
Never has it been laid out more clearly for me....
1. REVELATIONS (FEATURING TRE WILLIAMS) @ HECKCHER PARK IN HUNTINGTON, NY
This Sunday I was out on Long Island and I attended a free concert at Heckcher Park in Huntington. It was a hot night, which got even hotter because the Revelations (featuring Tre Williams) absolutely ignited the evening with a smokin mix of Soul, Blues & Rock. If you closed your eyes and listened as the music cut thru the thick humidity you might have easily imagined yourself at a concert of the STAX review in 1968 featuring Otis Redding, Sam & Dave & Johnny Taylor backed up by Booker T & the MG's/Bar-Kay's as the sweet/powerful sounds of H-A-R-D-C-O-R-E S-O-U-L M-U-S-I-C makes you forget about a depressed economy, 100,000 barrels of oil/day sh*tting on our way of life, millions unemployed while a catatonic Amerikkka and greedy corporate interests stand by watching. Then you open your eyes and see that besides my own family and a few others the crowd was 100 percent white and they were rockin to the music. After the show I learned who the "few others" were. Seems that Tre Williams has also brought his crew of sons, daughters, brothers, cousins, etc. with him. Together with my family that was the extent of the Black folks in attendance. It was great meeting Tre's family and it was wonderful to see them out supporting him. It reminded me once again of all of the reasons why "family unity," has always been the key component to the survival of Black people/culture. For more on the Revelations featuring Tre Williams on Soul-Patrol.com go here: http://www.soul-patrol.com/funk/revelations.htm this is one of the key artists to keep your eye on as GREAT BLACK MUSIC Expands into the future. We have featured Tre Williams and other new artists like him here on Soul-Patrol.com in the past and plan on continuing to do so in the future for a good reason
2. BET KOON SHOW ON CABLE TV
After the concert we went over to my mom's house & flipped on the TV to the BET Awards show, which is advertised as being an awards show showcasing the best in Black culture. Instead I thought for sure that I had stumbled upon a large televised meeting of an ESL (english as a second language) group, that had actually failed the course. Viewing this program almost required a scroll of subtitles in order to understand what was being said. I suppose that it was a nice thing that the producers of the show allowed tributes to both Michael Jackson & Prince during the show. However whatever the cultural good and/or motivation that those tributes might have had in reversing the slippery slope towards oblivion that Black culture seems to be descending into, was quickly lost & forgotten. Watching this program makes one quickly understand exactly why a depressed economy, 100,000 barrels of oil/day sh*tting on our way of life, millions unemployed while a catatonic Amerikkka and greedy corporate interests stand by watching, has become "the new normal."
The optical difference between these two events and the fact that they exist in what seems like a parallel universe, literally "bizzaro worlds," was not lost on me. It seems to me that we are at a true crossroads and some conscious descions are required by people on an individual level to figure out what the proper path is. (or maybe it's too late?)
We have some VERY serious problems here to address folks, and much like Pogo, the solutions to those problems can be found right in the mirror......(continued here)
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com
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