Concert Review : Desi @ Feinstein's in NYC - 8/28/2009 (The Music, The People and the One)
My thanks to our friend Rickey Vincent for allowing me to use the format of his book "Funk; The Music The People and One" for this report!!
There really are 12 million stories in the naked city. This report is about several of them that I witnessed on Friday evening...
Desi is what you might refer to as a "journeyman R&B artist." Originally from the Washington, DC area, Desi currently tours in cities around the country, mostly in the Southeast, but also in Texas & California. We have featured several of the songs from his album "Golden Lady" here on Soul-Patrol.com and on Radioio.com over the past few years. Desi is going to be making his NYC debut at Feinstein's and I am pumped, because although I am quite familiar with his music, I have never seen him perform live. He was backed by a slimed down version of the great DC area based Funk/Soul band called KRUSH (led by the legendary Al Johnson of the Unifics).
Here is the set as best I can recall....
- Don't You Know That
- Give Me Just a Little More Time
- Takin It as It Comes
- Golden Lady
- More Love
- Come Get To This
- I'll Be There/Never Can Say Goodbye
- Who's That Lady
(I'm certain that I have left out a song or two......LOL)
Starting the set off with a Luther Vandross cover is perfect for your first NYC appearance, since Luther is a "homeboy." However it means that it's really "do or die," because if you don't nail it, then you will lost the audience for sure. Desi nailed it and then rolled into a cover of the Chairmen of the Board's great hit "Give Me Just a Little More Time." Now that he had the crowd's attention, Desi grabbed two songs from his album "Takin It as It Comes" (a song that got heavy airplay on Nu Soul @ RadioIO.com) and Golden Lady (a great & original Wedding Song). As one who has heard the album and likes these two songs, after seeing them done live I like them even more. Done live they both sound quite different from the album and even better.
After "Golden Lady" I had moved from my table to stand at the rear of the venue in order to get a different perspective, as I had been sitting "front & center." Emanating from the stage I began to hear the strains of something quite familiar, yet something distant from my past. I thought for a moment and then it came to me....
::::HERE I GO AGAIN:::::
(As the "world's biggest Smokey Robinson & the Miracles Fan" I leaned over and whispered to promoter Thomas Anderson; "he betta not mess this up, it's one of my favorite songs of all-time")
Desi KILLED on "Here I Go Again" and the rolled into a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Come Get To This" (which was outstanding.) Then did an ill advised tribute to Michael Jackson with a medley of "I'll Be There" & "Never Can Say Goodbye." I'm sorry but I have yet to see/hear ANYONE adequately "cover" the young Michael Jackson on any of his slow jams, utilizing the same arrangements. IMHO it simply can't be done, not even by a female singer.
Desi then quickly recovered in a surprising manner, with his cover of the Isley Bros "Who's That Lady," utilizing the very same arrangement that he uses on the version that he did on "Who's That Lady." In other words rather than the vicious Jimi Hendrix inspired "funk/rock" assault of the Isleys original, it was done as a hypnotic mid tempo R&B/Funk groove. Desi's version of "Who's That Lady" turned out to be a perfect way to end the set. In fact the song was performed twice to end the show, with all in the audience leaving the venue with smiles on their faces.
I'm not even certain that I should be writing this concert review simply because it could be perceived that I have a "conflict of interest." since I was also the emcee for the show. It's not the first time that I have been in this position and I suspect that it won't be the last, so therefore you will simply have to trust me...
This was an important event on multiple levels, because it was held at one of the most exclusive nightclubs in NYC. Feinstein's located right on Park Avenue inside of the Regency Hotel, is like one of those type of nightclubs that you see in the movies or on a TV commercial. The venue is plush, upscale, sophisticated and more. The sound system and the food are top notch. The audience is demanding and is almost daring the artist to fail.
It's everything that people who aren't from New York City envision that nightclubs in New York City are supposed to be. It's an anachronism in 2009 where most artists measure their success in terms of the number of friends they have on Facebook, the number of "Tweets" they send out each day or the number of YouTube clips that they have. Feinstein's is the kind of place that if you are badd enough to step out on to the stage and call yourself "an R&B singer," you had better be able to deliver the goods. Because if you can't then you will be forever known as an utter & complete failure.
It's the perfect place to take your "best girl," which is exactly what I did. I brought my Mom with me to Feinstein's @ the Regency Hotel on Friday night. There could be no fiercer critic to see an artist that she had certainly never heard of.
That is unless...
...After I got my mom seated, front row & center I went to check on the logistics with Thomas Anderson, longtime friend and the promoter of the event who was standing near the door (of course) when walks in the legendary Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Mr. Lloyd Price ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy", "Personality", "Staga-A-Lee", etc). I greet Mr. Price as I have known him for many years. He is a big fan of the Soul-Patrol website and then I watch the Matrie D' take him to sit at the same table with my mother. More importantly Lloyd Price was almost quite literally one of the creators of Rhythm & Blues music back in New Orleans during the 1950's. Later we are joined at the table by Amsterdam News columnist/photographer Charles Rogers.
That my friends is a table full of "critics" that potentially do serious damage to a "journeyman R&B artist" career if the show isn't up to snuff.
After the show was over I circulated around the room to solicit opinions as to what the audience members thought of the performance. Everyone was smiling, including both my mother and Mr. Price, who both told me that they enjoyed the show and thought that Desi was both talented and entertaining. Mr. Charles Rogers said that he would write about the show in the Amsterdam News. I spoke with Francesca Simon, Publicist for "Jackie's Fridays" an upscale NYC based promoter and she thought that the show was wonderful and would like to see Desi in NYC more often. Also on the scene was Nassau County politico Kendall Lampkin (and running buddy of mine during what seems to be another lifetime ago) who thought that Desi was off the chain.
As my mother & I walked back to the car (somehow we had managed to find a "free" parking space in Manhattan on a Friday nite.....LOL) she told me that she had a great time, the music was great, the food was great and Desi had put on a great show.
It doesn't get any better than that for me, when your mom approves...
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