Monday, November 06, 2017
Concert Review: Take Me to the River at the Folly Theater
A concert starring the veteran soul and blues men William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite and Bobby Rush was undercut by tedious speechifying and a galling parade of lesser talent at the Folly Theater on Friday.
Apparently intended as an old-school soul revue with an educational component, Take Me to the River was a well-intentioned but woefully misguided presentation that often resembled a patronizing infomercial designed to appeal to PBS viewers who favor Celtic dance specials. For dedicated roots music aficionados, the show was excruciatingly frustrating.
Despite the presence of organist Charles Hodges and bassist Leroy Hodges- members of the storied Hi Records rhythm section- the first 45 minutes of the show were forgettable. The Memphis rapper Al Kapone was the only featured entertainer in the opening segment who wasn’t appallingly mediocre.
Each of the three stars was allotted about 15 to 20 minutes. Even without the dancers that help make his lascivious concerts memorable, Rush, 83, was an astounding force of nature. Musselwhite affirmed that he’s the greatest living blues harp player. Bell- the reason I bought $35 rear balcony tickets to the show (I’d never seen him)- looked and sounded half his 78 years. His set included “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” but not “Born Under a Bad Sign” or “Private Number.”
Organizers probably hoped that members of the audience of about 700 rushed home to watch the Take Me to the River documentary on Netflix. That’s the last thing I’ll do after enduring the poorly conceived and extremely disappointing show. Instead, I’ll begin making plans to catch a proper performance by Bell in 2018.
I reviewed Marilyn Maye’s return to Quality Hill Playhouse on Sunday.
Honestly isn’t the album I wanted or expected from Lalah Hathaway. The glitchy beats and her astounding voice make for an odd pairing, but I suspect I’ll come to embrace the surprising sound. RIYL: Robert Glasper, legacies, Kelela. The politically charged video for the title track doesn’t make much sense.
Enjoying Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All is a lot like tearing up during sentimental television commercials. I confess to committing both transgressions in recent days. RIYL: Dusty Springfield, pablum, Adele. Here’s ”Pray”.
I didn’t expect to appreciate Fever Ray’s Plunge, but the album is even more preposterously affected than I anticipated. RIYL: nails on chalkboards, Björk knockoffs, playing yourself. Here’s “Mustn’t Hurry”.
Vincent Herring’s Hard Times is the all-too-rare jazz album that’s capable of connecting with listeners who embrace both Cannonball Adderley and Donny Hathaway. I’d love to catch this band- saxophonist Herring, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Carl Allen- playing these songs in a crowded club on a Saturday night.
In theory, Mostly Other People Do the Killing is one of my favorite bands. The reality is far different. Loafer’s Hollow, the brainy ensemble’s latest effort, is an attempt to bring avant-garde concepts to trad jazz. It should be thrilling. Instead, it’s merely irritating.
Guitarist Rez Abassi is joined by saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Dan Weiss on Unfiltered Universe. RIYL: John McLaughlin, geniuses, Weather Report.
(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)