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Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit
Friday 08/14
Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit @ The Howard Theatre
$27.50 / $35
Referred to in a recent Relix feature as “The Jamband Velvet Underground,” the influential dada-jam trailblazers Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit will return to rattle the landscape this summer with a series of live performances – than band’s first since a much-talked-about 2011 reunion at the Georgia Theatre in Athens. With the daring, iconoclastic Hampton at the helm, the Aquarium Rescue Unit played a seminal role in fostering today’s vital, thriving improvisational music community. And their presence is still felt: Since Hampton and the band parted ways in 1993, the band’s members have gone on to both inspire and enliven the music of the genre’s most revered practitioners: Herring (guitar) with Widespread Panic,The Dead, Jazz is Dead, the Ringers, and his own solo project. Burbridge (bass) with his band the Peacemakers and with the Allman Brothers and the Tedeschi Trucks Band; and Sipe (aka Apt. Q-258, drums) with his own trio and collaborations with Phil Lesh, Béla Fleck, Susan Tedeschi, Trey Anastasio, Jazz is Dead, Alex Machacek, Debashish Bhattacharya, and many more. For these dates, the ARU will also be joined by keyboardist Matt Slocum, who performed with them at the 2011 Georgia Theatre show. Which leaves the good Colonel (retired)...a seismic catalyst of the first order, Hampton’s presence was first felt as a member of the cult Georgia ensemble the Hampton Grease Band. From there, Hampton – a mesmerizing blues-inflected vocalist, freewheeling guitarist, and caustic ringmaster – applied his boundless energy, cosmic wit, and fearless exploratory zeal to pursuits as varied as standup comedy, wrestling, and music ranging from free jazz to hillbilly blues. The Aquarium Rescue Unit coalesced during a weekly jam session in Atlanta before taking their act on the road, signing with Capricorn Records, and helping to found the first H.O.R.D.E. tour. “Bruce is a visionary that has enriched the life of anyone that's worked with him,” says Jimmy Herring. “He gives you an outlet that encourages finding your own voice, but he's quick to point out that freedom can be a prison…” “Being a part of Bruce's musical world is a liberating experience in that he entices the players to discover their true and full expression,” explains Jeff Sipe. “With Col. Bruce there's always the threat that something radically different is going to happen midstream,” Oteil Burbridge adds. Periodic Aquarium Rescue Unit reunions, both with and without Hampton, have taken place over the past two decades, but these shows represent the band’s first sustained run of dates since 2007. The sets will feature a mix of new and old material. Most crucially, every performance will be recorded for a possible live album release on the Abstract Logix imprint. While listeners and musicians are already salivating at the potential of this reunion, no one is more excited than the ARU members themselves. “While the youthful ARU was exciting live, I think the more experienced ARU can have more of an impact,” Burbridge reflects. Sipe concludes, “After 26 years, we’re all friends and are still inspired. Getting together again is for me a rare privilege and one that's filled with magic, because each of my friends are so brilliant and truly awesome.” When asked for his thoughts on the upcoming reunion, Hampton simply responded, “Activate.”
Frank McComb
Tuesday 07/21
Frank McComb @ The Howard Theatre
$20 / $25
Frank McComb Frank McComb is a divine soul man who speaks with the native tongue of soul, jazz, blues and pop. His virtuoso vocal and piano work has made him not only an indispensable and highly sought after session musician, but a favorite on the soul, jazz and R&B scenes. Frank has worked with many of the entertainment industry’s giants including but not limited to: Branford Marsalis, George Duke, Patrice Rushen, The Rude Boys, Phil Perry, Tommy Davidson, Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, Songwriting duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith), Frankie Beverly and Maze, Teena Marie, Lalah Hathaway, Terri Lynn Carrington, Phyllis Hyman, Valerie Simpson, Philip Bailey, and more.​ Signed to Motown’s short-lived jazz label “MoJazz” from 1992 until 1994. Frank was able to lend his vocal chops to the Buckshot LeFonque (Featuring Branford Marsalis) hit song “Another Day”. It was this featured performance that would lead to a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1998 where Frank would record and release his debut CD “Love Stories” in 2000. In 2003, Frank would go on to sign with Malibu Sessions for the release of his 2nd CD entitled “The Truth Vol.1”. After a bit of soul searching, F​rank decided to release his works independently and in 2004 he released his 3rd CD, “Straight From The Vault”, an entirely self written, self-produced and self-recorded CD that would win him the “SoulTracks Readers Choice Award” for “Best Album of the Year” and in 2005 earn him a spotlight with Jill Scott in Oprah Winfrey’s highly respected “O Magazine” as one of Ms. Scott's favorite CD's. “Straight From The Vault” was followed by ​twelve​ album releases between 2006 and 201​4 under Frank’s own Boobeescoot Music label.​ FRANK MCCOMB'S 4-SONG EP "SOULMATE" IS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE EVERYWHERE! Crystal Aikin When Crystal Aikin boarded a plane in her hometown Tacoma, Washington, bound for Los Angeles to participate in a singing competition, she had no idea that this would be the opportunity that would change her life forever. A registered nurse with an anointed singing voice, Aikin hadn’t even heard about the show when a woman who didn’t know Crystal personally but had heard her sing tracked her down and encouraged her to audition. The competition was Black Entertainment Television’s first all gospel talent show Sunday Best and, several weeks later, the church girl from the Pacific Northwest beat out some of the country’s best church singers to become the 2008 BET Sunday Best winner. As the winner, this single sister with the pretty smile and bubbly personality who just loves to sing gospel and inspire people to worship God, received a major recording contract with Zomba Gospel, the largest gospel label in the world, and a 2008 Toyota Camry. She was beyond ecstatic and brimming with gratitude for the opportunity to spread the “good news” through song world­wide. Now, with the release of her self­titled debut solo CD, she is poised to put her fresh, new sound on the gospel map. Crystal’s gospel journey began as a child growing up in Tacoma. She remembers, “I grew up in Altheimer Memorial Church of God In Christ in Tacoma. I sang in the children’s Sunshine Band. I honestly didn’t think that I could sing. I just think they gave me the mic and I was like ‘Okay, now I’ll start singing!’ I really did like air directing. That’s when the music is playing and you’re directing the air which is your choir! I never thought that I’d ever actually direct. But as I got older, young leaders in my church started going off to college, and I fell into the position of directing and more lead singing. And that developed my leadership skills for singing in groups in the church because neither of my parents were soloists.” Counting Gospel artists Yolanda Adams, Lisa Paige (of Witness), The Clark Sisters, The Winans and Bebe and CeCe Winans among her musical influences, by the time she reached her twenties, Crystal had become a seasoned church singer making a name for herself in the Tacoma­Seattle area while also obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology. But it wasn’t until the late 1990s when she joined a local singing group that Crystal’s gospel journey would take her into the professional arena. “My first appearance at GMWA was with a group called Soul. We travelled and performed extensively in the 90s, and we received a lot of amazing visibility and opportunities. Before that, I was in a local group called Heaven Sent Us, and that is when I really developed as a vocalist and stage performer. But my time with Soul was when I first began getting singing exposure outside of Tacoma,” says Crystal. After leaving Soul, Crystal returned to singing in and around her hometown. It was also during this time that she lost her father. “His words were embedded in my spirit ­ to make sure I could take care of myself –and that’s when I made the decision to go back to school. In 2005 she returned to college and obtained a nursing degree, following in the footsteps of her mother ­ a Registered Nurse and a Professor of Nursing at Crystal’s alma mater, Pacific University. Crystal’s kind hearted nature and love for helping people is what drew her into nursing. Her desire to lead people to Christ through her music ministry is what keeps her singing gospel music. “I am a worship conductor and singing for me has so much purpose; I don’t play around with it. We all have gifts and talents. Sometimes we take them places we shouldn’t. But for me, it is so important to covet my gift and to use it wisely. I believe that God has put a spiritual anointing on my voice to awaken the spiritually asleep and for deliverance and healing.” Crystal’s debut release gives her the perfect vehicle to minister with her honey dipped crystal clear voice and awaken souls. The 10 song CD was produced by a bevy of heavy weight producers from gospel and urban music, including PAJAM (J Moss, 21:03, Karen Clark Sheard), Dre & Vidal (Alicia Keys, Usher), Gerald Haddon (Deitrick Haddon, Damita Haddon, Bishop Noel Jones’ City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir), Derek Clark (Z’iel), Lamb & TJ and Asaph Ward (Kim Burrell, Maurette Brown Clark). When asked to describe her album’s music, Crystal says, “It’s a potpourri of musical sounds. And we’ve got something on it for everyone. I am so glad I’m from Washington State, one of the least churched states. We’re not in the Bible belt. So we don’t get gospel styles so heavily ingrained in us. We are a grunge and rock alternative state, the home of rock legend Jimi Hendrix. And with that, we are so well blended and open to appreciate it all styles of music. So I couldn’t help but make sure that a variety of music was captured on my album.” That variety of music styles on her CD manifested on her CD as a mix of Urban Contemporary Gospel and Contemporary Gospel sounds with a splash of Traditional Gospel and a touch of Rock and Jazz. Although she says she loves every song, Crystal does admit to having three favorites on the project, “My first favorite is the powerful ballad “What If,” produced by PAJAM. When you listen to the words it’s really an awesome song. What if God said no? What if he opted to not die? What if he opted to not give us healing? What if he opted not to give us miracles? Do you know what kind of world and situation we’d be in? It’s a song that provokes thought and thankfulness for God’s presence in our lives. Another one is “The Cloud,” produced by Derek Clark. It has a rock feel to it. And it’s an encouraging song for anyone who feels down, ashamed, unworthy and hopeless. The song talks about how the clouds have rolled away and your sins have been erased. So say goodbye to yesterday. Say good­bye to days of gray! Then there’s “He’s So Worthy” by Asaph Ward. This is a certifiable ‘gospel joint!’ It’s full of energy and spectacular rhythm, but what grips me about the song is that it has a praise and worship feel. The music is slamming but what gets me more are the words, because He’s worthy of all the praise and all the glory. It provokes you, no matter what you might be feeling at that moment; you’re like ‘Umph! He’s so worthy!’” Other stand outs on the project include the mid­tempo, contemporary “Lord You Reign Forever.” Produced by Dre & Vidal, it’s a soothing song that reminds you that the Lord reigns high above your circumstance and He will always be there for you. The Dre & Vidal produced jazz tinged ballad “Turn to Him” is a testimonial tune about a soul being lost and confused and finally turning to God through prayer to be saved. The tear evoking, soul­piercing traditional ballad “Even Me,” produced by Gerald Haddon, tells the story about how God will use the broken and seemingly unworthy individual to accomplish his perfect will. From song to song, Crystal Aikin’s self­titled debut CD will inspire and bless a multitude of souls from a myriad of backgrounds with its colorblind messages of love, faith, hope and worship. And what is Crystal’s hope for her God inspired release? She proclaims, “My desire for my album is that people will be inspired to bless God and worship God. I want people to get the Crystal artistry, but have the God experience.” Crystal recently won two Stellar Awards and was also nominated for a Dove Award this year!
Savion Glover
Saturday 08/29
Savion Glover @ The Howard Theatre
$35 / $40
Famous tap dancer, choreographer, and actor Savion Glover is the epitome of a living legend. Born in 1973, the tapping marvel has graced the stage since childhood. He set a record as the youngest person ever to receive a scholarship in the Newark Community School of the Arts. Before he was a teenager, Savion made his mark starring in the leading role in the Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid. Savion Glover developed his own dancing style he dubbed "free style hard core." The Tony Award winning dancer has starring roles in major motion pictures like "Tap" (with Gregory Hines & Sammy Davis Jr.), "Happy Feet", "Happy Feet 2" & Spike Lee’s “BAMBOOZLED”. He also starred alongside Gregory Hines in "Jelly's Last Jam", a role for which he made history as the youngest ever recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. As a choreographer, Glover's work has helped maintain tap dancing as an art form in the modern dance world. His starring role in the musical Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, which he also choreographed, debuted on Broadway in 1996. The musical chronicles events in African-American history and brought Savion a Tony for best choreographer. Glover was made known to the younger generation with recurring appearances on "Sesame Street." He also holds the credit as the live captured dancing motion behind Mumble the penguin in the Disney film "Happy Feet." Savion also served as co-choreographer for the film. Glover's quick steps and amazing rhythms continue to influence the lives of young people. His production company tours schools across the country, spreading enthusiasm for tap dancing and cementing his place in history.