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JOE
Sunday 08/09
JOE @ The Howard Theatre
$39.50 / $45
In retrospect of looking back over the past twenty years, R&B Superstar JOE Thomas crosses BRIDGES. The crooner’s new Album clearly defines his new outlook on life’s relationships and where they have taken him. Why “BRIDGES”? - “ We build them, cross them, burn them, then soon realize how much we need them” - JOE “Relationships are Bridges and at some point in life we must take full responsibility for where we have allowed those relationships to take us. Most important, what relationships or BRIDGES are we building, crossing into or burning?” The Album is described as therapeutic and open. “I must confess I’ve had my share of girls in my lifetime – honestly I’ve been on the wildest rides and maybe I should slow it down” are the opening lines of the Album’s introduction single – ‘LOVE & SEX’ PT. 2 which features the beautiful KELLY ROWLAND of Destiny’s Child and X-Factor fame. The single is widely and well received at Urban AC radio and video (directed by veteran director Bille Woodroof) with a strong reminiscence of the SOS Band days. Part one featured American Idol Fantasia and was featured on the singer’s 2013 Album release Double Back, (Evolution of R&B) which debuted #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and #6 on Billboard Top 200. When asked why the choice of Kelly over Fantasia, the R&B singer is very adamant that there is and never was a choice per say or comparison in his mind between the two. “Both are equally talented and beautiful”. If I had to describe in keeping with the concept of BRIDGES, (think of it this way), every major bridge has different levels or entrances when going across them. Your choice depends on the direction your going in. Both Kelly and Fantasia were necessary because I needed to go into two different directions for this particular song. I won’t call it a journey. That is for people to decide. I will say that it is heartfelt and relatable to past or present circumstances for any listener who embarks on BRIDGES. It is uplifting, fun and thought provoking. The biggest comment for those that I have played Bridges for is that one, you never feel like you have to skip over a particular song and that each song is enjoyable or as they say, “it reminds me of when I ….” That blank has been filled in some pretty amazing things. Songs like “Sex Ain’t A Weapon” hits hard with its strong ¾ shuffle beat reminiscent of Marvin keeps you grooving on the subject matter for the woman who chooses to hold back or deprive her man lovin’ when she feels like playing the mute game of making it easy to turn off her desire or quench his thirst for sex. Joe charismatically states “A queen B should never hold back the Honey…not later but sooner girl you’ll hear the rumor that other fish been swimming around in your sea. That’s why You Can’t Use Sex As a Weapon”. Then there’s the sure fire nostalgic Ballad entitled, If You Lose Her. I mean what would a JOE album be without one or several ballads (which he has not and never fails to deliver). The song makes JOE a spokesman for us guys to think about the consequence When Joe surveyed the landscape of modern R&B, the award-winning artist didn’t necessarily like much of what he saw. So with DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B, the accomplished singer-songwriter-producer brings the music he loves back to its roots. “I’m going back to that old school feel, back to the elegance and class of what R&B represented back in the day,” Joe explains of his tenth studio album. “You look at the pictures from that era and they represent something very stoic. They’re beautiful photos, beautiful moments, beautiful memories. I want to get back to the beginnings of it, the humbleness of it, the way it was before with real stars, real celebrities, real entertainers who actually wrote a lot of their music and performed it with great intensity and passion. That’s what the essence of The Evolution of R&B is all about.” Classic R&B also told memorable stories, something Joe is keenly aware of. That’s why DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B follows Joe through his search for true love. Joe kicks his new LP off with the gorgeous “I’d Rather Have A Love.” Accented by soothing guitar, finger snaps and lush harmonizing, the song traces the evolution of a man who goes from woman to woman into a man who realizes the power, joy and value of finding a woman he loves. As the album progresses, though, Joe takes a number of detours. On “Magic City,” for instance, he looks for love in all the wrong places. With the eyebrow-raising “Baby,” he details how he’s in love with two women at the same time. Then there’s “Mary Jane,” a mid-tempo tune that serves as a metaphor for having someone that releases all the stress and pressure of life. Showing the duality of life, he details the other side of a relationship on “Walk Away,” where he deals with the haters in his realm. Elsewhere, Joe finds his match on “Love And Sex,” an impassioned duet with Fantasia. Here, the two talented singers go back and forth about the wide range of emotions they’re feeling toward one another. “We’re going to town,” Joe says. “We’re emulating the feelings and the emotions of the difference between love and sex. It’s very classic and feels like something you’ve heard before. It has beautiful, touching lyrics and a beautiful story, too.” Beyond the rich storylines and dynamic storytelling, what makes DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B remarkable is that Joe played all the instruments on the tracks he produced. In addition to having a more intimate relationship with the music, Joe decided to play his own bass, drums, guitar, and piano to show other artists how live instrumentation brings an extra element to music. “I think it’s important the younger generation sees more of that,” he explains. “They rely too much on just mechanical things, like synthesizers, beat machines. Picking up and using an instrument can change the whole mood of everything. Anytime I play around the house or on stage, it’s a completely different vibe, a different zone that I’m in. It’s really nice to expand yourself if you’re an artist, to branch out and be more than just a singer and a dancer.”
Los Van Van
Friday 08/07
Los Van Van @ The Howard Theatre
$40 / $50
"A huge music machine with gears and cogs and cylinders all churning simultaneously" - Peter Watrous, New York Times "The undisputed king of Cuban dance orchestras and one of the most influential forces ever in Afro-Cuban music" - Los Angeles Times Searock Music LLC proudly announces the U.S. 2015 tour of Formell y Los Van Van, Cuba’s legendary, Grammy-winning dance orchestra. Heralded as Cuba’s greatest dance orchestra and known throughout the world for their iconic live performances, Los Van Van return to North America, reuniting with Leo Tizol, the producer and creative force behind their 1996 debut tour of the U.S. Founded in 1969 by Juan Formell, Los Van Van continue to dominate as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of contemporary Afro-Caribbean music. Fans can expect to hear the group’s greatest hits along with work from their more current CD releases. Continuing the legacy of the late Juan Formell, his son Samuel, the band's artistic director, has left no doubt that the group will follow the footsteps of his father. The tour of Los Van Van will present compositions from their latest production entitled La Fantasia ("The Fantasy"), a collection of danceable tracks incorporating innovative, contemporary arrangements of Juan Formell’s hits from past “La Fantasia es el mejor album de los Van Van” - Samuel Formell
Mac DeMarco
Wednesday 10/14
Mac DeMarco @ The Howard Theatre
$25 / $30
In 2015, the talent for creating a prolific output of exceptional music is almost a curse. Press people will tell you that there’s a bottleneck of too many artists covered by too few media outlets who always want to talk about something new. Managers will tell you that there’s too much money to be made on the road, so the album cycle goes on and on to support that. Artists may even feel pressured by reviewers and themselves to go into a deep stasis, only to emerge again when they’ve reinvented themselves into a newly revamped and retooled model, as opposed to just capturing time in a bottle and offering more to their catalog. At times, even fans have adopted this rule as well and are almost shocked when their favorite artist is able to release an LP already after two and a half or three years of waiting (let’s call this the MBV-effect). Lucky for us, Mac DeMarco is old school in his approach: when Mac wants to make a record and he has the songs ready, he makes it. Like the days of Steely Dan, Harry Nilsson or Prince releasing a classic every year (or less) comes Mac DeMarco’s Another One, a Mini-LP announced almost one year to the date of the meteorically successful Salad Days. The album was conceived and recorded entirely by Mac in a short period of time between a relentless tour schedule. At his new place in Far Rockaway, Queens — a neighborhood as east as you can possibly be before hitting Long Island — you can live in relative isolation despite technically still being in New York City. This left Mac with nothing more to do with his down time than to make music. Another One is an eight track release of brand new songs, freshly written for this release and each of which expand the arsenal of Mac’s already impressive catalog. Centered around a pump-organ riff and lilting vocal melody that is somehow both haunting and warm, “A Heart Like Hers” is a track that shows the maturity of Mac’s progression as songwriter. It’s a little bit more refined, a little bit more sophisticated, but nonetheless still retains the guts and soul of any classic Mac track. Opener “The Way You’d Love Her” has a playful swing to the chords and a guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a mid-period ‘Dead’ LP, Mac’s new favored listening past time. The overall feeling of the LP is lost love, or perhaps love never found, a topic that the world never tires of and one Mac can move through without it being a dour and somber experience. Title track “Another One” and stand out “Without Me” exhibit this bittersweet sensibility in lyrical and musical context, both melancholic and romantic, blurring the line between happy or sad nostalgia. The record leaves you with the same satisfaction as an old Bogart movie: he’s still the hero, but he doesn’t quite get the girl. It’s odd that despite working at the same pace as artists like Creedence, The Byrds and The Rolling Stones, coupled with an equally unending schedule of touring, press and recording, Mac is still labeled as a slacker. With two full-lengths and two EPs released and hundreds of sold out shows performed in the last several years, a recent late night television debut on Conan following a special guest performance on The Eric Andre Show, it seems, as Mac DeMarco nears his 25th birthday, there’s not a slack bone in the man’s body, besides maybe his a penchant for wearing comfortable clothes. You need comfortable clothes to work this hard anyway. Great singer/songwriters (Elton, Joni, Neil) don’t need to reinvent themselves; they just need to keep going and let the songs out in the world. If you’re like me and don’t think it’s been too soon since Salad Days – and you’re actually about to freak if you don’t hear more — here’s Another One.