Gil Scott Heron is a legend.
No, seriously. He really is a legend. Heron is a well-known poet, musician, and author. Most are familiar with his righteous piece, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsO4u46wIlk
Recognize him now? Yeah, we thought you would. He’s been sampled by some of hip hop’s brightest young people right now including Kanye West, Common, Tupac, and P.M. Dawn.
Twice a night this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Heron graced DC with six performances (Six?! There really is no excuse to have missed him) at Blues Alley in Georgetown. And even though Blues Alley didn’t allow photos, the photos wouldn’t have been able to accurately illustrate the atmosphere and the feelings anyways.
I am more familiar with Heron’s spoken word pieces, and Friday night’s performance introduced me to a whole other side of Heron.
The setting was ideal for Heron’s performance. Blues Alley is cozy and intimate, and so was the crowd. Heron is smooth, and while we eagerly awaited him to begin playing, he charmed us with funny stories and small talk.
Basically, what you need to get out of this post is that Gil Scott Heron does BLUESOLOGY. That’s right, Bluesology.
Heron: You ask why it’s a science? Because I added the “ology” at the end, of course.
But what Heron does with his music is more than just a science. It was beautiful, entrancing, and full of so much soul. While many seem to label his spoken word as “militant,” he is far from it. His blues and jazz arouses true emotion and feeling. And Heron was able to balance out that overwhelming soul with goofy, endearing remarks (“If you didn’t know I could play the piano, then you may be right.”)
Yo, Heron. You can definitely play the piano. Friday taught us not to doubt that.
He was accompanied by good friends and musicians, and a piano, a keyboard, a saxophone, a flute, and congas. What was enjoyable about his set was that Heron and his band radiated so much energy. If you believe in good energy, they were oozing all of that. They had the audience cheering and chanting, clapping (some of us more off beat than others) and stomping. Heron shared the spotlight with the whole band, often giving them their own solo times to play around and really jam. At one point, Heron had the conga player banging out with the crowd (“Go ahead, Tony, do that again.”). Their grooving had all of us grooving right back.
That night was an oxymoron in more ways than one (“what the hell is Jumbo Shrimp?”), but it was soulful and emotional, yet so light-hearted and goofy. And when Heron shared that Washington, DC was the one of his favorite places to perform, I can’t help but
admit that I was one of many to puff my chest out with pride.
Set List included:
Winter In America
Is That Jazz
Pieces of a Man
I’ll Take Care of You
Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate