In keeping with the spirit of helping the local economy, we headed down to the Brick for some delicious grub and cheap Boulevard Tank 7 brews. As I was finishing the last bite of my reuben sandwich, the thunder cracked and the skies opened. Over the sounds of Howard Iceberg and through the windows I could see the deluge of rain. We promptly ordered another round of beers because we weren't going anywhere in this weather.
Fast forward to 8:30, the rain had stopped and the skies cleared over Crossroads. It was time to get this show on the road. Having been glad to have missed the downpour we finished our brews and headed the three blocks over to Grinders\Crossroads.
Orgone was the first group up. Out of the LA area, this funk, soul, disco group consisting of 8 members: Trumpet, trombone, congas\percussion, drums, bass, organ\keyboard, guitar, and a vocalist. Many members added additional backing vocals throughout the set. Orgone came out and got right to business. The horn lines coupled with funky drums and bass made for an excellent sound. The drums hit like clockwork and the band maintained a perfect rock steady groove. After a couple of instrumentals to get the flavor and sound going, a vocalist joined the rest of the group on stage. The vocalist's powerful voice matched well with the deep funk, disco grooves that they played. She could sing right over the top and own the stage or step back and let the guys handle things too. Orgone is a group that just flat out blows most funk, soul revival type of groups out of the water. Unfortunately a weak turn out, possibly due in part to the weather meant that only about 150-200 people really got to see this group which is a travesty. Put Orgone on the list of bands you want to catch next time they are in town.
|Click to view highlights from Orgone's set|
Next up was Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars from well, Sierra Leone. This 5-piece outfit was a great mix of reggae, ska, funk, afrobeat and soul. Much of the music was sung in different African dialects, which none of us speak. What we can say is that these guys are all very talented musicians who know exactly when and how much to play to make the music move you. The energy from these guys is infectious and the music just makes it all too easy to dance and have a good time. Listening to the All-Stars and paying attention to the various drum rhythms you could hear exactly where New Orleans got it's Afro-Cuban flavor from. The rhythms and grooves many New Orleans artists from Professor Longhair to Dirty Dozen and Galactic are clearly heard in some of the more traditional flavored tunes from Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars. I believe this was the second trip through KC for these guys in as many years and they put on a great show. Put them on your list with Orgone.
|Click to view highlights from SL's Refugee All-Stars|
Finally, the headliners, Dirty Dozen Brass Band from New Orleans, LA. These guys have been around longer than most musicians that perform at Crossroads have been alive. They've been there done that. There isn't a stage or city these folks have not been through and they are old pros. The lineup was a little different sans baritone sax, apparently he had some prior engagements so the remaining members filled in nicely. The lineup consisted of sousaphone, drums, tenor sax, keyboards, trumpet, and trumpet/flugel horn. Previously when we saw them in New Orleans, there was a guitarist also, not sure where he was at this evening.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band is the kind of group that can make even the most cocky of musicians stop and check themselves. These guys just flat out sound great. Hearing the sousaphone player articulating bass lines with the same clarity and crispness as any bass man was incredible. He also used an array of effects giving the sousaphone almost synthesizer qualities while still retaining the organic tone of the instrument. You closed your eyes and knew it was a horn, but then these sounds would come out of nowhere that fit perfectly with whatever else was happening. It was really incredible. Coupled with some excellent high brass courtesy of the trumpet players and occasion flugel horn it was bright enough to provide the punch but never overpowering. The groove would churn underneath with familiar New Orleans rhythms while the sousaphone and horns could take the music to another place stylistically. What might start as a second line tune would transform into an all-out slamming funky groove reminiscent of Parliament.
It was physically impossible to stand still during any set on this evening as the bill was a solid show from top to bottom. Fortunately, by the time Dirty Dozen Brass Band came out the crowd had filled out a bit, but well below capacity. It's too bad that there wasn't a bigger turn out for this show and we postulated weather may have played a part of the problem. But regardless of the size of the crowd everyone that performed was top notch. This was probably our favorite show of the entire year, definitely cannot wait to catch any of these groups again in the future.
|Click to view Dirty Dozen Brass Band's set|
Remember, go see some shows, it's good for your soul.