Native Sun: Hip Hop+Afrobeat+Sunshine+Love On Foot

So much music being created by artists in this world. So many barriers to getting it heard, properly valued, sold and any money into their pockets. We all know it’s a travesty of epic proportions.

To all the artists who share their music with me digitally: thank you, and, I’m truly sorry. Lots of it I simply won’t have the time nor energy to spend attached to a computer to hear.

I’m an old fashioned girl when it comes to finding music. I want to use my feet whenever I can- to physically go out into the world and scour record stores; act on recommendations from real people I talk with in those music stores and elsewhere about the music we love; take a cd home from an awesome live gig; or buy it directly from artists I find sharing their music in streets and plazas.

I swear my methods are much more fun and healthier than excess computer time.

Hormigas Negrasvinyl records - Kingston, JamaicaSupport Sweet Music in public spaces

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It’s in that context I give kudos to London-based music duo Native Sun for using their minds and feet to speak of and sell their music to the many folks of a similarly-styled musical ilk to them, waiting in line for doors to open at D’Angelo & The Vanguard’s Roundhouse show. The fact that they did so was reason enough to hand over my valuable English pounds for their take-home album Indigenous Soundwaves; and to share some of its sounds here on their behalf.

Native Sun - Indigenous Soundwaves

Indigenous Soundwaves (2012)

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“Hip Hop, Afrobeat, a little Sunshine and lots of Love” from Native Sun 2012 via Indigenous Soundwaves

‘Out of the Box (feat. Akala)’ –  Native Sun

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‘Original Inhabitants’ – Native Sun

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…and “Hip Hop, Afrobeat, a little Sunshine and lots of Love” from Native Sun 2015 via the single Day By Day’:

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If Native Sun’s sounds are up your musical alley the bonus prize is the opportunity to buy them [relatively] direct from the artists.

Native Sun

Mohammed Yahya & Sarina Leah   (photo by Bumi Thomas)

 

Native Sun plus everyone else out there – keep making music. Please. May you make it heard in the world; and may humankind support and encourage you to do so.

That’s Beaver’s good old-fashioned dream. :)

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Live: Outta The Funk With The Funk

The word funk has different usages today. Last Friday I was in a deep funk – having had one of the longest, most horrible days of my life.  I didn’t think anything could shift me out of that funk. But when George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic came on stage and started playing at London’s Electric Ballroom, I was reminded (and relieved) that music could. And music did. Funk music in all its wonderfully malleable, distorted P-Funk forms did.

George Clinton live concert - Electric Ballroom, London 2015

George Clinton live at Electric Ballroom

George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic collective, no matter who its individual members at any given time, has always been an entertaining beast of immense individual talents and strengths combined. It is still that beast in 2015. And when George Clinton and 17 other artists create and share a feast of P-Funk sounds and visuals with you during 2+ hours, well, you (even you in the deepest of life funks) can’t help but smile at the goodness of it, feel grateful for it and get down to it.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert- London 2015

Alongside George Clinton front, side or centre stage at any or all given moments during the London set were the stunning musicianship of Blackbyrd McKnight and Ricky Rouse (guitars) – Garrett Shider (guitar & vocals) – Lige Curry (bass & vocals) – Jerome Rogers (keys/synths) – Greg Thomas (trumpet & vocals) – Bennie Cowan (trumpet & vocals) – Benzel Baltimore Cowan (drums) – Patavian Lewis, Tonysha Nelson, Brandi ScottTra’zae Lewis-Clinton, Trafel Lewis and Thurteen (vocals)…plus one more cat making fleeting appearances amongst the chaotic brilliance of the All-in tracks – who naming for us, will win you a First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate cd-set or George Clinton’s Autobiography sent to your home (promise it’s true).

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

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From the wonderfully wild and energetic Shake The Gate medley showcasing the talents of the younger P-Funk generation (“Pole Power”+“Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up”+ the sultry, soulful “Meow Meow” featuring Brandi Scott)…

Tra'zae- Parliament Funkadelic live concert 2015

Tra’zae Lewis-Clinton

Garrett Shider- Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Garrett Shider

 

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Tonysha Nelson (l) & Patavian Lewis (r)

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Trafel Lewis

Thurteen - Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Thurteen

Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Brandi Scott

 

Meow Meow – George Clinton & Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (2014)

 

– to the mesmerising guitar solos of long-time members Blackbyrd McKnight and Ricky Rouse in “Maggot Brain”

Ricky Rouse - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Ricky Rouse

DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight- Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight

– to the sweet performance of the Kandy Apple Redd song “Vanish” by George Clinton’s granddaughters Tonysha Nelson and Patavian Lewis…

Tonysha Nelson- Parliament Funkadelic live concert 2015Patavian Lewis - Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

– and renditions of the greatest-known Parliament/Funkadelic hits like “Flashlight”, “One Nation Under a Groove”, “Bop Gun (Endangered Species)”, “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep”

Greg Thomas - Parliament Funkadelic live concert 2015

Greg Thomas

Steve Boyd- Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Steve Boyd

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– to the acrobatic appearances of Sir Nose (aka Carlos McMurray) – the superb foundation of it all created by Benzel Baltimore Cowan on drums and Lige Curry on bass – the delightful horn-lines of Bennie Cowan and Greg Thomas throughout – and undoubtedly also to the sound engineering magic of Dwayne Dungey

…we were purely and simply funked up and entertained, good and proper, as you’d rightly expect to be at a Parliament Funkadelic show.

With George Clinton there in every moment- singing, dancing, facilitating, encouraging or just simply hearing, feeling and appreciating the sounds and energy created by everyone in the room with him.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert- London 2015

At only two other live shows have I seen so many different generations of people in the crowd. The first was George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic in Sydney, the second George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at Bluesfest 2015. Whether in their late teens or 60s they all knew the words to Parliament/Funkadelic songs spanning so many decades – and it was the youngsters gleefully shouting when they saw each well-known and revered P-Funk artist arrive on the Electric Ballroom stage for the first time.

DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015That broad fan base is of course a testament to the very long time George Clinton and his collaborators have been alive and making music, but also to the timeless goodness of that music; and their ability to adapt to the changing times, to stay relevant (ie. keep making awesome music and playing their instruments brilliantly) whatever the contemporary musical landscape may be.

One of these days when we no longer see George Clinton on the Parliament Funkadelic stage jumping up and down and humping speakers like he so admirably does now at 75 years old, or when members of the older Parliament/Funkadelic guard like Blackbyrd McKnight put down his guitar, the Parliament Funkadelic beast will be a different one for sure.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert - London 2015

But it will be a beast nonetheless…able (and hopefully willing) to carry the torch and continue delivering funk/rock/soul/jazz/hip hop fusion in new and evolving forms to future generations. It appears that George Clinton and his musical cohorts past and present, dearly-departed and alive, have all seen to that.

George Clinton live concert - Electric Ballroom, London 2015Garrett Shider - Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

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Roots Manuva, Leon Bridges & Human Snails at Citadel Festival 2015

On a sunny, blue-sky London day I found my way to the inaugural Citadel Festival 2015 for two reasons: to experience an uncommon live performance by veteran Londonite rapper Roots Manuva – and to hear the music of the young, up-and-coming Texan soul artist Leon Bridges.

Roots Manuva concert live at Citadel Festival 2015Leon Bridges live concert at Citadel Festival 2015

Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva came first – the casually, constantly moving rapper of substance and depth Rodney Smith, with a band of bass, drums, keys/samples/synths players and two gorgeous, soulful female back-up vocalists joining him.

He delivered some sounds from the forthcoming new album, but most tracks performed were from beloved albums of old, wonderfully recreated to sound fresh – and extra special with the living energy of a band.

By the end of the Roots Manuva set my ticket and trek out to Citadel was already well worth it.

Roots Manuva concert live at Citadel Festival 2015

Roots Manuva at Citadel Festival 2015

Watch a video here of Roots Manuva performing the ever-popular Witness (1 Hope)  [“Witness to Fitness”] at Citadel Festival:

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Past Roots Manuva’s records you probably have on vinyl in your music collection already yes? You can hear his most recent release “Facety 2:11” here and wait like me for the new album coming later this year.

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Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges was up next- and while his band sound-checked, dressed in finely-pressed identical satin vests, ties, jackets and cowboy hats, I found myself asking someone next to me if I was at the right stage. Turns out I was, then reminding myself to ignore my conditioned preconceptions about what a 2015 soul band will probably look like.

When the show started and the seemingly-humble Leon Bridges fronted the band on stage, proceeding to showcase the beautifully-soulful songs from his debut album Coming Home so reminiscent of the glorious sounds of old, a joyful smile appeared on my face and my body was moved into action.

Leon Bridges live concert at Citadel Festival 2015

Leon Bridges at Citadel Festival 2015

Throughout the rest of their all-too-short set I couldn’t help but look around me and confusedly wonder Why of Why? I was in the wonderfully multi-cultural melting pot of London hearing the musical goodness I was, surrounded by festival folks of the mostly Anglo-Saxon kind, most of them standing still.

Leon Bridges’ much-hyped debut album Coming Home was released digitally in June. It’s all goodness and then some – and like always, I’m waiting patiently till it’s released in hard copy.

You can check out a video here of one of the tracks from that album, “River”, performed by Leon Bridges solo at Citadel Festival 2015.


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More of Citadel Festival?

Did I find much more than Roots Manuva and Leon Bridges at Citadel Festival 2015? Umm, not really. In fairness to the festival, there were lots of musical and non-musical things going on around the Victoria Park site.

Citadel Festival 2015

But as appealing as the tequila bar, blind-folded human snail races and hula hooping looked,  I just wasn’t up for dealing with the dust, the crowds and the long lines for (sold-out) food and drinks.

Citadel Festival 2015

More importantly the other acts on the bill just weren’t up my personal musical alley – and with the Roots Manuva and Leon Bridges shows done and dusted, I had already achieved what I went to the festival for, and was well and truly satisfied.

I did allow myself the added musical bonus of catching Seun Kuti carrying on the AfroBeat tradition in his usual energetic, gyrating form alongside the stunning musicianship of dearly-departed Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 concert - Citadel Festival 2015

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 at Citadel Festival 2015

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Thanks to Citadel Festival 2015 for the live Roots Manuva, Leon Bridges and Seun Kuti experiences :) .

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Beauty by Wallace

When female soul, blues and jazz artist Wallace recently released her debut single Vinyl Skip, I wanted to hear more of the music and vocals this young artist had in store for us.

Wallace Gollan

Wallace

Wallace Gollan’s EP is not here yet, but her second single is: Beauty.

Wallace - Beauty (feauring Sampa)

Beauty features Sydney’s female rapper Sampa The Great, and has a lyrical message we could all benefit from hearing again and again: finding internal strength and inspiration, learning and growing from experiences good and bad, finding beauty wherever you are and pursuing your passions.

I still want to hear more from Wallace and the whole body of musical work she’s creating for us- as always, in hard copy when it comes.  Waiting patiently…

You can check out the new single Beauty here in the meantime…

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Nneka Live & With Love In The Eutropia Sanctuary

I’ve discovered that when in Rome in the Summertime, the good-vibes, open-air, artistic sanctuary of Eutropia Festival with its killer line-up of music artists seems like the only place in the city to be. Also that when in any part of the world at any time there’s a live Nneka concert to be found, that is most definitely the place to be.

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Nneka live at Eutropia Festival 2015

Having loved Nneka’s unique fusion of soul, reggae, Afrobeat and hip-hop music for a long time and having made it my [very-out-of-the-way] mission to get myself to Rome to finally have myself the blessed live Nneka experience, my hopes and expectations for her Eutropia show were incredibly high.

What Nneka and her four-piece band gave (their All), and what the audience received at the gig from the moment they stepped on stage until the last note of the encore played nearly two hours later, went far above and beyond all those hopes and expectations.

with Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

with Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015Gros Ngolle Pokossi with Nneka live at Eutropia Festival 2015with Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015The five artists with their combined talents, performed nearly all songs on Nneka’s recently-released album My Fairy Tales as well as a handful of her most well-known tracks from Soul Is Heavy and No Longer At Ease.

Despite the serious lyrical content of those songs, one dedicated to “all the refugees who’ve drowned at sea just trying to find a better home, and all the blood shed for religion”, the music and its delivery lifted the Eutropia crowd higher, higher and higher again. As Nneka herself pointed out to the Eutropia crowd, to constantly battle against the world’s injustices is tiring – and to throw love back at those causing the suffering is a much more productive and uplifting exercise. From start to finish positive energy and love were undoubtedly flowing to and from the stage.

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Both seeing and hearing the young but seemingly old-soul Nneka, open her self-described (‘Halfcast’) “big lips” and “big mouth” to sing her politically and spiritually charged lyrics with the most truthful and naturally flowing emotions from heart and soul, with her incredible voice, mesmerized me like no other female artist has done before in the live arena except for the divine Erykah Badu.

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Get a glimpse of the very special live Nneka experience with this here footage from her Eutropia show. The first song ‘Shining Star’ is a single from her 2011 album Soul Is Heavy, and the second ‘Babylon’ is from the new album My Fairy Tales.


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You can also listen below to a compressed mp3 version of the track ‘Book of Job’ from My Fairy Tales, two more here (‘Believe System’ + ‘Local Champion’) and songs from past Nneka albums here. Remember you deserve to hear and have the hold-in-your-hands, uncompressed hard copies in you music collection to love forever after, and in whatever form you choose to get them, Nneka and her musical collaborators deserve your financial support.

Nneka - My Fairy Tales (2015)
Book of Job by Nneka – My Fairy Tales (2015)

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Concerts in the good-vibes sanctuary of Eutropia L’Altra Città Festival 2015 continue until September (check out the program here). If you can only get to one, be sure to make it the George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic show tonight :) .

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Protoje & The InDiggNation Live In Amsterdam – Ancient Future Tour 2015

About this time two years ago I was in Jamaica on the hunt to find Protoje’s then-new album The 8 Year Affair. Finding a Summer show on his island home wasn’t an option because Protoje and The InDiggNation were touring Europe. I’ve watched their busy tour schedules since, waiting patiently for a chance to catch a live show.

I finally got it at Amsterdam’s Melweg last week – on the tail end of their tour of the now-new third album Ancient Future (released in March this year) – and amongst the collective’s shows at venues and reggae festivals throughout Europe including Mighty Sounds, Lakesplash, Summerjam, Sunrise Reggae & Ska, One Love and Summer Vibration.

Protoje live at Melkweg, Amsterdam - July 2015

Protoje live at Melkweg

Was I satisfied with my long-awaited live Protoje and The InDiggNation experience? Most definitely and completely. They quenched my thirst for wicked contemporary roots reggae music – and today that’s not an easy thing to do.

I love the sounds, quality, essence and musicianship levels of old – and cringe when I hear bands all over the world doing those sounds and the artists who made them an injustice by unsuccessfully trying to replicate them and creating bad, bland reggae music in the process. But I also want reggae music that sounds fresh, unique, diversified and has an edge to it.

At their Amsterdam show (like on the albums) Protoje and The InDiggNation collective delivered all those sounds I crave from both the past and present, made every part of my being smile with joy instead of cringe – and demonstrated live what an all mighty justice they’re doing for Jamaican and worldwide reggae music. My one of only three passing thoughts at the gig (great live music takes you out of your head) was “I haven’t heard live reggae music this wicked since Sly & Robbie”.

Protoje live at Melkweg, Amsterdam - July 2015

The humble and gentle Protoje himself with his unique hip hop vocal flow that gets my body moving every time, is just one part of the goodness of the live experience. The others, equally as important and talented are their sound engineer Greg Morris plus the seven core members of the InDiggNation on stage with Protoje: Peter “Kongz” Samaru (drums) – Lamont “Monty” Savory and Kevin “Zuggu” Patterson (guitars) – Paris LaMont Dennis (keys & vocoder) – Danny Bassie (bass) – Shenae Wright and Keiko Smith (background vocals).

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At Melkweg the crowd got the extra-special treat of hearing the absolutely stunning live vocals of young Jamaican diva Sevana when she joined the group on stage for three songs – two from Ancient Future (‘Love Gone Cold’ & ‘Sudden Flight’) and her own first single (produced by Protoje) ‘Bit Too Shy’. Sevana’s presence took the show to new heights again.

Sevana + Protoje & The Indiggnation live at Melkweg, Amsterdam 2015

Sevana with Protoje & The InDiggNation at Melkweg

The heavenly vocals of Zuggu in place of Ky-Mani Marley on ‘Rasta Love’ were another highlight amongst the gig’s many.

The Indiggnation live concert at Melkweg, Amsterdam 2015

The second of those three passing thoughts was that Protoje and The InDiggNation seemed a wee bit tired. Totally expected given their relentless tour schedule – and it didn’t stop them from delivering a killer show that brought a whole lot of happiness to everyone there.

A few times during the set Protoje thanked the Amsterdam crowd for taking the time to come out and listen. My third and final thought in response was “Kind words, but seriously? Man, thank you all for bringing your music to us”.

Protoje live at Melkweg, Amsterdam - July 2015

Anyone with a thirst like mine for wickedly-diverse, fresh, unique contemporary reggae music with the qualities and essence of old, needs to find their own sublime live Protoje and the InDiggNation experience. I’ll take another one, and another, wherever and whenever I can. In the meantime we can all keep dancing to our beloved hard-copies (digital if you must) of Ancient Future, The 8 Year Affair and The 7 Year Itch.

Listen here to ‘Sudden Flight’ (featuring Sevana and Jesse Royal) and check out video footage below of Protoje and The InDiggNation performing ‘Protection’ and ‘Bubblin’ in Amsterdam (all three tracks from the new album Ancient Future, which you can buy here).


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A Blessed Musical Day With Eric Harland & Co.

It’s a blessed musical day when a Beaver finds herself arrive in Amsterdam to hear about an Eric Harland, Dave Holland, Chris Potter and Lionel Loueke show starting in two hours; buy a randomly-seated ticket and turn up to the gig to discover she’s seated a few metres behind Eric Harland on drum kit – with the other three remarkably-talented jazz cats next to him on stage making awe-inspiring music together.

Eric Harland, Dave Holland, Chris Potter & Lionel Loueke live at Bimhuis, Amsterdam 2015

Each of those four artists have their own long career histories in jazz and world music. Just to name a few artists of many, double-bassist Dave Holland’s history includes work with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock; guitarist Lionel Loueke with Herbie Hancock; saxophonist Chris Potter with Pat Metheny; and drummer Eric Harland with a long and evolving list of the Who’s Who in the contemporary jazz world.

Playing together on stage at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis Theatre, they took us on a sound journey aboard the groove train, through funky town, down and dirty into blues land, across the seas to West Africa and through many diverse landscapes of jazz.  Every moment of that journey had my jaw dropping in awe and my mouth open wide with a joyful smile.

My ears stayed with all four players but given my vantage point so close to Eric Harland, I couldn’t keep my eyes off his masterful hands on the kit (especially after interviewing him recently then missing out on sold-out tickets to his Voyager shows at Melbourne International Jazz Festival).

Eric Harland live at Bimhuis, Amsterdam 2015

Two sets, one standing ovation, an encore and a second standing ovation later, I turned to the young jazz head next to me and said “Wow. That was amazing“. He shook his head at me and replied matter-of-factly “Of course it was. What else did you expect from those four?”.

And so went Beaver’s spontaneously blessed Wednesday in Amsterdam with Eric Harland, Dave Holland, Chris Potter and Lionel Loueke :) .

Get a glimpse of the musical goodness with these snippets from the show…

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D’Angelo & The Vanguard: Then & Now – Night & Day

The difference between D’Angelo & The Vanguard’s concert at London’s Roundhouse on Monday night and the last concert of theirs I heard is like Night and Day.

The last was nine months ago when they performed at Soulfest 2014– “Australia’s first annual neo-soul, hip hop and jazz festival”. At that time and for the previous decade, live performances by D’Angelo – or any news of D’Angelo – were rare, almost non-existent. We had no idea then that Black Messiah and the ‘Second Coming’ of D’Angelo were imminent.

D'Angelo & The Vanguard live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

D’Angelo & The Vanguard live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

I raved about the seemingly phenomenal goodness of those Australian shows. But with hindsight and the experience of D’Angelo and The Vanguard in London this week I see things a little differently.

D'Angelo & The Vanguard live concert at London Roundhouse

D’Angelo & The Vanguard live at London Roundhouse

Sure the 2014 shows were magnificent – but really, that was for the rare opportunity to experience the incredible musicianship of each and every one of those long-beloved funk and soul artists on stage performing their craft live. The reclusive D’Angelo first and foremost of course – joined (amongst the rest of The Vanguard) by Jesse Johnson, Pino Palladino and Kendra Foster.

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But what I saw clearly in London this week when D’Angelo & The Vanguard graced the stage and started playing (albeit an excruciating 90+ minutes late due to flight delays), is the epic transformation that’s taken place for them since Soulfest. With the release of Black Messiah, considered a wondrous musical gift by, well, everyone who knows anything :) , and 30+ live shows later, D’Angelo & The Vanguard are now a different, much much stronger beast than ever before.

For starters the 11-piece group now includes horns, glorious horns care of Keyon Harrold and Kenneth Whalum III. And as of this month veteran soul diva and long-time friend of D’Angelo, Joi Gilliam brings her talents to The Vanguard posse, taking the place of Kendra Foster on back-up vocals.

Joi Gilliam - D'Angelo & The Vanguard live concert at London Roundhouse

Joi Gilliam

But above and beyond that, the greatest transformations are the profound connectivity and tightness of the group evident in every sound and movement made; and the visible changes in their leader D’Angelo.

Gone is the timid, slightly nervous, restrained D’Angelo I saw on Soulfest stages reacquainting himself with performing to the world – and avoiding ‘Brown Sugar’. Enter D’Angelo on the Roundhouse stage – completely and utterly comfortable, confident and happy in his human and musical skin, doing what he loves to do and what (it seems) he was naturally born to do before the vultures of the music industry, the press (and the public too) sent him to face his demons and retreat for way too long: to bring absolute joy to the people of the world through music.

D'Angelo & The Vanguard live concert at London Roundhouse

Both the Roundhouse and Soulfest shows ended with ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ – and the opportunity for all (D’Angelo too from behind his piano) to hear and appreciate the individual sound of each player and vocalist in turn, and acknowledge their contribution to the show before leaving the stage. Of course I wanted them to stay and play on and on, and on some more.

D'Angelo & The Vanguard live concert at London Roundhouse

On my way out of the Roundhouse my smile got even wider after hearing a guy tell his friend his only disappointment about the show was that D’Angelo played some of his old songs [only two I think – ’Brown Sugar’ and ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’] instead of more of Black Messiah (we did get ‘Sugah Daddy’ ‘Ain’t That Easy’, ‘Really Love’, ‘Betray My Heart’ and ‘The Charade’). Turn back the clock to Soulfest when it drove me crazy to hear people complaining D’Angelo didn’t play ‘Brown Sugar’.

D'Angelo & The Vanguard live concert at London Roundhouse

Betray My Heart – D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)

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My only disappointment was that another spiritual, sublime, superb D’Angelo & The Vanguard experience had come and gone again so quickly – and wasn’t coming to London again a week later as planned because of cancellation of the Eventim Apollo show.  The fact is that no number of live D’Angelo & The Vanguard shows will ever be enough – and I’m grateful for the glorious one I got this week.

Check out a few short snippets from the Roundhouse show here…

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When I got the post-Parliament Funkadelic-blues in April, I consoled myself by buying a ticket to D’Angelo’s Roundhouse show. The tables now turn and my consolation for next week’s cancelled D’Angelo show comes via the live P-Funk experience that awaits me in London on August 7.

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Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This

The blues guitar and gospel vocals of dearly departed Pops Staples and the rest of the Staples family, has always been sweet music to my ears. But the release of Pops Staples’ most recent album by Mavis Staples in 2015, 15 years after his passing, and amongst the rest of the world’s contemporary releases, is ever so much sweeter.
Pops Staples - Don't Lose This (2015)

Pops Staples- Don’t Lose This (2015)

Don’t Lose This was originally recorded and produced by Pops and Mavis Staples shortly before his passing in 2000. On the album sleeve Mavis shares these words about the evolution of those recordings between then and their release now.
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“I chose this title because these were the words my father said to me as he gave me the tape of his final recordings.
 
He was sick and lying in bed and asked me to play the records for him in his room. After listening to it, he called me to his room again. He was weak, but he handed me the tape and in a soft voice said “Don’t lose this, Mavis.” I said “I won’t Pops. I won’t lose it.”
 
Since his passing, I’ve listened to these recordings many times over; it always brought me so much joy to hear his voice and guitar playing. He was an amazing musician, man and father. He was my best friend.
 
While Pops’ voice and guitar sounded so good on the original recordings (and remain untouched on this record), I knew the songs needed something else to really come to life. Something special. Pops deserved that. So I called on my dear friend Jeff Tweedy to fill out the tracks around Pops and he’s helped to craft this beautiful album.
 
I’m proud to share these recordings. I haven’t lost them Pops!
 
Here are the last songs from my hero, Pops Staples.”
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Pops Staples - Don't Lose This (2015)

Pops Staples - Don't Lose This (2015)

 Somebody Was Watching – Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This
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 No News Is Good News – Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This
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The pure, wholesome, soothing, feel-right sounds of Pops Staples heard on Don’t Lose This are a musical diamond in the 2015 rough. Thanks to Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy those sounds have not been lost – and the world has gained muchly from this wonderful musical gift it’s been given.
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Pops Staples sings that taking Jesus as his guide meant his bad times became better than his good times used to be. I say that people who add Don’t Lose This to their music collection, preferably on sweet vinyl of course, can expect to find that both their bad times and their good times will become much better for it thereafter.
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My Fairy Tales By Nneka

Once upon a time at the beginning of the 80s, a beautiful and intelligent girl from the Nigerian kingdom of Warri was born. She was named Nneka Lucia Egbuna, and was destined to bring much musical goodness to the world.

Nneka grew into a passionate, socially and politically conscious woman.  Also a special music artist with a unique vocal style and moving voice.

By 2011 Nneka had blessed the world with three albums+ of the delightfully soulful, hip hoppy, skanking kind [listen here].  Through those songs she told stories of suffering and injustice that needed to be told; and was a musical messenger of the kind that the all-too-troubled world needed more of.

Nneka - Soul Is Heavy (2011)

Soul Is Heavy (2011)

Nneka - No Longer At Ease

No Longer At Ease (2008)

Nneka - Victim of Truth

Victim of Truth (2005)

 

 

 

 

 

The world and its people who heard Nneka’s music were better for it. And, so it became that Nneka was decreed a living music legend.

Four seemingly long years later, and not so long ago, Nneka finally gifted the world with another album she named My Fairy Tales.

Nneka - My Fairy Tales

My Fairy Tales (2015)

Nneka fans of old found less of the soul and hip hop flavours in My Fairy Tales than past albums. They got more Afrogroove highlife, reggae and dub; even a dash of EDM to end the story. Some folks felt that overall My Fairy Tales didn’t have the same ‘bite’ as other Nneka creations. Others said the new album’s sound was more cohesive and consistent than albums which came before.

No matter what was said, everyone agreed on some things: it was an absolute pleasure to hear Nneka’s impassioned voice singing nine new songs; the music sounded like no other in the world; the bass lines in My Fairy Tales hit them deeply like bass should; and importantly, that it was good to be reminded that despite the suffering, corruption, violence and injustices inflicted on Africans (and people everywhere), the response must always remain the same: education, compassion and the Almighty Love, in abundance.

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People all around the world listened to My Fairy Tales and loved it. They felt refreshed and grateful to hear new music of the high quality and conscious kind.

Believe System by Nneka – My Fairy Tales

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Local Champion by Nneka – My Fairy Tales

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The people bought My Fairy Tales and other Nneka albums on vinyl where they could, or at least on cd; and treasured them in their music collection forever thereafter. They admired Nneka’s paintings –  remembered the music and messages of dearly departed Fela Kuti – pored over the lyrics in storybook font and discovered the names of Nneka’s many musician and producer collaborators – felt touched by Nneka’s voice – heeded her messages, and danced.

Nneka - My Fairy Tales (2015)

The extra-blessed also found themselves the live Nneka experience somewhere around the world in 2015.

For My Fairy Tales and all other Nneka music experiences before and beyond, the people lived, and died when they’re naturally supposed to, happily ever after in peace and love. :)

The End.

…of Beaver’s Fairy Tale.

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