Lissen up, y'all. Soulive has gots da funk, and this two-hour documentary of the damn near from ground up rebuild and opening of a bowling alley / concert venue, one of the coolest ideas I've heard of in a long time, in Brooklyn, New York, boasts a bootyquake of fine music playing and rave-ups. Kinda whatcha might call a new Crusaders, Soulive consists of Eric Krasno (guitar), Alan Evans (drums), and Neal Evans (Keyboards) joined by a stellar array of sit-ins like Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Charlie Hunter, Ivan Neville, Susan Tedeschi, Questlive, and, well, just a cavalcade of players who love to jam and git day-own. To show solidarity in bowling alley sub-thematics, all participants were required to wear a pair of oh-so-funky-funky-North-Street bowling shoes and then play their brains out. I'm happy to report that's precisely what happened right from the opening cut of this extravaganza.
Around since 1999, the group is infectious, playing extremely catchy tracks that can't help but get feet shuffling and heads bobbing. Over the years they've attracted sit-ins like Chaka Khan and Corey Glover while featuring a solid horn section and previously attracted the ears of the prestigious Blue Note and Concord labels, turning to MVD Visual now for their DVD. They've opened for the Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, and others, so you know the boys ain't just a bunch locals the just-mentioned biggies cadged to do some tweenin'—dey's da real t'ing, Bruno! Surprisingly, after a decade-and-change of the big time and several transformations, the group has returned to the basic trio+ and tossed the spotlight over for the good times.
Bowlive will dispel any doubt that something might have been lost in the process. Like the Crusaders, these cats inspire happiness and a positive glow while greasing up in the stank of true hipsters out to groove and move. Krasno plays an unidentifiably influenced guitar, though I see traces of Jukka Tolonen in him, as well as a general 70s Sly/Jimi/Carlos feel with a pronounced difference. Had I seen the cat playing in that old Fillmore-closing movie, it wouldn't have surprised me a bit. Then Neal and singer Nigel Hall indulge in playfully cool two-man simultaneous switch-offs while Alan keeps a rock solid beat. When Kofi & Oteil Burbridge enter the picture, the cats kick up into high, but, really, Soulive is that rare assemblage that can't help but shine in everything it does. Thus, when Tedeschi trundles in a throaty mama-wants-to-roll presence with Derek Trucks' never less than perfectionistic slide just before Warren Hayes dives into Born Under a Bad Sign with Krasno, what you most notice is that no matter where these cats turn, they don't miss a beat, just a bunch guys who live to play.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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