On this day, we were celebrating the great man, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King led us on an uncommon and turbulent path and it has undoubtedly and joyously "made all the difference." Different paths abounded at the Candlelight while The SoulMates played. In fact, it was a study in differences. From standards to the band's own compositions, the playing and singing was on a different path. And everyone noticed it.
The first set opened with Bacchus and Fly Away and something was, again, different from the very start. For one thing, Reinhardt was just on fire! He was certainly doing an impressive impersonation of the Hindu deity Vishnu. You know, the one with the eight arms. During one solo, my wife and I could just stare with smiles on our faces as we watched speechlessly. During Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, Reinhardt had changed up the rhythm and Jarrod with a grin yelled back over his shoulder to Reinhardt, "Play it right, man!"
Jarrod himself was in a different voice. There was a different intonation as he sang. Something deep was issuing from the depths of his soul. During one number, Jarrod hit this powerful note ... and ... just ... sustained ... it ... until I thought we would have to call for an oxygen tent! There was the same power as always. There was the same joy as always. But there was a difference on this night. The spirit of Dr. King simply had to have been in attendance, not the least being his presence in the hearts of this beloved communion.
No one showed the difference this night as much as Jay "Bird" Koder, however. It was in every song, every solo, every look into the eyes of the audience. During his guitar solo in Stay, Michael Magaurn leaned across the table and commented to me, "The way he played that lead... it is the best I have ever heard this song!" There was an augmented solo during Think I'm on the Right Track which was astounding. Even guitarist in attendance Matt Kilwein said aloud, "He played it all on that one!"
Maybe the difference of the night was because of the personal impact that was made on Bird's life by the work of Dr. King. "I was changed by The King's work," Bird began. "I was able to to study the blues with the blues masters because there was some love there!"
Then they were joined by that lovely man Reo. What a voice. What a sweet heart. He strolled through the audience with the most delicate but authoritative voice simply spreading peace where he passed. He intoned "I feel good today. My heart is feeling good today. I'm doing good today. I'm doing good when I know you're doing good." I wanted him to go on forever. I just didn't want it to stop. He concluded by saying, "We keep Dr. King's dream alive when we come together in love." But it was his word of "I'm doing good when I know you're doing good" that really sticks with me. It is a self-sacrificing thing to say. It is a loving thing to say. It was something Dr. King would say.
The second set continued the love. There were light moments like when The SoulMates were performing Knocks Me Off My Feet and Rhonda, walking in front of the band to retrieve the empties, kicked her foot out in front of her making a semblance of falling. She got a cheer and an ovation for that.
The charming Michaelangela joined the band for Didn't You Know and That's the Time (I Feel Like Making Love) and she was wonderful! She is one of those delightful performers who recognizes the honor in performing with The SoulMates. She even declared as much to the audience at the conclusion of her second song. She is delightful.
Then The SoulMates were joined by Arietta (Etta) Ward. She is funny. She is prophetic. She is adorable. She joined the band for Steve Miller's classic Fly Like an Eagle. She sings the lyrics:
I want to fly like an eagle/To the sea
Fly like an eagle/Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle/Till I'm free
Oh, Lord/Through the Revolution.
Feed the babies/Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children/With no shoes on their feet
House the people/Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution
When Etta sings it, she sings it like she means it. I have called her "Prophetic" before and I still mean it. She calls out how things are and how they must be.
Dr. King's revolution of respect and harmony continues and always will. On this night, The SoulMates provided the soundtrack of that revolution. Want to enlist?