It started with the first song and then there were send-outs to friends like Michael G and Matt Kilwein. During Valdez in the Country, a Donny Hathaway composition, drummer Reinhardt Melz nosed into this really smooth groove and kept it there the whole night. When things turned funky, it was still smooth. When it was soulful, still smooth. When it was a hard Latin bust-up, it was smooth.
Then Jay "Bird" Koder says into the mic "We're gonna take you down to New Orleans" and they slide into the SoulMates' original French Quarter.
Good God, ya'll. I haven't seen them do anything like this. It was like smooth corruption. It was a good boy turning bad. One guy said it was "like dancin' with an old, toothless voodoo woman." It was nasty but you didn't want it to stop. Oh yeah, it was some sweet, sexy soul.
If you're in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras, you're going to find yourself in situations you never imagined. It was Mardi Gras at the Candlelight!
We got taken to church, too. During Fifty Ways Jarrod Lawson and "Bird" got into this call and response scat kind of groove. It was the preacher and the choir. Jarrod's Juniper Tree kept us in the pews, too. So help me, I heard somebody up in the house say "Amen" when it was over.
But then comes J-Law's Everything I Need.
In the song, Jarrod intones these lines:
"You know, humankind, we seem to be
Marked by the proclivity
To covet things material
And disregard the spiritual."
The song is about taking comfort and joy from the presence of those we love. Material things are temporary and are easily lost. The things of the spirit are everlasting and cannot be lost.
It almost needed an altar-call when it was over. And after the sinfulness of French Quarter, we all needed an altar-call. At least, I did.
Through it all, Reinhardt keeps this cool groove going that threads its way through every song and gives a kind of coherence that allows "Bird" and Jarrod to jump off when the spirit or whatever moves them.
She was in Religious Studies through undergrad and grad school and we got to share stories about professors that we both admired and enjoyed. So I suppose it inevitable that church-talk should infuse what was happening around us as we all enjoyed what was happening among all the soul mates in attendance. We had liked this couple the minute we saw them weeks ago. Soulmates don't have to be lovers; they can simply be people with whom you share a soul-connection. We have met many such people at The Candlelight.
So, anyway, the first set concluded with a Reinhardt-dominated version of All Day Sucker. It was that hot Latin groove that he was working over. It was inconcebible y peligroso. A fine way to end the first set.
The second set finished the mood that had been rolled out in the first set. Jarrod's warm vocals on When Will You Call was a comfort to all. It was a night to relax and simply be at peace. It was a night of calm serenity. We needed it to be.
This is the amazing sense that The SoulMates have; to know what is needed before it is needed is an instinct or a gift that cannot be explained. But it happens regularly with "Bird", Jarrod and Reinhardt. Monday night, there was a need for peace and smoothness. At least, I needed the calm.
It was a calm before a heart-breaking storm because, only 28 hours later, we would hear that Don Cornelius was gone from us forever.