The SoulMates' fans were quick to arrive to stake out new spots for themselves. Bob was already there when we arrived and we were quickly joined by Michael and Theresa G, Barney and Kasandra Early, Michael Magaurn, and Randy Corby. TJ Johnson joined soon and Toray came later. Finally we were joined by Jonah Kobayashi and Monica Miller. Now it's a party!
Soon, the Candlelight refugees were getting to know the old-timers of Blue Diamond. It was interesting to see some of the Blue DIamond folks look sideways at this band that was taking their stage. Not hostility, mind you, just curiosity. That curiosity become fandom in the space of one song. Just one song.
SoulMates jumped into their new environment early and quickly. It started with a Santana tune and the Blue Diamond took to the new transplants with open arms. When the song concluded, an older music fan came up to drummer Reinhardt Melz with high praise and cash. Reinhardt greeted the gentleman with respect and genuine kindness. The welcome mat was really out.
Then keyboardist Jarrod Lawson followed in the second piece with cool keyboards that drew sighs of admiration from old-timers and newcomers, alike. Old fans were energetically joined by the new fans.
Down By the Riverside included nice duo work between Jarrod and Reinhardt. It became funky under Reinhardt's strokes and the funkier it got, the more the audience loved it. Blue Diamond regulars were digging it all. The gentleman who had greeted Reinhardt earlier was preparing to leave and shouted to the band, "Hey! Thank you!"
But by the time Jay "Bird" Koder played the opening chords of the next song, the man had retaken his seat and stayed for the rest of the night. The song was You've Got a Friend.
Bird plays it like he means it...and he does mean it. Bird made his first stroll of the evening into the audience. He strolled to the bar and the old-timers there smile and nod in sincere approval. He continues to every table and individual patron in the place. By the end of the song, every person in the bar is now a fan if they were not before.
It was an appropriate song. It is the hallmark of SoulMates music--as I have said so often before--that it creates a communion of friendship and caring because Jay "Bird" Koder cares. So does Jarrod and so does Reinhardt. The name of the band is a perfect description because they evoke that feeling in their listeners, too.
The lyrics of the song say, "You just call out my name / And you know wherever I am / I'll come running / To see you again." These are the words that SoulMates' fans would sing right back to them. Whether it is the Candlelight or Blue Diamond, if they just call then soulmates will flock to join them.
When the final notes died away, the place just erupted with cheers and applause.
It was fun watching the development of new fans. Reinhardt was on fire, as always, and he drew the listeners right to him. His sister, Kelly, was present and there was one great moment when she was standing in the doorway behind him...just watching her little brother with a big smile on her face.
Then it was time to turn loose Jarrod on vocals.
Stay is a great vehicle for J-Law's vocal talents. Even though he has performed it dozens of times, he can always change it up in the most subtle ways and tonight was more of that. Always so slight as to make one think that something is different but not quite sure what it is. Bird also adds his grace notes and slightly different strum patterns to never give you the same sound twice. So different that someone near to me asked who wrote the song. "George Clinton," I answered. "No-o-o-o-o...that's not George Clinton!" So improvised and personalized are SoulMates renditions, the songs are often believed to be SoulMates compositions. Jay "Bird" refers to it as putting their own "stank" on them.
When the song was over and Jarrod was taking a breather, Bird addressed the faithful with "Your mission is to go out and each of you bring two more with you next week. Spread the good word!" Monica, the theologian-in-residence, looks at me wide-eyed and says, "Oooooh, [he] just told us to bring more people to church next week!"
Jarrod kept working it through One Mo 'Gin and it appeared that Blue Diamond regulars were hooked. Bev the owner said it was a great night for the restaurant and bar.
From One Mo 'Gin through Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover the crowd grew larger and the energy climbed. But it was Jarrod's Everything is Clear that kicked it up yet another notch. Jarrod's song was featured on Farnell Newton's Class is Now in Session CD. The Newton version is available on YouTube below. Be warned, however, the live SoulMates' version breaks hard and away from this smooth version. But the link below will give you a taste.
The conversation was lively and the energy remained high as SoulMates began the last set of the night with Jay "Bird" Koder's Man 4 U which is always a favorite.
It was Muhammad Ali working over Sonny Liston. Combinations and a relentless pummeling with slick footwork and smooth talk. The slick footwork came with Knocks Me Off My Feet. Strong vocals, a smooth groove and sweet guitar had the audience hooting in delight. This followed by Jarrod's spiritual and soulful Everything I Need was enough to evoke shouts from the audience. Bird's guitar solo was just as spiritual. It is always interesting to watch the different reactions that are conjured up by the various songs, especially the original compositions. After the song ended, one guy yelled out "Sexy!" I don't think that word would have occurred to me to describe this song in 100 years. But then that's SoulMates music for you, all things to all people.
The night closed with Fly Like an Eagle and I Wish. Eagle started with a spacey prelude that was joined in equally spacey terms by Jarrod and Reinhardt. The incredible guitar solo set everyone talking yet again and the song concluded with a spacey postlude. It was Steve Miller meeting Gustav Holst in the Blue Diamond.
Stevie Wonder's I Wish shut the place down. Despite the cries for an encore, the clock had struck midnight and Blue Diamond was closing for the night. Whereas the Candlelight had stayed open until 2.00 AM, the audience now had to go home two hours early. But that in itself fulfills the entertainment world's First Commandment, "Always leave them wanting more."