But Monday night, June 25, 2012 was the return to Quimby's at 19th and what a return! A few changes in the look of the place and Sara waiting to greet the band and customers alike set a sweet stage for the end of a month-long draught.
A green drape was hung over the brick wall behind the band in order to dampen the sound banging off the back wall. A nice touch that was much appreciated by drummer Reinhardt Melz.
SoulMates wasted no time in thrilling the growing crowd with the opening instrumental Bacchus. The punchy little staccato beats traded between drums, guitar and kicking bass framed the more lyrical layers that allows the listener to ease into the music while being awakened to what was to come. Good stuff and a great way to start again.
The second instrumental was introduced by guitarist Jay "Bird" Koder with "SoulMates coming at ya. Getting it warmed up, here. We're gonna get it on... at Quimby's." The band and the crowd were both getting warmed up as was obvious by the chatter amongst the patrons. Missing the band and missing the family for a whole month.
Jarrod was turning it on with the keyboard solo and was simply staggering. The Bird was in full flight himself and the paired solos were sweet to hear. Beautiful lyricism!
And in walks Jonah and Monica... the cutest couple in the world. Talk about presence that lights up a room--these two have that kind of impact. The world just seems a better place when they come around...and it is.
They arrived just in time for the third song and instrumental, Europa, the great guitar showcase that Carlos Santana used to evoke his own moments of soul. Below is a link to a live recording of Santana playing it but only for you to hear the song and to imagine what it could possibly sound like under the Bird treatment. Not insulting Santana, whom I love, but Carlos just needs to put his guitar down and listen to the Bird on this one! Bird's version is so much cooler and soulful but tonight it was even more emotional. It was touching and it certainly touched me.
Michael and Krissie Magaurn joined the audience at this point. Their arrival always adds a touch of class to any event and venue. The Magaurns could show up at a roadside hot dog stand and they turn it into a 4-star place. Presence does that, too.
"You've heard him on the keys, playing up a storm, and kicking bass all over the place. Now you get to hear the soul of Mr. Jarrod Lawson," was Bird's intro to the first Jarrod's vocal number of the night, Stay. Reinhardt's cool groove with the doubled rim-shots and Bird's blue guitar heighten the sense of resolve and hope that the lyrics and Jarrod's vocals portray.
Bird's guitar was especially wailing on this particular evening. He starts with deep blues then ascends to hope as Reinhardt matches the mood. After his solo, someone yelled out "Oh, MAN!"
The song backs down to conclude with strong impressions from guitar, vocals, keys and drums. Hauntingly hopeful is about the only way to describe the sound. It worked.
The chatter between songs was fun. Jarrod was asking how everybody was doing which elicited a hoot from the audience. He added that it was good to be back at Quimby's and Bird joined in with enthusiastic agreement. As they were still talking, Reinhardt started the "Gadd groove" to intoduce Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover. In this night's treatment, Reinhardt maintained Steve Gadd's original beat while adding different flourishes of his own. You really have to listen to Reinhardt and you also have to know the original recording to see just what Reinhardt is bringing to the party. It's his subtleties that make all the difference.
Meanwhile, the Bird is working his magic on the guitar and provides sounds that Paul Simon never saw coming. At one point he adds an almost Arab sound that really boosts the beauty of SoulMates' version, especially when the song is turned into a samba at the end. This was not a cover...it was a conquest.
The room at Quimby's was the great space for such a takeover. When Fifty Ways... concluded, Jarrod said "I love this room! The best acoustics." Scott and Sara have done a great job of adjusting and manipulating the room just so... and it has paid off. Sara wants to make it right for SoulMates and she does a great job of promoting the music and the band. She is a dream-come-true.
Everyone was talking about the place right up until the next song began. One could hear Bird and Jarrod and Reinhardt talking about the small details and their appreciation of it. Then they slid into a cool intro that they played around with as Lance Giles entered the room and got shouts of greeting from everyone.The cool intro continued into a smooth but harrowing narrative as Her Twisted MInd unfolded in bluesy splendor. This song is cool and it is the nightmare of every guy who has ever dated.
But even the horrors of Her Twisted Mind lose their fearful grip when the lovely and winsome Rhonda is serving in the house! Rhonda, you may recall, was the ever-present darling bartender at the Candlelight Cafe and Bar. When the Candlelight closed, she took up employment at Quimby's in hope that SoulMates would be coming to Quimby's sooner or later. Her foresight paid off and all is right with the world. Rhonda at Quimby's!!!! It brings a thrill... and it lets you know that we are on The Right Track.
Sure, that was a cheesy transition but you have to allow me one occassionally.
The song may as well have been about Rhonda. "Without her, I'm nothing but a man sitting here alone. Without her, I'm nothing but a man on an empty shelf." Rhonda was the missing ingredient to the restored fun that has been missing since the close of the Candlelight.
The song is cool, bluesy and funky...like Rhonda. There are people whose absence leaves a hole in your heart. Rhonda is just such a person. Adorable and warm-hearted, that's Rhonda.
Then...up steps Paul Mazzio! He jumps into a cool solo that can bring a smile to the corpse of Julius Caesar. Two horn players understand better than all others just how to play with SoulMates. Paul Mazzio is one. The other would show up in the second set.
After his solo, Paul keeps up the beautiful undertones as Jarrod sings like he is channeling Donny Hathaway. Paul and Jarrod cross over each other beautifully. Good Lord, this is good stuff. The set was not allowed to close so SoulMates gave the audience one more before the break.
Lance Giles got the obligatory dedication with She's Right. He deserves it. He travels from Seattle every Monday just to hear his SoulMates. I often wonder if there is a story behind why Lance especially likes this song. Jarrod sings it like he means it, so it is probably safe to say that every man who has been in a relationship with a woman has had to confess "Yes, she's right and I'm wrong."
It was a great way to close out the first set. The band joined the audience for conversation and drinks and it seemed like home for those present.
The second set took off with Greatdayndamoanin (Great Day in the Morning). This shows Reinhardt at his funkiest. He changes rhythms like nobody else and has left many bassists in his wake.
Then steps up...the second horn player I previously mentioned... Farnell Newton! Asking which player you prefer is like asking which you like better; pecan pie or key lime pie. Maybe you can answer the question but I love them both and can't get enough of either.
Farnell plays the funky side and plays against Bird's guitar in the coolest of ways. All the while, Reinhardt is rolling the thunder...
By this time, the audience is now calling out the songs they want to hear. Peter Winhcester had been calling out for Everything I Need since the first set. So, Bird decides on Jarrod's great work, Everything I Need. No matter how much I write about it, I can never say enough about this song...but I still try. In case you missed it, I wrote last week at length about this song here: http://travisrogersjr.weebly.com/2/post/2012/06/jarrods-magnum-opus-everything-i-need.html.
Bird's guitar on this is stratospheric; it soars. It wails and rejoices, laments and encourages. Jarrod provides a little church music in the background and Reinhardt plays a triumphant pattern. This song is... amazing. And the audience feels the same way that I do. The roaring applause proves it. Peter called for an offering to be taken after that song. Jarrod picked up the tip jar "Seymour Tips" and said, "Right here."
Arietta was then called up by Jarrod and Bird. You know the song she sang, if you've been around Etta and SoulMates at all; Fly Like an Eagle. She makes this song fun and political and stirring all at once. Then they were all joined by Farnell again. It was an all-star game now. And when it was over, everyone called their love to Arietta.
Miss Toni Hill was also in the house and she joined in next. The song she joined in was Gershwin's Summertime. Arietta screamed in appreciation at the very first note. Toni's soulful working of the Gershwin classic was gorgeous. Then Bird's fabulous guitar interpretation took the piece into the clouds yet again. Reinhardt's clapping rim shots gave the song a jazziness that supported it all. Fabulous song!
Despite Jonah's call for certain songs, Lovely Day was the next song. When they got to the chorus, Arietta and Toni sang the harmony with Jarrod. Then Bird's guitar solo set hearts aflame as he always does. And that would have been that... but Jonah kept begging and he got what he wanted.
The encore was Man 4 U, the Jay "Bird" Koder original. Jonah was right--it had been far too long since we had heard it. This is a great encore for people who love SoulMates. Even people who don't dance want to dance when this song is performed. There is a movement and melody that simply captures the heart.
The bridge of the song is wonderful. "Let me be the one, the one that you can turn to when everybody else has let you down" is written as a love song to the love of his life. But the thing about Bird is that he is that for everyone that meets him.
SoulMates are like that, also. This is where you can turn when everything else has let you down.
Farnell was back to conclude the bridge and return to the verse. He adds a punctuating blast to drive home the point. Then Bird's guitar returns as calming and soothing assurance. It becomes a 10 1/2 minute testimony of devotion and the security of a loving heart.
This is the devotion from the soul of SoulMates to the soul of those who have been touched by their music. Once you have been touched, you are a soulmate forever.