I had invited a new friend to join us at the Candlelight on Monday. I had spoken highly of the SoulMates, of course, and told him that this was THE band to see in Portland or anywhere. I don't think Marvin was entirely convinced... until he had listened to them for all of three minutes.
He had brought along his pal Victor and they both got to meet Jay "Bird" Koder before the show started. They liked Bird right away, but everybody likes Bird because he is the most likeable guy ever.
The SoulMates jumped right into it with an original SoulMates composition and Marvin and Victor were hooked. After all, the first number featured a raucous drum solo with wailing guitar work and gliding keys. It was a great start and they never looked back. "Right out of the gate!" Marvin shouted.
Starting then and then throughout the night, Marvin would just say, "Man, Travis...!" It was the kind of tone when one feels like they have been sandbagged. He later told me that I had not said nearly enough about these guys. I told him that I didn't want to oversell them but he said "I have travelled everywhere and these guys...I just have never...I mean, these guys are it!"
And so they are. From the opening to the next instrumental wherein Jarrod Lawson captivated the audience with nice keyboard features while Reinhardt Melz had this power groove going and the Bird showed some of the bluesiest guitar of the night, the SoulMates just kept turning up the heat.
They stayed right in that groove into Valdez in the Country, a Donny Hathaway song that will undoubtedly be part of the Bobby Womack - Donny Hathaway Tribute at Jimmy Mak's on Friday, April 20th--a night you don't want to miss. Why? Because the SoulMates know how to treat Donny Hathaway and Valdez in the Country is excellent proof of that. All three of the SoulMates were playing with big grins and not just because the world's worst dancers were on the floor.
Below is the Donny Hathaway original version followed by a cover by George Benson and Carlos Santana.
A brand new SoulMates original was presented entitled Her Twisted Mind. It was so brand new, in fact, that it had never even been rehearsed before they played it live and in front of an audience. Composed by Jay "Bird" Koder and Jarrod Lawson, it was an amazing song, as any SoulMates aficionado would expect.
During the song, one guy leaned toward me and said, "That is a great bass line but I don't see the bass! Who's on the bass?" I told him that it was Jarrod playing a kicking bass on the keyboard. The guy shook his head and said, "Oh, man. Just when I thought these guys couldn't impress me any more than they already have..."
The SoulMates Number One fan is Lance from Seattle. He drives down from Seattle just to hear his SoulMates on Monday and drives home right after. In appreciation, the SoulMates sent out two songs to Lance and they were winners. The audience cheered the songs and cheered Lance, as well. It's not just the band who are his soulmates.
Late in the night, the singers in the house began coming to the front. Michael Angela and Kelly Shannon joined in the first and second sets after Arietta Ward had wowed the audience with the SoulMates + Etta version of Fly Like an Eagle.
This was only after she had been spotted coming in the front door and was passing the bar. Bird called her up front but she had to excuse herself for a moment first. Very delicately done until Jarrod says, "Where you going? Oh! You gotta go to the bathroom?" Right into the mic he says this, bringing a rebuke from Reinhardt who chided, "Geez! Why don't you just tell everybody???"
But Etta onstage with the SoulMates made everyone forget where she had been. All anyone cared about was what she was doing right then and right there. Marvin exclaimed, "Man, Travis.... this is a down home concert!"
And there was more... Jay "Bird" Koder's own composition Man 4 U came soon after and was followed by Jarrod's own Everything I Need. By this time, Marvin and Victor had both bought copies of SoulMates; Live and In Living Color to carry home with them.
Unfortunately for them, they had to head home before the last song of the night which was yet another unrehearsed SoulMates original. I think it was even untitled.
When the night was done, seven out of the eighteen songs performed were composed by the SoulMates. As much as I love hearing the SoulMates treatments of Stevie Wonder and the others, it is the emerging body of work from the hearts, minds and pens of Bird, Jarrod and Reinhardt that makes me pray at night for a CD to be released by the SoulMates. Lance would want to include Good Day, Bad Day and Tim would want to include All Day Sucker while Chieko would love to hear Sukiyaki and I'll beg for Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing but I think we would all agree that it is those SoulMates originals that we really want to hear. Because it is not just their voice and instruments that we hear in those songs but it is also their message, their music, their heart. And that stuff is pure sweet, sexy, soul.