Mayer Hawthorne Brings the Soul Brigade to Oakland + Photos

 

Photos by Kola Shobo
Words by Brandon Diaz

As if Oakland needed any more soul, they sure got it from Mayer Hawthorne‘s stellar performance at the Fox Theater in Oakland’s Uptown district.

The evening began with a brief but lively performance from curly-haired songstress, Gavin Turek, who strode about the stage with Tina Turner flair in a stunning lavender dress. As the theater filled, Danish soul duo Quadron stole swoons from the packed house as vocalist Coco O. took center stage with a stunning sequined ensemble and ruby red lips.

Their 45-minute set was filled with lively songs from 2013’s Avalanche, all ears clinging to Coco’s angelic voice, eyes affixed to her striking pant-suit dress and tasteful fingerwaves. Sans producer Robin Hannibal (technically one-half of the band), Quadron held attention as they ran through a set that included “LFT,” “Sea Salt,” and a breathtaking cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.”

And as that sweet perfume of soul music washed the crowd, Quadron finished, allowing Mayer Hawthorne and his backing four-piece band to bring the funk.
Emerging from a glowing broken heart at center stage, the Detroit-area native brought a convivial night of neo-Motown to the Fox. Sporting a royal blue two-button suit and a pair of Nike Air-Max sneakers, Hawthorne lead his band through a nonstop set of grooves that kept hands in the air with continuous jams from his sing-a-long songbook.

Read the rest after the jump

Hiatus Kaiyote Rocks Sold Out NYC Debut

 

For a band that formed in 2011 and released their first album less than a year ago, Hiatus Kaiyote has enjoyed a whirlwind of accomplishments in a remarkably short period of time: a backstage serenade of their own song “Nakamarra” by Erykah Badu at SXSW; a long and forceful reiteration of support from ?uestlove at his party at Brooklyn Bowl; a sold-out show at their debut performance in New York City.

Hiatus Kaiyote, comprised of Nai Palm, Simon Mavin, Perrin Moss and Paul Bender, is also a perfect example of the limited utility of the “genre” in characterizing an album’s sound or capturing its integrity. But nonetheless, the sources of inspiration for their music are unmistakable. “Atari” takes cues from Flying Lotus’s fractal spidering of digital sounds. The keyboard section on “Jekyll” draws inspiration from Fela Kuti and afrobeat. The woozy space sounds of “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk” are reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s latest album, New Amerykah Part 2. And Nai Palm herself sounds like a blend of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse.

Their inaugural performance at LPR was also remarkable for the depth and loyalty of the fan base they’ve already amassed. Here’s what some fans had to say of last night’s show:

Naikhoba Munabi: “The power of the performance was in the immersive experience. It felt like performance art. Each song individually carries its own weight, but the concert felt like a complete feast as opposed to just one ingredient or one meal. Also, sonically, their tones are extremely well refined so that no one artist is the star of the band. All four of them complimented each other so well and fit together seamlessly. When you listen to their music, it consumes you; I felt like I was a part of it.”

Read the rest after the jump

Exclusive Interview: Ester Rada Opens Up Before Her US Debut

 

Next week on March 11, we will be introducing folks in NYC to a major new talent from Israel named Ester Rada. In the meantime, we got some interesting bits on the unique artist in the interview below. Read up!

Giant Step: Your heritage is that of a very unique Ethiopian-Jewish people. How does this background and being raised in an Orthodox tradition affect who you are today?

Ester Rada: I was born in Israel, and my family raised me in a religious house and tradition, as this was what they were used to from Ethiopia. When my parents moved to Israel they were “put” in Kiryat Arba, a very religious city. We moved from there when I was 10 years old, due to the security issues there.

GS: Coming up in one of the rougher neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, what it was like growing up?

ER: I was actually growing up near Tel Aviv, in Netanya, and it was a big change for me. Coming from a more religious village, you can call it the country side, to a bigger city, was a big move for me. I also became secular and not as religious as we used to be. But this change was blessing, and I started to know what freedom is like. In the neighborhood I had good friends.

GS: Your sound evokes qualities similar to Erykah, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae. Are these intentional influences? Who would you say are your influences?

ER: I am influenced by a lot of artists. Of course the ones you named, and also religious Jewish music from my early days, as well as Ethiopian and Amharic music such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulat Astatke, Muluken Melesse, Israeli music, jazz and soul legends such as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, and contemporary music such as Corrine Bailey Rae, Nneka, Keziah Jones, India Arie and more.

Read the rest of the interview & get show details after the jump

Video: Walk off the Earth – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” ft. Selah Sue (Lauryn Hill Cover)

 

After having done a short string of west coast tour dates with Walk off the Earth, miss Selah Sue recently joined the group for the most recent bit in their cover series. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Lauryn Hill is given a cutesy alt-pop treatment with Selah jumping in about midway adding some spice. Have fun bouncing around.

Walk off the Earth on Facebook | Twitter | Official Site

Selah Sue on Facebook | Twitter | Official Site