Hugh Masekela: The Best of South Africa


Hugh Masekela
The Miner Auditorium
San Francisco, CA
March 25, 2014

Hugh Masekela: The Best of South Africa

There are few artists that can be accurately characterized as a living legend.  Frequently, that honorific is thrown around willy-nilly without any relation to actual accomplishments.  However, master trumpeter and flugelhornist (flugelhorner?) Hugh Masekela is real live living-legend.  He is also a powerful reminder of the power of music.  After three decades of exile from apartheid South Africa, he finally returned when Nelson Mandela was released from prison over 20 years ago.  Hugh has been making music for a long time!  His music is filled with hope, vitality, and defiance.  Things that would threaten any government based on racial discrimination.  It’s hard to be fearful and anxious when listening to Hugh Masekela.   

As a living legend, you also get to play with the best in the biz.  HM was accompanied by some of the most talented cats around at Tuesday’s show at the Miner Auditorium- where, by the way, there isn't a bad seat in the house.  His guitarist, keyboardist, drummer were all ear-opening impressive.  When he puts down the flugelhorn, Hugh also plays a mean cowbell.  Who knew?  More cowbell !  In addition to the unanticipated and welcome sense of humor throughout the performance, I also really enjoyed his tribute to the Bobs:  Masekela performed Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and Marley’s “Soul Rebel.”   The love felt for Hugh was palpable in the Auditorium including when the crowd burst into a spontaneous round of Happy Birthday in anticipation of his upcoming 75th birthday.  

One highlight was his classic 1968 hit, Grazing in the Grass.  

Sly Stone: The Man Funktastik

Undercover Presents
Sly and the Family Stone
Stand!
The Independent
San Francisco, CA
January 18, 2014

Sly Stone: The Man Funktastik


Epic show with about a million talking points that I can’t possibly cover!  Every band was funking fantastic!  From the opening Awesome Orchestra's uplifting and empowering Stand! to the final funk and soul note!  Undercover Presents, in no time at all, has become the Must-See shows of the Bay Area music scene.  If I were a musician in the Bay Area, I would be begging to be a part of any UP.  Undercover presents a classic album song by song, each one performed by a different Bay Area artist.  Not only does this showcase some of the best musical talents of the San Francisco area, it allows the musicians to showcase their love for some of the greatest tracks of all time.  See, e.g., the longer review of Joni Mitchell’s Blue.  The tribute to Sly’s Stand! was equally exceptional.  The show was super octane charged, each band trying to out-do the previous one culminating in a frenetic funk and soul free for all when the musicians all joined together for “Dance to the Music.”  The best show of the past year and why I love live music.   Huge Show, Huge Night.

A little taste:



video



Thievery: Better Luck Next Time

Thievery Corporation
The Greek Theater
Berkeley, CA
September 21, 2013

Thievery: Better Luck Next Time


The last time, MV&R visited Thievery Corporation, I was blown away by their next generation, multiethnic, multigenre vibe of celebration.  They played a great show at the Fox Theater that made me optimistic for the future of music while living in our dismal world of Justin Biebers and Miley Cyruseses.  There was still integrity and art in music somewhere.  Too bad, that couldn’t last.  This time around, the band sounded older and dated.  Only took a couple years for the bloom to fade.  They also played virtually the same show, song for song, as they did over a year earlier which disappointed and made the future of music seem less secure.  The main problem seems to be in the rotating crowd of singers upon which Rob and Eric, the essential duopoloy that is TC, rely.  They are overly dependent on the singers making good.  This time, their voices were frequently weak and they simply failed to connect as they did at The Fox.  I still have great hope for TC but it was not their night.