Hope everyone had a great MLK holiday. It was a lot of activity going on. From the march from the Old Courthouse to Powell Symphony Hall to the MLK Celebration at the Pavillion Hotel downtown (I'm so glad they moved it from the Adam;s MArk Hotel on Broadway in downtown STL with all of its racial baggage). There were also a few celbrations on the East Side as well giving honors and respect to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Me,. myself, I did a non-traditional celebration of MLK by going to see local author and Forest Park College professor JK Dennis speak at the Schlafly Library last Saturday afternoon on Euclid about his new book "9 Lessons for a Meaningful Life." Although six people showed up (including myself), he talked about the 9 lessons in his book and the colorful charcters in it. For those of you who don't know about thsi book, it is a "fictional" story about Southern people in a fictictious town called Moon County, Ga. and how they deal with their problems in a small town (For more info on this book, go to my story on JK Dennis at www.westendword.com) Dennis talked about the the role of poverty in America as well as what it means to learn how to love someone. The brother is deep, and very analytical. He also talked about the fascination America has about gettiing instant gratifcation on success and how our culture devours peopel who try to reach for that quick fix. After his speech, I congratulated him on his lecture and he said that he was used to speaking to a bunch of empty seats. I reassured him on that and told him, what my mentor Professor Eugene B. Redmond told me, "It's not how many seats you fill, but how many peopel knew about it." Dennis is good people and I think we will have a budding intellectual relationship with each other. Its far and few in between finding brothers who are on a higher level of thinking and still are cool and relatable. Kudos to ya, man After I left the library, I discovered I got a 10 dollar ticket for parking at a meter without money. Huh? On a Saturday? I keep forgetten, that I wasnt downtown where they dont give tickets and I was in Midtown where they do. Oh well. That wasnt going to spoil my day because this was the day that the Fox Theater was going to hold the Body and Soul Tour featuring 90s superstars Johnny Gill (pictured in the center), Bell, Biv , Devoe, Blackstreet and Guy. Talk about a concert! Those artist are from my college days in the early 1990s and when hip-hop and R&B still had meaning and some substance. Here is my review of the show:
The Fox was the place to be to get a touch of body and soul when the Body and Soul concert tour rolled through the Lou Saturday, Jan. 14. Although only half the arena was full (over 2,500), those who were there got a chance to reminisce for three hours with singer Johnny Gill, New Edition off-shoot hip-hop group Bell, Biv, Devoe, and Teddy Riley creations, the Grammy winning Blackstreet and Guy who all had 30 minutes to groove-up the stage. The event was hosted by legendary comedian and "Good Times" star Jimmie Walker. To stall for the latecomers, Walker did a 30 minute stand-up that was semi-funny. More amusing than anything else. It took awhile to really come to grips of how much Walker has aged and gained weight, but his irritating voice was definitely all "JJ", with the zany, loudness that made him famous (I was waiting for him to say his famous catchphrase--Dynomite, but to no avail). His routine started off OK when he asked the ST. Louis crowd, "Who is in charge of the road construction in this town? I was on 70 (West) today and I saw nothing but potholes. One pothole had a Vietnamese family living in thre." Then, the rest of his routine was more on playing the dozens with teh crowd, espcecially the one sin front who were weraing way out furs and a lady with big breasts.
The first on the bill was Gill, who was about a couple of minutes late getting to the stage as Walker had to walk back out to teh stage to stall and say "G-I-L-L!" and he finally appeared as his female fans jumped up to their feet , cheered and screamed when he "Karate danced" toward the front of stage as the three member band (2 keys and a drummer who was the house band of all the acts) played as he performed a few minutes of his first song, "Fairweather Friend" off his 1990 eponymous album. Dressed very casually in a jacket, white long sleeve shirt, jeans and sunglasses, he addressed the lively crowd by shouting, "How many come to party?" then he went into Usher's "Caught Up." This was a puzzling move for him to perform someone else's song especially a young protege of his. During this sone, he took off his shades causing more screams from his admiring female fans who now was lined in front of the stage hoping to get a handshake or a kiss from the handsome singer.
He then slowed his set with the Quiet Storm jam, "There You Go," from the "Boomerang Soundtrack." causing more female frenzy. After the song, he said, "I need something string to drink." Then he went into his background where he was from (Washington D.C) and that his dad was a minister and that he wished it was more time to sing. Then suddenly you heard a female chorus in the audience scream, "I Love you Johnny!" Then one woman shouted, "Sing that red dress!" that caused quite a chuckle from the audience.He also commented how young artists on award shows today "dont realize how artist from the past has helped them get to where they are today" which caused the audience to clap in agreement.
Suddenly, Gill set turned into a Luther Vandross tribute as he sang three songs from the late crooner, "Superstar," "A House is Not a Home," and "Never Too Much" (where he flubbed a line on this song and acknowldged it). On Luther he said, "He's gone, but he;s up there...I remember when Luther and I were in the same category at the Grammies and he beat me. Everytime I would go to his house and I look at the Grammy and I say to him. 'that;s the Grammy that you stole from me.' Then he would say, 'Security!' he was a great human being. I miss him so much..." For someone who was short on time, the Luther tribute was a bit much, but it was heartfelt.
Then it was back to Johnny's hits when he performed, "My , My My," (which caused several women to literally throw themselves on him when he walked into the crowd), taking off his jacket (more scremas from the females); "Rub You the Right Way (which was interloped nicely with Gap band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me"). Afterward, he jumped back on stage, a threw a couple of towels in the auidience for his many female admirers to fight over. With the alleged rumors of Gill's sexuality and love affair with comedian Eddie Murphy, the female fans, like Luther in a way, did not care of those rumors and loved him as a singer and sex symbol of their imaginations.
The Body and Soul tour went into hip-hop mode as Bell, Biv, Devoe took to the stage. Opening with their hit, "BBD--I Thought it Was Me," along with some tween hip-hop dancers, from their multiplatinum album, "Poison." Dressed in various hip-hop graffiti gear, glittery New Edition t-shirts and leather, BBD (Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie Devoe) had the crowd on their feet for most of their set.Unfortuntely, singer Bell was not in top voice, pleading for the audience to help him out singing and that the "doctor told me not to sing, but I couldnt let you all down." That got the crowd even more hyped and in the group's corner. They perforemd all of their hits from that album inclduing, the title cut (that was performed with Gill who joined BBD on stage) , "Do Me Baby (the infamous "smack it, flip, it, rub it down" mantra had everyone chanting), "She's Dope," and the ballad, "When Will I See You Smile Again" (which was mostly sang by the crowd).
The group asked if the crowd saw them on the BET Silver Anniversary show and let the audience know that New Edition was going to be back on tour as a group in early Spring and they were also coming out with another album, and a movie on their life as well as counting the days (two years to be exact) for a New edition 25th reunion..
"We are coming back to the STL and do it the way it should be done," said Bivins, causing teh crowd to erupt in applause and cheers.
A shocking moment occurred when Devoe walked out to the audience and jumped and stood on a row of seats while performing "Posion." (Good thing he didnt fall because I'm sure the females around him were not going to try and break his fall) And a puzzling monet happened when Bivins told the crowd that they were about to get into the hotel business and then acknowleged UPN-46/WS Hotel/Orpheum Theatre co-owner Mike Roberts from the crowd and said that "He was the man doing it up big in the Lou." (I wonder what wassup with that? Any BBD--Roberts ventures getting ready to happen? I know Devoe has his own successful real estate biz in the ATL, so, I gues she just have to see).
After intermission, it was the Teddy Riley hour as Riley and his off-shot group Black street (sans Dave Hollister) was next on the bill. The stage got dark and a series of lights danced acros steh stage as though it was a sceen from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Then a robotic voice said, "We got Blackstreet in teh house tonite." After the lighting show, the stage lights went up and the quartet walked on stage in black velvet jackets with white shirts and jeans. Riley walked toward a keyboard/voicebox on stage (a strapped keyboard was also around his shoulder) as he claimed his spot as the musician svengali of the group.The group started off its set with the lesser known song, "This is How we Roll" from their multiplatinum CD, "Another Level." Next up was the showcase of tenor singer, Mark Middleton (I'll get to him later) singing the ballad, "Never Gonna Let You Go," from "Another Level" and "Joy" from theri eponymous debut. It was during "Joy" that Middleton took off his jacket and shirt to expose a very buffed frame with an 8-pac 9as well as exposing the top portion of his buttocks (and causing much ooooohs and aaahhhhhs from the mostly females in the crowd) ). Much to the female's delight, Middleton, with a secutiy guard next to him, walked out into the crowdas teh aldies enjoyed being seranaded by a half-nude man. The group also performed their biggets hits, "Before I Let You Go," and the No. 1 Grammy Award winning smash, "No Diggity" (that was performed mostly with the Bill Withers sample, "Grandma;s Hands) and its rendition of Roger's "I Wanna Be Your Man.". Soon after Riley said to the group, "Man, we are running out of time, but we gotta give the peopel what they want" which caused even more erution from the crowd. Balckstreet exited from stage and Riley then said, "I Love working with Blackstreet. I'm a team player. I'm not a solo singer. I just act a fool." And that he did. he did some serious breakdancing, pop-locking moves and teased the audience with the into to "Teddy;s Jam." Then, broke off some of Wrekk's N effect's 1991 jam, "Rumpshaker."
Soon after, the lights faded and the stage was dark. Then, there was music from the intro to Guy's hit 1992 album., "The Future" with all of its futuristic. comic sound effects letting the crowd know that Guy was about to perform (the highlight of the concert). Also, in the background was the song,."Wheer Did Our Love Go", also from "The Future." Suddenly, Riley along with brothers Aaron and Damon Hall (remember that rumor a couple of years back that he died under the Greyhound bus section where people put their luggage?)graced the stage in white and black suits, as the crowd gave tehm astanding ovation acknowleding the orginal kings of New jack Swing. They had SFX of them walking up to the stage, then Aaron shouted, "It's been 15 years since we;ve been togther," causing more cheering from the crowd.
The rest of its set was all about Aaron and Riley, They cruised trhough many of their hits from their "Guy" and The Future" CDs, including, "Spend the Night," "My Fantasy" (from the "Do the Right Thing " soundtrack and Riley playfully reminisced about the tight spandex shorts they had to wear the video and then said, "Remember the song, not the video"), "Teddy;s Jam" (a crowd fave"), the ballads, "Piece of My Love," (which caused Aaron to take off his shirt and pump the floor) "Forever My Love" (which got Aaron to walk into the crowd to find a single lady to sing to on stage with no success--he spanked a lady on the bottom, though), and "Let's Chill.."
A highlight was when Aaron started doing his crazy backward running man dance half way across the stage during "Teddy's Jam" which was unbeleivable!
After the love fest, Riley said, "Did y'all feel that? can we take it to the first song? It took a year to get us on top." That's when the group and band performed, "Groove Me", the 1988 jam that started the New Jack Swing era.
Just when the crowd thought the show was over, Aaron suddenly started singing one of his hits from the early 1990s, "I Miss You." But at that time, most people were looking for the exits. It would had been nice to have seen all the acts perform at the end, but that would have been too much like right, oh well.
In the house were Platinum Group's Jacque and Leata Price (I hope to get to your b-day party Saturday!), dancer Lisa May (who was my date), Freeman Bosley Junior Show co-host Nicci Roach (bet you were glad you didnt act up in the concert! LOL), Post Disptach Pop Critic Kevin Johnson (Your comment about my blue courduroy overalls I was wearing was not cute and I quote: "1987 called and they want their overalls back."), model Christiaan Coffield, Club Formula's Sonya Brascomb and Miss Kay, singer Silky Soul (I saw you trying to get freaky with Aaron hall!) and Herbert Hoover's Indigo Sams. When I was leaving out, I saw American Idol contestant Nikko Smith out in the lobby. I guess he was trying to get on as an opening act on the show. Who knows.
After the concert, I was preparing to walk Lisa May (who was working those black knee boots) to her car. While going there, I ran into Communique PR's Renee Thomas Woods and her husband. She made the comment, "Ma'at, you;re not dead!" I thought that was funny. yeah, right. (Just kidding) Oh and speking of Renee, kudos to her with her write up in this month's Essence magazine. She was quoted in there about black history lessons and how she teaches her kids about black history. I met up with my boy Kameron to the newest hot spot in the Lou, The Jazz Loft on Olive across the street and catconer from rival club Club Seven. I called my boy Ramey to see if he was coming through, but all I got was voicemail. While driving down there, around 11:30 p.m. it was a line of cars waiting to get valeted. I parked two streets over cause I was not feeling trying to get into all that traffic headache).I could have parked in teh Club Seven parking lot. It was a lot of room to park. Just kidding. ). Anyway, they wer charging 5 bones to get in (last week it was free, soon its going to be 10 when it becomes more popular). I think there was acharge last week cause of the concertgoers coming there in droves. Most of the people I mentioned who I saw at the concert was cramped up in the Loft. Others there were Spin City records CEO Cliff Wade, Clayton Bally trainer Deanthony, Mike Roberts (trying to be young in a tan leather jacket), Cedric the Entertainer's manager Eric Rhone, Edwrad Jones broker Roger Macon (who says althoughhe had to pay to get up in the Loft, he thought the club was tight),St. Louis American Graphic Artist Melvin Moore (I saw you dancing with the blonde sistas), singer Tiffany B. (one of the blonde sistas who was wearing a low cut shirt with her cleve out and who told me got a Cd coming out in March)., Robert Kirk and STl rapper Tiffany Foxx (who just got signed with Snoop's label). It was definitely the place to be seen. They even had some chicken wings and raw veggies for those who was getting teh crave to eat. Now my only beef was with the bartending service. Firts off, its only one bar there (and a small bar off to the side). To accomodate over 500 people in a small spot liek the loft was like trying to get Monique to run through a needle. the walking barmaids were not taking anyomore orders and it took me amost 20 minutes to get a drink from the bar and one of those bartendar chicks had teh nerve t have an attitude when it came to fixing people's drinks. Do you think I left a tip, yeah, "Check your attutude." That was my tip. Around 1:30 in the morn, people were calling for last call for alcohol. Around that time, people were getting their last minute hook ups on and where they were going after they left the Loft.
On MLK day, I chilled out for a minute and decided to work out at Ballys for my photo shoot at the Anheuser Busch Brewery this past Wednesday. Before I headed to the gym, I ran into a documentary on the Independent Film Channel called, John Henrick Clarke: In My Own Words. Made in 1996, Clarke (who is pictured on the left of my blog) is the late great Africanist who knew everything and anything when it came to black people and their legacy without holding his tongue. He talked about everything from how the slave trade really began (the Arab Muslims then capitalized by white Europeans acorss the world), Marcus Garvey, the Civil Rights Movement, MLK, the Theory of Turning the Other Cheek(He believed it should have been a strategy not the ends to the means, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, the Rise of Farrakhan (Clarke believed Farrakhan caused teh atmosphere of Malcolm getting shot and killed) and the Million Man MArch (Clarke beleieved teh MArch was mostly showbiz revolution). If you get a chance, check out this documentary or rent it at the library or request it at Blockbuster. Especially now with Black History Month coming, this documentary is a telling a true picture of a man;s point of view of what it means to be black.
TIDBITZ: Congrats to Gary Johnson, owner of Magnolia's for a very entertaining Mr and Mrs. Newcomer Pageant last Friday....Thank you to Jenny and Rommie of Rio Creative for making my 8 hour photo shoot at Anheuser Busch (Hopefully I will be on billboards in downtown STL starting in March)..I will be talking with Majic 104.9 personality Selena J in hope sto being on her Saturday nite show, Soulternatives in late Feb....Message Therapist Kameron Hopson will be on the guetss on the Saturday morning show, "Enterate" Feb. 4 on UPN-46...Kudos to American Idol contestant and East Boogie native Deandre Perryman for singing for his taxes on Fox 2's morning show Thursday at H and R Block on Dellwood....model Carlos Mclaurin can be seen in an Anheuser Busch ad in this month's Ebony Magazine (go on sexual chocolate!)What's up with this rumor about someone stealing cases of Nelly's energy drink Pimp Juice at the Fillmore Brewery and seleling them in the Black Market? Accoridng to gossip diva Wendy Williams that is what is happneing. In other Nelly news, Nelly and his boys, The St. Lunatics are getting redy to open up a restarant and bar called MACKS (the acronym for Murphy Lee, Ali, Cornell (Nellys; real name), Kyjuan and Slo Down. it is supposed to open up in early spring of this year and it will be located on Howdershell in Ferguson (or is it Hazelwood?)..If you're ever on the East Side and vist Belleville for whatever reason, peep out the Shrine's fried cod fish sandwich plate. It is to die for! They serve it in rye bread, with tomota and lettuce and it will give your taste buds a work out!...local actor/singer Chuck Flowers is doing his thing singing in the Lou on both sides of the water...my SIUE colleague Damon Green is having a listening party this Saturday for local singing girl group SOSY (pronounced Saucy) at the Formula from 6 pm until 10 pm...Oh and thanks to Terrance Cochran for hipping me to how to do a hot link. LOL
Well, I guess that will cover it for now. If you have anything that you want for me topost, cover or talk about, feel free to hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.