Blood, sweat, and tears are pretty much absent from overproduced, next generation soul stars like Usher and R. Kelly, but they're the primary currency for Manhattan soul-funk trio Soulive. With equal parts Motown grit, Blue Note groove, and hip-hop bump, brothers Alan and Neil Evans (drums and organ, respectively) and guitarist Eric Krasno make true soul music for the 21st Century. Between opening for the Rolling Stones and sailing out of Port Everglades on the Dave Matthews Cruise, Alan Evans talked to Outtakes, all the way live:
Outtakes: With the passing of Lou Rawls and Wilson Pickett, where do you think soul music is heading?
Alan Evans: I kinda see things changing right now. Some friends of mine are in the studio with Justin Timberlake right now, and supposedly he's trying to play some, you know, real music. He's got some ill musicians in there, and supposedly it's pretty killin'. That's the thing Justin Timberlake, he's actually pretty killin'. The problem is that the whole image and music thing is just wack. It's more of a business thing than a music thing. Back in the day, there was competition. Motown artists would come out, then Stax cats would come out and do their thing, and this whole Philly sound came out. It was friendly competition, and it helped people create really good music. I don't find that these days; it's more about who can sell the most records. It's not competition fueled by the artists; it's more on the business tip.
Gimme your favorite live soul moments.
When Stevie Wonder came and sat in with us back in the fall, that's easily number one. That was the shit. I've never even seen Stevie live in person, so just to have him come out... he just doesn't do that. It was pretty insane.
Below that, last summer I was over in Europe, and I got to see Al Green for the first time, and it was insane; it was crazy. He was singing like he was 23, running all up and down the stage, and the band was ridiculous. A bunch of cats I've never even heard of from Memphis or whatever. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And at the same show in Europe, Chaka [Khan] played around the same time as us. And that was really cool because she was rocking with a full-on philharmonic orchestra. She was doing all her hits from Rufus, her solo stuff, with this full orchestra. And she had her band with her too. It was crazy! Jonathan Zwickel
Soulive, accompanied by a three-piece horn section, plus Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 7, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15. Call 954-564-1074.
Death Pool for Cutie
The laws of probability and rock tradition dictate that 2006, like every year since the creation of music, will not end without a notable death or two. Eventually, all our rock heroes end up in the Afterlife All-Star Band.
Those who went to the afterparty in 2005 including Luther Vandross, Link Wray, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and R.L. Burnside were mostly aged, disease-stricken, or both, so rock eulogists only had to pull their obituaries from a file and fill in the dates. This year, Outtakes wonders if some younger souls will join the old set as the Grim Reaper gathers his 2006 harvest. Here's our list of likely candidates:
Toby Keith, war-anthem-spewing country jingoist and pickup-truck spokesman. Chances of survival: Moderate. Known risks: On a USO tour of Iraq to whip up fighting fervor, there's always a chance for a friendly fire incident.
Michael Jackson, Bahrain's wackiest resident and not an animal abuser. Chances: Bad (you know it). Known risks: Bankrupt and reportedly gulping tranquilizers by the handful, the gloved one will find that wearing a burqa doesn't protect him from everything.
Courtney Love, violence-prone Nirvana widow and boozy butt of many an Andy Dick joke. Chances: As unpredictable as her court calendar. Known risks: Released from her umpteenth drug rehab program last month, she's ready for the long-awaited Kurt and Courtney reunion tour.
David Crosby, jolly fat guy who provided Melissa Etheridge with baby batter. Chances: Unlike Crosby himself, slim. Known risks: Crosby's 2004 weapons-and-pot arrest makes you wonder how long that 11-year transplanted liver will hold out.
B.B. King, the Beale Street Blues Boy King. Chances: Sadly, statistically diminishing. Known risks: Diabetes + 80 long years = slow train comin'.
Conor Oberst, pretentious Bright Eyes howler and Omaha's sole gift to the world. Chances: Sadly, statistically strong. Known risks: So many rock critics perpetually slobbering on Oberst raises a distinct drowning possibility.
Eminem, Detroit rapper recently reconciled with ex-wife Kim Mathers. Chances: Shady. Known risks: Remarrying the woman who inspired his most heartfelt murder fantasies might not be the healthiest thing for a guy coming out of rehab.
James Brown, funk and soul pioneer whose prostate is a mutha. Chances: He don't feel good. Known risks: After 72 years of hard living and even harder working, how much longer before he gives it up and turns it loose?
Mick Mars, Mötley Crüe guitarist and walking skeleton. Chances: Skinny. Known risks: Thanks to a degenerative bone disease, it can't be long before he's running with the devil.
R. Kelly, double-entendre artist with a taste for young things and water sports. Chances: Nasty. Known risks: For an auteur so quick with a Baretta, accidents are known to happen. Which means the world might be spared "Trapped in the Closet" parts 13-24. Jesse Hughey
From The Desk Of Willy Wonka
I address you in a public forum, but I nurse a private wound. Indeed, so grievous is my wound that once again, I have stilled the rivers of fudge and shuttered my factory. I can do nothing now but lie in bed in utter darkness and await death, my basic needs attended to by a single Oompa Loompa, who is either the most loyal of my beloved employees or the only survivor of the cannibalism that spread among his people after I ceased their ration of cocoa beans. I do not know, and since your brutal betrayal, I no longer care.
The betrayal to which I refer is, of course, your hit single, "Laffy Taffy." Now, I admit that when your representatives approached me about this project, I was excited. It is no secret that the Laffy Taffy brand has suffered recently. I myself don't understood why. Charlie says that Laffy Taffy has lost its edge, that children think the jokes inside the wrappers "lame." But how can you not guffaw at "Where did the kittens go on the class trip? To the meow-seum"? I want to chuckle now, but I fear that the laughter would further bruise my battered soul.
I digress. I was excited, and when Charlie and I flew to Atlanta to see you perform what your representatives promised was the final version of "Laffy Taffy," I couldn't have been more pleased! The beat was marvelously phat, the lyrics delightful. I was particularly touched by this couplet: "Wonka, D4L, we so thick/Hershey's orphans can suck our dicks." You were even so kind, seeing how jet-lagged I was, to let Charlie spend the evening with you. I can't fathom how Atlanta could compare to the wonders of my factory, but Charlie hasn't stopped smiling since.
After all of this, then, imagine my shock when I heard "Laffy Taffy" on the radio. "Girls call me Jolly Rancher/cuz I stay so hard." Jolly Rancher? Jolly Rancher! A Hershey product! My spirit crumbled like Halloween Sweettarts forgotten in a coat pocket. And Charlie I fear that your perfidy has made him physically ill; he certainly has been spending much time in the bathroom lately. Perhaps, with your first royalties check, you can buy yourself a conscience.
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