Monday, March 07, 2005

Compared to Jeff's colorful weekend...

...mine was tamer. Sat in with the funky Kelly Bell Friday night at Whitlow's, after a largely unpleasant Westminister experience. This was my second time playing with Kelly, though the first time was with Jesse Yawn and Kelly was just sitting in. This was the first time I officially sat in with KBB, and lemme tell you, it was a feel-good experience at its best. This band is mighty, mighty dynamite. In terms of musicianship, Kelly is perhaps one of the top three frontmen I've seen in this area. Possessing a tenor to baritone voice, he has great leadership and arrangements. The band is merely a mechanism for Kelly to channel his feelings and groove. Kelly is the head, hands, and heart of the band. It's a small band with a big sound. Kelly invited me to play on two of his most famous songs, "Ain't Like It Used To Be" and "Say One Thing" written by his pal, G. Love. It was an honor and the results were quite formidable. At the end of the set, Kelly told me he was sorry Whitlow's had such a small stage. He said I should play with them at a bigger venue like Recher Theatre. I said OK. Also great that Kelly's Mom shook my hands and said, "You're a talented player. No rehearsal, nuttin'?" No, ma'am.

Kelly is smart to market his music "Phat Blues music." It's blues, R&B, funk, rock, soul all packaged under the so-called blues masthead. In fact, I believe this is the direction blues should be going. It's happy music and it gets impressionable girls dancing. That's what really counts. And it's tremendously entertaining. Doing what he does best without losing track of the originator of all this: The blues. Another smart thing that Kelly does is to sell his CDs $5 each. That way, more people will buy his CDs and get exposed to his music. Kelly Bell's huge in Baltimore and Philly and has a burgeoning following in DC and Virginia. He's also huge on college campuses. I learned a lot about marketing just going to see his shows alone, not to mention his impeccable charisma as a frontman. Do me a favor, get one or all of his CDs. They're only $5 each. KBB is a phenomenon. Period.

Speaking of musicianship, the whole mindblowing Lonnie Smith show makes me re-evaluate the way I solo and express my feelings as a whole. I feel like learning to play the instrument from scratch, and really re-think my priorities while taking a solo. At the same time, I want to have fun and enjoy myself. There's a lot to learn.

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