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Three LIVE SHOW reviews for your reading pleasure this time around... the scene around the Puget Sound is definitely "getting better", particularly in th' blues/jazz/funk vein... look for more here next issue...
Dion Taylor, Liquid Soul, 8/22/2009
I'd been wanting to see some music at this coffee-house ever since someone told me they had music there... I stopped in on a couple of Saturday afternoons & dropped a few of my cards there, but never heard back from any of the owners... so when I saw an ad on the morning of the 22nd for a performance listed as having Dion Taylor "playing keyboards and singing his heart out", I headed on out...
Rolled up about 7:00 pm (or so)... atmosphere was definitely laid-back, though (just) a bit more "cosmo" than the Blue Bottle Cafe - probably 'coz it has open windows all 'round & a tad bit more seating space... still definitely a "coffee-house" vibe, but with a "country" twist (they are pet-friendly, & Dion's lady had a little dog in a carrier right with her at the table... way cool!). Introduced myself to Martin Salinas (one of the owners, which he only admitted to after asking if he "owed me money", & I said "Nope"... ha! ha!). Turns out he's playing lead guitar with the group tonight, along with Kenny Williamson on drums... after checkin' Kenny's site, noticed that they all in the group, except for percussionist Mike Fieldhouse, have been playing together for quite a while already.
While waiting for the band setup, drank a triple-short Latte... excellent & well-brewed (with a heart), but with my intake at about 5 today, I had to switch over to a strawberry smoothie... yah, I know, from caffiene to sugar rush, but my BP was kickin' up... chatted a bit more with Martin about music - his 24 track HD mixer got "wet" along the way somewhere, ergo, no recordings to be offered for review... though he said he'd like to do that again at some point. The whole vibe in Liquid Soul is friendly, easy to dig on - I'm enjoyin' myself already, even tho' there's still 15 or 20 minutes until the band starts playing. One lil' "sour note" during the discussion at the smoker's table (right outside the main door - cool) is that Martin says he's gettin' a bit burned out on playin' all weekend & that there doesn't seem to be a big "draw" for jazz in the area... hmmmm... folks, you need to get on out here & support this "scene" - it's much better (in many ways) than some of the venues that remain in Olympia for such music, & I'd truly hate to see it "fall off the map".
Time for the band now... Dion opens with some very lush keyboards - all him, too, not filled with presets... nice economical board setup, two stacked, & he stands for the whole set... he seems to be really comfortable, & when Martin's guitar kicks right on in, along with full blown drums from Kenny & percussion from Mike, it's easy to tell that these guys have more than just a coupla' sets together - they're tight, no doubt! When they move into the drum solo, Kenny is just vampin' it up, havin' a righteous time with it all... room for everyone to play, no "crowding" or amateur steppin' on toes. I'm highly impressed - they need to record something, 'coz if it's even half as good as what they're playing here, it would be a fantastic CD!
Dion announces a Hancock tune next & just slides right on into it... he has some excellent punctuation & the changes are smooth across the board... they've clearly got this "jazz thang" down... plenty of soul for everyone, & the audience (small as it is) gets right in the spirit of it all... the feeling I get as I look at the sun setting is somethin' like "freedom in th' sky, freedom in all these gigantic trees & freedom in th' playing" - is bringin' this lil' coffeehouse DOW-un! If you can picture it, it's "smooth jazz with an edge"... that alone says a lot about the band/members... some very nice changes on that Herbie tune (can't remember the title right now, but I've surely heard it before, & right here in Yelm (of all places), the group has nailed it)!
Their next tune is a rockin' blues with a focus on Martin's guitar lead... he surely knows how to get some NAS-tee licks... great solos & he has a blast interacting with one of the ladies who has started dancing... he speaks Spanish to her & her (long, long) hair starts flyin'... all the while, Dion's piano is DRIVIN' th' tune along towards sure obilivion... we (the audience, about 8 now) start laughing at the interchanges between Martin & this dancin' lady... it's a very cool set, hard to describe in words, but if you've ever allowed yourself to get "down" into th' soul of a good set - you'll know what I'm talkin' about!
An old (yah, yer' right, Dion, you did date yourself, but that's cool, 'coz it's a great funky tune) "War" tune is next (was that "Born In The Ghetto"?)... everybody in th' house is doin' that good ol' "table shuffle" - except for the dancin' lady, who is zoomin' now... (& I don't even think she'd finished her first glass of wine)... ha! ha! Dion lays down a cool, slow R&B tune next, "Love Won't Let Me Wait", I believe it was called... slows th' tempo down a bit, but folks are wanting more ruff/tuff stuff, so Martin leads a fine-sounding version of "Born Under A Bad Sign" next... these guys (yup, I'll say it again) know how to have fun with any style of music... & they prove it on the "outro", "Ride Like The Wind".
It was just before 9:00 when they wrapped up the set, & after a bit of chit-chat with Dion, his lady & Kenny, I slid on out... definitely a great set that displayed high talent & energy all the way around. I'm hoping some of you will get out & support this Liquid Soul scene so it doesn't vanish... great coffee, great atmosphere & lots of musical energy to rock your night away! Thanks Dion (& krew) for some fine musical memories!
Till next time...,
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