Thursday, August 17, 2006

Live Review: The Birmingham Sound @ The Hideout 8/12/06

My friend John Ciba is amazing. In addition to giving me countless recommendations for different albums these past couple of years, he’s also done something that is more important than what most people do in their entire lifetimes. Traveling between Chicago and Birmingham, he’s been working to release the songs created through Neil Hemphill’s music studio. Hemphill has unfortunately passed away but the music is still a living testament to not only his work but the vitality of these amazing musicians and the music of Birmingham in and of itself. Bringing together such amazing soul singers such as Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson and Roscoe Robinson made The Birmingham Sound an awe inspiring occasion that Chicagoans were lucky to experience. The evening began with Todd Hembrook and the Hemispheres who played classic soul songs discussing the topic of love complete with sax and keyboard to compliment the bass, guitar, drums and soulful singing. They prepared the audience with their covers of instantly recognizeable soul songs. Adam Fitz (above) took the stage and sang a couple of songs before bringing up Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson (pictured at top) who then took over. The saxaphones stayed with him throughout his powerful delivery and you felt like you were witnessing something vital because, even if the songs weren’t as immediately recognizeable as classic soul songs, they should be. After hearing them, it was incredibly persuasive that these songs should be learned by heart and be made a part of your life. Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson was a tour de force singing his heart out at a youthful intensity you might expect of someone in their 20s or 30s. He worked the audience and brought up women to sing with him as well, exhibiting quite a charisma. Roscoe Robinson (right) was also exciting to see and hear. He was joined by a couple of other great musicians at different times on stage including Otis Clay and Howard Scott. Between seeing so many of these great soul singers, you really felt like you were witnessing something special but it wasn’t just the music you were hearing. You were also experiencing a sense of community. If you weren’t able to pick up the newly released material at the show, you can find them at Dusty Groove. If you are in the Chicago area, you can also hear John Ciba and James Porter spin some amazing soul at The Hideout (which is a perfect place to have this in my opinion) through East of Edens Soul Express. Click here for the complete photoset from the night.

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