Sunday, August 3, 2008

music and dancing in the park - with special shout out to jamie lidell

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

this afternoon i made my annual pilgrimage to central park summer stage. today giant step hosted - with gilles peterson on the decks and a host of talent on stage. i arrived a bit late for the festivities and unfortunately missed jose james, who opened. however, i was treated to a crazy performance by up-and-comer janelle monae, recently signed to bad boy, and whose album is being produced mostly by big boi from outkast. wow! she's a trip - to say the least. her whole band in 1950's tuxedos - she has a fo-hawk-afro - she crowd surfed - and threw her kicks (converse all-stars) out into the crowd following her set. after those shenanegins, a group out of brooklyn called little jackie appeared. not as high energy as janelle, and no screaming bad boy interns at the front of the stage for them, but a nice set nonetheless. gilles spun his usual wonderfully eclectic mix of soul and world jams in between the singers. he played a fabulous remix of i heard it thru the grapevine', which he skillfully mixed with marvin's original.

but the bestest part of today's performance was jamie lidell. someone had given me his first record many years ago, and to be blunt, i was unimpressed. but i'd heard that he'd put out some great stuff since then - and that his live shows were not to be missed. 'they' were right. he has a crisp voice, and a magnificent band. what takes me up two-to three notches from others, though, is his self-production during performance. he beat-boxes, adlibs, sings and squeals to literally create new tracks on the spot. (see video below) super!!! if he's in your town - do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to his show. he won't disappoint.

after jamie concluded, sabrina and i went to meet up with her beau, sebastian, and his friend who was also in from france. upon leaving summer stage, within 100 feet on one another, we encountered a drum circle with dancers doing their best to mimic traditional african dance -- the famous roller-dancing circle with thumping house music -- and a pack of mid-40 year olds doing double-dutch to swing tunes. only in New York. it's a helluva town.

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