Unfortunately not many people made it over to the Parc Avenue (it's still called that, right?) venue of Kola Note to take in an evening of classic R&B and Soul music. For those of you who like Motown (who doesn't?) you still have two more chances to catch S-Ankh Rasa and his ensemble play a sampling of the greatest hits from the Motown catalogue. Head on over and you won't be disappointed.
The great people at Les Productions Nuits D'Afrique work hard all year long to bring us the best in African and World Beat music. Motown came out of Detroit in the 1950s and became one of the most important movements/genres of African-American music ever in U.S. history. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, et al were signed to Berry Gordy's label and gave the world some of the best upbeat music ever produced. Its influence can still be heard in present-day artists' music, 50 years later. Headliner saxophonist S-Ankh Rasa got to tour with the legendary Marvin Gaye just before his tragic death as his musical director and he brings a wealth of experience to the stage. He has also toured with the likes of Diana Ross, Barry White and Natalie Cole. For this show, he is backed onstage by 2 female backing vocalists and a 5-piece band. There is the added treat of two of the hottest voices of Motown performing today in Donald Bell and the petite Ollie B. Rasbury. Rasa stayed in the background, except during a couple of sax solos, during the nearly 2-hour show (which included a too long 30 minute intermission) and allowed Rasbury and Bell to work the songs and the crowd.
Like previously stated Kola Note was only about half full, but those that did attend were clapping, dancing and singing along from the first number. The small crowd did not seem to faze the performers as they gave it all like they were performing to a sold out Bell Centre. Bell and Rasbury, who may be small of stature but has a big voice, traded lead vocal duties for the duration of the show and even did a couple of Marvin Gaye/Tammy Terrell duets together. The evening was filled with the kind of music that lifts your spirits and it is almost a guarantee that if you come to the show in a bad mood you certainly won't leave that way! The clearness and quality of the sound at Kola Note was top-notch leaving the vocalists with the confidence to really belt out their notes. Bell and Rasbury are truly professional frontpersons in that they got the crowd involved and singing along. Bell even went out into the crowd to try and coax some of the audience members to sing a line of a song into the microphone. He finally found a woman who was game much to his and the crowd's delight. Bell also taught the crowd one of the famous steps of The Temptations. Rasbury possessed the better voice of the two and even wowed us with a spot on impersonation of Diana Ross' vocal style.
During the show they covered 14 tunes by the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Vandellas, The Four Tops, and of course, Marvin Gaye. There was not one song that did not make you feel like you were back in the 50s watching the songs being performed on American Bandstand or Soul Train. It was a time of great music with joyful melodies. It was a nice evening stroll down memory lane for all in attendance. This was the first time in town for the Motown show and I really hope they start making it an annual trip to the city.
1) Sugar Pie Honey Bunch (The Four Tops cover)
2) Heatwave (The Vandellas cover)
3) Baby Love/Stop in the Name of Love/Come See About Me (Supremes medley)
4) You're All I Need (Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell cover)
5) Ain't Too Proud to Beg (The Temptations cover)
6) Same Old Song
7) Mr. Postman
8) Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing (Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terell cover)
9) Mercy Me (Marvin Gaye cover)
10) What's Going On (Marvin Gaye cover)
11) Heard It Through the Grapevine (Marvin Gaye cover)
12) My Cherie Amour (Stevie Wonder cover)
13) I'll Be There
14) Stop in the Name of Love (Supremes cover)