With an appropriate amount of hometown pride and fanfare,
there’s no way vibraphonist Joe Locke couldn’t feel the outpouring of local love from the capacity crowd at the newly renovated Little Theatre Friday night as he launched into Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.”
It was fun to watch the song’s pop rudiments get jazzified as the melody popped its head into the proceedings to take a look around. Song numero two and things got heavy with Locke’s take on Sonny Rollins’ take on “I’ve Got Rhythm,” which would show up again this week in the most unlikely of places. Keep reading and you’ll see.
In a set that lasted little more than an hour, Locke touched the sky with a flurry of notes sent cascading skyward in a hurry. Some notes were rendered with a kiss… yes a kiss, that he gently blew over a single note. Magnificent.
It was a quick jaunt over to the Bug Jar
for The Stedwells and The Demos, two groups that have complementary styles. The Stedwells chopped and bopped through a set full of original and powerful hooks. But this left the audience with little choice; it was so packed that the only way to move was up and down.
Feeding the fires set by The Stedwells, The Demos served up some stone-cold pop. Now, this is a singin’ band. They harmonize effortlessly and aren’t afraid to get in touch with their falsetto side, without sacrificing any tenor machismo.
John 5 absolutely blew me away
as he, despite his metal leanings, played every guitar style imaginable at Montage Music Hall on Sunday. Looking like The Joker in drag, 5 started off loud, grinding and blisteringly fast. The place was feverishly packed. He whipped out a banjo at one point and nobody ran away. He chopped on some fingerstyle jazz guitar, a la Lester and Chester, and the band swung mighty behind him — especially when he jazzed out…on...wait for it …“I’ve Got Rhythm.” They were handing back peoples’ heads on their way out to the door. Hell, we don’t want folks driving home headless on a school night.
Frank De Blase is CITY’s music writer. He can be reached at [email protected].