Posted on 5/7/2008at 12:39 PM
Talk about “no rest for the weary”….

After a very long 17-hour trip from Cape Town back to New York, I had only a mere 48 hours to recuperate before the CMB played a big show at the Miller Theater on the campus of Columbia University. Ideally, I did not want to play such an anticipated gig while jet-lagged, but so it goes. We had three very special guests joining us on the concert – Gregoire Maret, Eric Krasno from “Soulive”, and the legendary Amiri Baraka reciting poetry. We were excited to hear that the theater was sold out. As for the show, It was magnificent. Everyone did such a great job. A magical night it was.

About two weeks later, I headed off to Tokyo to play with my main man, Jeff “Tain” Watts and the Ebonix at the Cotton Club. As I mentioned in the past, playing with Tain keeps you sharp. His music is so challenging and hip, but not challenging for the sake of being challenging. It’s honest. We were all hoping Juan Tainish would show up and sing a few, but he stayed in New York. After our final night, all of us – Tain, Laura Khale, David Kikoski, Marcus Strickland, and a bunch of friends all did Karaoke. It was a fun, fun night. You should have heard Dave Kikoski singing all that Beatles stuff. He was nailing it!! Of course, me and Tain had all the R&B and Soul covered….

I was fortunate to have Christmas and New Year’s free, so Melissa and I just chilled out with the family.


(I think) my first gig of 2008 was a fun night in St. Louis with Bruce Hornsby. It was a benefit concert for our friend Tony La Russa’s ARF Foundation. Talk about a diverse lineup – Bruce and I (we played a couple of duets), Ricky Skaggs, Darius Rucker, Kathleen Madigan, Luke Bryan, and Rissi Palmer. Now, brother, you can’t get much more mixed than that! I love it – jazz, rock, bluegrass, and comedy. I told Tony if he’s not careful, he’s going to become a consultant for some booking agents. Who knows, he could even become the new Bill Graham!

After St. Louis, the CMB did two quick gigs in Denver and Cincinnati. Walter Smith III played saxophone with us for those two gigs as Ron had a previous committment. He played his butt off. We played the Newman Center in Denver. What a beautiful theater. The concert was sponsored by an amazing group called COLA – Colorado Lawyers for the Arts. They provide pro-bono services for artists and non-profit orginizations based in Colorado. Initially, we were under the impression that this was going to be a private concert for the orginization, thus, we never told anyone we were even coming to Denver. When we arrived in Denver, we realized that it was not a private concert. Unfortunately, because of the confusion, the concert was not very well attended. Nobody even knew about it! But, it wasn’t COLA’s fault. I’m just glad they asked us to come to Denver.

The following night, we played in the “Queen City”, Cincinnati. Cincinnati is another one of those towns that feel like home. It’s soulful and funky. Not to mention, one of my biggest heroes, Bootsy Collins, is from there. I’ve only played there a couple of times, but I’ve always enjoyed the vibe. We performed at the Blue Ash campus of the University of Cincinnati. Unlike the previous night, this show was VERY well attended. A lot of students were there, and I did a workshop at the main campus the following day. I’ll tell you something else I did that was truly fun…

As most James Brown fans know, in the 1960’s, Cincinnati was the headquarters for King Records. Many of JB’s biggest hits were recorded at the old King Records studios. The building that housed the studio has been abandoned for many years, but it’s still standing. I had to make a pilgrimage. I was taken to 1540 Brewster Ave. Brewster Avenue is an obscure stretch of only four blocks in the stone cold ‘hood overlooking Interstate 71. The building, which Bootsy Collins himself has been on a mission to get the city to designate an historical landmark, is at the very end of the dead end block. For all you funk fans, get to Cincinnati and make that pilgrimage.

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