My editor wants a review. It’s been two weeks but I’m happy to oblige. Sorry for the delay just got back from NYC. Subject? Victory Grill for the Stax Records party. I’ll break it down. The party: sweaty, packed, hot and loud. When describing an evening to celebrate the legendary record label this is a good thing. When you are talking about a soul & funk party on the east side this is also a good thing. For ambiance, Tom Waits peep show girls were on hand to show some leg behind strategically lit screens. Great party. Hands down.
The music: perfectly set to celebrate the legendary label. On its own? That depends on where you are in the R&B/funk/soul revival movement currently sweeping the nation. The odd retro music trend has popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, again. Like Swing and Afro Beat before it, everyone seems to be claiming to have soul. Many credit Sharon Jones with pioneering the revival (and in my opinion still ruling it), she is blessed with the Dap Kings to help showcase her power. She was doing her thing long before it was popular again. And popular it is. These days there seems to be a soul/funk/R&B band in every town (The Dynamites in Nashville, for example—the first two lines of their myspace homepage make an excellent argument for this blog). In Austin alone, Akina and The Vintage Playboys, Fly Jack, Black Joe Lewis…you can’t throw a rock, as they say. And if you happen to have been living under one for the past year and at the beginning of said movement, T Bird & The Breaks are a fresh, rollicking novelty with a sound you recognize even if the lyrics are new. Complete with costumes and back up singers in swinging fringe dresses and go go boots, they stay true to the retro sound and look. The live show is nothing short of entertaining and the quality of their recordings (you can check them out on myspace) is excellent. Not the heaviest soul I’ve heard of these bands but certainly not the lightest either. If you’re somewhere in the middle you might still find yourself shaking those hips for a song or two and then going out for some fresh air and a smoke (no, the contradiction does not escape me). And if you’re at the end? Well then maybe you can tell me what’s next.