Twin Cities Funk and Soul All Stars at Cedar Cultural Center, 9/22/12

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Erik Hess
Twin Cities Funk and Soul All Stars
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
Saturday, September 22, 2012

There was a sense of the extraordinary at the Cedar Cultural Center on Saturday night. The usually stuffy and seated venue had the floor open for dancers and a standing room only crowd to welcome the Twin Cities Funk and Soul All Stars, a group assembled by local label Secret Stash to play the music on its latest reissue LP, a collection of rare but hardly forgotten music recorded here in Minneapolis.

See Also:
Slideshow: Secret Stash Records at the Cedar
Secret Stash releases new R&B compilation

MC Thornton C. Jones, aka KUXL's legendary DJ Pharaoh Black, warned us he might get choked up. "Some of my buddies here I haven't seen in thirty-five years," he said. Pharaoh introduced the band and in the style of King Curtis' "Memphis Soul Stew" Anthony Scott (bassist, Prophets of Peace) and James "Creeper" Vasquez (drummer, Band of Thieves), along with Secret Stash's own Cody Wong, simmered into a hot version of "Thieves in the Funkhouse" backed by full compliment of brass, veterans of the Band of Thieves. The long-promised soul and funk revival had arrived!

Photo by Erik Hess

Willie Walker took us all a little deeper into the past with a couple old favorites, including "Lucky Loser" and "There Goes my Used to Be," before the band shifted back to the '70s groove with a couple songs by the Prophets of Peace, both sides of a 1975 single that was their only record. The evening's revue featured most of the songs on the compilation album, but didn't follow the same chronological order. Local fixtures and welcomed ex-pats came and went while Pharaoh kept up with the changes, introducing everyone and reveling in his role as host for the "love fest."

Photo by Erik Hess
Photo by Erik Hess

Some songs were a surprise, like Willie Walker and Maurice Jacox's soulful take on Sam & Dave's "When Something is Wrong with my Baby" -- a song not unfamiliar to Jacox's fans but a performance worth the price of admission alone. And instead of the instrumental jam on the compilation album, the All Stars followed up "Honey from the Bee" with "Shoot Straight," one of the best cuts on the classic Willie & the Bees album. Another highlight was Sonny Knight, who took on a double-duty for the show, singing a Prophets of Peace song and later with the Valdons.

The Prophets of Peace numbers - "The Max" and "You Can Be" - featured a full stage and the night's biggest sound, but it was the palpable air of anticipation as Wanda Davis returned to the stage and sang "Take Care", the flip from her dance floor filling favorite, that was most memorable. When Wong led the band into "Save Me" no two feet stood still on the floor.

Enter the Valdons, looking every bit as good as we all felt in matching white tuxedos with red vests. The quartet bantered about the songs they hadn't played in years, but if they were rusty at all no one could tell. They sang and danced like they'd never stopped. "We all went to California and he was the one who never came back," they joked about Clifton Curtis, one of couple performers flew in for the show.

Photo by Erik Hess

There couldn't have been a better ending than the Valdons' "All Day Long", the fast and fun 1971 single that opens the Secret Stash compilation. The All Stars truly left the packed house wanting more. Pharaoh Black asked if it should become an annual celebration to raucous applause -- and someone in the crowd behind me shouted "monthly!" Maybe next time they'll add in Pharaoh's theme song, "Walk that Walk, Talk that Talk."

Until next year, or next month, we'll be back to shakin' our hips at DJ nights, and there was still a lot of Saturday left, so the crowd started across the street for the Hot Pants fifth anniversary party at the Nomad, where funk and soul survive every fad on sweet spinning wax.

The crowd: Probably the most diverse crowd to fill the Cedar - Old, young, black, white - all packed together and dancing.

Overheard: "I wish I could go to shows like this all the time."

Set list:

Thieves in the Funkhouse
A Lucky Loser

Warm to Cold to Cool

There Goes my Used to Be
I Ain't Gonna Cheat on you No More
The Maxx
You can Be
What the World Needs Now is Love
Sweet Smell of Perfume
When Something is Wrong with my Baby

Honey from the Bee
Shoot Straight
Take Care
Save Me
Ridin' High
Love me or Leave Me

I Who Have Nothing
All Day Long

Do It To It

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