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Lasting Impressions: Soul History @ Southpaw 02.02.12

Brooklyn’s Southpaw music venue offered city soul fans a corker of a send-off as they prepare to close the doors for good later this season. The club has been the site of many great gigs over its ten year run presenting talented bands and allowing them to build a grassroots audience. Southpaw has also been the home of monthly Dig Deeper parties which are noted for bringing Northern Soul collectors’ favorite artists out of retirement and to New York City for the first time.

They’re A Winner
The history of The Impressions is a timeline that spans almost the entire course of rock & soul music. As most of you already know the group counted both Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield within their ranks over the last half century. They are blessed to have founder members Fred Cash and Sam Gooden still onstage and sounding great. Their long time compatriot Reggie Torian leads the tandem vocals that have always been the group’s trademark. It would be quite a task to calculate the amount of time these gentlemen have sung together and the dues they have paid but the outcome is a heavenly harmony that had the crowd enraptured. Pulling from a repertoire that includes doo-wop, gospel, civil rights anthems and “blaxploitation” soundtracks the trio gave a guided tour of how their songs have become entwined in American culture. “It’s Alright”, “Gypsy Woman”, “Keep On Pushing”, “Superfly”, “People Get Ready”, “Choice of Colors”, “Move On Up”, “We’re A Winner” – you get the picture. I think the phrase “achingly beautiful” could have been coined to describe “I’m So Proud”.

A Little Dap’ll Do Ya
Guitarist Binky Griptite, whose hosting and toasting introductions are well known to the fans of Sharon Jones, led a loose amalgamation of Daptone Records house band The Dap-Kings (this night calling themselves The Dee-Kays) acting both as warm-up and back-up band. With an expanded horn and percussion section the 10 piece DeeKays offered the Impressions the quality musical bedrock they deserve to layer their amazing vocals over. It was clear that they were all thrilled to be working together; an impressive collaboration (awful pun intended.) The evening opened with a duo set that juxtaposed singer Inyang Bassey’s gutsy vocals against Binky’s acoustic guitar accompaniment. Their goose-pimple enducing rendition of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” was a particular treat.

It was a stellar night with a great showing of Brooklyn neo-soul talent on-stage as well as in the audience. I spied Ms. Meah Pace, some of the Sweet Divines gang, and at least one Nouvella. Eli “Paperboy” Reed was joined by Dig Deeper’s Mr. Robinson and Soulpower’s DJ Pari at the turntables for a tag team of 45rpm spins that kept everyone in a dancing mood. It’s great to see a musical community that supports each other’s projects.

To say a fine time was had by all would be an understatement. It was a fittingly upbeat bye-bye to Southpaw’s always well produced and great sounding shows. They will be missed.

Meah Pace @ Southpaw, 1.28.12

Meah Pace and her band The Map Legends gave the audience at Brooklyn’s Southpaw a special treat during their January 28th opening set, with a killer performance of “I Would Rather Go Blind” paying tribute to the recently deceased Ms. Etta James. Meah delivered the classic blues/soul tune, which has been covered by everyone from Christine McVie (nee Perfect) to Beyonce, in spectacular torchy style. She and the band also backed headliner Eula Cooper, who returned to New York for the first time since 2008 to sing her collector’s soul sides, including the funky shuffle “Mr. Henry”.


Unfortunately the Southpaw venue will be closing up shop by springtime, with the owners focusing on their newer projects in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Greenpoint areas. The full story is here. If you’re looking to get a dose of soul before Southpaw shutters, The Impressions – backed by members of the Dap-Kings – will be there on Thursday Feb 2, 2012.

Brooklyn soul fans will be happy to know that the monthly Dig Deeper dance parties will move to The Bell House, which served as home for the 2010 Brooklyn Soul Fest.

Willie West “Fairchild” @ Southpaw Feb 26, 2011

Willie West treated the audience to a reprise of his turntable fave “Fairchild” @ Brooklyn’s Southpaw. The February 26, 2011 Dig Deeper gig marked his first ever appearance in New York City.

For detailed information on Willie’s career and a heapin’ helping of enlightenment on New Orleans music a visit to Dan Phillips’ Home of the Groove blog is a must.