Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Live! Show Time Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Live! Show Time

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Fresh off a raucous night at the Howard Theatre in DC, the Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Live! tour descended upon the town of Glenside, PA for a show at the intimate 1300 seat Keswick Theatre. The historic venue, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, has been serving up a variety of entertainment for the Philadelphia market for over 85 years. While the majesty of the venue is somewhat underscored by the ongoing renovations, it seemed like a fitting choice to celebrate the legend of James Jamerson and the “Funk Brothers.” Thanks to (my Uncle) Allan Slutsky, tour orchestrator and band leader, I was given access to attend soundcheck and preparations for the night’s show.

With over two-thirds of the band having ties to Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs, finishing touches and last minute changes were reviewed and rehearsed only hours before the show in anticipation of an exuberant hometown performance. As soundcheck ended, everyone appeared renewed with a clear sense of purpose and the dynamics of a band on the road unveiled its true colors.

James Jamerson Jr. has an understated personality that while appearing reserved is equal parts sharp and witty. When given a few hours of down time, James and the other members that comprise this touring outfit love to let loose with enough humor and sarcasm to rival any tight knit family. With the focus of the night’s performance on the brotherhood of the “Funk Brothers” and relationship between James Jamerson Jr. and his father, the band clearly seemed to emulate more than just the music. With a family affair in full effect, the band reveled in the enthusiasm of those in attendance.

Each vocalist was in full command of both the stage and audience and made their way off stage and down the aisles between the passionate attendees. The always charismatic Johnny Ingram extended the mic to several fans who on numerous occasions were unable to prove their vocal prowess. While there seemed to be a genuine focus geared away from only playing “the hits,” there were more than enough to keep the audience engaged. Excellent renditions of Mary Well’s “My Guy,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” The Marvelettes’ “Don’t Mess With Bill,” Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of The Broken Hearted,” and The Temptations’ “My Girl” were supplemented with lesser known numbers such as Jr. Walker and the All Stars’ “I’m A Roadrunner” and Shorty Long’s “Function at the Junction.” My personal favorite, however, was the rendition of The Funk Brother’s original “The Flick,” a driving groove that the band used to jam on while warming up or unwinding in the studio.

Despite the celebratory mood, the more poignant and somewhat sobering moments involved James Jamerson Jr. and his on-stage dialogue with and about his father. In a very engaging segment, Jamerson Jr. traded licks with the recorded version of his father, while trying to settle an old dispute about who played the better bass line for Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her.” On several occasions, he looked up towards the heavens while speaking to his father, failing at attempts to hold back tears. As the story unfolded and we arrived at the recounting of James Jamerson’s struggle with alcohol, his inner demons, and untimely passing, the show brought us back to a more spirited present with a powerful version of Ashford and Simpson’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” transitioning into a show stopping rendition of Junior Walker & the All Stars’ “Shotgun.” With an exuberant and well-executed show in the rearview mirror, James Jamerson Jr., Allan Slutsky, and the other members of the band walked out amongst the departing attendees to personally thank them for their support.

**Important Note** Since this show, “The Funk Brothers” have been honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Band:
Lead Vocals – Peabo Bryson, Leela James
Bassist and Narrator – James Jamerson, Jr.
Guitar – Allan Slutsky, Felton Offard
Drums – Anway Marshall
Keyboard – Darryl Ivey, Dave Hartl
Percussion & Background Vocals – Guy Russell
Saxophone – Jay Davidson
Trumpet and Flute – Stan Slotter
Background and Lead Vocals – Johnny Ingram, Trineice Robinson

Set List (Sent from Allan Slutsky):
1) Ain’t No Mountain Overture
2) I Got A Feeling (4 Tops)
3) I’ll Try Something New (Miracles)
4) My Guy (Mary Wells)
5) My World Is Empty Without You (Supremes)
6) The Flick (Funk Bros. Instrumental)
7) I’m Losing You (Temptations)
8) Ain’t That Peculiar (Marvin Gaye)
9) Brokenhearted (Jimmy Ruffin)
10) Roadrunner (Jr. Walker)
11) My Baby Loves Me (Martha & the Vandellas)
12) I Was Made To Love Her (Stevie Wonder)
13) It’s A Shame (The Spinners)
14) It Takes Two (Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston)

INTERMISSION

1) When The Lovelight Starts Shining (Supremes)
2) Stubborn Kind Of Fellow (Marvin Gaye)
3) Boogie Fever—>I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (Temps and Supremes)
4) When I’m Gone (Brenda Holloway)
5) The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game (The Marveletes)
6) Don’t Mess With Bill (The Marvelettes)
7) My Girl (Temptations)
8) Function at the Junction/Here Come the Judge (Shortly Long)
9) What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye)
10) A Place In The Sun (Stevie Wonder)
11) Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Ashford & Simpson)
11) ENCORE: Shotgun (Jr. Walker)



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