062611 Soulive, Ottawa, ON

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On June 26th, 2011 I headed down to the Ottawa Jazz Festival for a short evening of tall entertainment.  If I’m not mistaken I was onsite to take in just one act – I probably had to work through the mainstage bands*, whomever they might have been – but that one act was Soulive playing the music of The Beatles, so it was enough.

This was early in my Soulive appreciation – it might have been just the second or third time I saw them – but their set was so good that it helped me develop an appreciation for Soulive in a hurry.

When I visualize their set I see a big white tent set up facing the canal in the middle of the city hall lawn, which seems odd to me because I don’t imagine a similar setup when I picture any other band playing at the festival, ever.  Still, I see Eric Krasno over there on stage left standing under his cool hat playing a pretty mean guitar while opposite him keyboardist Neal Evans’ left hand kept pumping out endless miles of sonic momentum, and I’m confident that is an accurate picture.

Regardless of what I saw, it was what I heard!  Now, Soulive is one of those jambands that has been embraced by the jazz world, or perhaps they are a jazz band that has been embraced by the jam world, but either way the cause and/or effect of this cross-appreciation is a band of seriously good musicians playing seriously good music for serious music fans.

Throw in the fact that Soulive spent most of their time featuring tracks from their latest album – a collection of brilliant arrangements of Beatles songs – and you can see why I got so hooked.  The melodic strength and harmonic power of The Beatles oeuvre allows their music to be pulled and stretched and worked and reworked ad infinitum without losing a bit of its integrity, so songs like Come Together, I Want You (She’s So Heavy), Eleanor Rigby, and Come Together came off as fresh slices of brilliance, regardless of (or perhaps due to) how familiar they are.

I almost lost a bet at the show when I attempted to wager my good friend Bradm that he would definitely fall down before the end of the concert, slurring and unbalanced as the festivities had made him.  We didn’t end up making a bet, mainly because Bradm was so deep into things that he couldn’t fully comprehend the phrase “falling down”, so we failed to come to an agreement on the parameters of the wager.  Good thing too, because somehow Bradm weebled his way to the end of the show without toppling over.

It’s funny sometimes the things that get remembered.  Also funny that those same things get forgotten.  As usual, it’s all in the perspective.

*Nope.  Just checked and this was a Sunday, and I never worked on Sunday evenings.  It wasn’t really a religious thing – though I have always worshipped weekends with a fervour that often left me speaking in tongues – but traditionally on the seventh day Todd rested.

Wait a minute…isn’t Sunday the first day of the week?  

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