Soul Clap 10th Anniversary, New York
Noah Shaffer was lucky enough to attend the Soul Clap 10th Anniversary in New York recently. Here's his review. Many thanks to Dave Thomas for the use of his photos of the event.
The occasion for this staggering lineup of soul greats was the 10th anniversary of the DJ parties thrown by NY DJ Jonathan Toubin. Some may have heard about his return DJing after a bizarre and horrible incident in which a driver drove into his ground-floor hotel room while Toubin was sleeping. Toubin is known for spinning uptempo tunes for young crowds complete with a dance contest and an MC. He is definitely an entertainer and while there are many fine Americans DJs who play soul 45s at their local watering hole, Toubin has managed to carve out a steady touring circuit around the US.
The 800 capacity Warsaw (AKA the ballroom of the Polish-American National Home - you can snack on perogis between sets) was sold out well in advance and quite packed. As we all know the quality of a soul show is almost entirely dependent on the quality of the backing band, and I'm happy to say that those duties were handled exceedingly well by the band of Nick Waterhouse, a West Coast 'soul revival' singer/songwriter. Nick's secret weapon is JB Flatt, the keyboardist who has played with Eli Paperboy Reed for years and who is no stranger to doing arrangements for soul veterans as he had the same job as musical director for the on-hiatus Dig Deeper/Brooklyn Soul fest series. Another Paperboy alum, M. Juliani Brooks laid out some scorching tenor saxophone solos.
Waterhouse started off the night with some of his own tunes, which I can't say I found very distinctive or interesting. Then it was time for the veterans. First up was the only act on the bill I'd never seen: Ural Thomas, the latest in the seemingly endless line of rediscovered soul acts who have surfaced out of unlikely locales, in this case Portland, Oregon. Ural brought with him his own young singer/drummer (who annoyingly seemed to think he was Ural's duet partner) as well as the horn section from his hometown band. He was quite entertaining in a versatile set of his own originals.
Now it was back to the legends for the man who began his stage show with this memorable quip: 'Hi everyone, I'm Archie Bell and if you see any Drells you're drunk as hell!' (Actually Eli Paperboy Reed and two female background singers appeared and remained for the rest of the night.) Archie did 'I Just Can't Keep Dancing,' 'There's Gonna Be A Showdown' with a cameo from David Johansen and then of course he ended by demonstrating how to do the 'Tighten Up.'` It's impossible not to have a good time when Archie is on stage.
The night ended on a very strong note with an artist who never lets her audiences down, Irma Thomas. Like with Maxine it is impossible to believe that Irma is really in her late 70's based on the strength of her performances. I actually prefer seeing her without her band the Professionals, and I've rarely heard her with better backing or arrangements. 'Breakaway,' 'Anyone Who Knows What Love Is,' 'Ruler Of My heart' and 'Time Is On My Side were all impeccable and to finish things off we were treated to 'Hittin' On Nothing.'