I have witnessed some strange and yet wondrous things in my life in 49 years.......
but I never thought I would see an "literal ocean of people" dancing, partying and downright grooving to the soulful sounds of Lisa Gay and Thrill as they did last night at the NMAC Congressional Convention at the Anaheim Hilton.
Last night, all burners were on HIGH and this eclectic group hit a NEW LEVEL of PERFORMANCE, a cut above and away beyond any previous ones.
On a huge outdoors stage and banks of monitors with pleasant Santa Ana breezes blowing through a huge and beautifully decorated courtyard, LG&T took total and COMPLETE COMMAND of this massive group of members and attendees of the National Minority AIDS 4 day Convention.
The audience was estimated to be somewhere between a MINIMUM of 1,500-2,000, perhaps more. This info came from the Anaheim Fire personnel who keep general track of head counts for these events. Even they were all enthralled and told Lisa so as we passed them. Security was pretty tight.
And that ocean of people kept growing and growing. Folks just appeared out of nowhere. All ages and denominations. A rainbow collation if you will.
Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway hosted the reception. Very witty and down to earth lady.
Then, precisely at 7PM, the THRILL band came out roaring with their Temptations homage, "Standin' On Shaky Ground". All the Thrill musicians, Tony (ghost of Jimmy Nolen), Greg (had Joe Sample 'sampled'), Mark (that guy can make a violin cry), Larry ("Drums of Thunder"), Andrew (would've made Jon Faddis hide his head), Louis (Mike Brecker & Grover rolled into one) and John Hart (bass that made the Great Walls shake, holding the entire sound structure up) play like a finely oiled machine, pure precision, and believe me, they woke this crowd, who had NEVER heard them all the way UP UNTIL NOW.
But as I worked my way through the crowd, pulsing reactions, there WERE many there who HAD heard of LG&T. I handed out a zillion business cards, made a LOT of new contacts with people that are involved with peripheral related organizations and who expressed true and sincere interest in what they were experiencing in front of them. I also mentioned Soul Patrol to those that were interested in the group's sponsorships. I also sold a grip of CDs.
I enjoy working the crowds. There are very interesting things one can observe from being in the midst of it all.
Folks looked at each other and said: "WHO are THESE "Thrill" guys? A lady on my left hollered "Honey, I don't know, but I am SURE AS HELL going to find out!
They are DOWNRIGHT FUNKY! . Funny stuff. As more and more folks gathered, Thrill settled into a super tasty extended groove and the crowd (and I ALWAYS monitor
crowd reaction) started REALLY paying attention (which is a very difficult thing to get folks to do in a wide open, although cordoned off area). Thrill did a nice; compact 20 minute "warm up" that was very well received.
Then Miss Jennifer Holliday took the stage and went through the motions of singing 2 of her disco-flavored pre-recorded tracks I've never heard before (including the inevitable "And I'm Telling You", her signature tune), which was a slight disappointment, as many were wondering, "Where's HER band"??? All I could do was ...smile. Jennifer was in her usual good voice (considering how petite she is now), I will give her credit due. Not much heart and little soul, but to be fair, she only had a 20 minute window.
And, there were brief speeches by California Assemblywoman Loretta Sanchez (Anaheim is in her district) and the very well-known (and outspoken) Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and actor Hal Harper praising this great organization and all it has done to raise awareness and educate. There were a TON of high-powered representatives of various other foundations, vendors, non-profit organizations, and nationally known politicos from all over the country.
Lisa made an impressive entrance that WOWED the crowd from the back of the arena court (singing acapella, escorted by her stylist, the incomparable Emmett Austin) in a gorgeous Black beaded sequined pants suit with killer "come and get me if you can handle it" pumps, beautiful jewels. She was, as always, in gorgeous vocal form (we talked little the day prior, as she was "saving her voice"), opening with HER signature tune "Watch What Happens" with its smooth swing type groove. Then, it was BIDNESS TYME and on to "Let's Stay Together" which never ceases to amaze me what a continued crowd pleaser that great song is, especially the way THRILL "breaks it down" and Lisa works that tambourine, which makes your feet do stuff your body sometimes can't.
But once again, (the 2nd high point of the night) the ballad show stopper was Lisa's homage to one of her biggest influences, the late Phyllis Hyman, and "Somewhere In My Lifetime", a soulful and heartfelt rendition delivered differently than the video clip we have up in the website. The "power and force" in which Thrill performed with Lisa singing her ABSOLUTE HEART OUT earned the group their first standing ovation of the evening.
By this time, we all KNEW she and Thrill had this continuously swelling crowd "in the palm of her hand".
The more the band grooved, the more people came in to the mix. For those who have had the pleasure of seeing this band perform live, they can tell you beyond doubt that "NOBODY can work a room like Miss Lisa can"!!!!
That special warmth she and the band generated and radiated just PERMEATES through the audience. This now totally enraptured audience of people, MANY OF WHOM HAD NEVER EVEN HEARD OF THIS BAND UNTIL NOW, all pushed closer to the stage to really "Watch What Was Gonna Happen" next. I'm telling you (and I do not lie or exaggerate these things, because I always position myself in the crowd to gage the vibes and network), I actually watched a 'mini-phenomena' occur when Lisa and Thrill segued from a snappy rhythmed "Could It be I'm Falling In Love?" to (without missing a drop of
rhythm) faster tempoed "House/Disco style" "Let Yourself Go". In observing any situation like this, you have the die-hard partiers who are all into it in the stage front, and you have the less involved people chatting away in the back.
Well, that's when the STRANGE and WONDERFUL occurred. A WAVE of sorts rapidly SWEPT this entire audience and I saw people who up until then didn't care WHO was playing, get up and boogie, because the groove was so damn infectious. This was no surprise to us that know what this band can do, but it was like an electric "cattle prod" to the new fans. Thrill had yet again won over a whole new audience and generation of fans.
That, for me, was the high point of the show. It sort of approached a rave, due to the extremely high energy the group was generating like a 1,000 kilowatt spotlight.
This music could NOT be ignored. It was, in a word,
"In your face".
The sound system was pushed to its limits last night.
There were people in the windows of their rooms
swaying and dancing.
Ever see over 1,000 people 'electric slide' in Paula Abdul unison? I did. Attack of the Clones personified.
After a few more songs, and a hilarious "8-track" story that had everyone in stitches (about how the tapes would often need folded cardboard inserted to make them correctly play sometimes), the band broke DOWN ON THE ONE on the O'Jay's song "For The Love Of Money" , then came to a dead stop and broke into the Isley's classic "For The Love of You".
Then, as any pro would do, you always leave them "begging for more". Lisa closed the show (although the management wanted them to continue) with her signature tune, "Smile" with just Greg on keys and Mark on violin.
Lisa Gay and Thrill were done, but the crowd wasn't done with THEM! The audience screamed and hollered, stomped from the front of the stage and all the way from the rear, begging for more. Hell YES, we loved it; the band loved it (they were truly enjoying themselves on stage doing what they love to do). And Lisa? Well, she was cool as a cucumber, gracious with all that wanted to talk and take pictures, sign CDs, etc. After giving her all, she STILL has so much class and love to give. The audience got THEIR message of love, positively and life
Photographer Michael Moore worked his AZZ off shooting tons of stills and digital footage. This guy is phenomenal. Funny as hell, too. Miss Debra Ortiz, Lisa s personal Event Coordinator, was beautifully
radiant and resplendent, as always. Tory Scroggins (Make Up) and Rochelle Codtney (Drum Tech) also made big contributions to this effort. The real Dream Team!
The entire band and the crew were all nattily attired in black. We looked like a SWAT unit, only glamoured up. Dressed to Kill and Thrill. Sharp as a Hounds tooth. That's LG&T's style.
We wish to thank NMAC Executive Director, Paul Kuwata, Tracey Cummings (Host Coordinator), Cheryl Flourney (Logistics), Kate Sheaffer (Show Producer), Chris Long and Gunther Freehill (Associate Producers of the show), Tony Wafford and especially Mr. Kevin Pickett (Executive Entertainment Committee members), who TRULY believe in LG&T, and all that they represent and delivered Saturday night to this audience in superior performance caliber.
I would also like to thank the wonderful support of the SP members and the Lisa Gay Fan Page "Living Room" members, who have been there every step of the way with us.
Needless to say, there are MANY wonderful things that are already in the planning stage as a result of this performance, especially in the corporate event arena.
Several shows are being planned (one huge one in December, 2002) and several for the early part of 2003. Unique solo projects by Thrill band members, producing of other upcoming acts and many other things I cannot elaborate on at this time. But will as I'm
allowed to as they unfold.
Positive Karma-the ancient concept that when you give love to others unconditionally, it comes back to you in spades in many ways, many that you would never think or dream of, is what Lisa Gay and Thrill now seem to emanate to all within their orbit.
That is what is now happening for Lisa Gay and Thrill.
And they ALL deserve it. A lot.
Barrington S. Tate
Saturday, June 22, 2002
Location: Knitting Factory (Hollywood) Main Stage
7021 Hollywood Blvd. (1blk east of La Brea)
Phone: (323) 463-0204
Event Time: 6pm-9:30
Social Hour: 6:00-6:45
Opening w/ Barry: 6:45-7:00
This is a Soul-Patrol Event
Check out pictures and audio from Lisa Gay and Thrill's Appearance at the Hollywood Knitting Factory!
Words cannot express the ECLECTIC feeling I still have after last
Saturday's event at the Knitting Factory Hollywood...Our LASP Posse was out in force and sitting front, forward and center looking absolutely FABULOUS and the FINESS continued on as I could look to my stage right and see the HANDSOME Mr. Ron B...and the KING OF TABLETOP and SOULMAN HIMSELF, Mr. Tommy (TTG) Gray (you both are SUNSHINES OF LIFE!!!)...
Could it be that the greatest people in the world are Soul-Patrollers??? I definitely know so!!
You all made the night one we will never forget and from Tony, Mark, Greg, Larry, JV, Louis and Andrew, I was asked by all of them to express to all of you how much they appreciate the LOVE for being the BEAUTIFUL and REAL PEOPLE that you are and being the PARTY DIRECTORS in helping to make the FULL HOUSE ROCK, DANCE, SING and get all OUTSIDE THEMSELVES along with Drummers Lenny White, Steve Badam, Chris"Daddy" Dave and Mike Weiss, (VP Innovative Drums) !!
Finally to my Brother Barry, Mary, Wicked1 Aaron, PJ, Dell, Sue, Homer, Vannesa (can't wait to meet you at the next event), Tommy K.,Michael, Tory, Emmit, Karen, Gary, Chappell, John M., Brenda, Traci, Jimmy, Nick, Mr.Carlos Wilson of Mandrill and Cousin Debbie who puts it all together..I LOVE YOU!!
Now on to the next event at BBKINGS April 25th where MY Sister RIo and my Brother Dre will recieve all the LOVE back (that they give so UNCONDITIONALLY) as they make their statement as the GREAT RIOSOUL takes to the stage with FEVER!!!
And to you Bob, thank you for this AWESOME FORUM that continues to support, educate and provide all of us LOVE, LIFE, NEW MUSIC and NEW FRIENDS that simply makes LIFE BEAUTIFUL and upholds our FAITH to carry on whether times are GOOD OR BAD, HAPPY or SAD.....
See you all at Stevie's in May and back at the Knitting Factory in July!!
Saturday, April 06, 2002 12:25 PM