My reentry back to NYC was not easy since it came between a snowstorm and an ice storm. But my reentry back to concert viewing was eased by the first concert being in one of my favorite small clubs and being the early show so that I out of the club before 9pm.
The Mercury Lounge is perfect when it’s not overcrowded. You can find a place in the back and stand and still see the stage. And you’re never that far from the musicians so it is always intimate. rtb and I were there to see Condola Rashad – we had seen and loved her on Broadway (Stick Fly) and in various TV roles. During the intermission rtb mentioned that the crowd looked like a Smash crowd, which made sense since Rashad had a small role in that TV show. What we didn’t realize until we both got home and looked it up was that the lead singer of the opening band also had been on Smash.
Jaime Cepero played Ellis on Smash and he is the JC in JC & the Remedy. I got there about halfway into his set and he had the crowd dancing and clapping. The funk and soul go down much better than the one love song and the singing is some of the tightest harmonies I’ve ever heard. Cepero was wearing a feather and the female back-up singer had braids, a fur jacket, and headband. I’m not sure what the Native American references were about. I especially enjoyed their cover of John Mayer’s “Gravity” and his original “Circles.”
Cepero never introduced the band or mentioned the band’s name. There was a male and a female back-up singer, bassist, guitarist, drummer, and keyboardist backing Cepero.
Rashad made sure we knew who she was and who the band was and she did introduce them. Condola and the Stoop Kids came out to a crowd that was very ready for them. She had one male and two female back-up singers, drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboardist. If you were expecting Rashad to belt show tunes you would have been disappointed. The first song “Ladybird” was a jazz/soul/reggae fusion. Most of the songs were high energy (not Hi-NRG) with Rashad doing some talk-singing. Many times she went flat and I couldn’t be sure if that was a conscious choice or not. I’ve listened to other live performances on YouTube and it looks like singing flat was not a choice last night. She can stay on key.
One of the female back-up singers sent chills up and down my arm with her strong and sweet voice. All four of them had a lot of vocal power. I was wondering if her mother or aunt would be there and then – I thought – she said, “My mother is telling me to find my vibrator,” which I repeated to rtb and as I was saying it I knew that had to be wrong and then Rashad repeated herself and I realized she was saying, “My mother is telling me to find my light,” because she was standing in the dark. Don’t ask me how I misheard that.
Condola and the Stoop Kids put on a great show as did JC & the Remedy. I don’t know if I’d go see them again but what a wonderful show – two very good acts for $12.
By Carene Lydia Lopez