When I think of a soul music festival, images of a party atmosphere immediately pops into my mind. You know, the crowd might break out into the electric slide or Soul Train line while in-between each set the DJ spins old-school classics.
Having been to the Vail Soul Music Festival in 2011, I had certain expectations that this year’s festivities would be an improvement of the last. One would think that when an event is held every year, organizers learn what works, what doesn’t and make the necessary adjustments so each subsequent one will be better.
The jury is still out for me on whether 2012’s event was an upgrade from last year. While I was excited about the lineup, I didn’t anticipate that some acts would only sing a few songs.
Consisting of 10 acts, the Vail Soul Music Festival is a two-day affair in Vail, CO. I really was only looking forward to The Floacist (formerly of the duo Floetry), and Kindred the Family Soul. I had seen Anthony David last year; I’m only somewhat familiar with Julie Dexter and Algebra; I’ve never heard of Allen Stone and I didn’t know what to expect from Jeffery Osborne.
Well, Jeffrey turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Newer acts could use some pointers from this 64-year-old crooner, who has been in the game longer than I’ve been on Earth.
Hitting the stage in a suit, Jeffrey was strong vocally and commanded the floor the entire night. Stage presence is everything and Jeffrey had the crowd on its feet from beginning to end. When the jacket and shirt came off, I must admit he looked great (I was happy that he had on a T-shirt underneath his dress shirt though. I think it would have been too much if he didn’t).
The Floacist oozed positive vibes and energy as she dived into Breathe, the first song on Floetic Soul. Next was Forever while the set turned sexy with Let Me. Reminiscing about the release of Floetry’s debut album Floetic 10 years ago, The Floacist, accompanied by the vocals of Julie Dexter, performed a Say Yes remix.
While witnessing her performance was absolutely a festival highlight, actually meeting and conversing with her for a brief time energized my spirit. In those few moments, I could tell Natalie Stewart is a highly spiritual woman who is working hard to maintain her individuality in an industry hell bent on churning out the same tired, cookie cutter and clichéd material.
When I expressed to her I wrote my blog for me, she said, “I write my music for me.” That was nice to hear and provided me the encouragement to continue with Soul Musings Corner. I also was surprised to learn that I was fortunate to have attended her only performance in the U.S. that she did in support of her solo effort.
Luckily for Floetry fans, she is working on a Floetry “rebirth,” and a new album titled The Floacist Presents: Floetry Rebirth should be in stores this October.
It was a bit disappointing that Julie Dexter only backed The Floacist. It would have been nice to hear her sing a few of her own songs.
Kindred the Family Soul was the second highlight. Consisting of married couple Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, and hailing from Philadelphia, Kindred’s high energy and love they obviously have for each other shined the entire time they were on stage.
As usual, I had a few songs I desperately needed to hear, and the duo fulfilled my wish when they performed Stars and Woman First. If they can maintain and stay afloat in this cut-throat music business, they really could be the next Ashford and Simpson.
Other acts included Denver’s own SuCh, DJ Newlife, MC Zulu, and Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.
To pass the time, my friends and I created a wishlist lineup we think would work well at next year’s event. They include India.Arie, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Eric Roberson, Amel Larrieux, Musiq, Bahamadia, Angie Stone, Anthony Hamilton, Jon B., Carl Thomas, Kenny Lattimore, Donell Jones, Brian McKnight, Chrisette Michele, Esperanza Spalding, Dwele and Goapele.
The list could go on, and on and on some more.
Vail Soul Music Festival organizers, are you listening?? I would love to come back next year and party a little harder than I did this go round.
Click on the following to see performances by:
Kindred: Magic Happen
Anthony David: Cold Turkey