10 Excellent takeaways from Undercover Presents Stand!
On Sunday January 19th, over 100 musicians gathered together at the Independent in San Francisco for the finale of three nights of a presentation of every track of Sly & the Family Stone’s groundbreaking 1969 album Stand! I was honored to be a part of the festivities, giving some Sly knowledge, hanging with the brilliant and buoyant musicians, and acting a fool during the finale on stage!
There were so many awesome elements to this experience, for instance:
1. Multiple generations of musicians got to not only perform Sly Stone’s music, but to immerse themselves in the prophetic visions and the stylistic range of Bay Area legends Sly & the Family Stone. Each act, each collective on stage was able to process and express Sly’s vision of a "Love City" that took on but went beyond the racial & gender divides of the times, and took us towards a true global love community!
2. The once revered epiphany of the album listening experience was brought back with a vengeance! The entire night was designed for the audience to witness the range, depth, funky thump and cumulative optimism of the entire 1969 Stand! record, which was attained with spectacular results. This will have folks flocking back to the original album all over again - for the first time!
2. Everyone in the place got to witness nine separate finales, as each act just took their sound and Sly’s vision to a Higher level, bringing down the house again and again! So much talent! So much funk! So much love in the house!
The true genius of Sly Stone was revealed by the fact that his work was accessible to musicians from nine different genres, musical worlds, tastes and musical scenes.
They were each reflecting Sly’s vision that "Everybody is a Star," and celebrating "Everyday People" with Different Strokes for Different Folks!
4. The final night was a clean technical sweep, as very few sound problems or glitches delayed any of the sets or transitions. Truly a feat of wizardry from all involved. The Independent never sounded so good! (and I’ve seen some legendary shows there)
5. Original Family Stone members Rustee Allen (bass) and Greg Errico (drums) appeared onstage and not only got the love they deserved, but were clearly moved by the experience, and in no time they FUNKED UP the place with their musical mastery!
6. Dave Moschler’s indomitable genius of drawing together artists from disparate genres into one project - one vision and one creation - was simply a divine stroke. The diversity and the unity all over the building was a soul penetrating experience! So many of us were able to meet and to learn about each other’s works and start new funky networks of our own. Thank U Dave!
7. The Awesome Orchestra Collective’s opening “Stand!” performance was thunderous, while the exhilarating sounds of Soprano Lauren Woody, pianist JooWan Kim and two rappers doing “Don’t Call Me Nigger Whitey” are still in my head; The unforgettable Energy of Zakira Harris’ Afro-Cuban dance ensemble ripping “I Want to Take You Higher” is still bouncing me around; the exquisite polish of Tiffany Austin’s vocals and upright bass player Marcus Shelby’s rendition of “Somebody’s Watching You” was masterful; and the all-consuming, explosive Latin hip hop in Bayonics’ thunderous rendition ‘Sing A Simple Song” was enough to satisfy any music fan – and that was only Side 1 of Stand!
8. The hypnotic, dreamy soul country flavors of the Tumbleweed Wanderers (with Jeremy Lyon channeling Allan Gorrie of AWB) was utterly haunting as they revitalized “Everyday People” in a way that tapped into all of the energy in the room. The disparate spirits became One as they gave love to America’s vast expanse of the human heart; The highlight of the show for many of us was Con Brio’s lead singer Ezekiel McCarter, who channeled a passionate Marvin Gaye on “Sex Machine” and made it his own, while celebrating the original 13 minute masterpiece with a rendition that you never wanted to stop! The increasing funkativity was not lost from Will Magid’s wickedly funky keyboard & trumpet work on “My Brain (Zig Zag)” with bass from Family Stone O.G. Rustee Allen. The party was rocking off the chain when the Jazz Mafia – featuring Greg Errico on drums brought down the house with “You Can Make it If You Try” – and Uriah Duffy’s channeling of Larry Graham to punctuate the ultimate Funk of the whole thing!
9. The all hands - all bands - on deck finale was as transcendent a moment as Bay Area music can deliver! The chaos, the pure joy, the elevated spirits and thunderous funk was a living Monster! That was truly Love City!
10. The heavy lifting of Lyz Luke to bring together the musical talent, the promotional efforts, the venue operations, the merchandizing, and a thousand logistics while remaining cool, calm, lovely and funky onstage and everywhere else set the tone of this unforgettable set!
11. Sly Stone would be so proud of this!