Monday, January 2, 2012
B. Notes Music Showcase @ The Social Butterfly, December 30, 2011
Happy New Year readers! Guess who's bizzack?! Now I know I "retired" this blog in August of last year, after the switch over the Myfreeconcert.com. You guys must be thinking, what gives? Well here's the deal. It's been a great run out to the end of 2011 for me and the rest of the MFC crew, and this year will be no different. I'm still writing with them and if you go on the site in the blog section (like I'm sure you already have) you will see quite a few updates. However since I've been out more at more shows and I've gotten to meet more artists and others in the industry I've gotten more requests for write-ups and reviews, so because of this, I think it's time to bring back the Music and More blog. It's a great way to start up the new year I think.
With that said, I was granted the opportunity to check out the showcase (which I believe was his first) of a young talented artist out of Brooklyn by the name of B. Notes. It worked out well because it was actually the last show I saw for 2011 (a year where I'm pretty sure I saw 2-300 concerts), so I think it's only right it's the first write-up for 2012.
B. Notes (who's real name is Brignel) is a singer that I actually met in the barbershop I go to all the time off Church Ave. in Brooklyn, by the name of Step Ahead Barbershop. It's owned by my cousin so I don't mind giving him some love on the my site! We got to chatting and he told me he was a musician, and when he found out I was a music blogger, we exchanged info because he said he would like to have me check out his shows once he starts getting things in motion. Clearly I'm not afraid to check out a show, so I told him I'd be more than honored. This was quite a few months ago, maybe even around the summer time. I hadn't heard from him until a few weeks ago, when he called me to invite me out to his showcase he was organizing in Brooklyn. Talk about following up!
I arrived at the show around 7pm, which was slated for an 8pm start. It was funny because I got there and they were setting up sound and such, and there were really only a few people there at the time. Even as it reached 8pm there were still only a few more people there, so I thought, maybe they won't start on time? Clearly they didn't, but the invite I got said 8pm SHARP as the start time. Maybe I was the only one who got that email, because by 815pm the place was packed, pretty much standing room only! Well that works, right?
The band strung up the instruments for a little early warm up for everyone, which was awesome. These guys, who I found out after the show were pretty makeshift (in that he formed them and they rehearsed once the day before!) but you couldn't tell. Honestly while I sat there and they jammed out for a while, I thought that they had played together for a while beforehand, because they had such a nice musical chemistry that you really only see with a group of guys who've been playing together for at least a good amount of time. B. Notes jumped on the microphone, and started things off with a cover of "Someone Like You," the smash hit from British songstress and 6-time Grammy nominee Adele. The song has been covered by what seems like a million people (just search for it on Youtube and you will see what I mean) but it was the first time I'd heard it sang by a male voice. The thing about B. Notes though, is that he can really hold a note. It's something I noticed from the moment he grabbed the microphone at the beginning of the show and did a little 2 line warm-up phrase before any of the performing happened. Needless to say, his version of "Someone Like You" was very unexpected, but also very good.
From there he jumped into a B. Notes original, by the name of "One Way To Find Out," which was definitely his most Dance like track for the night, of his originals. B. Notes original music is definitely a throwback to the glory days of R&B, lyrics wise that is. A lot of tracks are "for the ladies," if you catch my drift. Keeping with the tone of "One Way To Find Out," he went straight into his own rendition of "Motivation," the smash hit from Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child fame. "Tonight" as well as "Motivation" were done without the help of the band (the DJ had the music playing) but then he switched back to the band for the end of "Motivation," and went into another original, "Vowels." To give you a frame of reference, this track is about making your girl say the vowels A-E-I-O-U. Yes, definitely put the kids to bed!
After "Vowels," Brignel made way for his musical mentor, Grammy award winning singer-songwriter Gordon Chambers. Chambers is a true veteran in this business, winning multiple ASCAP awards and is has a handful of Dove Awards to his name as well. After teaching the band the notes for his first song, he decided to sing his own personal version of "If You Love Me," the hit he wrote for R&B group Brownstone, which got them (and Chambers) a Grammy Nomination. If you've never heard of Chambers don't feel bad, songwriters are often the unsung heroes of the music business, garnering lots of fame in their respective fields, as well as a bunch of awards and usually a bunch of money, without getting famous to the everyday music fan. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you ask me! His second song is another smash, originally written by pianist and singer-songwriter Leon Russell, but has since been covered by a ton of artists, most notably Ray Charles, a version that got him an Grammy award for Best R&B Performance in the early 1990s. Chambers decided to play the keys on this particular song, and like the first track he decided to bless the patrons with, this one was equally as good. Chambers is a student of the music but also a student of the business, you can tell from the way he introduced himself and even in the way he talked about Brignel and his work ethic. It was funny because he said that B. Notes is very good at "following up;" I sat in my seat and thought, "I'll say."
After a quick 2 song set Chambers handed the reins back to Brignel, who went straight into "Ordinary People" by multiple Grammy winner John Legend. Where as his version of "Motivation" really demonstrated his range, this song let you see the power in his voice. It's a song by a male singer, so my guess would be it's easier to make it your own song (or not, if you don't want to) as another male singer because of the range of the notes. Having said that, his next track was "Purple Rain" by Prince, the MAN. I felt like this was a time he could have used to make this song his own as well, but I think that he was trying at the time to do both, sound like Prince and sound like himself. Pretty difficult song to pull off when trying to make up your mind in the middle of it; but he did an alright job with it. The versatility was on display for his 2nd set however, because his next track was another original, by the name of "Coca Cola Body." It was the only track he did that night that had no singing of his at all; he chose to rap on this track instead. Verdict = awesome. The band took this song off, as the DJ was on duty with music detail for this one. I love to see an artist who isn't afraid to delve in other genres, but I really only love it when it's done well, and it was done quite well on this track.
"Golden" by the singer-songwriter Jill Scott was the next track up, and he used this song to introduce his band and let them get their respective solo time before he closed the show. He closed the show with my favorite track of his for the night, simply named "You." It was on this track that you really heard the power and the range of Brignel's voice. He's a great performer, with a ton of stage presence that you really only see from people who've been on stage a bunch, which you can obviously tell B. Notes is no stranger to. There are a lot of people who can sing but not everyone can perform. B. Notes is a great performer who seems to be able to paint the line between the new aged R&B that we hear and the old school stuff R&B purists like myself group up to. Pretty much organizing this entire showcase singlehandedly and doing the promotions and such, you can already tell he has a great work ethic, but he seems to also know that this business is all about the people you meet and form relationships with, and he seems to be quite good at that as well. Gordon Chambers said before he left the stage that he was pretty certain he will be listening to B. Notes' music on the radio in 2012. With the talent, writing ability, and work ethic I've seen, I honestly don't see why not. You can email B. Notes directly for free music off his upcoming album here: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info on Gordon Chambers, check out his site here: http://gordonchambers.com. Happy New Year!