It is a good thing I have insurance because this past Saturday I spent three hours at the clinic. The clinic was at the beautiful, historic Arcada Theater in St Charles and the clinic was put on by two of the best veteran bands you can ever hear: WAR and Tower of Power. Hands down two of the best live bands you will ever hear. Even though either band has enough hits in their combined ninety year history to headline they must have flipped a coin and WAR opened the clinic….and most impressively …ON TIME. WAR wasted no time either getting the crowd moving to their timeless funk hits and the funk did hit. Lonnie and boys entertained and joked with the crowd as if we were all a part of the same 4th of July barbeque family reunion. They also went into a 70s LP jam session that took us on a journey through not only funk but also reggae, jazz, and even a little Tejano and who would have thunk even a bit of Minnie Ripperton’s Loving You. Percussion partners Sal Rodriguez on drums and Marcos Reyes on congas and timbales are living metronomes that beat their drums like they owed these guys money. With Poncho on bass and Stuart on guitar WAR’s rhythm section made their statement early. “We mean business”. WAR’s brass section of Stanley Behren on harmonica and David Urquidi on sax cement that very unique WAR sound that only they can produce. Oh how can I forget the reason WAR exists and thrived for over forty years, the grand poobah himself, Lonnie Jordan. Lonnie IS the one to watch as he works his musical magic and keeps the show moving at an “I can’t stop dancing pace”. This master of funk could not hide the fact that he also has a beautiful voice that rivals many of those American Idol contestants would love to copy. Halfway through the clinic and my heart rate would not slow.
The theme of the night continued with Tower of Power. One of the first songs they played was “You ought to be having fun” and they were….and so were we. One of the greatest things about TOP is that every player is equally talented. A pulmonary specialist would be in awe to see their five piece horn section breathe in unity as they hit every deliberate, precise note sprinkled with some hot “where did that come from soloing” as well as Doc’s better than Fred Astaire’s dance moves (remember Fred Astaire is dead). As with WAR, TOP’s rhythm cannot be stopped. Percussion award winning drummer David Garibaldi, Rocco “16th note” Prestia, Larry Braggs, and new comer Jerry Cortez were having a party within a party producing their seemingly effortless groove. Even though the boys were dressed for a neighborhood poker game Larry Braggs came out in a suit that would make you beg for an autograph without knowing anything about him. He controlled the crowd with his charm and oh yeah I forgot, this former Chicagoan can sing…I mean sang like no other can. As they played their hits they also morphed their way into a James Brown medley that would make JB and his Famous Flames proud. All this was topped with Larry’s “check James Brown’s DNA” to see if this guy is related” dance moves.
Anyone who has followed these bands over the years can expect the same thing year after year….perfection!!! These bands are tighter than my pants after an extended trip to the $8 pizza buffet at Pizza Hut. I can honestly say that after my first visit to Arcada I was happier than a kid in a candy store and what do you know? The Arcada has a candy store right smack in the middle of the lobby. Of course with my wife on my arm she made sure I didn’t quite make it in there. It was all good though because beer, wine, and mixed drinks are served. I will get my milk duds another day.
After the night was over my diagnosis was in. I am an incurable funkaholic and got a good dose.
Reviewed by Paul “Mr. U” Uhrina on 3/23/13
WVLP Valparaiso, Ind.