Nashville, TN, April 7, 2010
Most of us “musical types” have had the experience of going to a show at a small venue, to see a band that we have never heard of before, only because we might know some of the players in the band, or through word of mouth that they are good.
Nevertheless, it never ceases to floor me when I hang out at such an event and am absolutely blown-away, head-nodding style, by what I see and hear. Thus was what I experienced tonight while visiting Nashville Tennessee’s 3rd & Lindsley pub when I was invited to hear The Consoulers.
When I first read the email invitation from drummer Tim Buppert, who I had just met for the second time (the first time we met we both didn’t remember and it didn’t matter) at an impromptu Easter Sunday evening jam session out at mutual friend, “Fred’s” house/studio while I was visiting “Music City”, my mind saw “the Counselors”initially. I think that partly was because I’m always the English major, my mind knew the verb “to console” didn’t have a “u” in it. After hearing them do dead-on, tight covers of classic hits from The Spinners, Jr. Walker & The All Stars, Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Firefall, The Four Tops and more and looking once again at their name, it made perfect creative sense the “ConSOULers” make their mark playing classis soul hits and doing them justice as if they were spawned yesterday.
“Cover” never sounded so good. Tim’s solid foundation and leadership glued each number with authority even as he sang vocals – something I could never be as coordinated to do back when I played drums in my high school band. Lead guitar and vocalist John Foster had on the “foster Grants” and performed with the attitude of a Huey Lewis-style rock star. Don Barrett, the group’s founder, was creatively disciplined and precise on bass, rendering a dead-on version of the Spinners’ 1973 classic “I’ll Be around. Steve “consistent” Williams played a beautiful piano on electronic keyboards and sang his own true vocal version of The Impressions’ ‘It’s Alright” and almost had them going, OMG with a rendition of the Chi-Lite’s “Oh Girl”.
Each of the five members took turns specializing in staying true to the original version’s sound according to their unique personal talents. The saxophone player, Randy Leago, deftly switched-off between a tiny alto (I don’t remember seeing one so small), his tenor and the congas. I thought, “Are these cats studio musicians just jammin’ for practice?”
After their fantastic yesteryear set where they had members of the audience – including many beautiful women – literally dancing in the isles down front-row, they performed a few original numbers from their forthcoming album that they had been working on. I can only say that those tunes were yawners only because they had their own tough act to follow. Maybe they should mix them into the soul set, as they were only two or three songs.
Who says Nashville, TN is “just Country music”? See the Consoulers and you’ll be proven wrong for sure. Being from New York City and in the music and radio business going on forty years now, I was so happy to be wrong about the oneness of the musical perception in that town! Oh, and I must mention that these gents in their middle ages (like I am), and totally belie the myth that they “can’t jump” through the rhythmic hoops necessary to entertain and move to the groove on the (super) fly. I was amazed by their enthusiastic effort to rock these tunes as if they are still hot on the charts.