By Andy J. Gordon
It was not just a regular Thursday night in October in Los Angeles. Two great bands played at The El Rey Theatre. Anders Osborne, a prolific songwriter and guitarist based in New Orleans and his stellar band opened the show. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, a funk, soul, rock and fusion band led by the multi-talented saxophonist followed with special guest Zach Deputy. The KDTU set ended up as a brilliant tribute to the music of Ray Charles. The night was epic and although the crowd was disappointingly small, everyone in attendance enjoyed an amazing show.
Anders Osborne’s set featured several tunes from his excellent new album Peace as well as some cuts from his previous releases. The show featured some great playing by band mates Eric Bolivar on drums and Carl Dufresne on bass who were joined by guest guitarist Neal Casal. David Veith, from KDTU, sat in for much of the set on keyboards. The title song “Peace” opened with a distorted, fuzzy guitar instrumental that led into Osborne’s acoustic strumming and autobiographical lyrics about his difficult life journey. It symbolized his recent songwriting – a contrast between mellow ballads and hard rocking guitar pyrotechnics. “On the Road to Charlie Parker” from 2011’s American Patchwork album was a brilliant, pounding rocker. Osborne usually goes deep into the Rock vault when selecting covers so it was warmly received when he played Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and closed the set with “I Shall Be Released.” Osborne had the crowd singing along to both songs that featured his fine vocals along with superb guitar work from guest Neal Casal.
The KDTU show was billed as a Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party but the band played some new original material from their upcoming album New Ammo as well as some of their older tunes before jumping into the Ray Charles canon. Among the new songs, “My Baby,” “Everybody Knows That” and “New Ammo” really cooked. Another standout was their cover of The Beastie Boys “Sure Shot” which followed Denson’s shout out to deceased band member Adam (MCA) Yauch. The crowd was amped up and ready to dance when Denson introduced Zach Deputy who took on the vocal duties for the Ray Charles tribute portion of the show. Deputy is a looping master, multi-instrumentalist and talented singer. Although his physical appearance is nothing like Charles (big, bushy haired, bearded white guy), his vocals and stage mannerisms brought a stunningly authentic Ray Charles vibe to the The El Rey Theatre.
The band was really tight and the horn arrangements that accompanied Deputy’s sweet vocals made the show special. Denson always brings amazing soul and funk to his saxophone playing. Chris Littlefield’s trumpet work and Daniel “Dela” Delacruz from Slightly Stoopid on saxophone rounded out the big sound. KDTU ran through several hits from the Ray Charles’ catalog including “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” “I Got A Woman,” “Ring of Fire,” “Unchain My Heart” and the especially crowd pleasing “Hit the Road Jack.” Denson encouraged the ladies in the audience to sing the chorus and many loudly obliged. The band obviously rearranged much of the Charles songs to emphasize the horns but on the set closing “What’d I Say,” David Veith’s organ work really stood out. The band came out for an encore and launched into a solid instrumental version of The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army.” The Boogaloo Dance Party came to a close and the exhausted audience exited the club. It was a special night where two excellent bands that truly know how to entertain a live crowd put on a great show.
Photos courtesy of ©2013 Jim Brock Photography www.eyeonthemusic.com