Drizabone Soul Family – Live @ the Jazz Cafe
Nataya, Drizabone Soul Family Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
On the 3rd February 2011, The Drizabone Soul Family performed their first gig ever at London’s Jazz Cafe. The jaunty up-tempo beats of their opening tune, ‘Never Gonna Stop the Groove,’ it was as if they were a regular yearly fixture in the Jazz Cafe calendar. The warm and engaging tones of Nataya Musiq’s vocals as well as her demeanour married with the feel good musical vibes gripped the audience from the off.
Half way through the song the first vocal tag team change took place as Nataya swapped lead vocals with the equally sassy and talented Anna-Marie Johnson who effortlessly carried the song to its conclusion. Big respect to Stevie Dee also on bass guitar, laying down some raw Mark King (Level 42) style licks. Nice vibes indeed.
Stevie Dee Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
Billy Freeman Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
Anna-Marie Johnson continued on lead vocals as the band now switched to the familiar strains of their 1994 single, ‘Brightest Star.’ This time it was Billy Freeman’s lead guitar playing ala Bernard Edwards (Chic) which caught the ear. Already the Drizabone Soul Family’s infectious and trade mark catchy chords and hook lines were fully apparent. Anna-Marie rounded off the song with a flourish.
Anna-Marie Johnson Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
Shniece Mc Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
Returning to the superb new album release, the Martha and the Vandellas sounding ‘I Fell Apart’ exquisitely showcased the vocals of Shniece Mc, the third of the vocalist entrusted this evening with bringing Billy Freeman’s song writing abilities to the wider audience. For someone of such tender years (eighteen), Shniece Mc maturely and sultrily conveyed the meaning of the song very admirably indeed. Big future ahead for this young lady methinks.
Current single, ‘Girlfriendz’ was next up, which brought Nataya back to the fore. A pleasantly lilting ditty about when a woman’s man let’s her down, she’s always got her girlfriends on hand to comfort her and pick her up. More new material in the form of ‘Hit That Spot’ and ‘Love Me like a Lover Should’ followed with Nick Dispenza on keyboard and Stuart Russell on drums keeping a tight’n’funky groove throughout both tracks.
Nick Dispenza Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
Stuart Russell Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
This was turning out to be a really enjoyable evening and so it continued as ‘All The Way’ the swaying and harmonious title track from the new album smoothly segued into the bumping and optimistic refrains of ‘No More Sorrow.’ Shniece Mc initially set the pace, handing the reigns over to Anna-Marie who willingly brought the song home.
We were catapulted back to the Motown era once again via the toe-tapping, tambourine slapping ‘Don’t Break My Heart,’ Mr Billy Freeman’s husky vocal complimenting sweetly with the three Supremesque backing singers. The arrangements are such that although it’s an originally penned tune, it just sounds so familiar and one can’t help but sing/hum along to the chorus – another grower.
A great night of accomplished musicianship and A – grade vocal dexterity and delivery was brought to an un-wanted close by two classy tunes. First up was ‘Lovin U,’ sung on the new album as a duet with another unsung UK artist, Keni Stevens. Nataya however did full justice to it. The final hurrah came in the guise of their 1991 and 1995 club anthem ‘Real Love.’ It was so good they released it twice. There was no way Nataya passing the lead vocal for this classic, remaining centre stage whilst the good grooves filled the Jazz Cafe cavern.
Shniece Mc, Nataya & Anna-Marie Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
So an extremely satisfying hour and a half show ended as upbeat as it had started. This new re-incarnation of Drizabone as Drizabone Soul Family is definitely joy to behold. This life experience more than gave a massive fillip and boost to an already very strong, ‘Real Soul’ album release which was shifting healthy units prior to this stupendous live advertisement.
Michael J Edwards
Shniece, Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards & Anna-Marie Photo Courtesy of Harry Russell www.harryrussell.co.uk
Vocals: Nataya Musiq, Anna-Marie Johnson, Shniece Mc
Guitar: Billy ‘April’ Freeman
Keys: Nick Dispenza
Bass: Stevie Dee
Drums: Stuart Russell.
All The Way (Dome Records -2010)
Girlfriendz (Dome Records – 2011)