|Blount Harvey - L!VE at The Pour House Music Hall - June 13, 2009 in Raleigh, N.C.
Known for their eclectic sound, classically-inclined vibe, and high-energy live performances, East Carolina's own Blount Harvey undoubtedly represent one of the state's most talented underground ensembles. And their biggest fans, Greenville's ECU Pirates, are becoming fully aware that they can't keep this treasure a secret any longer. Existing somewhere between The Roots and Sharon Jones and the DapKings, Blount Harvey's stellar orchestration opts out of a Southern slant and instead, carves out a compelling space in time with a Philly-style state of mind; one in which ears, souls and minds of new listeners would be well served to immerse themselves.
Thinking locally but acting nationally, Blount Harvey's explosive 2009 tour debuting the certified siren known as Kid Vixen has turned up the volume of their all-organic, original flavor throughout the North and Southeast; intent on bringing the vintage essence of hip-hop and soul back to the modern day forefront. This Spring; however, the musicians' have nearly blown the speakers - and the members' combination of cutting-edge talent has landed the group a packed calendar of showcase dates newly signed under Degy Entertainment, in addition to the honed title of Leeway's Home Grown Music Network newest member to be officially introduced this Fall.
After a full Saturday of free live music provided by Raleigh's Downtown Live summer concert series, one might think that most audience members would have called it a night, after headlining act Filter finished up around 9:30 PM. Surprisingly enough, The Pour House Music Hall opened its doors at 9:00 PM and by 10:30 - the house was packed. Scheduled to perform this Saturday, June 13th were the acts of Skywire, Mosadi Music Presents: John Anonymous and Blount Harvey - a musical line-up ensuring a night of funk-heavy hip-hop and rock.
Skywire took the stage around 10:00, showcasing a pioneering spirit and a strong sense of unity in their unique rock performance, wrapping up a forty minute set with an upbeat new track entitled "Dying To Keep It Alive" from their just released 2009 Demo, Clouds Make the Best Cover. Mosadi Music was up next, led by the group's original vocalist, bassist and published poet Shirlette Ammons and guitarist Chris Boerner. John Anonymous members performing alongside included Adrian Duke and Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops, as well as HOBEX guitarist Greg Humphreys. Initially a somewhat strange first impression was given as jazz, electro-rock and hip-hop merged in performance, but the cool string sequences encompassed in drum-synths, atop the confident rhymes and poetic lyrics from vocalist Shirlette quickly fixed the juxtaposition and melted into a creative, experimental balance of sound.
Shirlette says, "I enjoy stretching myself beyond the music I thought I should be making, because I heard a different range of influences in the music Mosadi makes as a whole. Hopefully, Mosadi will exist as growth." It's safe to say that the group's unique set served as a deep tissue brain massage, leaving audience members with their ears perked and ready for the main event: the musical masterminds of Blount Harvey.
A task that is anything but easy to most, Blount Harvey takes music and revamps it in every performance as something groove-worthy, dance-evoking and irresistibly addictive in rhythm. Hitting the stage around 11:00 PM, there was barely any elbow room left for fans in The Pour House, and the crowd seemed anxiously ready to get live and loose. Just when you thought the exploitation of mainstream hip-hop had versed the final word, musical genius MC Rudolph Lyrics takes the stage with a fresh, curse-free gift of lyricism; a rhyme style all his own: wordy, but never frantic, cool-headed but never boring. Teaming up with Kid Vixen to set the stage for a smooth ride, Blount Harvey flipped a Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth track "Check It Out" and dropped it on the crowd; immediately testifying to the truth as solid evidence that hip-hop LIVES.
With an extended solo on "Hot Sh*t (Marvin Remix)", John Beez unleashed an hype, electronic freestyle on the unsuspecting listener, following with the crowd repeatedly chanting "DJ JOHN BEEZ!" for nearly ten minutes. Drawing upon one of their biggest influences, James Brown - Kid Vixen belted "Cold Sweat," a classic tune allowing saxophonist The Student shine; laying down the FUNK aside illWill incessantly beating on the drums like they owed him money. Blount Harvey really hit the jackpot, though, when one of Greenville's well-known emcees Big Hop jumped on stage to join the Blount Harvey 'fam.' This power player demonstrated his raw talent and didn't skip a beat, performing "YEAH!" with high energy from the first bar to the last. In fact, Big Hop managed to keep the crowd going nuts even wearing an arm sling due to a recent elbow injury.
Additionally highlighting the evening was Blount Harvey's performance of ''The 3," an original track to be featured on their sophomore album expected to be released in January 2010; the group's first single to be released for radio airplay at the end of this month. The persona of each vocalist truly shines on this track, as well as the texturized ivory foundation from MadShah on the keys. The gorgeous, silky soundscape from Kid Vixen speaks directly to the audience, offering an engaging response to all, leaving no listener behind.
It goes without saying that upon review of this live performance, the overall production value of Blount Harvey's second album rides high; as both new and former fans alike made sure to get their hands on a copy of the 2007 release *L!VE* At The Station immediately following the show. An exciting adventure from start to finish - exploring a few genres but still staying rooted in the aim of keeping the audience dancing and the energy live, The Pour House managed to put together an unexpected Saturday night line-up of a musical threesome leaving fans thirsty for more.