Thinking back on a week when presumptive positive cases of the virus became known around the city of Dallas, it makes the memory of this night at the House of Blues even more magical as the congregation waited to be lifted. A lift is what we needed from the dreadful selection of instrumental lo-fi hip-hop coming through the speakers as we first entered the auditorium. I’m a fan of genre, but not of whatever that was.
So like an answer to prayer, the evening’s opener, Bastards of Soul came out strong with muscular, 60s-inspired soul grooves. While I’d seen Chadwick Murray before as the bassist in the band, Mur, this was my first time seeing him handling frontman duties. By the time the band served the second song in their short set, “That’s the Way it Should Be”, most of the crowd was on board. For those who weren’t yet convinced, their last two songs, “If These Walls Could Talk” and “I’ve Got The Key”, won everyone over.
During the break, I felt it was fitting to hear Stevie Wonder’s deep cut, “Saturn”, from Songs in the Key of Life. Kamasi Washington has always appeared to be a messenger receiving transmissions from other worlds. His seven-song set confirmed such beliefs. Each energizing solo from Washington and his six-piece band (including his father, Rickey Washington) took us all on musical journey into love and togetherness. What a message to remember as the media messages later in the week would stress social distancing due to COVID-19.
The late McCoy Tyner surely would have loved Washington’s tribute in the performance of his song, “Passion Dance” as well as Washington’s own “Fists of Fury” with added Tyner flair. Passionate, spiritual music remains an anchor in the Black American experience to bring peace in times of uncertainty. All of these musicians brought the balm that was needed, perhaps more than we realized.