From 1967-1983 Sly and the Family Stone, one of the most pivotal and influential funk bands, reigned supreme in the Bay Area. Their psychedelic sound made them unique, and their soul made them legit. Their impact was monumental and San Francisco won’t let them forget it.
On another tepid night, people waited outside the Independent for the second of the tribute shows to Sly and the Family Stone. Musicians interweaved throughout the packs of people, lugging their instruments behind them. Much like the band that everyone was paying their respects to, the crowd was integrated with all kinds of people from all ages and ethnicities and everybody had a different reason to be there.
None of this could have happened without musical director, David Möschler, and the emphatic host, Lyz Luke. Both bubbled with excitement as they opened the show, praising the band and the album that changed musical history- Stand!
The vision of this show was not only to commemorate the band, but also to expose local talent. Sly and the Family Stone are known for influencing acts like Miles Davis, The Temptations and Michael Jackson, but they’ve also had an impact on modest musicians worldwide from rock ’n’ roll singers to hip-hop producers and funk disciples. These shows give those people a chance to honor a legend through the greatest homage of all, music. KPFA deserves much credit for making this happen throughout the bay area for years.
As the host introduced the first band, the crowd eagerly anticipated a long night of music. The Awesome Orchestra Collective plunged into “Stand!” An orchestral experience with a worldly sound, it set the tone for a night of almost three hours of eclectic tunes. Half the crowd danced while the other half stood mesmerized.
Next up was an unorthodox group, Mik Nawooj, whose mixture of hip-hop and classical music fixated the crowd while screaming along to the chorus, “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey.”
The show picked up momentum as the night went on. All of the covers were very thoughtful and executed with great passion. Some of the highlights were Bayonics Latin reggae cover of “Sing A Simple Song” and Tumbleweed Wanderers rocking rendition of “Everyday People.”
Con Brio might have given the most impactful performance. Ziek McCarter’s vocals captivated and silenced the audience with their impassioned version of “Sex Machine.” Like a better Bruno Mars, the singer paid his respects through his vocals and his words, “Sly and the Family Stone were a major influence in my life,” he stated as he pointed up to the balcony, “I heard Freddie Stone is up there. I love you man.”
The show ended with Jazz Mafia, a collective of musicians from the Bay Area all over California. The band leader justified his band, saying “we just like to play with good musicians, no matter where the fuck they live.” They plunged into “You Can Make It If You Try.”
At the end of the song, the lead singer humbly mumbled, “I’m sensing a theme here,” accurate and inspiring words for the musicians who had taken the stage that night. The host once again took to the microphone, driving home the point of supporting these local musicians who made this night possibly, and before the crowd was ready to part musicians conglomerated on the stage for one final jam, “Dance to the Music” as the crowd danced in honor of one of the Bay Area’s most legendary bands, Sly and the Family Stone.
1. Stand! – Awesome Orchestra Collective
2 Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey- Ensemble Mik Nawooj
3. I Want to Take You Higher- Zakiya Harris and Friends
4. Somebody’s Watching You- Marcus Shelby
5. Sing a Simple Song- Bayonics
6. Everyday People- Tumbleweed Wanderers
7. Sex Machine- Con Brio
7.5 My Brain (Zig Zag)- Will Magid and Friends
8. You Can Make it if You Try- Jazz Mafia’s Subharmonic featuring Crossroads