Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mandrill Rules!!!!

I have three favorite jam bands: Mandrill, War, and Parliament-Funkadelic. The first two were in the DC area last week, though War at the Carter Barron sold out before I could cop tickets. And George Clinton is on tour again with Parliament-Funkadelic and will be at the 9:30 club in July. Life is good.

Mandrill was at the Birchmere while I was away on vacation, but fortunately they were also in nearby Annapolis this Monday at the Rams Head Tavern, and they jammed like they had never left the scene! Still gettin' it done! Mandrill stands ten strong, and with the four Wilson Brothers and some others from the original iteration and an outstanding selection of newer talent (notably on drum kit, lead guitar, and violin) they rocked all their hits in a breathless 90-minute set. Highlights included "Mandrill," "Fencewalk," "Children of the Sun," "Mango Meat," "House of Wood," "Get it All," and of course "Ape is High." Carlos Wilson's voice and flute were in fine form, as were Lou Wilson on trumpet and vocals, Ricardo "Doc" Wilson on Trombone and vocals, and Wilfredo Wilson on congas and vocals. Admonitions by the venue that the audience refrain from dancing went appropriately unheeded (as if the audience had any choice once Mandrill started jamming).

Mandrill has always been horn-strong, with trombone and trumpet, soprano and baritone saxes, all mic-ed, so the sound was deafeningly loud. My ears rang for hours after the show since I was sitting next to the stage. Back in the day, I used to shoot concerts with my ear next to the loudspeakers with no problem. Not any more.

Still, it was all worth it, and I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a concert so much.

World's greatest rock band: the Rolling Who?! The Grateful Duds?! They better reco'nize! Mandrill Rules!


Ricardo said...

Dr. F,

Thank you for attending the show and for posting such a powerful review. As a token of our appreciation we would like to send you the new MANDRILL T-shirt. Please let us know what size you wear (L, XL or 2XL) and give us your mailing address.

Who Got Da Funk!

Lou, Ric, Carlos and Wolf for

Dr. F. said...

Wow, I'm overwhelmed. Glad you found my humble blog and saw the post. And thanks for the T-shirt. I'll wear it proudly.

deeceevoice said...

As Mandrill approached the stage at the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, it was like a celebration. The audience's energy was high. We were loud/raucous and full of anticipation -- and Mandrill didn't disappoint. The band was strong/fierce from opening jam to encore.

After 40 or so years, Mandrill is still a formidable band, strong, positive and soulful. You gotta wonder why no one new is doing music like that. It's as bright and deep and spiritual and joyful and moving as it ever was; it still holds up.

Any younguns out there reading this? M-A-N-D-R-I-L-L. Get their CDs. Go to a live performance. Study up!

Mandrill's music, always an organic amalgam of gospel, blues, doo-wop, R&B, jazz, fonk, reggae, calypso, that night also included a spoken-word paean to the Black woman that brought a well-received hip-hop infusion to their repertoire. Throughout the set, in addition to those raging, shining horns so emblematic of Mandrill's music, were the group's signature drum rhythms. That explosive, polyrhythmic energy shook the Ram's Head Tavern from its floor joists to the ceiling and brought the audience to its feet throughout the evening.

The rapport/love onstage among the group was palpable and particularly in evidence as the brothers huddled together to sing backup on "House of Wood." They could have been harmonizing on a late-night street corner in Philly back in the day instead of performing in a yuppie tavern in old-town Annapolis in 2008.

It was an amazing night. Watching Mandrill onstage, I couldn't help but marvel at just how -- after centuries in the New World -- essentially and fundamentally African we still.

And that's a beautiful thing. ;)

That night, the music of Mandrill was more than nostalgic; it was immediate. And healing. It was numinous.

And I loved every minute of it.

Thanks, Jeff, for letting me tag along :) -- and thanks, Mandrill (if you're still reading), for one hell of a performance.


And, please, come back soon!

Dr. F. said...

DeeCeeVoice, thanks for that far more involved review of that great Mandrill show. I continue to respect and admire your writing immensely.

deeceevoice said...

Urs ain't so bad either. ;) I wish you hadn't left your camera in the car. You might've been able to get some great photos at the after-concert gathering in the lobby. Ah, well.... Maybe next time.

Danielle said...

I'm a young'un and I love Mandrill, and I'm really jealous you got to see them live! I mean I'm glad you had a great time yadda yadda yadda, but I'm so jealous. Sounds like they put on an amazing show.

Dr. F. said...

Dani, you never cease to amaze me. A Mandrill fan at your age! You have what the elders would call an 'Old Soul.'

Dr. F. said...

I received my Mandrill T-shirt from Mandrill (Thanks Mandrill!!!).

A beautiful black shirt with the eye, faceplate, and mouth of a Mandrill stylishly suggested with minimalist brush strokes beside the word "Mandrill" in vertical, I wear it proudly.