There’s this little band out of Seattle. They’re a funk soul band and they’re amazing. Yep. I’m starting this off by proclaiming in the first paragraph that this band is amazing. Yes.
The True Loves (really just called True Loves, but whenever we – the royal we – mention a band name it always gets “the” added in front) started as a jam session and soon became a big time, many member band with all the important stuff covered. There’s a guitar, a bass, like 5 drums played by a single guy, a saxophone, a trombone, and a trombone. According to their website there’s another saxophone, but I only saw the one at this show.
We (I) went to see them at a venue called The Resident in the scary part of downtown Los Angeles. It’s near Skid Row, but really it’s in the Arts District. Artists are scary. Keep your head on a swivel around them. They might use you for inspiration.
The band was set to take the stage at 10pm. There were a couple of opening acts, but I missed them due to personal reasons that I might get into later. I did hear some of the band before them, and while they were setting up the DJ that opened the night continued to spin. He had some great tracks to get us ready and keep us in the zone.
As with all concerts, it started late. Literally every musician in the history of time starts their show late, so no worry. Once the stage was set and the band ready, they were able to get started. I can’t remember what they started with, but it was hot. It was fire. It was intense. It made you move no matter how hard you tried to keep yourself in a still position (yo, you’re at a concert, everyone else can eat it. Dance as much as you can – it’s why you’re there).
As the show continued it was obvious that we weren’t going to listen to some ok musicians play their music. In the first minute or two you realized that you were going to need to strap yourself in. These guys are skilled and will be playing hard. What I remember most from the opening is trombonist Jason Cressey going wild. Just absolutely wild. I was thinking he’s going to steal the show right there and it just started. But then saxophonist Gordon Brown takes over and even though his mic was a little low, it was the moment that I realized I was in for far more than I expected. If these two were any indication, this was going to be something special.
Now that I’m sufficiently blown away by the first song, I’m able to relax a little because I knew it was only going to stay at the same level for the rest of the night.
As it went on we heard solos from everyone. The man with the best poker face in the planet, David McGraw hit it hard on the drums. Trombone number two, Greg Kramer, took it over later in the show and dropped it like it was hot. Bassist Bryant Moore was killing it while making my whole body vibrate. And of course Jimmy James did his thing. If you don’t know who Jimmy James it, you’re about to. Your life won’t be the same again.
These solos did something else for the band and the show. It moved it from watching a performance, to watching a group of people have fun while they allowed me to be in on it. Like I’m at a jam session. There was nothing but excitement from the crowd. You couldn’t help it. Stink faces all across the venue. Not a clean looking mug in the whole joint. Everything was so dirty, yet so, so clean. I even said to myself that it didn’t matter that Gordon Brown wasn’t in the best lighting (smaller stage) because you wouldn’t have been able to see him since he was so dirty.
As the night went on a few of the musicians in the crowd were invited up to jam out for a few songs. The crowded stage was getting even more crowded. It was almost concerning for the musicians. There are wires and sharp items up there, you know!
Now everything is bumping. The crowd is going wild. The screaming, the yelling, the crying. It was firing on all cylinders. Close your eyes and be taken away by the music or keep them open and try to keep your jaw from dropping as you try to believe what you’re seeing.
Then Jimmy James grabs a white guitar… He’s been playing a beautiful guitar all night, but something else is about to happen because that guitar has been sitting behind him all night, like a backup. Now he’s plugging it in and getting ready.
That guitar means his solo is coming.
Some people are meant to do something. They are gifted with a talent that no one else has. A natural thing that can’t be stopped. It’s just who they are. It’s more than just a gift, it’s as if the person is one with the item. It’s not something that can truly be explained, but once you see it you understand it. In music the musician will probably close their eyes. Not to hide, but because they’re disappearing into the instrument.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Jimmy James open his eyes during a solo. This man completely disappears. He is nowhere to be found when he’s in a solo. He has become music. He is now just energy that is bouncing into your ears. It will stop you in your tracks. I barely moved once he started. I couldn’t stop watching. My mouth did actually drop open at one point. It’s insane and almost indescribable. It’s a serious ‘WOW’ moment.
Once the band joins back in and he swaps out his solo guitar for his normal one, you trying to figure out what just happened. You know you can’t wrap your head around it, but the music pushes you into acceptance. The solos are behind you now and you’re back into the whole show. It’s impossible to not be.
As the show continued not only was there the audience participation, but the brass boys decided to join us. They’re suddenly in the crowd and I’m rubbing shoulders with these unbelievable music machines that are forcing me to have unforgettable memories. Literally forcing me to have a great time. That’s what they did. The jerks… Wait, no, having a great time is a good thing.
As much as I, the rest of the crowd, and the band would have been happy to go all night, the show had to stop at some point.
I can’t remember how it closed. I can’t remember the names of the songs. I don’t know when my ears will even out – bring ear plugs to concerts! I forgot mine and I’m still paying. I don’t know how I left. I don’t remember getting home. I just remember that I was still drunk on the music and I doubt I sober up from it soon.
One very small note. I may or may not have gone to school with, and have known for more than 20 years, a certain member of the band that I speak very highly of. Not that it’s the reason I speak highly of him, he fucking earned it, but I feel like maybe I should throw that out there for you.