The Relatives - Ben E. Keith World Stage - 3/3/12

Categories: Last Night

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Photos by Jay Barker
The Relatives
The Relatives
Ben E. Keith World Stage
Saturday, March 3

The headline of Wilonsky's opening night post sort of summed it up: The Margaret Hunt Hill bridge to-do, for many, was about back-patting and drinking and essentially celebrating an unfinished project that's cost the city seven years and close to $200 million. Furthermore, the $200 price tag to see Lyle Lovett on Friday night effectively shut out many folks in West Dallas, the very neighborhood the bridge is trying to "unite." There's a word for that.

The opening of the Calatrava seemed to divide a lot of people with its extravagance, something I thought about every time I hit a pothole in East Dallas, which is roughly every two minutes. There was a big ol' Texas flag flying in front of the bridge, which certainly made for a nice postcard photo-op, especially with that fantastic sunset Saturday afternoon. It was also a reminder that when it does open, it will only allow vehicular traffic, not pedestrian or bicycle traffic. Ah, Dallas. We want to show off our toys and feel important, but a sense of community still eludes us.

That The Relatives, a group originating in West Dallas four decades ago, played for free that day -- and not even actually on the bridge -- illustrated another divide. The crowd for Lovett was five times as big as that for The Relatives, which is a goddamn shame, but I get it -- they're relatively unknown here.

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Oh, but The Relatives. I'm going to go out on a limb and say if you missed them, you missed something historic.The group is in the midst of its second act, and it was a glorious thing to behold.

The 10-piece walked on stage and right into the extended intro of "Let Your Light Shine," the five main Relatives dressed in matching blue and yellow suits.Their hard R&B electrified "Evil World," showcasing the four distinct voices of the Reverend Gean West, his brother Tommy, son Cedric and Tyron Edwards. Slow jam "Leave Something Worthwhile" took on a new meaning as the bridge loomed directly behind them.

The Relatives verged on the psychedelic towards the end of the set. Signature tune "Don't Let Me Fall" turned into a 15-minute jam, as Tommy got the entire crowd moving as one, his role as a preacher bleeding into that of singer. "Let's Rap" followed suit, Gean taking lead vocals, handling both the funk and gospel sides.Tommy came over mid-song to help him remove his jacket, as he seemed to be channeling something higher, growling and whooping as the spirit moved him. They bridged a cultural divide, all ages and races coming together to bear witness.

By the way: Heavy Light Records' Noel Waggener pointed out the woman who actually come across that rare Relatives 45 at Antone's Records a decade ago, then passing it on to him. She was there in the crowd, and it felt like things had come full circle.

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14 comments
SouthSider
SouthSider

Truly one of the 2 or 3 most magical moments of musicianship I have ever experienced. Historic is truly the word for it.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

We had to leave shortly before set's end. And my 8-year-old son, the reason for our departure, was actually very, very, very bummed he had somewhere else to be. "They're amazing," said he in a tone of voice I recognized as my own.

Audra Schroeder
Audra Schroeder

I agree. Hopefully Dallas will get a few more frequent visits now. 

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

How about The Kessler Theater with Black Joe Lewis.  Hey Jeff!!!

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

So complicated music is better than simplistic music?  Because the harder music is to play, the better it is?  Because you don't like bluesy soul type stuff with a horn section, You think that's easier to play than what you like?  I mean, the reason people like it is because it is kind of stripped down.

Seems lots of people dig it "from wiki"

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears have performed at music festivals including Bonnaroo, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival,Bumbershoot, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Sasquatch! Music Festival, Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, Musikfest,Latitude Festival, and Splendour in the Grass. The band has appeared on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, Late Show with David Letterman, Austin City Limits, and Later... with Jools Holland.[5] 

James J
James J

Explain to me why BJL is so godly you have to yak about them here. It's kitsch. They're good, they're talented and better than I could play an instrument. But it's simplistic and elementary music.

James J
James J

well, this post was about the Relatives, no? If you don't like my comment, fine. But there's no need to dump all over it.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

You know I have much love for you and The Kessler, Jeff.  I couldn't ask for you guys to do much more than what you are already doing....

Liles
Liles

Jon, FYI: that was my original idea to bring them to The Kessler together, but BJL has travel/logistical issues that make it impossible to do anytime soon. Now it looks like we're gonna focus on bringing them back with another local legend, the great Bobby Patterson. That work for ya?

phe_75034
phe_75034

Crap like this drains my life force.

Hey James, if you don't like a suggestion, fine. But there's no need to dump all over it. And how about you come up with one of your own?

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

@ JJ. To each his own, I guess. Why don't you explain what it is you do like?

James J
James J

black joe lewis sucks. college boy music.

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