I WAS THERE . . . Budos Band, Naomi Shelton @ Mercury Lounge, 12.19.08

The Mercury Lounge is one of the hottest venues in the city; it draws great acts from around the country (and Canada), has pretty affordable drinks, and is small enough to feel insanely intimate.

Knowing nothing about Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, save their act was soul infused jazz and that so many folks spoke mighty highly of them, I was pretty stoked to check this act out.

Imagine my surprise when the set opened with a four piece jazz combo of musicians who’d obviously been around the block for decades . . . and I mean decades, who were extremely accomplished and tight. Getting the crowd into the groove, it was a good 20 minutes before the Grand Matron herself took the stage, decked out in her Sunday’s finest along with this truly awe inspiring sequence covered hat. Softly sparkling onto stage, a trio of back-up singers arranging themselves to her right, Naomi Shelton began the revival. Gospel Queens isn’t some cheeky title, these ladies brought a funky resurrection to life, the crowd really jumping to the soulful wailing of what I could only equate with a female James Brown. Seriously, Ms. Shelton must only be a few year’s younger than the godfather himself and she brought a power and presence that couldn’t match up to many other acts I’ve seen.

The Budos Band packed the place and their relentless driving afro-beat funk, spearheaded by deft horns, pulsing percussion, and on point rhythm guitar/bass did not disappoint. Though I’ve caught this act before, this was the first time I felt the room becoming so humid with ecstatic dancing that the walls started sweating as much as everyone else. If you’re looking to shake that thing out, trust in Budos to get the job done. Their baritone sax, congas, and guitar are favorites of mine though with Budos being over a dozen strong, you never know who will actually show up to play a set. All and all, Budos Band are an act to shake your tail feather to. Catch ‘em while their hot.

Kenneth Joachim

Here’s some more pics

Naomi Shelton

Budos Band

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