Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
As a 15-year-old, Monica immediately separated herself from the flurry of samey-same young performers of the mid-'90s with the release of "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," an instant R&B classic and a defining junior high dance-floor-filler if there ever was one. Soon after, the young vocal gymnast found herself with a triple platinum debut album and a wave of expectation from fans. Not long after, she returned to the charts as half of an all-star duet with fellow teen-pop star Brandy in the Grammy-award winning "The Boy is Mine." In short, Monica churned out monster hit after monster hit for years. And junior high dances and church vans would never, ever be the same. Years later, Monica's hardly floating on '90s nostalgia; her last album, "Still Standing," debuted this March at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, thanks in part to her leading role in a hugely successful BET reality show of the same name. The promoters/producers of I Live the Good Life, who throw regular "Ladies' Night" parties, are billing this as "The Ultimate Ladies Night." It's pretty hard to disagree. Monica performs alongside new soul pianist K. Williams, local soul woman Jeron Marshall, the trumpet driven soul jazz of Rodney Block and a comedy set by Keith "Keef" Glason.
Without question, Monica is going to take hundreds of folks in Robinson back to those icky, dazed days of 'tweenhood. But me? I skanked into my teen-age years with a checkered bowling shirt on my back and "Why Do They Rock So Hard?" by Reel Big Fish in my Discman. I thank my lucky stars that my ska phase began and ended with that one release, but, man, it was a helluva album. All screeching horns and white-boy harmonies behind bubblegum punk guitar riffs and lyrics about your girlfriend being a vegetarian — the type of real heady, grown up stuff I was heading into, y'know? And the guys were witty, to boot. I mean, Reel Big Fish has an entire song about how big of a dork their trumpet player, Scott, is. It's called "Scott's a Dork." Long story short, if you're into ska, you know these guys, you know they're one of the biggest genre acts to come out of the '90s and you know the elder statesmen of third-generation ska put on notoriously wild live shows. I'm there, and I'm bringing my goofy inner 13-year-old with me. I owe that little fat kid a night on the town. Reel Big Fish plays, apparently, by themselves. Sweet.
This should be a rare treat. It's not so often that Little Rock gets a full-blown soul-jazz band. That alone warrants a bit of consideration for this show. If the Revelations sound as tight live as they do on the record, which was arranged beautifully by Eddie Kendrick's cohort, Patrick Adams, this show could well be a gig for the books. Williams and the Revelations fill a much-needed vacancy in today's neo-soul field; that is, they operate a super masculine, Kenny Lattimore-type of sound, complete with those time-tested, play-by-play "good guy in a moral and/or sexual quandary struggling to reconcile his own primal desires with his moral standards" lyrics, a la R. Kelly or a libidinal, urban Tolkien. Expect the ladies to be out for Nas collaborator 'Tre Williams and his "testosterone engorged baritone" (soultracks.com's words, not mine). The concert's open to ages 18 and older.
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