Marva Wright Christmas Bash
December 25, 2006
If I wasn't the youngest person in the room, I was probably the fifth youngest. That probably should have been my first warning, but everyone, regardless of age, was together in grooving to James Brown on the PA before the show started. Brown died that morning, and I can't explain how cool it was to have the first public place I visited after his death be pumping his music.
The show started with Wright backing up Jo "Cool" Davis on vocals as he lead his band through Gospel standards. Davis announced that his bass player had played with Sam Cooke, which was unarguably cool. Davis was a taskmaster onstage, as was Brown. When the keyboardist missed his cue, Davis chided him on mic after the song ended.
It was great to get a healthy helping of Gospel, basically because it's normally not in my diet.
Next up was Wright's selections. She had a great voice, and she commanded that stage. I recognize her talent and how much the crowd enjoyed what she did, but funny that I should remember two things that I found weird or annoying. During a meandering point of a re-interpreted "I Will Survive," Wright repeated that she had re-invented the song, as if she was the first person to put her own stamp on someone else's song. When I went outside for a second, I could hear the beginnings of "Let's Get It On," and that's when I decided to stay outside for a little while longer. I like "Let's Get It On" in the right setting, but it just seemed like such a softball to the over 40 crowd. I wanted some original music, not music for people that don't know what to do with themselves when they're not faced with something familiar.
The highlight of my night was when Irvin Mayfield got onstage and did some circular breathing on his trumpet. Before this, he was actually a competent singer as he sang a funny Christmas song about FEMA. I had never heard anyone do circular breathing before, and it was pretty impressive. To hear one constant note for so long was pretty awesome. I don't know if Mayfield was getting tired doing it, but he didn't show it. He pulled it off for at least eight measures. I heard that someone upstairs in the Tipitina's office couldn't tell what the sound was and originally thought it was a keyboard.
I didn't stay 'till the end.