How can you not be curious about a band with a name like Brother Joscephus & the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra? Described as “a 12-piece explosion of righteousness that blends New Orleans party music, Dixieland, funk, soul, a good helping of jam bandy roots rock, and a splash of good, upbeat gospel without the religious overtones,” it was a real mixed bag of all those styles and much more.
I was happy to be in Woodstock and at one of my favorite music venues (the warm and wonderful Bearsville Theater), and I was anticipating a good night. With the recent current world events, economic uncertainty or maybe even personal woes, anyone can lose themselves, even for just a few hours, to unravel and to dance. And this was certainly the place and the music to do just that.
The opening act was the Kingston/New Paltz power trio of Fillet of Soul. And power is the operative word in both the vocal and the instrumental departments. Playing R&B, rock, blues and world music, these guys got the evening started with what the woman next to me described as “testosterone energy.” Besides being easy on the eyes, they set forth some deep grooves and got me dancing right away. A local bar band favorite, I would love to see them again on the line-up at some of the summer jam band festivals. And the same goes for Brooklyn’s Brother Joscephus & the LRRO.
The time came to awaken my funky mojo with BroJo. And both visually and musically, it was a funky spectacle. The very raucous party began with a second-line parade that the band started in the bar and gathered everyone on the dance floor with the song “Child Shall Lead”. A few people showed up wearing Mardi Gras masks with feathers. The band was decked out in all white with twirling parasols, beads and plush crowns with purple, green and gold embellishments.
The dancing started and never stopped during the two long sets, and it became obvious that every night is Fat Tuesday whenever they play. The dozen-member ensemble consisted of a three-piece horn section, two keyboardists, three guitarists, two backing vocalists, a drummer and BroJo on acoustic guitar and main vocals. Each member has an alter-ego, with names such as the Right Reverend Dean Dawg, Pastuh Peace, Gangsta of Love and Lost Prophet of the Ivories. The interplay on stage was a lot of vamping and set-up jokes, but the music was infectious and wild.
The Love Revival’s debut self-titled album received positive reviews, and two of the songs – “I Won’t Be That Man” and “Child Shall Lead” – were finalists in the prestigious 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Competition. Their sophomore CD, “Live at the Brooklyn Bowl,” is slated for release next month.
At Bearsville, their sound was primarily Dixieland with some funk numbers sprinkled in with songs such as “Mighty, Mighty Chain”, “Strollin’ in New Orleans”, “Bon Temps Roulez”, “Jambalaya”, and “Make Love To Your Woman!” Samia Mounts (aka, Seoul Sistah #1 – she’s Korean) gave a knock-out, dramatic rendition of Queen’s “Somebody To Love.” They pulled off a funk version of Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young.” We also sang along to the theme from the ’70s sitcom “Good Times.” CCR’s “Born on the Bayou” shifted into the theme from “Shaft” and War’s “Low Rider” before the encore of “Shine On.” Brother Joscephus’ ebullient personality and vocals made for a great time. Not all bands take this amount of effort to make sure everyone is having a knock-out experience, but Brother Joscephus is devoted to spreading love, happiness and joy in these turbulent times.
Review and photograph by Janet Kwiatkowski
BROTHER JOSCEPHUS & THE LOVE REVIVAL REVOLUTION ORCHESTRA SET LIST
Child Shall Lead
Just Can’t Stop the Love
Bourbon Street Parade
From Me To You
Strollin’ in New Orleans
Bon Temps Roulez
Only the Good Die Young
Mighty, Mighty Chain
Madri Gras Party
Make Love To Your Woman
Somebody To Love
Born on the Bayou
I Won’t Be That Man