At the Puma Store with Kurtis Blow and Afrika Bambaataa

I’m on such a high right now y’all. I’m just getting back home from rocking a show with two legendary figures in hip hop: Kurtis Blow and Afrika Bambaataa.

This event was actually almost a year to the day we played “I Got it Made” behind Special Ed in the same venue (The Puma Store in Georgetown). The set-up for the show was the same as last year’s – We played classic hip hop joints behind some of DC’s most recognized emcees.

Wes Felton took care of Kwamé’s “The Rhythm” and Three Times Dope’s “Funky Dividends.”

Tabi Bonney handled Special Ed’s “Think About It”, Eric B. & Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend”, Too $hort’s “Life is…Too Short.” (they all use the same sample)

While Grap Luva performed Ricky Walters’ “Children Story.”

The show was already going well when the next thing we knew, Kurtis Blow grabbed the second mic and started doing adlibs behind Hezikiah’s performance of Whodini’s “Friends.” Once we were finished, Grap introduces Kurtis to the crowd and he begins to give a testimony recalling how he nearly lost his life while surfing. Immediately after that, he went into an acapella verse and then said, “I wanna see what the band’s got! I know the band knows some old school!”

That was our cue…

Brock hit the guitar lick for “The Breaks” and I spent the next 20 minutes literally confused – I was caught between playing with no mistakes and actually watching the show. When we dropped the rest of the music in, Kurtis was right on top of it sounding exactly like the 12” record that I first heard my uncles playing when I was around 4 or 5 years old. I had instant goose bumps.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, here comes Afrika Bambaataa and two of the original members of the Soul Sonic Force (Mr. Biggs and G.L.O.B.E.). Soul Sonic Force stepped out first and started singing…yup… “Planet Rock.” So now we’re playing this all-time classic joint behind Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force and I’m in total disbelief. I was playing and reciting the words at the same time, it was just crazy.

So next, Bambaataa made it clear that they couldn’t perform in D.C. without hitting some of that “Go-Go Funk.” So we slid into the Chuck Brown’s classic “Bustin’ Loose” as well as an impromptu version of “(not just) Knee Deep.” Soon after, Bambaataa started to call out solos…HELL yeah, getting called out for a solo by Afrika Bambaataa? Works for me! Check the footage…

All of what happened tonight didn’t really hit me until I was in the car driving home. Both Kurtis and Afrika were real cool kats and it was an honor to play behind them both. It’s always a trip to meet folks who you just finish reading about (I just finished reading Yes, Yes Y’all a couple weeks ago). We took a ton of pictures and you can check those out here…

The players for the night: Jon Laine (drums), Dennis Turner (bass), Brock Smith (guitar) and Zo! (keys)…

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