I’m a homebody. Rarely do I EVER say, “You know what? I need to get outta the house and go somewhere.” There’s always too much to do right here. But with my musical sibling, Sy Smith singing background vocals for Sheila E. and her incredible band, I wasn’t about to be caught sitting at home reading the tweets of my people who were there. I wanted to see this show for myself and make sure that I was in the house to support Sy. I took my first trip to the restored and revamped Howard Theatre (ironically the same place where Robert Townsend as Donald “Duck” Matthews took his legendary keytar solo in The Five Heartbeats in 1972….Yes, you read that correctly. In 1972. Sorry, I STILL think that’s hilarious). I walked in and parked myself in the front, stage left and observed as Sheila and her crew brought the damn house down. From the first note, her show was exactly that… a SHOW. If there was a weak link in that band, I didn’t hear it… These kats were ridiculously tight and the added bonus was watching Sy up there murdering right along with them. This musical clinic of a performance went on for almost two hours and left everyone in the spot completely satisfied. Now of course, I told Sy a couple weeks before the show, “Ayo… You’ve gotta introduce me to Sheila when y’all get here.” She saw no problem with my request. When I got to talk with Sy after the show she told me the after party was gonna be at Tap and Parlour over on 11th and U… Bet! I’m there.
I headed over to the spot and even lucked up on an 11th Street parking place only a few yards from where I needed to be. ..Rolled up into Tap and Parlour, immediately got up with Sy and started talking about how dope the show was and how hyped up we were for our then upcoming Labor Day NYC show date at the Blue Note. I then decided it was time for a quick draink (yes, dammit… “DRAINK”), so I walked on over to the bar for a rum & coke and also grabbed a water for Sy….. By the time I made it back over to the rear of the place, Sheila was already over there hanging out. I handed the water over and as soon as Sy could, she introduced the two of us… “Great to finally meet you’s” along with a hug were both exchanged. It was dope because Sy has told me on a few different occasions that she was familiar with who I am because of shows and she and I do and my affiliation with +FE Music. I made it a point to let Sheila know that she gives a helluva performance and that they thoroughly shut the Howard Theatre down without question. Now…. when giving a compliment to someone you look up to and highly respect in your professional field, you never expect for them to return your compliment with a compliment….. or two. So imagine how blown away I was when she said to me…
“You know, I’m really diggin what you and Sy are doing…”
Hold up… What?!! Our live performances?!!?? You know, I’m not exactly sure what the expression on my face did in response to what she said, but I’m sure it was kind of along these lines. In the middle of my humbly thanking her about 48 times, she then hit me with…
“Yeah, I look you guys up on YouTube all the time…”
Aaaaand from that particular moment, to about 17 or 18 minutes afterward….. You couldn’t tell me shit. I was damn near on the verge of cussing at Ms. Escovedo out of excitement on some, “Sheila E., what the hell you say to me?!!?” …….In a good way though, in a good way!! The best part about it was, her words were truly genuine as she is about as down-to-earth as they come. The worst part about it was…. Where the hell do you take a conversation after that?! I had not a clue… We did end up chatting a little more and taking a picture with Sy (see above) and after I finished my drink, I was pretty much ready to head on outta there and call it a night………… That didn’t end up being the case. Why? Because as her band began to trickle in one by one, Sheila would pull each of them to the side, “Have you met Zo?… He and Sy tour together!” Maaaaan, lookahea… Somebody get another draink because I’m gonna be here for awhile. I got up with the majority of the band, including fellow Michigan native, drummer Chris Coleman, who by the way was kiiiiillin’ on stage! I couldn’t have asked for a better night – smiles, laughs, drainks and toasts consumed the remainder of it.
Believe it or not, as many times as something like this happens…. I’ll still be in disbelief, so don’t mind me and my excitable ass storytelling. This just completely goes to show that you never know who’s listening, watching, and most of all enjoying your music. Man, I love what I do…
You are really Blessed to be doing what you love. I love the fact that you are so humble and have integrity. It is rare now a days. Can’t wait for the new project.
Did she play the keytair?
Nope… She sang, rocked percussion and the drum kit.