The New Stew Transcend in Brooklyn on Monday

Posted on Tuesday May 10th in

The New Stew :: 2016.05.09 :: Brooklyn Bowl

The New Stew :: 2016.05.09 :: Brooklyn Bowl
The New Stew, a supergroup headed by Corey Glover and Roosevelt Collier, won over Brooklyn Bowl last night almost immediately by ensuring they’d treat Bill Withers’ Live at Carnegie Hall as plenty more than a museum piece. If you’re going to assemble an all-star band — and that definitely is the New Stew — you’d better bring a little more to the table than a pleasant re-creation or observation, and the seven-man group was fast to ensure that this concept would not only be pleasant, but also soul-nourishing in a way Withers himself would easily give thumbs-up.
The New Stew :: 2016.05.09 :: Brooklyn Bowl

Glover, best known for Living Colour, and Collier, from the Lee Boys and his own mighty bands, had a thrilling mix of players from all over the scene, including Yonrico Scott, Matt Slocum, Jared Stone, Kevin Scott, and Dave Yoke. Their stated mission was an elegant one: Pay respect to a legendary recording that influenced the band members, and then use that as a springboard for live shows that take a faithful but adventurous view of the music. That much was true from the opening notes of a slinky “Use Me,” which saw coursing solos from Yoke, on guitar, and Slocum, on keys, underpinned by a locked-in rhythm section, and topped off by the mighty Glover, relishing every word and emotion in this timeless music. “Monday night. It’s alright,” said Glover, and the New Stew made clear what he meant for more than two hours.
The New Stew :: 2016.05.09 :: Brooklyn Bowl

They took their time with these songs — 14 in all, presented in the same order as the album — and refused to keep any of them quietly contained or neatly packaged. “Friend of Mine” quickly opened up into a roadhouse boogie jam highlighting Collier’s slippery-metal lap steel, and, from Scott, a talking drum solo. “Ain’t No Sunshine” built atop Glover’s gorgeous emotional delivery. (His voice is rougher than Withers’, but this wasn’t intended to be facsimile. It perfectly served the band’s greasier nature.) Yoke carved a powerful but not ostentatious solo out of “For My Friend,” among other tunes. He was a master of economy without sounding austere. Collier and Glover had a mesmerizing duo moment in “I Can’t Write Left-Handed,” one of Withers’ most political songs, which saw Glover trade vocal flourishes against a Collier tone that was somewhere between bird call and ghostly incantation. Bassist Kevin Scott, who owned the jam space with his solo in “Better Off Dead,” was on point throughout, playing off Scott and Stone, who alternated between drum kit and percussion rack. The set-closing “Let Us Love” had a huge gospel finish.

Photos courtesy of Steven Pisano

As expected, “Lean on Me” elicited a big crowd sing-along. And “Hope She’ll Be Happier” saw Glover draw all of the room’s energy into his orbit, summoning the breadth of his talent to serve Withers’ classic lament, and looking overcome and even emotionally drained as the song concluded. You get the idea: Each of these songs had a moment — in some cases, three or four — when a band member or two proclaimed himself in charge of whatever was going to happen and gave in to the powerful, uplifting or haunting nature of this music. The result was the birth of an interesting new band and a true sleeper show: a pleasantly jammy evening was expected, but a transcendent musical experience was delivered.
—Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson


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