Old School Taste of Soul
Los Angeles- The Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper hosted the 6th Annual Taste of Soul, on Saturday, October 15th, 2011 from 10:00AM-6PM. This event, a trifecta of a music festival, food festival and community festival has been named the largest street festival in Los Angeles.
Crenshaw Blvd., between Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. and Rodeo Road was blocked off to traffic for the festival. The Taste of Soul was founded in 2006 by Danny Bakewell Sr., Publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper. The festival has grown from 50,000 in its inaugural year to well over 250,000 plus in 2011.
The Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper partnered with the City of Los Angeles, Radio Free 102.3 FM KJLH and 94.7 The Wave to put on this tremendously popular community and family festival to benefit Mothers in Action and Brotherhood Crusade. Major sponsors consisted of AT&T, Chevrolet, Nielson and Hill and Knowlton.
The weather Gods look down favorably on this event for the second year in a row. The temperature hovered in the 80's with a slight breeze throughout the afternoon.
My day started off once again at the Wave Stage on the corner of Crenshaw Blvd. and Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. Various Program Host Talaya and Pat Prescott from the Wave served as Mistress of Ceremonies. The crowd and I got our Praise on with Chosen Recovery Gospel. The three vocalists gave God the Glory as they performed "What's on Your Mind," and "This Must Be Heavan" to name a few. DJ Shell kept the funky grooves flowing by spinning some old school jams in between acts so that the crowd could do the Cha,Cha and Electric slide.
Andre Ray L.T.D. Forever energized the crowd with their soulful sounds. The crowd were swaying back and forth with "Concentrate on You," "Love Ballad," and "Party Hearty" which could have served as the official theme song for the 6th Annual Taste of Soul. The band concluded their set with "Back in Love Again" with each band member stretching out on solo, while the crowd were seen doing the electric slide.
Alana is making a return engagement to the Taste of Soul. She acknowledged the familiar faces of the people who frequent La Louisianne, where she is a regular performer. La Louisianne is on the corner of Slauson and Overhill. This delightful singer and her tight band performed "Bad Boy," "Soldier of Love," "Proud Mary," and got down with some blues on "Whose Making Love" and "Down Home Blues" with guest vocalist Hank Carbo.
The Toe Phat Band kept the party going with some Old School Latin Funk. They opened with several tunes from Santana's playbook "Black Magic Women," and "Oye Como Va." They slowed the tempo down with "What's Going On" by the late great Marvin Gaye, and rocked out their set with "Rock Steady" by Aretha Franklin.
Naturally 7 took the stage without any instruments. Their voices are their instruments. I had the pleasure of seeing this fantastic group on two previous occassions-2010 and 2011 Playboy Jazz Festival. They brought the wow factor to the 6th Annual Taste of Soul. I kept hearing people comment wow as each member of the group did an amazing job of sounding exactly like instruments with their voices as they performed "I Can Feel It In the Air," "Come Together," "Flashlight," and closed out their wow factor set with "I Built This Wall All Around Me."
I had to make my way to the opposite end of the festival at the corner of Crenshaw Blvd. and Rodeo Road. Had to get creative to maneuver around the huge crowd strolling up and down "The Shaw" to get to the KJLH Stage. The KJLH Stage was hopping as I made my way to the front of the stage. Vocalist Esnavi were finishing her crowd pleasing set. Her set was followed by Eric Benet performing new material including the tune "Sometimes I Cry." Vocalist Johnny Gil also performed several new tracks from his CD.
Popular Bay area vocalist Goapela was introduced by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The crowd and I enjoyed her set as she performed "First Love," "Milk and Honey," "Play," and "Tears on my Pillow." The crowd sang along throughout her set. Goapela will be releasing a new CD entitled Break of Dawn on October 24th and you can catch her again in Los Angeles on November 8th at the Key Club with Banal. The legendary host of Soul Train, Mr. Don Cornelius made a brief appearance on stage to greet the crowd.
Actress, vocalist and guitarist Tasha Taylor, the daughter of the late great blues singer Johnnie Taylor performed material from her latest CD Tailor Made. Her brief set featured the tunes "I' ve Got Love," "What Difference Does It Make," and "Whose Making Love."
The trifecta of female vocalist continued with Margo Thunder as she performed a sassy version of "I Know I Did You Wrong" and continued with "Feel the Fire" just to name a few.
The KJLH Stage took the festival up a notch with the final four artists to take the stage. Vocalist Lenny Williams performed tunes from his latest project entitled Unfinished Business. His crowd pleasing set with both young and older members of the audience featured the tunes "I'm Sorry, I Didn't Know That It Was Your Momma," "Rock Me Baby" and a very tight version of "Cause I Love You."
Naughty by Nature brought a lot of intensity and pure energy to the stage. They covered a medley of hits from their career. They also brought out Queen Latifah to sing a couple of chorus with them. They also honored the legacy of the late great Tupac Shakur during their set.
Tyrese kept the momentum going on a high note as he performed "Baby,Please Stay" and "Sweet Thing" to name a few. His latest CD Open Invitation will be released in the future.
Doug E. Fresh closed out the entertainment on the KJLH Stage. Doug E. Fresh gave the stage over to young kids to be in the spotlight to dance to "Teach Me How to Dougie."
The 6th Annual Taste of Soul raised the bar with the caliber of entertainment served up this year. Foot stomping, hand clapping and roof raising gospel music were performed on the Gospel Stage and Praise Stage. Additional performances took place in the parking lot of the Lula Washington Dance Academy. I am thrilled that I was able to catch the shows on both stages-The Wave and KJLH. A marvelous time was had by all in attendance.