I mentioned that I took a brief trip down to Atlanta in part to get away and also to see Julie Dexter and Heston in concert. Ya’ll know that I travel up and down the East Coast in a New York minute for a show. Besides, airfares have been fairly reasonable lately and I’m blessed to have people down there I could crash with.
I have been hungry for some new music from Julie every since her appearance on one of my favorite tracks of 2008, “How Sweet Life Is” with Angela Johnson. Angela appears on a track on Heston’s album. It’s one big happy musical family! I saw Julie in concert once a couple of summers ago when she was here for the African American Heritage Festival in Baltimore. That was before I became an amateur videographer. I would look at my “blog godmother” Butta of Soul Bounce like she was nuts when she would be rushing up to get video at these shows. Here I am almost 700 videos later and I actually feel slightly uncomfortable at a show if I’m unable to record. For some reason, I don’t remember much about Julie’s set that day but her music has always spoken to me and I was anxious to see her again live.
Heston is an artist that has always been on my radar since his album, Storyteller got such rave reviews over at Soul Tracks. When I mentioned on Twitter, that I was considering the show, I got major encouragement to head on down and check him out. Doesn’t take much to convince me!
The music gods were smiling on me because I managed to get into this show for free.99. However, it was certainly a show worth paying for and I did support the artists with album purchases.
Julie, who many call the Queen of UK Soul, has now made a home in the Atlanta area and it shows. I’m not sure whether it was the comfort of performing in front of a home crowd or the fact that she was recording a live DVD (The Julie Dexter Collection out this year), but it’s an understatement to say that from the moment she took the stage, she showed up and showed out. She performed a full set of about fifteen songs, a good blend of old material, cover tracks and a new piece from her album that will be out sometime this year. You can find the whole set over on my You Tube channel.
Julie had some heavy hitters in the Atlanta music scene sitting in on her set such as Phil Davis, Joel Powell, Russell Gunn, Kebbi Williams, and Brandon Thomas. As I learned with seeing Jazmine Sullivan in concert this summer, if the band ain’t on point, it throws the whole set off. Julie is a seasoned artist and I know she would have nothing but the best joining her on stage.
As you watch some of the videos, you may recognize Lil John Roberts, who most of us outside the Atlanta area know as the future Mr. Jill Scott. However, his musical genius is well-known in the peach state.
Julie opened her set by killing a medley of Beyonce’s “Deja Vu” and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall.”
One of my favorite performances of the night by far, “Black Girls Rule the World”
HOT afrobeat styling of her classic “Choices”
“What Do I Do” – showcasing her background singers, Alex Lattimore and Rhonda Thomas both of whom I said need their own albums. Turns out that Rhonda does in fact have an album out and she’s opening up for Omar and Eric Roberson over the next few weeks. Check her out.
By the time Heston took the stage, the hour was growing late but the energy was still high. This was my first time hearing his music and from the first few notes, he had found a fan in me. I immediately was drawn in by his sound and his performance style. He performed a set of about eight songs including tracks from his debut self-titled album (which I have to get my hands on) and Storyteller as well as a couple of Bob Marley covers. He flows from soul to reggae quite smoothly.
Check out a few of my favorite performances from the night.
“If” from his debut album is a definite party starter. It was all I could do not to get up and dance with the couple who were getting down in front of the stage.
The heart-wrenching “No Way, No How”
I was excited to hear that he is releasing a new album this year called Warm Human, Cold World. Take a listen to the title track.
I still have a few more videos from his set to upload. I know each and everyone of you are subscribed to the You Tube channel so you shouldn’t miss out. Julie joined him onstage for a Bob Marley cover that you will definitely want to see. They make beautiful music together.
If you’ve enjoyed the video, please support these artists’ past and future projects. They perform often in the Atlanta area so you can be sure to catch them there if you’re from around those parts.