Concert Review: The Foreign Exchange rocks B.B. King's

The Foreign Exchange/ Jesse Boykins III
B.B. King Blues Club NYC
Sunday June 6th, 2010

By Ann Marie Collymore
http://soulafrodisiac.com

Foreign ExchangeThe Foreign Exchange was working especially hard, commencing their loaded weekend schedule in Philadelphia, performing during The Roots Picnic. A short but sweet set was just enough to whet the appetite of the New Yorkers who traveled down for the day. Nonetheless, on Sunday night, it was all about New York City. The energy was palpable. And with Jesse Boykins III opening, the audience was in for a solid night of comedy, grooves and entertainment the only way FE knows how to deliver.

The Foreign Exchange/ Jesse Boykins III
B.B. King Blues Club NYC
Sunday June 6th, 2010

By Ann Marie Collymore
http://soulafrodisiac.com

Foreign ExchangeThe Foreign Exchange was working especially hard, commencing their loaded weekend schedule in Philadelphia, performing during The Roots Picnic. A short but sweet set was just enough to whet the appetite of the New Yorkers who traveled down for the day. Nonetheless, on Sunday night, it was all about New York City. The energy was palpable. And with Jesse Boykins III opening, the audience was in for a solid night of comedy, grooves and entertainment the only way FE knows how to deliver.

Jesse Boykins III took to the stage with his 'free fro' bouncing to each step and that ever mischievous grin. The ladies were already enthralled as Jesse grabbed the mic. Singing to the swooning glaze-eyed women in the front row, Jesse covered "Tabloids," his infamous set of "Pantyhose" with a lucky lady from the crowd and a rendition of "Prototype" that would have had Andre 3000 adopting Jesse as his long lost brother.  Jesse and his partner Drum Machine also shared a new track from his upcoming release Love Apparatus.  The song reflected the same tender touch we expect from Jesse, but with a slight edge and handle that is not familiar at all, but which should attract both old and new fans.  With the positive response received by that track alone, it is safe to say anticipation is high for the new release.  Jesse's set was just enough to get the frequencies open for the soiree inching near.

Nicolay's entrance with arms extended amping up the crowd, followed by Zo! and the rest of the group, increased the levels of  enthusiasm and all were ready for the festivities to begin. Without hesitation and on the first note to "House Of  Cards," the night began. Hands were oscillating in the air, people were swaying to and fro and the crowd erupted.  From the sugary "Sweeter Than You" to the band introductions of the sultry "Gimmie Your Love," it all unfolded like child's play with the audience devouring every note. "All Or Nothing" and "Nic's Groove" were served up right as the groove continued on without looking back.

And then came Phonte dedicating a section of the show to ‘those who wish they attended Summer Jam' - which was clearly none of the attendees. He broke into hip hop superstar Drake's "Find Your Love" and turned it out, much to the delight of the audience members. Even while including his auto tune ad libs and forgetting the lyrics, it was still quite entertaining. Time traveling and taking the vibes back to a 1974 disco, Yahzarah's rendition of "Sincere" was groovy and heartfelt. It is all about the warmth in her lyrics and voice that she emanates while singing; it's so comforting, yet forceful. You can't help but be lured in by her charm and vocal prowess.

Regulary taking the audience through brief intermissions of salutations and amens, the FE time machine took us back to a 1976 dancehall in Jamaica for a reggae rockers version of "I Wanna Know."  And steady on that vibe, Foreign Exchange visited Zo!'s  just visiting too... for the beautiful "My Flame."  Yahzarah grabbed her mic and she and Darien belted out a stirring take on "All Of My Days" that was followed up by the upbeat "Cry Over You" featuring Phonte (two songs found on The Ballad Of Purple Saint James). Darien didn't hold back on his performance of "Come Around," everyone's favorite D-Brock joint.   The audience was sweaty and the air was thick and heavy, but everyone was still in step, song for song and word for word. 

After schooling the masses on the remedy to bring commercial music and underground music together - a comedy set in itself - it was only fitting for FE to perform the golden "Take Off The Blues."  A stellar drum n bass kick and scatting harmony that was unexpected, but quite inviting, accompanied the end of "Daykeeper". And off the group departed for a slight intermission, while the audience was serenaded by Zo! and the rest of the band with a few classic instrumentals. "Yearning For Your Love," "Didn't Cha Know" and "Mystic Brew" or "Electric Relaxation" (whichever you choose) were all worked over by FE and loosened everyone up for the evening.

Back to the tunes from the 80's, where the comparison to singers and sangers cannot even come close in this day and age in mainstream. With that said, FE broke into "Written All Over Your Face" by Rude Boys.  And if you remember correctly, those brothers could sang.  Towards the end of the song, the group was joined by Jesse Boykins III and Howard alum, Nicholas Ryan Grant. Nicholas decimated the mic and left everyone in awe with his gift. It was absolutely stunning and truly unforgettable. Yahzarah picked up the beat and turned it up a notch, rocking the crowd out to "Why Don't You Call Me No More," throwing the energy levels in the venue for a loop. With all that pent up energy in tow, it had to be set free and that it was in an old school house session that had everyone in a soul clapping frenzy. Jams like "Perculator," "Gypsy Woman," and "Follow Me" drove the patrons over the edge with their spins and two-steps.  The venue was at a heightened fevered pitch when Foreign Exchange went into "Billie Jean," leaving the time machine stuck in the 80's. There really isn't a better way to end a show, is there?  Running off the stage and bidding everyone adieu to the King Of Pop.  That's how you make a statement and finish with an exclamation mark.

As the night progressed, the feel of a concert drifted away while the vibe of a sweaty, no holds barred juke joint took place.  It was inevitable for Foreign Exchange to pack a punch or two.  Phonte stated earlier in the set "Foreign Exchange seeks to deliver a night of music to make you feel better..." Without a doubt, FE's healing powers where felt in every corner of B.B. King Blues Club.  Every single patron in attendance went home with a moment of that show engrained in his or her soul, from the church of FE.

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ADVANCE Listening Room - Eric Roberson - "Wind"
CD of the Month - James Day - Song, Soul & Spirit
Listening Room - Stokley - Introducing Stokley
Listening Room - The GroovaLottos - Ask Yo' Mama

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