A Night of Soul, Funk & Hip Hop with Kuf Knotz, Brian Owens and more!
Nao Yoshioka, Watermelon Love, Jesse Fischer
3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Kuf Knotz is one of todays fastest emerging alternative artists. No musical territory goes unexplored when it comes to Kuf, and it is this attitude that has led him to open for some of todays biggest acts.
The new album by Philadelphia- and Brooklyn-based artist Kuf Knotz — pushes the boundaries of hip-hop.
“My music’s always had a pretty broad spectrum as far as influences go,” he says. “It feels really natural to blend genres. I’ve always just felt that music is music.”
Inspired to take his own indie-progressive style to the next level, Kuf began work on a collection of upbeat, feel-good music. “I felt like it was important and it was needed in hip-hop,” Kuf says. Armed with his songs, he headed for Amsterdam. The change of scenery allowed him to focus on A Positive Light — his first album in more than three years.
Classic soul is like a perfectly balanced meal. It nourishes your spirit, feeds your mind, and is good for your heart. When you think
of the pioneering masters who served it up—Al Green, Otis Redding, Rance Allen, and Curtis Mayfield—you realize they were working from some sacred
ingredients, taking lessons from church to bring hope to the streets.“My father was a preacher and, like most soul singers, I grew up singing in church. That is the route of traditional soul,” Brian Owens explains.
Brian Owens’ debut Moods And Messages is vibrantly vintage—aesthetically it follows the groove gospel of classic 1960s and 1970s soul but it has a very “in the now” emotionality. Brian’s vocals are a revelation—purposeful and passionate—he remains his own stylist while recalling the sensual urgency of Marvin Gaye, the comforting falsetto of Curtis Mayfield, and tender grit of Sam Cook.
Gary Moran of Soul Tracks recently said: "Brian Owens has been called the next great voice of American soul and, although he’s quick to point out he’s simply upholding the traditions of other great soul singers from years gone by, Owens clearly relishes the honors bestowed on him, assuming his mantle with utmost seriousness."Moods And Messages’ 10 tracks were composed over 5 years; they’re a continuum of an inner dialogue, and the recording treatment of the compositions powerfully mirrors this introspective “thinking out loud” quality. The album was tracked live with the musicians conversing in real time, with real feelings. It’s nuanced and richly dynamic, evocative of the plush sounds of prime soul, but it also has honeyed rawness. The aptly titled “Soul Anthem (Bring It Back)” juxtaposes gorgeous clouds of vocal harmonies and punchy horns against some street “Shaft”-style wah wah guitars.
The album has wonderful thematic symmetry: Songs postulate difficult questions that redemptive correlating songs answer. The sweet and gentle pining of “I Just Want To Feel Alright” is matched up with the spiritually nourishing “The Answer.” “Every song has a coinciding message, every mood has a message,” he says, referencing the album title and conceptual bend. “’I Just Want to Feel Alright’ is a plea for help. It’s when you’re at the point where you will just settle for feeling alright. If you want to feel alright, Jesus is that figure, that person that makes it alright. The answer is ‘The Answer’ which my father sings,” he explains.
With Moods And Messages Brian is making music with intent, art that inspires positive change. “I just want to say the most uplifting things in an entertaining vehicle,” Brian says, summing up his artistry. Last year he had the chance to brighten the day of troops stationed in Afghanistan. “That really put the idea of music having a sense of mission to it, that what you put out makes a difference, it’s healing. I just want to serve up the best food on the finest china. I don’t want to give you bologna on china,” he says laughing.
Nao Yoshioka combines a powerful voice and New York-powered delivery to create a modern taste still deeply rooted in the history of soul. Since her single “Make the Change” was released by SWEET SOUL RECORDS in 2012, she has been dubbed the Japanese ALICIA KEYS while also receiving praise from Grammy-winning artist GORDON CHAMBERS.
In May 2014 Nao and Brian Owens, who is also the producer of her song “Spend My Life,” made their Blue Note Tokyo debut, taking their place amongst the many talented artists from around the world who have graced that sacred stage, and exceptionally early in her young career... only 6 months after her album debut.
Since then Nao has gone on to perform at a number of well-known venues including the Blue Note (NY), the legendary Birchmere (DC) where she opened for José James, and Club Dauphine in The Netherlands where she shared the stage with saxophonist Candy Dulfer.
In Japan she headlined a sold out Blue Note Tokyo, performed at the Summer Sonic festival, and guested with bassist Nathan East at Billboard Live Tokyo. And to top it off, she was named as SoulTracks 2015 New Artist of the Year, the first for a Japanese singer.
For Brooklyn-based pianist/composer/producer Jesse Fischer, the simplest things are best — a catchy melody, a heartfelt lyric, an irresistible groove. Jesse’s music easily crosses boundaries between jazz, soul, pop, indie, electronic, and folk. But what draws his eclectic influences together is that Jesse always plays and creates from the heart. It’s his passion for music and the moment, and ability to tap directly into the emotional content of every song that makes him such a sought-after arranger, accompanist, and bandleader.
A triple threat as musician, engineer, and producer, Jesse has recorded six albums as a bandleader with his own group, most recently the ObliqSound release Retro Future. His warm, soulful touch, and bold, spacious compositions have earned him three SoulTracks Award nominations and most recently was an Independent Music Award finalist. His music has been played by tastemakers such as the BBC’s Gilles Peterson and KCRW’s Anthony Valadezand Garth Trinidad, as well as appearing on television shows including“Criminal Minds” (CBS), “Franklin & Bash” (TNT), and “Model City” (BET). He is currently working on his seventh album, Day Dreamer, as well as producing and engineering records from alto saxophonist Godwin Louis, trombonist Matthew Hartnett, singer-songwriter May Cheung, and hip-hop band Exact Change Project.
All Upstairs tickets are General Admission. Dining is available at World Cafe Live. Reservations are accepted for Upstairs Live, our full service restaurant; we recommend scheduling a reservation time 1½ to 2 hours before show time. For more information and to see menus, please read the Restaurant Info and Dining FAQ.
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