I am sitting right now in front of my laptop to write about the performance of Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band at the Half Moon in Putney with youtube open and “In the Midnight Hour” blasting through my headphones. I could write a whole column only about how my body get hypnotised by the saxophone players, the rhythm section of drums and bass plus guitar and Geno’s voice which goes down your spine like warm caramel cream… It is very seldom that I am upset to not have been able to grove and shake around but taking photos.. but .. you can only do one thing at a time.. which means .. I do HAVE to see them again and you too if you are hungry as well for soul clapping, foot stomping, laughing and grooving away your funky butts!
The whole adventure started with the superb support from “The Sha-La-La’s” who did a great job with their enthusiasm for live music. With songs like “(Gotta find) a better way” and “Get up on yourself” they raised the bar for the whole evening to an energy busting grooving level. It was the perfect combination! After a little break, the stage was ready for the main act.“Ladies and Gentlemen .. from Indiana USA.. Mr Geno Washington!” With the opening tunes of “Philly Dog”, an enthusiastic applause from the anticipating crowd waved to the stage and with the song “Ride Your Pony” on his lips, Geno entered the stage. A two hour set of kicking the soul on fire and transporting me and my fellow audience colleagues trough a grooving musical time machine had begun. Kick it! And everything started with some RESPECT for Stevie Wonder with his “Everything is alright – uptight” and all were paying their respect of course by joining in with some serious soul clapping. Nobody had to be reminded! Foot stomping and shaking to beat the groove out of the Half Moon was on the table. I have read and heard a lot about how precious the UK grass roots music scene is and how much support is needed.. This evening we had the back room packed with people from all over the place to support live music! And this is what you get on a Friday night when supporting live music at the Half Moon in Putney: a seriously kicking live feeling with lots of hep cats, the spine-chilling voice of Geno, grooving Sax-Soul-Horn players from Alan and his friend, beating the groove up bass player Steve with joining in drummer Geoff plus topping it Guitarist Billy!
The set was full of funk and soul for the enjoyment of EVERYONE who was there. The next songs on the list were a revival of the grandiose classic live album “Hand clapping, foot stomping, funky butt- Live!”, plus some fabulous extras in form of very entertaining stories from the road and beyond.. If you call a classic ‘one of the best or most important of its kind’ this album is a true classic that misses none of the famous attributes and the good thing is, you have the same atmosphere today when going to see Geno and the band blowing over the top on stage. The song “Roadrunner” should be a standard at all kinds of working environments for lifting the Morale. When the two Saxophone players hit it nobody is able to stand still, not even with 39 degrees fever! … how do you feel .. feel alright! “Hold on I’m coming’” and “I can’t turn you lose” were next on the list and at least at this point in time all who were there were dancing and shaking around. There was really not a single person who stood beside doing nothing. You can’t resist this beat! You just have to jump and shout and nobody is around to tell you off!! So “Don’t fight it”, as the title says, and keep grooving! And that is exactly what we were doing especially with the following songs. It was during “In the midnight hour” that I couldn’t resist and put down my camera for a moment to shake to the groove of the song and feel the energy that was blasted into the room.
With the vocal version of “Green Onions” Geno gave a tempting and hypnotizing performance of his remarkable voice! It bonds the attention together and created a spiritual atmosphere. By all these wonderful musical inspirations, don’t be lost brothers and sisters when the time comes for “Papa’s got a brand new bag” and “I feel good” to see the light of serious funky Soul… respect to the Godfather James Brown.
“Knock on wood” .. I don’t wanna lose all these good things .. With people like Geno and his band enjoying it to kick the beat out of their fellow fans you don’t need to worry! There’s no introduction needed for “Everybody needs somebody”… “I hope you all enjoyed the show and remember people no matter who you are … “ next time they entertain you in London will be the 14th December at Nell’s Jazz and Blues, West Kensington… “I need You.. You .. and You!!” Generously letting the gorgeous after gig dinner cool down he granted us with the final song “Jumping Jack Flash” which would have made Mick jealous! More funky words are not needed if I only can convince some of you to grab your friend and hop down to where they are playing next!! enjoy!
*With a special Thank You to the Blues Brothers movies for non-stop writing inspirations. Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band live at the Half Moon in Putney or “Shake your Tail Feather”