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The Diva Meets the Boys

Lyndsey Smith Rocks the Hilton with the N-Motion Band!!

On The “First Friday” of February 2018, at the Hilton Garden Inn on Forbes Ave Pittsburgh (Oakland), Lyndsey Smith  performed with the N-Motion Band in the beautiful downstairs banquet room of the hotel. Now, although that last sentence is indeed ‘factual” it doesn’t begin to tell the whole story of that evening’s events, nor does it touch upon the amazing talent and energy Lyndsey and the band displayed that night to an enthusiastic near capacity crowd.

The N-Motion band is always impressive; they are tight, polished, musically fit, and entertaining. This First Friday’s iteration of the band included Randraiz Wharton/Keyboards, John Hall/Bass, Dennis Garner/Drums, and Steve Delach/Guitar. They started off the evening with a soulful rendition of George Benson’s” Affirmation”; Steve’s guitar was mellow and strong, and the band members all took turns displaying their chops. This band is a top-notch crew, and they can play with anyone. Their rendition of “Breezin” warmed up the crowd with a smooth soulful groove that the audience fully appreciated.

After the band’s first song, Lyndsey came to the stage. Lyndsey has a commanding stage presence that is obviously a result of spending a lot of time in front of an audience singing and entertaining them. She lit up the stage with her personality, and after a brief explanation of her objectives for the evening (to entertain and make the crowd party with her) the band broke into Anita Baker’s “Angel”. Lyndsey sang it beautifully, and she had the crowd enthralled with her voice and her interpretation of the song.

It was my first-time hearing Lyndsey perform, and I was immediately impressed by her stage presence and professionalism, but I was blown away by her voice; the woman can sing. She has exception range, immaculate vocal control, and she also knows how to work a room. The band was also at the top of their game, and they accompanied Lyndsey wonderfully.

Lyndsey’s next choice was Erykah Badu’s “Other Side of the Game”.  Lyndsey shined singing this tune and made the song her own; it was as if she wrote it herself. She sang with passion and emotion that comes from living a life immersed with love and music. She followed it up by singing a song that completely caught me off guard, and that was the Gap Band’s “Yearning for Your Love” . The song choice caught me off guard because I hadn’t heard it for such a long time, and because I couldn’t imagine anyone singing it but the Gap Band, but with the emotional carryover from the previous song, the timing made perfect sense. The choice of these two songs back to back exhibited a level of artistic planning that made me consider the singer’s pedigree; I was watching a true artist at her craft.

But it was the very next song that made me want to give this woman, this “singer” a standing ovation; she had the nerve and audacity to sing James Brown’s “This is a Man’s World”. Not only did she pull this off, she killed it and make it her own. To me, this was the standout song of the evening. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a woman perform this song, and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it sung so well (James Brown excluded, of course). When a singer makes a song make sense when, on the surface of all things being considered, it shouldn’t make sense, then you know you’re watching not only a good singer, but (as I stated previously), a consummate craftsman.

She ended the set by singing two more songs which were nicely done; “Can We Talk” by Tevin Campbell, and Janet Jackson’s “I Get So Lonely”. Both were marvelously done, and she left a satisfied crowd as she took a short break before a second set.

During the intermission, DJ Mike Tha Punisher played a short set. He immediately had a lot of the crowd up and moving (as many already were dancing while Lyndsey sang), and he gave a brief glimpse into what was in store after the band finished for the evening.

When Lyndsey returned to the stage she had to cut off Mike because he was in full-fledged party mode. It was a funny moment, and Mike apologized profusely while everyone had a good laugh in the relaxed atmosphere of the evening. Then Lyndsey announced that it was indeed “Party time”. She encouraged folks to come up to the front of the stage area and dance with her during the last set.

Lyndsey began with a bang by singing Chaka Khan’s “Can’t Nobody”. She had the crowd jumping with her, and there was a sizable crowd in front of the bandstand that never seemed to sit down. And Lyndsey was not shy because she was having fun dancing and intermingling with the crowd. She virtually worked the entire front third of the banquet room.

After the first song, she kind of mellowed the mood with a Jill Scott number “The Way”. Lyndsey handled this song with just as much sensuality as the original, and the crowd kindly responded.  She, the band, and the audience grooved in unison, and needless to say, Lyndsey had them eating out of her hand.

Lyndsey and the band brought the party back to full force with the next three songs; the first of them being Zhane’s “Hey Mr DJ”. The party was back in full effect, and Lindsey was not only singing, but dancing with the crowd as well. The band followed it up with Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love”. Lyndsey’s voice was still strong and clear after nearly an hour and a half of singing, and she and the crowd were still partying. She looked as though she was having a good time, and everyone was having a good time with her.

She ended the night with a bang by singing BBD’s “Poison”. She not only sang the song, “and” did the rap, but she threw in a bunch of old school dance moves as well. She was having fun, and so was I, and the rest of the crowd too. She did a fantastic job, and it left me with a sense of “I need to interview this woman” feeling. Folks, I tried to get an interview, but she was swamped with admirers, and the band was tearing down equipment after the show, and unfortunately, I had to leave so I could be at my other job in the a.m. But I finally got a chance to talk with Lindsey for a few moments, and exchanged contact information. I expect to have an interview soon, and of course it will be on “The Corner”.

After the show, Mike Tha Punisher took over. The audience was warmed up and dancers as well, as line dancers took over. The party did not stop until well after midnight, and everyone had a good time.

If you didn’t make this one I’m sorry you missed a great show. Take some time to check out Lindsey on WQED’s Sessions. But don’t worry, next First Friday, we’ll do it again. Be on the lookout for coming information about the next guest artist.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this article, and remember to check out http://www.nmojazz.com/ the nation’s number one online search engine for jazz, and smooth jazz music.  And as always, next week “Catch you on the Corner”.

I’ve been a jazz lover for quite some time now; nearly as long as I can remember. I’ve always liked jazz in one form or another, and I grew to love it as my palate for music matured throughout the years. One of my earliest memories as a child was my then favorite song; “A Taste of Honey” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I heard it on the radio, and I was hooked. I was born in Pittsburgh in 1958, and reared in the Hill District, and back then, WAMO was only an A.M. station (they actually did a remote broadcast from a little store on Webster around the corner from my house), and while Motown was the rave, Stax records, and Soul music was the background music for life in the ghetto (and I lived in the “ghetto”; the Hill District), jazz was a constant undercurrent, a heartbeat of the vibrant life of the slums in which I lived. Until next time.... “Catch You on The Corner”!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Shawn Hopson

    April 8, 2018 at 12:27 am

    She is just perfect to work with and a kind and loving person…

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Music Video

The N-Motion Band performs at Market Square Pittsburgh

For those folks that was in the Market Square area on July 28, they were in for a musical treat, the N-Motion Band featuring saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr.  Eddie the former sax player for contemporary jazz band Pieces of a Dream, along with the N-Motion Band provided dazzling evening of music.

Eddie and the N-Motion Band performed from 5 – 10 pm with several break included, but the crowd a real concert!  Performing both cover and original tunes Eddie and band kept the crowd captivated throughout the entire evening.  Eddie and band played to crowd with the song selection, performing performing both classic and contemporary songs.  Eddie and band really excited the crowd when performing Beyonce’s tune “Love on Top” and Bruno Mars “That’s What I Like.”

The N-Motion Band was invited to perform by MCG Jazz as part of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Market Square Concert Nights.  According Partnership spokesperson Jack Dougherty this was a great event and he was not expecting this type of great performance!  He was really impressed with the response from the crowd during the entire evening.  He hopes to have the N-Motion Band perform for other Downtown Partnership events.

The N-Motion Band will be working on recording new original material for anticipated jazz festivals in 2019.  Please stay tuned for more from the N-Motion Band!

 

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Pittsburgh Happenings

Final Smooth First Friday’s

SSF_JULY Eddie Baccus Jr July 2018

 

 

After years of live bands and DJ’s sharing the stage on the first Friday of every month, the time has come to say good bye to Smooth First Friday’s  N-Motion Entertainment’s run came to a pleasant end on July 6, 2018.  This most recent version of Smooth first Friday’s had a series of homes starting with the Hard Rock Cafe in Station Sq, Pittsburgh, PA.  Roland’s Seafood Cafe also was home for Smooth First Friday’s and the final landing spot was the Hilton Garden Inn, both in Pittsburgh, PA.

The first edition of Smooth First Friday’s started back in the mid 90’s by Club Duo at the Holiday Inn, Braddock Hills, PA.  The original concept was that of just a happy hour with lite music in the background.  The people that attended the event wanted to dance and suggested getting a DJ, so next month we did!  After about 4 – 5 months of larger crowds we began to outgrow the lounge area, so the Holiday Inn GM suggested we use both the lounge and the ballroom.  That is when we decided to hire a jazz band to perform in the lounge and have the DJ upstairs in the ballroom to a packed house every month.

The second edition of Smooth First Friday’s started in 2006 at the Holiday Inn University Center in Pittsburgh, PA with a newer Club Duo team.  We had a slow started. but after about 6 months the event took off.  We were getting crowds of 300 plus on a monthly basis.  Smooth First Friday’s was the talk of the town.  In addition to having the great musicians of Pittsburgh perform we recruited talent from the Washington DC and Cleveland, OH areas.

The most recent edition of N-Motion Entertainment’s  Smooth First Friday’s came to and end on July 6, 2018, for our All-White Party that featured saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr.  It was a great night of entertainment and fun.  Eddie was incredible on saxophone as usual.  N-Motion’s leader Shawn Hopson celebrated his 60th birthday that added to the fun.  It was a bittersweet night, folks were looking forward to the All-White and Eddie Baccus Jr, but sad that it was the final Smooth First Friday’s.  Smooth First Friday’s went out in style!

 

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