Live Thoughts: Secret Stash Soul Revue & The Almanac Trail Tour
I saw shows on subsequent nights, each featuring songs made popular well before I was born. Each had an air of nostalgia, but it seemed they wielded this tool in ever so slightly different fashions. The first night was the Almanac Trail Tour, which found Rik Palieri and George Mann performing songs from the famous Almanac Singers Tour. The tour brought together four young men, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays & Mill Lampell, who barreled across the country in 1941 singing at labor halls from New York to California and in every city in the middle that didn’t run them out of town. Palieri and Mann are recreating the tour, some 70 years later, playing many of the same songs on banjo and acoustic guitar that these young songwriters did back then. The night was rich in old labor songs, some well known and some more obscure, but there were stories told in between songs that gave the listener context of why these songs were written and what they meant at the time. It was a fun event that felt like a vivid look back into a not-too-distant portion of both our musical and historial past that, unfortunately, is not something that would seem viable now. While I would love to see pro-labor protest singers filling Madison Square Garden, I won’t hold my breath.
The next night it was on to the Secret Stash Soul Revue. Like the night before, it featured mostly songs created decades ago, but it had a more up-to-date feel. Maybe it was the different venue (the Eagles Club vs the Guthrie), but I think it also has to do with the bang up job Secret Stash does in bringing to life the Minneapolis soul singers who had been unjustly overlooked for all these years. Backed up by the 8 piece Lakers, the Secret Stash house band. The singers, who cylced in and out while the band plowed ahead, included Sonny Knight, Maurice Jacox and last minute replacement PaviElle French, who filled in admirably for Wanda Davis. Fancy Ray jumped in for a few songs and emceed the night. In addition to original songs, some of which appreciated on last years Twin Cities Funk and Soul compilation, the band stretched out some soul covers and a great take on “Sugarman” by Rodriguez. The show was sharp and fun, sounding immaculate and the grooves getting people out of their seats. If you get a chance to see the Secret Stash Soul Revue, don’t pass it up. The singers haven’t lost a step and the band becomes more sharp and funky each time I have seen them. While both shows hearkened back to a time gone by, they did so in different ways. The Almanac Trail Tour felt wistful and wishing for a time gone past, while the Secret Stash Soul Revue felt vibrant and in the moment. Both were great, but in very different ways.