Opening set by Cécile Doo-Kingué
Oakland, California music legends Tower of Power - the most dynamic and distinctive band of survivors in Soul Music – is celebrating 50th anniversary.
Since its formation in Oakland, California in 1968, Tower of Power has forged a reputation as a crack band of high achieving musicians fluent in all realms of Soul, Rock and Pop music with a sophistication and punch like that of a Jazz big band. From their first album East Bay Grease (1970) on Rock impresario Bill Graham’s San Francisco Records label (distributed by Atlantic), the interracial band became pillars and signatures of The Bay Area Music Scene that included pioneering like-minded bands such as Sly & The Family Stone, Cold Blood, Graham Central Station, The Pointer Sisters and The Sons of Champlin plus rock-oriented outfits such as Santana, Betty Davis and Journey. Beginning with their sophomore release, Tower of Power came to prominence with a string of acclaimed albums on Warner Bros. Records: Bump City (1972), Tower of Power (1973), Back to Oakland (1974), Urban Renewal (1974), In the Slot (1975) and Live and in Living Color (1976). A move to Columbia Records resulted in three more major label releases and their last top-charting hit, “You Ought To Be Havin’ Fun.” Including all studio albums, live albums and rarities anthologies, T.O.P. has 24 previous releases in its burgeoning catalog.
Along with T.O.P.’s classic recordings, the 5-piece Tower of Power Horns – known for its power packed punch and fullness with two trumpets, two tenor saxophones plus a baritone sax on the bottom – became much in demand for studio sessions and live gigs. Among the hundreds of artists they have blessed with their presence are Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Graham Central Station, Elton John, Little Feat, Billy Preston, John Lee Hooker, Coke Escovedo, Jose Feliciano, Al Kooper, Sammy Hagar, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, Jermaine Jackson, Harvey Mason, Lenny White, The Brothers Johnson, The Meters, Lee Oskar, Dionne Warwick, Melissa Manchester, Bobby Caldwell, Heart, Rick James, Santana, Smokey Robinson, Huey Lewis & The News, Toto, Paul Shaffer, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Spyro Gyra, Terence Trent D’Arby, Luther Vandross, Candy Dulfer, Aerosmith, Phish, John Hiatt, Neil Diamond, P.Diddy, Bill Wyman, Eiko Shuri…and TV’s The Simpsons (Sing The Blues).
Most importantly, when almost all other R&B bands abandoned their horn sections as the sound of Soul music morphed into more stripped-down techno and synthesizer strains in the `80s, Tower of Power near single-handedly carried the torch for full-on 10-piece bands, often even including a conguero/percussionist. Faithful fans flocked to their concerts and purchased their new albums that kept the real soul vibe alive for decades. Indeed, the horn section is so pivotal to Tower of Power that unlike most band stage setups that have horns in the back, T.O.P.’s renowned and respected horn section is right up-front with the lead singer.
Soul Side of Town is the centerpiece of a celebratory 50th Anniversary campaign for Tower of Power that will also see the re-release via Mack Avenue Records of four hard to find independent productions: The East Bay Archive Vol. 1 (a 1973 live recording from Boston), Oakland Zone (a 2008 release celebrated for the return of drummer David Garibaldi after several years away), Great American Soulbook (an all-star affair of soul classics featuring guests such as Joss Stone, Tom Jones, Sam Moore and Huey Lewis), and 40th Anniversary: Live at The Fillmore in San Francisco (a deluxe multi-disc CD/DVD collector’s item loaded with great new live renditions of hits plus interviews with alumni past and present).
This concert promises to be a BLAST for Tower of Power and all its fans as they celebrate their 50th anniversary with a motherload of electrifying new sounds guaranteed to funkifize, energize and provide the soundtrack for new American movements of Love, Peace, Soul Power, Mind Power and People Power to rise!
An exceptional stage presence, guitarist / singer-songwriter Cécile Doo-Kingué blends blues, afro-roots and soul to create a unique sound. Born and raised in New York City, first generation from Cameroon, she has lived in the USA, France, and is now an adopted Montrealer.
Considered one of Canada’s most electrifying and versatile guitarists, she has shared a stage and/or recorded with Montreal Jubilation Choir, Blind Boys of Alabama, James Blood Ulmer, Bernard Purdie, Jim Byrnes, Michael Jerome Brown, Tricia Foster, Scarlett Jane, United Steel Workers of Montreal, amongst many, and has opened for many icons including Canned Heat, John Prine, Eric Andersen, Angélique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour and Manu Dibango. In 2008, Cecile and Gern f. of USWM started Chick Pickin’ Mondays, a night promoting women singer-songwriters.
June 2010, Cecile released her debut solo album Freedom Calling to critical acclaim. In 2011, CBC commissions Doo-Kingué to write Home, a song on immigration. Gris, released in 2012, also praised by press and music lovers alike, earned Cécile the 2013 Fondation SPACQ Edith Butler Award for Excellence in Francophone Songwriting. Doo-Kingué toured both albums extensively across Canada and Europe, firing up clubs, listening rooms and festivals alike with her face-melting playing, rich vocals, and sharp and genuine banter with her audience.
February 2015, Doo-Kingué releases her third solo album Anybody Listening Pt. 1: Monologues, the first chapter of a trilogy exploring blues, roots and life in their myriad of aspects (Monologues solo acoustic, Dialogues full band, Communion live), showcasing Doo-Kingué’s songwriting in its rawest form. The album earned her accolades for her exceptional guitar playing, soulful vocals, and powerful songwriting.
January 2016, Doo-Kingué releases the second chapter of her trilogy exploring blues, roots, and life in their myriad of aspects. Anybody Listening Part 2: Dialogues features her strength and versatility as an all-around guitarist and musician, from blues to jazz to folk to soul to rock n’ roll. Fiery licks and seamless melody compliment her deep, laid-back voice throughout the album, leaving no doubt as to the guitarist’s oneness with the instrument, nor the unity of her sound. Surrounded by a stellar cast of Montreal’s finest musicians, Doo-Kingué presents an eclectic collection of contemporary blues adding to the social commentary of Anybody Listening Part 1: Monologues, and celebrating life and music with fellow artists she is a fan of, in spaces that exude positive energy. The first two chapters of the trilogy have generated international critical acclaim from blues and roots media including Living Blues and Blues Matters magazines, earned Cécile 8 Maple Blues Awards nominations, as well as several engagements in international roots festivals, and over 300 tour dates across Canada.
Cécile Doo-Kingué is quickly earning a stellar reputation and a place alongside Canada’s current roster of great guitarists. Powerful and raw, Cécile Doo-Kingué’s guitar prowess, lyrics, and sound make for enthralling and intimate communion.