Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 2, 2010

Tower of Power

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA
August 2, 2010
by Eric Sutter

East Bay soul power from the Oakland area of California powerhoused through a 40+ year repertoire of soul, funk and R&B with their horn centered ten member group. Formed in 1968, the band is absolutely synonymous with world class horns that helped define R&B in the 70's and 80's and continue to play 200 dates around the world every year. Tower of Power started with "We Came To Play" pumped up by the lively horn section of Emilio Castillo on second tenor saxaphone, Stephen ("Doc") Kupka on baritone saxaphone, Tom Politzer on first tenor saxaphone and alto saxaphone, Adolfo Acosta on second trumpet and flugelhorn and Mic Gillette on lead trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone. They swept away the blues with some sweet soul music on "I Like Soul" and "Souled Out" with lead vocalist Larry Braggs' open-throated soulful vocals soaring out front.

"Get Your Feet Back On The Ground" featured a saxaphone solo by Emilio Castillo and a smokin' hot electric guitar solo by Jerry Cortez. Frontman Braggs showed off some fancy James Brown style dance moves throughout the night with the horn section soulfully swaying to the beat. This was funky music for a diverse audience. The soul continued -- he was as proficient at the strong delivery of slower soul ballads as he nailed the hit "So Very Hard To Go" and "Me And Mrs. Jones" from their 20th recording from 2009, "The Great American Songbook" which is a collection of old soul songs that influenced their sound. The band flourished on "Maybe It Will Rub Off" and "Got To Groove." Things got really funkifized with a James Brown medley, "Diggin' on James Brown." The hit "What Is Hip?" had people dancing jazzily in their seats and aisles.

The group slowed the tempo with the cool energy of their mellow early 70's hit, "You're Still A Young Man." The hot R&B surge spilled over with the loose limbed motion of "Turn Me Loose." They encored with the loud funk of "There Is Only So Much Oil In The Ground." Did I mention this show was funky?