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Preview Wed Nov 14 2012
Amid the inescapable comeback of American soul music in recent years, which has produced a handful of popular neo-soul acts--and, in Chicago, two separate monthly soul-centric dance parties--is a more explicitly "revivalist" soul movement centered around imitating not just the sound of the genre made popular in the '60s and '70s, but also everything else down to the production and distribution of the music. Brooklyn-based Daptone Records, for example, has made a splash releasing 7" vinyl singles of its contemporary artists in nothing more than white paper sleeves, almost intending to confuse record crate diggers into thinking they've unearthed a lost, dusty single from a forgotten soul label.
This weekend, Soul Summit Chicago hosts the Menahan Street Band as the live guest for its monthly dance party and reunion of Chicago soul DJs at Wicker Park's Double Door. The Menahan Street Band is the "house band" for Daptone sublabel Dunham Records--a concept that is in itself another highly specific throwback to American soul music, when "house bands" such as Booker T. & the M.G.'s, for Memphis-based Stax Records, were about as famous as the individual singers they backed on their label's releases.
As the house band for Dunham Records, the Menahan Street Band has recorded with the late-blooming soul legend Charles Bradley, providing an infectiously tight and earthy groove to Bradley's classic soul sound.
But it's on the band's own instrumental albums where they take the opportunity to spread out their sound. The band has just released its second album, The Crossing, which takes advantage of space to push its heavy soul and funk grooves into more worldly realms, where instruments pass around melodies like hot potatoes, and tracks sound vaguely Middle-Eastern before they sound downright funky--and then back to Middle-Eastern again.
Their capability as an instrumental band has already won them a lot of attention. Jay-Z sampled the title track from the band's 2008 debut Making the Road By Walking on his album American Gangster, and many of the band members also play in prominent Daptone soul collectives such as the Budos Band and the Dap-Kings.
The Menahan Street Band gets the opportunity to unleash its range of sound to a dance-hungry crowd of soul fanatics this Friday as the live guest at this month's Soul Summit Chicago dance party at Double Door in Wicker Park. Tickets are $10 at the door. DJ sets from Soul Summit DJs Dave Mata, Duke Grip, and Sloppy White begin at 9pm. Double Door is located at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave.
While you wait for that, watch members of the band paint an entire mural from start to finish in the official video for "Ivory and Blue", off the band's latest album, The Crossing. The album is also streaming in its entirety over at Rolling Stone.