Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kendrick Dial and Lyrical Groove at San Diego House of Blues: Concert Review

                     Delores Fisher Graduate School Years

During my initial grad student years, when Alma of Hot Monkey Love Cafe decided to take a chance on me to write interviews and reviews for her website, I got around to concerts quite a lot.  As a Hot Monkey Love Cafe Blues Night and poetry open mic host, I performed and interacted with musicians, composers, poets, prose reader/writers, painters, videographers on stage several nights a week--pure ecstasy! Many artists became more than acquaintances; we kept in touch off stage as well. Like most music grad students, long term immersion in various music scenes was the norm, on the daily.

Eventually, in San Diego and parts of LA, word spread that I was  a reviewer as well as a church musician and performance poet (a member of 4nth, a woman's poetry collective). Press kits, and invitations to CD parties, or special gigs arrived weekly via snail mail or on site promos.

A decade plus, although I'm teaching and writing more than gigging anywhere,  emails now generate press from folks who stay in touch. On ocassion, I'll go to an invite, especially if I respect work that consistently reflects a groups' or performers' essence. Kendrick Dial-a poetry slam local/national staple- is one of those young performers from the spoken word world who stays in touch.

So when an email announced Lyrical Grooves House of Blues CD release party . . . I put on my leather jacket  "funksterness" and went down to San Diego's House of Blues on Feb 6th to catch the festivities.  The CD  available at CD Baby  is titled "Spoken Soul."

(I give Lyrical Groove  Spoken Soul  a definite "buy it" approval)

What a blast. I was even able to conversate with a few fellow Lyrical Groove fans and arts advocates like poet educator Viet Mai, and playwright/educator Dr. Evelyn Diaz Cruz.

     Educator Poet VietMai        


                                       Educator/Playwright Evelyn Diaz Cruz

What a pleasure, experiencing waves of love and community as I walked through the door into standing room only crowds. It was standing room only in the Balcony too. Kendrick's work is well known in many venues ranging from churches to educational conferences, to MLK Breakfests or luncheons, to book stores, to slam competition stages, to schools and education conferences. He's a collaborative member of the much respected poetry artists Collective Purpose which features the poetry venue ELEVATED .

His newest venture is the group Lyrical Groove in a combination of spoken soul and music. It started several years ago as he transitioned from a local young, very community minded performer/mentor for hundreds of at risk youth, into nationally known award winning solo slam poet who also toured with Ant Black and Rudy Francisco as a member of Collective Purpose.

Kendrick Dial and his spoken word music band Lyrical Groove fuses an uptown funk, hip Hop, neo-soul, jazz, New Jack Swing, and Latino salsa sound. Listening to Jacob Miranda's slammin' bass line countering Kendick's clean sixteenth note syllabication layered onto Mike-"Token"- Benedeto's syncopated chordal rhythym keyboard is an experience in metric polyphony. Matched with Brisa's almost otherworldly vocals remind me of Chaka Khan and Erykah Badu. Today,  in 2015, they have won numerous awards and are touring the nation.

How did the group get started?

Kendrick's stage presence was a blaze of sun on the House of Blues stage. Here's a few highlights:
"Wake-Up," a crowd favorite, helped start the groove 4 yrs ago according to Kendrick Dial's introduction. I know it as the message we resonated with years ago that kept our ear to the sound of Lyrical Groove.

In mid-set, Kendrick, a master showman, used some old fashioned call and response to interact with the audience. dividing it  into groups of "ooh" and "AAh." His fluid gospel choir director movements had us echoing back and forth in community chorus.

When "How Many Ways" broke out onstage, the audience was ecstatic. Biblical allusions to Proverbs, Ecclesiasties, Exodus, and Revelations, and personal spiritual consciousness raised us to a higher level.

Lyrical Grooves' "Strong Woman" brought cheers from the audience. An ode to women who show love and grace, quiet resilience through challenges, carrying theirs and others' hope into another day, sometimes with little relief, sometimes to victorious overcoming, "Strong Woman" embraces the African American tradition of the elder, in this case the mother as a positive role model in familial community despite a time of "Troubles" as Dr. Asa Hilliard used to say.

The hook line still resonating in my ears is one that many young women need to respectfully ask elders whose inspirational living supports and gives back to the community . . . . "What I gotta do to be like you?"  

At their set's end, the audience erupted into applause. A loud chant from ground floor to balcony echoed "ENCORE!" "ENCORE!" "ENCORE!"

Sweating and probably tired, Lyrical Groove graciously consented. With a final burst of energy they --as we used to say in the 60s-- "tore the roof off the sucker."

Lyrical grooviness in full flo . . .
D. Fisher

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