Throughout the month of February, Natalie’s is presenting a series of Black History Month concerts. The seven date series is front-loaded with excellent jazz performances, and also includes great touring bands of other styles. Some of Columbus’ best jazz musicians and groups have prepared special programs for their roles in the series, giving local audiences a different angle on each act and a slice of African-American music history. Each concert includes a discussion on a black history topic by vocalist, educator, writer, and actor Debra James Tucker. Along with a busy schedule of teaching and performing, Tucker hosts the Gospel Soul Brunch series at Natalie’s on the first Sunday of each month. Plan on coming to Natalie’s for this outstanding series of shows, and don’t forget about their regular robust jazz lineup! Keep reading for details on each concert:
Tuesday, February 2nd (8 – 10pm): Debra James Tucker’s Survival of the Boulevard Singer. To kick off the month long celebration, Debra James Tucker presents her one-woman production of Survival of the Boulevard Singer, the winner of an Ohio Arts Council Award for Individual Excellence. As Tucker says, “I made this work to engage the religious community, the black religious community in particular, in a dialogue about homophobia in the church.” More info on the show is available here. This show will feature a talk back session at the end of the show, including a brief discussion of Baynard Rustin, James Cleveland, and James Baldwin, gay black men who made great contributions to politics and culture. Tickets are available here.
Friday, February 5th (10pm – midnight): James Gaiters Herleef (Revival) Ensemble: Freedom Now! Drummer Gaiters has assembled a large cast of great musicians for this unique event that will blend some hip-hop flavors with great live jazz in a celebration of “culture, freedom, and Black Expression.” Gaiters will be joined onstage by Eddie Bayard (saxophone), Ernest “Lee” Savory (trumpet), William Menefield (piano), Greg Wolfram (bass), and Krate Digga (turntables), along with guest vocalists Walter “Matt” Seward, Vicky Saunders, Carnell Willoughby, and Ashley Watson. Host Debra James Tucker will give a brief introduction and discussion. Tickets are available here.
Saturday, February 6th (10pm – midnight): fo/mo/deep. Columbus’ foremost jazz-funk quartet returns to Natalie’s with a special show to celebrate Black History Month. Their lineup for the evening will consist of bassist/bandleader Ron “Fatkat” Holmes, Jr., Dr. Keith Newton on saxes and flute, Andre Scott on drums, and Kevin Jones on keyboards. Host Debra James Tucker will give a brief introduction and discussion on Rosetta Tharpe, a pioneer of gospel music. Tickets are available here.
Sunday, February 7th (2:30 – 4:30pm): The Gospel Soul Brunch Series with E-Flat. The Gospel Soul Brunch Series, hosted by Debra James Tucker on the first Sunday of each month, continues with the outstanding group E-Flat, which performs a style that mixes “smooth jazz, gospel and contemporary gospel, R&B, soul and neo-soul music.” The band’s members include founder David Dennis (saxophone), Jesse Leonard (bass), Daniel Goins (keyboard), Jerry Powell (drums) and Erika Dennis (vocals). Natalie’s Sunday Brunch menu will be available from 11am until 3pm. Tucker will give a brief introduction and discussion on Thomas A. Dorsey, the father of gospel music. Tickets are available here.
Tuesday, February 16th (8 – 10pm): Tribute to Charles Mingus with Magically Delicious. All-star jazz fusion group Magically Delicious will present a special tribute to the music of Charles Mingus, the highly influential jazz double bassist. Michael Cox and Kris Keith form the front line of the band on various woodwinds (tenor, alto, soprano, and baritone saxes, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute), with Andy Woodson (acoustic and electric bass) and Tony McClung (drums) in the rhythm section. Host Debra James Tucker will give a brief introduction and discussion on Charles Mingus. Tickets are available here.
Thursday, February 25th (9 – 11pm): Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials. Crazy Mama’s Concerts, in conjunction with Natalie’s, will present Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, one of the premier national blues acts working today. This Chicago-based band is led by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Lil’ Ed Williams, who has played with the Imperials (guitarist Mike Garrett, bassist James “Pookie” Young, and drummer Kelly Littleton) for over twenty years. Host Debra James Tucker will give a brief introduction and discussion on the role of the barbershop quartets in the evolution of male vocals throughout history. Tickets are available here.
Friday, February 26th (10pm – midnight): Laura Rain and the Caesars. The Detroit-based outfit of vocalist Laura Rain, who has earned comparisons to Aretha Franklin, and backing band the Caesars, veterans of Detroit’s R&B, jazz, rock, and blues scenes, play their retro modern soul that bears that “unmistakable Detroit sound.” Host Debra James Tucker will give a brief introduction and discussion on “Where are we going from here? Socially, Culturally, Politically, and Spiritually.” Tickets are available here.