R&B and Smooth Jazz for a Worthy Cause

By Ricky Richardson

Long Beach - Teamster Black Caucus So. Cal Chapter presented their First Annual Music Festival 2009, on Saturday, November 7. The festival was held at the Queen Mary Events Park.

The skies were gray as I left my apartment in route to the festival. The skies got brighter as four of the talented stars of R&B and smooth jazz lit up the stage during their respective sets.

The show got under way with Greg Adams. Mr. Adams is a talented Grammy and Emmy-nominated trumpeter/producer and a founder member of Tower of Power. His melodic muted trumpet sent notes high over the festival venue and the nice cool breeze carried them over the Marina. His set was fantastic and upbeat, as you would expect from the former member of a group with a signature sound that continues to be a sought out entity. The crowd and I enjoyed �What�s It Gonna Be,� �Smooth Operator,� �Just Like Breathing� (ballad) and closed his brief set with �What�s Up With That.� Please check out his latest CD East Bay Soul features several songs written with Tower of Power band mate Nick Milo.

EMCEE Vesta Williams with background vocalist Robert G, Alex Day and Romeo Johnson aka The Fantastics entertained the crowd with �Sweet, Sweet Love,� �Congratulations,� and �Don�t Blow a Good Thing.� Someone in the crowd requested an encore of �Congratulations� as this tune spoke to people on a very deep and personal level.

Guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., produced some head bopping and body swaying as he performed material from his latest CD Lay It Back. His latest CD is an R&B-inspired smooth jazz assortment of originals and covers. The crowd were entirely engaged as Paul gave them �The Workout,� and went back in the day with �It�s A Shame,� �Walkin�, written along with Brian Culbertson. �Two for 10, 000,� and saxophonist/keyboardist Ralstein Calhoun wailed away on an un-named blues song to the roaring delight of the crowd. Mr. Jackson thru a smooth punch on �Love TKO,� and gently concluded his set with �Easy.�

The DJ kept the crowd on the makeshift grass dance floor before the headliners took to the stage. There was lots of audience participation when the DJ played �Cupid�s Shuffle.�

The Emotions, three DIVAS from the windy city of Chicago warmed the hearts of the crowd as they reached into their extensive catalog of hits to close out the festival. Their set brought back many fond memories for everyone in attendance on the following tunes �I Don�t Wanna Lose Your Love,� �Show Me How,� �Best of My Love,� �Blessed,� �Boogie Wonderland,� �Rejoice,� and �Don�t Ask My Neighbors,� just to name a few.

The inaugural Music Festival was a family event that included a children�s activity area, door prized, food and beverages and various other booths.

The Teamsters Black Caucus So Cal Chapter will use proceeds from the event towards its various causes including helping feed families at Thanksgiving & Christmas and provide toys for children at Christmas and scholarships for students in the community.