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Tacoma's finest bring the history of soul to Jazzbones

Deep in the soul

Soul Revue: From left, Ava D Jor, Kim Archer, Del Brown, Ricky German and Najamoniq Todd will perform the history of soul music at Jazzbones Jan. 31. Photo credit: Willow's Photography

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Soul music has been a genre that's evolved steadily and uniquely, over time, with shining stars picking up the mantle of those who came before them, and then subsequently adding their own bit of unique energy to the form. Since blues, R&B and rock synthesized sometime in the '50s, there's been a succulent drawing out of all the genre's strengths, mutating and stretching it to various degrees over the past few decades. What has remained a constant is the importance of personality - almost more than any other musical genre, the artists who sing soul are like broken-hearted friends whispering stories of love into your ears.

As David Byrne once said, "The better the singer's voice is, the harder it is to believe what they're saying." With soul, the almost-perfection of the voice matters. Purity of tone meets the cracks of failure. If you can't believe that the person singing to you has been to the same lows of love as you have, or even worse, then it can be hard to connect.

The Soul Revue, coming to Jazzbones, will encompass the breadth and variety of soul over the generations. Featuring the songs of everyone from Aretha Franklin and Etta James to Frank Ocean and Janelle Monae, the Soul Revue will be covering selected bits of evolution from the world of soul music and all its various permutations.

Featured on the bill of the Soul Revue is a cavalcade of local music champions, including Kim Archer, Gritty City Sirens' Ava D Jor, burlesque performer Ricky German and Mirrorgloss' Del Brown and Najamoniq Todd. With the dance-punk of Brown and Todd's Mirrorgloss, the funk-rock of Archer, the classic stylings of German, and the seductive performance of Ava D Jor, the Soul Revue will be a well-rounded and eclectic exploration of soul's various nooks and crannies.

I spoke with Mirrorgloss' Del Brown and Najamoniq Todd about their involvement with this collaborative night of soul.

"I believe it actually began with (Ava D Jor), Ricky and Kim at one of the last burlesque performances at Jazzbones," says Todd. "They just got to talking and, you know, decided that they had a lot of talented friends. They decided to do a show where we'd pool all of our talents together. They called (me and Del) up and left us a message, and we were all about it."

"Naja and I will be performing individual songs, which will be a nice departure from our Mirrorgloss dynamic," says Brown. "We'll also be doing backup for Kim Archer's performance, as well, so it'll be really interesting."

"Everybody's helping out everybody," says Todd," so everybody will get the spotlight at some point."

While the performers at the Soul Revue might share similar interests in music, it only takes a cursory glance to see the differences in approach that fill out this bill. Mirrorgloss, with their penchant for electro-funk, will be gearing toward the rowdier elements; Kim Archer, with her classicist approach to soul will likely be hitting it from the '70s or '60s; Ricky German, with his past in the theater, will possibly be approaching the more dramatic end of soul; and, with Ava D Jor, there's no going wrong with her boundless charm and impeccable stage presence, no matter what era she approaches.

"We tried to pick songs that reflected all ages of soul," says Todd. "We wanted it not to matter how old you are, whether it's the Anita Baker or the newer stuff. No matter what, there's something for you."

At its best, soul music has a way of melting your spine or putting your feet to action. When the band is really cooking, you can bounce back and forth between the two sensations. If you happen to find yourself at a thing like the Soul Revue, you should expect everything the band has coming.

SOUL REVUE, w/ Kim Archer, Del Brown, Ricky German, Ava D Jor, Najamoniq Todd, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 31, Jazzbones, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, $20, 253.396.9169

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