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Kings Go Forth @ Turner Hall Ballroom

July 24, 2009

Jul. 29, 2009
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Friday night's planned album-release show for Kings Go Forth at Turner Hall Ballroom had that extra oomph of celebration when the band officially revealed news of its signing to a three-record deal with the world music label Luaka Bop. Though the news meant a delayed album release, this was only a slight damper to fans subsisting on a skinny diet of three 45-rpm releases, as they were appeased with a link to a track for a digital download and a promise that if they were one of the almost 500 concertgoers that evening, they would be offered the album at a special price.

The 10-piece soul/funk ensemble looked to be in high spirits as they dug into a lively show with an appreciative and interactive hometown audience. Kings Go Forth latched on to the energy of opener JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound with "You're the One," its blasts of brass and three-part harmonies of "ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, bow!" turning Turner into a dance hall. Sounds of trumpet, trombone, congas, drum kit, bass, Nord Electro and guitars floated warmly among the trio of singers: Dan Fernandez on lead, with Black Wolf and Matt Norberg on the backups. Fernandez called out, "Are you ready for the energy? Can you handle it?" The crowd responded with cheers as the band threw out T-shirts and gave them a preview of things to come with a digital download of one KGF track via a Web link on a postcard. With all business aside, the band, playing in front of a backdrop of Lee Marvin/Angie Dickinson's 1967 film Point Blank, gave even the creakiest limbs a reason to shake it, with the mixed crowd of old and young alike unwittingly creating a 2009 version of a '60s dance show as they absorbed the sound and vision.

Vocalist Wolf echoed and challenged the crowd's dance session, doing spins and smiling broadly as Fernandez needlessly requested, "Put on your dancing shoes and please join us," grabbing a tambourine as conga-player Cecilio Negron Jr. gave the one-two Curtis Mayfield treatment to upbeat tunes saturated in everything from Jamaican and disco to rocksteady and ska. There weren't too many stand still-ers on the floor—when KGF tucked into the deep soul of "Don't Take My Shadow," clapping began of its own accord, without any prompting, and disbanded into applause after Negron Jr. took a solo at his congas. Wolf threw out an announcement that "I especially want to thank all the ladies in the Kings Go Forth Fan Club—this one's for you," as he, Norberg and Fernandez stacked their vocals into the strains of "High On Your Love." The backdrop of Point Blank changed to that of Foxy Brown, as KGF swung into the Archie Bell & the Drells crooner "Love Will Rain On You" and concluded on an upswing with their popular "One Day." The band came back for an encore of Love's "Alone Again Or," which bassist Andy Noble introduced as a favorite. The lively song properly echoed the evening, the rich brass of Dave Cusma and Jed Groser heralding a new turn for Milwaukee soul as the crowd celebrated a newfound connection between the city's own aficionados and Luaka Bop.


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