This weekend my friend asked me if I would go see a friend play in a Stevie Wonder cover band at Soulshine Pizza Factory. Now being that I love me some Stevie, of course I was down to go. It wasn’t even a question. With that being said, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, there is a reasonable expectation that a cover band is going to have a few gimmicks and is just going to play the hits to get people dancing. That was definitely NOT the case here. There were no gimmicks…just great music. And people were definitely dancing up something fierce! I don’t normally write about cover bands but this one was so good that I couldn’t not write about it. The musicians were fantastic individually but played together in the 9 piece ensemble like they’ve been touring together for years. After meeting the guitarist’s wife in the crowd we struck up a conversation and she informed me that they actually don’t gig all that much and that this wasn’t even the full band! I was kind of shocked. A band like this should be playing all over town. Each musician has their own project that they work on and it’s a treat when they can get together to play some sweet Stevie Wonder jams.
One of the most impressive players was their tenor sax player. I believe his name was Mickey Gutierrez (sorry if this is wrong, I was too in the moment to get all of their names). Not only did he crush it on sax, but he also slayed it on flute. When he wasn’t playing woodwinds, he was picking up the maracas, or the cowbell, or any other percussive instrument. He rarely stood still. If he wasn’t playing anything, he was dancing! Gutierrez was definitely fun to watch.
The other sax player (I didn’t catch his name, sorry!) was anything but JUST a sax player. As the frontman mentioned, he plays several instruments but on Saturday night he played keys, tenor sax, and harmonica. He was incredible on all three! This cat should be touring in major arenas with the talent he has. There is something special about a musician who is proficient on several instruments that are not similar to each other at all. If you want to hear a couple of snippets of his talent, you can watch a short snapchat (@no-h86) video I took here:
Now I know what you’re thinking, “those musicians are great but did the singer actually sound like Stevie?” And the answer is absolutely! He was great! Not only did he do Mr. Wonder justice but he was a great frontman even though he was sitting behind the keys the whole time. He commanded the stage and had great rapport with the audience. In between songs and introducing the band, he told stories of how he and some of the band members met which gave it a personal touch. As he introduced each member, he took a backseat and just let them rip on their solos. The percussion “drum off” between the latin drums and drum kit, along with the other solos, made “Superstition” last 15 minutes! He did a great job showcasing the other members.
I really hope this band gigs again soon! I really dug their sound and I think Stevie Wonder would have been proud. Not only did I enjoy the band, but I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere at Soulshine. This was my first time there and I will definitely be returning. The stage was large enough where the band didn’t seem crowded and the covered outdoor experience was perfect for the warm Spring air. I could hear the band down the street before walking in and it definitely let you know where the party was that night. The only criticism I have is the parking situation. We did have to drive around a few times to find some (free) parking on a side street, but it wasn’t that far from the venue. Either way, Soulshine is definitely a great way to spend a Saturday night! And Signed, Sealed, Delivered definitely delivered!
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