September 15, 2017. Late post. Loosely written. Drafted on my commute home that night. Gotta love the notes section of the phone.
Tonight, my mom and I saw the legendary Smokie Robinson at Ravinia. Smokie’s set was a slow simmer and I enjoyed every minute of it. Oddly enough, it was comparable to Lionel Richie. I think it’s the singer-songwriter & balladeer effect. I read somewhere, don’t remember where, Smokie was referred to as the “poet laureate of soul”—how befitting a title.
Visuals. Smoke came on stage like:
Green suit. Shiney emerald jacket and leather pants. Green studded belt. White shirt. Hair: twists in top, sides slicked down. Earrings both ears. Link chain. At some point he took off his jacket and I could see his nipples. I didn’t need to see his nipples. He’s an elder.
-Oooh baby baby (He was very Lenny Williams-esk on this one…wails, cries, and pleads. Lol lol lol.)
He’d come to dance. Gyration. Pelvic thrust. Now you know Smokie always been a lil stiff, but babeeee he was moving tonight. “Music got good to me” he shared as he danced.
He gave us a history lesson about the “Motown Revue” and going on tour with the other legends. I always enjoy hearing Black elders in the business tell their stories.
He noted that the mighty Temptations was his favorite group to write.
Among the songs he wrote for them were:
“The Way You Do The Things You Do”
He shared a story about Stevie Wonder. He said Stevie, be on “Wonder time.” lol lol lol
The music/track for “Tears of a Clown” was by Stevie and the lyrics were by Smokie. Who knew? Cool story.
Growing up, there was always music playing in Smokie’s home from “gut bucket blues” to “gospel” and this influence is heard in his music. They’d play 78s in his house.
“Fly Me to the Moon”
Smokie slowed it all the way down and scaled back. Could hear the pureness of his voice and his falsetto was easy on the ear. This was the “B-side” part of the set.
He sat on a stool with just the piano and his background singers supporting his simmer. These were truly the love-making, baby-making songs. My mom knew most of these, I did not, so I just sat back and watched a master, do what he do. Definitely will be checking for these at the record sto.
“Give Her Up”
“Swept for you Baby”
“I’ve Made Love To You A Thousand Times”(He really broke this song all the way down.)
He then sped it up a little on “Just to See Her,” the bass player also came alive. He was jamming on the one. Lol lol lol
“Tracks of My Tears” is one of my favorite Smokie songs. The first two lines of the song does it for me, they just set up the song so nicely:
“People say I’m the life of the party
Because I tell a joke or two…”
It was definitely a treat to see this live. It started with the guitar and the musicians took their time and Smokie took his time, and the crowd sang along softly.
Clearly, this was my mom’s jam too, cos she jumped up.
“Cruisin” is another of my favs because I love the track/instrumental. At the end of this song dude on the keys went into gospel chords. Also, the bass and horn players broke it down. Bass player was truly feeling it—he was playing with his whole body. This song FELT good. Nothing like music that FEELS good to the soul.
I am so glad that I saw a legend tonight. Smokie is truly a master, the “poet laureate of soul.”