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By: Erika Rasmussen
I’m driving from Raleigh to Charlotte, a drive I make all too often and for which I have run out of ways to entertain myself. Audiobooks, my beloved Rasmusic channel on my music app, the random stations I’ll pick up clearly in the Trinity-Lexington areas of my journey; they’ve all lost the ability to keep me from yawning on this pilgrimage. A lot.
This time I’ve put together a Karl Denson playlist to prepare for the upcoming show in Charlotte on December 2nd. This oughtta be good. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is not only featuring Jimmy Herring of my beloved Widespread Panic, but the Tiny Universe was getting ready to expand some horizons here in the Queen City.
I start my personal jukebox rolling down the highway to “Groove On” from the ‘02 Album “The Bridge” by KDTU. A favorite line of mine is “You see I got my own thing, I’m coming up hard and fast”. Hmm. Now, that line rings true for many of us, but did you know that Karl left Lenny Kravitz’s Band when it was “too restrictive” and they were no longer “stretching” as Karl prefers to do? That’s a big leap to leave such a commercially successful outfit. And thank goodness for us that he did. Mr. Denson has been described as “hard to pin down”. And that’s what makes him so attractive, both in records and in person, year after year. This mesmerizing and tranquil tune puts me in a fabulous mood to start my trip. I love that I wouldn’t necessarily have pulled up something at this beats per minute or genre on a road trip, for fear of it being too mellow, but it makes me so happy that I am totally into it and excited to kick off this drive.
Here comes “Paul Revere” from the ’12 "Karl Denson's Tiny Universe (performing a Beastie Boys Tribute with members of Slightly Stoopid)". Oh, my. It’s a good thing that I’ve perfected the art of throwing down and getting your groove on safely while driving. The Beasties are hip-hop that everyone can relate to, even a pale Southern girl like myself and hearing them interpreted by a musical genius such as Karl just warms my heart. “I think you know what time it is, it’s time to get ill.” (Yass, Karl, yass.) *Side note, I can recite this word for word. Let’s all hope y’all get the pleasure of hearing that in person in Charlotte. I’ll try to keep my recitation to a noise level which is unobtrusive to my fellow concert patrons. Try. I want any younger music lovers in attendance to enjoy this song as much as I did in the ‘80’s, even if they’re not familiar with it prior to the show.
Whew. Okay. Time to cool down. Ah, perfect. I get “Let Love Rule” from the ’89 debut studio album of Lenny Kravitz. So, apparently, Kravitz called Denson and asked him to play the solo. I hear ya, Karl, go on with ya bad self. “It’s time to take a stand. Brothers and sisters join hands.” Oh, wow. Yeah. Still applies. More than ever. Karl and Lenny and others of their skill level can combine this peace-love-yoga sound with a rock vibe that makes it appealing to men, women, young, old, everyone. I haven’t heard this song in a hot minute and I love it all over again, just like in junior high.
Now I’m past that long string of eighteen wheelers and on deck: I’m treated to “Won’t Somebody” outta the ’07 Album “Lunar Orbit” from the Karl Denson Trio. This was when Karl sought out to reinvigorate classic jazz sound with an organ trio including only himself, a keyboardist, and a drummer. You really can’t stop yourself from bobbing your head to this song. Too bad I just injured my neck recently. It’s totally worth it. Again, I don’t think I’d have pulled up jazz on my commute (though I do tune in to the Shaw University station jazz sometimes, just because their programming is so damn good), but I’m totally in my musical element here.
I’m literally wallowing in my aural pleasure when I realize how much more amazing this will be, somehow, when it’s all being performed live with Jimmy Herring. JIMMY HERRING. You know, of Aquarium Rescue Unit and Widespread Panic fame. Jimmy Herring that is surely a white wizard under that button down and jeans and will undoubtedly create some true magic on stage with the musical likes of Karl Denson. It’s almost too much for a fan girl such as myself to take.
A-bup-bup. My favorite exit is coming up, the one with the cheap gas and the Biscuitville. Time to pull over and pause this musical education. I’m only four songs into this trip and I’m already mentally calculating how many days until the show.
Be sure to snag your spot now for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe featuring Special Guest Jimmy Herring on Friday, December 2 at the Neighborhood Theatre.
Getcha tickets and be ready to getcha horizons enlarged a bit.