Tower of Power, June 18, 2009

June 22, 2009


Tower played at the Power Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Thursday night, June 18, 2009. We were in the second row, and we had a wonderful time!

Lydia Pense and the latest incarnation of Cold Blood was up first that night. I remember the band from the early 1970s when they came out with an album called “Sysiphus.” Mic Gillette, from Tower, played trumpet for them back in the day. Pense is the only original member still in the band. The band’s tunes were not as memorable as Tower’s, but the band served up some pretty decent rhythm and blues with Pense’s Janis Joplin-tinged vocals. Both horn players did a fine job, and in particular trumpet player Rich Armstrong was a standout.

The members of TOP seemed to enjoy themselves a great deal that night. Some nights the crowd is tough to get up and going, but they had this bunch eating out of their hands. Since Tommy Politzer, Mike Bogart, Mark Harper and of course Emillio Castillo are all former Michiganders it was a lot of fun for everyone. Mike’s mom was even at the concert! That was great because Mike is leaving the band to pursue a career in music ed at the end of July. We’re going to miss him, even though Mic Gillette is coming back to fill the lead trumpet/trombone spot he founded in the band!

The playlist includes several of the tunes from the new “Great American Soulbook” cover album – including patching some JB tunes into the middle of “Diggin’ On James Brown.” Being in the second row meant I even got a few halfway decent pictures from my iPhone, which has a relatively poor camera. (The one of Tommy P above is from the iPhone.) It was a great night, the band played great, and everybody went home happy. (And the strong thunderstorms came in the following night, so we missed all of that.)

I can’t comment on the sound system – we were so close we basically heard live sound and stage monitors only, which was a different balance, of course, but well worth it to get close enough to get to sing “Diggin’ On James Brown” into Mimi’s mic…


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