For a long time I knew the name “Amy Winehouse” without really knowing anything about her music. I knew that she was famous and that she frequently got into trouble because of her drug and alcohol habits. I wasn’t really interested. I assumed she was some talentless wannabe like Paris Hilton who just wanted attention at any cost.
What I didn’t realize was that I was already a fan of her music. I had just not yet made the connection between the name and the music.
It was not actually that long ago that I finally made the connection. I was in a bar in Chiang Mai last year and there was a TV hanging from the ceiling broadcasting some live performance. I recognized the music and started paying attention.
Then the ball dropped. “Wait. That’s Amy Winehouse??” I thought. Another surprise–she was white! I had mistakenly assumed the singer of these songs I had heard and loved was black because of her incredible contralto vocals. But no, it turns out, there are some white folks who got soul and Amy was definitely one of them.
In her short but stellar musical career, she released two critically-acclaimed albums, Frank (2003) and Back to Black (2006), the second of which won several Grammies, including Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. Back to Black features the Dap-Kings, a band that has been playing funk and soul since the early sixties. If you’ve never listened to Amy Winehouse because, like me, you’d been put off by her notoriety, give this album a listen and be prepared to have your all your prejudices shattered. It really is a masterpiece.
Sadly, Amy died a month ago at age 27 from what many assume to be a drug overdose, though there has been no official verdict on that. Her death was not a huge surprise, given the inexorably self-destructive path she seemed to be on, but a profound tragedy nonetheless.
I had just started booking music for Viracocha, a local antiques store/subterranean music venue, when Amy died. Upon news of her death, the idea to do a tribute show honoring Amy and her astounding musical talent immediately occurred to me. The obvious choice to lead that effort was local soul/funk/blues band Con Brio, a band that has quickly gone from playing in tiny venues like the Revolution Cafe to much larger venues like the Great American Music Hall. Give them a few more years and I think they’ll be selling out stadiums!
Xandra Corpora, lead singer and guitarist for Con Brio, has an incredible voice that will blow you away. Joining Xandra and Con Brio will be a whole host of guest singers, each singing one or two of Amy’s songs.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this show! Full details are available on Facebook (though there will also be a few surprises in store too!). Tickets are almost sold-out, but at the time of publishing this, there are still a few left. You can buy them here. Don’t miss this!!