I have considered myself a fan of Dave Watts and The Motet for a long time. My attachment first blossomed on a sweltering day in July 2004 when I saw them play a delightful, percussion-infused Afro-Cuban dance set out in the middle of the woods on the Home Grown Music stage at SmileFest. It was an impressive performance, and one I often replayed on the Internet Archive. Years later, I got the opportunity to review "Dig Deep" for Home Grown, and it represented another intriguing, more electronic dance inspired version of the Motet and revealed the sort of chameleon nature of the Motet. They have morphed and solidified even further in the years since that review and it was with great excitement that I got the opportunity to review their show on Greensboro on 2/18/2016. Featuring drum and percussion luminary Dave Watts, Garrett Sayers on bass, Joey Porter on keyboards, Ryan Jalbert on guitar, Gabriel Mervine playing trumpet, new saxophone player Drew Sayers, and new vocalist Lyle Divinsky, the Motet offers a powerful, robust sound, driving and percussive, but also elegant and sophisticated. All of this would be on full display at the Blind Tiger on Thursday night.
We arrive at the Blind Tiger to catch Fat Cheek Kat's opening set and were treated to a highly energetic, funky, soul-tinged set where Fat Cheek Kat unveiled several new tunes while playing several other tracks from the band's debut album as well. The past year or so has fostered a nice sense of cohesion amongst the band performance-wise and finds them playing with increased showmanship, confidence and aplomb. Not that this ever was lacking, but the musicians in Fat Cheek Kat seem to have a lot of fun playing together, "listen well" to one another as musicians and have a nice vibrant energy on stage. From Andrew Lazare's slick vocals and lyrics, to Cass Copsey's husky guitar to Court Wynter's charismatic turn on the bass, or all the myriad contributions of the band in general, their performance was definitely top notch this evening. I find myself thinking that I would feel sorry for almost any other band that had to follow Fat Cheek Kat's performance this night. But I smile, as I know that the Motet will be up for the challenge. Fat Cheek Kat played impressively in their opening slot this night, and they gave me a nice, autographed copy of the setlist for the review, which was much appreciated.
The Motet takes the stage next and proceeds to serve up an absolutely ridiculous serving of funk, jam, soul and otherworldly-ness, with tight, precise grooves, lacquered horns, and soulful vocal deliveries from Lyle Divinsky, as well as Paul Creighton and Tanya Shylock (who many will remember as the lead singer of Mountain of Venus). The show is touted as the saxophone player Drew Sayers' debut, but as the brother of the bass player, the chemistry is already predictably in place. Not as much is said about Divinsky also being a newer addition to the band, but his performance proves to be breathtaking. He sings with a playful charm and charisma, and he has the big voice to match up to the muscular driving force playing behind him. The Motet fills the Blind Tiger with immense grooves; horns, drums, guitar, bass and keys all swell together and collide, falling back into place in precise, measured anarchy; the crowd sways and swoons in appreciation. I find myself sitting there almost in awe. The vocalists sometimes leave the stage for a track, the band swirls and sways, the crowd undulates and gyrates. The dance party proves to be in full effect on this Thursday night, and the Greensboro crowd is full of appreciative smiles and lots of folks bobbing their heads in delight
I remark to several people that this was proving to be my favorite performance in the Blind Tiger so far this year; while the comment may not mean as much to the casual observer, as a regular patron of the establishment and supporter of Doc's vision for the Blind Tiger, I'm a frequent attendee of shows at the Blind Tiger. I see a lot of shows at the Tiger and this one was extra special. After delivering a wonderful, driving set, the Motet returns for a spirited encore, thanking the Greensboro crowd for its warmth and enthusiasm and proceeds to whip the crowd into a frenzied lather with an extended lengthy encore that culminates in a boisterous cover of the Dazz Band's "Let it Whip." The selection proves to be engaging and fun, and the crowd danced with extra enthusiasm, sensing that the night was nearing its succulent, but bittersweet conclusion. After reflecting in the glow of the evening a bit, I gather my best friend, and make my way for the door.
I have always regarded the Motet as a special treat, as I rarely get to see them, and their performance on this night was truly remarkable. With a fun, driving mixture of funk, jam, soul and rhythm, the Motet has once again asserted itself as a musical favorite, complete with infectious dance grooves, soulful lyrics and a dynamic sense of presentation. After witnessing that night's performance, I felt lucky to be included, as the crowd was engaged and responsive and the Motet responded warmly with an energetic, inspired performance.
- By J. Evan Wade
- Photos by Jerry Friend at Sustained Notes
Fat Cheek Kat
The Blind Tiger - 2/18/2016
Love of a Stranger
Beneath My Skin
Fat Cheek Kat
The Blind Tiger - 2/18/2016
FUNNYBONE > -JAM -FOOL NO MORE > -SHAKE -CLOAK > -KEEP ON -THE TRUTH -DON'T LEAVE ME -RYNODUB -FIGHT -CUT THE CAKE > -STILL FEELS GOOD -CHEAP (W. THANKFUL) -CLOSED ------ -LET IT WHIP