Usually Rocks Off waits until Sunday to check out the ACL gospel tent, because we're tired, our soul is weary, etc. But we found ourselves just wandering around the grounds shortly after we got set up in the media tent, and there wasn't anything else to do, so we figured "What the hell?" (sorry, Jesus) and moseyed over a couple of days early. Now we are damn glad we did.
What we stumbled across was the Gospel Silvertones, an assortment of three male singers, one powerhouse sister female vocalist, and a guitar, bassist (unfortunately wearing an OU cap, but we'll pray for him) and drummer. It just reminded Rocks Off one more time that the musical foundation of gospel ain't that far away from soul and R&B - the Silvertones stirred in some blues, funk, Motown, Philly and some churchier call-and-response stuff, but mostly it was Memphis all the way - it just all depends on where you're going.
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And they were headed straight to glory land, wherein we hope to find ourselves one day. A spirited, clap-hands "Fix Me Jesus (On My Way Home)" led into "I'll Fly Away." Sister girl started off singing the words to a slow arrangement similar to Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" so we pretty much knew what was next.
Sure enough, the drummer kicked into a heavy hip-hop breakbeat, the lead singer jumped into the crowd (and kindly helped them do the Purple Rain dance called "The Bird") and gave the tired old crowd-stoking phrase "Throw your hands in the air, and wave 'em like you just don't care" an entirely new context. The reason the Silvertones don't care is because they can see what's over the horizon, and it's all right. One day we hope to join them.