Saturday Night: Kashmere Stage Band at Fitzgerald's

The Legendary Kashmere Stage Band Fitzgerald's July 21, 2012

Craig Baldwin, the passionately loud and boisterous band director of the Kashmere Stage Band, broke his ankle recently and was forced to perform in a boot and with a cane Saturday night at Fitzgerald's in the Heights. Music, however, is a magical thing, and its healing powers were funneled full force through him on that night.

Baldwin danced and sang and got down on it to the beat of the legendary Thunder Soul. Hobbled as he was, he and the band put together one of the funkiest, loudest, and most soulful shows Houston has experienced in a very, very long time.

As I walked into the venue, I caught the tail end of Lower Life Form's set. The mood was very much "New Orleans Jam," and the mix of brass band and hip-hop created a lively atmosphere for the appreciative crowd. At one point, they dropped the jubilant piece "Run Go Get It", with the rapper rapping at warp speed and the MC and friends running in place to the beat.

Highly enjoyable, infectiously moving, and downright fun performance by the LLF crew. I hope to catch a full set from them sometime soon.

Soon after, a whirlwind swept across the stage, a cacophony of chairs and horns and music stands coming together to accommodate the main event. The director silenced the chaos, then initiated a funky rhythm section groove that warmed up the band and the crowd.

The guitar dropped in, then the bass, and finally the horns. Layers of shimmering sounds whistled through the air of the cavernous venue, traveling from ear drums to the soul, causing the bobbing of heads, raising and dropping of shoulders, and swiveling of hips all around.

The Kashmere Stage Band continues the legacy of a certain Mr. Conrad "Prof" Johnson, who began the ensemble as band director at Kashmere High School in the late 1960s, and whose success was documented in the 2011 film Thunder Soul. If you have not yet seen the film, stop everything and do that now. We will wait...

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When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Houston Press contributor Marco both writes and points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond.