The holiday spirit swept into the new decade as Nikki Glaspie put together an all-star cast for a memorable show on January 24, 2020, at The Mint in Los Angeles. Billed as “Peace Love and Funk – A Harold Robinson Foundation Benefit Concert,” Glaspie and friends joined together to help raise funds for the charity.
The nonprofit organization, founded in 2008, provides sleepover and day camp retreats for at-risk youth from South Los Angeles and other L.A. areas who would not have the economic means to otherwise attend. Glaspie is on the Advisory Board of the Harold Robinson Foundation. She and her bandmates have attended the camp, taught music education and performed for the kids.
Glaspie is a founding member and drummer for The Nth Power and she previously played in Dumpstaphunk and Beyonce’s band. The drumming dynamo who has an encyclopedic knowledge of classic funk and soul music has been leading a once-a-month residency jam session at The Mint that kicked off in September 2018. Her “Nikki Glaspie & The Homies” shows have brought together a who’s who of talent that has pumped out amazing classic covers for adoring fans.
For the benefit show that took place during Grammy weekend and had a ton of great musicians in Los Angeles, Glaspie brought her Nth Power bandmates Nick Cassarino and Nate Edgar, as well as most of the members of Ghost Note to join in the fundraising performance. Ghost Note members Robert “Sput” Seawright, Nate Werth, Dywane Thomas Jr. (MonoNeon), Jonathan Monez, Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II (known as “Sly5thAve”), Jelani Brooks, Peter Knudson and Dominique Xavier Taplin all performed at the show.
Several musicians that have participated in Homies shows at The Mint also performed. Drin Elliot on keys, Ty Coombs on percussion, Enrique Sanchez (Meghan Trainor) on trumpet, Alex Wasily (Dumpstaphunk) on trombone, Amanda Brown and TJ Wilkins (The Voice) on vocals all joined the fun. Charli2Na (Jurassic 5) acted as master of ceremonies and provided a few tasty raps over the course of the night. Stars spotted in the crowd included Tal Wilkenfeld (Jeff Beck, Prince, Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock) and Angelo Moore (Fishbone).
The show kicked off with Aretha Franklin’s “Jump To It”, led by Amanda Brown on lead vocals. MonoNeon took over on bass and Jonathan Monez performed an amazing sax solo during the Dazz Band classic “Let it Whip.” TJ Wilkins took over on vocals for The Bar-Kays “Traffic Jammer.” Amanda Brown had vocal support from TJ Wilkins, Nikki Glaspie and Nick Cassarino on a raucous version of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” Nikki Glaspie, Amanda Brown and Nick Cassarino shared vocal duties on The O’Jay’s “Give The People What They Want.” Highlights during the song included great solos from Alex Wasily and Enrique Sanchez. Also, Charli2Na jumped on stage and rapped a verse.
The first set ended with a moving intro by Nick Cassarino. He talked about spending some time at Harold Robinson Foundation’s Camp Ubuntu with a group of kids. He was so emotionally overwhelmed by the experience that he immediately found a piano and composed a song that was eventually recorded by Nth Power called “I Will Never Leave You.” Nth Power’s Cassarino, Glaspie and Edgar were joined by Amanda Brown and TJ Wilkins for a beautiful version of the song that concluded with some tears and a brief set break.
The second set opened with lead vocals by Glaspie on Ashford & Simpson’s “It Seems To Hang On.” Glaspie, Sput, Nate Werth and Ty Coombs held a big percussion jam during the song. Glaspie followed with Chaka Khan’s “Do You Love What You Feel.” MonoNeon played a super, funky bass line during Cameo’s “Shake Your Pants.” Cassarino closed out the song with an amazing guitar solo that transitioned into Prince’s “I Would Die For You,” led on vocals by Sput. Stanley Clark’s amazing young drummer Mike Mitchell sat in for Glaspie for a segment of the song.
Near the end of the show, TJ Wilkins took over lead vocals for “Cool” by Morris Day and The Time. Things wrapped up with another Prince classic, “Let’s Work.” The combined bands spent all of their remaining energy on the last song while the still packed house danced enthusiastically. Glaspie thanked everyone for coming out and supporting the Foundation before introducing the band members. One by one, each took a lengthy solo, but it also seemed appropriate that it ended with a wild drum off led by Glaspie and Sput, joined by Werth, Coombs and an eight-year-old Japanese import prodigy named Oto Nori. The energy was there till the finale as this special night of great music and good vibes finally concluded.
Go to the Harold Robinson Foundation website to learn about the good work they are doing and how you can help.
Live photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon ©2020.