The advent of "neo-soul" and the reinvention of funk and R & B has been an unspoken blessing of the past decade in music. The slow mutation from Jill Scott to the British throwback queens Duffy and Amy Winehouse have shown you don't have to reinvent the wheel, just take the old one and paint it a different color. It’s not just throwback music anymore – this revival is all about progression. Mayer Hawthorne grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, and vividly remembers, as a child, driving with his father and tuning the car radio in to the rich soul and jazz history the region provided. “Most of the best music ever made came out of Detroit,” claims the singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, who counts Isaac Hayes, Leroy Hutson, Mike Terry, and Barry White among his influences, but draws the most inspiration from the music of Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, and the legendary songwriting and production trio of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland Jr.
Expectations are high for the admitted vinyl junkie who never planned on taking his crooning public. Hawthorne’s hanging-by-a-string falsetto and breakbeat production on his first recorded effort, the tender “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out,” are simultaneously Smokey and J Dilla – equal parts “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Fall in Love.” “It’s soul,” he explains, “But it’s new.”
“I think Mayer is the only artist in the history of the label that I’ve signed after hearing only two songs,” says Peanut Butter Wolf of Stones Throw Records.
WRSI The River is playing several tracks off of Mayer Hawthorne’s debut album Strange Conversation.
Opener Nikki Jean is an up and coming singer/songwriter who sang on Lupe Fiasco's The Cool and she’s 1/2 of Nouveau Riche with Dice Raw of The Roots. Retro-rock and soul masters Purity Supreme will do a DJ set before the show and at the break.
Tickets for all IHEG shows are available at the Northampton Box Office. Charge by phone 586-8686. Order online at www.iheg.com.