Debut of Viola Booth Group

Last Thursday, I took a late night visit to The Knockout. I got a message from a certain Viola Booth who invited me to check out a band: “You and your peeps should come see our new 11-piece 60′s 70′s R n B, Soul, Early Rock, and Epic Ballad project play”. Eleven-piece? At the Knockout? I was instantly interested in checking this out. I have been to the Knockout a few times before and it is a grungy venue with a small stage, so I knew watching an 11-piece soul band there would be something new, if not all-together strange.

When I got to The KO, camera handy, a group called the Paranoids was setting up. This turned out to be a major plus for the night. I had a great time jamming to their music and was thankful they had a 45 up for sale. But when I went to buy it, the cute booth tender suggested I just sign up for the night’s raffle; if I won, I would walk away with a stack of all of the music produced by the Paranoids (almost a decade of good stuff). History would suggest I’m luckier than most, so I signed up. I wish I had more space to talk more about this group, they had a great feel and I can only recommend you investigate more on your own.

After the Paranoids finished, I inconspicuously started getting my camera ready. I wanted to pinpoint Viola before I was discovered lurking about. But unfortunately for me, it took about two minutes for Viola to find me out. I have a sneaking suspicion it was because I was the only person in the bar with an oversized camera and an obnoxious flash.

Viola (pronounced ‘Vai-ola’) turned out to be a lovely and energetic woman with short, silverish hair and a big smile. We chatted briefly and I sensed a little nervousness and a lot of excitement; after all, this was her band’s first night and I was just as excited.

The band started setting up. I saw a trumpet walk by, a trombone, and some pretty ladies in red. I was curious to see how they would react to the small stage and was glad that the horn section wasn’t shy about taking up the dance floor. I love seeing big bands take over a small space; it makes for a more intimate night. There were a few technical issues in the beginning but the band set the tone for the night with an energetic instrumental. Viola was jumping around, conducting the band, and for a short while I was unsure if she was going to do anything else. But the second song kicked in and, damn.

Viola can sing.

I spent some time trying to describe Viola’s voice because I knew I would be writing about her later. But I thankfully gave up on that idea and decided to just take in the band as a whole. Viola Booth Group had a lot of energy and they performed some great covers; notable ones being songs by Shirley Bassey, Wendy Rene, and, my favorite for the night, The Falcons (I Can’t Help It). I cannot claim to be a professional critic, nor do I strive to be one, so my judgement of any music group is based almost completely on whether they make me dance. And on Thursday, I was dancing. And not alone. People were jumping, swinging, and a few were literally on the floor. So regardless of my opinion, the patrons of The KO had a great night. And the crowd’s feedback eased the band into a settled groove, especially Viola, who left the stage and sang on the dance floor. I have to say, that girl’s got soul.

After the show, Viola was assailed by what I can only assume to be her new fan base. Fortunately, I was able to grab a few minutes of her time to get a feel for how far she wanted to push this 11-piece project. Still full of energy, Viola told me how excited she was for the group. They are in the process of booking more gigs and ironing out the kinks in the band. And I was glad to hear her plans for releasing original material (maybe even a 45 in the near future).

I am looking forward to seeing this group grow. An 11-piece soul and epic ballad group simply has a lot of potential to give you an outrageous fun night. And indeed, I did have a great time on Thursday. Not to mention I won the Paranoids’ raffle.

Told you I was lucky.

(Funny enough, not counting this line, WordPress says my word count is exactly 777. Completely unintentional!)

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