Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ajuana Black at Soft Notes Take 1

Ajuana Black at Soft Notes on 19th between Franklin and Webster Friday nights

I went to see a play Friday evening, Mud over at Cuttingball at the Exit Theatre on Taylor. Intriguing as only a Cuttingball production could be, I was surprised when at just a bit past 9 p.m., it was over. I guess that happens when there is no intermission, but the night was still early and careless in San Francisco, I wanted more, so I jumped on BART at Powell and went back to Oakland.

The plan was to go see Ajuana Black at Soft Notes, a bar, restaurant, club in downtown Oakland. I'd taken my notes, so I knew its location and drove from West Oakland to the downtown venue, found plenty of parking, noted the 12-2 AM curfew, locked my doors and walked to the corn of Franklin and Broadway looking for 333 19th Street just at Webster.

Soft Notes is an adult venue, which was nice. The basketball game was on and everyone spoke when I arrived and sat down across from the bar. Ajuana had on a shimmy dress, red and a matching wig— no it wasn’t red, just appropriate for the look…pageboy I think you call the style.

The set described as Harlem Cabaret.

The singer/songwriter danced from the stage all the way back to where I was sitting, kind of near the door. I could feel the breeze each time it opened and people came or left.

Soft Notes is long, not wide, so that was a lot of traveling from farthest point to farthest point. Most present were there because they wanted to hear Black sing and the food wasn’t bad either, especially those who love Cajun or Creole style cooking. I appreciated the absence of pork in the greens and red beans. And I was really digging Ajuana and her off the hook band, but when the second set started and the singer reappeared in jeans and a tunic, natural hair…I knew it was on as the bassist stood up, the back up vocalist stepped forward and the entire tone shifted the singer trekked down a collective memory lane--yes, it was a sing along, only we didn't have mics. Ajuana Black selected a medley of old school goodies, before launching into a set featuring Black originals.

I love her CD,"A Soulful Journey," and the opportunity to hear her sing some of my favorite songs live, was an unbelievable treat. She rocked! As did her band and singers.

I didn't know there was dancing, even though an empty dance floor was a clue that such were possible, I just hadn’t seen the dancing part of Black Fridays at Soft Notes advertised, but I am remedying that. After one invitation to dance, I was up for the rest of the evening. I even lost my glasses as I moved closer to the beat. The second set was the better set for me.

I’d wanted to dance tonight and dance I did. My dance partner and I cha cha-ed and salsa-ed and freestyled the evening away as the artist's insightful meditations --read lyrics, washed over all present. There were a lot of January birthdays in the house too, including a new friend’s kid brother.

You know how you know you're where you're supposed to be when you see someone you know and their presence is an affirmation, well that is how it was when I saw Mama Jumoke Hodge, Oakland Public School Board Member. Here she is pictured with yours truly and the kind hostess I mention in my review...take 2 (smile).


At 12:38 PM, Blogger ajuana said...

Thank You Wanda!


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