The Des Moines Register
The Des Moines Register GC
Monday, July 8,2002
Earth, Wind and Fire's funk
was worth the soggy wait
By LORI DRAFAHL
SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER
Only devoted fans of funk will wait
through 2V2 hours of ceaseless rain for a
show that promises Earth, Wind and Fire,
and that's exactly the kind of fans who
showed up for Saturday's "Music on the
Green" at Water Works Park in Des
Although the music was scheduled to
begin at 4 p.m., it wasn't until 6:30 p.m.
when the rain let up enough for the first
band to come out of hiding, just in time to
stop the growing dissension among the
If it wasn't the rain making fans grouchy,
maybe it was the cancellation of the
Ohio Players from the original
lineup. Regardless, the estimated ,
4,500 fans deserved the "trooper
award" for their dedication.
Roots Rock Society had the
difficult job of warming up a
tired, wet audience. Touted
as Chicago's premiere reggae band, the four-member
crew battled microphone
problems early in the set.
Once the technical trouble
was fixed, however, the laidback balance of percussion and
bass mixed with the sweet,
buttery vocals of Sister Jahkiya
spread out over the audience
just as the sun made its
COMING UP: Kool and the Gang
and the Isley Brothers will perform
Aug. 3 at Meskwaki Bingo-Casino-Hotel
Suddenly everything felt better. Stann
Champion, lead guitarist and vocalist,
worked hard at pulling the audience out of
their shells. He asked, "How many people
here have ever been arrested?" before
starting into the upbeat reggae tempo of
"Police Looking for Me." By the end of the
set, people were finally on their feet.
Things kept getting better.
Philadelphia's 'PIeces of a
Dream, playing what they
call "urban-styled smooth
jazz," was worth the $27.50
ticket price alone.
. They tore it up with
opening number "RU
Ready." Eddie Baccus
Jr. ripped out a commanding saxophone
melody while guest
Veasley pumped in
funky sass from
his bass guitar.
among the five players produced a powerful, polished sound. And in white slacks and
dress shirts, the band looked the part.
During "Club Jazz," founder James lloyd
played a frenzied solo from both sides of his
keyboard - front and back. Baccus held a
.clarinet note for longer than a minute during "Knikki's Smile:' dropping to his knees
before drummer Curtis Harmon assisted
him, "James Brown" style.
Pieces of a Dream received standing applause after every number. The audience
At 9:30 p.m., Earth, Wind and Fire reaffirmed why everyone had waited. Fourteen
members grooved on stage in perfect choreography with a spectacular light show
and beautiful dancers to boot.
They opened with "In the Stone" and
quickly moved into "Let's Groove:' featuring a powerful horn section so in sync they
sounded like one awesome instrument.
Although Verdine White, Philip Bailey
and Ralph Johnson were the only funk
veterans of Earth, Wind and Fire, newer
band members seemed no less experienced.
And there were no signs the veterans were
getting tired after 30 years together.
White pranced across the stage with his
bass guitar bouncing on his hip and his
beautiful black tresses tossing in time with
the tassels on his white sequined pants.
Bailey sang "Can't Hide Love" with the
deep sound of seductive sex appeal, and
then hit the stratospheric falsetto notes he's
known for in "Reasons:' proving his fouroctave voice hasn't lost its range.
Excitement lagged during sessions featuring separate instrumentalists, but it was
brought back quickly with "September,"
"Got to Get You Into My Life:' "Fantasy"
and "Sing a Song." By the time they played
"Shining Star:' serious rump-shaking was
going on, a transformation from the earlier
Although the event had a slow and sloppy
start, the payoff was worth tire wait.
There were no signs
the veterans were getting
tired after 30 years