Disco, funk, pop and soul were all very alive when Earth Wind & Fire hit the stage this week at the Bergen PAC in N.J. The group simply is, in one word, Amazing!
They played to a packed house and had the audience on their feet from the first song to the last. It’s safe to say that they could have easily sold out a weeks worth of tickets had the venue offered them the time.They played such hits as “Mighy Mighty”, “Shining Star”, “Sing a Song”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “After the Love is gone” and so many more!
During the show I stopped by the bar to have a cocktail and noticed a very put together lady in red having a conversation with the nice women working the door. I commented on how great the group sounded and the lady in Red named Kelley said “the Saxophonist (Gary Bias) belongs to me” so of course I though I had an opportunity to get some good inside information. I chatted for a while with the former Ebony/Jet model about her life with Gary who has been with the band since 1987. She was very careful not to give away to many secrets but did tell me that she and Gary have been together (unmarried) for 25 years and he still occasionally serenades her from across the room. She gladly admitted that he is truly the love of her life. Kelley also revealed some of her just released line up of lotions and creams called “Yummy”.
Though some of the band’s members have changed over the years,the line up is still led by founder Maurice White, who clearly knows how to pick musicians to carry on the legacy.
I met with most of the guys backstage after the show, along with some of their significant others and was greeted with open arms by all. My interview with Gary Bias, the Grammy Award winner, was very relaxed. When I asked how so many guys with so much talent could stay together without going out to do their own thing, he simply replied, “The song book is the most wonderful song book that anyone would want to play”, “that’s the real star of the show I think, it’s the song book”. “It’s just a great bunch of guys, we’re like family, and you can’t go wrong”. When I asked about his performance for President Obama he said ” It was a great experience, a real honor, he’s such genuine and warm guy you forget he’s the president”.
Gary’s favorite previous job outside of music was when he was teaching grammar school in LA, saying that “I love the little kids, they are less trouble but more work”. Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker are just a few performers you would find in this Jazz fan’s Ipod. David Whitworth was kind enough to sing a few bars of Happy Birthday for my 11 year old daughter Lauren before heading out to the bus. Thanks again for that David! John Paris, the drummer for the band, shared with me his Yoga, vitamin, and workout routine to prepare for a night on stage. I asked him to pick a favorite EWF song and he said “I just couldn’t, that’s like picking a favorite Stevie Wonder song”. When I mentioned how diverse the crowd was John said “I love seeing the young kids in the front row singing our songs word for word”. He shared his feelings about the band by saying ” I still pinch myself, I’m very lucky to be with such an amazing group of guys”. Miles Davis, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, the Carpenters and the Beatles are just a few in his Ipod.
I have nothing but love for EWF, my night with them couldn’t have been any better!
Anyone needing to jump-start their mood should definitely experience EWF in concert. They are currently on tour here in the states and in Europe through September.
Visit their website for tour dates. EarthWindandFire.com
By: Tom Murro