PJ Morton .. Back to Serve More Gumbo
I ventured out on a chilly Tuesday night to see Grammy-nominated artist and drummer for a band you may know as Maroon 5. This wasn’t my first time seeing Morton live. I had a chance to check him out at Capital Ale Downtown in 2017. Since then, Morton has gone on to release unplugged version of Gumbo which features BJ The Chicago Kid, Yebba, Pell and his newest project Christmas With PJ Morton. The nearly sold-out crowd packed into the Broadberry to get a taste of Gumbo.
Wisconsin native Grace Webber was the opening act. The soulful singer performed covers and original music including her song “Elated” You may have heard her on Chance The Rapper’s “All We Got”, her contribution on this track earning her a Grammy. Webber is signed to Big Mouth Records and is working on her first full-length studio album.
After a short intermission, PJ Morton and his band took the stage. Morton, of course, played the keys and was accompanied by a guitar, bass and drums, reminiscent of a church choir set up. His backup singers, The Amours appear with black sequin tambourines in-hand ready to take us to church.
With little introduction, Morton begins his show with “Religion”. Seamlessly transitioning into The Chi-Lites "Have You Seen Her”, the crowd was already hooked, joining in harmony with Morton. Working through Gumbo, with tracks from previous EPs and Live albums Bounce & Soul, Vol. 1(2016), New Orleans(2013), Live From LA(2008), and Emotions(2005). The show was a musical journey guided by Morton as he explored through the soulful R&B and bounce sounds he’s most known for. Reggae, swing, and gospel sounds were all incorporated into the performance.
One of the most impressive parts of the show was Morton’s back up singers The Amours. The Amours have been on tour with Morton for two years and you can see them featured on the Gumbo Unplugged (Live) recording and on NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. The duo’s vocal abilities are some of the best I've seen live. Through the complex vocal arrangements, the two never seemed to be out of sync. Blending and harmonizing perfectly to enhance the overall sound of the show. During a cover of Bob Marley's “Is This Love?” both singers were able to showcase solo. Morton announced that he had signed the duo to Morton Records and they are currently working on their forthcoming project.
Morton brought back Grace Weber to perform “How Deep Is Your Love”. The band and Morton bowed and that was the end of the show, or so we thought. As the crowd was heading to the door Morton and The Amors returned to the stage. When Morton asked the crowd if they wanted more, there was an astounding yes! He shared the inspiration of They Gon’ Wanna Come while concertgoers began yelling “Nah Rick!”, a line from the story he tells on his Gumbo Unplugged (Live) recording. Morton gives the crowd one more mini sermon before the full band returns to perform “Alright”. Morton cuts the music, another church standard, and you call and response in harmony with the band. It was quite the experience.
Morton is the just one of the many known R&B acts visiting the city. Artists H.E.R and The Internet will also be performing in the city before the year is over.
Check out some pics and snippets from last night’s show.
Photos Courtesy of Deidre Lucas (@musicgeek)