Bump city

The very first concert I ever attended was Tower of Power at the Cal Expo race track. I was a freshman in high school, about 14, and the band was at the height of it’s popularity. I was in the high school band and played trumpet (badly) and French horn (even worse) and I was attracted to bands with horn sections (Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears included).

I guess things have come full circle for me because the latest concert I’ve been to was played by Tower of Power as well, at this year’s San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton.  It’s just that this time I was there as a photographer, not a fan. That’s not to say I’m no longer a fan, but through the years, personal funds can get redirected to things other than buying recordings, and often one can lose touch with the music of one’s youth. The Oakland band’s concert at the fair bought it all back to me.

At times it seemed Tower of Power had a revolving-door policy at the lead singer position. They had three different singers in their first three albums and several more throughout the years.The first album featured Rufus Miller’s funky, gritty voice, and Lenny Williams, who was on the third through fifth albums (my favorites), had a higher, soulful and more refined style. Current singer Larry Braggs could be the band’s best yet. His strong voice seems to split the difference between Miller and Williams and he’s got a wonderful and charming stage presence.

Speaking of vocals, a crowd pleaser was when tenor saxophone player and founding member Emilio Castillo took a turn at singing lead with “You’ve got to Funkafize” which got the crowd moving and grooving.

But the singing was never the main reason for the band. The raison d’etre for Tower of Power has always been the horns. The horns have never been an afterthought or an instrumental background “doo-wop,” but rather a separate voice of their own. Even though there have been some personnel changes over the years, they were as tight as ever. With Tom E. Politzer on lead tenor saxophone,  Adolfo Acosta on trumpet, founding members Castillo, Stephen “Doc” Krupka on baritone sax, and Mic Gillette (who left the band for a while but now has returned), they played as if they were one person.

In shooting most concerts, photographers are typically only allowed to stay for first two or three songs. The Fair’s shows allow us to stay for as long as we like. At the Tower of Power show, I stayed for a full hour until, deadlines being what they are, I had to leave. Still, it was an hour of a band that I grew up with, and they showed why I loved them.

This entry was posted in General news, Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives