"Some like it hot!" And "hot" is great way to describe the first annual Balboa Music Festival this past weekend. Hot talent, hot venue, and of course hot weather! But despite the extreme heat and lack of shade, hundreds lined up early to get their seat or ideal spot on the grass at Lake Balboa's recreational park last Saturday in California's San Fernando Valley.
The line-up was a good mix of old school and new school R&B, Hip Hop, and funk, featuring award-winning talents of Kelly Price, SWV, Cameo, Robin Thicke, New Edition, Kyesha Cole, and Gladys Knight. As an #R&BJunkie (one of my fav twitter hashtags) THIS was the music I grew up to and still keep in heavy rotation in the iPod.
Kelly Price kicked off the first annual Balboa Music festival with a medley of hits including "You Should've Told Me", her throwback to Shirley Murdock's "As We Lay," and "Secret Love." But Kelly reminded us she wrote songs for lots of famous artists and sang the hooks on some of the popular radio and club jams before her solo career. Then she shared how Whitney Houston and her fans inspired her music and performances.
Keeping us in the 90s groove, Sisters With Voices aka SWV hit us with that CLASSIC remix of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and "Right Here." To this day I don't know who is responsible for combining those two songs, but God bless 'em! The sisters then took us back to the days of Coko's dangerously long finger nails, watching music videos, and sporting big hoop earrings with "I Get So Weak" and "I'm So Into You."
Before leaving the stage, SWV sang their NEWEST release, "Co-Sign," on their new album, "I Missed Us". It was my first time hearing it and I liked it. From the first note, it reminded me why we as #R&BJunkies fell in love with SWV in the first place. It's just a feel good, sound good, head-bobbing single that makes you want to sing along. Yeah, I missed "us" or them too on radio.
Then from the CD era we stepped further back in time to when cassettes were enjoyed on boom boxes. Cameo took over the stage and lead singer, Larry Blackmon, brought the eye catching costuming with him.
Still sporting that bright red cock piece-slash-jock strap, Blackmon sounded great, but his costume needed a 2012 update--see the pics below. Starting with "She's Strange" (a personal anthem), they made us appreciate the era when instruments were actually played, not just plugged in--imagine that! "Sparkle", "Word Up", and of course the family reunion fav, "Candy," had folks grooving in their chairs and afternoon sun. And yes, I spotted people doing the electric slide.
Smoothing things out just a bit, sexual white chocolate Robin Thicke came on stage and crooned to the ladies. Obviously, this man knows his audience, WELL! So well, I believe I HEARD him take a departure from his usual mellow-groove self and bust a few bars of a Jay-Z rap tune. Unfortunately, I was behind the stage when I heard this, so if anybody's got a link to video of this, PLEASE share.
Then at long last the ones I had been waiting for...Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, and of course, Johnny. I've never seen New Edition live so let me tell you, these dudes ain't lost a step. With the first beat of "If It Isn't Love" the crowd screamed as the group seemed to step right out the popular music video. Some choreography never needs to change and the moves from that video are now etched in our minds forever.
Admittedly, Bobby didn't dance as much but his vocal was still strong. It was and always has been his prerogative as he took us back, waaaay back to when there was jealous girl in their town, and Mr. Telephone Man was called to come check their phone line.
Then still dressed in their cool white outfits, individual members showcased their hits. Johnny showcased his mult-range voice with "My, My, My" followed by Bobby getting the crowd dancing again with "My Perogative."
Then putting on a little street swagger with simple baseball caps and a change in posture, Ronnie, Ricky, and Mike took us straight to the club to "smack it, flip it, rub it down, oh noooooo!" Despite the heat, we--and I do mean we--gave just as much energy back to them as they gave us. Great show, guys! Now I really gotta see them in concert.
And with New Edition, the First Annual Balboa Music Festival, came to end for me. Overall it was a good festival MUSICALLY. Every act I saw or heard was really good and kept the crowd enthused, despite the sweltering heat. That ain't easy to do! You know how some of us can be, especially when it's hot and we don't get what we expect.
That said hopefully next year issues concerning logistics, dissemination of information, and other festival related hiccups will be taken care of. Yes, there were some problems, which were to be expected for a festival first, but overall I see POTENTIAL to turn the Balboa Music Festival into one of the best events of the year for the San Fernando Valley.
Enjoy the Flickr pics!
Held September 15, 2012, in California's San Fernando Valley, the First Annual Balboa Music Festival featured R&B favorites SWV, Kelly Price, Cameo, Robin Thicke, New Edition, and more.