Harlem Stages A Rockin’ Premiere

The snow didn’t stop them. Neither did the date change. Apparently they were ready for a party and when they got there, that’s exactly what they did.

Who and what am I talking about?

Harlem Stage opened their Spring 2010 season of Uptown Nights on Sunday, February 28 with a show featuring TreZure as the opening act, Van Hunt as the headliner and DJ Cosi as the ongoing entertainment for the evening.

First things first, how many of you have ever been to Harlem Stage? I hadn’t. In fact, I’d heard of it, but had no clue where it was located. After seeing Van Hunt post on his twitter feed that he would be playing there, I racked my brain to figure out where they had hidden this venue. The answer? 135th and Convent. Remember that, as you will want to attend one of the upcoming shows.

A very polite and knowledgeable staff greeted the patrons as we came into the building, directing us downstairs for coat-check and then back upstairs for the main event. They had wine and cupcakes (interesting choice, but can you really ask for a better pairing?). It certainly made me happy. Bilal was there. KimberlyNichole was in the room. The crowd was jamming, as DJ Cosi jumped from Zap Mama to Bill Withers like it was a natural progression. People had ventured out in disgusting weather, on a Sunday night no less. The mood in the room was electric; the crowd was ready to party.

TreZure took the stage, giving us a dose of the African Diaspora. From jazz to blues to soul to Haitian ra-ra, she took us on a musical journey that defied traditional musical categorization. Her voice: clear, her band: concise (I LIVED for the electric violinist – will you marry me?). TreZure amped the already ecstatic crowd and made for an easy transition as Mr. Hunt graced the stage. By the way, I want to hear more from TreZure. Other venues in Harlem, are you listening?

Van Hunt took the stage, full of vigor. Maybe he was feeding off of our energy; maybe we were feeding off of his. Either way, he looked like he was ready to burst out of the blazer he was rocking. Speaking of rocking, that’s exactly what he did. Plenty have thrown Van Hunt in the neo-soul bin and assumed that’s where he belongs, but his true fans know that he’s got enough punk rock in him to have easily fit into CGBG back in the day. The set was lively and energetic, but Hunt pulled back to deliver a soulful, sensual rendition of one of my personal favorites, “Seconds of Pleasure.”

After two encores, DJ Cosi took over again, keeping the crowd right where they belonged. He continued blessing us with a hot soundtrack as we hugged our old friends, chatted up new ones and drank up the experience that is Harlem Stage.

The next Harlem Stage event will be Friday, March 26th, with Tamar-Kali, Imani Uzuri, Toli Nameless, Joi and many others joining the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra in tribute to Ms. Nina Simone. To learn more, visit www.harlemstage.org.

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