Sunday 24 January 2010


We were very pleased to get Darnell Kendricks over here from Detroit to perform at The Luxury Soul Weekender in Blackpool.He turned out to be a great guy and turned in a superb performance in the lounge on the friday night.He even managed to survive a "Crazy" Mark weekend :-)
Now safely back in Detroit here is his short reflection of his first trip to the UK and I am sure it won't be his last !

Darnell said
"On the morning of my Birthday I arrived in Manchester for The Luxury Soul Weekender at the Hilton In Blackpool. I arrived early in the morning Colin Curtis and his animated side kick Mark ""collected"" me from the airport, ""collected"" obviously UK term not used here in America but I understood what it meant when Colin explained by phone that he would be ""collecting"" me lol. It was a frigid cold and icy morning, but my heart was warmed by their presence.
It was a short drive from Manchester to Blackpool but for whatever reason I was surprised to see cow and sheep in the meadows on the way to Blackpool, not sure why? But I was.
I was set up in a very nice quaint Bed and Breakfast, my first Bed and Breakfast experience not far from the Hilton Hotel. Before checking in Colin and Mark took me to the Hilton for breakfast and there we saw the members of Chapter 8 having breakfast as well.
Colin, is simply cool and smooth definitely a Soul Man, Mark is like the alter ego, Cool, Soulful, but very animated, as I mentioned to Colin, had I known, I would have taken some vitamins to be prepared for Mark lol. You should have saw Mark helping me fix my plate and urging me to taste ""black pudding"" which to my surprise i Did taste, but did not like!
I went to the hotel and took a much needed nap and came back later that evening for dinner at the Hilton.
The energy was that of anticipation, the event officially began the next day so there was a lot of preparation, decoration, lights and sound equipment etc. going on.
Friday morning, I get up for breakfast, walk over to the Hilton and the place is just full of
Soul weekender guest pouring in, reminded me of some of the church conventions I attended as a kid. The energy was somewhat religious, so full of love, people greeting one another and just coming to have a good time.
I was very surprised that there were people that I did not know that knew me and where aware of my music and the fact that I would be performing later that night. It was a surreal experience, the love that i felt was like nothing I had ever experienced before but I knew that I was at home.
I arrived back at the Lounge about 11:30, Gary Dennis had the dance floor Jumping! I Soo loved the music and the energy, the room was full of rhythm,bass, and vocals. I soaked it all up.
Ralph Tee introduced me and I performed 3 songs from the Smooth Soul Cafe project: ""Please Believe Me"",""You Took My Loneliness"", and
""Brand New"" the sound system was a bit to be desired, but I had a great time, I even had a chance to improv a bit at the end and sing a shout out to Colin, (which he didn't hear) and a few others. I had a great time!
The rest of the weekend was like one day,with a few naps and meals in between.
I had the chance to hang out with a soulful blue eyed vocalist from Houston: Gianna.
I had the blessing of attending the reunion concert of Chapter 8, a group in my own backyard here in Detroit, that I had to fly all the way to the UK to see! Great soulful vocals, I so enjoyed them. I met the most incredible beautiful people,Lesley Cooper was a riot, she talked a mile a minute then made me dance or (jiggle) as she calls it.
Roger Williams ,Paul Goldsmith,Richard Searling,Lorna, Andrea, etc etc,..just too many to name.
Saturday night Gary Dennis played a tune that totally had me geeked, turns out it was George Benson's ""Gonna Love You More"" a 1977 release I had never heard before, I promptly went to Soul Brothers Records Sunday morning and purchased the cd, I'm so glad that had the tune.
There are experiences that you have where you Know that your life has been changed, and this trip to the BlackPool Soul Weekender was certainly one of those experiences that validated and affirmed me in a special way and has opened a door in my creative mind like never before. I have adopted the UK as my second home. The love and the family atmosphere that I felt still warms me and having the blessing of Face Book to keep in contact with my new friends/family even more so warms my heart.
I have been inspired like never before, and I have a lot of work to do, to express that appreciation in song and in my life.
A very spe a delcial thank you to Colin for inviting me to the Soul Weekender, you were truly a Smooth, Soulful Angel..soon to comeuxe edition of Smooth Soul Cafe to include a several bonus tracks inspired by my Soul weekender experience."

Darnell Kendricks - Smooth Soul Café

Darnell Kendricks - Smooth Soul Café
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Darnell Kendricks is proof that following dreams no matter where they lead can be a virtue. Earlier this decade, the native Californian's dream of becoming a recording artist led him to Detroit . That move appears counterintuitive and not just because the recession hit Detroit earlier and harder than other parts of the nation. Detroiters also know that the musical opportunity train historically runs in the opposite direction. Yet, Kendricks has crafted a solid career as an artist who has a sizeable regional following supported by album releases and airplay on Southeast Michigan airwaves. Kendricks is the kind of artist that was commonplace back in the day when Motown was still a part of the Motor City , but that many people think no longer exists - at least not in the R&B world.

Kendricks no doubt has hopes of becoming more than a regional artist, and that his latest CD, Smooth Soul Café, will give national listeners a taste of what makes him a mainstay on the Detroit musical scene. Smooth Jazz Café is an enjoyable record that has many of the strengths found in records made by classic soul balladeers. Kendricks' soft tenor is suited for intimate environs such as cafes and dimly lit rooms just for two. The music on Smooth Jazz Café is top flight as it masters the Motown formula of brining a jazz sensibility to accessible R&B music. And when Kendricks brings all of those elements together, Smooth Jazz Café simmers. Two such examples are the mid-tempo torch song "Please Believe Me" and the ballad "Baby Don't Leave." On both tunes, Kendricks wraps his soft vocals around lyrics that tell stories of desire, regret and fear of losing someone special.

Kendricks uses the well-worn metaphor of the object of ones desire as a tasty treat on the song "After Dinner." That cliché has been done to death, however the give and take between Kendricks and the backing vocals as well as the song's sublime fusion on soul, blues and jazz rescue the song from caricature. The reprise, which features Kendricks scatting over piano and saxophone riffs, is a nice touch. Like many records in this sub-genre, Smooth Soul Café pretty much sticks to the topic of affairs of the heart, and while Kendricks shows an ability to shift tempo and pace within songs, he doesn't stray too far from the mid-tempo songs and slow jams that are his stock and trade. It would have been nice to see him belt out a rollicking juke joint number, but Smooth Soul Café represents who Kendricks is as an artist, and the record stands as a solid introduction to the world. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

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