Saturday evening was another night of incredible music at Williamsburg venue, National Sawdust, where an incredible lineup waited for me. A crowd gathered in the bar/waiting area a good 30 minutes before doors were scheduled to open. People chatted amongst themselves, grabbed a quick drink, or hovered by the large singular door to the main performance space. The excitement was palpable as we were finally let into the performance space, the stark white and blank walls were lit in an electric blue hue.
Milling about the venue in a silky, floral outfit was Kamilah. Chatting with fans and friends, taking photos, and selfies with anyone who asked. I was already looking forward to her performance before she set foot onstage. Another photographer and videographer grabbed their gear and positioned themselves in front of the stage. Kamilah and her band made their way onstage and proceeded to show everyone in attendance exactly what she was capable of. Kamilah has a smoky, jazzy quality in her voice that makes it almost effortless to convey the emotion of her songs. Her new single, “So Long” was definitely one of the many highlights during her set, leaving everyone in the room wanting more.
Up next, Sonny Step started things off high energy along with his incredible band. He had everyone in the room grooving, and his sax chops were added icing on the cake. The age range in the room had to be from early twenties to late sixties, and music truly knows no bounds by the way everyone was enjoying themselves. Admittedly a child of the 90’s himself, he took the opportunity to invite singer/songwriter Alita Moses to the stage for a classic duet, touching hearts from start to finish.
Finally, Kate Kay Es took the stage and showed us what she could do early on the piano looming in the corner of the room. By now the room was beyond filled, and Kate captivated us all as soon as she started to play. Pivoting back and forth from piano to the keyboard center stage, her set was passionate and she had incredible chemistry with her band members who seemed to know exactly when to stop on a dime before she signaled to. Beautiful background vocals added to the richness of the lyrics, and Kate even displayed her prowess on sax as well to everyone’s delight.
As if they energy couldn’t get any higher, guest Michael Blume joined Kate onstage for a beautiful duet during “Body,” and their chemistry onstage was instantaneous. While Kate’s set ranged from upbeat to mellow, from happiness to loneliness, throughout her performance her soulful voice permeated the space and kept her word relatable and grounded. Ending with a rousing call and response moment during “Working,” and then finally “Love Too Hard,” that found everyone singing along at the top of their lungs, I wondered to myself when was the last time I’d seen a performance this enthralling and cathartic. When it was all over I hoped for an encore, but I suppose when everything is left onstage there’s little more to be said.
Article: Lesley Keller