My wife and I recently went to The Sheldon, acoustically one of the best concert venues in St. Louis, to see Black Violin, a duo of immensely talented violin and viola players (Kev Marcus and Wil B) accompanied by a terrific drummer and a deejay working the turntables.
We had a great time, despite being unfamiliar with the guys before that night (except for knowing they’d won the Showtime At The Apollo competition a decade ago). Though classically trained, their music has more of a rhythm-and-blues/hip-hop feel — in fact, their current album “Stereotypes” is high on the Billboard charts of both musical formats simultaneously, a rare feat. In addition to playing their violins in the traditional manner, they also sang a few songs, and plucked their instruments like guitars and used effects like wah-wah and fuzz pedals. Their mixing of musical styles reminded me of the ground broken by jazz fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty forty years ago.
My only minor complaint about the Black Violin concert was Kevin and Wil urging the audience to “make some noise!” or “put your hands in the air!” or “get on your feet!” Thanks, but as a middle-aged couple, we’d like to just move to the music while remaining seated and having you perform for us, rather than the other way around, if you don’t mind. Of course, that’s impossible when everyone in the crowd in front of us repeatedly leapt to (and stayed on) their feet. So we had to as well, in order to see what was happening on stage.
Fortunately, those moments were only occasional, and didn’t really detract from our enjoying the virtuosity of Black Violin during a terrific evening of music.