Photo by Helen Marie
Frank’s Lounge was jammed pack when I arrived. I had to squeeze through a few well dressed fans making my way to the front as the experience that only Big Brooklyn Red can provide was progressing. Looking the part, with a full suit and tie, signature Fedora and a glass of SoCo in his left hand, I knew I was in the right place, at the right time, for some good music! Tonight Big Brooklyn Red was accompanied by a three piece band and one background vocalist. This artist is no stage hog, throughout the night each individual was given a chance to shine and I’ll admit I felt as if I underpaid for this indulgence. Between the band and the background vocalist, I don’t know who was more in-sync with the star of the night. They were all a perfect reflection of the true creativity and freedom that is Big Brooklyn Red.
STORY BY HELEN MARIE
My personal highlight of any Big Brooklyn Red show is the freestyle session he is consistently noted for. This is the part of the evening when he asks the audience for a topic, they yell one out and he creates an entire song on the spot using this phrase. It is amazing to watch. A true freestyle not only for Big Brooklyn Red, the backup singer and band contribute as well. To see them in action act as a unified musical machine at work is simply genius. After a few drunken requests not worthy of repeat, the famous Mahatma Ghandi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” was suggested. That’s it, that is all he needed, and then Big Brooklyn Red and his fiery team go to work. He gives the drummer a tempo, gives the keyboardist and guitarists a suggested melody, tells the backup singer (who has an AMAZING voice by the way) the key, and then BAM! we are hit with a newly improvised selection now deemed “Don’t Complain, Be the Change.”
The way he was able to command our attention, give the request, then deliver so effectively, an original response to the call, was simply refreshing. Big Brooklyn Red went on to sing "So Inspired," "Give You Up," and one of my true favorites "Answer the Call." In between several selections there were vibe sessions where the band and Big Brooklyn simply let go and evoked the power of creativity and the freedom of improvisation. Fiona Bloom the lovely host of the evening did a superb job at not only booking Big Brooklyn Red, but making it a successfully supported event. After the show Big Brooklyn fielded a few questions from Suite903.
I loved the freestyle selection. Aside from Ghandi, what made you relate to that quote the most?
Big Brooklyn Red: Well my grandparents were in the movement before it was “cool.” You know like when you could die for it. I get my spirit from them. I come from a line of rebels and revolutionaries, so the quote reminded me a lot of what my grandmother used to say.
Tell me, do u have a pre-show routine you do before every set?
Big Brooklyn Red: Yes before any show I'm always in the bathroom, wash my hands and look in the mirror at my reflection. I believe that my reflection is God in me, and me and God are on a first named basis if you know what I mean. We are very close, I get exceptional treatment! I talk to my reflection about whatever is on my mind. I talk to my reflection until I am centered, and then I go on stage.
Who are some of your favorite artists to work with right now?
Big Brooklyn Red: I really love singing with Jaguar Wright and YahZarah, they have two of the best voices in the industry to me right now. I sing a lot with Jaguar and we have a amazing connection on stage. If I were a woman, I would sing like Jaguar. We are very in sync and we freestyle very similar.
Wow that sounds like an amazing lineage! Do you feel as if your music is revolutionary?
Big Brooklyn Red: I definitely feel as though my music is universal and yes, revolutionary. I want to always make music that is timeless. I make music and hope that people can see themselves in it, and be able to apply my testament to their lives. This is my experience, my interpretation. If you dig it, then it is for you, if you don’t, then that’s ok too. I am an artist and I do my music for the love of the art and because I believe we are responsible to take our gifts and give it back. I am an artist for art’s sake.