By N Balani
BRAMPTON: Despite the frigid temperatures, the Rose Theatre here was brimming with fans of Tower of Power (ToP).
They were all in for a huge treat from this veteran soul funk group which really knows what soul music is. And when I say ‘soul music’ I really mean Soul, baby! Brampton was really funked out!
Last week’s performance was powerful to say the least and ToP sure stirred up emotions from the heart and soul of Oakland to Brampton!
It was better than being on a real Soul Train set!
Emilio Castillo and his bad guys really hit it up and brought the audience to their feet with song after song despite one of the early band members, Francis Rocco Prestia, not being with them on these performances, as his health does not permit.
It was nothing but pure vintage soul brought to life with numbers like “Digging on James Brown” The lead vocalist Ray Greene, the latest addition to the group, had all the right James Brown moves and steps. All the favorite hits like “Time Will Tell”, “You are still a Young Man”, “This Time it is Real” and “What is Hip” were part of this amazing repertoire.
Emilio introduced his new lead singer Ray Greene, by saying “ he is a true powerhouse of soul! We felt he would be ideal for our group”.
Ray Greene had not only the pure sound of vintage soul but also the right moves! He really socked it to the audience through several songs bringing the crowd up on their feet to participate in this real soul experience!
The horn section, which TOP is famous for, was truly amazing. Stephen “Doc” Kupka could really stir it up grooving with the music and in his element! Doc has been Emilio Castillo’s partner in soul for 46 years and one of the original co-founding band members and still going strong. Along with the other horn players, Tom, Adolfo and Sal, they sure shook it up!
Emilio announced that their new album release ‘Hipper than Hip – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ would be available for a personalized signing after the concert, much to the delight of his fans. The story behind this album is fascinating. Emilio explains: “many times people will send us stuff they have recorded either live on the air radio shows or performances of ours, and often we listen to it and feel it is not worthy. However, much to our surprise, this one sent in by one of our avid fans, we just were blown away by! We were clearly at the top of our game firing on all 10 cylinders“. The group knew they had to find a way to get this to their fans and release this newly discovered gem as an album. Emilio says, “I could not believe that after all those years I was listening to something so good that we had created!”
And that is how this album came to light. The album is a two-disc release and is set to be a big seller.
For those of you into soul funk, look out for this powerhouse group as it going to be on the move. Yes, they are going on tour. Emilio announced: “We are really excited to announce that we will be on the road again. We are doing an extensive travelling roadshow with Journey and Steve Miller Band beginning in May with at least 30 cities across the United States and a stop in Toronto!”
We wish Emilio and his powerhouse a beautiful journey groovin’, shakin’ and funkin’ their way into many new fans’ hearts!
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