CARLTON J. SMITH PERFORMS
THE MUSIC OF OUTKAST AND GNARLS BARKLEY
BB KING’S SUPPER CLUB NYC March 24,
"Crazy" is the name
of Gnarls Barkley’s huge hit single.
And crazy pretty much sums up
some of what went down at Carlton J. Smith’s
show at BB King’s Supper Club last night.
Now I’ve seen Carlton perform
there a dozen or so times. And I’ve loved
each and every one of this pure soul singer’s
always uplifting gigs.
But this one was particularly
memorable - for better and for worse.
You see, this wasn’t a “Carlton
crowd.” When he asked how many people in the
audience had seen him at the venue, a mere fraction
of the audience shouted in acknowledgement. This
was, seemingly, a younger audience that was there
for the music of Outkast and Gnarls Barkley.
And musically adventurous, one
table wasn’t. They were here for a hip hop
show which this, as Carlton explained, simply wasn’t.
So when Smith opened with some
P-Funk and explained that these and other great
R&B acts were the links that led to Outkast,
this crew “just wasn’t having it.”
One rather large “gentleman” actually
stood up angrily between numbers and asked how an
Outkast tribute show didn’t have any Outkast
numbers. Being that it was maybe fifteen minutes
into the gig, he wasn’t exactly showing patience.
Heckling ensued and Carlton tried
to defuse the situation by actually having the loudmouth
come up on stage. Claiming to be a rapper, he froze
like a deer in headlights, and Carlton quickly had
him sit back down.
I guess his looking like an idiot
in front of his cronies didn’t help matters,
as they continued their harassment.
Well, “Soul Brother Number
New,” didn’t take too kindly to his
show being disrespected, and once again he went
after them, only this time with gloves off.
Things got real ugly, real fast,
with threats actually being thrown at Carlton who
responded by mocking their clothes and telling his
adversary he’d “steal his girlfriend.”
Luckily they left (or were removed) soon after.
But New York’s soul ambassador himself admitted,
“A negative vibe” had fallen on his
show and, frankly, it felt like things were in damage
Now I have no respect for narrow-minded
people who aren’t open to a brilliant performer
taking a song and “making it his own.”
And Carlton did just that time and again last evening.
"Miss Jackson," for example, opened powerfully
with one singer’s lament about her real life
former domestic abuse situation. And being the professional
that he is, Carlton did eventually pull things off;
folks were happily dancing to "Crazy"
and "Sex Machine." But at the end of the
night when I asked my girlfriend, a buddy and my
buddy’s date “What did you think?”
answers varied from “Carlton sabotaged his
own show and should have ignored them” to
“I’m glad he stood up to those guys.”
The unpleasant confrontation had,
unfortunately, taken away from the brilliant music
and this master showman.
Smith called this show “an
experiment.” Whether or not Dr. Frankenstein
had created a monster or Dr. Funkenstein made a
masterpiece is debatable.