Putting the Love in the City of Brotherly Love: The Nth Power Comes to Philly
Wednesday night is not ordinarily when one would attend a place of worship. But this past week, the Church of Love, also known as the Nth Power, took Philly music lovers to church on Wednesday, November 3 when the band came to the Ardmore Music Hall with the gospel vibe of the its sexy brand of soul fusion. In case you’re a newbie to these preachers of good feels, the band is a super group composed of “Evangelist” Nikki Glaspie on drums (Dumpstafunk / Beyoncé), “Reverend” Nigel Hall on keys (Lettuce / Warren Haynes Band), “Prophet” Nick Cassarino on guitar (Jennifer Hartswick Band), “Shepherd” Nate Edgar on bass (John Brown’s Body), and “Bishop” Weedie Braimah on percussion (Toubab Krewe).
The show was the final installment of the band’s aptly named Fall in Love Tour. How could one not fall in love with the smooth and sultry blend of funk, soul, jazz and world music? It’s the definition of sexy. With Cassarino sweating profusely through his crisp collared shirt while his fingers channel Santana as they furiously cut across his guitar strings, while Edgar lets his fingers go on a rhythmic stroll across the sweet spot of his bass, with Glaspie appropriately donning a Superman shirt while showing the audience what it means to truly dominate an instrument, Hall giving away his longtime love of fusion as his heart and soul pour into his keys, and Braimah hamming it up for fans while expertly and emphatically ripping into his djembe and congas. Both entertaining and inspiring, the Nth Power never fails to please an audience, and last week in Ardmore was no exception. A bit of funky tango here, a dash of reggae there, all will a heavy dose of love and compassion, this music is sure to uplift the most disheartened of souls. And we even got to see Nigel Hall rap for a bit. Their tour closing performance was nothing but successful.
But perhaps the most moving part of the show came after the quintet returned to the stage for their encore. With the exception of those living as hermits deep isolated by geography and disconnected from all technology, it’s hard to imagine anyone being unaware of the tragic injustices happening both in our nation and abroad. Particularly in the past month, when those of us with a sense of fairness watched in horror as not one, but two officers of the law, with their heightened positions of power and attendant responsibility to use that power justly escaped indictment, despite contradicting evidence that, in most cases, would be deemed sufficient to satisfy the extremely low bar of probable cause required to hold a case to the next level for determination by judge and jury. Two young black men killed under circumstances suggesting unreasonable force, those who delivered the fatal injuries freed from the responsibility of defending their actions as a result of prosecutorial ineffectiveness at best, and corruption at best. As a former criminal defense attorney, I took the news particularly hard, a sign that the system in which I once worked only continues to further deteriorate. But when Nikki Glaspie took to the mic with her inspiring words, I finally found the solace I had so desperately been seeking.
I am not going to quote her word for word, but here is a taste of the thoughts of this talented and empathetic percussive maestro:
“We are on a mission to save the world. Shit is fucked up and everyone knows it’s fucked up. But we have to do something about it and this is what we’re doing about it…I don’t have to know you to love you. We have to take care of ourselves, and each other, and the planet. So everyone, please give a fuck. Spread the word. Love yourself and the people around you.”
You can hear the message in the music, but her words rang out that night in Philadelphia in a much-needed way. Those of us who don’t identify with the controlling majority in this country should not have to worry about whether our religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or other identifying characteristic will make us a target. I shouldn’t have to hide my Star of David necklace in shame, fearing persecution both verbal and physical for being incorrectly identified as Israeli. My black friends shouldn’t have to worry about putting their hoods up or their hands in their pockets when it is cold outside. My Muslim friends shouldn’t have to worry about being attacked as a terrorist for wearing their hijabs in public. My gay friends shouldn’t have to worry about holding hands or kissing as they walk down the street, fearing that they will be beaten simply for displaying their love. In a country that professes dedication to freedom, these things shouldn’t happen. Yet they happen on a daily basis. And it hurts even more to realize we may not be able to trust those tasked with the responsibility of protecting us to actually do so.
So I say, bravo to you Ms. Glaspie, and the rest of the Nth Power. Thank you for dedicating yourself to the message that love is more powerful than hate, and that love shouldn’t hinge on the color of your skin, your beliefs on God, the nation from which you hail, or who you choose to spend your life with. Last week at Ardmore Music Hall, you gave us all a taste of just how powerful music can be. Next month the band will hit their 100th show, and I am certain I am not alone in saying that this quintet deserves nothing but success in their 100th show and far beyond. Your love is immeasurable, and your fans feel it in every note. You are exactly what the world needs right now, so keep on keepin’ on.
The Nth Power will begin their next tour right where they left off, here at the Ardmore Music Hall on February 20. To stay up to date with the Nth Power and their upcoming performances here