*Jessy Wilson. Remember the name! Ms. Wilson walked up to the mic at the Greek Theatre on Thursday, May 9th and announced she was going to do a few songs before Al Green came on. That was our introduction to Jessy Wilson, Al Green and the evening. There was no MC, just a walkup introduction. Guess what? It was enough. I had never heard of Jessy Wilson and I would guess most of the audience hadn’t either, but as soon as she started singing, we knew we would not forget here.
Jessy is an independent artist, whose first album, “Phase,” was released on May 3, her birthday. She performed several songs from the album, which showcased her strong and versatile voice. Jessy’s style is very eclectic and hybrid; a rock/funk/R&B blend. Her voice is smooth, crisp, clear and at times melodic. Most of the songs Jessy performed were smooth, cool and easygoing, although a high-energy pulsating song was thrown in for good measure. I especially liked her performance of The Rolling Stones, “Miss You.” The audience reaction to Jessy’s performance was very positive. I heard several people around me commenting how much they loved her voice. I even witnessed one person run out between Jessy’s and Al Green’s performances to buy Jessy’s CD, which was $15 well spent.
Jessy’s personality was grounded, down to earth and real. She spoke of being nervous and her heart pounding before she came onstage. She also mentioned opening for the legendary Al Green was like, “a bucket list item that you didn’t know was on your bucket list.” 🙂 The last song Jessy performed was “L.A” Nights,” a song about how hard it is to make it in L.A. She said, “L.A. is not an easy city to follow your dreams.” If the stars align, Jessy’s fate will be positive and her dreams realized…even though she now calls Nashville home. Keep your eyes and hears open for Jessy and check out her CD, “Phases.” You can check out her music, here, at YouTube.
Los Angeles was the last stop on an eight-city tour for Al Green, his first since 2012. I really didn’t know what to expect from the Reverend. Were we going to hear gospel or the hits we loved from the 1970s? I was hoping for the latter, but was prepared for either one. When he came on stage handing out roses, I knew we were going old school. The first Al Green oldie but goodie out of the chute was “Let’s Get Married” and to say the song was well received would be a tad of an understatement, as the crowd got up on their feet and started the party. To be honest, I don’t think the first song choice really mattered. People just wanted to see and hear Al Green.
The sold-out crowd was continuously on its feet as we were treated to hit after hit. If Al Green made it, we heard it. “For the Good Times,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?” “Here I Am,” “Tired of Being Alone” “I’m Still in Love With You”…yep, we heard them all. He also did a nice medley of “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch,” “I’ve Been Loving You For Too Long,” “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay’ and “You are Everything.” Just in case someone wanted to hear gospel, the Reverend performed “Everything is Gonna Be Alright” and a snippet of “Amazing Grace.” The audience ate up each and every song and wanted more. The band was off the chain, hook and hinges and the sax, bass and guitar solos were amazing.
I grew up listening to Al Green. He was played regularly in our household, so I am very familiar with all of his songs and so it seems was the woman right behind me in the audience. She was singing as loud as he was and it was very annoying. I am used to audience participation, but that was overkill. On the other hand, I can’t blame her too much, since Al Green requested more than once that the audience sing along with him. Although at 73 he still has his voice and can hit the high notes in his songs, let’s just say his stamina and lung capacity is not what it once was, which is probably why he wanted the audience to sing with him. It gave him a chance to rest, since he said himself, “I don’t mean to sit down, but these songs I’m singing will kick your ass.” The audience didn’t care about any of that…seeing and hearing Al Green made their evening … and mine.
Al Green finished the evening with “Love and Happiness. He said “goodbye” and left the band onstage playing. The audience did not seem to want to leave, but that was it and that was all. See you next time Mr. Green. We’ll leave the light on for ya and hopefully it will not be another seven years.
Don’t forget to bring Jessy Wilson with you.
Love and Happiness!
Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected]