Alabama Shakes brings southern revival to Ybor City

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(Photo from a previous concert) used with permission via CC

Brittany Howard, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes is so much of a powerhouse it’s hard to believe she’s only 27 years old. Born and raised in Athens, Alabama, a small town with just over 20,000 people, the singer has come a long way from her humble beginnings as a postal service worker.

Howard, who attributes her musical influence to David Bowie and Led Zepplin, started singing while in middle school. There she met bandmate and guitarist Heath Fogg, who was a few years older than her and played at house-parties. She later met bassist Zac Cockrell in high school and drummer Steve Johnson at a jam session she held at her home. They formed their southern rock  and blues band in 2009 and originally called themselves “The Shakes.”

Now after 3 Grammy wins for Best Alternative Music Award, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, many are starting to take notice of the band’s success. During their spring tour the band stopped at Ybor City’s Cuban Club on April 29th. They performed to a sold-out crowd of about 3000 people in the club’s parking lot, even with megastar Beyoncé’s  concert just a few miles away at the Raymond James Stadium and a day before WMNF’s Tropical Heatwave festival.

It was a mixed crowd full of millennials, hipsters, and their parents, dancing and singing along in the booze and smoke-filled air.The band last came to the  Tampa Bay area in 2013 when they performed at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg. Howard acknowledged this later on during the concert, “Every time we come down here the crowd gets bigger and bigger,” she said in her southern drawl as the crowd cheered on. “ I want to let you know we really appreciate y’all. When we started this band, you know, we wanted to have some fun and write some songs we like. Now look at this, all y’all come out here…”

The band opened with “Dunes” from their latest album Sound & Color and the crowd immediately started singing along. Howard wore a no frills black layered dress with stockings, black boots and red glasses falling down her nose, while belting out each song redolent of her rock and blues predecessors Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Otis Redding. She sashayed up and down the stage playing her teal Gibson guitar as concertgoers sang along and danced in the crowd.

The concert was reminiscent of a southern church revival, sending chills up the spine, with Howard’s voice demanding attention during songs like  “Always Alright”- with it’s upbeat bluegrass feel, “Heartbreaker,” “Gimme All Your Love”-causing Howard to pause as the crowd started to applause her in the middle of the song and “Hang Loose.”

The rest of the 17 songs performed included a mixture from both albums Boys & Girls  and Sound & Color, featuring other songs like “Rise to the Sun,” “Hold on,” Grammy winning  ” Don’t wanna fight,” and “Future People.”

At times the band slowed it down a bit, with Howard putting her guitar aside to intimately serenade the audience while performing songs like  “Be Mine,””You ain’t alone,”-showing Howard’s vulnerability with her asking ,”Are you afraid to tell somebody how you feel about somebody?..cry, if you gonna cry come on, cry wit me;” “Gemini”-an electric guitar ridden, psychedelic ballad and “Sound & Color,”-the title track to the band’s latest album that was also featured in Apple’s iPad Pro ad last year.

The band closed the show with “Over my Head,”putting the crowd in a trance, while onlookers stopped on nearby sidewalks and sat on the stairs and roof of  the adjacent parking garage and club next door to listen in.

Before leaving the stage, Howard assured the crowd, “This ain’t goodbye. This is see you after while.”

We sure hope so, Ms. Howard. See you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can we please stop comparing women to Ayesha Curry?

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Can we please stop comparing everyday women to Ayesha Curry, like asap?

If you’re not living under a rock, I’m sure  you’ve seen the #Ayeshacurrymemes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by now. The memes started after Ayesha made the controversial statement that she prefers to stay covered up vs. showing off her body online.

“Everyone’s into barely wearing clothes these days, huh? Not my style. I like to keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters,”she tweeted, pissing some people off and getting praise from others.

A lot of men have surprisingly agreed with Ayesha’s statement and have been pretty vocal about wanting an “Ayesha” in their lives. Check out some of the comments below.

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If only it were that simple, right?

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Of course, because no woman has ever supported her man before, right? Just Ayesha?

This is the thing-there are several “Ayesha Currys” out there. There always has been and always will be. Contrary to what you see online, there are “conservative” women who prefer to not showcase their bodies on the internet. This is nothing new. I know several of them. I am one. The problem is that most of these “Ayeshas” get overlooked in everyday life. Most men have encountered “Ayeshas” from high school through adulthood and bypassed her for the “Kim Kardashians” and “Blac Chynas” of the world because “Ayesha” was too boring and homely or because they wanted a quick nut and weren’t willing to put in the work to get “Ayesha.”

I’ll never forget the last day of my senior year in high school when a guy in my class which I had no interest in, put his hands around my shoulder and said to me, “Amber, I really like you. You’re cute, but I need a girl that puts out and you look like the type of girl that would make me wait, so we would never work–” Yea, he said that shit to me. He liked me, the “Ayesha,” the homely, nerd, but wanted to settle for a “Kim K” for quick sexual satisfaction.You see what I mean?

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Half of these men that are saying they need an “Ayesha” are not Steph Curry’s their damn selves. They’re not “men of God” staying faithful to one woman. They’re not family men, supporting their children. Half of them wouldn’t even know how to approach a woman like Ayesha or know how to treat her in the first place. Why should a woman conduct herself like Ayesha if you don’t even have your shit together? What these men need to do is take a damn seat.

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And some of these “hoes” that these men are comparing to Ayesha Curry may have been “Ayeshas” before but got tired of being overlooked. Have you ever thought about that? And newsflash, just because a woman dresses provocatively does not mean she is promiscuous and just because she dresses like a Pentecostal does not mean she is wholesome. There are women who dress like “hoes” but are prudes in bed. And there are women that appear to be “wholesome” that when finally comfortable with you will suck the soul out of your dick. Don’t be fooled by appearance.

These same men that are calling females “hoes” for semi-nude pics on Instagram are the same dudes posting thirsty comments under their pictures. Don’t be a hypocrite.

Ayesha Curry is not the issue. I like her. She and Steph are adorable. They have a beautiful family. However, making her the standard for women to live up to is problematic, especially if we don’t hold men to the same standards of her husband. There is nothing wrong with being an “Ayesha-“wholesome, conservative, supportive wife; or “Kim Kardashian,” in touch with your sexuality and half naked on Instagram. Women should be whoever the hell they want to be. Comparing other women to Ayesha is sexist and does nothing to uplift women. No, I would never post nude online or leak a porno, but I will never judge another woman for doing that. It’s her choice.