Al Kooper and the Funky Faculty put in an abbreviated performance at the New York State Rhythm & Blues Festival staged at Clinton Square in Syracuse, New York, on Saturday, July 19, 2003. Kooper's R&B pedigree has been embellished by studio stints with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and The Who during the course of his stellar career.
Blues aficionado Al Kooper was supported by the Funky Faculty, featuring Bob Doezema on electric guitar, Ken Cervenka on trumpet, Larry Finn on drums, Daryl Lowery on flute & saxophone, and Tom Stein on bass guitar. Kooper greeted Clinton Square with, "Hey Syracuse ... get right down".
The Funky Faculty began their afternoon set with an instrumental, "Soul Ship". The horn section complimented Doezema's guitar intro. A bluesy horn-drenched version of "I Can't Quit Her" was bolstered by Kooper's strong vocals. The Funky Faculty, reduced to a quartet, jammed on an organ-rich instrumental of "Green Onions".
Kooper introduced "Comin' Back In A Cadillac" as a Memphis memory. The horn section punched the blues-juiced moderate tempo up a notch, and Doezema's lead guitar solo added to the excitement. Kooper demonstrated soul clapping to the crowd and had the audience keep the time going during a percussion break.
Kooper sounded slightly reminiscent of Randy Newman on his new composition "Going Going Gone". His humorous semi-biographical lyrics were highlighted by a mild country-blues flavored melody. "Flute Thing" was dedicated to the late bassist Andy Kulberg. Lowery's flute performance on the Blues Project instrumental was moving, in addition to a fluid guitar solo laid by Doezema.
Kooper mentioned, "This has turned out to be my biggest song". Doezema's fierce guitar lead launched "I Love More Than You'll Ever Know", showcasing Kooper tinkling away on a hornet-style organ solo. To end his all too brief appearance, Kooper reprised his performance on a funky rendition of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" that segued into "Season Of The Witch".
Kooper took the time to meet with his fans waiting behind a barricade to sign objects presented to him. He kindly signed my setlist. Inquiring about the running order, Kooper commented, "You deserve to be a music critic", which generated a major chuckle among the small crowd gathered behind the outdoor stage.
Jon Coffin, 57 from Syracuse, said Kooper still sounded good and thought it was great to still be hearing him perform live. Coffin added, "Both the new songs were very strong. I'm very happy they came here. There's a lot of power and emotion in his music".
Syracuse setlist: Soul Ship * I Can't Quit Her * Nuthin' I Wouldn't Do (For A Woman Like You) * Green Onions * Comin' Back In A Cadillac * Going Going Gone * Sonny Boy Williamson * Flute Thing * I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know * You Can't Always get What You Want > Season Of The Witch
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under beautifully blue skies
Al Kooper gets funky in Syracuse
by Timothy Tilghman