New York City
April 15, 2017
article and photos by Ernest Barteldes
Laura Cheadle traveled light on her recent appearance at Piano’s in New York’s Lower East Side – instead of her full Family Band she was backed solely by her own acoustic guitar, her father James Cheadle on keyboards and a drummer (Cheadle, Sr. did the basslines on the left-hand side of his instrument), mostly showcasing material from her download-only EP “Chill,” out that day.
She opened the set with an uptempo take on Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made To Love Her,” a soul ballad whose lyrics speak of finally finding love and being unapologetic about it. She followed that with “Reverberate,” another tune from “Chill” that has a funky feel. Cheadle and her father have great chemistry together, and that is evident as her body language affects how he plays – stops are clearly unrehearsed, but since they know each other so well musically it is just seamless.
The audience received the new material well, but things really caught fire when she did a medley of some choice covers including a low-tempo take on B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone” (in which she took over the drums), James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” and two Stevie Wonder tunes, “Superstition” and “Higher Ground,” the latter of which really showcased her vocal range. During the medley, she left the stage and danced around fans (she even surprised me by coming to my side while I was busy with my notes).
The show ended in a high note – everyone seemed to be having a good time – unfortunately there wasn’t a second set (Piano’s has one set by each listed artist) so we didn’t have a chance for a some more of Cheadle’s music.