March 2009 marks Soulive's 10th Anniversary, ten years since Eric Krasno, Alan Evans and his brother Neal Evans got together for the first time at a home studio just outside of Woodstock, NY and recorded Get Down.
Over the past 10 years, Soulive has covered a lot of ground musically and literally.
The band has traveled to nearly every corner of the world, touring Ghana, Russia, nearly all of Europe, Brazil, and Japan (nine times!). They've been across America on dozens of tours. New Orleans Jazz Fest has become a home away from home. And in their actual home, New York City, they are closing in on their 100th show.
Not many bands can say they've recorded with Chaka Khan, Dave Matthews, Talib Kweli and John Scofield. Nor can many bands open for The Rolling Stones on one tour and have Stevie Wonder sit in with them on the next tour. Jazz, hip-hop, rock, soul, funk, R & B, blues-- musically, there is not much the band hasn't done.
In developing their own history, Soulive has been in the company of legends both new and old. In 2000, Bruce Lundvall signed the band to Blue Note Records and Soulive became part of recorded music's greatest jazz legacy. Six years later, Soulive would be the first band signed to the new incarnation of Stax Records, joining the incredible soul tradition built by Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, and Otis Redding.
Soulive has always been creatively restless, never content to ride a sound (or a look) for too long. Consistent through all of the different line-ups, though, was the groove Neal's club-shaking left hand pounding out bass lines, Alan's ride cymbal propelling the music forward, and Eric's solos soaring on top.
Now unencumbered by a record contract and fully equipped with a state-of-the-art recording studio, Soulive is embracing the new music business model by launching their own record label, Royal Family Records. With a focus on digital distribution, the label will be an outlet for all Soulive recordings as well as numerous Soulive affiliated projects.
Soulive will launch their label with the release of their new studio effort Up Here. The LP was recorded in Alan's new studio in Hatfield, Mass in the fall of 2008. This is the Soulive album I've always wanted to record, it's what I've been hearing in my head for years, says Alan, who also tracked and mixed the record. It's like when people say if I could go back in time knowing what I know now. Well, that's what we did with Up Here. The session had the vibe and energy of Get Down but with all of our experiences from the past 10 years put down on tape in a very meaningful way.
The record's opening track Upright immediately sets the tone with a completely infectious hook featuring Neal on an old upright piano. There are some nods to the old-school on the record. For Granted is a tip of the hat to Grant Green, and Eric plays licks reminiscent of his early solos on Get Down and Turn It Out. Guest vocalist Nigel Hall tears it up on Too Much while Eric's guitar sings like D'Angelo on the laid-back grind of Put on Yo Pajamas. The entire record features tight horn arrangements from long-time Soulive collaborators and friends, Sam Kininger and Ryan Zoidis.
No matter how you listen to Up Here, it sounds like you're listening to vintage vinyl. One of the most difficult things about making a record with a great live band is capturing all that live energy while still making the record that's about songs. Up Here does as good a job as any record could in accomplishing this. Straight up, says Alan, this is the first Soulive album that I can say every tune on it is my favorite on the album.