Orlando has long been thirsty for a place to satisfy its cravings. A place where live music can call home amongst delicious food and stellar service, where it belongs. Finally! Orlando has its mecca for great music: The New Standard in Winter Park. Here, an upscale restaurant with amazing food turns into a premiere live music destination at night. From its white tablecloths to the awesome art on the walls, this place radiates class.
I arrive to the show and Papa Mali & Bobby Vega are already on stage pickin’ and slidin’, slappin’ and pluckin’ for the eager fans. The weather is gorgeous with just a bit of chill in the air. I enjoy the warmth of my hoodie while sippin’ on a frosty brew. Papa Mali is a reggae, blues, and swamp music legend from Louisiana. A former member of 7 Walkers and The Killer Bees, Mali has worked with Grateful Dead drummer Bill Krutzman and Meters bassist, George Porter Jr. He and his slide guitar squealin’ and screamin’ while he sings with a raspy voice. His partner Bobby Vega is a beast on the bass guitar.
Starting his career as the sixteen-year-old bassist for Sly Stone’s “I Get High on You,” Vega has had one hell of a run. Playing with Joan Baez and Etta James, he even filled in for Tower of Power bass player Francis “Rocco” Prestia when he had to take an extended leave. This guy is amazing. During his spotlight solo he teases Herbie Hancock, David Bowie, and Weather Report. He draws the lines on the page for Mali to color in. Mali splashes his colorful music on the paper to the crowd’s delight with his Louisiana tones and rasp. They cheer and clap in a calm respectable manner as gorgeous food walks by me, beckoning me to the nearest menu.
They take a break and we order some delicious food. After cleaning our plates, Joe Marcinek (guitar), Taylor Galbraith (drums), Ashley Galbraith (bass), and Melvin Seals (Organ /// Jerry Garcia Band) take their places on stage. They start in mid jam and the band is bumpin’.
Melvin takes his turn to scorch the stage with his blazin’ hot keys. Loud and proud, this man peacocks his way through the bend on a lengthy self-introduction to beaming Orlando crowd. Hoots and hollers fly over my head as his solo subsides just in time for Marcinek to take his guitar for a spin. Sisters Taylor and Ashley are a fierce drum and bass duo. Instantly synced, they provide a unified front for every song the whole night through. If they were errors, these two hid them well.
The fearsome foursome crush each tune with impunity as they make their way down the setlist. They play “Melvin,” a new song they just recorded with Seals, off of Marcinek’s upcoming album. It has all the feels of a Grateful Dead song and it is amazing. Marcinek has also recorded a track with The Meter’s bassist, George Porter Jr. on the new record, where he promises to have a different lineup on each sampling. They move into “Eyes of the World,” which fills up the dance floor immediately. The jam goes on forever—it just never seems to end. Next, they produce an amazing “After Midnight” followed by a sizzling “Turn On Your Love Light.”
“C’mon Melvin, take us to church!” Joe exclaims. We all raise our hands to receive Seal’s gospel while we wiggle to the infectious tunes. They continue the good vibes with a cover of Clapton’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” They play a Marcinek original called “Hyperbole” before moving to the last song of the night—“Deal,” by the Grateful Dead.
Papa Mali Live Review by Spencer Storch /// @swstorch
Live Photos by Robert “Kap” Kaplinger /// @somewhiteguyphotography
Live Video by Richie Williams /// @thesobergoat
Check out the whole second night here, courtesy of The Sober Goat.
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SIGT MAGAZINE ISSUE #07
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