Steve Wexler and The Top Shelf who has been asked to perform the first Thursday of each month through December at Drom in the East Village. Starting October 4th, the 10-piece setup — which is composed of incredibly talented musicians that have performed with greats such as Bruce Springsteen, The Temptations, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Michael Jackson and many more — will not only perform unique versions of everything from Jackson 5 to Beyonce but also spotlight incredible artists/genres. On tap are showcases on Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Tina Turner, and ending with 21st Century Soul (Amy Winehouse, Eli “Paperboy” Reid, Shemekia Copeland, and more).
Returning to Drom for their first residency, Steve Wexler and The Top Shelfplan to pay homage to legendary musicians with spotlight showcases. During each showcase the band will play an assortment of songs related to that artist; from the songs that made these acts famous to sampling tracks that these performers have written for other artists. Scheduled spotlight showcases include tributes to Stevie Wonder (October 4th), Marvin Gaye and Tina Turner (November 1st), and a show dedicated to 21st Century Soul (December 6th) which will honor artists such as Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Shemekia Copeland, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and more. If you’re looking for a great date idea, or a night out with friends, I recommend heading to Drom to see Steve Wexler and the Top Shelf. Ranging from young professionals in their 20s to the young at heart in their 70s, this band makes you want to get up and move. Whether reminiscing about past memories associated with the song, or getting up just because you feel the beat, you are guaranteed to have a good time!
I was intrigued by the concept of a 10 piece band taking on various artists and updating the songs to tailor to the band. I was able to ask Steve Wexler a few questions about his inspirations, interpretations, and overall what makes them move.
1. How did you choose which artists to pay homage to?
“Looking at our repertoire we cover a lot of artists and a lot of genres. I guess we perform music that we really like, and we like a lot of different genres and artists. I think it makes for a very entertaining evening as where else can you hear a band that can really deliver the goods on Stevie Wonder; Sam and Dave; Tina Turner; Marvin Gaye, and the Staple Singers, but also nail the Beatles “Penny Lane” and play the theme songs to “The Pink Panther”, “The Flintstones”, “Courageous Cat” and “Lost In Space” (second season, of course…)?
2. What inspires you to change the interpretation of a song?
“If I think I have something to add. There will be some things that I won’t mess with, like “Spinning Wheel” or Earth, Wind, and Fire’s version of “Got to Get You Into My Life” (which already an interpretation of another group’s work). But there are tunes where I get to inject my personality, such as on “Georgia” and “Night Time is the Right Time”. It’s also hard to NOT leverage the skills of the band. In addition to a great rhythm section and lead singers that are to die for, we have a GREAT horn section and I’ll often use them in tunes that did not have horns initially. In our October 4 performance at DROM where we spotlight Stevie Wonder we plan to perform “Tell Me Something Good” a tune Stevie Wonder wrote for Rufus with Chaka Kahn. The Rufus version doesn’t have horns, but our version will.”
3. Whose idea was it to create a 10 piece band that interprets even modern day artists like Amy Winehouse, Beyonce, etc?
“Why limit yourself to one artist, one decade, or even one genre? Since the band’s founding it’s always been about great music and musicianship. I’ve always recoiled at putting together a tribute band. Sure, it’s *way* easier to classify, but I want people that come to our shows to be wowed by the musicality and the variety. And I want them to be so entertained that they come back every month.”
4. What makes Drom the ideal location for your music?
“Besides getting to work with great people, the vibe of the place is really inviting. It’s a perfect blend of funky and elegant. With the lighting and chandeliers you know you’re in a classy nightclub, but you also know you’re going to have a good time.”
WHERE: Drom stage, 85 Avenue A (between 5th and 6th Streets) New York, NY
WHEN: 8pm for each night of the residency
To check out Steve Wexler and the Top Shelf’s Facebook Page, click here.