Sunday Fun(k)day with the Mayer of Soul by Daniel G.

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Mayer Hawthorne’s appreciation for the musical stylings of Curtis Mayfield, Sam & Dave, and Motown’s greats was on full display this past Sunday night when he and his backing band The County whipped Fitzgerald’s into a sweaty, funky, soul-fueled frenzy.  Full disclosure: I”m a sucker for music from a bygone era.  The late 60’s and early 70’s Rhythm & Blues songs of love and love lost just do it for me, and I have no qualms about being a 32 year old white boy and feeling that way.  Thankfully, neither does Mayer Hawthorne–If writing love songs is wrong, I don’t want to be right!” he preached .  From the effective simple cabaret style lighting to the matching three piece suits and tight sound of The County, it was a professional display that had the audience of youngs and olds grooving along with each number.   The commitment to the soul revue look wasn’t lost on us, considering the temperature at Fitz’s climbed throughout the show, even drawing a “Damn it’s hot in here!!” from Mayer after the first act of his set finished.
 To call Mr. Hawthorne, born Andrew Mayer Cohen, strictly a retro artist would be shortsighted.  Yes, he’d proud of his Motor City roots and has his historical canon at the ready, but he adds with it edgier lyrics and a style that are more in the now.  His fashion sense even mirrored this musical makeup–pairing a swing band leader’s slim jacket and bow tie with trendy red high tops and iridescent red laces.  The steamed audience saw a set that opened with “You Called Me” and winded through some early work and a lot of newer material from Mayer’s 2011 release “How Do You Do”.   He even threw in two different Hall & Oates covers to my (and the audience’s) delight.  Energetic favorites “The Walk” and “A Long Time” were as well received as slower jams like “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Shiny & New”.  Mayer’s voice in concert definitely lends more maturity to tracks from his 2009 Stones Throw Records debut.  We got a few glimpses of The County’s musical prowess, and throughout the set I kept wanting to see more of them in the spotlight.  Luckily the raucous encore brought the band back sans sport coats to deliver “Maybe So, Maybe No” and the extended jam “Henny & Ginger Ale” as a perfect capstone to the raucous evening.  You can tell that Mayer Hawthorne belongs on the stage, and as he passed out apropos Hennessy cocktails to the audience from the bandstand, it felt like he wanted us right there with him.  Shortly before midnight we all walked out full of perspiration, joy, and a little more soul than when we arrived.
Set List
You Called Me
Make Her Mine
You’re Easy Lovin’ Aint’ Pleasin’ Nothin’
The Walk
Bossa Nova Break – Back from Brasil
One Track Mind
Stick Around feat. Quincy McRary
Vocal Warmup – “Watch Me Get Down”
Love In Motion
No Strings
Shiny & New
I Wish It Would Rain
You Make My Dreams Come True (Hall & Oates cover)
A Long Time
Finally Falling
Green-Eyed Love
A Strange Arrangement
Get Out of My Life Woman (Allen Toussaint cover)
I Cant Go For That (No Can Do) (Hall & Oates cover)
Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out
The Ills
Maybe So, Maybe No
Henny & Ginger Ale

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Photos courtesy of Jen Mok

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