Keeping the holiday spirit of giving back firmly into the new year, Nikki Glaspie put together a memorable show on January 8 at The Mint in Los Angeles. Billed as the “Peace Love and Funk Benefit Concert,” Glaspie and friends banded together to help raise funds for the Harold Robinson Foundation (HRF).
The nonprofit organization, founded in 2008, provides day camp retreats for at-risk youth from South Los Angeles and other L.A. areas who would not have the economic means to otherwise attend. The foundation is also developing the Watts Conservatory of Music, offering free music lessons to anyone living in the zip code of Watts, an inner-city Los Angeles community. Both Norwood Fisher from Fishbone and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers are active with the foundation and the conservatory and Glaspie is an Advisory Board member of the HRF.
Glaspie, who’s a founding member and drummer for The Nth Power, has been leading a once-a-month residency jam session at The Mint that kicked off in September 2018. Her “Nikki Glaspie & The Homies” shows have brought together a who’s who of talent that has pumped out soul, funk and classic jams for adoring fans.
For the benefit show, Glaspie enlisted Nick Cassarino and Nate Edgar, two of her Nth Power bandmates, as well as keyboardist and vocalist Ivan Neville (her former bandmate from Dumpstaphunk) to join in the fundraising. Several musicians that have participated in Homies shows at The Mint over the past four months also performed. Drin Elliot on keys, Juan Ariza on guitar, Ty Coombs on percussion, Kudison Kai (Elton John) on vocals, Enrique Sanchez (Meghan Trainor) on trumpet, Pete Ortega (Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Queen Latifah) on tenor saxophone and Rashawn Ross on trumpet (Dave Matthews Band) all played with the band.
Foundation President David Moss explained how HRF has gotten so many professional musicians involved in the cause.
“Music is one of my personal passions. I have been involved with music and I have a lot of musician friends that I have acquired over the years due to my passion in music. Why not bring something as beautiful as music into the message and the mission? What brings people together more than music? Nothing. It doesn’t matter what color you are, it doesn’t matter what language you speak, or what country you live in. Everyone can groove to a beat. It breaks down barriers and it builds relationships and it creates bonds and I’m just stoked to have musicians want to jump on and be a part of this vision.”
The Mint was packed and buzzing with anticipation as Moss welcomed the supportive crowd that included a strong music and entertainment industry presence. Norwood Fisher, Eric McFadden, Lettuce’s Eric Coombs and actor/singer Craig Robinson were in the audience, along with several of Glaspie’s Homies. Comedian Ben Gleib acted as host and did a bit of standup before the music began.
The two-set performance had a similar vibe to the Nikki and The Homies shows. However, with Glaspie’s Nth Power bandmates and Ivan Neville in the house, there was added cachet. Nick Cassarino handled lead vocals on covers of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Remember the Children” and Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street.” Rashawn Ross joined the horn section and played a great solo during a cover of The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around.” He stayed for most of the show.
Glaspie, Cassarino and Neville shared vocals on The Isley Brothers’ “Caravan of Love.” Neville took over lead vocals for excellent versions of The Rolling Stones’ classic “Miss You” as well as The Meters’ “It Ain’t No Use” and “No More Okey Doke.” Glaspie was the primary vocalist on Chaka Khan’s “We Got Each Other,” but Cassarino and Neville contributed excellent harmonies. The band covered two more Earth Wind & Fire classics. Glaspie introduced “Shining Star” as the Harold Robinson Foundation’s theme song. For “That’s the Way of the World,” every band member took an impressive solo.
Both the first and second sets ended with Nth Power originals. For the first set closer, Cassarino said that he was so moved by his first experience at one of the HRF camps that while he was still there, he began writing “I Will Never Leave You.” The Nth Power played the soul ballad as a trio and Cassarino played a scorching guitar solo at the end of the song.
All of the band members stayed on stage for the finale. Glaspie introduced “Only Love” as the Nth Power’s anthem and the band proceeded to play it with intensity and passion. The night of peace, love, funk and songs filled with important messages about charity and the importance of taking care of our children came to an end. The crowd cheered wildly at the end of the song and knew they had experienced a special night of great music, good vibes and supported an important cause.