Kick-n-Flava delivers R&B hits of the past and present
By D. Thrasher
Versatility is one of the defining traits of local group Kick-n-Flava. Jerry Hawes (keyboards, vocals), Mike Allamby (saxophone), Big Gil Blues (trombone, vocals), Claude Coatie (lead guitar), Valeria Larke (vocals), J.D. Williams (bass), Brian Smiley (drums, vocals) and David Matthews (percussion, vocals) can deliver soulful ballads, danceable R&B, smooth jazz, high-octane funk and contemporary pop.
That broad approach and decades of musical experience keep Kick-n-Flava in demand. This year’s schedule includes high profile events at RiverScape MetroPark, Dayton Art Institute and Gilly’s.
Matthews recently answered some questions about Kick-n-Flava.
Q: How has the summer been for the group?
A: “It’s been great. We kicked off our summer with a free concert at RiverScape. This is our third year in a row doing that. It was a sunny day and we had a packed house. The following weekend we were back at the Creekside Jazz & Blues Festival in Gahanna by popular demand.”
Q: How would you describe a Kick-n-Flava performance?
A: “When you come to see our show, prepare to be entertained to the fullest. We’re a high-energy, performing-type group that gets the people up and dancing. The music is powerful yet tasteful and that makes it a pleasure to listen to. We all have a common goal in the band and that is to play old school-style music. But no matter what song we’re performing, we always put the Kick-n-Flava spin to it and that gives our music its own personal touch.”
Q: How has the group changed since Jerry formed it 15 years ago?
A: “We’re more versatile now than we’ve ever been. You’ll hear some of that on the new CD we’re doing. We added vocalist Valeria Larke two years ago, and she does Gladys Knight and other female singers. In addition to percussion, I’m playing some keyboards. The saxophone player is playing keyboards now. Big Gil is playing trumpet and trombone now and keyboards and percussion. If we find out somebody can do something we’re going to use them.”
Q: How is the fall looking for Kick-n-Flava?
A: “It’s going to be busy. In September, we’re going to be at Hollywood Casino in Columbus and the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival in Urbana. We’re doing Dayton Art Institute’s Jazz & Beyond Series in October and we’re doing our annual Thanksgiving show at Gilly’s in November. We’re still having a great time playing together. We’re going to keep doing this as long as we’re physically able to perform and we have an audience out there that enjoys our music.”
More info: www.reverbnation.com/kicknflava.