The Family Stand Returns

Whenever I think I have had it with New York for the last time, summer arrives. Somehow, I figure out some way to make it through another year in this city–save the year I actually DID leave!

But summer has become just about the only reason to live in NYC as far as I’m concerned. There are so many hotties here – boys and girls in NYC really like to show it off when the weather breaks, too! It’s all about the grown and sexy. It’s also all about the Sunday brunches. The mimosas and the mojitos. The rooftop barbecues.

But most importantly, it’s also about the free live music. Between Prospect Park, Wingate Park, South Street Seaport Festival, SummerStage, you more than get your fill of some really great music and performances.

This past Saturday, you could have found me perched next to three of my best girlfriends for The Family Stand show at Central Park’s SummerStage.

Many of you (if you’d quit lyin’ about your age) will remember the Family Stand as the group behind the R&B hit single Ghetto Heaven. But oh, are they so much more. One of the founding members of the Black Rock Coalition, The Family Stand helped to set the standard for Black music that was deeply rooted in Black American music and expressive culture, but also was unafraid of pushing the limits of those popular forms of rock, blues, jazz and soul, or combining elements of each to create something new, but strangely familiar.

The band–V. Jeffrey Smith, Peter Lord and Sandra St. Victor, recorded three albums together as a group in the late 1980s/early 1990s, before disbanding and working on separate projects. Smith & Lord went on to work with many artists like Des’ree and Will Downing, before producing a fourth Family Stand recording in the late 1990’s without Sandra.

Not my favorite record.

On the other hand, St. Victor recorded two brilliant CDs during this period – Mack Diva Saves the World(1996), and Gemini: Both Sides (2001), before moving to Amsterdam.

But the group never broke up, really, as they continued to collaborate when they weren’t recording as The Family Stand. But on Saturday, the group played through a tight ass set of new tracks from their upcoming 4th (or 5th) studio recording, Super Sol Nova. They were amazing, and what also makes this band rare, is that all three members can sing their asses off. But be clear, Sandra St. Victor is the standout vocalist. The only thing I missed from this show were some songs from Sandra’s solo records — Move Me, They’re Cool, or Mack Diva would have sent me over the edge.

The only other problem was SummerStage’s inept sound technicians, who didn’t seem to know that when a person’s mouth is moving (or an intrument is playing) and they’re no noise, it means a mic needs to be turned on or up. Alexa, get some new sound techs, please!

In any case, check them out if you can soon, and be sure to pick up the disc when it drops.

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