Rhythm Barges In

At 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 22, the Barge Canal Coffee Co. filled up as its weekly Saturday Nite Music Series began. This week, Keslie and the Rhythm Section was playing. All the members of this band were roughly high school-aged, and the audience teemed with many parents, siblings and friends in attendance. It felt a little like walking in on a different high school’s band concert — but without the squeaking instruments of amateur musicians or the need for a conductor to oversee the performance.

The band consisted of six members on instruments, and two different singers, a girl and a boy, who occasionally would join them. The sole girl of the six main musicians played the saxophone. Other instruments included the keyboard, drums and electric guitar. Keslie and the Rhythm Section plays experimental jazz music with Latin, funk and rhythm and blues influences. Many of their songs were instrumentals and were quite intricate and lengthy.

Without giving any sort of introduction, Keslie and the Rhythm Section started their set with an instrumental that falls under the above description. Next, the female singer came up on the stage for a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.” Later, the band played an original instrumental called “Aftermath.”

After this, the male singer joined the band to sing a cover of “Happy Hour Hero” by Moe. Both singers seemed to move casually and with ease between the stage and audience, impressively comfortable with their surroundings.

Another original song, “Diner Jam,” was played afterwards. As with many of their songs, the whole room seemed to vibrate a little from the loudness and intensity of the music. People seemed to truly enjoy the music. Every chair was taken, and crowds of people were standing wherever they could find room in the cafe.

It was unfortunate that the saxophone was often hard to hear over the other instruments that simply had more sheer volume, because the saxophone player seemed quite talented. For this reason, it was much appreciated when one song was led in by a saxophone solo and in general focused more on the saxophone.

The final song was a culmination of the positive energy that had surged through the Barge all night. Keslie and the Rhythm Section played a cover of “I’ll Take You There” by the Simpletons, which they described as being an old song, but new to them. The band did not seem phased or unprepared for this somewhat unfamiliar song. They played it expertly, and the audience responded. Many people gathered closer around the stage and began to dance enthusiastically. It had been an instrumental version of the song, until audience members began to chime in during the refrain.

Keslie and the Rhythm Section’s concert at the Barge’s Saturday Nite Music Series stands as proof that even the youngest musicians can be talented and innovative. The band played their instruments with skill, sang their songs with ease and made each song uniquely their own, whether that song was an original or a cover. Look out for them in the future — they are not to be missed!