Despite the low attendance on the second night of “A Trip Down Memory Lane — A Tribute to Sam Cooke,” it was clear that those who were at Burbank’s Hampton Inn and Suites on Friday night were longtime fans of Motown, Sam Cooke or the special guest of the night, Bonnie Pointer, founding member of the popular sibling group, the Pointer Sisters.
Organized by singer-songwriter Mike “Majik” Boyd, whose big personality reflected in his bright red shirt and shoes, the night featured classic Cooke hits such as “Cupid,” “Wonderful World” and “The Twist,” popularized by Chubby Checker in the 1960s — all sung by Boyd himself.
Although it was clear that Boyd is quite passionate about music and has the vocal chops to prove it, lack of event organization and the venue, which happened to be in the buffet room, marred “A Trip Down Memory Lane” from being a truly enjoyable night.
As couples and friends sat among the scattered chairs and tables, Boyd graciously spoke to the minuscule crowd in between songs, telling them about his life, asking them about theirs and at one point requesting crowd participation for “The Twist.”
“We can’t even move our hips now,” someone in attendance shot back to his request. After Boyd sang a few songs, including some originals, Pointer, clad in a tie-dye dress that boasted spurts of burgundy, orange and green, took control of the stage and brought an entirely new level of energy, one that got the crowd, which had grown by a table’s worth of people, out of their chairs and onto their feet.
With high kicks, her backup singer in tow and head bangs that could have rivaled any rock concert attendee, Pointer belted out her 1979 hit “Heaven Must Have Sent You,” and the Temptations’ classic “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” to an enthusiastic audience.
Her performance of the Pointer Sisters’ 1984 hit “Jump (For My Love)” had the crowd literally jumping, as many had a chance to relive their youth and remember the good times and classic songs they grew up on.
As curious hotel guests passed by, Pointer finished off the night with the 1982 hit, “I’m So Excited,” which has been a staple reference in pop culture, including one that my generation might recall — a stint on “Saved By the Bell,” appropriately titled “Jessie’s Song.”
Thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere and music, Pointer ended the night with as much vigor and zeal as she began it, but not before she skillfully sang “Happy Birthday” a cappella to a lucky member of the audience who happened to be Frank Barkley, father of professional basketball player turned commentator Charles Barkley.
Though Pointer’s liveliness and years of performance proved worthy, as did Boyd’s polished vocals, the night had wiggle room to go more smoothly and could have done with a change of venue.
If listening to live performances of the hits of yesteryear are your cup of tea, “A Trip Down Memory Lane” is a fine and agreeable showcase.
However, if you would like to forgo audience participation, this event might not be for you.
The slightly disheveled atmosphere is noticeable, although it lets you get as close as possible to the entertainers. .
Even so, headliners Ali-Ollie Woodson, former lead vocalist for the Temptations, and Don Black, an R&B; artist currently touring with the Platters, who will be appearing Friday and Sept. 18 respectively, could be performances that are worthy of “A Trip Down Memory Lane.”
LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a writer and editor who has been covering arts, culture and news in print and online for a number of years. LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a writer and editor who has been covering arts, culture and news in print and online for a number of years.