“What is Hip?”, Tower Of Power at the MIM

Tower Of Power

Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Venue: Musical Instrument Museum – MIM
Date: Monday Dec 11th, 2017   PM show

For 2 nights, the MIM hosted one of the great 60s/70s funk rock bands, Tower of Power.  I remember that during that time, there were some really outstanding bands that featured a horn section.  Blood Sweet and Tears, Chicago and Tower of Power were the bands that I loved to listened to.  Not only did Tower Of Power play 2 nights at the MIM, but did 2 shows each night to sold-out crowds.  I saw the second show the first night.  Given the energy of the band members, you would never have known that they performed just 2 hours earlier.

Emilio Castillo Of Tower Of Power

The band is currently made up of longtime members, Emilio Castillo (Tenor Sax, Vocals) and Stephen “Doc” Kupka (Baritone Sax).  They are joined by Adolfo Acosta (Flugelhorn, Trumpet), Sal Cracchiolo (Trumpet) and Tom E. Politzer(Tenor Sax) that completed the horn section.  David Garibaldi (Drums), Jerry Cortez (Guitar, Vocals), Roger Smith (Keyboards, Vocals) and Francis Rocco Prestia (Bass) fill out the rhythm section.  The new comer to the band is their dynamic lead singer, Marcus Scott.

Marcus Scott of Tower Of Power

One of the qualities I love about Tower Of Power is that way the band interacts with the audience.  They seem to be having a great time on stage and they transfer that energy to the audience.  They had the audience up dancing to a number of their songs.  I even saw the ushers next to me dancing.  Both Emilio and Marcus interacted with the audience.  Marcus went into the crowd twice and sang to a couple of different ladies and wandered all over the venue.  At one-point Marcus came next to us and a young girl was there with her mother, and Marcus started dancing with the young girl much to her and her mother’s delight.  Emilio told us about their upcoming 50th anniversary show in the summer of 2018 in Oakland California and invited us to join them in the celebration.

They played a number of their greatest hits, but the fan favorite of the night was, “What Is Hip?”.  Everyone was up dancing and signing along.  The pure energy of the band and audience was electrifying.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.

What an amazing show.  The sound was outstanding.  I was at the top of the venue to take the first few shots and the I could hear each of the horns.  Even down front the sound was great.  The sound mix was perfect.  The horns blended superbly with Marcus’s voice.  The bass, guitar, keyboards and drums could also be heard even during the horn solos.  Again, the MIM is an excellent venue to see a concert.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2017

Tower Of Power Setlist:                     (Album)
Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now                 (Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now)
You Ought to Be Havin’ Fun                    (Havin Fun)
Only So Much Oil In The Ground              (Urban Renewal)
Down To The Nightclub                           (Bump City)
Just When We Start Makin’ It                  (Back To Oakland)
Soul Vaccination                                     (Tower Of Power, 1973)
Don’t Change Horses                              (Back To Oakland)
This Time It’s Real                                   (Tower Of Power, 1973)
So Very Hard To Go                                (Tower Of Power, 1973)
What Is Hip?                                           (Tower Of Power, 1973)
Souled Out                                             (Souled Out)


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