Comments About MANDRILL’S Recent East Coast Tour
“…Mandrill was at the Birchmere while I was away on vacation, but fortunately they were also in nearby Annapolis this Monday at the Rams Head Tavern, and they jammed like they had never left the scene! Still gettin’ it done! Mandrill stands ten strong, and with the four Wilson Brothers and some others from the original iteration and an outstanding selection of newer talent (notably on drum kit, lead guitar, and violin) they rocked all their hits in a breathless 90-minute set. Highlights included “Mandrill,” “Fencewalk,” “Children of the Sun,” “Mango Meat,” “House of Wood,” “Get it All,” and of course “Ape is High.”
Carlos Wilson’s voice and flute were in fine form, as were Lou Wilson on trumpet and vocals, Ricardo “Doc” Wilson on Trombone and vocals, and Wilfredo Wilson on congas and vocals. Admonitions by the venue that the audience refrain from dancing went appropriately unheeded (as if the audience had any choice once Mandrill started jamming)… I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a concert so much. World’s greatest rock band: the Rolling Who?! The Grateful Duds?! They better reco’nize! Mandrill Rules!”
The Incorrigible Curmudgeon
“As Mandrill approached the stage at the Ram’s Head Tavern in Annapolis, it was like a celebration. The audience’s energy was high. We were loud/raucous and full of anticipation — and Mandrill didn’t disappoint. The band was strong/fierce from opening jam to encore.
After 40 or so years, Mandrill is still a formidable band, strong, positive and soulful. You gotta wonder why no one new is doing music like that. It’s as bright and deep and spiritual and joyful and moving as it ever was; it still holds up.
Any younguns out there reading this? M-A-N-D-R-I-L-L. Get their CDs. Go to a live performance. Study up!
Mandrill’s music, always an organic amalgam of gospel, blues, doo-wop, R&B, jazz, fonk, reggae, calypso, that night also included a spoken-word paean to the Black woman that brought a well-received hip-hop infusion to their repertoire. Throughout the set, in addition to those raging, shining horns so emblematic of Mandrill’s music, were the group’s signature drum rhythms. That explosive, polyrhythmic energy shook the Ram’s Head Tavern from its floor joists to the ceiling and brought the audience to its feet throughout the evening.
The rapport/love onstage among the group was palpable and particularly in evidence as the brothers huddled together to sing backup on “House of Wood.” They could have been harmonizing on a late-night street corner in Philly back in the day instead of performing in a yuppie tavern in old-town Annapolis in 2008.
It was an amazing night. Watching Mandrill onstage, I couldn’t help but marvel at just how — after centuries in the New World — essentially and fundamentally African we still.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
That night, the music of Mandrill was more than nostalgic; it was immediate. And healing. It was numinous.
And I loved every minute of it.
Thanks, Mandrill, for one hell of a performance.
And, please, come back soon!”