Ohio Funkateers Rock DC!
Lakeside and Steve Arrington continue Dayton’s Funk Legacy
By Timothy Cox
Editor ‘n Chief
BETHESDA, MD — The Bethesda Blues and Jazz Theater was the site of a flat-out ‘70s funk reunion show during the evening of Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.
After a rousing performance of opening-act Steve Arrington, the former leader of ‘70s funk band, Slave, headliners Original Lakeside immediately tookover the stage and offered their unique brand of Ohio funk that has easily withstood the test of time.
The nine-member band now dub themselves as “Original” due to their significant time of touring with replacement players. But now, the band is largely now re-complete with the original personnel that founded the group during the days when they were known as Ohio Lakeside Express when they formed in south-central Ohio — specifically, Dayton, Ohio.
ORIGINAL LAKESIDE LIVE: Dayton Ohio’s original funk sounds were well-represented during a late-summer jam in suburban Washington, DC. (Timothy Cox Photo)
The only original Lakeside member that has yet to return to the fold, is original lead singer Mark Adam Wood. As expressed by guitarist/bandleader Stephen Shockley during a post-concert onstage Q&A period with concertgoers, following their recent show, Shockley boldly said, “Our original lead singer ‘went crazy’ and started his own version of Lakeside.”
As a long-time fan of the band, this writer has always somehow hoped Wood would return to the fold, and the group would live happily ever after. However …
having witnessed the current lineup, featuring replacement lead singer, Edwin Guyton, the group brings back memories of the days when Russell Thompkins Jr. left the Stylistics. But when super-talented Ebron Brown eventually replaced Thompkins – no longer are Stylistics’ fans holding-out for Thompkins’ return. Brown is just that talented. And so is Mr. Guyton. His stage presence is every-bit as effective as his predecessor and his vocals are remarkably similar – with a raspy, power much like a blend of David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards. And, the boy gots stage presence too!
The group has to be very thankful with the return of second-tenor (falsetto) vocal work of original member Otis Stokes. Having always mimicked the sounds of the late, great Eddie Kendricks – Stokes is a throw-back to the days when falsetto vocalists complemented mostly all successful black, male vocal groups from the Dramatics, the Dells, Blue Magic, Stylistics and of course, the Temptations.
Back to Mr. Arrington. Though he utilized a crew of Washington, DC area musicians, Slave’s former drummer and bandleader worked his magic on his stand-in group. They played his hits from his signature “Slide” to “Dancin In the Key of Life” and “Walkin’ Down the Street (Watchin’ You),” and “Just a Touch of Love” and “Weak at the Knees.”
STILL DAYTON STRONG: “Stevie” Arrington (clad in camo) was as funky as ever even with the support of a backup band of DC-area musicians. (Photo by Timothy Cox)
Arrington jammed hard, and showed some reflections of his conversion to religious music from 1990 to 2009. On several occasions he shouted the name “Jesus,” and expectedly received a rousing roar from this Sunday evening audience. Backstage, following the show, Arrington was quite gracious and easy-going, calmly taking pictures with his many fans. Another moving moment was when Lakeside brought “Stevie” onstage during their act, and reflected on the fellows’ formative years in Dayton, as neighborhood kids playing in newly-formed bands – all hoping someday to the reach big-time level of their home-state idols, the Ohio Players.
The Lakeside performance was special based on the group’s patented diverse elements of a self-contained funk band, able to flip to a strong balladeer group. With the return of Otis Stokes, the band easily delved into crowd favorites like “Given Into Love” and “I Need You,” and their soulful, gospelike Beatles’ cover, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Their uptempo rendition of the original 1964 version was very welcomed and displayed their true musicianship. Especially Otis Stokes guitar work, which this writer never realized he’s such an accomplished lead and rhythm player. Guyton and Stokes shined bigtime on this one. And their version of their ‘mid ‘80s hit, “Something About That Woman,” was another unforgettable performance.
Original member Thomas Shelton was quite a showman, and displayed supreme physicality for fella in his mid-sixties. The group is still based on pure funk, showmanship and quality vocals. Guitarist Shockley remains the key member, along with funky bassist Marvin Craig – and Fred Alexander Jr., the barefoot drummer. While “Fantastic Voyage” and “All The Live” remains their stellar signature hits, perhaps next tour they’ll include party-tunes like “From 9 Until,”
“If You Like Our Music,” and maybe even “Turn The Music Up.” Meanwhile, big-ups to the Lakeside Band– they remain one of Black America’s most funkiest bands – pure, uncut danceable funk – and they still gots their soulful Groove! Thankfully, they’re young and healthy enough to still tour.
Therefore, if they come to your town – make sure you make a date to see the Original Lakeside Band.