"What Is Hip?" is among the most enduring hits of Tower of Power, the muscular, horn-driven funk, R&B, and soul outfit that began in Oakland in 1968. And for 42 years, Tower of Power has been the answer to its own question, fashioning a career that may not rack up the hits like the 10-piece band did during the 1970s, but remaining a bastion of wickedly tight precision and soulfulness whose hipness defies age. Besides "What Is Hip?," TOP ascended the charts with tunes like "You're Still a Young Man," "So Very Hard to Go," and "Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!," complementing the horns with a succession of lead vocalists, whose chair is currently occupied by Larry Braggs and his classic soul pipes. When they weren't recording their own material, TOP were backing the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Little Feat, and Aerosmith. Half of the current band are original members: founding saxophonists Emilio Castillo and Doc Kupka, bassist Francis Rocco Prestia, drummer Dave Garibaldi, and trumpeter Mic Gillette, who returned to the fold last year. Also in 2009, TOP issued Great American Soulbook, the band's first collection of covers, all indelible nuggets by the likes of Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin. Classic tunes from a classic band, and timelessly hip.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Starts: Dec. 15. Continues through Dec. 16, 2010