Jam Factory at Arnellia's
Most reviewers overvalue originality (real, dubious, bogus) and undervalue professionalism (crass, harmless, inspired). It's a good policy unless one develops a habit of extolling bogus originality and ignoring inspired professionalism. "Inspired" might be too strong a word for R&B cover band Jam Factory's performance last Saturday night at the vibey Arnellia's, but the 10-piece band was pretty damn on point and obviously having a good time. That and a staunch refusal to play "Wonderful Tonight" is what I want from a cover band. Led by keyboardist Brad Martin, the two-year-old group features slappin' and groovin' bassist Lane Bellamy (yes, brother of the Penumbra Theater's Lou), funky guitarist George Scott, sharply dressed trumpeter Mitch Brown (white suit and hat), saxophonist Mark "Goldy" Froelke, percussionist Marshall Brown, drummer Victor Reynolds, plus three singers and a couple of guests. The band's two female singers were especially fine on "Sweet" songs: Demonica Flye quiet-storming through Anita Baker's "Sweet Love" and Marsia Guerra raising the roof on Rufus and Chaka's "Sweet Thing." Wayne Reed, the male member of the vocal frontline, managed, among other things, to make Cameo's middling "Single Life" sound quite good. "This one's dedicated to all the single ladies in the house," he announced before the tune, before surveying the very couple-dominated house. "Doesn't look like there are too many of 'em out there," he added, and then sang as if there were scads of eligible lovelies in the front row just for him.
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