Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Soul's in the House

By Meredith Deliso

Richard Lewis didn’t want to jinx anything. 

When he and Michael Robinson launched the Brooklyn Soul Festival last year, they purposely avoided calling it the “first annual” — a somewhat presumptuous title, he rationalized, for an event he wasn’t sure would be successful enough for a second go.

Well, it worked: After a sold-out run last year, the Brooklyn Soul Festival returns to the Bell House in Gowanus from Oct. 8-9 for two nights of funk, soul and guaranteed boogie-ing.

In retrospect, Lewis didn’t have too much to worry, what with the growing popularity of the local soul scene thanks to acts such as Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, The Sweet Divines and Eli “Paperboy” Reed.

Then again, Lewis loves soul a little more than the next guy. He has thousands of 45s to prove it, and sees the festival as an opportunity to share in his love of the genre with the uninitiated.

“I can geek out over this stuff,” said Lewis, who regularly DJs with Robinson as part of Dig Deeper, a monthly soul night at Southpaw. “We’re DJs, we never really imagined we’d be getting to work with all our heroes.”

Friday’s lineup includes Barbara Lynn (pictured with Reed), Vernon Garrett, Don Gardner, and Reed, while Saturday night will be headlined by Renaldo Domino, Harvey Scales, Betty Harris and The Sweet Divines.

“People who are really into soul music look at the lineup and can’t believe these six artist are on the bill,” said Lewis, who has soul fans coming from as far away as Iceland for the festival.  

“We are in some way trying to protect an American art form from dying out,“ added Lewis. “This is a way for people to hear the original artists perform their work in their own voices. There’s just not that many more opportunities for people to do that.”

Unless, of course, there’s a third annual.

Brooklyn Soul Festival at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643-6510], Oct. 8-9 at 8 pm. Tickets, $20 ($40 for a two-day pass). For info, visit


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