It’s hard to say exactly when I became aware of Mayer Hawthorne. But I loved his sound — a Motown-influenced R&B — when I first heard it a few years ago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed his evolution as a singer, songwriter, musician and producer.
I got to see Mayer (born Andrew Mayer Cohen) and his band in concert in February 2014 in the company of my oldest son, Nathan. He was terrific, playing to a sold-out crowd at the Wonder Ballroom.
Last night, I got to see Mayer again at the same venue. This time he had a new band, Tuxedo, a collaboration with Jake One, a hop-hop record producer and keyboardist from Seattle.
Together they put out some great, high-energy music that’s been called neo-soul and funk. Think Fitz and the Tantrums, just a little more amped up and a lot better dressed.
Mayer and Jake came out in black tuxedos, white shirts and big black bow-ties. They had a guitarist and another keyboardist in white shirts, white pants and the same black bow-ties. There was a backup singer, too, someone with an enormous Afro that made me think of Angela Davis, except this woman was shimmying and shaking in a snug, glittery dress.
Tuxedo played for an hour to an all-ages crowd that drew the under-21 kids to one side of the room and a range of adults on the other. It was refreshing to see black, brown and white people all grooving together, some in their 20s and 30s, others in their 40s and 50s.
Oh, and then there was me. Lori doesn’t do weekday concerts because she rises so early for her personal training job. Nathan couldn’t go either because he was working last night, but he did predict I’d like Tuxedo. A recommendation from him, a professional DJ, carries a lot of weight.
Lori would have loved the concert. Very danceable music. Or, in my case, head-bobbing music.
I had a good view from the middle of the room and enjoyed all Tuxedo had to offer. Constant motion, a few choreographed moves, infectious beats, and a sense that the band members were truly enjoying themselves.
It’s pretty remarkable that a Jewish kid from the Detroit suburbs would become such a polished performer. But Mayer Hawthorne shows that where there’s a passion for certain genres of music, there’s no limit to what a dude can do.
Check him out: