Christine Ohlman and Barrence Whitfield with a Terrific Evening of Soul Music

The Beehive Queen Christine Ohlman (singer for the SNL Band) made her triumphant return to 9 Wallis with Boston’s legendary singer Barrence Whitfield for an outstanding evening of straight from the heart soul music.

Christine Ohlman started the show with a few songs by herself with her band Rebel Montez, which is a terrific band of top-notch musicians. Guitarist Cliff Goodwin had a decade-long stint with Joe Cocker and was also in the Jon Butcher Axis in the ’80s. He was also the guitarist on Robert Palmer’s smash hit “Addicted to Love.”

Not only is Goodwin a terrific musician, but he’s also a great showman. He is a born entertainer and belongs on stage. This man is as authentic as a rock guitarist can get.

Cliff Goodwin
Wolf Ginandes

The rhythm section of bassist Wolf Ginandes and drummer Lorne Entress is fantastic. Both musicians prove that less is more. Neither did any technically dazzling tricks, they both kept it simple. That’s harder to do than it appears. Both Entress and Ginandes are terrific musicians and the backbones of the band.

Ohlman began the evening with a heartfelt rendition of “That’s How Strong My Love Is”, originally by OV Wright and made famous by Otis Redding. That’s How Strong My Love Is” is a classic R&B ballad that’s been recorded by many different musicians. It’s not an easy song to sing, and most covers of it sound the same. Ohlman’s version of that song is one of the best I’ve heard. Anyone unaware of Ohlman was immediately drawn into her soulful singing with that song.

She then followed up with my favorite song of hers, “Love Makes You Do Stupid Things.” This is the kind of song that people of all ages would listen to. The guitar riff is instantly recognizable, and the lyrics are well written. Not only that, but the message of the song is entirely truthful. Many people could relate to it. “Love Make You Do Stupid Things” was the clear highlight of her solo set.

She ended her set with a terrific rendition of “Piece of my Heart.” Janis Joplin made the song famous, but it was originally recorded by soul singer Erma Franklin (the older sister of Aretha). 

Lorne Entress

Ohlman’s version was different from both of theirs, it was much slower and felt like a power ballad. Ohlman’s version was very original and different from any version I’ve heard before. It was a great closer to her set.

Christine Ohlman

Immediately after her set, she left the stage and Barrence Whitfield walked on. He started his set with one of my favorite songs of his, “Got Your Love Right Here.” If that song was released in the ’70s or ’80s it would’ve been a smash hit and still played on radios today. The song is perfect for dancing and the chorus is great to sing along to.

He also performed “Stop Twisting My Arm”, another one of my favorites. That song is always a crowd pleaser and his fans love it. He shows off his incredible shouting ability in this song.

Whitfield can do this very unique scream that sounds painful but isn’t. I asked him if it’s painful and he said not at all. He’s been doing it for decades and I don’t know how he can do it. It’s nearly impossible to describe. If you haven’t heard it, look him up so you can hear what I’m trying to explain.

He then closed his set with a song called “The Apology Line”, which he said a friend of his wrote while thinking about him. His daughter, Allegra Whitfield, made a special appearance and sang the song with her father. Allegra only made her first performance on stage in December with her father. Allegra gave an excellent performance. She has a very big vocal range. She mostly sang in her lower register, but I can tell she can go much higher. She has massive potential as a vocalist and we’ll certainly be seeing more of her in the future.

Barrence Whitfield
Barrence & Allegra Whitfield

After “The Apology Line”, Ohlman came back on stage and they played the rest of the show together. One of my favorite songs they played was a cover of Razzy Bailey’s “I Hate Hate”. Ohlman found this song while digging through her vinyl collection. Bailey is a country singer, but this song gives off a lot of vintage soul vibes. The lyrics of the song could not be more relevant today, and the message is something more people need to take into account.

 

One of my favorite songs from the evening was their version of “Why Don’t You Try Me”, made famous by Ry Cooder. I liked their cover of the song, it was interesting. Cooder’s version has a lot of Caribbean vibes, whereas Christine & Barrence turned it into a classic soul song.

My favorite song of the evening was their version of “How Do You Spell Love” by Bobby Patterson, the most notable version being by the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Christine & Barrence’s version is my favorite version that I’ve heard. They got the entire crowd singing along with them, and they got the house rocking.

Christine & Barrence closed the show with the Al Green classic “Take Me to the River” that brought the packed house to their feet. “Take Me to the River” was a terrific closer to an outstanding evening of music.

I can honestly say that this was one of my favorite shows I’ve seen so far in 2020. When Christine Ohlman sang, I heard the spirit of Dusty Springfield. I could listen to her sing all day. Barrence Whitfield is a legendary entertainer in Boston and is guaranteed to put on a great show. If either of these great artists is in town, make sure you go.

*Photos by Greater Boston Music Reviews. Find more photos here.

 
 

 

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