The anticipation at Club Crazy was palpable. For weeks I played nothing but Stevie, in preparation for his upcoming Hollywood Bowl Show. Having been fortunate enough to see him play Radio City Music Hall in ’94 and a morning promo for a fundraiser in ’08, I leapt at the chance to see Stevie again. I don’t have a concert budget right now, but I shelled out top dollar because Stevie’s the closest I’ve ever been to the presence of God. His talent is as tangible as Big Sur is majestic.

The night was bannered as “Ricky Minor, Stevie Wonder and Friends”. There were a lot of friends. An amazing guitar player from Africa, a gospel group that had matching red suits, a Japanese American Astrud Gilberto, a Mexican MIA, a guy I named Otis Redding’s cousin, Grace Potter, Sharon Jones from The Dap Kings and Janelle Monae. All of whom were incredible, but the stand out was Janelle Monae. Her rendition of  the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” was insanely on point . She was channeling MJ and it was surreal. I was in the aisles dancing with my eyes closed. She brought The Bowl to its feet and then its knees. That girl makes me happy to love menswear and brogues. Her style and sound are such a throwback, and she carries herself like James Browns kid sister: footwork- check, velvet cape- check.

Finally time for Stevie. I appreciated all the other artists, but I came for Stevie. My broke ass spent $250 a ticket for Stevie. End of story, bring on the master blaster!

Once I saw that smile, every cell in my body started partying. I was ready to be slayed and ready to be schooled. Stevie opened up taking us down his own personal musical memory lane with two songs by Jessie Belvins, followed by a couple draw dropping Sam Cooke numbers.

This is where the lessons begin. Based on my previous experiences, I had expectations. And based upon those expectations, I was grossly disappointed when Stevie played only two original songs and was ushered off the stage. My initial response was to kill Ricky Minor, for this vanity project, where HE is onstage for six hours, as he and the house band played with every act.

Stevie killed “Superstition” and encored with “Higher Ground”, but that’s the tip of the iceberg in his monstrous catalog. I wasn’t the only one who was ready to riot as the Bowl boooed when Ricky Minor announced he was bringing everyone back to the stage for a cover of “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. Was he crazy, we came to see STEVIE FRICKIN’ WONDER, not some hackneyed collabo?!

To top it off, as The Bowl is about to riot, the audience realizing they’d been scammed, Ricky Monor brings out a children’s orchestra. That’s gotta suck for these kids, walking out to an irate crowd. But Ricky Minor should’ve known better. Don’t tell spiritually exhausted, Los Angelino, Stevie Wonder fans there’s a show and then give us six songs! Stevie played more songs when I saw him play in an outdoor courtyard in Century City to promote a charity. It was me, the news casters, cameramen and office secretaries on their lunch break. That was free. That was amazing.

I know I got a lot to learn about a lotta stuff, and I know I set myself up for this, but here’s the songs from the ’94 show. My friend and I rushed home and wrote it down in her apartment on 6th street in New York and then both called our moms! I’ve had this list in a box I call “the special box”.  It will continue to reside in the “special box” and the night will live on in my heart as the most incredible night ever. The closest to infinity I’ve ever seen any person come.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to see Stevie, but I hope to see him on his own tour soon. I need more Stevie. Clearly. I’m gonna keep marinating on expectations, and letting go, but for today, I still want to kick Ricky Minor in the shins. I love you Stevie!!! Thank You!

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