A Rare Musical Experience with Ahyonz at TePhejez
March 27, 2011

Dallas, TX
Friday, March 25

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here. It’s also been a long time since I had a musical experience like the one I had last Friday night. Random wanderings led a friend and me to one of those elusive night clubs that seems to disappear by the next morning like a dream. The $10 cover almost kept us away, but we risked it, and boy, did it pay off.

The band that night was a soul, funk, R&B combo called Ahyonz (pronounced: EYE-ahnz). Drums, bass, keys, guitar, and singer fit together like perfectly shaped pieces of a puzzle, like entwined fingers of two lovers’ hands.

The bass player had that fat, rich, round, warm tone, which he complemented with some bright, punchy, percusive funk slaps. One extended solo took him into a Victor Wooten styled tremolo. While his five-string kept the group grounded, the guitar player and keys player comped with dexterity, originality, flair, and precision.

The guitar player especially had his own vibe going on. Wearing a tie and vest and gold and silver shining slacks, topped off with a puffy, cabbie hat, and playing a cheap, left-handed Fender Squier, the right-handed guitar player somehow managed a super funky tone with a variety of pedals and strumming techniques. His solos were spot on. A double-octave pitch-shifter added a touch of an astro-synth sound to his counter-melodies.

The drummer, Tony Smith, was solid. Rock-steady. There was never a moment when you didn’t know exactly where the beat was. Lightning fast dynamic changes worked like counter-balances against the band. As everyone else softened, he crescendoed until the breaking point. And then: silence.

Smith’s laid back placement of the beat was most impressive on Sly and the Family Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay.” I don’t know how he did it, but I swear the song was slowing down the entire way through. Laid back. Way back.

The spot light of the band, however, was the gorgeous Kenya Crawford. The sexy front-lady is a performer extraordinaire. Honest, entertaining, she connected directly to the audience. Her voice ranges from the tender and sensual to the raspy and lusty to the rip fire, screams that’ll take off your head.

Crawford showcased her vocal flexibility on Ahyonz’s version of Prince’s “Do Me Baby,” which was also the band’s best number, and which held all of the orgasmic energy of the original. Spine chills.

After a little research, it turns out that the nightclub is called TePhejez (prounounced: ta-FEE-gheez), and it even exists during the day. It’s at 2226 Elm St. in downtown Dallas, and Ahyonz will be back on Friday, April 15.

It was a rare musical experience when clapping is not enough; the music controls you. I found myself reacting to the music vocally, in the moment, shouting back at the band. I wasn’t the only one.