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Critics' Choice
TOWER OF POWER: FUNKY AT 50
2/11/21

Tower of Power’s celebration of its 50th anniversary—a two-night performance in Oakland in June 2018—will be released on video and various audio formats via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group.

The Hi-Res digital edition of 50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at the Fox Theater–Oakland, CA–June 2018  will be available for streaming and download on Qobuz on 2/26; a three-LP set, a two-CD/DVD combo, a standalone DVD and digital offerings are set for 3/26.

For the shows, band leader/saxophonist Emilio Castillo invited several ToP alumni, among them saxophonist Lenny Pickett, keyboardist Chester Thompson, guitarist Bruce Conte and singer Ray Greene, who showed off his trombone prowess. The current lineup includes co-founder Stephen “Doc” Kupka on baritone sax and longtime drummer David Garibaldi.

The setlist includes the classics “You’re Still a Young Man,” “So Very Hard to Go,” “What is Hip?” and “Don’t Change Horses” to songs from recent albums on Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, Soul Side of Town (2018) and Step Up (2020).

“You can take the boy out of Oakland, but you can't take the Oakland out of the boy,” Castillo says. “We always called the East Bay, where we were from, the dark side of the Bay. It was more ethnic, with a lot of blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and soul was the thing there. So, we called our first album East Bay Grease and put a map of Oakland on the cover, which proved to be a really smart move. People all over the world started saying that we represent the Oakland soul sound.”