Twas the night before the Roots Picnic, and a few of the Roots - including Black Thought - were in the house. That's him - rapper Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter - rhyming with the terrific Philadelphia horn ensemble Jeff Bradshaw & Brass Heaven on the stage of The Legendary Dobbs, the clean, well-lighted place that inhabits the 3rd and South Street locale that used to house not-so-clean legendary Philadelphia rock club J.C. Dobbs.
Black Thought was in fine form. Sample rhyme: "I wanna play some Marvin Gaye for you / I won't play any immature games with you." He gregariously guested with the boisterous Brass Heaven - one of whose members, Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson (not pictured) is also a Root - dropping a reworked version of the Roots "How I Got Over" and joining in on a horny take on the O'Jays' "For The Love Of Money."
Earlier, the Sarah Pedinotti-fronted New York band Railbird played a captivating set of dizzy indie-pop, and later rapper Reda and clowning duo OCD served up lagniappes of nuevo old school hip-hop. And the evening closed with Black Thought back on stage with DJ J. Period (with whom he'll be rhyming in the tent at Festival Pier during the Picnic today), as well as Roots crew rapper Dice Raw and other MCs.
The $10 night was billed as Tapas - The Roots Pre-Picnic Appetizer. So I guess it was technically truth-in-titling that the hoped for main course - The Roots themselves, onstage, as a band - was never served up, even though the band, and not just Black Thought, were pictured on the flyer advertising the show. I left at 1:35 in the a.m., in an attempt to rest up in preparation for a multi-course Saturday consisting of various Picnic starters folowed by a Paul Simon finisher, and I'm told that neither ?uestlove nor any other members of the Roots materialized between then and 2 o'clock closing time.
The Roots Picnic is at the Festival Pier on Delaware Avenue today. Be there by 2:25 in the afternoon if you want to see Dismemberment Plan, who start off a main stage run that includes Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafit, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Grammy winning jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding, backed by the Roots, who goes on at 5:30.
The entire Picnic will be streamed at OkayPlayer. Listen here.