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Taken from Central Jersey (January 8, 2015)

Honoring a Legend

Sam Cooke tribute in Ewing

by Anthony Stoeckert

Doug Wimbish will be the musical director
when the Candlelight Concerts for Epilepsy presents the songs of Sam Cooke.

GET ready to twist the night away — for a good cause.

On Jan. 10, the Candlelight Concerts for Epilepsy series will pay tribute to Sam Cooke with a lineup of musicians that includes Gary U.S. Bonds (who was friends with Cooke and toured with him); Sarah Dash of LaBelle, Corey Glover of Living Colour, Jeffrey Gaines, Chris Trapper of the Push Stars, Carsie Blanton, Daniella Cotton and Lili Anel.

Doug Wimbish, also of Living Colour will be the musical director for the evening. He has played bass for that rock band for more than 20 years, and also has worked with the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Seal and others. He performed at a Candlelight Concert last year and that led to him returning for this show, which will take place at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing, beginning at 8 p.m.

Mr. Wimbish says that while he’s the musical director, the show is collaborative. “We’re all the directors of this,” he says. “My role realistically is coordinating the musicians, getting the songs together, and being the ambience director more or less. The songs speak for themselves.

”At the end of the day, we’re all doing it together and it’s an honor to play with these musicians and singers. That’s the only way I see, we’re doing it together. It’s a great event and the real architect is Sam Cooke... Honoring him is very important to me, and the key thing I’m there for is to make sure everybody is smiling and having fun.”

Cooke is a member of the first class of artists to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No doubt you know many of his hits, such as “You Send Me,” “Wonderful World,” “Chain Gang,” “Another Saturday Night,” “Twistin’ The Night Away,” and “A Change is Gonna Come.” He was killed in December, 1964 when he was shot by a hotel manager in California. The death was ruled a justifiable homicide.

Living Colour is a rock band that made it big in the late 1980s, starting with its breakout hit “Cult of Personality. While the soulful sounds of Mr. Cooke may sound quite different from that band’s hard rock style, Mr. Wimbish says Cooke’s music is in his DNA, largely because his parents played the records when he was younger.

”I realized how much I was influenced by his music and his art form and how much of that has carried over into my generation and other generations,” Mr. Wimbish says. “I listen to these songs, and I’m like, “I remember these songs, my mom used to play them,’ When I hear these great songs of his, it brings back memories of my childhood, things I remember based on the songs I was listening to at the time.”

He says that preparing for this concert has been a journey that has allowed him to explore the legacy of Sam Cooke. It’s a legacy that includes songs that are made for dancing (“Twisting The Night Away”) one of the earliest rock ‘n’ roll songs about the Civil Rights era with a “A Change is Gonna Come.” Mr. Wimbish also said Cooke was groundbreaking as a businessman in that he had his own publishing company and record label before those sort of ventures were common for musicians.

”Those were very big things for an African American at that time, to be able to have those things in place based on where the industry was and still is,” Mr. Wimbish says. “In looking at the legacy of the music I also saw the legacy of the businessman and from that point, I also saw the influences Sam Cooke had on people.”

He adds that delving into these songs and getting to play them with this group of musicians has been special.

”Listening to all these songs,” he says, “I’ve realized, really what a wonderful world it is.”

Candlelight Concerts for Epilepsy will present a tribute to Sam Cooke at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1985 Pennington Road, Ewing, Jan. 10, 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m., lobby opens at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $45, $40 in advance. For more information, go to www.candlelightconcert.org.


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