Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys

Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys

 Austin, Texas, USA

Modern soul music with some old-school flavor and some rock 'n roll sauce.

Band Press

Family Affair; The importance of being Akina Adderley – The Austin Chronicle

Adderley: Jazz counts it among its essential names, stamped on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue for starters. On this particular night, it's affixed in big, black letters on the Belmont's bright white marquee: Akina Adderley.

Grandfather Nathaniel "Nat" Adderley, a cornetist, began playing with Ray Charles among myriad others, alongside his saxophonist brother Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, who was later recruited by Davis. Akina's father is pianist Nat Adderley Jr.; her mother, singer-actress Janet Adderley. The Adderley train from Florida, where her grandfather was born, makes major stops in New York, New Jersey, Houston, and California before returning to Texas. It's a journey singer Akina Adderley travels with some baggage and much confidence.

Carrying a family name is an untold trial that requires skill, intelligence, ingenuity, and, oh yes, talent. It requires the understanding that a career in music today isn't just about a 45-minute set and a 15-minute break. A life in music today calls not for less art but for more multitasking.

A vocalist must be not only the voice but also the instrument. It's not enough to sing well; there's also writing and playing. In addition, a vocalist usually assumes the role of booking agent, road manager, publicist, and producer, manager, merchandiser, accountant, and – as often in the case with the band – parent and/or referee. That's not counting any day job that has to be worked or personal relationships such as with a spouse, a significant other, or much less children. And it helps to be facile with the press.

Lucky Akina Adderley was born into a legacy that gifted her at birth with these abilities. She and her Vintage Playboys step right into the time-honored role of entertaining a crowd that, while appreciative, thinks of her as little more than background sound. Little do they realize: They're being schooled.

Something About That Brass

In the 1950s, jazz enjoyed a decade of growth, exploration, and popularity unprecedented in decades since. Big band, hot jazz, Dixieland, Western swing, R&B – all had their way with the genre before that, but in the Fifties something else was happening, something marked by new sounds and directions. If the era's synonymous with the Cold War and brittle black-and-white television, that rigid atmosphere made the evolution of jazz possible and that of rock & roll imminent.

The Adderleys brought an exuberance to jazz. Cannonball re-formed his breakout band, the Cannonball Adderley Quintet (featuring Nat Adderley), in 1959 after his stint with Davis. Within the brothers' hard-bop style fermented elements of funk and soul that Cannonball didn't live to see applied to contemporary musical developments such as hip-hop. Akina's grandfather Nat, who died in 2000, witnessed all of it.

Akina, born in 1979, never met her grand-uncle Cannonball, who died in 1975 at age 46, but she kept a very close relationship with her grandfather, who died when she was a junior in college. The Adderley brothers grew up in Florida during a time when convicts labored paving streets. Young Nat listened closely to the cadence of their call-and-response, the seeds of which became his signature tune, "Work Song."

"I saw him several times a year," recalls his granddaughter. "My sister and I went on tour with him to Europe when I was 10. I still have a lot of fondness for trumpet players and cornet players. I often wonder if my playing music where horns are such an integral part is because I listened to soul stuff when I was a kid or because my grandfather played trumpet.

"There's something about that brass. It's its own voice, and it supports and complements the human voice."

Akina wasn't the first Adderley to catch the blazing family torch; she's just the most active of her generation. "Because apparently I only go to schools where my parents went," she jokes, noting that she attended what's now New York's LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts and, later, Yale University. Always a strong vocalist, she studied opera and classical music.

Her father, Nat Adderley Jr., once held the Adderley standard too, fulfilling his musical promise early with piano and composition. At 11, he wrote "I'm on My Way," recorded in 1967 when he was 13 by his father and uncle. Nat Jr. had the good fortune to attend LaGuardia High School, where he met Luther Vandross. The two formed a friendship that resulted in Nat Jr. leading the soul singer's band for 25 years. Vandross died in 2005.

"They were in a [school] group together called Listen My Brother, and they performed a couple times on early Sesame Street," marvels Akina. "Luther was an amazing man, a sweetheart, an incredible performer, and an avid lover of Ms. Pac-Man! He used to bring a big video-game console on tour.

"Luther dragged me up onstage one time during a song called 'Searching,' where they brought on a few cafe tables and had the backup singers sit at the tables, legs crossed, two-hand snapping. I was in the pit with the musicians, and he had one of the backup singers run down, grab me, and drag me up.

"What could I do? Had to sing me some 'Searchin'! Searchin'!' and snap to that beat!"

The Belmont Stakes

As her Vintage Playboys filter onstage, Akina Adderley cuts a lithe figure in a summery yellow dress, setting up her microphone and dashing to a nearby table to finish her dinner between setup chores. Her husband, Todd Jenkins, sets up his percussion instruments beside drummer Ed Miles as Eric Lange and Jace Ryann tune guitars and Kyle Clayton plugs in a bass. Keyboardist Nick Litterski is absent tonight, as are the Smokestack Horns or the Hellfire Horns. Tonight a sole trumpet suffices.

As with many Sixth Street area bars and restaurants, playing the Belmont appears to be an easy gig: serenade a post-work and nightclub crowd with rock, pop, and jazz standards. Nothing too obscure or buzzkill will be played, unlike her gigs at Antone's or Momo's, for example, where a different audience is listening with an ear for originality.

"At the Belmont, the audience might not necessarily be coming to see me, so I try to balance the set. It's more original material, actually, but I do like to include a good number of covers. We play Steely Dan's 'Do It Again,' and I use it as sort of a bait-and-hook, hoping that whatever they enjoy about the cover, that they find some glimmer of that in my originals too, because everything we do has been inspired by or been connected to the past."

During the first set, Adderley is funk to funky, with the Vintage Playboys slathering hot-buttered soul all over her arrangements of Bill Withers' "Use Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine," plus a true-to-the-original interpretation of the late Buddy Miles' "Them Changes." The well-dressed audience responds to the breadth of her eclectic musical tastes, with Jeff Buckley's "Everybody Here Wants You" and Nina Simone's "Tell Me More and More and Then Some" proving atypical cocktail listening, and yet in the frontwoman's capable hands, the set's seamless.

That deft touch should dominate her upcoming CD, tentatively titled Say Yes. Adderley rhapsodizes about its guests, including guitarist Danny Anderson, Ephraim Owens on cornet, and "Big Sam" Williams and "Da Phessah" Drew Baham of Big Sam's Funky Nation. She's been trying some of her songs on audiences, with "Get Outta My Way" emerging as a favorite, along with "Attitude" and "Easy on Me." Along the way, she gets to use her smoky, supple, and, yes, soulful voice.

"They joked I was singing before I was talking," she smiles. "I sang in choir, musical theatre. When I was in junior high school, I just started singing backup for different bands. I was never not singing. I used to sing classical music. In high school and in the first half of college, I was training to be an opera singer.

"It took my folks a while to get behind me doing a more contemporary thing because I put so much study into classical, but they have been so incredibly supportive. I still love opera, and every now and again I will go to the opera, but if you're called by something else, what are you going to do? When I started writing, it was feeding me in a way that singing arias just wasn't.

"Being able to write my own material and perform it, and for that to be accessible to other people – there's something very powerful in that."

Vocalist. Songwriter. Educator.

On her business card – the one that employs a 1970s-style cartoon of her with a vinyl record in place of her trademark Afro – Akina Adderley lists her occupation as vocalist, songwriter, and educator.

This too runs through the Adderley family, beginning with her mother, who runs "the family business," the Adderley School for the Performing Arts in Santa Barbara, Calif. Her father and grandfather believed in education, and Cannonball even narrated A Child's Introduction to Jazz in 1961. Akina teaches music and drama at ACE Academy. She also teaches at the Lone Star School of Music and Girls Rock Camp in the summers and conducts private lessons. One's never too old or experienced for lessons.

"I have a really good ear, and I'm trained and educated, but I wish I had better piano chops," admits the singer. "I can play, but nowhere near as good as my keyboard player or my dad, for that matter. If I were a better piano player, I'd be able to communicate certain ideas more quickly.

"In retrospect, it was really powerful to see my dad at the helm of this great adventure, calling the shots and being sensitive to everybody's musical contributions. Trying to see the best that every individual musician has to offer and really try to utilize that in the sound, especially in regard to his band leadership and his arrangements. Without even being conscious of it, I took that. I like being a band leader and sharing a vision. Not just being a leader, but a leader who embraces everything that everybody else brings to the entity.

"Part of what I enjoy about band-leading is seeing how people respond and find the value in what I am trying to communicate. When I'm teaching, I imbue performing and writing in there as well because that's where I'm coming from. A lot of people have an artistic/performance job and then their day job, and never the two shall meet. I feel very fortunate that I don't feel like I have the day job where I slave away and I'm unhappy. ...

"It makes me feel like I'm trying to do something on this Earth."


Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys Album Release Show Saturday at The Parish – KUT 90.5 FM (Austin Music Minute)

All it takes is one time. You see Akina Adderley onstage and you instantly fall for her dynamism and her superstar performance. You want a show? This lady delivers with finesse.

The Austin-based singer-songwriter comes from an esteemed line of musical talent. Her grandfather is trumpeter Nat Adderley and her grand uncle happens to be saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. The greatest of the greats have paved the way for the next generation of talent. But rather than jazz, Akina makes her mark on the scene with some sizzling R&B, funk and soul, with her band The Vintage Playboys.

Adderley has been performing throughout Austin since 2009, right around the time she and the band released their self-titled debut album. Now they have a new release, Say Yes, which came out earlier this week. Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys are celebrating with a special album release show Saturday night at The Parish, 214 E. 6th St. Joining them on the bill is The Bus Stop Stallions and songwriter Graham Wilkinson. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the music begins at 10 p.m. Highly recommended, people.

AllMusic Review by Mark Deming – AllMusic.com

In the new retro-soul sweepstakes, it helps if you can pass yourself off as someone living in a previous decade, and Akina Adderley certainly takes home the trophy with the cover of her sophomore album, Say Yes; Adderley sports an Afro and a dashiki-styled dress that could have made the cover of Ebony in 1970, while the photography and design are period-appropriate enough that some lackadaisical crate diggers might mistake the album for an actual product of the Me Decade. But while Adderley and her band the Vintage Playboys might look like another bunch of folks chasing sounds of the past, their music is fresher and more imaginative than that. On Say Yes, Adderley's voice is strong and powerful, and she shows a welcome sense of restraint, never sinking into overstated vocal histrionics and keeping a firm hand on the melody at all times while giving these songs a double shot of soul. Adderley's sense of phrasing and her way with a tune (she wrote nine of Say Yes' ten songs) suggest she's as comfortable with jazz as R&B (no great surprise, as her grandfather was Nat Adderley and her grand-uncle was Cannonball Adderley), and her band cuts a commanding groove, the rhythm section holding down a graceful but potent bottom end as the soloists display equal parts chops, imagination, and personality. The music on Say Yes is clearly influenced by sounds of the '60s and '70s, yet the results don't speak of misplaced nostalgia; this is a group that honors the present and the past, and the smarts, passion, and joy these songs are steeped in are timeless. If you think they don't make R&B divas like they used to, pick up Say Yes and let Akina Adderley prove you wrong.

Local Releases – Austin360.com

Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys - “Say Yes”

(Get Level Records)

The second album for Adderley – who is related to grandfather Nat and great uncle “Cannonball” – and her Vintage Playboys showcases the frontwoman’s voice in all its grandeur. Adderley keeps a relative cool, not needing any overdone affectations or growling explosions to come across as powerful and clear. Her band is similarly tight, whether on the soul/R&B; of “Get Outta My Way” or “Get Yourself Free,” which shines at the end with an organ and horn breakdown.
Adderley stretches her voice out on the long, climbing passages of the sweet ballad “Easy On Me.” Lyrically, she mostly focuses on relationships, and, as on the upbeat “Say Yes,” assertively: “you got to give me what I want…” Austin-based trumpeter Ephraim Owens guests on the smoky and smooth “Not Mine,” and the album takes a sudden turn with a hint of rock on “Bumblebee.” “Savannah” glows with warm bliss. Elsewhere it’s late night blues (“Good For A Minute”) and a bit of funk rock on “Attitude,” which features a guest spot from Big Sam Williams and De Phessah Drew Baham of Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Throughout, Adderley’s vocal talents unify the different styles.

EXPANDING THEIR SOULS; Akina Adderley, Vintage Playboys stretch out on Say Yes – Medleyville

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that ol' saying applies to the Austin-based Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys in more ways than one.

Usually featuring eight or so members, the Vintage Playboys provide a classic-soul foundation over which the dynamic Adderley — granddaughter of trumpeter Nat Adderley, grandniece of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and daughter of keyboardist Nat Adderley Jr. — sings in a voice that contrasts her diminutive size.

Say Yes, the new album by Adderley and company, is stylistically similar to their self-titled 2009 effort. This time around, though, some songs are noticeably bigger: Three exceed 5:30, and one of them — the standout slow-burner "Easy on Me" — clocks in at almost eight minutes.

Adderley recently checked in from Austin to talk about the new album, addressing the longer songs and the collaboration process with her father, as well as what it meant to be honored by her adopted hometown with a proclamation day in June.

Medleyville.us: Say Yes has been a long time in the making. Was there anything in particular that slowed down its completion?
Akina Adderley: "Yes, a lot of things — most of them completely out of my control. … Being an independent artist, you have to come up with all of the money [for a project], and sometimes there are slowdowns. Also, for this record, my dad was coproducing, and he lives in New Jersey. Sometimes that geographical difference was problematic.

"The other thing was that the lead engineer on the project [Stan Wallace] — who is a very good friend of my dad’s — was diagnosed with throat cancer. So that was really hard, both emotionally and professionally. It was hard to keep any kind of schedule: He was sick, so sometimes he was able to work, and sometimes he’d have to take a break for weeks at a time. So Wallace — who is now, thankfully, cancer-free — mixed a few tunes, and Mark Hallman down here in Austin took over the other tunes, and we kind of kicked it into high gear at the beginning of the summer and knocked them out."

Your new album has three songs that clock in at more than five minutes, and "Easy on Me" is just shy of eight minutes. In this age of short attention spans, did you seriously consider trimming these songs down at all?
Adderley: "I considered it briefly, but to tell you the truth — and particularly with 'Easy on Me' — I decided that in order to retain the integrity of the composition, I really wanted to put it [on the album in full]. Yes, we are a soul band, and yes, a lot of our influences are Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway — and even Motown [artists]; they were the kings of succinct, punchy, pop-soul tunes. But we also have some classic rock influences, and so this was our Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd kind of foray. With 'Easy on Me,' that's how we do it live: They do that outro for ages, and they just go to all kinds of places with it. … That outro, it’s almost a whole new chapter of that song. So to my ear, it doesn't sound like a repetition of anything. It sounds like a departure into a new place while still within the world of one song."

Your father is listed as a coproducer of the album. Was he present for any or all of the recording sessions, or did you send him copies of what you had done, and he offered his feedback from afar?
Adderley: "He was not around for many of the sessions at all — just a couple. I would send him things, and he would make comments regarding any kind of editing. I actually became really comfortable hearing the same sorts of things he would hear, so in the studio, I would make the call to overdub a certain thing.

"He came down for a lot of the mixing, and we’d sometimes meet in Dallas [at Wallace's place]. He did a couple of things on his own in New Jersey. … For the most part, we remained remote and sent each other stuff through the airwaves (laughs). We followed up with phone calls; even though it is the 21st century, my dad is old-school. He likes to get on the phone and talk about it. E-mail would not suffice for his needs."

Was your plan all along to self-release Say Yes, or did you look around for labels that might be interested in putting it out?
Adderley: "The plan was to self-release, but to keep an open mind about that. We thought about what if I had gone to New York and L.A. and pounded the pavement and tried to get another label interested. But in my heart — and I can’t speak for my dad or the other guys in the band — I was like, 'You know, I want to finish this record on my own and present it on my own, the way I want to present it. And if I get really lucky and some sweet, independent label is interested, then they would approach me regarding my next record.' And that way I would begin a project with a label rather than completing a project on my own and then maybe make some changes and concessions because I hooked up with another entity.

"I'm really proud of the record, and I'm hoping that it gets out there and it gets some buzz — and then I do get contacted by some independent labels. It would be really ideal to have some backing and a team behind me next time."

So, does having a proclamation day in Austin come with any long-lasting benefits, such as free parking on Sixth Street during South by Southwest?
Adderley: "(Laughs) Not exactly. … I've been here for about five years, and just the fact I was recognized in that way was so huge and so beautiful and sweet, so it makes me feel good inside when I look at the piece of paper. … I feel like if I take the proclamation around with me, there are some places in Austin that are gonna hook me up with something, don't you think?"

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys: Say Yes – KevinNottingham.com

Nice new album from an amazing band from the emerging Austin, TX scene. Led by singer Akina Adderley, the band craft a nice blend of soul, jazz & funk they describe as “modern soul music with some old-school flavor and some rock ‘n roll sauce” and with Akina’s pedigree, this proved effortless. She’s the daughter of pianist and composer Nat Adderley Jr, who’s most known for his years of work composing some of the greatest hits of Luther Vandross. Her grandfather is the legendary jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley who’s the brother of legendary saxman Cannonball Adderley. Akina, however, is carving her own lane with her electrifying voice and The Vintage Playboys funk. Check it out and stay tuned to their website for more info.

Say yes to Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys – Houston Chronicle

Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys play old-school soul with some funk and rock mixed in.

By Andrew Dansby
November 28, 2012

The cover of "Say Yes," the debut album by Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys, has the classic look of '60s soul. And that is one of the reference points for this marvelous young Austin band, though hardly the only one. In addition to old-school soul, the group threads some funk and rock into its sound, which is led by Adderley's dynamic voice. (Note: If the name rings a bell, she's the granddaughter of famed jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley and the grandniece of his brother, saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.) Adderley and the Vintage Playboys - a sizable ensemble with a horn section - headline with Nick Greer and the G's opening. When: 9 p.m. Saturday; Where: Continental Club, 3700 Main; Tickets: $12; 713-529-9899 or www.continentalclub.com.


With enough sound to knock you out of your seat, Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys know how to get the crowds moving. This ten-piece soul band incorporates elements from virtually every musical genre from rock to classic R&B. Leading the way, Akina Adderley immediately draws you in with her smooth vocals and keeps you there with confident lyrics and a demanding presence. All of this in front of driving rhythms, bold guitar and bass riffs that would leave James Brown speechless.

Looking at the Adderley musical history, its no wonder Akina brings an unequivocally authentic jazz feel to the stage. She is the granddaughter of jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley, grandniece of jazz saxophonist “Cannonball” Adderley, and daughter of Nat Adderley, Jr. who was the producer, pianist and bandleader for Luther Vandross. “It didn’t really hit me until my adult life when I realized that not everybody grew up that way. That’s when I really began to appreciate having all that around to nourish me while I was growing up.”

While finding inspiration in current musicians like Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Raphael Saadiq, Akina attributes most of her influence to old-school favorites Donny Hathaway and the great, Stevie Wonder. When pressed to come up with her favorite song to sing, she lists Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘My Funny Valentine’ and Bill Withers’ ‘Use Me’ at the top, but as long as she’s singing, it doesn’t really matter what it is. “I just love to sing! I’ll sing the phonebook. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I’m singing.”

Her inspiration continues week to week in teaching music and drama to the students at ACE Academy. “I have the awesome good fortune to be able to teach, interact and learn from these ridiculously smart kids every day. At least once a day someone will say something or ask a question that opens my mind a little bit. It’s really cool!”

Forming 4 years ago, Akina and the original four members of the Vintage Playboys had their first jam session amidst the High Sierra Music Festival featuring a cover of ‘Enter Sandman’. “It was kind of random and hilarious, but that’s the seed from which the Vintage Playboys grew. We just loved jamming together.” With the rest of the band in place, Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys count The Continental Club among their favorite local venues. “It has so much history and just a really good funk on the wall. You can tell when you walk in that some really good musicians have come through there.”

Their sophomore album is set to release on November 6th with a CD Release Show at The Parish on November 10th. A couple of years in the making, Akina is ready to get Say Yes out there for people to own and enjoy. “I’m just so happy with how it sounds. The results that we got, the way that it all came together, now I’m grateful for all the stress that it took to get it to this level!” ‘Easy On Me’, a favorite off the new album, combines a southern/classic rock feel to the familiar soul sound of the band for an eight minute masterpiece that will keep you pressing repeat.

Always a big fan of helping local musicians, Akina is just as excited as we are to have Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys as our Texas Music Water Musician of the Month! “I’m just really happy to see a company helping to assist and support local musicians.”

KUT Song of the Day: -- Akina Adderley: “Attitude” – KUT 90.5 FM

Akina Adderley comes from a jazz pedigree, but she makes her home firmly in the R&B and funk camps. She’s the granddaughter of trumpeter Nat Adderley and the grandniece of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, and it’s easy to see that the talent doesn’t fall far from the tree. With her Austin-based band, the Vintage Playboys, Adderley has blitzed her way through the city, playing a wide range of venues since her self-titled debut’s release in 2009.

She recently stopped by KUT’s Studio 1A with her band in tow, and host Jay Trachtenberg joked that she was working the room (despite the fact that nobody could see her on the radio). But that strikes at the heart of her appeal: Adderley is constantly “on,” putting her fiery vocals front-and-center with her magnetic persona. She likes to mix in a few covers in her sets around town, but she brings the same intensity whether it’s one she’s penned or she’s reinterpreting Bill Withers’s “Use Me” or Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.”

Fans will have to wait until 2012 for a new album, but in the meantime you can catch Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys a dozens of places around Austin. Like this Friday, for example, where the group will be performing at Momo’s for the 80th birthday of Nat Adderley. Or you can take a listen to today’s song of the day: “Attitude,” recorded live at KUT’s Studio 1A.

Akina Adderley and Alejandro Escovedo @ KUT 11/8/11 – KUT 90.5 FM

Singer and songwriter Akina Adderley fronts the Austin funk band Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys, a group of diverse and talented musicians that plays great old school R&B and funk music. The group has been applauded for their overall musicianship and Adderley’s rich, dark vocals. Alejandro Escovedo is a fixture in Texas music history, but he isn’t a fixture of any one genre. He has played punk rock, latin jazz, alt country, and Americana to great success across his more than a dozen solo albums. Akina Adderley and Alejandro Escovedo are both playing at ACL Live at the Moody Theater for the Khabele School Coming Up Together on Saturday the 12th. Listen HERE for their live Studio 1a performance with KUT host Jay Trachtenberg.

Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys @ KUT 9/19/12 – KUT 90.5 FM

Austin vocalist Akina Adderley fronts the local rock, funk and R&B outfit Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys. With the band, Adderley serves as bandleader, songwriter, and frontwoman. Her rich and emotive vocals drive the nine-piece band, creating some truly awesome music and skyrocketing to the top of the Austin scene. You could say that music is in Adderley’s blood, with a jazz trumpeter for a grandfather, a jazz saxophonist for a granduncle, and a bandleader/producer/pianist for a father. Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboy will play a show at the Continental Club on Saturday, and will release their second album this fall. You can also hear them play live in Studio 1a RIGHT HERE.

Incognito pick of the week: Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys – Incognito Music Magazine

As you know, loyal reader, we enjoy musicians and bands that defy easy description. Akina Adderley certainly defies easy description simply because she has so much range.

Her new album Say Yes begins with an uptempo soulful song called “Get Outta My Way.” This has some great horns, excellent percussion, and really shows off the soul in Akina’s voice (which reminds me most of Queen Esther). That is followed by a song that sounds like it could be a collaboration between Booker T and The MGs and Sharon Jones.

Then there is the jazzy song “Not Mine.” The trumpet in this song reminds me of Miles Davis and Adderley’s vocals are the perfect accompaniment.

From there the band goes to a rock and soul number called “Bumble Bee.” The guitar solo really shows off the rock chops of the guitarist, while the organ provides a classic soul sound. Listen closely to the lyrics of this song and you’ll see that it’s a bit dirty. But I’ll tell you something…dirty never sounded so soulfully good.

If you agree with Mojo Nixon that “We gotta have more soul,” check out Akina Adderly and The Vintage Playboys.

Album Review: Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys – Say Yes – MusoScribe

From a superficial standpoint, there’s not a huge amount of common stylistic ground between the music of Austin-based Akina Adderley (& the the Vintage Playboys) and Adderley’s grandfather Nat, or with her great uncle Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. But with a peerless musical pedigree such as hers, she can – no, must – be expected at least to possess some serious good taste. And in fact she has plenty of it. On Say Yes, Adderley’s second full length, she trades in the sort of sounds that will be warmly familiar to listeners of such modern-day neo-soul acts as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Fitz & the Tantrums, The City Champs, The Bo-Keys, The New Mastersounds and others in that high quality category.

Backed by a six-piece band plus a horn section, Adderley tears through original material that’s alternatively smoky and upbeat. And the highly accessible people’s music sort of approach favored by her famous forebears is clearly a big part of her musical bag of tricks. “Get Yourself Free” is propulsive and catchy, while “Easy on Me” is a swaying torch song capped by some seriously soulful vocals. The level of musical sophistication and polish (but not slickness) on Say Yes belies Adderley’s relatively short time in the music business. But Adderley’s no neophyte; she sounds as if she’s been doing this her whole life (and she may well have). The band provides stellar support, adding some nice decoration throughout without getting in the way of their front woman.

Tagging Adderley and her band as a soul act does them a slight disservice; they fold plenty of r&b into their sound, and on tracks like “Not Mine” they even serve up the sort of smooth jazz-pop that will attract those who like Sade or Steely Dan. And “Bumble Bee” features rock guitar combined with Memphis-styled horn work. The fretless bass and electric piano-based arrangement of “Savannah” show that Adderley and her band can take the subtle approach with confidence. “Attitude” has a Latin flavor, and the spare “Take it Back” closes the album on an intimate note.

At press time, the band’s web site listed only local Austin show dates, but I expect that will change by the time of the official release date for Say Yes.

Akina Adderley continues family’s soulful tradition – Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune

When Akina Adderley was just a few years out of college she dreamt of having a normal person’s career.
She was rebelling against the expectation of going into the family business.
But “the life of a normal citizen” — working in an office and teaching — just didn’t sit well with her. “I finally had to give in and acquiesce to my nature,” she said.
That meant she started to sing again. She started writing songs. She started doing exactly what you’d expect from someone bearing the a name so associated with American music.
Adderley is the granddaughter of Nat Adderley, a jazz cornetist and composer, most famous for his association with his brother the saxophonist and bandleader Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
Her father, Nat Adderley Jr. was a musician in his own right a keyboardist and producer who had a 25-year association with soul music great Luther Van Dross.
Adderley now fronts her own band Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys, an ensemble that embodies her own musical heritage as well as the musical inclinations of her bandmates. The neo-soul outfit will perform Saturday at 4:45 p.m. at the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s Main Stage. She’ll also hang around to play a set Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on the family stage.
Playing for families with kids isn’t much of stretch for Adderley. She splits her time as a performer with being a full-time school music teacher as well as having a private music studio.
“Sometimes it’s kind of crazy,” she said in a recent telephone interview, “but it always works out.”
As much as she’d love to devote herself to performing full time, she said, “I realize the market is fickle and the industry is changing”.”
Still, she said, she’d never stop teaching,.
Family lore has it, Adderley said, that she was singing before she was talking. She made her stage debut at 6. Born in Houston and growing up in New York City and Los Angeles, she sang in choirs and musicals and even had a short-lived cover band in seventh grade that played covers of Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes. she ended up attending a performing arts high school in New York and on weekends studied classical voice at the Manhattan School of Music’s prep program. Then she attended Yale University
When she as in college, she was writing songs, influenced Joni Mitchell.
When she went back to music her songs had “ a soulful, bluesy, funk kind of vibe.”
“I was tapping into the music I heard growing up, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway... stuff my dad would play. I just kind of got on that path.”
Her songs also were influenced by the musicians she worked with, a funk drummer, a jazz pianist, a couple rock guitarists, and important to her sound a three-piece horn section.
“I can’t go anywhere without the horns,” Adderley. They are so essential to the Vintage Playboy sound that on the tour that brings her to Bowling Green, she’ll leave behind a guitarist and the percussionist, who also happens to be her husband.
Especially given she’s on before music legend Booker T. Jones, she wanted the best representation of her sound, and that includes the brass.
“The horn section is a voice and each individual members of the horn section is a voice,” she said. “Together there’s this countermelody to what I’m doing.”
That essential to capturing the flavor of the vintage soul and funk.
She’s excited to be playing before Booker T. “He’s a legend.”
Adderley has a soft spot for festivals. Her band came together around a campfire at the High Sierra Festival in California. “We were absorbing so much great music and disparate music,” she said. Then at night “we were jamming based on what we were fed from going to these different shows.”
For Adderley and the band going to festivals “when you can immerse yourself in a lot of different music over a couple days” is like “a field trip.”
“It feeds into what we are as a group. It’s really magical.”

JAG Opens Inside Track series with Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys – Examiner

The Jazz Arts Group will kick off its 2012-13 Inside Track Series on September 7 at the historic Garden Theatre in Columbus’ Short North. First opened in 1920 as a vaudeville and silent movie theatre, the Garden, now managed by Short North Stage, will be transformed into an intimate Jazz Cabaret for the Austin based soul band Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys.

Granddaughter of jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley, grandniece of jazz saxophone legend Julian “Canonball” Adderley, and daughter of Nat Adderley Jr. (producer/pianist/band leader for Luther Vandross), lead singer Akina Adderley brings a distinguished musical pedigree to the Vintage Playboys, a group of seasoned musicians from eclectic musical backgrounds. With an irresistible presence and an equally riveting sound that combines elements of rock, funk and old school R&B, “the little woman with the big voice” lights up the stage.

Video: Get Outta My Way

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Location: 1187 North High Street Columbus Ohio
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Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys has been hailed in the Austin American Statesman as a “dynamite nine-piece driven by [Akina’s] rich, emotive pipes,” and is considered a vital part of Austin’s newly resurrected soul scene. The band has been playing for three years and has shared the stage with acts like Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Budos Band, The Greyhounds and Carolyn Wonderland. “Talk about fabulous, they know how to dish out the soul,” says KUT 90.5 FM of AAVP's live performances.

Their self titled debut album, released in March of 2009, was described in the Houston Chronicle as having “laid out [Akina’s] dark, rich vocal chops over the Vintage Playboys brassy punch.”

The group's sophomore record, Say Yes is scheduled to be released in fall 2012.

Tickets for Friday’s show are $20 (general admission) and are available online at www.jazzartsgroup.org/concert-tickets. Showtime is 8pm.

Jazz Arts Group Opens 2012-13 Inside Track Series With Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys – All About Jazz

Columbus, OH – The Jazz Arts Group's Inside Track series opens its 2012-13 season on September 7 at both a familiar and not-so-familiar venue, the historic Garden Theatre (now managed by Short North Stage). First opened in 1920 as a vaudeville and silent movie theatre, the Garden Theatre will be transformed into an intimate jazz cabaret for Austin-based soul band Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys.

Front woman, vocalist, primary songwriter and band leader Akina Adderley lights up the stage as “the little woman with the big voice" blending elements of rock, funk, and old-school R&B. Her powerful presence is irresistible, and KUT 90.5 FM declared her “phenomenal vocals call to mind the sounds of classic soul and R&B." Granddaughter of jazz trumpet great Nat Adderley, grandniece of jazz saxophone legend Julian “Cannonball" Adderley, and daughter of Nat Adderley, Jr. (producer/pianist/band leader for Luther Vandross), Akina brings a distinguished musical pedigree to the Vintage Playboys, who are a tight group of seasoned players from an eclectic musical background.

Akina, born in 1979, never met her grand-uncle “Cannonball," who died in 1975 at age 46, but she kept a very close relationship with her grandfather, who died when she was a junior in college. “I saw him several times a year," recalls his granddaughter. “My sister and I went on tour with him to Europe when I was 10. I still have a lot of fondness for trumpet players and cornet players. I often wonder if my playing music where horns are such an integral part is because I listened to soul stuff when I was a kid or because my grandfather played trumpet."

The brainchild of four inspired musicians, AAVP is now, as declared in the Austin American Statesman, “a dynamite nine-piece driven by [Akina's] rich, emotive pipes," and has become a vital part of Austin's newly resurrected soul scene. The band has been playing for nearly three years, and has shared bills with such acts as Big Sam's Funky Nation, Budos Band, The Greyhounds, and Carolyn Wonderland. On the heels of tremendously well-received showcases at SXSW '09 and '10, tapings for “Radio Without Borders" on KUT 90.5 FM, News 8 Austin's Summer Rooftop Series, and Balcony TV Austin, an auspicious debut album release, and road shows from Memphis to Los Angeles, AAVP's fan base continues to grow and excitement surrounding their live performances is steadily increasing. Mayor Lee Leffingwell of Austin, TX even proclaimed June 28, 2012 as “Akina Adderley Day."

AAVP's eponymous debut full-length record—which the Austin Chronicle described as having “laid out [Akina's] dark, rich vocal chops over the Vintage Playboys' brassy punch"—was released on March 28, 2009. Their sophomore album, Say Yes, is scheduled for a fall 2012 release.

Advance tickets are on sale now for $20 (general admission) and only available online at www.jazzartsgroup.org. Showtime is 8:00 PM.

Akina-Nakia Soul Shakedown Gets Funky Saturday Night at the Mohawk – KUT 90.5 FM (Austin Music Minute)

March 30, 2012 by: Laurie Gallardo

Make plans to get down and get funky this weekend. The Mohawk has a killer local all-star line-up to work you into a dancing frenzy. This’ll be a full-throttle party night of rock, funk, soul, jazz and R&B, featuring two phenomenal voices and one of the best bands to experience live.

This show will be on fire, baby:

- Akina Adderley, singer, songwriter and frontwoman of Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys, blends hot, smokin’ modern soul with a classic, old school feel, with just a touch of rock ‘n’ roll. Aside from being very talented and very fabulous, Adderley comes from a very musical family. Her great uncle is jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley; her grandfather, Nat Adderley, Sr., is a coronet player, and dad Nat Adderley, Jr., is a producer, pianist and music arranger who’s worked with artists like Luther Vandross.

- Singer-songwriter and musician Nakia has made his mark as an ACL Fest artist, and wowed local fans and gained new ones with his appearance on NBC’s talent show The Voice. Even Cee Lo Green couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for Nakia’s incredible performances.

- Polyrhythmic perpetrators Hard Proof Afrobeat present an absolute blowout of non-stop percussion action and blasting brass. It’s a loose-flowing amalgam of funk and jazz borrowing from styles out of sub-Saharan Africa, an explosion of multiple horns, melodies and rhythms that groove and sway, an homage to the revolutionary father of Afrobeat Fela Kuti. That’s why they say: “Internationally inspired, locally produced.”

Talk about a mind-blowing triple bill from heaven. Hello?! It’s the Akina-Nakia Soul Shakedown, Saturday night at the Mohawk, 912 Red River, on the outdoor stage. Doors open at 8 p.m. Do not miss out on the action. Highly recommended to get your funk and soul fix. Right on.

There's A Soul Shakedown At The Mohawk [Show Preview] – Austinist

It’s pretty fitting that Akina Adderley and Nakia share so many letters in their first names—the two are like different sides of the same soulful coin. Saturday night, they’ll be joined by Hard Proof Afrobeat for a Soul Shakedown at the Mohawk, an effort to pay homage to the soul sounds of yesteryear but with an Austin spin.

By day, Akina Adderley is a mild-mannered schoolteacher, but you can also catch her frequently around town after hours as a dynamic frontwoman and bandleader for the Vintage Playboys. She has the musical pedigree to back it up, too: Adderley is the granddaughter of jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley and the grandniece of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. She’s able to mix these jazz influences into her own sound, but more often than not, she dives headlong into funk and soul. The group has a few recordings floating around, but it’s the live setting where they excel. Adderley and the Playboys aren’t afraid to toss in a cover or two into their set—even tackling the Dan’s “Do It Again” on occasion.
Nakia’s own meteoric rise has taken him out of the Austin orbit. He was a quarter-finalist on the initial season of The Voice, where he was coached by Cee-Lo Green (and he even performed with his ex-coach at last year’s ACL Fest). While he only has one full-length to his name—2009’s Water To Wine—he’s already made a name for himself, so a small-venue gig like this is a perfect opportunity for Nakia to show off his singing chops.
Kicking off the evening is Hard Proof Afrobeat, the self-proclaimed “sole purveyors of African funk in the state of Texas.” Members of the sprawling group also do time in Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Ocote Soul Sounds, and the Echocentrics, so the musicians know a thing or two about rhythm and soul. Their debut album, Hard Proof, is a monster of a record, packing fifteen lengthy dance jams under one big musical tent. Let’s just say this: feet might get tired at this event.

By A. Levy in Arts & Entertainment on March 30, 2012

Saturday: Akina Nakia Soul Shakdown! – The Austin Chronicle (Chrontourage)


Oh What A Night! The Akina-Nakia Soul Shakedown is definitely gonna be a groovin show. It will be one of those nights where you have no worries in the world. You know… when you forget other people exist around you and just let loose.
Akina Adderly and The Vintage Playboys fill the stage with a nine-piece band. With so many different instruments Akina stands in the middle almost as a conductor, leading with her powerful voice. Plus, she’s adorable. If you haven’t heard Nakia yet, which I think is pretty impossible by now, you are in for a treat. He has a voice that hits all those notes that you’re dying to hear, and a range that has no bounds. His sound is filled with passion and soul and you can see how sincere it is by his stage presence. Did I mention internationally inspired jam band Hardproof Afrobeat will be the special guest, and if their music doesn’t make you move your feet I just don’t know what will.

SXSW Friday Picks & Sleepers – The Austin Chronicle

Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys
1am, Continental Club
The little woman with the big voice, Akina Adderley is the grandniece of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and granddaughter of trumpeter Nat Adderley. With her horn-propelled local octet, Adderley delivers old-school R&B with uncommon panache, separating them from the recent soul revival. The group has just finished recording and is set to deliver its second collection of scream and shout this spring. – Jim Caligiuri

Off the Record - Music News – The Austin Chronicle

Also Tuesday, but closer to home, soul channeler Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys knocked out an RSVP house at the Palm Door with a sweaty set of hot and sultry R&B for the Chronicle's monthly free music series, Paper Cuts.

SXSW Wednesday Picks & Sleepers – The Austin Chronicle

Local soul singer Akina Adderley needs not flaunt her sterling pedigree as a member of an esteemed jazz family – her voice is capable of doing that on its own. A righteous combination of old-school funkiness with a contemporary edge, Adderley & her Playboys blow through bluesy rock and jazz-tinged funk with style. – Margaret Moser

RECOMMENDED - Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys – The Austin Chronicle

Jazz is in Akina Adderley’s blood, and it flows with a warm mix of old-school soul and R&B. Last year’s eponymous CD laid out the local’s dark, rich vocal chops over the Vintage Playboys’ brassy punch. The funk-to-funky atmosphere at the Scoot Inn ought to frame their big retro cool with style. Grimy Styles, Hard Proof Afrobeat, and the Organic Mechanics open. – Margaret Moser

Not To Be Missed – Tom Spaulding

Tom Spaulding of Split Rail Music has said of the AA & The VP live show experience: “Akina takes her 60s & 70s Soul sounds to Sixth Street. Funktastic rhythms, silky smooth and searing lead vocals and one of the tightest local bands you’ll ever see make this one hard to miss.”

AAVP in The Rapt – The Rapt Magazine

Over the last couple of years, Austin, Texas has witnessed the emergence of a vibrant and burgeoning soul-funk scene, spearheaded by the likes of sixties soul revivalists Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears and T Bird and the Breaks. The small taste I've been given of the eponymous debut album from Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys, recent Austin settlers themselves, has quickly convinced me that they will play a prominent role in the new soul revival.

AAVP have got chops, an essential component to any outfit looking to rhythmically arrest its listeners. There is no weak link among The Vintage Playboys. Every player can steal the show individually, and periodically does; but the strength of The Vintage Playboys is their ability to discreetly and seamlessly find their place within the groove, creating an aurally gripping backing track over which Akina floats her vocal melodies. Unlike other soul singers, who are known to let loose on their own vocal chords and our eardrums, Adderley's vocal style is more restrained; instead of distinguishing herself as the overwhelming frontwoman, she (like The Vintage Playboys behind her) submits to the greater product.

Album opener "I'm Gone" wastes no time, establishing the band's ethos clearly, convincingly, and immediately: hopping bassline, wah-wah rhythm guitar, and effortless horn flourishes add up to a funkiness so well arranged that you hardly think of the arrangement at all. "The Way to Love Me" would not have been out of place in the late sixties Motown catalogue if not for its modernly clean production style. "Anyone But You" and "Venom Like Wine" seethe with vitriol, showing that AAVP understand and can pull off the darker side of soul music's catharsis. If these four tracks are any indication of the rest of their debut album, then soul-funk aficionados will be adding another solid album to their collections.

By Evan Butts

Austin Band Brings Mix Of Soul, Funk, Rock To Tyler – Tyler Morning Telegraph

Remember when music was fun and wasn't just an exercise in trying to make chart-topping hits and crafting a flash-in-the-pan image? Remember when music was more than endlessly looped beats combined with sampled tracks or dreary, droning rock dirges? Akina Adderley certainly does, as do her backup Vintage Playboys.

With their self-titled debut album, Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys have unleashed a record that deftly swirls funk, soul and rock into one irresistible cocktail, one audiences can get a taste of for themselves as the group will perform live tonight in Tyler.

The album bursts to life with the opening bars of "I'm Gone." Ms. Adderley's golden vocals mesh perfectly with the wah-wah guitar, thumping bass and bold horn section. The track pops. It's infectious. You feel the undeniable urge to dance, strut, snap your fingers and tap your foot, anything. You just have to move to it.

Other standout tracks include "The Way to Love Me," a song that would feel right at home on a 1960s Motown record, as well as "Anyone But You" and "Venom Like Wine."

The group has only formally been together for about two-and-a-half years, but their effort here almost makes that hard to believe. The entire album maneuvers between the upbeat and slow and soulful with a confidence and effortlessness normally reserved for bands with much more experience under their belt.

If there's a weak link in the album it would be "Pie in the Sky," a slow-burning indictment of George W. Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq. It's not a poorly constructed song, it just feels slightly out of place on an album released after Bush has already left office. This is a minor complaint, however, in what is otherwise a stellar debut.

Such a debut could attributed to the fact that the group began as just a group of friends making music together and eventually shaping itself into the de-facto formation they now find themselves in.

Most of the group's members were already friends before they officially formed after moving to Austin and the rest of the band simply grew from there.

"The word 'organic' keeps coming up when I describe how it all happened, and it's true. We were friends and we found some more friends who were like-minded and had the same views about music," Ms. Adderley said in a telephone interview.

The goal, she said, was always to have a soul/funk band, but the infusion of rock elements came naturally as more members were added and the group began to seek its unique voice.

"We're not all coming from the same inspiration musically, necessarily, and we're not coming from the same place in terms of experience. We have rock guitarists and we have a jazz trumpet player and we've got the funk drummer, but somehow everyone was bringing something to the table that everybody else was responding to and we went from there," Ms. Adderley said. "It wasn't really a conscious decision, it was really just us getting really at home with the material and starting to improvise with each other."

As for balancing the song styles between the upbeat "I'm Gone" and the more vitriolic "Venom Like Wine," Ms. Adderley said it all comes from her efforts to use music as an extension of herself.

"I feel like I have those extremes in my world. Sometimes I'm feeling ridiculous and energetic and sometimes I'm feeling morose and melancholic," she said.

"I like that diversity, it feels honest. I'm just trying to make music that is honest."

Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys will perform live tonight at 9 p.m. at Stanley's Bar-B-Que in Tyler. Admission is $10 per person. For more information, call 903-593-0311.

Entertainment Writer

Soul singer escaped L.A. music rut – The Austin American Statesman

Soul singer Akina Adderley, who fronts the Vintage Playboys, grew up in Manhattan, graduating from the performing arts high school made famous by the movie “Fame.” She went to Yale University, then (after a while in New York) spent two years trying to get a break in the music business in Los Angeles. The singer, whose grandfather was jazz trumpet legend Nat Adderley, moved to Austin in December 2006. Here’s how she got here:

“Los Angeles was really competitive, but not in a positive way. They always wanted to know what you looked like before they heard the music. I met my husband (percussionist Todd Jenkins) in L.A. He’s from Texas and he’d been to and played in Austin a bunch of times. So when we started getting in a rut in L.A., I said, ‘Why don’t we move to Austin?’

“We researched heavily on the Internet, checking out the venues and seeing how often bands had the opportunity to play. We also talked to some friends who lived in Austin and heard some good things. About three weeks later, we were all packed up and heading to Austin.

“Putting the band together was the easy part. … There is such a great pool of musical talent here. That’s really one of the best things about the Austin music scene.

“Our first gig was at Club 115 in June ’07. We we’re a six-piece then, and that stage was tiny. I remember that. But we had a great time, and the crowd responded really well. That night solidified my love for Austin because I saw just how far we’d come in a short amount of time. We accomplished more in six months than we did in two years in L.A. And it just keeps getting better.

“My personal worst gig was our record release show in March, just a week after South by Southwest, which was probably one of our best shows. When I was singing during rehearsals, my voice just didn’t feel right. I ended up getting laryngitis bad. I tried every remedy known to man, including acupuncture, but nothing helped. I couldn’t sing at all. At the show, I got through two songs, but then for the first time in my life I had to tell the guys, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t do it.’ I was just so disappointed; this was our record release party. But my dad (former Luther Vandross band leader Nat Adderley Jr.) got up and jammed with the guys, and it ended up being a pretty cool gig for the fans.

“Austin’s met my expectations and then some. It’s sometimes hard to make money playing music here, but there’s a great sense of community among musicians. You can’t top that.

“Whenever I’ve had a rough day, I like to take the dogs for a walk in Pease Park. Just watching them take such delight in all the little, simple details keeps me grounded and brings a smile to my face. I love that my dogs love it here, too.” ____________________________________________________

If you go…
Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys perform tonight at Lamberts ($5; 401 W. Second St. 494-1500. www.lambertsaustin.com) and Sunday at Antone’s as part of an Austin Music Marketing Showcase. (Doors at 4 p.m. 213 W. Fifth St. 320-8424. www.antones.net).

By Michael Corcoran
for the Getting There feature
in the Life & Arts section of The Austin American Statesman
August 22, 2009

SXSW 2010: Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys – Spinner.com

Akina interviewed in Spinner.com:

The Austin music scene has seen a resurgence of soul over the last few years and Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys are at the center of it all. But, the group doesn't stop at soul; with a smorgasbord of influences they add a truly unique flair to the genre. Spinner recently spoke with Akina Adderley about her band. They are scheduled to play at SXSW in March.

How did you form your band?

We basically got started at the High Sierra Music Festival a little over three years ago. The core members of the band were just kind of vibin' on each other and playing music on the random instruments we had brought, and it was just a good vibe, so we went from there. Three and change years later, here we are.
Describe your band's sound.

We're a soul band with some old school R&B flavor and some rock 'n' roll. We have a lot of different influences and backgrounds, but we are definitely a soul band. You will definitely hear some rock 'n' roll influences, some funk influences, some old school R&B. It's a hodgepodge.
Who are your biggest influences?

There are so many. Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Aretha Franklin. Those are some big ones, and Marvin Gaye. There's also Jeff Buckley, Leon Russell and some Bill Withers and Led Zeppelin.
How did you come up with your band name?

Actually our former drummer, Ryan Egbert, who is still a dear friend of ours but lives in Houston, came up with it. I kind of think that another friend of ours in Houston at some point came up with the phrase "the vintage playboys," and Ryan borrowed it.
Coming from a respectable family of jazzers, was there pressure growing up to follow in their footsteps?

I wouldn't say that there was pressure to do so, but it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion. I realize that in some families there are a lot of doctors or lawyers and you end up following in the footsteps of people that came before you. In my family it just happened to be that music was the field of choice. What's interesting is that when I was in high school and college I was doing classical music, singing opera and arias. My dad reminded me the other day that he had always envisioned me being an expatriate and living in Paris, singing French art songs. So yes, I was intending to follow in the footsteps of some family members, and yes I wanted to go into music but I chose a different path than people assumed I was on.

How is it playing in Austin, which is mostly an indie/rock/country scene?

There has been a strong resurgence of the soul music scene in Austin over the last few years. People have been really receptive, we've gotten great reviews and have had wonderful audiences. It just so happens that in the last few years since we moved to Austin, there have been several soul bands that have started playing, and we've been really into it.

Do you have anything in your festival survival kit?

You've gotta have CDs around to sell or give away, depending on the circumstance. You've gotta have stickers, T-shirts, business cards. Also as a festival-goer I gotta have the sneakers. Even if I have my cute little boots in my bag, I gotta have the sneakers to walk around because I can't be walkin' around in heels. I like to have my little notebook with staff paper in it because when you're surrounded with music in that capacity, inspiration comes all the time. I always like to have my small black notebook with staff paper in it in case I get inspired with some chords or lyrics.

What would you say is your musical guilty pleasure?

I am a big fan of Alicia Keys, particularly the album she put out, I think it was two years ago. I don't even remember what it was called, but there are some great songs on that record (Ed. note: 'As I Am') and I get into that pop R&B. I don't know if this qualifies as guilty or not, but my dad was the musical director for Luther Vandross for over 20 years and some of that old '80's-'90's R&B is really great and I really get into it. I just answered this for another interviewer recently: Michael McDonald. I'll say it out loud. I don't care who judges me. Michael McDonald.

Beatles or Stones?

More Beatles, based on the amount of Beatles records I have, and if I'm going to choose one to pop in the CD player at any time, it's probably going to be a Beatles album. However having said that, the Stones are awesome. I want to be clear, the Stones are super duper awesome.

What is the craziest thing you've experienced or seen while on tour?

One time we showed up at a venue -- I won't say which one -- and I thought I had done my research on the venue and we were all squared away and set to go. We show up and they didn't have any sound equipment at all. We worked it out in the end, but that was kind of intense. We also went to Memphis this past summer and we ate at Jim Neely's Interstate Barbecue, which I just saw on TV as one of the top five barbecue joints in all of America. I am here to tell you, if you pass through Memphis you need to go to Jim Neely's. It's something kind of crazy, but I'm a big food person, so I feel crazy about it.

Laura Seewoester is a contributor from Seed.com.


Akina Adderley – The Backline Show

Go to the link below to hear the full interview of Akina for The Backline Show in February 2010.


Austin at SXSW: Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys – Austin360.com and The Austin American Statesman

Part of the well-established Austin soul music scene, Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys’ official SXSW showcase is at midnight Saturday, March 20, at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop. Front woman Adderley plans to take full advantage of what SXSW has to offer this year, by checking out the legendary Smokey Robinson at his keynote event and supporting other local acts at the soul showcase Friday, March 20, at the Austin Music Hall. Check out what else she had to say about the festival this year…

Describe your sound.
A meal of modern soul music with some old-school R&B flavor and a dash of rock ‘n’ roll sauce.

What can SXSW attendees expect at your showcase?
They can expect, first and foremost, a PARTY. Our tag line isn’t ‘Shake It Like A Tambourine’ for nothin’! They can expect to dance, sweat, clap, groove and to be surprised by the broad array of genres and influences they will hear in the music. They can also expect us to lay on a heavy old-soul torch ballad or two. They can expect energy, heat, musicianship, showmanship, a smokin’ soul band, a big ole’ voice out front, and if they’re hungry for a unique, funky, soulful, powerful, rockin’ good time, they can expect to be satisfied. In short, they can expect a SHOW.

What other acts are you excited to check out?
Orgone - a killin’ funk/soul/afrobeat band from southern California. Also the soul showcase at Austin Music Hall on Friday night - Black Joe Louis, Raphael Saadiq, Smokey Robinson and Sharon Jones! Can such a showcase be for real?!?!? If it is, I wouldn’t miss it for all the king’s gold. Plus Breakestra, Big Sam’s Funky Nation (from Nola - seen ‘em, love ‘em, sat in with them a couple times; they are the business), and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (they kill).

Are you planning to go to any panels?
Absolutely. I will DEFINITELY be attending the keynote address by Smokey Robinson! I also hope to attend several panels whose aim is to educate DIY musicians on how to maximize resources, expand their fan base, record albums on a budget, and all other things necessary to the success of a DIY musician!

What are some Austin must-do or must-sees for out-of-towners?
For food, you gotta go to Ranch 616 (sort of like gourmet hunting lodge food, but with excellent prices and obscene portions), The Onion and/or Homeslice (best pizza joints in Austin), and The Chili Parlor (beware the 4 alarm chili…)! One may not have time to catch a movie (with all the great music to see!), but if one does, The Alamo Drafthouse is where it’s at: big screen, comfy seats, and, drum roll please… FULL MENU OF GREAT FOOD AND GROWN-UP BEVERAGES! One also needs to hit all the historic music venues such as The Victory Grill, Antone’s, Threadgill’s, and TC’s lounge. Of course, one needs to take in a beautiful, lazy afternoon at Barton Springs, or hike the greenbelt.

Where do you like to hear live music, when it’s not SXSW? Momo’s is my favorite venue (great sound system, great bands, wonderfully warm vibe, fantastic deck, etc.), plus Antone’s, The Elephant Room, The Parish, and any venue in which a killin’ band is booked!

What’s your favorite ‘only in Austin’ thing to do?
The Alamo Drafthouse is high on the list, as is playing the airport gig. (Yes, Austin has live music at the airport!)

Finish this sentence: ‘Industry folks and visiting bands, while we love having you as guests of our city, please don’t…’

A Soulful Auld Lang Syne – Austin American Statesman

The soul scene in Austin isn't a new creature - it extends all the way back to the genre's origins, when the East Side's Victory Grill was one of the prominent venues on the Chitlin' Circuit, a string of performance spaces that were safe for African American artists during the ages of segregation and Jim Crow. And it's always been a component of the city's many funk bands, from the obscene and obscenely entertaining Scabs to the Latin-influenced dance parties of Grupo Fantasma and Brownout. The soul-influenced stylings of blues great W.C. Clark have captivated the city since the 1960s, and a Soul Happening (née Waxploitation) became one of Austin's most-adored DJ troupes by spinning a brilliantly curated mix of vintage soul and funk.

But waltz into any of the soul scene's anchor venues these days - the Hole in the Wall, Momo's, the Continental Club and T.C.'s Lounge, among others - and you'll notice a preponderance of young soul bands taking their cues from the horn-laden grooves of classic Stax and Motown 45s. Most have expansive memberships and energetic live shows mixing original songs with a plethora of covers from Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays and other legends of soul. And almost all of them have memberships composed primarily of players younger than 35 - young cats who were but a gleam in their parents' eyes during the genre's heyday.

An expanding lineup of emerging local soul artists - including T-Bird and the Breaks, Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys, Soul Track Mind and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, one of the city's biggest breakout artists in 2009 - often share members and play on one another's albums.

'I was born here, and there's always been a soul element. If I said there wasn't, I know I'd get some e-mails,' says Paul Oveisi, owner of Momo's, chairman of the Austin Live Music Task Force and a devoted shepherd of the scene. 'But you didn't see it anywhere near as healthy as it is now. Austin's not known for soul. Traditionally it's rock and blues. I love that we're starting to get more notice for diversity instead of being just pegged for those two.'

'What I love about it is that it's a no-frills experience to watch. It immediately affects you. It's not background music,' says Ben McCormack, who's booked many of the city's emerging soul bands at the Hole in the Wall. 'It's music that immediately affects sort of a primal part of everybody.'

That kind of music is well-suited for New Year's Eve and its crowds of happy revelers - and, conveniently, many of the scene's brightest stars will be performing that evening, getting audiences moving on the last night of 2009. We profile four of the city's best - all playing Dec. 31 - below, and also take a peek at some of the scene's other players.

T-Bird and the Breaks

Midnight Dec. 31

The Continental Club

1315 S. Congress Ave.



There's no part of Tim Crane that doesn't scream 'soul star' - whether it's the background story, with its unelaborated-upon troubles with the law, the finger-picking country blues-playing father, the five siblings or the fixation with vinyl. Chatting about his music over a cup of coffee in South Austin, he even looks the part, with a snappy gray fedora, the latest issue of soul/funk magazine Waxploitation on the table and a couple of spirals full of lyrics at the ready.

Crane, 27, leads the enthusiastic, analog soul collective T-Bird and the Breaks, one of Austin's most rapidly rising soul groups, known for infectious, full-bodied grooves. He grew up in a musical family in western Massachusetts, picking up piano, guitar and drums along the way. Record shops were his second home, the dusty rows of stacked vinyl his occasional surrogate parents. Crane's love of blues expanded to a fascination with soul, and record stores offered him a crash course in his passion.

'I'd go find more records by the people who produced that record, the people who played on that record, the people who wrote songs on that record,' says Crane. 'It just expanded out.'

He dabbled in a blues rock band but ultimately made the decision to fly the coop - 'Western Massachusetts was just the kind of town you run away from, you know?' - and bought a train pass to tour the country and look for a music scene that would be friendly to the swinging soul band he was building in his mind. He hit up Philadelphia, New York, Nashville, New Orleans and Los Angeles - but it was Austin and its loyal audience that stuck with him.

'It seemed like the thing everybody did was go out to see music that night, even on weeknights, whether it was young people or old people,' Crane says. 'I just dug the way people paid attention to music here. I felt like it was everywhere. And I knew this is where I needed to be.'

He asked around town and scoured Craigs­list to build T-Bird and the Breaks. Longtime friend Sam Patlove moved to Austin to help out, and the band spent sixth months building a live show before eventually debuting with a regular gig at Momo's in late 2007. Two years later they're filling up the Continental Club on a regular basis and have released one of the year's best local debuts, hooky slice of soul perfection 'Learn About It.' Ask Crane to explain the appeal behind his chosen genre, and he'll echo a common theme: authenticity.

'It's just that real funk, soul, blues, anything gritty, it just feels like home to me. It's like "Now you're talking to me." I get really excited,' Crane says. 'It's like a bang. Hits me like a ton of bricks.'

The band hits the studio regularly these days. They're two months into a six-month project that has the group releasing a new 7-inch vinyl every 30 days. For a man who came of age scouring the bins at his local record shop, it's all a bit unbelievable.

'This all would have sounded like a dream to me a couple of years ago, to have a lot of people interested in my music and to play sold-out shows and to put music on vinyl,' Crane says. 'You know how they say junkies have triggers? That's how I get listening to records. The art, the liner notes, the analog technology, all that stuff. I love it.'

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears

9 p.m. Dec. 31


801 Red River St.

With Hard Proof Afrobeat

Technically sold out


The story is almost too good to be true - a young blues cat from Round Rock toils away in relative obscurity, gigging mainly at campus club the Hole in the Wall and supporting himself with an unglamorous job at Quality Seafood. But add a horn section and a harsh shot of Stax-inspired Memphis soul, and two years later he's the toast of the town, opening for Spoon, playing Lollapalooza, touring Europe and hitting late night talk shows in the United States and abroad.

So it goes for Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, almost certainly the soul scene's most visible outfit. The band formed in 2007 after Lewis, 28, opened for Little Richard on the University of Texas campus, injecting extra pep into his primal blues shout and sonically expanding the young talent's options.

'I remember when I first got together with Joe, we were thinking it was like an original idea. We were like "We'll add a horn section to the band, and we'll be the only people doing that,''' recalls Zach Ernst, 23, the band's rhythm guitarist and an instrumental force in its formation. 'And then before we turned around, it seemed like there were some others that were doing it. It's great. It's cool that people are going out to play that kind of stuff and that people are going out to listen to it.'

Their debut album, 'Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!' - produced by Spoon's Jim Eno - is one of the year's best, a furious blast of call-and-response soul. And Lewis, taking more than just sonic inspiration from James Brown, has emerged as one of the hardest-working musicians in Austin, playing a nearly nonstop string of dates across the world in 2009. The increasing visibility of Austin's soul scene is encouraging the group to diversify on new material.

'It's pushing us forward to try to keep doing different stuff. Now there's all these soul bands, so let's maybe work on more rock 'n' roll tunes,' Ernst says. 'It's kind of informed the new material, where we're trying to maybe mix it up even more, extend the definition of what a Black Joe Lewis song is.'

Soul Track Mind

9:30 p.m. Dec. 31

The Hole in the Wall

2538 Guadalupe St.

With the Lost Soul Revue and PJ and the Bear



When bass player Gregory Smith, 38, saw an ad on Craigslist looking for someone 'in the vein of Motown and Stax who knows how to groove,' he had a pretty good idea that he'd found the band for him. The Berklee College of Music graduate was a longtime soul fan. (Full disclosure: Smith works for the Austin American-Statesman's marketing department.)

He responded to the ad and found himself blown away by what vocalist Donovan Keith had built in Soul Track Mind, an ebullient, sweaty seven-piece throwback to '60s soul titans like Otis Redding. Keith, 27, arrived in Austin with plans to build a band that paid homage to old-school soul, with a mix of covers and originals. Soul Track Mind played its first gigs in 2008. One year later, they have a rock-solid local reputation formed almost solely on the basis of the word-of-mouth buzz around their astonishing three-hour weekly sets at East Side venue T.C.'s Lounge.

'Soul Track Mind is explosive. The first time I saw them, I was completely floored,' says the Hole in the Wall's Ben McCormack. 'After they played, people came up to me going "Who the hell is that and when are they coming back?'' '

Smith figures Keith's appeal is drawn primarily from two sources - inspiration from mentor Earl Thomas, who's written songs for Etta James and Solomon Burke, and Keith's background as an actor and stand-up comic.

'That kind of leads to how he can work a stage and work a crowd,' Smith says. 'He's very open, and he knows how to flirt with the crowd.'

Those live chops are the foundation for the band's success - and not merely from the audience's perspective. For Smith and the band, it's that connection that makes the entire gig worthwhile.

'That look on people's faces when they're sweaty and looking at you, or with their eyes closed swaying back to the music,' says Smith. 'That's where it's really good.'

Bruce James Soultet

8 p.m. Dec. 31

III Forks

111 Lavaca St.


In the eyes of pianist and vocalist Bruce James, the man with the rich croon that recalls no one so much as Dr. John, there was never a time Austin didn't have a strong soul scene. He's been a fixture in Austin since moving here in 1995.

'Soul was less visible because certain things were different. But soul music has never left Austin, so to say there's a resurgence wouldn't do the music scene justice,' James says. 'I will give you that it's been more visible and people have taken more of a look at it. That makes me very happy, because that's where my heart is. I've been playing it a long time.'

James, 34, grew up in Houston, the son of a minister of a little nondenominational church in a strip mall. The environment demanded he learn multiple instruments, from the trumpet to the drums. He was encouraged by church bandleader Jerry Martin, a crooner who James says sang like Sam Cooke. James did time with hard-working local band Tunji, playing 250 shows a year in the late '90s. He kicked around with other bands before forming the Bruce James Soultet, a groovy six-piece that released 'Yours, Mine and the Truth' in July. For him, the appeal of soul is primal.

'American soul, the classic soul has that thing you just can't describe. That's why they call it soul music, because that's right where it hits you,' says James. 'It's not very cerebral on any level. It's more about getting hit with the talent in your gut.'

Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys

Akina Adderley, 30, has what you'd call a pedigree - she's the granddaughter of legendary jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley, grandniece of saxophonist Julian Edwin 'Cannonball' Adderley and daughter of Nat Adderley Jr., a bandleader for Luther Vandross.

So, naturally, the young Adderley went to Yale and, pointedly, did not study music, taking a leave of absence from the art to 'write some papers and read some Russian novels and stuff.'

'I definitely come from some musical roots, and I tried to rebel from them for a while,' recalls Adderley. 'Some people rebel by becoming musicians, while I tried to rebel by being a secretary for a bit.'

But she couldn't ignore the call. After she fled Los Angeles for Austin with husband Todd Jenkins, a percussion player, she assembled Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys, a dynamite nine-piece driven by her rich, emotive pipes. Their self-titled debut, released this year, sizzles with all the right grooves, alternating between enthusiastic cuts and slower, sultrier numbers.

'Soul music is so honest and so raw. It has a lot of energy and emotion and isn't polished,' Adderley says. 'I feel like right now people are hungry to share emotion like that and release it together.'


Garage soul mavens the Greyhounds - composed of friends Andrew Trube and Anthony Ferrell with a rotating drummer - racked up a lot of miles after forming in Los Angeles in 1999. They toured nonstop, burning through three vans - the most recent with 300,000 miles on it.

But they had to settle down and plant further Austin roots - the band relocated from L.A. early this decade - after Ferrell was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2007. With Ferrell now recovered, the pair are prepping their third album at East Side studio Big Orange for next year, mixing vintage soul sounds with a harder-edged rock influence, a cocktail Trube describes as 'Hall and Oates meets ZZ Top.'

'We do a lot of soul music stuff, but we're trying to put a spin on it,' says Trube, 32. 'That's what's exciting to me about these Austin soul bands. They're taking that old-school sound and giving you something you haven't heard before.'

Felan and Flyjack

The supremely soulful Flyjack started as a side project for the long-established Austin band Nappy but became the main event when it became clear that audiences loved the group's tight grooves and pedal-to-the-metal energy. A weekly Monday residency at Antone's started in 2008 and was for a time one of Austin's most dependably danceable gigs.

The band's undergone some changes since then - horn trio the Hellfire Horns departed alongside vocalist Alejandro Felan to form cracking eight-piece Felan. Flyjack is soldiering on as a slimmed-down unit, with plans to release an EP next year featuring James Brown drummer Jab'o Starks. From time to time it still enlists the Hellfire Horns - who have played with everyone from Bob Schnei­der to the Walkmen -to join the live show. Meanwhile, Felan, still in its early stages, is in the process of forging a sound.

'We're sort of trying to figure things out, because there's this soul resurgence - well, I don't know if it ever surged before - but because of it we're trying to position ourselves in context to all those guys,' says trumpet player Erik Telford, 31. 'What they're doing, they're doing well already, so we want to be unique in some other way.'

Eight soul classics to get you started

Want to get yourself primed before diving into Austin's own extensive soul scene and joining the ever-expanding ranks of the booty-shaking, call-and-response faithful? One of the best ways to prepare is to bone up on the classics of soul music - but with a genre that stretches back more than five decades and offers up enough great works to fill Waterloo Records a dozen times over, where to begin?

We posed the question to Tim Crane and Bruce James, who each offered up four essential soul albums that can set you on your way.

Tim Crane recommends:

Otis Redding, 'The Dock of the Bay,' 1968

James Brown, 'The Payback,' 1973

Sly and the Family Stone, 'There's a Riot Goin' On,' 1971

Curtis Mayfield, 'Curtis,' 1970

Bruce James recommends:

Stevie Wonder, 'Songs in the Key of Life,' 1976

Marvin Gaye, 'What's Going On,' 1971

Sam Cooke, 'Night Beat,' 1963

Ray Charles, 'Ray Charles Invites You to Listen,' 1967

By Patrick Caldwell
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

Le Diamant Brut: Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys – Austinist


What’s the Deal: When the same old sounds of 6th Street and the musical staples of this town get you down, you need a quick and potent pick me up, and there’s little better prescription than a good injection of some soul and funk. Enter Akina Adderley and The Vintage Playboys. This smooth operation of eight or so fronted by the bright pipes of Akina Adderley is just what Austin needs in times of musical woe. The group’s sound jostles back and forth between the throw your hands up and “shake it like a tambourine” tunes with enthusiastic bursts from the horn section and warm and sultry numbers as slick as silk and sweet like honey drips.

“Venom Like Wine” is one of the more woeful and emotionally poisonous songs on AAVP’s self-titled debut released in late March of this year. A somber horn section bellows alongside aching keys and Akina’s pleading vocals thick with feeling. “I’m Gone” is the opening track from the same album, and it starts things off with a bang. It’s spirited, upbeat and affirming with plenty of old school sass and an irresistible chorus to boot.

Something Interesting: In case you are wondering, she is in fact the granddaughter of jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley, Sr. and the great niece of saxophonist “Cannonball” Adderley. That’s quite a pedigree.

Other Tracks Worth Checking Out: “Anyone But You”

By william_mills in Arts and Entertainment on April 30, 2009

Texas Music Matters – KUT 90.5 FM

For Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys, soul is the key word, but it’s a hot, smokin’ modern soul with an old school flavor – and a sprinkle of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s delivered with funk and style - and Akina’s phenomenal vocals that call to mind the sounds of classic soul and R&B.

Adderley comes from a very musical family. Her great uncle is jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley; her grandfather, Nat Adderley, Sr., is a cornet player, and dad Nat Adderley, Jr., is a producer, pianist and music arranger who’s worked with artists like Luther Vandross. Akina’s father was the producer of her band’s 2009 self-titled CD.

“I always loved writing,” Adderley said in a recent interview. “I love words and language, the sounds of words, the shapes of writing. And I’ve always been a musician. I love both of those forms of expression. My dad was a big source of encouragement since I was 14, and I figured out a way to fuse the two. It all comes together when your on stage.”

Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys will perform this Thursday night at Antone’s, following an early show by blues legend Pinetop Perkins. Rounding out the evening is Austin soul-meisters Bankrupt & The Borrowers. This is a trip bill you won’t want to miss. Everything starts at 9 p.m.

Review: Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys--I'm Gone – AfroSquad

Ms. Adderley brings the soul back to rock ‘n roll, y’all. This is straight up 1970’s era soul/funk with a healthy dash of equally old-school rock/R&B thrown in for good measure. AfroSquad would definitely approve.

Final judgment: If you need a good dose of modern soul/R&B/rock, Adderley and her authentic Vintage Playboys will deliver. Best catch her before she’s gone.