People, get ready — there’s a train a’comin’. You do need a ticket, but it’ll get you on board a musical experience that blends 1970s soul with Tacoma talent. “Soul Revue,” playing March 16 at the Pantages Theater, will take you back to the heady days of Roberta Flack, Millie Jackson and The Temptations in a show that’s 70 percent Tacoma talent and 70 percent people of color.
“The idea was to use primarily local people to create something different, that hadn’t been done here,” says Kim Archer, a Tacoma R&B singer who is co-producing the show with Tacoma designer and stage personality Ricky German. “It’s ambitious. But tickets are selling well. I’m very excited about the team.”
Based on variety song shows like “Soul Train” and “American Bandstand,” “Soul Revue” uses five singers, a six-piece band, an emcee and back-up dancers to recreate the energetic, socially-aware vibe of early ’70s soul music. You’ll hear songs by Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Ike and Tina Turner, Roberta Flack, Bobbie Womack and more, with numbers from “People Get Ready” to “Ladies Night.”
Archer will be joined by Tacoma singers Tiffany Wilson, Jimmy Shields and Sotaria Gibson, plus Seattle singer Lady A, backed by a band led by Tacoma sax player Kareem Kandi. DJ NinjaKat (Stevon Christopher Burrell) will emcee. And German isn’t holding back with the costumes: there will be sequins, shimmer, flares and plenty of Afro wigs.
“Except I’ve been growing my own hair,” says Archer with a laugh. “It’s been a commitment.”
With a cocktail hour before the show, complete with photo booth and DJ, the audience is also encouraged to bring out their best ’70s outfits.
But there’s a deeper reason for “Soul Revue” than just groovy beats. Archer draws a parallel between the social justice agenda of the early ’70s, when artists galvanized civil rights activism and invigorated dying neighborhoods, and today’s political climate and rising demand for racial justice.
“That was a time when people were self identifying what they stood for and not afraid to speak up for (it),” says Archer. “The music and the people from that era reflect what’s going on now. Back then, music really had something to say.”
The combination of great music, social issues and local talent is something Archer’s excited about and is already booking for future gigs like the inauguration of new University of Puget Sound president Isiaah Crawford — who’s apparently a soul fan.
“It’s going to be fun,” Archer says. “People are going to want to get up and dance in their seats.”