"We're under construction, but we're almost fully built," said Donnell "D-Floyd" Floyd, saxophonist and talker for the go-go band Familiar Faces, to the Friday night crowd at Mirrors on New York Avenue NE.
Floyd's statement alluded to the transition the group is going through. Guitarist Dwayne Lee, bassist Doc Hughes and vocalists Halima Peru and Sean "Kal-El" Gross recently departed; guitarist Wendell Bacon, bassist Sean Geason and singers Damila Adams and Marquis "Quisy" Melvin have arrived as replacements.
Familiar Faces, who appeared with 360 Band, may be adjusting to a new lineup, but they still sound great and . . . well, familiar. The group is sticking with the formula that made it one of the most popular bands in the city: mixing original music and smooth covers into sets of go-go for grown folks.
The new Familiar Faces, featuring Scooby, hit everything from a smoothed-out version of Playaz Circle's hit "Duffle Bag Boy" to percussive versions of adult contemporary tracks from artists such as Jill Scott ("A Long Walk," "Hate on Me"), Babyface ("Whip Appeal") and Sade ("No Ordinary Love").
The band finished with a couple of originals, including its newest single, "We Don't Need These Phones," which sported an extremely catchy hook: "Baby, I'm-a give you my number/And you gon' give me your number/But we ain't gotta use these phones if you follow me home right now." And by the looks of things, more than a few people in attendance took that hint at the end of the night.
-- Sarah Godfrey
Sweet Honey in the Rock
The women of Sweet Honey in the Rock sing their gospel tunes and original numbers with enough energy and elan to reach audiences of all ages. On Saturday, under the aegis of their longtime collaborators, the Washington Performing Arts Society, they presented their annual concert for children at the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ on 13th Street NW, where their soulful voices and sturdy songcraft always find a receptive audience.
Naturally, the concert featured songs from "Experience . . . 101," the group's newest album for children, which nods toward today's tastes with peppy beats and playful patter. Overamplification problems hurt the new material on Saturday, as the quick-moving lyrics of songs like "Education Is the Key" sounded indistinct. But the women always kept the youngsters involved, getting them to sing the choruses, clap with the group or, in "Tama Tama Tamali," plant (pretend) seeds and make whirring noises to scare away hungry birds.
The audience participation reached an unexpected high point during the spiritual "I Got Shoes," performed in sign language along with the interpreter. Making the motions to sign the word "heaven" -- moving your hands in rising circles, then raising your arms to the sky and letting them fall at your sides -- mirrored and embodied the rich, slow swell of Sweet Honey's harmonies as the women sang the word. It made the young'uns pay rapt attention, too.
Before the end of the short show, the group fit in the funky song of self-affirmation "I Like It That Way" and the classic "This Little Light of Mine," which left both kids and adults wanting more.