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"Everlast" "Fires up The Night"
November 14, Sacramento, Ca
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.....At the Sacramento Memorial theater , Everlast opened the show that fused simmering, down-tempo hip-hop grooves with blues-inflected acoustic guitar and the rapper's gravelly vocals, which stripped Tom Waits' fanciful imagery of all its poetry and replaced it with stark, reality based vignettes. A batch of songs from Everlast's forthcoming album suggested the rapper has upped the ante from his impressive 1998 debut, writing in a more expansive style that merges the more delicate colors of Curtis Mayfield's soul with gritty funk.

..... Everlast - took his hip-hop folk blues to the intimate Sacramento Memorial Theater and came up with one of the most memorable concerts of the season. Wednesday's concert was a full set that tripped from the singer's days of rapture as the frontman for the Irish-American gangsta band House of Pain to his most recent release, "Eat at Whitey's." It was a night of spectacular music - Everlast fronted a seven-piece band that played a healthy dose of material from the "Eat at Whitey's" album, including "Black Jesus" (dedicated to Earl "The Pearl" Monroe), the evening's show stopper.

.....Everlast, born Erik Schrody, was introduced to the L.A. hip-hop scene as part of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate Cartel. In 1990, Ice-T served as executive producer for Everlast's first solo album, Forever Everlasting, released on Warner Bros. Shortly thereafter, Everlast joined forces with Danny Boy and DJ Lethal to form House of Pain. The group's 1992 single "Jump Around" and eponymous debut album, on Tommy Boy Records, were both huge crossover hits, making Everlast a pop star. However, subsequent House of Pain albums Same as It Ever Was (1994) and Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again (1996) failed to duplicate the group's initial success, though the former did achieve gold sales. House of Pain called it quits in 1996, but Everlast remained on Tommy Boy Records to record another solo album, 1998's Whitey Ford Sings the Blues. Fortunately, blues-rapper Everlast was around to perform his hit from the multiplatinum album, growling the vaguely disturbing "Put Your Lights On." But as strong as the song is, Santana is reduced to the role of a hired gun, playing guitar fills that lack his usual distinctive flair. Far more successful were Latin-fusion numbers such as "(DA Le) Yaleo," "Migra" and "Corazon Espinado," which put Santana squarely back in the middle of the action, where he belongs.

.....Throughout the concert, Everlast's six-string ability was tested. Although he seemed most comfortable when he was merely strumming to his own vocals on his pristine Gibson "Hummingbird" acoustic, he offered his most accomplished instrumental musicianship when he was plucking on electric guitar. Everlast has said in interviews that art has to be from the heart. It isn't a very original thought, but when he sang his big hit, "What It's Like" - now a couple of years old - it was clear he believes those words. That from-the-heart composition of compassion and empathy, like so many others tunes in his songbook, made you aware that he is a flesh-and-bones man and not a cartoon character invented by the music business to sell records.

By Randy Cohen

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