Alice Smith transforms The Independent into prohibition-era jazz club


By Marc Fong //

Alice Smith with Destani Wolf //
The Independent – San Francisco
February 13, 2014 //

The night before Valentine’s Day can be every bit as magical as V-Day itself, especially if that night is shared with the illustrious Alice Smith.

The Independent played host to the beautiful songstress, not only upon its stage, but also transforming the venue into something reminiscent of a 1920’s NYC jazz club. The Independent showcases almost every genre of live music, generally with an open floor fit for dancing, moshing, head-banging, etc. This night, however, small tables and chairs, lit by candlelight populated the floor, transforming the look and feel of the venue into something even more special. The flames flickered in their red candle holders, giving the venue a dark, yet distinguished, quietly sophisticated vibe. The venue fit the bill, as both acts were darkly powerful, elegant and beautiful.

East Bay artist Destani Wolf opened the show with charisma, soul and strength. Accompanied by a keyboardist and guitarist, Destani pulled deep from within herself as her large voice rallied the sold out house. She moved lithely on stage, her voice strong and well-trained. Unwavering, she moved through octaves and tone as easily as she moved on stage. Clearly multi-talented (and at one point playing an invisible trumpet. Yes. An invisible trumpet), Destani was a delight to watch and hear.


Smith hit the stage to a cheers and applause. She glided on stage with style and grace. Gentlemen took off their fedoras; women smiled both excited and a little envious. Smith complimented the old-school jazz club feel right off the bat. Her voice, powerful and soulful, seemed right out of the Prohibition Era. Even when the songs were cheery and uplifting, there was poignancy and depth. Her love songs were dark and honey-laden; sweet sadness, not only in her well-written lyrics, but from the passion in her voice. A powerful singer, Smith demonstrated great range. She belted out a variety of songs which could easily be categorized all at once as jazzy, bluesy and soul.

The fans sold out the small venue expecting to hear Smith sound as great as she does on her newest album, She, and they were not disappointed. In fact, because of Smith’s stage presence and vibe, they got even more. She commanded attention in her voice, lyrics and movement. To be sure, Smith is an extremely talented artist who must not only be heard, but also seen. A Smith concert is not only about the music, but also about the experience.


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