In the Crowd (in Cleveland) with Akron’s The Admirables
written by Brittany Nader
photography by McKenzie Beynon
An unmistakable roar of dual saxophones rings out through Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom on a clear Saturday night in April. While loud, fast beats pulse through the Tavern next door, in the larger venue, the warm glow and smooth sounds of The Admirables, Akron’s own funk-soul band, heat up the crowd of Clevelanders, Rubber City natives and music lovers from cities and suburbs in-between.
The night is a cause for celebration, as Ohio garage-soul band The Floorwalkers commemorates its album release and welcomes The Admirables to the venue as a special guest. Fresh off the heels of their Columbus show Friday night at Skully’s, The Admirables’ energy is steady and pure.
Though elevated on a dazzling platform above us all, the connection between performer and audience is alive and genuine. The suit-clad instrumental ensemble could very well have been leading a parade through town as their infectious sound soars through the venue, creating a much-welcomed spectacle of straightforward feel-good music.
Alto sax player Nathan-Paul Davis reminds the crowd that tonight is a party, and it’s time to let loose and have some fun. It seems pretty clear that every Admirables performance is a cause for celebration. The crowd is quick to get up and dance; this spark ignited by the funky fire starters on stage.
Davis leads the room in a clap-along — a sea of hands joining together, some even reaching for the palms of a partner or friend — to accompany the skilled rhythm of bassist Matthew DeRubertis, drummer Ashanti Allison and Steven Miller on keys.
“We’d like to dedicate this next song to all the beautiful women in the room,” Davis proudly declares like a cheeky gospel preacher, charming the female members of the audience. The band breaks out into “She Knows,” a swooning Motown-inspired tune carried by Davis and the smooth melodies of tenor sax player Chris Cole.
With unyielding excitement, the band glides into a politically and emotionally charged tune, “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” and Davis dedicates the song to Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and “anyone who has been done wrong.” He asks the crowd to raise their hands if they’ve experienced injustice, hatred or bigotry. As arms fill the air, the band reminds us that everything will truly be all right, as the easy rhythm and sonic storytelling rings out from the lighted stage.
The Admirables adds a fresh sound to Northeast Ohio’s music scene, with DeRubertis and Dave Hammer — both from local outfit Dave Hammer’s Power Supply — filling out the guitar and bass sections. Many may know Davis’ work with Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites and with Miller and Coles in local hip-hop jazz project Spontaneous Flow. These hardworking musicians have combined their influences and experience in a diverse range of musical ensembles to create tight, well-crafted tunes with warmth, passion and soul that communicates so well to each of us.
Akron is lucky to have this prolific group of performers join forces to bring a little joy, funk, soul and good times to the community — no matter the circumstances of those who inhabit it. The Admirables reminds us that this urban area is illuminated by radiant melodies that lift our spirits and bond us together.
Find The Admirables at www.facebook.com/TheAdmirables and theadmirables.bandcamp.com.
VIDEO: Interview with the Admirables, courtesy of The Akronist