A good preacher tells you two things in church every Sunday: this is where it’s at and this is where you should be.
Barrence Whitfield is a Boston-based rock and soul singer whose spirit and legendary performances are somehow in line with the weekend service. They both count on the power of their uplifting message to reach audiences; hoping somehow through the faith-based energy some affirmation returns. Only the best practitioners are considered true entertainers and performers for the Lord. In similar manner, by virtue of his gospel-truth hard rockabilly shuffle, Whitfield lays bare each night his passion for all things otherworldly.
“The energy comes from being in church and watching the people react every time the preacher would say ‘Raise your hand,’ or ‘Go down to your knees,’ or ‘Do you feel it! Do you feel it!’” Whitfield exclaimed during a recent interview.
So far the spirit has moved Whitfield in mysterious ways. It has hastened him into jumping off the stage onto unsuspecting people and swinging from a chandelier at a college party while the movie Scarface showed behind him. His R & B shouter-styled songs often lead him to convulsing in a writhing fit on the floor, but not before true believers of the truth drop down and really join him.
“I think with what we do there’s more conviction than most these days,” Whitfield said of his high-octane presentation. “It’s more real and more to the soul. I think the energy in music today is lacking. It has to lack when you’re listening to melodies that go Bing, bong, Bing, beep-beep-beep-beep-beep (pinball machine sounds). How much can move to that other than to jump up and down and smile.”
With Barrence Whitfield & the Savages you’ve got a preacher’s presence and garage rock-n-roll going full-bore at one time. The edgy punk vibe comes courtesy of guitarist Peter Greenburg and bass player Phil Lenker. Greenburg and Lenker go back to 1983 with the Savages and then legendary first-wave Boston outfits DMZ and The Lyres. Whitfield says these crucial influences are held together like a lit candle that starts melting immediately until finally the wax is all over the table.
“We just go out there and play our butts off until the sweat is pouring off our brows,” Whitfield said with a laugh. “By the end of the night it looks like we’ve taken three showers and a sauna. That’s the look, the energy you get. You see it, you’re enthralled with it, and you become part of it.”
Whitfield and company arrive November 14 in Grand Rapids at the Tip Top in support of their latest CD Dig Thy Savage Soul (Bloodshot).
“The new CD has been in people’s minds and ears,” Whitfield said. “It’s been accepted and doing well for the time it’s been out. We’re very pleased about that.”
If you’re ever in the market for a singer with a preacher’s good energy you could probably find someone. But if you’re looking for one with all that plus a little star power to keep things interesting, you turn to someone like Barrence Whitfield.
“We just get out there and play our music and take care of business,” Whitfield said. “We aim to grab hearts, minds, and ears.”
Barrence Whitfield & the Savages wsg The Boss Mustangs, 7 pm doors, November 14, Tip Top Deluxe, GR
More info: www.barrencewhitfieldsavages.com/