Sun, 06 Mar 2005

Fiddler of souls turns Jakarta crowd into instant fans

Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

Amp Fiddler is awesome.

Nearly no one in Jakarta had heard of him before the Java Jazz Festival, but this guy drew an ever-growing crowd to dance and sing along to his jazzy funk, urban soul tunes -- not to mention the screams of adoration that erupted as he punched his keyboard passionately.

A number of performers -- even some bigger and more popular names -- at the festival on Friday did not get a call for an encore. But this Detroit-born musician did. And it was a heartfelt encore.

"I'm a soul singer. What I bring is my soul. I give my soul to the audience," he said in a pre-show interview on the first day of the jazz fest.

Well, this might sound a little melodramatic, but he proved it during his one-and-a-half-hour show at the Jakarta Convention Center.

Fiddler's passionate music lit some fire in everybody's soul. Even some nerdy guys in baggy pants, passe shirt and retro glasses couldn't resist the funk seeping into their bones as they danced energetically.

He even taught the audience the lyrics to Soul Divine: You are so divine, I love you/your vibration touches my soul.

"I love the audience here. The appreciation was beautiful," he said afterward.

The modest Fiddler, born Joseph Fiddler, has been a session musician for 20 years for music-industry heavies like George Clinton, the P-Funk All-stars, Jamiroquai, Prince, the Brand New Heavies, Seal and Maxwell.

Early last year, he recorded his first solo album, the critically acclaimed Waltz of a Ghetto Fly, under UK label Genuine.

"This is a presentation of sophisticated, modern sounds for grown-ups. Many artists could list soul, funk, jazz, hip hop and R 'n' B as influences, but few could put such a personal and individual stamp on their sound. There's a definite 70s vibe -- think Stevie, Sly and Shuggie -- but the music always transcends pastiche," BBC reviewer Katie Blackwell wrote on

Critical reviews of his album could not help but hear the sound of 1970s funk group Sly and the Family Stone in Fiddler's music.

In fact, Fiddler said recently he was still listening to Sly and the Family Stone in addition to "a friend of mine, Van Hunt".

However, his album is not available in Jakarta stores.

So if you are a real soul lover, tell your friends who are traveling abroad to pick up a Fiddler CD for you.