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 Live Review Pat Benny  

ZOLA MOON Live at the Long Beach Pride Festival
Live Review
by Pat Benny

 Zola Moon’s incredible performance at the Long Beach Pride Festival was a case in point, a perfect analogy of the state of the music business today. The festival is a large one, this being its 20th year, and there were five stages featuring different acts all day long. Additionally, there were two dance tents, where DJs that are unknown to this writer played incredibly loud, bass-laden rhythmic patterns of sound for those so inclined to dance to it. Walking through the festival was a lot like sitting through Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” exhibit; as you leave one stage and its entertainment, you are instantly bombarded with hip-hop music, chugging like a demonic washing machine until you find yourself at the next stage. You might find yourself at the country-western stage, or the gospel stage, the salsa stage or, if you were extremely lucky (or, like me, you knew where to go), you just might have stumbled under the stand of trees where Zola Moon was about to perform.

 With overcast skies that threatened to break into a sunny afternoon, Zola Moon and her band took to the stage. Zola Moon doesn’t just sing onstage, she casts a spell. As if her physical beauty and her incredible voice weren’t enough, she emits enough pheromones to get anybody’s attention. Even the boys selling their rainbow hats and t-shirts in the nearby booth were craning their necks to get a better look at Zola. Like a female Jim Morrison, she is sexy enough to make even this crowd question their chosen sexuality.

 It was between her rendition of “House of the Rising Sun,” which featured an outstanding guitar solo by Vince Joy and Zola’s own “Bad Dog Fight” that I noticed that the crowd around the stage seemed to be growing. From the sidewalk twenty yards away, an occasional festival goer would stop, cock an ear and eventually walk over to see what that sound was. Then, mesmerized by Zola, they would drop their plastic bags of festival swag and take in the force that is Zola Moon.

 “I’m not crazy, I’m mad!” says she as she struts and swaggers on the small stage, cussing like a sailor, kicking over signs and microphone stands just in case her roaring voice wasn’t making its point. With “Snake Eyes,” Zola was winding her way through the audience; shedding her clothes and inhibitions the way Salome shed her veils. She can sing as sweet as Aretha Franklin and instantly turn it into a tiger’s growl or lilting falsetto at will. By the time Zola began the last song of her set, the relentless, heart-pounding “Mechanical Beast,” she had managed to make some converts from one of the toughest, most reserved audiences that this writer has ever witnessed.

 All in all, it was a wonderful, incredible performance. The only fly in the ointment is that I found it discouraging that so many people were just a few yards away from possibly hearing and seeing something rare—unmasked, unbridled talent displayed right under their very noses. I was too young for Billie Holiday; I never got to see Janis Joplin perform, but I can tell the world that I’ve seen Zola Moon and, friends, she was something to see.
In closing, let me give you all a little advice—maybe not for you, dear reader, for you must be enlightened or you wouldn’t be reading SBM, but perhaps something for you to pass along: There’s nothing wrong with camping out for three days to pay an outrageous amount of money to see someone like Madonna or the Dixie Chicks. But friends, there is a lot of talent out there, talent that is a least as good as the aforementioned idols and some that are, like Zola Moon, completely off the charts. Artists you can tell your grandchildren about; music that will pluck the strings of your soul and take you to places you’ve never even dreamed of visiting. But sometimes you have to leave the safety of that sidewalk. If you want something really special, you’ve got to get off the path that someone else has intended for you. Otherwise, Life can be nothing more than a huge tourist trap full of souvenir stands, cotton candy and various kinds of meat sold to you on a stick. Don’t we all want something more than meat on a stick? Is that why you paid eight bucks to park your car? Not me, I went to see Zola Moon and I can’t wait to do it again.

Zola can be visited at her website at: http:// and you can order her CDs from:

--Pat Benny 

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