Aside from their famous hot wings, Shifty’s in Syracuse is known for hosting some incredible musicians including local quintet The Lightkeepers. The 2016 SAMMY awards nominated group settled in last friday night and cooked up a heater to a packed house, hungry for more than just chicken. Nestled into one corner of the tavern, no bigger than a port-o-potty, is where the five-piece rock band stationed themselves allowing the most room possible for their fans to dance comfortably.
As folks trickled in, the band eagerly took the stage and kicked off the first set with the very groovy tune “Miracle,” from their recent self-titled album. Jes Sheldon led the band on this swinging song with her sassy, powerhouse vocals that rival the likes of Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse. Swaying and twisting her slender frame from song-to-song, provoked the crowd to boogie without hesitation. Aaron Fried escorted the parade on Bob Dylans’ “Serve Somebody” and their original, “Empty” with some distinct bass-influenced rhythms. Participation from the audience began to pick up as they helped sing a soulful rendition of “Come Together” by the Beatles. Having never played at Shifty’s as The Lightkeepers until now, the group collectively played their cards right, mixing up a balanced list of originals and covers.
After a short break, the troop of entertainers hit the stage once again and brought the fire with a funky original, titled “Bruteforce.” Following closely was an attractive trio of segued covers “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” “The Weight,” and “Hard to Handle.” P.J. Will governed the rhythm guitar on “Rock Steady” with funky-fast guitar wahs while Mike Vincitore tore up the proverbial rug with his untamed six-string guitar. Tucked neatly along the photo-blanketed back-wall, sat Jim Dunham on the drums, vigorously driving the Lightkeepers with his cognizant flow and time-keeping.
A slow psychedelic rendition of “Whole Lotta Love” featuring a heap of sensual vocals and swelling guitar licks brought the energy of the room to a lull only for brief moment before the band jumped into the riff-heavy, “Cryin’ Shame.” Before closing out the second set, the ensamble knocked down the Doors with “Light My Fire” and a new unreleased rock song titled “Damaged.” Nearly consumed by the supportive crowd, the band finished up the evening with a spot-on “Soulshine” segueing into “Sugaree” for one last heightening sing-a-long. Check out the full set list below and be sure to catch another show coming up where you can purchase their full length album and some cool swag.
Set I: Miracle, Birdie, Just Dropped In, Gypsy Lights, Serve Somebody, Empty, Come Together, Mr. Coltrane, Snowflake, The Thrill is Gone, Mae, Love the One You’re With, River of Atonement, Tried & True, Water Needs Wine, Gimme Shelter
Set II: Bruteforce, Boogie On Reggae Woman > The Weight > Hard to Handle, Rock Steady > Mr. Charlie, Mexican Plane, Save Me > Stormy Monday, Whole Lotta Love > Cryin’ Shame, Astronaut, Valerie, Light My Fire, Dear Mr. Fantasy, Damaged
Encore: Soulshine, Sugaree
Video by Lori Newcomb