In November of 2002, a long-anticipated music documentary titled “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” made its world premiere at New York’s Apollo Theater. The film’s subject, the legendary Motown studio band of the ’60s known as the Funk Brothers, became an overnight sensation, touring the world and being honored with presidential audiences and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Recording Academy. Two of their members, drummer Benny Benjamin and James Jamerson, the tormented genius of the Fender bass, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
On March 10, in honor of the film’s 10th anniversary, a new show called “Standing in the Shadows of Motown Live!” will be presented at the Paramount Huntington at 370 New York Ave. in Huntington, New York.
Produced and created by Allan Slutsky, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown Live!” will star R&B master and multiple-time Grammy-winner Peabo Bryson and STAX recording artist and BET-TV personality Leela James along with a band, while James Jamerson Jr.–the only bass player alive who plays exactly like his father–will be holding down the groove on 24 Motown songs.
Jamerson told the AmNews that he is participating in the live stage show to uphold his father’s legacy.
“Basically, dad didn’t get much recognition,” Jamerson said. “It would be a great opportunity to let them see dad through me. You really are like your dad.”
Jamerson Sr. died in 1983. “Most of the Funk Brothers are basically gone,” Jamerson said.
Formerly a member of the Crusaders, Jamerson Jr. began his career playing bass with the Temptations while only in his teens. He has also worked with Chaka Khan, Etta James, Andrae Crouch and Bebe Winans.
The 24 Motown songs that will be performed on March 10 include “My Girl,” “Bernadette,” “I Was Made to Love Her,” “What’s Going On,” “My Guy” and “My World is Empty Without You.”
Performing Marvin Gaye tunes is very important to Jamerson.
“Marvin Gaye was the first one I knew,” Jamerson said. “I met him as a kid at 3 and Martha Reeves. They were all rehearsing at my Grandmother’s house. Martha calls herself my godmother.”
In the live show, Jamerson recountss heartfelt memories and delivers side-splitting anecdotes as dozens of projected images and footage from the movie appear on a screen above the band. And in the process, that tiny basement studio on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard–the one that gave birth to all those groundbreaking Funk Brothers tracks–comes alive to remind the audience what ’60s soul was all about.
“I just want to showcase my dad,” Jamerson said.
Showtime is at 8 p.m. For box office info, call 631-673-7300.