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Pop Music Review

Ozomatli Appearance Energizes a Benefit

February 21, 2001|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Benefit concerts can be a mixed bag, and the five-hour show hosted Monday by singer-percussionist Vinx at the House of Blues presented a wide range of sounds and agendas, with a lineup that included such names as Jackson Browne, Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish, Michelle Shocked and Ozomatli.

The show was a benefit to replace $80,000 in recording equipment recently stolen from Vinx's Los Angeles studio, which had been set to begin recording a benefit CD of lullabies for the Lili Claire Foundation, which battles Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes retardation and severe heart ailments.

The night's emotional high point came with an unannounced 20-minute set from Ozomatli. The band's hip-hop-informed Latin folk was a seamless, vibrant blend of horns, beats, guitars and turntables.

Rucker's four-song set included a pair of songs accompanied only by Vinx on hand drums, before they were joined by acoustic guitar for a memorable take on Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand." Browne brought his own four-piece band, but he performed only two songs, neither among his best.

A too-rare appearance by singer-songwriter Shocked began slowly, as her understated folk battled against bar chatter. But the singer won over the crowd when she was joined by a full band (including former Police drummer Stewart Copeland) for some bluesy funk.

Though the night was nowhere near a sellout, there was a healthy crowd by the midpoint. Vinx himself teamed with Brenda Russell and others in a series of jazzy soul songs. The singer is a talented and frequently moving performer, but the five solo sets he performed throughout the night tended to dilute the impact of the star power he had gathered.

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