Larry Graham wows Rams Head crowd


— It’s a good thing that the doors opened early for Larry Graham and Graham Central Stations’ concert at Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis on Wednesday.

Because the funk and soul king likely would have blown the doors off with an electrifying performance that included blasts from the past, romantic favorites and some new work that reminded music lovers that Graham is one of the greatest unsung heroes of the industry.

“I like to think that my audience is pleased,” Graham, the legendary Sly & Family Stone bassist who formed Graham Central Station in the 1970s, said prior to the concert.

And, the intimate venue that is Rams Head on Stage proved to be an ideal setting for fans of Graham who jammed along with every thump of his famous bass as his tour de force of music included “Everyday People,” “Thank You (for lettin’ me be mice self, again),” and his seminal hit, “One in a Million You.”

With upcoming Rams Head on Stage concerts that include “In Gratitude: A Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire” on Friday; Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues on Saturday; and Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals on Sunday, venue officials can only hope that those bands produce a smitten of enthusiasm that Graham caused during his 90-plus minute show.

As noted by those at The Concert Live Wire – a website that proclaims that “music dorks love us” – Graham’s likeness has been all over the past five decades of soul, funk, R&B and rock.

Besides being an original member of Sly & The Family Stone, along with his own Graham Central Station (and not to mention that he’s the uncle of rapper Drake), the bassist is universally regarded as the inventor of the “thumbin’ and pluckin’” playing technique mirrored by Bootsy Collins, Flea, Victor Wooten, John Norwood Fisher and many others.

With such a monumental history, it was a true treat to see Graham and his current incarnation of Graham Central Station up close, this time at Rams Head on Stage in the historic city of Annapolis.

Graham, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, provided a pleasurable mix of Sly Stone favorites with Graham Central Station hits without forgetting his solo success.

Though Graham’s slap-styled bass playing was obviously the main attraction, the supporting Graham Central Station was just as fiery while chugging through funk jams like “It Ain’t No Fun To Me” and “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” from 2012’s “Raise Up” (the group’s first studio album since 1998, which also features multiple collaborations with Prince and Raphael Saadiq).

For the proverbial icing on the cake, Graham added hits like “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” and “Family Affair,” virtually turning the cozy Rams Head into a frenzied rock venue.