P.M.-Dawn: A Night of '90s R&B at Lincoln Cafe

Erica Thompson

When I saw "A Night of Aaliyah, Brandy and Monica" among Facebook's Columbus events, I immediately knew how I'd be spending my Friday night. What I didn't know was the depth of local talent that I would witness at the Eargasm artist showcase, which took place at Lincoln Cafe (formerly Zanzibar Brews) in the King-Lincoln District.

When I arrived around 10 p.m., the venue was already packed with people young and old, some dressed casually and many more dressed up. I really liked the coziness and the lovely lunch counters that ran the length of the room, but the cafe is not structured to accommodate a large crowd. The owner, Leon Lewis, did his best to squeeze in chairs where he could. He wants to expand the business into the space next door. And despite the fantastic turnout at these types of events, he's hoping for more traffic and even more black-owned businesses to continue the revitalization of the historically African-American neighborhood.

I spent most of the night standing so I could mingle, whiskey and coke in hand. I met so many friendly people, including Rachael Scott, who manages local artists under the Jazzhop Movement. I was excited to talk to a guy in a bejeweled Prince shirt; I'm always looking for other diehard fans. However, he confessed he was a bigger fan of Whitney Houston. He was nice, though.

Scott opened the show with a poetry performance that elicited cheers from the audience. Eargasm event creator Roxie "the Soul Butterfly" Wolfe kicked off the music with "So Gone," one of my favorite Monica songs. Wolfe and fellow artists Monique "Maverick" Mitchell and CeCe Beckham and Dre P. of the Tryangles are some of the most skilled singers I've ever heard. And it was exciting to experience the Tryangles at this early stage of what will likely be a long career.

The artists took turns wowing the crowd, their performances interspersed with hilarious commentary by host Satori Seals. It was not uncommon for them to improvise, scat and go into additional material, including the 1970s classic "What You Won't Do for Love" and "Hotline Bling" by Drake. In a standout moment, Wolfe demonstrated her vocal dexterity on Monica's "Everything to Me." The song ended with a "high note" contest among all of the artists.

They were backed by the Liquid Crystal Project, a local "jazz hop" band that is remarkable in its own right. I was especially impressed when they went into Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" during an instrumental interlude.

The Eargasm events are held the third Friday of each month. Wolfe always comes up with the next theme the day after the last show, but she was leaning toward the Isley Brothers. Regardless of her decision, I'll probably be there.