Boundary-pushing Philly nine-piece ensemble Ode to Omni blurs the lines between rock, funk, big band brass and soul, and next week the crew pays tribute to one of its very similar-minded Philly influences: The Roots. The band sets up shop at World Cafe Live on Friday, July 29th for their new Homegrown Series paying tribute to Black Thought, Questlove and crew. They’ll be joined by locally-rooted MC Mic Stew, who’s in town from Texas for the show. I swapped emails with Ode to Omni drummer Marcus Myers to get a vibe on the show, the series and what it is that they love about The Roots.
The Key: When were you first introduced to the music of The Roots?
Marcus Myers: My introduction to The Roots was through an album called The Philadelphia Experiment [a 2001 jazz collaboration between Questlove, Pat Martino and Christian McBride]. I know it’s not a “Roots” album but it was my introduction to Questlove, which then introduced me to The Roots. That album was one of many that made me pay attention to them. Philly at that time was blooming with incredible musicians and artists. The Roots’ involvement with Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Kanye West, Al Green, Betty Wright and many other artists made them undeniably noticeable.
TK: How did you decide to put this tribute together?
MM: The idea of the tribute stemmed from a bigger concept. A good friend, by the name of Octavius Newman, and I talked about taking music from popular artists and putting our spin on it. This idea inspired me to do a series that represented the history of Philly as well as the new and fresh talent in Philly. The Homegrown series is all about promoting Philadelphia based artists, collaborating with them, building unity in the Philadelphia musical community, and to give an experience to the viewer that would be inspiring to them. Since it’s the kickoff to our series, we had to go with The Roots!
TK: Are you focusing on a single era, i.e. 90s Roots on DGC, the heavy heady aughties Roots, or the post-Late Night Roots? All of it?
MM: As far as the focus of the night concerning their material, we will playing a little from almost every era of The Roots. They have such an extensive body of work that crosses over multiple era’s and because we only have one night we want to give a really cool snapshot of their lineage.
TK: How’d you connect with Mic Stew, and what will his involvement in the performance be? All the raps? Some of the raps? Any other guests in the mix?
MM: Mic Stew and our working relationship dates back to 2011. I met him while playing with a former band I was a part of. It was a no brainer that Mic had talent so when putting this show together my first option was Mic. He will be doing some heavy lifting throughout the night, handling most of Black Thought’s work. There might be some special guests involved on the night as well.
TK: Is this show a one-time-only event, or do you see it as a stepping stone for a series?
MM: This show will hopefully be the launching pad for a great series in Philly. I really see it being a beacon to where it can build and connect the up-and-coming artists of Philly together and build our ongoing connection to the people who appreciate music.
Ode to Omni and Mic Stew will launch the Homegrown series with a tribute to The Roots on Friday, July 29th. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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