We first met charismatic Philly crooner Zeek Burse a couple years back when he lent his vocal talents to a Key Studio Session by transglobal house music outfit Worldtown Soundsystem. That crew, as we observed at the time, very much operates like a family, and Burse carries the same spirit over to his own ensemble — a seven-piece rock band that brings a bounty of energy to its monthly engagements at South Philly rhythm and blues institution Warmdaddy’s, as well as to Zeek’s 2017 record XXII…and this week’s Key Studio Session.
Burse is a engaging performer, a dynamic singer and a gifted interpreter of songs; a recent gig saw him tackling songs by Prince (his self-professed number-one influence), Gnarls Barley and Imagine Dragons. Those Warmdaddy’s shows mix in a fair amount of covers, but his own material is impeccably strong. XXII is funky and fun, filled with hooks, grooves, and unexpected sonic turns — there’s room to dance and room to meditate.
Joining Burse in this performance is drummer Jordan McCree (of Ill Doots fame) and guitarist Sonni Shine (of The Underwater Sounds), as well as guitarist Sam Borrello (also of Ill Doots), bassist Scott Ziegler and backing vocalists Fatima Ama, Stephanie Oliver and Stephan Burse — Zeek’s brother. What did I say about family? Burse likes to tell crowds at his shows about how he and Stephan grew up singing in a church, and even as their tastes grew more adventurous, their craft is rooted in that discipline. You hear it in this performance: Zeek and the band are on point and well-practiced, but excitedly adventurous, and rooted in emotion. Feelings of betrayal on “22” juxtapose feelings of devotion on “Dry,” while “Broke Man” unpacks economic inequality versus societal expectations and “Bleu” spins a sinister narrative about lust.
Listen to the entire set below, via Soundcloud, and watch a video of the opening “22 / Dry” medley, care of VuHaus. Zeek Burse and the band return to Warmdaddy’s this Friday, October 13th, and Saturday, October 14th for two sets each night. Get tickets and more information on the shows here.
The Key Studio Sessions, Zeek Burse