By R. Caitlin Gibson
Lester Seal first performed at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion over nine years ago, and returned August 7 for Fridays After Five in downtown Charlottesville with his band, Lester Seal and the Lands of Ainur. As they took their places and struck the first notes to David Bowie’s song “Fame,” those in the audience were fast on their feet, dancing and smiling in front of the velvet and flower-dressed platform with little children squealing and chasing rogue balloons. Everyone was delighted in the affable atmosphere.
You may have seen Lester running around the small village of Crozet, greeting you as you go by, immersed in a game of chess at the Mudhouse, singing and playing guitar, or painting on the side of the road, living a lifestyle that is as unique and diverse as the music he creates. His musical style is as equally broad and spectacular in the way he blends soul, jazz, funk and rock with a Caribbean vibe. Lester’s lyrics encourage beauty of the heart with a simplicity and love inspired by the quiet hum of the Blue Ridge Valley and the exotic terrain of Costa Rica.
As the audience listened to his songs, they learned the struggles and realizations of Lester’s journey, which echo their own contemplations and obstacles. Likewise, the band members contributed their own experience to the music, interweaving it with such gusto that when the melodies rained down, they were filled with an energy that provoked them to get up and move, or even paint, as the artist Chicho Lorenzo expressed himself during the show, onstage with the band.
At the end of the performance, Lester Seal joined the audience in a mass group hug. At that moment, you were not just enjoying a performance, but were a part of something bigger; you were a part of a family, sharing in an experience that left us thirsty for more.
Quench that desire by catching his funk and jazz-infused Caribbean sound on September 12 for the “WTJU Levitt Amp Concert Series” at The IX Art Park in downtown Charlottesville.