Blues, soul, and R&B fans eagerly await the arrival of Belgian performing artists N8N (Nathan Ambach) and Boogie Boy (Paul Ambach), in New York City for a weekend of shows at Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson’s Sugar Bar and Restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
EMI recording artist N8N will kick off his NYC debut on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 8 PM to perform songs from his new release, Lost Soul, which has become a sensation in Europe. Boogie Boy, will return to the stage of the Sugar Bar on Saturday, June 19th at 8 PM after last year’s sold out Sugar Performance performance and a performance in Monaco for Prince Albert of Monaco, and Prince Edward from England. Both Boogie Boy and N8N will join forces with an all-star soul and R&B band led by Dennis Williams, music director for The O’Jays.
New York City is the home for several thousand Belgian expatriates who have come to know N8N and Boogie Boy over the years. N8N and Boogie Boy’s performances in both Belgian and Europe, coupled with their recent television series, Boogie Wonderland have made them household names in both Belgium and Europe.
According to Sugar Bar General Manager, Steve Abreu, “We welcome N8N, Boogie Boy, and the many Belgians who will be in NYC on June 18 and June 19 to the Sugar Bar (www.sugarbarnyc.com). We expect two sold out nights of soul, R&B, and blues entertainment coupled with great Belgian beer, including Stella Artois and Leffe and a complete menu of delicious food. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 212-579-0222….we are honored to have two of Belgian’s greatest performers, Boogie Boy once again and N8N for his New York City debut.
EMI recording artist N8N (pronounced ‘Nathan’ - ‘N-eight-N’) grew up in a family that reveres music and has contributed to the rich legacy of musical culture in Europe for over 20 years. As a kid Nathan got to watch legends such as Ray Charles, James Brown, B.B King, Bill Withers, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Michael Jackson perform up-close.
N8N started playing the drums when he was 6 years old and DJing at the age of 13. But it all came together when he picked up a microphone at age 16 and hasn’t stopped singing sould and R&B ever since. As a leader, he has been able to blend together his passion for performing with his love for the soul music of his childhood and the hip-hop and rock records of his youth.
In 2008, N8N teamed up with Daniel Romeo, a renowned Italian/Belgian producer and bass player to begin work on his own signature project of funky soul music and good vibes. N8N calls it ‘Raw Soul’ - where the ‘Raw’ stands for his bluesy voice and crispy production.
His just released debut album ‘(Who Is He?)’ was recorded with top notch musicians (Toots Thielemans, Amp Fiddler, Daniel Romeo, Eric Legnini, Leendert Haaksma (guitar player from Anouk), DJ Grazzhoppa…) . The infectious debut record features N8N singing about all kinds of things happening in his everyday life: from love, to breaking up and a lot of partying. All the songs on ‘(Who Is He?)’ were written by N8N and friends, and includes a collaboration with Amp Fiddler on 2 songs, including the title track '(Who Is He?)'. & a remix by dutch soul remixers Kraak & Smaak.
Live N8N & RAW SOUL will be performed with an amazing 7-piece band and DJ! N8N enjoys a solid live reputation, performing at several clubs and festivals including Ronnie Scott’s (LDN), Blue Note festival (BE), Lokerse Feesten (BE) and The Hague Jazz (NL). N8N has shared the stage for jams with Macy Gray, Nile Rodgers, Incognito amongst others. As a DJ he has played alongside the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mark Ronson, DJ Premier, Kraak & Smaak and many more. www.N8N.be
About Boogie Boy
After changing the landscape of live concerts in Belgium, Paul “Boogie Boy” Ambach steps down from Live Nation – and onto the stage
Paul brought Belgium Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and innumerable other bands who would not otherwise have found their way to Belgium. It was Paul Ambach who put Belgium on the map of major concert tours. So impressive was his portfolio, that, in 2001, he was able to sell it all off to Live Nation.
Forty years after Ambach, 61, started life as one of the country’s very first professional concert promoters, he’s stepping down. Or rather, he’s stepping onto the stage to spend more time as his alter ego – Boogie Boy.
Music is in fact a thread that works through the Ambach family: in 1900, Ambach’s grandfather, a piano tuner and Klezmer musician, travelled through Poland playing weddings, celebrations and bar mitzvahs. During the Second World War, his father survived the holocaust by singing as a tenor in the Lyon opera house. In June, 2010 Paul’s son Nathan (N8N) will release his debut album in EMI , while daughter Marilyn continues as a gifted composer.
“I have always been into the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and blues,” says Ambach. “But when I heard Ray Charles for the first time on the radio – the 1958 ‘Live at Newport’ concert – I knew that that was the music I wanted to play.”
It was at Antwerp University, where he earned a translation degree, that Ambach started playing music and staged his first concerts. Inspired by American concert promoter Bill Graham’s “Blues at the University” concept, Ambach invited John Lee Hooker to Antwerp. “It was a huge success,” he says, “and followed by Muddy Waters, Freddie King and Buddy Miles. Because Hooker came solo to Antwerp, Ambach “put together a backing band, with me playing the piano – I also accompanied Muddy Waters and BB King. Boogie Boy was born.”
In 1970, when the Beatles announced their break up and The Who were recording Live at Leeds, Ambach launched GEMco, a concert promotions company. “The word ‘promoter’ didn’t even exist at the time,” he smiles.
GEMco’s first show was a James Brown double concert, at the Deurne Arena in the afternoon, followed by a late show in Brussels’ Vorst-Nationaal. “But the big bang came in 1973,” says Ambach, “when the Rolling Stones had to cancel their Paris shows [due to Keith Richards’s conviction for drug possession]. We organised three shows in Brussels and Antwerp – my entry to live rock ‘n’ roll.” After that breakthrough, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Genesis, Supertramp and a wealth of other big bands came to Belgium courtesy of Ambach.
Later that same year, Ambach teamed up with a swimming pal, Michel Perl, to launch promotions company Make it Happen. “I was the traditional promoter, with a personable attitude towards the artists, and Michel was a fierce negotiator – so we made a strong team.”
In those days, says Ambach, a concert promoter “was the 24/7 companion of the stars, taking care of them. Those were really privileged moments, the time I spent with these big acts, from Robert Plant to Mick Jagger. They’d all say ‘Hello Paul!’”
Ambach cites the Frank Sinatra show at Vorst in 1975 as the highlight of his career. “We didn’t have the money, but Sinatra’s management was very cooperative – he was the world’s most wanted artist.”
From backstage to onstage
As the company evolved, so did Ambach’s blues career. The name Boogie Boy was inspired by the Blues Brothers; he replaced “blues” by “boogie” (also a 12-bar type of music). Ambach toured Europe with BB King and played stages from London’s Ronnie Scott’s to the Hague’s North Sea Jazz Festival. “I have always been the artist close to the audience – without an agent, manager or marketing – exactly the opposite of what other people in show business do,” notes Ambach. “But I speak ‘music’ and negotiate in six languages.”
Ambach plays about 10 shows per month during the summer. “I never went into organising summer festivals myself; I preferred playing with the Kinks at Werchter!” he laughs.
In 2001, 30 years after Paul Ambach pioneered the concerts business, Make it Happen was sold to multinational SFX, which later became Clear Channel and Live Nation, together a concert promotions empire. “I had the feeling that the whole concert business was becoming very industrialised,” Ambach says, “very professional but without the personal touch. It was no longer so much about people as about money and settlements. A new era was coming, and I decided to jump on the train.”
Though he stayed at Live Nation as a consultant until just last month. “Now I want to have some time off for my family and keep Boogie Boy on track, follow the path I took with the My Tribute to Ray Charles DVD. I want to be available for the audience, for the concerts…back to basics!”
With “The Boogie Boy Show”, Ambach pays honour to legends like Ray Charles and BB King. Besides having a booming voice that sounds like it was born in New Orleans rather than Flanders (and caused Fats Domino to nickname him “Little Ray”, after Ambach’s mentor, Ray Charles, he pounds the piano with the energy of a 20-year-old. When Ambach roars “Let the good times roll!”, they do.
Boogie Boy will play at festivals across Belgium this summer and in the United States this summer. Check out wws.boogieboy.be the website for his upcoming shows
For more information:
Ralph J. Alterbaum
New York, New York