When Detroit’s nerdy neo-soulman Mayer Hawthorne announced Friday at New Orleans’s Voodoo festival that he and his band were about to play “the greatest song of all time,” one might have expected something by, say, Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson. But instead, Hawthorne and company graced the Pepsi Stage audience with a feelgood, seemingly completely sincere rendition of the classic Family Ties theme, “Without Us.”
Judging by how spectators reacted, it appeared they agreed with Hawthorne’s glowing assessment of the ’80s sitcom singalong. This was understandable, of course, considering how smoothly and sweetly Hawthorne slipped into the song’s Johnny Mathis role, with his backup singer serving some Deniece Williams realness. Sha la la la, indeed.
The Grammy-nominated Hawthorne, aka Andrew Cohen, kept the retro party vibes going throughout his afternoon set, not just with his own Motown-inspired vintage grooves, but with two other unexpected cover tunes: Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and another beloved ’80s favorite, Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” (Sadly, he didn’t keep the Family Ties motif going with a cover of Billy Vera & The Beaters’ “At This Moment,” but maybe he can play that at Voodoo 2017.)
Tune in all weekend for Yahoo Music’s Voodoo Music + Arts Experience live stream at yahoo.com/voodoo.