It’s rare when you find a singing group with as much soul and Soul as the First Men of Promise. The local performers — appearing at the Rogue Festival under the name “Rockin’ the Rogue Part Two” — offer a foot-tapping, spirit-lifting show that has only one problem. It’s way too short at 40 minutes.
The group — half of which look old enough to be around when the tunes they perform were originally released in the ‘60s and ‘70s — includes (according to the group’s Facebook page) Reverend George Kayajanian, Reverend Lee Pointer, Reverend Paul Irwin, Reverend Sergio Gaytan, Reverend Robert Paul, Deacon Tom Sabatino, Chad Kayaajanian Lindsay, Harry Hill, Stacey Dominguez, Ron Shapazian, Dr. Breck A. Harris, Eddie Guardado and Zack Serano.
The group performs classic rock and blues tunes with a gospel twist. They’re able to insert just enough of a religious message to make the material suitable for their musical ministry. It’s done with such skill, you might be convinced that the musical numbers are being performed as originally written.
One of the best examples is how they’ve taken the tune “Feelin’ Alright” — made famous by a JC (Joe Cocker) — and given it a different kind of JC (Jesus Christ) message. The original song is performed with the same zeal and musical fervor as Cocker’s version, but the First Men of Promise bring a religious passion that eclipses anything the rocker did.
Another Cocker tune, “Unchain My Heart,” takes on a whole new meaning with this group. The same goes for a spiritually uplifting version of Scotty Wiseman’s “Have I told You Lately That I Love You.”
First Men of Promise is back at this year’s Rogue by popular demand. If their other shows this year are as good as their opener, there will be a Part Three. How could you not have a band back that uses as much cowbell as they do?
Details: 4 p.m. March 2, 6:30 p.m. March 7, 2:45 p.m. March 8. Veni Vidi Vici. $5.