Monday, January 1, 2018

The Chitlin Circuit

"The "Chitlin' Circuit," like "Tin Pan Alley" and "Motown" and other legendary music locations, is both a real and symbolic term for the on-and-off-again venues--shoebox-sized bars, clubs, cafes and increasingly in the 21st century, casinos-- that support traditional rhythm and blues in a tenuous but tenacious thread through America's mostly rural (or low-profile urban) Bible Belt." Daddy B. Nice

" A circuit of nightclubs and theaters that feature African-American performers and cater especially to African-American audiences.

When Jim Crow and segregation were even more prominent in the United States, the Negro race, freed through emancipation, did not have equal access to public “White Only” places. The Chitlin’ Circuit - a connected string of music venues, diners, juke joints, and theaters throughout the eastern and southern United States that catered primarily to African American audiences was created.

The Chitlin’ Circit was the only option for touring Black entertainers such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Ike and Tina Turner, B. B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, T.D. Bell and the Blues Specialists, Roosevelt "Gray Ghost" Williams, Eubie Blake, Robert Shaw, Big Joe Williams and many others begin touring in an effort to “eek” out a living when Jim Crow and segregation was even more prominent in the United States.

Historically, Baltimore was the first city on the Chitlin' Circuit. The Chitlin’ Circuit stretched through the South, bending Westward throughout Texas, extending Eastward on through Chicago, offering continuous opportunities for black entertainers." Urban Dictionary

"The "Chitlin' Circuit" is the collective name given to the string of performance venues throughout the eastern and southern United States that were safe and acceptable for African-American musicians, comedians, and other entertainers to perform in during the age of racial segregation in the United States (from at least the early 19th century through the 1960s) as well as the venues that contemporary African American soul and blues performers, especially in the South, continue to appear at regularly. The name derives from the soul food item chitterlings (stewed pig intestines) and is also a play on the term "Borscht belt" which referred to a group of venues (primarily in New York's Catskill Mountains) popular with Jewish performers during the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Noted theaters on the Chitlin' Circuit included the Royal Peacock in Atlanta; the Carver Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama; the Cotton Club, Small's Paradise and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre in Chicago; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.; the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia; the Royal Theatre in Baltimore; the Fox Theatre in Detroit; the Victory Grill in Austin, Texas; the Hippodrome Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida; and The Madame C. J. Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis.

The second historic marker designated by the Mississippi Blues Commission on the Mississippi Blues Trail was placed in front of the Southern Whispers Restaurant on Nelson Street in Greenville, Mississippi, a stop on the Chitlin' Circuit in the early days of the blues. The marker commemorates the importance of this site in the history of the development of the blues in Mississippi. In the 1940s and 1950s, this historic strip drew crowds to the flourishing club scene to hear Delta blues, big band jump blues and jazz." wikipedia

Much love to Wikipedia on this project, they have saved enormous amounts of time for me and most of what I've found so far is pretty informative and reasonably accurate. Believe me, I'll cheerfully point out where they got it wrong and do my own writing where necessary but the point of an encyclopedia is a place to cite information from and in this function they have been invaluable. On the music side I am deeply indebted to "Unky Cliff" for a huge portion of what appears here and for the books I am educating myself with as well. My morning discussions with him will often filter into the blog. The files here that do not come from actual rips or itunes, likely originated on other blogs through the years, thanks to all of them as well, your generosity to me is being passed on.  kc 

Shares and Requests

Here is a place to drop both your own shares and requests for shares in a central place everyone can check - you know how this works by now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Luther Allison - South Side Safari 1982

This appears to have been first released in 1979 as Gonna Be a Live One in Here Tonight!. Comparing the two, I think this one sounds much better. A live date from 1979.

For reasons I can't fathom, AllMusic gives this only 2 stars while offering no review...I may have to fix that....

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fats Domino - Fats is Back!

A gift from the good Doctor!

A 1968 comeback album - this is the legendary album upon which James Booker actually plays all the piano.

Chuck Berry - The Definitive Collection Remastered-2006

RIP Chuck Berry

I think everyone needs a Chuck collection: this one works for me.

Jesse Belvin - The Blues Balladeer

  Jesse Lorenzo Belvin was born on 15 December 1932, in Texarkana, Texas. When he was five, his family moved to Los Angeles. In 1950, he joined the vocal quartet behind saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, Three Dots and a Dash. Two years later he joined Specialty Records. His fourth record, "Dream Girl," by Jesse & Marvin (Marvin Phillips, saxophone) reached #2 on the R&B charts in 1953. Belvin was then drafted into the army. While on leave he wrote "Earth Angel," which became a hit for The Penguins, selling a million copies in 1954-55.

Throughout the following years, Belvin would switch record labels several times and record under a variety of names. His biggest hit was "Goodnight My Love", which reached #7 on the R&B chart. The song was, for years, the closing theme for Alan Freed's rock & roll radio show.

 In 1958 Belvin recorded "You Cheated" with The Shields. The record reached #15 on the US pop charts. Inspired by his manager (and wife), Jo Ann, he signed with RCA Records in 1959, and scored a Top 40 hit with "Guess Who." Belvin acquired the nickname "Mr. Easy", and RCA began making him into a potential crossover star for white audiences, similar to Nat "King" Cole or Sam Cooke.

In 1960, Belvin was set to release Mr. Easy, on which he covered songs like "Blues in the Night", "In the Still of the Night", and "Makin' Whoopee." Belvin would never see its release.

On 6 February 1960, Belvin performed a show in Little Rock, Arkansas on the same bill as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and Marv Johnson. The show was Little Rock's first with an integrated audience; Belvin reportedly received at least six death threats prior to the concert. Belvin rarely called home from the road, and never more than once a month. But he phoned his mother twice in the three days preceeding the concert, each time worried about the hostile receptions he received. The show had to be stopped twice because of whites shouting racial slurs and urging the white teenagers present to leave. It was while leaving Little Rock (less than four hours after the performances) that Belvin and his wife were involved in a head-on automobile crash.

Jesse Belvin and his driver both died at the scene. Belvin was 27. Jo Ann Belvin succumbed to her injuries at Hope Hospital; she was 23. According to Fuller Up: The Dead Musician Directory, one of the first state troopers on the accident scene stated that both of the rear tires on Belvin's black Cadillac had been "obviously tampered with." No other details were offered. The scorched earth on the highway at the accident site in Hope is supposedly still visible.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Albert Collins - Frostbite (1980) & Live '92 - '93 (1995)

Albert Collins (October 1, 1932 – November 24, 1993) was an American electric guitarist and singer with a distinctive guitar style. Collins was noted for his powerful playing and his use of altered tunings and capo. His long association with the Fender Telecaster led to the title "The Master of the Telecaster". (Wiki)

Albert Collins was a wonderful funky blues guitarist and  vocalist in the Texas tradition of  tough, flamboyant Blues players - He has an immediately recognizable and unique musical style and personality...His hard attack and snappy guitar style was a big influence on Robert Cray and Coco Montoya amongst others.. I consider him one of the Greats

Here are 2 great albums ...some years apart - ''Frostbite' was his second release on the Alligator label from 1980 whilst 'Live '92 - '93' on Pointblank, comes from his final years before succumbing to cancer in November 1993 aged 61. Enjoy 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

James Cotton - Best of the Verve Years

AllMusic Review by

Taken from the high-energy harpist's first three albums for Verve following his split from Muddy Waters (including the entirety of his fine eponymous 1967 debut), this 20-track anthology is a fine spot to begin any serious Cotton collection. In those days, Cotton was into soul as well as blues -- witness his raucous versions of "Knock on Wood" and "Turn on Your Lovelight," backed by a large horn complement. Compiler Dick Shurman has chose judiciously from his uneven pair of Verve follow-ups, making for a very consistent compilation.

James Cotton - 1963,1967 - 3 Harp Boogie

AllMusic Review by

The music on this set is actually all right; it gets a low rating because of its odd patchwork assembly. Five of the tracks come from a 1963 acoustic session recorded at an apartment on the South Side, featuring Elvin Bishop on guitar, Cotton on vocals and harmonica, Paul Butterfield on harmonica, and Billy Boy Arnold on harmonica (hence the title 3 Harp Boogie). The other four selections are taken from his 1967 Verve album James Cotton Blues Band, available in its entirety on the Best of the Verve Years compilation. That means you probably only want this for the rarer acoustic cuts, which are good, but short value for a CD purchase, unless you're a very big Cotton fan.

James Cotton - Vanguard sessions

Artist Biography by Bill Dahl

"At his high-energy, 1970s peak as a bandleader, James Cotton was a bouncing, sweaty, whirling dervish of a bluesman, roaring his vocals and all but sucking the reeds right out of his defenseless little harmonicas with his prodigious lung power. Due to throat problems, Cotton's vocals are no longer what they used to be, but he remains a masterful instrumentalist. Cotton had some gargantuan shoes to fill when he stepped into Little Walter's slot as Muddy Waters' harp ace in 1954, but for the next dozen years, the young Mississippian filled the integral role beside Chicago's blues king with power and precision. Of course, Cotton had been preparing for such a career move for a long time, having learned how to wail on harp from none other than Sonny Boy Williamson himself.

Cotton was only a child when he first heard Williamson's fabled radio broadcasts for King Biscuit Time over KFFA out of Helena, Arkansas. So sure was Cotton of his future that he ended up moving into Williamson's home at age nine, soaking up the intricacies of blues harpdom from one of its reigning masters. Six years later, Cotton was ready to unleash a sound of his own.

Gigging with area notables Joe Willie Wilkins and Willie Nix, Cotton built a sterling reputation around West Memphis, following in his mentor's footsteps by landing his own radio show in 1952 over KWEM. Sam Phillips, whose Sun label was still a fledgling operation, invited Cotton to record for him, and two singles commenced: "Straighten Up Baby" in 1953 and "Cotton Crop Blues" the next year. Legend has it Cotton played drums instead of harp on the first platter.

When Waters rolled through Memphis minus his latest harpist (Junior Wells), Cotton hired on with the legend and went to Chicago. Unfortunately for the youngster, Chess Records insisted on using Little Walter on the great majority of Waters' waxings until 1958, when Cotton blew behind Waters on "She's Nineteen Years Old" and "Close to You." At Cotton's suggestion, Waters had added an Ann Cole tune called "Got My Mojo Working" to his repertoire. Walter played on Muddy Waters' first studio crack at it, but that's Cotton wailing on the definitive 1960 reading (cut live at the Newport Jazz Festival).

By 1966, Cotton was primed to make it on his own. Waxings for Vanguard, Prestige, and Loma preceded his official full-length album debut for Verve Records in 1967. His own unit then included fleet-fingered guitarist Luther Tucker and hard-hitting drummer Sam Lay. Throwing a touch of soul into his eponymous debut set, Cotton ventured into the burgeoning blues-rock field as he remained with Verve through the end of the decade...."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sound Stage 7 Soul Story

A re-post by request - I had forgotten all about this 2 disc compilation (the earlier SS7 collection was only one disc). More proof that John Richbourg had some great taste.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Very Best of Johnny Guitar Watson

Once again this is a Request rerun but just to spice it up I've added 4 more of JGW's earliest tracks including the original 'Gangster of Love'.

Long, long before he exploded back into the public eye in the mid 70's as the Gangsta of Love and became a heavyweight on the funk scene, {'Gangsta' itself was a 20 year old song when it became a hit}, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson was one of the early architects of R & B and Rock n Roll. His early songs are so good and the guitar (and piano) lines so stunning that it is mystifying that he is not hailed in the same breath with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the like.

Just listen to Space Guitar (track 1) and then realize that this is freaking 1954! A Bad Dude!!! This Rhino collection spotlights those earliest sides that were still labeled Blues for lack of a better term but what you hear is a genius with a clear vision of where he was going with his amazing and unique sound.

"John Watson, Jr. was born in Houston, Texas. His father John Sr. was a pianist, and taught his son the instrument. But young Watson was immediately attracted to the sound of the guitar, in particular the electric guitar as played by T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

His grandfather, a preacher, was also musical. "My grandfather used to sing while he'd play guitar in church, man," Watson reflected many years later. When Johnny was 11, his grandfather offered to give him a guitar if, and only if, the boy didn't play any of the "devil's music". Watson agreed, but "that was the first thing I did."  A musical prodigy, Watson played with Texas bluesmen Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland. His parents separated in 1950, when he was 15. His mother moved to Los Angeles, and took Johnny with her.

In his new city, Watson won several local talent shows. This led to his employment, while still a teenager, with jump blues-style bands such as Chuck Higgins's Mellotones and Amos Milburn. He worked as a vocalist, pianist, and guitarist. He quickly made a name for himself in the African-American juke joints of the West Coast, where he first recorded for Federal Records in 1952. He was billed as Young John Watson until 1954. That year, he saw the Joan Crawford film Johnny Guitar, and a new stage name was born.

He affected a swaggering, yet humorous personality, indulging a taste for flashy clothes and wild showmanship on stage. His "attacking" style of playing, without a plectrum, resulted in him often needing to change the strings on his guitar once or twice a show, because he "stressified on them" so much, as he put it.

Watson's ferocious "Space Guitar" album of 1954 pioneered guitar feedback and reverb. Watson would later influence a subsequent generation of guitarists. His song "Gangster of Love" was first released on Keen Records in 1957. It did not appear in the charts at the time, but was later re-recorded and became a hit in 1978, becoming Watson's "most famous song".

He toured and recorded with his friend Larry Williams, as well as Little Richard, Don and Dewey, The Olympics, Johnny Otis and, in the mid-1970s with David Axelrod. He also played with Sam Cooke, Herb Alpert and George Duke. But as the popularity of blues declined and the era of soul music dawned in the 1960s, Watson transformed himself from southern blues singer with pompadour into urban soul singer in a pimp hat. His new style was emphatic - the gold teeth, broad-brimmed hats, flashy suits, fashionable outsized sunglasses and ostentatious jewelry made him one of the most colorful figures in the West Coast funk scene.

He modified his music accordingly. His albums Ain't That a Bitch (from which the successful singles "Superman Lover" and "I Need It" were taken) and Real Mother For Ya were landmark recordings of 1970s funk. "Telephone Bill", from the 1980 album Love Jones, featured Watson rapping.

In his book Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke (2005), Peter Guralnick claimed that Watson was an actual pimp, as well as dressing like one as a performer. Watson himself, however, reportedly felt "ambivalent" about prostituting women, even though it "paid better" than music.

The shooting death of his friend Larry Williams in 1980 and other personal setbacks led to Watson briefly withdrawing from the spotlight in the 1980s. "I got caught up with the wrong people doing the wrong things", he was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The release of his album Bow Wow in 1994 brought Watson more visibility and chart success than he had ever known. The album received a Grammy Award nomination.

In a 1994 interview with David Ritz for liner notes to The Funk Anthology, Watson was asked if his 1980 song "Telephone Bill" anticipated rap music. "Anticipated?" Watson replied. "I damn well invented it!... And I wasn't the only one. Talking rhyming lyrics to a groove is something you'd hear in the clubs everywhere from Macon to Memphis. Man, talking has always been the name of the game. When I sing, I'm talking in melody. When I play, I'm talking with my guitar. I may be talking trash, baby, but I'm talking".

In 1995, he was given a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation in a presentation and performance ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium. In February 1995, Watson was interviewed by Tomcat Mahoney for his Brooklyn, New York-based blues radio show The Other Half. Watson discussed at length his influences and those he had influenced, referencing Guitar Slim, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He made a special guest appearance on Bo Diddley's 1996 album A Man Amongst Men, playing vocoder on the track "I Can't Stand It" and singing on the track "Bo Diddley Is Crazy".

His music was sampled by Redman (who based his "Sooperman Luva" saga on Watson's "Superman Lover" song), Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre borrowed P-Funk's adaptation of Watson's catchphrase "Bow Wow Wow yippi-yo yippi-yay" for Snoop's hit "What's My Name".

"Johnny was always aware of what was going on around him", recalled Susan Maier Watson (later to become the musician's wife) in an interview printed in the liner notes to the album The Very Best of Johnny 'Guitar' Watson. "He was proud that he could change with the times and not get stuck in the past".

Watson died of a myocardial infarction on May 17, 1996, while on tour in Yokohama, Japan. According to eyewitness reports, he collapsed in mid guitar solo. His last words were "ain't that a bitch", probably in reference to the song "Ain't that a Bitch". His remains were brought home for interment at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Watson, a recognized master of the Fender Stratocaster guitar, has been compared to Jimi Hendrix and allegedly became irritated when asked about this comparison, supposedly stating: "I used to play the guitar standing on my hands. I had a 150-foot cord and I could get on top of the auditorium – those things Jimi Hendrix was doing, I started that shit."

Frank Zappa stated that "Watson's 1956 song Three Hours Past Midnight inspired me to become a guitarist". Watson contributed to Zappa's albums One Size Fits All (1975), Them or Us (1984), Thing-Fish (1984) and Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention (1985). Zappa also named "Three Hours Past Midnight" his favorite record in a 1979 interview.

Steve Miller not only did a cover of "Gangster of Love", he made a couple of references to it in his 1969 song "Space Cowboy" ("Some call me the a gangster of love"; "Is your name "Stevie 'Guitar' Miller?") as well as in his 1973 hit song "The Joker" ("Some call me the gangster of love"). Miller also covered "The Gangster Is Back", on his 1971 album Rock Love.

Jimmie Vaughan, brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan, is quoted as saying: "When my brother Stevie and I were growing up in Dallas, we idolized very few guitarists. We were highly selective and highly critical. Johnny 'Guitar' Watson was at the top of the list, along with Freddie, Albert and B.B. King. He made magic."

Bobby Womack said: "Music-wise, he was the most dangerous gunslinger out there. Even when others made a lot of noise in the charts – I'm thinking of Sly Stone or George Clinton – you know they'd studied Johnny's stage style and listened very carefully to Johnny's grooves."

Etta James stated, in an interview at the 2006 Rochester Jazz Festival: "Johnny 'Guitar' Watson... Just one of my favorite singers of all time. I first met him when we were both on the road with Johnny Otis in the '50s, when I was a teenager. We traveled the country in a car together so I would hear him sing every night. His singing style was the one I took on when I was 17 – people used to call me the female Johnny 'Guitar' Watson and him the male Etta James... He knew what the blues was all about..."

Etta James is also quoted as saying: "I got everything from Johnny... He was my main model... My whole ballad style comes from my imitating Johnny's style... He was the baddest and the best... Johnny Guitar Watson was not just a guitarist: the man was a master musician. He could call out charts; he could write a beautiful melody or a nasty groove at the drop of a hat; he could lay on the harmonies and he could come up with a whole sound. They call Elvis the King; but the sure-enough King was Johnny 'Guitar' Watson." wiki & others

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Gill Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson - From South Africa to South Carolina

Funny how when you listen to Gill you realize we are already back to the 70's and regressing swiftly with each executive order!

"The collaboration between Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson was now a formal one, as they were issuing albums as a team. This was their second duo project to make the pop charts, and it included anti-nuclear and anti-apartheid themes, plus less political, more autobiographical/reflective material like "Summer of '42," "Beginnings (The First Minute of a New Day)," and "Fell Together." Scott-Heron was now a campus and movement hero, and Jackson's production and arranging savvy helped make his albums as arresting musically as they were lyrically."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gil Scott-Heron/Brian Jackson - Winter In America

Winter in America is a studio album by American vocalist Gil Scott-Heron and keyboardist Brian Jackson, released in May 1974 on Strata-East Records. They recorded the album during September to October 1973 at D&B Sound Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland. While Jackson's piano-based arrangements were rooted in jazz and the blues, their stripped-down production for the album resulted in a reliance on more traditional African and R&B sounds. The subject matter on Winter in America deals with the African-American community and inner city in the 1970s.
The album serves as Scott-Heron's and Jackson's debut release for Strata-East Records, following a dispute with their former label and departure. It proved to be their sole release for the independent jazz label. Upon its release, Winter in America featured limited distribution in the United States and quickly became rare in print. However, with promotional help from its only single "The Bottle", it obtained considerably larger commercial success than Scott-Heron's and Jackson's previous work. The album debuted at number six on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart and ultimately sold over 300,000 copies in the United States.
While it was critically overlooked upon its release, Winter in America earned retrospective acclaim from several writers and music critics as Scott-Heron's and Jackson's greatest work together. Along with its critical recognition, it has been noted by several critics for its influence on derivative music forms such as neo soul and hip hop music, as many artists of the genres have been influenced by Scott-Heron's and Jackson's lyrical and musical approach on the album. On March 10, 1998, Winter in America was reissued on compact disc for the first time in the United States through Scott-Heron's Rumal-Gia Records.

Friday, February 10, 2017

King Biscuit Boy with The Meters and Allen Toussaint

I had just about forgotten about this record until I saw Blue Dragon post a couple later KBB records. Those were posted at the request of Rivercityslim and I'm betting he will enjoy this one as well.

This album was done in 1974, right around the same time as Rejuvenation.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gil Scott-Heron - The First Minute of a New Day

As I recall, this was the first GSH album that I ever bought.

Goodbye Mr. Charlie

RIP Mr. Charlie Sims, former proprietor of Donna's (a music club), a fine cook, and an even better man. Spending time with Charlie was always a worthwhile thing - we'd drink and have a smoke and swap stories and laugh...I'll miss you Charlie.

That's Charlie in the center, Tom McDermott to the left, I recognize the other gentleman, but don't know his name. Tom posted this photo on FB, couldn't resist throwing some love Mr Charlie's way from here too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Gill Scott-Heron The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I think it best that I not go on any overt political rant.....I'm just bringing on a Gil Scott-Heron storm and I'll let the sage speak for me...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sugar Pie DeSanto - Go Go Power (w. suppliments)

Another repost by request:

Sugar Pie DeSanto (born Umpeliya Marsema Balinton, Oct 16, 1935) was a Fillmore girl back when that tag used to mean something, back when San Francisco still had a soul and it was centered in The Fillmore. Her 2 years junior cousin, Etta James, was a Fillmore girl too; she hung out and sang with 'Peliya's' little sister.

Post war, the Fillmore was probably the most culturally and racially diverse neighborhood in America. That both girls should come from mixed parentage  was not particularly unusual in this neighborhood; Sugar's father was Filipino, Etta's father was unknown (unless you buy her mother's Minnesota Fats story).

The neighborhood was jumping and alive with multi-ethnic businesses, and it was the heart of the Black entertainment district as well. Charles Sullivan was the Mayor of Fillmore Street and his Majestic Ballroom was rechristened The Fillmore Auditorium in 1952. Bird, Sammy, Billie, Redd Fox, Moms Mabley, everyone came to The Fillmore. Music clubs like Bop City, The Blue Mirror, and New Orleans Swing Club were places to make the scene. On the weekends and at smaller venues there were talent contests and these were usually haunted by Johnny Otis, always on the hunt for new talent.

In 1954 Otis first found younger cousin Etta at such an event and later the same year he discovered 19 year old Umpeylia at some other event and he signed her too, giving her the name 'Little Miss Sugar Pie'. At 4 foot 11inches and 90 pounds the name fits the package (DeSanto is a later addition by a disc jockey). Unfortunately, Sugar Pie performs only sporadically with Otis' small groups (not the Revue, Etta sang there), Otis records a few sides on her for Federal without much success.

After a couple of years with Johnny Otis, Sugar Pie moves on as a solo singer. She is too much a class act to say it herself, but I would suggest that during  this period Otis was just too focused on Etta, to Sugar's detriment. Bob Geddins steps in in 1957 and they have a sustained success (eventually Billboard R&B #4 after being leased to Chess) with 'I Want to Know', on which they share songwriter credit. Sugar Pie parlays the tours on her hit and her explosively acrobatic stage act into a slot with the James Brown Revue for 1959-60 and then moves to Chicago, signing with Chess, where.... Etta had signed the year before.

Despite making around 30 credible to fabulous sides in her 5 years at Chess, she is always under used and under promoted, once again in Etta's unintentional shadow. Peylia makes ends meet by exploiting a skill her cousin lacked, songwriting. In her tenure at Chess, songwriting royalties and live performances are what paid the bills. The killer stuff you hear on this set got little notice and less promotion, most of it was outright shelved.

In 1964 the American Folk Blues Festival tour took Sugar Pie to Europe, where she was the only female artist, a distinction given to only one female act per year. Other artists included Willie Dixon, John Henry Barbee, Sleepy John Estes, Clifton James, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Lightnin Hopkins and Sonny Boy Williamson. DeSanto's legendary live act rocked the house every show.

Near the end of her tenure at Chess, DeSanto and James were finally recorded together on 4 or 5 songs written by Sugar Pie - one hopes it was an attempt to give her some overdue recognition - it didn't work and by the end of the 60's Sugar Pie had left both Chess and Chicago to return to San Francisco.

For the last 30 years she has been a Bay Area fixture, sometimes called the Blues Queen of SF, but she sings all genres and played in many diverse settings - a pro singer and prolific songwriter who seems to have a little wave of popularity every decade or so.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Chess Soul

Another repost by request:

"While Chess made numerous legendary contributions to the fields of blues and rock & roll, its reputation as a major mover and shaker in the soul field from 1961 to 1971 is unassailed. This 2-CD, 45-track compilation is another excellent entry in the Chess 50th Anniversary Series and shows why the label had the Windy City almost sewn up when it came to brand-name artists and material. Whether the tracks were master purchases from a smaller Chicago or Southern label (Jan Bradley's "Mama Didn't Lie," Cookie and the Cupcakes' "I've Been So Lonely," the Kolettes' "Who's That Girl?," Big Maybelle's "Don't Pass Me By" or Denise LaSalle's "A Love Reputation") or in-house productions from Billy Davis and Leonard Caston, next to Stax or Atlantic, no one stood for soul music in the 1960s like Chess Records. Featuring the label's strong hitmakers and soul shouters Etta James (the devastating "Only Time Will Tell"), Billy Stewart (the scat classic "Summertime"), Fontella Bass ("Rescue Me"), Gene Chandler ("I Fooled You This Time"), Mitty Collier ("I'm Satisfied") and Sugar Pie DeSanto ("Soulful Dress") alongside isolated moments of Chi-Town brilliance (the Radiants' "Voice Your Choice," the Knight Brothers' "Temptation 'Bout to Get Me" and Tony Clarke's "The Entertainer") with early Muscle Shoals productions thrown in to give the big picture (Laura Lee's "Dirty Man," Maurice and Mac's "You Left the Water Running"), this is one very potent two-disc anthology and an essential addition to anyone's soul collection." by Cub Koda

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Overcome!: Preaching in Rhythm and Funk/Sanctified Soul and Holy House

A re post by request...

 OVERCOME, subtitled PREACHING IN RHYTHM & FUNK, is a fine set of raw and gritty gospel by a variety of modern gospel artists. But this these aren't the reserved hyms of your typical Sunday service; the songs here bump, grind, and get down in the name of the Lord. Germany's Trikont is one of the most exciting record labels on the planet. They are certainly among the most eclectic, issuing compilations of everything from field recordings of music in Vietnamese street markets to hillbilly music, German music in Texas to killer gospel, blues, and klezmer music. All packages are handsomely done with well-detailed liner notes in German and English. What's more, these records are available from many sources on the internet and in stores -- though they may have to be special ordered. They don't carry import prices, either. The first volume of Overcome! Preaching in Rhythm and Funk features familiar names and some only hardcore gospel geeks will be familiar with, but no matter: the music is all certifiably killer. First there's the moaning, groaning, punch-drunk gospel of Rev. Cleophus Robinson. A well-known gospel singer in that circle lays out his sermon-style singing by bringing the blues in deep in his moan on "Morning and Evening." Next up is the early Staple Sisters with a snare drum and Roebuck "Pops" Staples' snaky guitar doing "Going Away," which sounds more like a John Lee Hooker boogie than a gospel tune until the vocals kick in. Mavis and Cleotha, Pervis and Pops drive the beat and the message home with a seductive bluesy funk. And speaking of the funk, it is impossible to forget the Campbell Bros. With Katie Jackson's "I Feel Good," driving the sexy vocal into the greasy with their pedal steel guitars choogling through an off-tempo backbeat and a bassline that comes out of Motown's Funk Bros. But the best cut on a compilation that also includes Prince Dixon, the Crownseekers, Rev. Julius Cheeks, Sensational Harmonizers, the Gospel Hummingbirds is by the Reverend James Overstreet. "Prayer, I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord" is a sermon in the great Southern Baptist tradition with a full choir clapping and chanting their assent to Overstreet's growling preaching while playing the hell out the blues on an electric guitar accompanied by washboards and a drum kit's bass drum from his sons. This sounds as if Overstreet is playing the "Devil's Music" as a way of stealing it from Satan and giving it to the Lord. And the man can play the guitar like Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. This is one of the most exciting, soul-drenched, deeply grooved gospel collections ever issued. ~ Thom Jurek

The Kelly Brothers - Gospel Recordings: 1957-1969

A re post of Preslives files:

Let me join KC in the Sunday festivities today.

Before crossing over into secular music, the Kelly Brothers developed a strong reputation on the gospel programs.  While avi issued a great full CD in 1996 of the Kelly Brothers' secular recordings for Excello from the 1960s, CD releases of their gospel sides have been limited to just a handful of tracks on various compilations.  So it was left for Opal Lee Nations to release a full 28-track collection of the Kelly Brothers' gospel legacy on his underground Pewburner label.   Like most releases on Pewburner, the sound quality (remastering) is not optimal, although in this case I find it quite listenable.  Here are the Kelly Brothers on Creed, Federal, and Nashboro, mostly from the late 50s and early 60s.

The Kelly Brothers proper consist of the brothers Andrew, Robert, and Curtis Kelly.  However, the primary lead singers for the group were not relatives: Offe Reese and T.C. Charles Lee.   The group was first formed in the late 40s with Offe Reese, and T.C. Lee joined later in 1955.

There are quite a number of moving performances here, including the Kelly Brothers' biggest hit from 1961: "He's the Same Today."   Enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

T-Bone Walker

A repost by request: 
 To anyone with a more than a passing knowledge of the music being discussed here the magnitude of dealing with T-Bone can't be lost on you. If we are to accept his personal mythology that extends back to himself and Charlie Christian playing on the street as early Teens with himself as the primary innovator. His certainty that no-one records on electric guitar before himself. (Les Paul, Tiny Grimes and George Barnes were never on his map)....then clearly I have been a complete idiot for not starting this blog with the words "In The Beginning There Was T-Bone Walker"....Obviously I didn't go there!

All that taken into account it would still be impossible to deny that Walker influenced damn near everybody in one way or another.

Once again I had the giant Mosaic collection to distill here. I can promise you that approaching him via that avenue would leave most ears numb. This time my benefactor Cliff provided both the dilemma and the solution with two earlier compilations from Charley and Blue Note that provide solid foundation and enjoyable listening both.

As I did with Amos Milburn and Charles Brown, I have followed the format of the Charly and Blue Note compilations but I used the superior Mosaic remasters as source.

"T-Bone Walker, nė Aaron Thibeaux Walker was born in Linden, Texas, of African American and Cherokee descent. Walker's parents, Movelia Jimerson and Rance Walker, were both musicians. His stepfather, Marco Washington, taught him to play the guitar, ukulele, banjo, violin, mandolin, and piano.

Early in the 1900s, the teenage Walker learned his craft among the street-strolling string bands of Dallas. His mother and stepfather (a member of the Dallas String Band) were musicians, and family friend Blind Lemon Jefferson sometimes joined the family for dinner. Walker left school at age 10, and by 15, he was a professional performer on the blues circuit. Initially, he was Jefferson's protégé and would guide him around town for his gigs. In 1929, Walker made his recording debut with a single for Columbia Records, "Wichita Falls Blues"/"Trinity River Blues," billed as Oak Cliff T-Bone. Oak Cliff was the community he lived in at the time and T-Bone a corruption of his middle name. Pianist Douglas Fernell was his musical partner for the record.

Walker married Vida Lee in 1935; the couple had three children. By age 25 Walker was working and the clubs in Los Angeles' Central Avenue, sometimes as the featured singer and guitarist with Les Hite's orchestra.

By 1942, with his second album release, Walker's new-found musical maturity and ability had advanced to the point that Rolling Stone claimed that he "shocked everyone" with his newly developed distinctive sound upon the release of his first single "Mean Old World", on the Capitol Records label. Much of his output was recorded from 1946–1948 on Black & White Records, including his most famous song, 1947's "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)". Other notable songs he recorded during this period were "Bobby Sox Blues" (a #3 R&B hit in 1946), and "West Side Baby" (#8 on the R&B singles charts in 1948).

Throughout his career Walker worked with top notch musicians, including trumpeter Teddy Buckner, pianist Lloyd Glenn, Billy Hadnott (bass), and tenor saxophonist Jack McVea.

Following his work with Black & White, he recorded from 1950-54 for Imperial Records (backed by Dave Bartholomew). Walker's only record in the next five years was T-Bone Blues, recorded over three widely separated sessions in 1955, 1956 and 1959, and finally released by Atlantic Records in 1960.

By the early 1960s, Walker's career had slowed down, in spite of a hyped appearance at the American Folk Blues Festival in 1962 with Memphis Slim and prolific writer and musician Willie Dixon, among others. However, several critically acclaimed albums followed, such as I Want a Little Girl (recorded for Delmark Records in 1968). Walker recorded in his last years, from 1968–1975, for Robin Hemingway's Jitney Jane Songs music publishing company, and he won a Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1971 for Good Feelin', while signed by Polydor Records, produced by Hemingway, followed by another album produced by Hemingway; Walker's Fly Walker Airlines which was released in 1973. T-Bone Walker at the American Folk Blues Festival in Hamburg, March 1972

Persistent stomach woes and a 1974 stroke slowed Walker's career down to a crawl. He died of bronchial pneumonia following another stroke in March 1975, at the age of 64. Walker was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.