October 31, 2005

Spooky Nonsense

Pretty scary

"Younka Chounka, Part 1" (Allen Toussaint)
Al Fayard with the Stokes, c. 1964

At least he dog won't change your interest rate

On my radio show in Memphis, I used to do a Halloween special every year, pulling out all sorts of New Orleans music with “scary” subjects: hoodoo, voodoo, magic, nightmares, devils. etc. I usually included "Younka Chounka", too. Al Fayard is the vocalist on this obscure and seemingly never released track. At least, I can’t find any evidence of it on 45. He was a member of the Stokes, a band that Allen Toussaint formed in Houston around 1963 while stationed there as a draftee. Toussaint, with the Stokes, who were, I believe, fellow enlisted men, recorded a bunch of his instrumental compositions, trying to make another hit like “Java”. These were released on Joe Banashak’s Alon label in the 1964-1965 era. The most well-known was “Whipped Cream”, which was covered by and became a hit for Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass. That version also became the theme song for “The Dating Game” on TV.

I am a sucker for New Orleans novelty tunes, especially ones with nonsense lyrics. I found this one on a Charly LP called Tou-Sans-Souci, from at least 20 years back, which is a collection of Toussaint’s early to mid-1960’s tunes, mostly with the Stokes. “Younka Chounka, Part1”, with its strange chorus and lyrics about some vaguely described, fearsome creature encountered on a dark street that turns out to be listening to rock and roll on a transistor radio (this was way pre-iPod), makes for a trifecta in my book: a novelty tune with some nonsense lyrics that’s suitable for Halloween. Not even Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns, New Orleans’ premier novelty group, had one of those.

Not much is known about Fayard. The listing of the Stokes’ personnel in Jeff Hannusch’s I Hear You Knockin', shows Aldo Vennari as the drummer, and Fayard as percussionist; but the Charly album shows Fayard as the drummer on these sessions, which were cut in Texas. Besides his work as part of the band, he had one Alon release in his name, the funky “Doin’ Sumpin’ (Parts 1 & 2)” – we’ll get back to that one later - plus this unissued mystery track. In all likelihood, the other Stokes were backing him up. Toussaint wrote and arranged this tune and , I’m sure, ran the nice piano solo. Part 2 is really the same as Part 1, but with different background vocals.

Hope y’all have fun this All Hallows Eve; and don’t forget that Tuesday, November 1, is La Toussaint, All Saints Day. How’s that for a tie-in and closer?

Even scarier

October 28, 2005

Rejuvenation in New Orleans

I was heartened today to get my first weekly e-mail newsletter from Offbeat magazine since before Katrina. The publisher, Jan Ramsey, and her husband are attempting to get this fine publication, dedicated to New Orleans music and culture, going again. Their main office still cannot be used; but they are trying to get out a December issue with a drastically reduced staff, and have finally mailed out their September issue, which was printed but had not shipped when Katrina hit. They are soliciting new subscribers and allowing current subscribers to become lifetime subscribers for a mere $200.00. I urge you to support this magazine at some level!!! Their beneficial effect on the New Orleans music community and its fans over the years cannot be underestimated.

Also in their newsletter, I read with delight that the Louisiana Music Factory will re-open its store this Monday, October 31st (their web sales have been back up for a while). This is a treat, after Katrina's trick bag. I hope to be there. This store has also been a vital resource to musicians and lovers of New Orleans music, with its extensive stock of local and regional music (and lots of vinyl upstairs!), weekly in-store performances, books, DVDs, sheet music, etc. The store sustained little or no damage in the storm, as it is located in the French Quarter. Support these fine people, too, as they restart their lives and the life of the city. Buy something already!

As a matter of fact, support any New Orleans-based enterpise you come across by doing business with them. The ecomomic health of the city is on life support right now - and requires continuous transfusions of cash to survive.

My wife took the following photo on Freret St. in the Uptown area last Saturday, the 22nd, when we were in New Orleans to collect our daughter's belongings from the dorm room she had to evacuate before school even started. We also visited friends and spent some money. This shot depicts the current state of parading in the Crescent City: refrigerators lined up in the street or on curbs everywhere, a spooky, stinky second line of cast-offs that most definitely are fonky. Our friends have been meeting with their Mardi Gras krewe (a subset of Krewe du Vieux), planning for Carnival season, which should be one to remember. Hope is in the air, along with some lingering stench, of course, and a lot of dust from the post-hurricane drought.

An aggregation of refrigerators half blocking Freret St on a cool Fall day

October 27, 2005

Irma and Big Q

"She's Taken My Part" (Adams-Savoy-Hamilton),
Irma Thomas, Cotillion, 1971

This is the last of my replays from October, 2004, the first month of HOTG. As before, I have revised the commentary.

Ahh, I love this b-side, “She’s Taken My Part”, one of the funkiest numbers
Irma Thomas has done in her illustrious career. As with the Ted Taylor track I posted last week, this song was produced and arranged by Wardell Quezergue, a frequent person of interest here in the past year, if you care to research that. It was written by Michael Adams, Albert Savoy, and Larry Hamilton, New Orelans writers who, in various combinations, wrote tunes recorded by other Quezergue artists such as the Barons, King Floyd and Jean Knight. Hamilton also recorded a number of his own funky tunes during this era and in 1997 for Allen Toussaint’s NYNO label.

Irma cut this record at Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS during the time that the producer was overseeing sessions there for Floyd, Knight and many other artists. Quezergue’s simple, precisely syncopated arrangements and deft touch produced hits, “Groove Me” for Floyd and “Mr. Big Stuff” for Knight. Atlantic's Cotillion subsidiary released “Full Time Woman” b/w “She’s Taken My Part” in late 1971. The A-side was a lushly orchestrated ballad that had Irma’s sturdy, earthy vocal as its saving grace. Would that she had worked more with “Big Q” along the lines of this flip side, however. I don’t really know why that didn’t happen. While he was hot, they could have made more singles together and maybe scored a winner; but the failure of this single to chart quickly cooled the label's enthusiasm for Irma, and she did nothing else for them. 

As it turned out, none of her spotty 1970’s output went much of anywhere; either; and her recording career did not revive until Rounder Records ushered in her comeback during the 1980’s.

Again, here is a classic Quezergue production. I particularly dig the hesitation built into the song’s central doubled bass and guitar riff, that perpetual tension and release pushing and pulling the rhythm along like a spring. Irma’s vocal runs from raw and hurt to intimate and smooth, and back again, getting the most out of the lyrics. The only known CD comps of this song are Tuff City’s
Wardell Quezegue’s Funky Funky New Orleans and two CD collection of their own re-releases, Night Train To New Orleans.

As I pointed out the first time around, I’ve heard Irma live many times in the last 25 years or so; and she often puts an obscure, seldom heard song or two from back in the day into her sets. I’ve never heard her do this one, though. But, there’s always next time. . . .

Irma on a Casual Friday

October 24, 2005

Ted Gets It With Wardell's Help

"Somebody's Gettin' It" (Chico Jones, Clarence Colter, Don Davis)
Ted Taylor, Alarm 112A, 1976

This record caught my eye for two reasons. The first and biggest hook was not the artist, Ted Taylor, but the “Producer & Arranger: Wardell Quezergue” on the label. That’s always a promising sign for me, as regular readers and/or those who search within this blog or hit the links (hint, hint) will see that Mr. Quezergue has played a prominent role in the development of New Orleans artists and music from the mid-1960’s though the 1970’s. A gifted composer and arranger, he is able to take the elements of the city’s funky pulse and infuse them into many of his productions, even when outside New Orleans and using players not brought up in the heady polyrhythmic, street parade atmosphere of the Home of the Groove. His work at Malaco studios in Jackson, MS is a perfect example of his ability to transform and influence the sound of a talented, hip studio band and label.

The second hook on the 45 label for “Somebody’s Getting’ It” b/w “Steal Away” is that Alarm is shown to have been based in Shreveport, LA, which has had a rich musical history (think Louisiana Hayride, the Jewell-Paula-Ronn labels, and artists like James Burton and Dale Hawkins, to name just a few examples) that included
some obscure and impressive soul from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. As I am always looking for soul and funk from parts of Louisiana outside of New Orleans, this 45 looked tempting for that, plus it had the New Orleans connection, too.

I confess I am not very familiar with
Ted Taylor, other than having a few singles by him and some of his early Ebb sides on a CD comp. He had a smooth high tenor range and could move effortlessly into his trademark falsetto. Originally from Oklahoma, he got his start in gospel. The group he was singing with got signed to Modern as a rock and roll group in the 1950’s and became the Cadets (a/k/a the Jacks); but Taylor left them to go solo before they hit and ended up on Ebb, a division of Specialty. He then signed with Duke, and became a soul artist in the 1960’s with hits such as the ballad “Be Ever Wonderful”. From there he recorded for a string of other labels before hooking up with Jewell and Ronn out of Shreveport in the mid-1960’s. He was with them for about eight years. By 1976, Taylor was with Alarm, which had relatively few artists, the most well-known of which were Reuben Bell and Eddie (Eddy) Giles. His work with Alarm seems to have been about it for Ted, besides a single in 1983 for Watts City.

From what little information I could find, “Somebody’s Getting’ It’ and it’s flip were recorded at Sound City Studios in Shreveport. Whoever the musicians were*, they laid down pure funk on this one. Quezergue’s arrangement of the tune is typical of his talent for setting up simple, interlocking parts that work together with a precision syncopated movement. Taylor’s vocal almost seems too light for the serious groove going down; but all in all I think it’s an effective track. Soul master Johnnie Taylor (no relation) also did a version of this song in 1976 for Columbia. I’ve only heard a snippet; but the backing certainly seems less intense than what this track has to offer.

You can find this tune and the more sedate b-side comped on the CD
Somebody’s Getting’ It, which reproduces Ted Taylor’s 1976 album for Alarm, plus some outtakes, I think. Having heard this single, I am looking for that album in hope of finding more tracks that Quezergue worked on[see update below].

*Update [2008]: From notes to the newly released CD, Sound City Soul Brothers, featuring the three major Alarm recording artists, Taylor, Bell and Giles, I have learned that Alarm regularly brought over the studio band from Malaco in Jackson, Misssissippi to record sessions at Sound City in Shreveport. So, Quezergue was working with familiar people and fine musicians. I briefly reviewed this CD on February 15, 2008. Highly recommended.

Ted Taylor

October 21, 2005

Home Is Where The Mystery Is

"I'm Going Home" (E. Bocage - T. Terry)
Betty Taylor, NOLA, 1964/5

We’ll send this out for all the New Orleanians venturing back to their home. It’s from another single that appears in the impressive Eddie Bo discography at soulgeneration. Bo(cage) co-wrote both sides, “I’m Going Home” b/w “You’re A Winner”, and likely produced them, though I’ve found nothing to back that up. His co-writer, T. Terry, was Theresa Terry, I discovered, but the name rang no bells at first. Then, I remembered that T. Terry also showed up on the writer’s credits with Bocage and Burmak (?) on Oliver Morgan’s single, “Who Shot The La La”. Looking further in the discography, I saw that, along with Bo and D(elores) Johnson (the name of his second wife and one of his songwriting aliases), Terry is co-writer on one of his Blue Jay singles, "Gotta Have More" b/w "Come To Me" from around the same time as our feature. But, there that trail turns cold. Nothing much about vocalist Betty Taylor or the recording session(s) is known, either.

[As I have since discovered and discussed in my 2008 post on Marie Boubarere, who recorded a live version of this song for Nola, Ms Taylor and Ms Boubarere were one and the same woman, whose actual name was Marie DuBarry. She recorded one known single under her own name for White Cliffs. What I still don't know is why she had those two aliases and what ever happened to her.]

“I’m Going Home” was released in 1964 or 1965 on the newly formed NOLA (New Orleans, LA) label. The single was directly preceded on NOLA by Eddie Bo’s “Everybody's Somebody's Fool” b/w “A Heap See”. Because the pair had back to back singles and Bo was one of the writers on Betty Taylor’s tunes, it’s probable that he had at least a hand in working with the singer. Bo’s association with NOLA was short-lived, as he only did that one for them before moving on to issue records under various of his own imprints, as well acting as producer, talent scout and artist for labels such as
Seven-B and Scram. Meanwhile, as far as I can tell, Ms Taylor never recorded again [under that name - see above].

While there is nothing exactly exceptional about this single, there’s nothing wrong with it either. The track has that laid back, popeye groove that so many records from the Crescent City had in the early to mid-1960’s. The drums have a casual, syncopated stumble to them that is so natural that you might miss it at first. Taylor displays a bluesy resignation to her vocal that well fits the song’s tale about a woman ready to leave her disrespecting man for her mama’s arms; and you can tell she is from New Orleans, when she says “burled beans” for “boiled beans”.

I first heard “I’m Going Home” on Night Train’s 1996 CD compilation New Orleans Popeye Party. Recently I ran across this copy among the many boxes of 45s I acquired this summer and am still sorting through. I prefer this side to the flip, because it sounds more like a New Orleans record. “You’re A Winner” is a bit more mainstream popish; and Taylor’s vocal doesn’t quite sell it. But the drums still have that same insouciant funk. All in all, this is a good little Bo-related record from one of the HOTG’s mystery artists.

October 18, 2005

And, if you're in Los Angeles this weekend. . .

. . .here's your your chance to check your bucket. Alexis at Little Pedro's in LA, CA has sent me this update on the Eddie Bo benefit shows there, featuring:

Hurricane survivor and New Orleans music legend
backed by an all-star 8-piece local band featuring members of
Breakestra, Macy Gray, Orgone, and Connie Price & the Keystones

Fri, Oct. 21:
DJs Jeremy Sole (Afro Funke), Egon (Stones Throw/Funky Sole), and Dennis
Owens (Good Foot/Space Is The Place)

Sat, Oct 22:
Mickey Champion
Critical Brass
DJs Eric Coleman and B+ (Mochilla/Firecracker/Keepin' Time) and DJ Nutz
(from Brazil)

$20 min. donation (100% of proceeds go to Eddie and his regular band,
who are displaced across the country)

8PM doors

Little Pedro's
901 E. 1st St.
Downtown LA, 90012
advance tickets available through
In Ticketing

---That Eddie is going to be a household name yet. Sounds like quite a party. Hope Alexis will send me some pics to put up.

October 17, 2005

Cyril's Single

"Gossip" (Leo Nocentelli)
Cyril Neville, Josie, 1969

Talk amongst yourselves

Cyril Neville celebrated his birthday with a few friends in Austin, his new abode, a few days back. So, I thought I’d put up his very collectable Josie single cut, “Gossip”, with backing from his brother Art and the Meters in 1969 and wish him well.

Departing from most other Josie singles associated with the Meters, this one just says that it was produced by Sansu Enterprises, rather than by Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn. In the Neville Brothers' autobiography, The Brothers Neville, Cyril says that the sessions for this single took place in Macon, GA where the Meters were recording at the time, and that Marshall Sehorn, Toussaint’s business partner, ran them. He drove Cyril up from New Orleans to try to record something on him and sign him as a solo artist, as suggested by Art. Although Cyril never signed on with Sansu, Sehorn did record him in Macon doing two of Leo Nocentelli’s songs, “Gossip” and “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind”, released as Josie single #1014 (my copy is a promo with “Gossip” on both sides). In fact, I think it is Cyril’s only solo single, as remarkable as that is.

Leo’s use of an electric sitar on this track certainly dates it; but the band’s strong signature funk, augmented by a well-fit horn arrangement, makes this rare track smoke. No wonder it's still sought after 36 years down the line. Cyril’s vocal has a fire to it that can’t be ignored; and his singing on the single’s flip is soulful, too. Although Art already wanted Cyril in the band as a vocalist, even at this early date there were tensions in the Meters that kept that from happening. Over the next few years, Cyril did session work with the band as percussionist and background singer; but he did not officially join the Meters until 1975, when Fire On The Bayou, was recorded. Soon thereafter the band started to unravel and had dissolved by 1977.

Of course, Cyril then went on to join his brothers, Art, Aaron, and Charles to form the Neville Brothers band that has been going for nearly 30 years now itself. On the side, he ran another funk band more slanted towards reggae and world music, The Uptown Allstars, and has released several solo CDs as well. But when the Meters re-grouped this year, Cyril was conspicuously absent.

While immensely talented, this once angry young man has carried his reputation as a firebrand far into adulthood. Much of the music he creates brandishes hard to miss socio-political messages. I believe I read that his T-shirt at the big benefit concert in New York said "Ethnic Cleansing In New Orleans" or words to that effect. While his truth speaking may be admirable, it can overshadow his true songwriting gifts, especially his love songs. Considering his strong opinions and vocals, one wonders what the Meters might have been like and done had Cyril joined earlier. Their final album, New Directions, probably is the best indication of that, with Cyril singing lead on and co-writing many of the tunes. A lot of Meters purists didn’t take well to Cyril having a more up front role; but I can’t help feeling that Art was onto something. . . .

------Forgot to mention that both sides of Cyril's Josie single can be found on the Rhino Neville Brothers retrospective CD series. "Gossip" appears on the double CD set Treacherous: A Historyy Of The Neville Brothers 1955-1985; and "Tell Me What's On Your Mind" is on Treacherous Too!. Fans of New Orleans music should have those CDs close at hand.

October 15, 2005

Now We're Talkin'

Thanks again to the Reaper for this heads up:

The Maple Leaf Bar is back open in Uptown New Orleans with music nightly. WWOZ has the Leaf's October schedule up, as their website is not updated.

Also, Snug Harbor re-opens this weekend with it's fine jazz bookings.

* * * * * * *

Meanwhile, French Quarter bar owners plan to defy the curfew and stay open all night. And Mardi Gras will roll.

Life really does go on. . . .

October 14, 2005

You Do Voodoo?

As some of you may already know, part of the annual Voodoo Music Experience that was supposed to take place in late October in New Orleans has been relocated to my former hometown, Memphis, TN. The festival has (sadly) nothing to do with actual voodoo (not that the many religious conservatives in Memphis will know that). Instead it features many current popular national bands of the day; and over the years has blended in some New Orleans music on the side. I've never been; but my daughter went last year and found it to be "too commercial" for her hip 20 year old sensibilities. Anyway, needless to say, this year the plans changed dramatically. Here's a quote from their site:

Originally scheduled for Halloween Weekend in New Orleans’ City Park, VOODOO MUSIC EXPERIENCE was displaced by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. While plans were in full swing to move forward with relocation to Memphis,community leaders in New Orleans approached festival producers about the opportunity to move the event back home for one of its two days, as a tribute event for relief workers. Festival organizers and Memphis representatives alike agreed this was an amazing opportunity to increase the scope of the event.

On their site, you'll also find the listings for who's playing at both parts of the event. Unless you had a ticket for the original Experience in New Orleans or aren't a relief worker, you can't get into the first part; but what interests me are the line-ups for the free shows in Memphis at various downtown venues from Thrusday, the 27th through Sunday, the 30th. Included are such New Orleans acts as Bonerama, Theresa Andersson, Rebecca Barry (jazz saxophonist and vocalist), Ivan Neville, Cyril Neville, the Neville Brothers, Papa Mali (well, he's been living in Austin for years, but his Louisiana roots still show), and Dr. John. Again those are free shows, so you might want to stop on by if you are in the area. And proceeds from the big Memphis concert on the 30th will go to benefit good causes.

By the way, I am still waiting for someone to put on a festival of actual voodoo music. That would be an experience.

October 13, 2005

Where Africa Meets Oompah (Replay)

The DDBB these days

"Do It Fluid" (Dirty Dozen)
Dirty Dozen Brass Band, from My Feet Can't Fail Me Now, Concord Jazz, 1984

Catch 'em live

If you’re just getting here, or just haven’t been paying attention (and who could blame you), I am featuring some replays of tunes I posted last October when HOTG was new and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, and most of you didn’t either. I have resived my comments somewhat from the earlier post in hope that they may make more sense.

My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now was the first LP for the
Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and was re-issused on CD around 1990. They are both out of print now; and more's the pity. I bought this very well-recorded LP a few years after it’s 1984 release on Concord Jazz. I never heard the CD or even saw a copy. As the LP was pretty hard to find, many people regard the DDBB's Rounder album/CD, Live: Mardi Gras in Montreux, from 1986 as their first; and it is one of their best, with full-tilt in-concert performances. But, as much as I love that record (it was my introduction the band), and their subsequent fine CDs, this Concord LP is special, because it was their first and is an absolutely great-sounding, insistently grooving example of the band fairly early in their career (they formed, more or less, around 1977). "Do It Fluid" (a title with new meaning, post-Katrina) shows what these young guys could do with their intense, accomplished musicianship and super-charged delivery. Note the consummate sousaphone/tuba work of Kirk Joseph (who is no longer with the group) on this track for a workshop in propulsive bass pumpin'; and marvel at the rhythmic interplay of the horns, all churning and burning along like pistons in some reved up monster engine, while the percussion itself is stripped down to just cowbell, snare rim, and cymbal syncopation until some snare head beats sneak back in around the three minute mark. So hip.

The Dirty Dozen helped revitalize the brass band tradition in New Orleans, which was dying out for lack of new blood and material. They threw out the rule book, got busy, and led way for all the other young bands to come with their adventurous repertoire, compositional skills, enormous energy, and monumental fonk.

Over the years the Dozen have changed from a "pure" brass band (brass and percussion), adding keyboards, guitar and, occasionally, trap drums to the killer horns;and they still have undeniable groove power. But I prefer the simpler instrumentation. At this year’s Jazzfest, I saw them do a great set in more or less their original configuration; and that confirmed it.

When African-Americans were introduced to brass marching band instruments in 19th centrury New Orleans, they did something remarkable with them over time, engendering no less than a new musical form, jazz, where, as Baby Dodds said, “every man in the band has his own rhythm to keep”, and improvisation is the norm. That's an extreme over-simplification of the process, for sure; but there's no way to neatly sum up the confluence of influences that became New Orleans music. My bias is for the visceral, syncopated, funk-infused second line grooves which arose in the streets of that humid, atmospheric, sub-sea level city through the marching, parading, and general struttin' of brass bands, Mardi Gras Indian gangs, and associated revelers. The repercussions linger to this day. Both jazz and funk were born in those streets, went separate ways at times and came back to intertwine again and again. To my mind, the music of the Home of the Groove is at its finest when those streams merge. Look no farther than the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the whole modern Crescent City brass band movement for the free-flowing evidence.

Thanks to the Reaper for sending along this link to the srream of a live DDBB set, if you want to get a taste of 'em live the night before Katrina came to town.

October 10, 2005

George Perkins' Real Deal

"What The Deal Is" (G. Perkins, D. Hyde, D. Mondebello)
George Perkins And His New Revue, GP, 197?

What it is is over

We return to Baton Rouge for another funked-up side, this time by George Perkins and his New Revue on his own GP label from the late 1970’s. Perkins, whose background was in gospel music, has had an interesting music career. He is likely best known for his 1970 hit, “Cryin’ In the Streets”, that he recorded with his former gospel group, The Silver Stars, backing him. Produced by Ebb Tide (a/k/a Ed Harrison), that record was first released locally in Baton Rogue on the Ebb Tide label, got a lot of airplay, and was picked up by Silver Fox (one of Shelby Singleton’s Nashville labels). With that push, “Cryin’ In The Streets” went national, getting up into the lower part of the pop Hot 100 charts and into the top 20 R&B. Perkins and his group did a lot of touring off that record and made an album to be issued on Silver Fox; but they never received royalties for the single and refused to give Singleton the album. Soon thereafter, the label owner went into bankruptcy, leaving Perkins holding the (empty) bag.

Perkins and the Silver Stars next released a single on the Golden label that he started with Ebb Tide; and then he struck out on his own, setting up Sound City production company and leasing several singles to the Soul Power label based in Shreveport. But none of these releases made money. By 1975 or so, he was working as an agent for Royal Shield Insurance Company and doing his music on the side. Because he helped his boss’ daughter, singer Cynthia Sheeler (who produced that
Brotherhood track I featured), with her music, her dad invested in a recording studio, started the Royal Shield label, and made Perkins a co-partner. Working in this partnership, Perkins and his band, Fir-Ya, released five or six singles through 1979. By 1982, he had the left the business to become a life insurance executive. Tuff City’s Night Train label has comped Perkins’ output on their Cryin’ In The Streets CD.*

My copy of “Keep On Trying” b/w “What The Deal Is” comes from this last segment of Perkins’ career in music. While the deep soul, somewhat jazzy “Keep On Trying” was supposed to be the plug side, DJs in New Orleans started playing the upbeat, funky “What The Deal Is” instead, inspiring Perkins to make succeeding records in the same mold, ballad on one side and funk on the other. Perkins band, Fir-Ya (here called his New Revue), basically created this tune. According to the Night Train CD notes, this exceptional rhythm section consisted of David Mondebello on keyboards, David Hyde on bass, Marsh Payne on guitar, and George Roselli (sic?) on drums. I believe that drummer is actually George Recile, like Hyde and Mondebello from Hammond, LA, who later played with John Mooney and Ivan Neville, among others, and has been a part of Bob Dylan’s touring band for the last few years. Mondebello and Hyde had an earlier soul/funk band,
Coffee, which re-formed in the late 1990’s. I met them once when they did a gig in Memphis (before I knew anything about this part of their history) and was impressed with their playing and their band.

Just listen to Recile (Roselli)’s slicing and dicing funk chops on this song and you’ll know why I think it’s the real deal. The track bubbles and cooks throughout as Perkins free associates around the twice repeated verse, shouting out brilliant nonsense like “I ain’t yo’ mutha”, “I ain’t no cookie man” and multiple variations on the title. Like he says, this one truly does get down with the get down.

* I have based what I've written here on Kevin Goins’ informative notes to the Night Train CD. The label deserves special commendation for their overview of George Perkins' career.

October 09, 2005

Another Benefit Of Note In NYC

I bought this t-shirt from the New Orleans Musicans Clinic people here in Lafayette

This notice came via the comments from Jason of Afroskull and keeper of The Funk Files

Music for the Movement

Friday, Oct 21st - 9:30pm
Featuring MIKE BLAXILL and
The Tank - 208 West 37th St (7th Ave)

Admission: $7
**All proceeds to the New Orleans Musicians Clinic

Presented by: Drinking Liberally, Music for America,
Democracy for NYC, Cosmopolity,
Citizen Action NY, New Democratic Majority,
ACT NY, Billionaires for Bush, Greene Dragon

Should be a funky good time for a worthy cause, y'all.

October 06, 2005

Turnin' and Burnin' (Replay)

"Wheel Of Fire" (Allen Toussaint)
Etta James, from Changes, T-Electric, 1980
Hear it on HOTG Internet Radio

Here’s another of my features from October, 2004, the frist month of HOTG. Again, I have revised what I wrote. I’ll have something “new”, but still old school, up later this weekend.

Allen Toussaint produced and arranged the decidedly funky album, Changes, for Etta James. As I recall, one of the the engineers on the sessions, Danny Jones, told me in an interview I did with him back in the 1990’s that the LP was recorded over a fairly long period of time [between 1978 and 1980]. Warner Bros started the project and then withdrew, followed by RCA in 1979,, before MCA’s T-Electric put it out in 1980. "Wheel of Fire" is one of four Toussaint compositions appearing on the disk. The atmospheric, sultry slow burn of the verses with a well-turned bridge build-up, and the fact that no one else seems to have done this Toussaint gem, are the reasons I originally picked it out.

Changes deserves to be reissued. Etta does soulful and gritty justice to not only the tunes by Toussaint (the others being “Don’t Stop”, “Night People”, and “With You In Mind”), but to those penned by Willie Hutch (the fonky “Mean Mother” and “Donkey”), Carol King (the title track), and obscure NOLA songwriter, Jimmy Jules, a/k/a Charlie Julien (another slow smoker, “Night By Night”). And, as with other recordings done at Sea-Saint during Toussaint's peak production years, the session players are among the HOTG's funky finest: Herman Ernest, III (drums); Tony Broussard (bass); Leo Nocentelli and Steve Hughes (guitar); Sam Henry, Robert Dabon and Toussaint (keyboards); and Ken "Afro" Williams on percussion. You might recognize Hughes, Dabon, and Williams as members of Chocolate Milk. On this cut, Toussaint is on the piano, Nocentelli on wah lead' [and an uncredited Johnny Vidacovich played drums on this an two other numbers, according to Jones, who I interviewed again in 2011].

I had been looking for this album for a while around Memphis back in late 1980’s with no luck. When I went back to New Orleans next, I stopped into one of my favorite vinyl haunts, Record Ron’s, on lower Decatur in the Quarter. As I was browsing the bins I heard Etta James' voice coming through the speakers, singing something decidedly funky. As the record cuts played on, she started in on “Night People”; and I went up and asked Ron if that was her Changes LP. He said, “Yeah, I pulled it out because a guy had called for it today and never showed up.” Whoever that guy was, sorry, I bought it on the spot – about ten bucks, I think, for the only copy in the store. Ron eventually had a couple of locations in the Quarter and one Uptown; but, sadly, he died in the 1990’s and the store stock, including his huge lunchbox collection, was sold off on eBay I heard.

I highly recommend your seeking this record out, too. You can still get a copy for around what I paid, looks like.

October 04, 2005

James Booker And The Lloyd Price Band (Replay)


"Ooh-Pee-Day" (James Booker)
The Lloyd Price Band with James Booker,
from This Is My Band, 1963


Hard to believe, but I started this blog on October 14, 2004. I’ve never thought too very far ahead on it; and now a year’s almost past. Recently, besides dodging hurricanes, I’ve been busy starting up a new small business; so I thought I’d save a little time and do a replay of a few of the posts I started off with a year ago, because I am sure many of you hadn’t discovered HOTG back then. If you have been with me since the beginning, please let me know how you’ve been able to tolerate it so long.

First up is a one cut from my first audio posting (two songs from the same LP), from October 18, 2004. I’ve updated and revised the background information.

"Ooh-Pee-Day" is taken from This Is My Band, a rare LP released in 1963 by the Lloyd Price Band on the Double L label, which was operated by Lloyd and his partner, Harold Logan. The organist for this session was none other than the late, eccentric New Orleans keyboard genius, James Booker. The LP is an all instrumental outing; and, incredibly, Booker is featured on four tracks as a soloist doing his own compositions, never recorded anywhere else, as far as I know. Beside our feature, they include "Number Four"; "Soulful Waltz"; and "Pan Setta".

James Booker made a string of earlier instrumental organ recordings for Peacock and Duke between 1960-1962, after doing one for Ace, “Teenage Rock”, in 1957. The most famous of these is his one 'hit', "Gonzo". I originally chose "Ooh-Pee-Day" to post because of it’s rarity, rather than for it’s almost cheesy Latin groove, sounding like a record my parents might have played at one of their cha-cha parties when I was a kid in the 1950’s. The song’s title even sounds like pig-Latin. Booker’s other tunes on the LP have a swing feel, so this one stands out from the pack. While the big band arrangement works well, there is nothing that overtly says “New Orleans” to you on this one; but since the prodigal prodigyBooker was in part a product of the city, and because Lloyd Price, himself a New Orleans native, retained other hometown talent in his band (though it was located in Los Angeles at the time), the selection safely resides in the Home of the Groove.

I first became aware of this LP in the late 1980's when
Emerson Able, a Memphis musician and educator, called me on my show and asked if I had heard it. When I told him I hadn't, he loaned me his well-worn copy. After that, I searched for years for the record, finally finding a copy in a little neighborhood used record store in Seattle, when I was visiting. It was worth the search for those Booker tracks. The rest of the album cuts, while fine performances, aren't particularly of interest to me. You may feel differently, should you choose to seek it out.

Those familiar with his work will note that Booker’s organ playing is much more subdued and straightforward than his flamboyant, multi-dimensional paino excursions. In fact, his organ playing, while fun ot hear, is about as straight as he ever got. If you haven't heard him on the piano, you are missing something truly remarkable, a mixture of dazzling expertise, humor, soul, and abandon that, at its best, is mind-blowing. I need to post some of that one of these days real soon . . .

Larry Grogan's overview of Booker's Duke and Peacock sides
Tuff City has a comp of Booker's 45s from 1954-1961

October 01, 2005

More useable news. . .

Benefits for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – let’s just call them Katrita – relief and for New Orleans musicians’ assistance continue around the country, some featuring NOLA musicians, visual artists and the like. I’ll just a list a couple that have been sent to me:

October 20, 21, 22, 23, 2005
Katrina Benefit Series featuring Eddie Bo and band, plus special
guests, such as Mickey Champion, at
Little Pedro’s
901 E. 1st St. (at Vignes)
Los Angeles, CA 90012

A Benefit For Musicians Displaced By Hurricane Katrina
featuring The Sadies, The Hidden Cameras, The Deadly Snakes
With DJ Will Munro & Surprise Guests
At The Silver Dollar, 486 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Canada
Saturday, October 8, 2005

Go to the
Tipitina’s Foundation for more listings, or you can do a search. If there is something in your area, or just some New Orleans band with a gig nearby, I encourage you to go, have fun and support those cats and causes. You know how bad the first storm was. Well, the second was very destructive from the central Louisiana coast region West into Texas. That has received much less press, probably due to the fortunate very low loss of life and to disaster burnout by the media. But many more are now homeless and jobless. It seems the official response above the local level is still cumbersome and clueless. It’s a bad scene, people.

Thanks to HOTG reader/listener and Eddie Bo fan Alexis Rivera of Little Pedro’s for getting that benefit together and letting me know about it. Wish I could be there, but jet-setting is not in the budget at present. And thanks to the
Deadly Snakes for sending me the Rise benefit notice
and organizing the event.

waxpoetics magazine has feature articles on the Meters and some other fine artists like Sharon Jones in their latest issue, which I need to see if I can find this weekend.