July 11, 2006

Tough Fluff



"Tough Guy" (Oropeza-Theriot-Jackson)
Kathy Savoy, Instant 3273, 1965


Today we address this bit of New Orleans pop fluff from Ms Kathy Savoy, a/k/a Cathy Savoy, or Kathy Savoie [see update below*], about whom I’d found out next to nothing over the years since I first heard this side on the Bandy LP compilation, Love You New Orleans. I later came across the single, too, which seems to have been her only release. While it’s not typical of the stuff I feature here, it is a fairly rare, and, I think, tasty piece of aural cotton candy. Besides, posting it gives me a chance to talk some about Earl Stanley.

“Tough Guy” was written by two of the same team that brought the world “Pass the Hatchet”, Earl Stanley (whose actual name was Earl Stanislaus Oropeza) and his partner, Ray Theriot. Oscar Jackson, who is unknown to me, is also given writer’s credit on Savoy’s single. Stanley, a mainstay guitarist and bassist in New Orleans back then, and Theriot were partners in Thunder Recording, a small New Orleans studio and production company where Stanley and his revolving band, the Stereos, recorded their own material and backed up many mostly unknown singers who didn’t have connections and wanted to cut a record on the cheap. The producers either released one-off singles for them, or leased the sessions to other local labels. That’s how “Pass The Hatchet”, the legendary 1965 record and subject of much cult-worship, got onto Joe Banashak’s Seven B. As well, Savoy’s project, the ballad “Let This Love Of Ours Begin” (same writers) b/w the hooky pop of “Tough Guy”, probably came to Banashak’s Instant label through a similar process that same year. While it may be empty calories, there’s some good musical energy and a nice, simple arrangement on our featured side, somewhat reminiscent to me of the Newbeats’ “Bread and Butter” (and maybe Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” a bit) from the same era. Savoy’s vocal is decent but unexceptional, like the single itself, I suppose, which seems to have gone nowhere in short order. [Note 7/20/2006: I've learned from the singer herself that she was only 15 when she recorded this single. So, her lack of vocal dynamics is due to inexperience. Still, there's an innocent charm to her voice that's appealing.]

For more insights about Earl Stanley’s long career, read
Micheal Hurtt’s fine Offbeat piece on him. It reveals that Stanley’s record business model was that there’s no telling what will be a hit, so to up the odds of scoring one, release lots of product, which he and his partner tried to do, good and bad, much of it on the fly, just to see what might take off The busy bandleader and side musician continued to do some production work for Banashak later in the 1960’s on sides by Art Sir Van, Lenny McDaniel, Skip Easterling, and possibly Lee Bates. Aside from his success on Eddie Powers’ now forgotten hit, “Gypsy Woman Told Me”, on Sims in 1964, none of his other songwriting or production ventures took flight; although, I would hope that the latter day recognition of “Pass The Hatchet” and it’s use in several film soundtracks and on CD compilations have brought him and his associates a few royalty checks for their efforts.

The only reference to other possible players on Savoy’s single is a mention I found by Stanley that drummer Wayne Tschantz worked with him on the sessions. As for Savoy herself, other than a listing as a background singer on some of Johnny Adams’ sides for Senator Jones in the 1970’s, there’s nothing more to tell. If you know anything about her, please drop me a line.


* Update: 7/18/2006 - An anonymous commenter has supplied this information: I just saw her sing as a walk-on guest in a Metairie lounge a couple times this past week. She also sings with a group called the Wise Guys. . .and has sung backup on Benny Grunch's "12 Yats of Christmas" CD series.

So, I pulled the Grunch CD from my archives and found her listed there as one of the vocalists, her name shown as Kathy Savoie. With that spelling of her name I was able to find her bio and photo on the Wiseguys website. It gives a pretty good rundown of her long singing career. Of importance to this post is her recollection that "Tough Guy" was cut at Cosimo's studio on Governor Nichols, rather than at Earl Stanley's place.

Now, I've got to try to find that LP she did with Wayne Chance backed up by Skor. I happen to have a late 1970's Skor single that I've never listened to (well, I've got a lot of singles, what can I say). I'll have to go grab it now, though I doubt she'd be on it. I am so glad to finally find out more about Ms Savoie (Savoy) and learn that she is still active in music. I will try to contact her through that website. Again, thanks to the unknown Metairie lounge hanger who sent me the leads!

11 Comments:

Blogger mandinga*do*som said...

precious music here !
thanks for sharing

10:20 AM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger Jessy said...

Music keeps the first place in my life. I enjoyed your blog (seriuosly) and i understand that perhaps at this moment self promotion is bad and may seem superficial, but nevertheless i cannot resist the temptation of inviting you over to my blog to take a look at one thingie and to say what you think. thanks in advance :-)

7:42 AM, July 14, 2006  
Blogger The DoorKeeper said...

Nice Track. Is it just me or does that Piano owe something to The Boy From New York City by the Ad Libs?

or is it vice-versa? hmm, the Ad-Libs was released december 64 - intriguing ...

5:29 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

I'd say Stanley and friends were 'inspired' by pop sounds of the day on this one, part of a long tradition of recycling riffs, structure, or even melodies in popular music. I don't think this tune got enough exposure to have been influential.

7:56 PM, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw her sing as a walk-on guest in a Metairie lounge a couple times this past week. She also sings with a group called the Wise Guys, a singer named Johnny Vindigni, and has sung backup on Benny Grunch's "12 Yats of Christmas" CD series.

10:46 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

OK. Good work! Thanks, anon. Pulled that Benny Grunch CD and, sure enough, there she is, name spelled Kathy Savoie. That Vindigni cat is on it, too. I am not familiar with him; but a quick search shows him as a member of a band called Blue Eyed Soul as of several years ago.

Anyway, with the corrected spelling of ther name plus your info, I found a bio for Ms Savoie (Savoy) with a photo at the Wise Guys website. I will link to it on my post. I'll also correct the post, as she says in her bio that she recorded 'Tough Guy' at Cosimo's, not Earl's studio.

Glad to hear she is still active in music. Appreciate the help. Feel free to contact me any time with updates, corrections, a way to contact the artist, etc.

12:41 AM, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous here again. Blue Eyed Soul is a Houma-based band that has backed Ernie K-Doe in live settings (and are featured on his last CD single recorded live at Jazzfest: "Children of the World" b/w "White Boy, Black Boy"). They play in the New Orleans area occasionally, and I have seen them back swamp-poppers Johnnie Allan (now mostly retired) and Tommy McLain at a Gramercy club several years ago. The main guys are Michael Vice, who has played sax in Fats' band, and Pershing Wells, who was one of the main forces behind Joe Barry's comeback album on Tuff City Records, "Been Down That Muddy Road." See Web site http://www.pershingwells.com/blue_eyed_soul_revue.htm. Ejoy your Web site. I can be reached at lakeviewkid (at) hotmail.dot.com

3:47 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Hey, you're getting less anonymous all the time! Thanks for the additional information. Now that you mention it, I think I did see K-Doe with Blue Eyed Soul at Jazz Fest.

By the way, I did manage to contact Kathy Savoie, who wrote me back, shocked to see her single again after all these years. Hope to maybe get some more details from her at some point.

11:12 AM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Wayne Tschantz's neice and I know Kathy Savoie very well. My uncle played music all over New Orleans as did my grandfather and now cousins and brothers now. Kathy is a wonderful singer and still has a great fan base around New Orleans. My uncle however, passed about 20 years ago but he has been on several records. I know neither of them were world wide know but they are both two wonderful musicans.

2:57 PM, May 03, 2010  
Anonymous WAYNE said...

HI DAN,I STUMBLED ACROSS THIS SITE ,VERY INTERESTING.MY NAME IS WAYNE TSCHANTZ(CHANCE).SON OF THE GREAT NEW ORLEANS DRUMMER WAYNE TSCHANTZ,SR.I'M 45 YEARS OLD AND I'VE BEEN PLAYIN DRUMS FOR OVER 30 YEARS.I STARTED WITH MY DAD'S BANDS ALL OVER THE CITY WHEN I WAS JUST 14.I NOW LIVE IN BREAUX BRIDGE,La. WHERE I'M PLAYIN IN A FEW PROJECTS.GROWING UP AROUND MY FATHER AND BEING ABLE TO PLAY ALONG SIDE OF SOME LOUISIANA GREATS,LIKE FRANKIE FORD,JERRY LEE LEWIS,KATHY SAVOIE,EARL STANLEY,AND MANY OTHERS I WAS AND STILL AM TRULY BLESSED.EVEN THOUGH I LOST MY FATHER ON MY 21st BIRTHDAY,THE LIFETIME OF MUSIC EXPERIENCE & KNOWLEDGE WILL BE WITH ME FOR A LIFE TIME.IF YOU ARE INTERESTED I HAVE PHOTOS & RECORDS OF MY DAD.MY EMAIL:WAYNETSCHANTZ@ROCKETMAIL.COM

5:53 PM, July 08, 2012  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Hi, Wayne, sorry for the delay in getting your comment up. I simply spaced on doing it! Thanks for checking in and for the info. I'll send you an email. We're almost neighbors. I don't live far from Breaux Bridge Highway.

4:27 PM, July 12, 2012  

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