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Category Archives: Soul

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Jazz Fest 2011 - Jimmy Buffett by Gordon Robinette

So, this week the came the official and announcement of the 2011 Jazz Fest poster. The poster is a highly sought after commodity for many music consessieurs and collectors. Both the subjects and the artists vary through the years since the poster advertising the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1975. The great Louis Prima was immortalized by the great Tony Bennett last year — a true collectors’ item on several levels.

Louis Prima 2010 - Tony Bennett

Probably the most identifiable and beloved Jazz Fest posters were done by James Michalopoulos. He uses the splendid French Quarter architecture as a backdrop for several New Orleans legends who have been mainstays of Jazz Fest and of New Orleans music. The series of Dr. John, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint all convey exactly what Jazz Fest is about and the greats that have made IT great.

Dr. John, Louis "Satchemo" Armstrong, Fats Domino, Allen Touissaint

And then there’s the great Cajun artist, George Rodrigue, of Blue Dog fame — and recent savior of the Youngsville Heritage Oak. Rodrigue combines his iconical dark oak tree and ever-popular blue dog to immortalize Louis Armstrong (once again), Pete Fountain and the great Al Hirt.

Satchemo, Pete Fountain & Al Hirt

Again, these images capture the essence of these great talents and their impact on Jazz music and making New Orleans its “Mecca”.

So, imagine my surprise at this year’s poster. First, the artist is Gordon Robinette. Robinette IS well known in New Orleans, but not as an artist. He is best known as a talking head/talk show host at WJBO radio station. I must say that as an artist, he is quite accomplished. I do like how he borrowed from the much beloved concept of Michalopoulos’ use of French Quarter architecture and I am impressed that he includes a future Jimmy Buffett looking over his shoulder at the young, broke street performer behind a Falcon, no less. (Which reminds me…I have a long, lost story about a Falcon. But I digress…that’s for another day.)

However, I am perplexed at just why Jimmy Buffett is featured on a JAZZ FEST poster? Now, don’t get me wrong. My Jimmy love is strong. See here, here & here. But this choice seems a bit indulgent. Is it a payback for Jimmy’s fantastic support during last year’s oil spill crisis and his wonderful free concert that many homies considered his “homecoming” to the Gulf Coast?

Or, perhaps it was meant to bolster Jimmy’s spirits after his recent dive off the stage in Australia? A pat on the back for investing in the coast by expanding his Magaritaville franchise in Pensacola, FL and Biloxi, MS? Dunno. But one thing I DO know is that Jimmy Buffett is not the impactful son of the South that the other icons that graced Jazz Fest posters before him.

I DO love Jimmy…but I’m conflicted. He is from Mobile, AL…where I live. He has played here ZERO times since he graduated from McGill Institute back in 1966 (He was a cheerleader, for Christ’s sake). His concert at the Gulf was the first time he’s played there in forever, even though his sister, Lulu, has a VERY popular bar/restaurant on the Intercoastal Canal in Gulf Shores. Jimmy is more a child of Key West and the Carribean. A few years ago, he started playing Jazz Fest, but he has NEVER been a staple there. While Robinette’s portrait refers to Jimmy’s street performing in the late ’60s, the fact is that Jimmy Buffett spent a relatively short period of time on the gummy, stinky streets of the French Quarter before heading out to Californina and ultimately, grounding himself in South Florida.

So, to wrap this all up…I am pumped up about the Jimmy poster because of the awesomeness that is Jimmy Buffett and all he stands for. But in true Libra fashion, I am disappointed that something that has generally been pure and true to its’ core concerning subjects chosen to promote one of the most fantastic musical experiences on Earth has chosen a subject that is, well, not exactly true to itself.

And, just to quench that burning question of MY favorite Jazz Fest poster EVAH?

Because, IT’S IRMA, baby!!

 

Happy 80th Birthday, Sam Cooke!

Mold-breaker. Extreme talent. Pioneer. Soul Stirrer.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2011 in birthdays, dudes, inspiration, music legends, Soul

 

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Posts will be spattered in here and there for the next few months, as my schedule is fairly full and something’s gotta give.

We’re busy selling stuff and planning stuff; fishing, crabbing, working, and playing.  Frankly, it feels good to be away from the Internets for a while.  I still have about 20 posts partially done, so when things simmer down a bit, I’ll be posting regularly again.

As always, if you have anything musical that you’d like to share, please send to me and I’ll post it.   For now, I leave you with a wish for you to experience a little Hot Fun in the Summertime, Sly Stone style:

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2009 in funk, seasons, Soul, summer, that's life

 

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Colette’s Corner: Hot Buttered Soul, American Style

Here is a long awaited entry from Colette.  Personally, I think Soul is alive and well in the good, ole U. S. of A.  Of course, if you are a creature of terrestial radio, you’re not going to hear it.  That’s why the interwebs are so important.   I have some additional thoughts on “the new radio”, but I’ll save that for later.  For now, enjoy Colette’s Soul buffet:

Listening Party:   Hot Buttered American Soul Singers 2009

 As young Brits like Duffy and Amy Winehouse and Adele rack up big record sales and Grammy Awards, I’ve been wondering what’s up with our homegrown soul singers.  I’m not talking about that heavily processed dance-beat monotony mulch that is sometimes called Neo-Soul, no no no.  I’m talking bluesy voices, rugged and smoother, that are bringing the Motown/Stax/Philly sound of yore back with a new twist.

 What do you think?  Do they have the right stuff?  

 You’ll note that quite a few of these performances are from the terrific British music TV show Live with Jools Holland.  Holland is a good piano player and an excellent scout for cutting-edge talent — all the great young Brit acts have appeared on his program, and a lot of American artists (young & older) too.  I’m jealous: why can’t we have a show like his?   A new “Soul Train”?

Someday, in my dreams.  In the meantime, here a few I like, and wonder what your take is:

Rafael Saadiq isn’t exactly a new artist — he was one of the members of  the top New Jack Swing group (ok, anyone recall what New Jack Swing was??) called Tony! Toni! Tone!  And he’s been through several musical phases.    Now he’s done a very, very cool maneuver, his own version of Temptation-esque retro-soul, smooth as silk.  (He’s also Joss Stone’s boyfriend, but don’t hold that against either of them….)  Love this hot, hot appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show last month:

  -  Rafael Saadiq, “The Hundred Yard Dash”

And one of the best songs on his recent disc:

  — Rafael Saadiq, “Love That Girl”

Someone here recently put up a link for Melody Gardot.  Is she jazz? Pop? Soul?  Who cares?   This young woman, disabled since a car crash, has just a classic, achy-breaky voice steeped in cool.  Am loving her — she deserves a big future:

 – Melody Gardot, “Worrisome Heart”

Sugarush Beat Company is an  interesting group with a cool Stax-y vibe in their tune “L-O-V-E.”  They released their first album last September.  And they’re multinational, with members hailing from the US, Denmark and Britain.  Here they are on Jools’ show recently:

 – Sugarush beat company, “L.O.V.E.”

Here’s the wildcat kid from Massachusetts (previously featured by Music Maven), who is tearing it up in Europe, but pretty obscure in the U.S.  He plays a mean guitar, and is a wail of a singer, Eli “Paperboy” Reed — love the moniker!  And he reminds a little of a male Janis Joplin:

 == Eli Paperboy Reed & The True Loves, “Everywhere You Go”

Ruby Turner had some shlocky pop hits in the late 1980s, but her purified blues-soul approach today is kickin.’   Here she is with Jools Holland recently, on a swinging tune they recorded together (check out the female alto sax’s solo!):

  – Ruby Turner, “The Informer”  (with Jools Holland)

One of my favorite American Idol contestants, really too good to win!, is Melinda Doolittle.  She came out with a very fine first album, “Coming Back to You,” and the Idol franchise could help her enormously if they just gave her a guest spot this season!  But nooooo, they have to give the spotlight to the far, far inferior Kellie Pickler!  Drat….but I really encourage you to support Melinda’s career — she’s worthy indeed.  Here is her great opening salvo on American Idol 2007:

 – Melinda Doolittle, “Since You Been Gone”

And here’s her first single from the  new album:

 – Melinda Doolittle, “It’s Your Love”

I also can’t give up on Taylor Hicks.  As Music Maven has duly noted, he has a new album out and while it’s not the soulful stuff of my dreams, its closer to the bone than Taylor’s misbegotten first post-Idol disc.  As usual, it’s always best to hear him entertain live. Here’s a clip from a recent appearance on “Regis and Kelly”:

  –”What’s Right Is Right”, Taylor Hicks

I adore Ryan Shaw, and I just wish he would get a boost because he’s HOT.  He did have a Grammy nomination recently, but not enough people know about this sweet Southern guy, and his superior soul pipes.  Here he is live on the BET network:

 –  Ryan Shaw, “I’m Your Man”

If I can get one other person excited about Tyrone Wells, I’ll be happy.  This Washington State native has a rabidly loyal semi-underground following, and he’s just terrific live. Good songwriter and guitarist, and great singer, and just put out a new album, “Remain.”   Here he is with one of my fave tunes of his:

 – Tyrone Wells, “Baby  Don’t You Change”

Some soulful artists really deserve an encore, and jazzy singer Randy Crawford is back with a cover of a terrific old Staple Singers tune that’s getting a lot of airplay on some FM stations.  Here she is on French TV — you can catch glimpses of  British soulster James Morrison, really diggin on Randy and the wonderful jazz pianist Joe Semple.  Their new album together is a grand groove — sorry the clip is a little out of sync — but it sounds great!

 – randy crawford &  joe semple, “Respect Yourself”

LeRoy Bell, whose folky-soul is very popular in the Pacific NW, and really deserving of more attention.  (His uncle, by the way, is the great Thom Bell, co-architect of the 1970s Philly Sound of Lionel Ritchie, etc.)  This is from his last album, released in 2008:

 

 – LeRoy Bell, “Fly on the Wall”

I gotta end with the hardest working soul singer in show biz, Sharon Jones.    With her fab young band the Dap Kings (who appeared on Amy Winehouse’s record) she’s keeping the funk flame  burning — what a scorcher!   Seeing her live is being sent into a time capsule right back to early Tina-land.  Here she is on French TV, tearin’ it up as per usual:

 – Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Thanks, Colette.  Great list, but I HAVE to include my boy, Marc Broussard.   Marc was at the forefront of the recent soul revival and besides, he’s a child of God’s Country.

  Let Me Leave, Marc Broussard

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2009 in colette's corner, Soul, Uncategorized

 

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Eli “Paperboy” Reed

Photo by Nicole Tammaro

Photo by Nicole Tammaro

Before I write another word, simply listen to this…

  Poor Side of Town

THIS, is who I imagined that Taylor Hicks would be after he won American Idol.  A little Wilson Pickett, a little Otis Redding, and a lot James Brown, Eli honed his skills by street performing on Harvard Square in high school, after teaching himself piano, guitar and harmonica.  (Sound familiar?) 

The son of a music critic who exposed his son to a vast soul record collection (again, sound familiar?), Eli ended up in Clarksdale, MS after high school, eventually ending up under the tutledge of legendary blues drummer, Sam Carr.  He frequently adorned his grandpa’s chapeau, which garnered the “Paperboy” nickname.

With a cool blues moniker, a degree in Southern blues, and a HUGE passion, Eli was convinced to enroll in the University of Chicago by his concerned parents.  While in Chi Town, Eli broadened his soul horizons by reaching out to Mitty Collier, who scored the 1964 hit, I Had a Talk With My Man.

Now involved in ministry, Mitty hired Eli Reed as her music minister, where he served for a year before returning to Boston with a different kind of education.  There, he put together his band, The True Loves, and recorded and self-released his first collection of originals and covers entitled, Sings “Walkin’ and Talkin’ (For My Baby)” and Other Smash Hits. 

After a phenomenal performance at the 2007 SXSW, Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves recorded and released Roll With You on the Boston-based, Q Division label.  (Even the album art is retro boss.)

elipaperboy1

Some highlights from that compilation:

  Am I Wasting My Time (diggin’ on the Aretha shirt) — oddly reminiscient of LaMontagne’s You Are the Best Thing

  Take My Love With You on Jools Holland

  Doin’ the Boom Boom

  The Satisfier

Eli is currently embarking on a European tour and is recently signed to Virgin Records, after opening for the likes of Dave Matthews recently.

Eli’s NPR interview shows his love of music and his enthusiasm to spread it around.  At 24, he produces a much older and “experienced” sound.  But, then again, Otis, James, Jackie and Wilson were all about his age when they came into their own.  He is proficient at old soul, mixed with passion and love of music.  His music is infectious and draws you in.  Many critics and observers have dubbed him as the next sensation.  I am definitely on board.

Paperboy, stay true to your school and you shall go far…perhaps an example for many.

Visit Eli “Paperboy” Reed at http://www.myspace.com/elipaperboyreed and buy some stuff.  You will not be disappointed.

 

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A Little Ray to Make Your Day

It’s Friday!!!  Thank the Lord in his blue heaven. 

Here’s a bit of the Righteous Reverand to start the weekend off right….

  Hallejuah, I Love Her So

  Mess Around

  Drown in My Own Tears

and a repeat performance of my all time favorite Ray Charles cover…

  My Bonnie

I think Ray really could have sung the phone book and held everyone, mesmerized.  They just don’t make ‘em like Ray no more.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2009 in ray charles, Soul, weekdays

 

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Since you showed me how to be happy….

 

  Since You, Jackie Wilson (now you know where Michael Jackson got the “moves”)

Tried to find Otis Redding’s Happy Song, but alas it is not out there on the Interwebs.  Certainly a “pick me up” on a rainy Tuesday, though.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2009 in jackie wilson, Otis Redding, Soul

 

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Have Mercy, Percy!!

sledge

Spotlight on Percy Sledge, y’all.

While most well-known for When A Man Loves A Woman, Southern soul legend Percy Sledge is a master of delivering smoldering, aching love songs that young lovers have been rubbing bellies to for generations.  I grew up on Percy music and he’s one of my all-time favorite artists.  The Alabama native was honored by being inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. 

Enjoy.

  Warm & Tender Love

  My Special Prayer

  Set Me Free

  Bring it on Home to Me

  Take Time to Know Her

  A Sweet Woman Like You

 

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2009 in music legends, oldies, Soul

 

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Soulful Friday

Limping into the weekend…2,000 point drop in the stock market, work kickin’ my butt, gutters are clogged, and the country’s going to hell in the proverbial handbasket.

Thankfully, there’s a little soul for the soul.

  It’s All Wrong, But It’s Alright, Percy Sledge

 

  Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, Wilson Pickett

 

  Come in From the Cold,  Marc Broussard

 

  My Last Regret, Robert Cray

 

and a song from my youth….suddenly we’re back to 1976.

  A Real Mutha for Ya,  Johnny “Guitar” Watson

Hang in there, the weekend is almost here.  Next week HAS to be better.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2008 in Soul, weekdays, wilson pickett

 

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Colette’s Corner: Where There’s Fire….There’s Smokey

Nah, not that Smokey, THIS Smokey…
 
The Great Smokey Robinson.  Singer.  Songwriter.  Producer.  Talent Extraordinairre.
Here’s Colette’s entertaining homage to William Robinson, Jr.:
It’s wonderful  to sing well.  It’s even more meaningful to write a great and enduring song.
Both talents were bestowed on young William “Smokey”  Robinson, long before he helped to start Motown Records in Detroit in the early 1960s, with his friend Berry Gordy.
Gordy had the business acumen; Smokey had the musical chops.  By the time he was in his early 20s, Smokey was writing, recording and arranging a stream of hit tunes for this landmark record company, which blended bluesy soulfulness with sleek arrangements and killer hooks.  He also was a terrific talent scout, cultivating the musical gifts of the kids he grew up with in  Motor City.
As an entertainer, Smokey’s still terrific — I saw him recently, and in his late 60s he’s not only still in great voice (one of the best pop falsettos ever) but he’s still sexy, romantic and full of joy.
But while I’ve found a lot of great performances on video of Smokey, with his hit-making crewT he Miracles and after he went solo,  Part I of this tribute considers some Smokey tunes especially wrote (and produced) for other Motown masters.
What makes Smokey’s songs so memorable?  The lyrics, though inevitably about boyfriend-girlfriend passions, are so clever that Bob Dylan once called Robinson one of his favorite poets, and  John Lennon and George Harrison also gave him props.

Smokey knows how to twist a phrase to make it fresh every one of his songs tells a compelling story, and there are indeed poetic images in a lot of his tunes,  along with real wit.   But it’s also the arrangements he worked up with the fabulous Funk Brothers (Motown’s brilliant house  musicians), including the miraculous James Jamerson on bass, that make the best of the tunes he produced instantly unforgettable.  Listen to the baselines – a symphony in themselves! And there’s a perfect layering of percussion, piano, vocals, guitar, bass and backup voices (augmented sometimes by horns and violins). 

But Smokey’s been a huge fan of many kinds of music his entire life — from opera to Cole Porter to modern jazz.  A grouchy Boomer like me wants to encourage this in  young artists:  listen, listen, listen to all the greats, and absorb!
 

 
So from the more than 1,000 tunes in Smokey’s songbag, I’m picking out some gems.   (Later,  I’ll play tribute to Smokey doing his own material, with and without the fab Miracles.)

 

Let’s start with the suave, magical Temptations, since Smokey wrote their break-through hits.      Here are some  rare live  versions (sometimes with lipsynching, which was what some people did on TV at the time) with the ultra-suave Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin singing leads.  Do check out the choreography, created by such legendary jazz-tappers as Cholly Atkins and Honi Coles.  It’s a total delight.
 
First comes “The Way You Do the Things You Do,”  with a lyric led by Eddie that’s full of charming similes (“You got a smile so bright/You know you could’ve been a candle….”)
   “The Way You Do the Things You Do”  — The Temptations  (rare live on a NY TV show)
 
Another Temps classic.  Picture a little blurry, but the guys look so great, and move so hot:
 
   “Get Ready” — The Temptations
 
If you ever go see the Temps, and some incarnation of them is still out there touring, this is the tune they turn into a huge audience sing-along.  And who doesn’t know “My Girl”??  The song is in our collective bloodstream.  David Ruffin does the lead honors this time:
 
   “My Girl” — The Temptations
 
The other “My Girl” rendition that brings a different vibe and some rough-edged soul to the song is this live version by the incomparable Otis Redding, the Love Man.  ‘Nuff said.
 
    “My Girl” — Otis Redding  (with his great band, The Bar-Keys, live in England)
 
As a kind of book-end to “My Girl,” Smokey also conconcocted “My Guy” for Motown solo artist,  Mary Wells.  With its jaunty beat, witty internal rhymes  (“Nothing you can buy can make me tell a lie to my guy”), and that ultra-cool vocal by Mary, another favorite of the Beatles, it was another big-selling classic:
 
  “My Guy” — Mary Wells
 
The Smoke (as pal Stevie Wonder calls him) also took a strong interest in shaping the musical style of The Marvelettes, who  toured with the Beatles on their U.S. tour.  Talk about sexy, these girls were HOT, and I prefer them to the Supremes (shown here briefly).  Here’s one of the treasures Smokey wrote for them, featuring the sultry Wanda Rogers on lead –  one of the great “hands off, ladies!” tunes of all time.  And love their moves:
 
    “Don’t Mess With Bill
 
Finally, we have another Motown genius, Marvin Gaye, who was like a brother to Smokey.   The ebullient Gaye started out at Motown as a session drummer, but that skill was soon eclipsed by his mounting fame as a smooth, sexy, utterly distinctive vocalist.   Marvin is one of my soul gods! And these are his early classics, tailor-made for him by his pal:
 
   “Ain’t That Peculiar” –  Marvin
 
Another from Marvelous Marvin — what can I say?  I’m a sucker for a guy who looks this cool in a tux! :
 

   – Take This Heart of Mine — Marvin
 
Finally, a little novelty from the Smokey annals, first done by the Contours and later the J. Geils Band.  It’s a tongue-in-cheek tune about being a gold-digger, the lyrics are a hoot:

 

    
   “First I Look at the Purse” — The Contours
 
 
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Posted by on October 1, 2008 in colette's corner, motown, music legends, oldies, Soul

 

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