I’ve been following Rickey Godfrey’s music for quite some time now – since I first heard his soulful rendition of Dan Penn’s “Smoke Filled Room,” which is on his Once In a Lifetime Love CD (2006). With this new recording, Rickey brings the same raw vocals to the table, but with a focus on the blues. Nasty Man (Serenity Hill 2010)is a self-produced CD and Rickey took the opportunity to showcase his considerable talents: songwriting, vocals, guitar and keyboard.
This CD is just plain fun, more fun, in fact, than it is “nasty.” I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite tune, but there are a few that stand out for me. The opener, “I Want Me a Nasty Woman,” co-written with Richard Fleming, is classic Godfrey: sharp, edgy lyrics and gutsy vocals punctuated by masterful guitar stylings. Guitar buffs will love the ending. And, by the way, that’s Shaun Murphy from Little Feat AND Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band singing backup with Rickey.
“Don’t Argue In the Kitchen” is kind of jazzy, a fast-paced cautionary tale, funny as all getout. Flo and Joe go out to a club, drink a little too much, some chick starts flirting with Joe, and by the time the couple get home again, Flo is still all riled up and pops him over the head with an assortment of cooking paraphernalia. Dangerous place, that kitchen!
“Johnny Jones” is a little bit of a departure. It’s full of sadness at the Oct. 2009 passing of Godfrey’s friend – and Nashville’s guitar legend – Johnny Jones. After moving from Chicago to Nashville in the early 60s, Jones was working as a studio musician, when R&B icon Ted Jarrett took him under his wing and actually taught him how to read music. He began working at a club called the New Era Club. During this time, a young Jimi Hendrix used to sit in with him, anxious to absorb Jones’ lowdown blues sound. There was said to be a guitar face-off between the two at some point, and if you can find an old copy of The Tennessean (one of the 2003 issues), you can read about it for yourself. Not surprisingly, Rickey’s guitar solos pay homage to the guitar giant, including some of Jones’ own blues guitar licks.
“Let’s Get Busy,” track ten on Nasty Man (co-written with Doug Jones), is a sexy dance tune and it features N.Y. soul singer Angel Rissoff along with Rickey on lead vocals. Their voices are exciting and energetic. They combine with Godfrey’s keyboard and guitar solos plus an unexpected saxophone riff by former Delbert McClinton player Don Wise to deliver a tune that blows me away every time I hear it.
I’m a live music junkie, and I love that one of the resounding themes of this recording is its unrelenting energy. But, even with everything going on – gusty vocals, searing guitar, solid rhythm, flashy keyboards –the players never drown each other out. Nasty Man is a strong Gotta Have.
Godfrey plays all guitar and keyboard parts. Other players include: drums – George Perelli (Michael McDonald, Larry Gatlin), Michael Grando and Tez Sherrard (Edwin McCain); bass Franklin Wilkie (Marshall Tucker Band), Doug Seibert; saxophone – Don Wise (Delbert McClinton); synthetic horns – Rickey Godfrey; background vocals – Shaun Murphy (Little Feat, Silver Bullet Band), Ronnie Godfrey (Marshall Tucker Band, Virgil), Kim Morrison, Angel Rissoff (Little Isidore & the Inquisitors, Kenny Vance & the Planotones).
Nashville musician Rickey Godfrey releases new blues CD, plays local dates
The much-awaited new blues recording from American artist Rickey Godfrey is finally here and it’s nasty, so get down with it and have some fun! Nasty Man is a powerhouse of a record – solidly blues-driven with jazz and funk influences that give it an edge and a sound that’s unique to the uber-talented musician.
Godfrey will be in the Coastal Carolinas promoting the new CD from Thursday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 14. Thursday evening from 5 to 9 p.m., he’s set to hold a CD release party at Boom Boom’s Raw Bar on 13th Avenue N. in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Friday he will be featured on Mid-Day Café radio program on WHQR public radio 91.3 FM in Wilmington, N.C. Friday night Godfrey will appear with bass guitarist Lan Nichols and drummer Rich Laverdure at the Rusty Nail blues club, also in Wilmington. Saturday evening, Nov. 13, Godfrey will play at Papa’s Pizza Wings & Things in Little River, S.C. from 7 to 10 p.m. The following morning, Sunday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to noon, Godfrey will be at a band fair being held at O.D. Beach & Golf Resort. The fair is part of CBMA awards weekend, celebrating the best in Carolina R&B music. His Nasty Man CDs will be available for purchase.
The 12-track recording showcases Godfrey’s mind-boggling skills on both Telecaster and keys. According to Godfrey, who also produced the album, he intentionally kept the instrumentation sparse. “I didn’t want an over-produced, over-polished result,” he said. “This is a blues album, and I wanted a raw sound. I love the spontaneous stuff that happened in the studio, like Don Wise’s sax riff on [track 10] “’Let’s Get Busy.’”
It’s obvious that the CD’s lyrics were as important as the musicianship to this singer/songwriter. Godfrey wrote or co-wrote ten of the album tracks. “I Want Me a Nasty Woman,” the opening tune, is an unabashed appeal to women everywhere to embrace their inner nasty selves. With its cleverly written lyrics, guitar work and vocals that come from the gut, “Nasty Woman” sets the tone for “Nasty Man.” Co-written with Richard Fleming, it’s already proving to be one of the album’s most popular during live performances.
Other notable tunes include “Don’t Argue In the Kitchen,” a humorous tale that proves jealousy and kitchen utensils are a recipe for disaster and “Don’t Get Your Money Where You Get Your Honey,” sharply crafted advice sure to be ignored, despite the drone keyboard warning us to beware – and behave. Slowing down the pace and the mood is “Johnny Jones,” Godfrey’s tribute to his friend and Jimi Hendrix’ mentor who died in 2009.
The only songs not written or co-written by Godfrey are “Allergic To Mink” by Gary Erwin aka Shrimp City Slim and “When You’re Cool (the Sun Shines All the Time),” penned by Gary Nicholson, Hank DeVito and Kevin Welch.
Boom Boom’s Raw Bar is located on 13th Avenue N. in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Telephone: 843-427-7304
The Rusty Nail is at 1310 S. 5th Ave. In Wilmington, N.C. Telephone: 910-251-1888
Papa’s Pizza Wings & Things is located at 111 Pavilion Dr. #24 (Lowes Food Shipping Complex), Hwy. 179 on the road to Calabash. Telephone: 843-249-3663
O.D. Beach & Golf Resort is at 98 N. Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Telephone: 800-438-9590.
For more information about Rickey Godfrey and Nasty Man, visit www.RickeyGodfrey.com.
Soul Man Clifford Curry
If you google “Clifford Curry,” you won’t come up with a lot of mainstream media and music outlets. There’s no article within the pages of Rolling Stone, no mention in Billboard’s Hot 100, no sweet Clifford on the cover of People or even AARP magazine. But there are still close to 9,000 references to this iconic veteran of soul and R&B music, among them some rabid soul fanatics and bloggers who more than make up for the mainstream’s disinterest.
These posts all mirror my own respect and affection for this resilient performer, often taking special note of his legendary hit, “She Shot a Hole In My Soul” (Gayden-Neese/ 1967). I’ve been having such fun digging through their sites, that I want to share some of them – and what they have to say about Clifford.
aka Jamison Harvey
Flea Market Funk
“Clifford Curry is a true Soul veteran. His voice carries out on this side, and he does prove that he is indeed a Soul Ranger, moving from town to town, group to group, and stage name to stage name, spreading the word of Soul to everyone. He’s mending broken hearts, giving that shoulder to cry on, and this is only in the lyrics.
The killer bass line and horn section reinforce the fact that this side is a definite Soul banger. So if he’s the Soul Ranger, he’s definitely a super hero for Soul. This man has sacrificed lots to get where he is today. He may not have topped the charts, but he made an honest living, preaching the Gospel of Soul throughout the United States, one song at a time.”
The “A” Side
“As the story goes, Mac Gayden’s friend Chuck Neese heard a DeeJay on WVON mention that some song or other ‘put a hole in his soul,’ and told Mac about it, planting the seed for this amazing record we have here today. I can’t help but wonder if what really happened was that Neese heard them play the great “Potato Salad Part One” by Philadelphia Jock Georgie Woods (The Guy With The Goods), in which he admonishes his listeners to never eat chicken on Sunday, as it will ‘put a hole in your soul…’… Be that as it may, [Buzz] Cason’s production of this Gayden composition [“She Shot a Hole In My Soul” ] is simply untouchable, and is one of the hottest R&B records to emanate from Nashville in the 1960s, in my opinion. I’m lovin’ Clifford’s ‘Help Me Somebody!’ there, right before Mac kicks in with an early example of the ‘slide-wah’ style that he would later lend to records like J.J. Cale’s Crazy Mama. Great Stuff, y’all!
“Clifford Curry is a stupidly good southern soul singer from Knoxville, Tenn. He, like so many other astonishingly good southern soul singers, never really got the credit he perhaps deserved. Both sides of this single [She Shot a Hole In My Soul] are stunning and I may post the other side [“We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves IN the Morning”] in a month or so.
This track was his biggest hit and topped out at number 40 in the R&B charts in 1967. I wish America had got it’s act together in the 1960s and then artists outside of Motown and Stax could have got some more recognition.”
Other blogs and websites that happily give Clifford his due credit include Soul Treats, the soul music blog by Soulville UA (soultreats.se); Funky 16 Corners, a terrific music blog focusing on funk and soul vinyl – and now MP3s (funky16corners.com); Marv Goldberg’s R&B Notebooks (uncamarvy.com) and Soul Detective, one of my blog faves (souldetective. blogspot.com).
Clifford Curry has been in the biz for some 50+ years. As a high school senior in Knoxville, Tenn., he joined a doo wop group called the Echos, becoming its sixth member. Shortly afterward, another doo wop group, the Clovers heard them and arranged for an audition with Atlantic Records in N.Y. While en route, Echos manager Fred Logan arranged for a stop in N.J. to talk to someone at Savoy Records.
Savoy signed them on the spot.
About this time (1955), Savoy management decided to rename the group, changing it to the Five Pennies (Did you catch that? The six-member group became the Five Pennies! Go figure.)
The young group cut two singles on the Savoy label – “Mr. Moon” and “My Heart Trembles.” During this time, Although “Mr. Moon” did fairly well, none of the group, all minors, saw much in the way of royalties. Fred Logan, who told Savoy he was the group’s guardian, reportedly had the checks sent to him.
Clifford said, “I received writing royalties from Savoy and checks from BMI, but nothing else.” Amidst the turmoil over royalties and payment, the group eventually went their separate ways. An obscene turn of events, if you ask me.
What followed was a series of groups: the Bingos, with Ernie Young’s Excello label; the Hollyhocks on Young’s Nasco label;and – for several years – the Bubba Suggs Band in Clarksville, Tenn.
Finally Clifford returned to Knoxville and went off on his own as Sweet Clifford, recording for both Nasco and Excello.
Under this moniker, he recorded four tunes in 1963: “Just a Lonely Boy:/”Baby! Just What Is Wrong” and “Things Gotta Get Better”/”Baby Kiss Me Again.” As luck would have it, there was some confusion at the label, and “Things Gotta Get Better” was credited to a very unhappy Clifford Sweet.
Several groups and record labels later, Clifford began writing songs with Knoxville deejay Rob Galbraith. They didn’t have much success, but the association would have one significant outcome.
It was through Galbraith, that Clifford connected with Buzz Cason, who had the rights to “She Shot a Hole In My Soul,” and the rest is history. Clifford released the tune in 1967 on Elf Records. It reached #95 on the pop charts and #45 on the R&B side. The flip side was “We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves In the Morning.”
Over the next three years, Clifford recorded seven more records for Elf; ”Soul Ranger”/”I Don’t Need You” on SSS International (1970); and several others. None were as successful as “She Shot a Hole In My Soul,” but now Clifford had a loyal following in the Carolina beach music market, which continues today.
Clifford Curry may not be mainstream, but he’s a star in my book, and I couldn’t wait to talk to him.
“I’m doing great,” the 70-something singer tells me in a telephone interview. “And, guess what, I’m going to make it to the Cammys this year!”
Last Nov., Clifford was all set to perform at the 2009 Carolina Beach Music Awards in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. when he was stricken with what turned out to be life-threatening blood clots in both legs. He spent two months in the hospital before going to rehab and finally returning home under daily nurse’s care. Almost a year later now, he’s much improved, but the experience, complicated by diabetes, has left his veins damaged, so he’s walking with a cane.
That said, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down all that much.
The charismatic entertainer released The Soul of Clifford Curry in March 2010 to very positive reviews. Clifford is the writer or co-writer for eight of the CD’s ten tracks, which showcase more southern soul and less white bread beach music.
Memorable tracks include the suggestive “Stacked In the Back” and “Love Injection.” “Black Sister, Soul Sister” is sweet but strong, a kiss blown to the sisterhood.
“I’ve been writing and recording demo tracks,” he tells me, “ and I’ve been performing. I just had a gig … a sold out show … with Buzz Cason, Jimmy Gilmer and Dickie Lee in Knoxville.”
He also penned “Don’t Say No (To Love),” the very successful title track to the latest Carolina Breakers CD.
On Wednesday, Nov. 3 – which will be yesterday by the time this posts – Clifford is scheduled to play at Third & Lindsley for his own birthday party, which somehow makes perfect sense to me.
Clifford, have the best birthday ever. You deserve it.
Thanks to Jamison Harvey, Red Kelly and Charlie Gower for giving me permission to include excerpts from their blogs. Love, love, love these sites and hope you’ll all visit them! ©2010 Dariel Bendin. All rights reserved.