Woo woo! It’s about time this Nashville boy got his butt back to the beach. Rickey Godfrey’s tearing into town for three short days before he grabs a bus back to Music City so he can finish his CD on schedule.
On Thursday, Sept. 2, he’ll play Key West Crazy on the waterfront in Little River, S.C. Show time is 7 – 10 p.m. This is a great little spot, with a full-on restaurant to go along with its full-on bar. I’ll be there, so I hope the margaritas are still $2.50, and I can’t wait to get me some fried green beans!
The next night, Friday, Sept. 3 Rickey’s heading to the ILM to play the Rusty Nail. This is one of my favorite dives in Wilmington (N.C.). It’s your basic smoke-filled room, a lowdown blues joint that just happens to be home to the weekly blues jam for the Cape Fear Blues Society (CFBS). You never know who’s going to stop by. Joining Rickey on this gig will be Wilmington bass player Lan Nichols (also head honcho for CFBS ) and drummer Rich Laverdure, both of whom play with Tommy B. & the Stingers. The show starts at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, Sept. 4, at 9 p.m., Rickey turns south again to the Grand Strand, this time playing at Cool Daddy’s, on Ninth Avenue behind Ripley’s, just near the old Pavilion. Cool Daddy’s is owned by Diane and Phil Salone , drummer for Myrtle Beach-based funk-blues band, Inlyn Gruve. Phil will be on the drum kit and Jimi Brown will be playing bass.
Get yourself to one or all of these gigs, because Rickey’s gonna be wailing on his Telecaster and you don’t want to miss a note!
For those of you who are just now discovering this versatile virtuoso, let me bring you up to speed on all things Godfrey. Rickey Godfrey, who has been blind since birth, began studying classical piano and voice at an early age. He had his first guitar by the time he was 13. Performing throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, he has worked with artists such as Rufus Thomas, Sam Moore, Billy Preston and Junior Walker. He has been nominated by the Music City Blues Society for both Guitarist and Keyboard Player of the Year. Last year he played the Montreal Jazz Festival with the Chocolate Thunder band.
Rickey is well known throughout the Carolinas for his hit songs “Can’t Change My Heart,” “No One Loves You Better Than Me,” “Whatever It Takes” and “If Ten’ll Kill Me, You Can Give Me Nine.” He’s earned a pile of CBMA awards including blues album of the year, group album of the year, song of the year and more.
For the past several months Rickey has been writing, composing and recording for his new blues CD, which he expects to complete by early October. “I’m having a lot of fun with this recording,” he grins. “This is a blues CD, so I really let go on guitar and piano, too. Not everyone knows that I play keys, so it’ll be a surprise to some folks. I wanted to do a really sparse album that showcased my own instruments, so it’s not overly produced. You’ll hear Don Wise [formerly with Delbert McClinton] sitting in on sax once or twice. Shaun Murphy from Little Feat and N.Y. soul singer Angel Rissoff are going to add some great background vocals. I’ll be doing a few of the tunes on this trip to the coast, so y’all are going to get a sneak peak of what’s comin’.”
Rickey doesn’t play around these parts often enough, so I hope you’ll come out in droves and show this boy some love.
Key West Crazy is located in Little River, S.C. at 4492 Water Front Ave. For information, call 843-249-6163. Address for the Rusty Nail is 1310 S. Fifth Street, Wilmington, N.C. Telephone: 910-251-1888. Cool Daddy’s Bar & Grill is at 300 9th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, S.C., located behind Ripleys. Free parking passes are available for patrons. A refundable $10 deposit may be required. Telephone: 843-333-5941. For more information about Rickey Godfrey and to listen to a sampling of his music, visit his Facebook fan page.
I’ve been following the career of Columbia, S.C. musician J Edwards for just over a year. I first heard him at a club in Columbia and was struck immediately by the soulful vocals he delivered. Then I got hold of a couple earlier CDs: Watcha Doin’ (2006), which is mainly acoustic blues; and Everything Changes (2008), electrified and less bluesy, with a full band. The musical arrangements along with the same raw, gut-sucking vocals convinced me to include Everything Changes in my CD Picks (February 11, 2010).
Long story short, when J Edwards told me he was hard at work on a new blues CD, I was giddy with anticipation and more anxious for it than a school girl shopping for her first brassiere.
I’m happy to report that LuLu’s House hits home in a big way. This ten-track recording overflows with goose-bumpin’ vocals, boot-stompin’ blues and heartstopping musicianship. LuLu’s House beckons us in to meet some good ole down home folks and share in the sumptuous buffet of Southern life. It’s all about eatin’ and leavin’, leavin’ and eatin’. LuLu sets the tone for a warm, if irreverent group of House dwellers. There’s not a loser in the bunch.
Track one, “Aint Gonna Be Your Dog” is a love song, but he suspects she’s leaving, so he sets some rules. And I bet LuLu approves.
Baby when you’re home, you walk away from me
And when you talk, you talk away from me
When you laugh, it ain’t with me
I’ll be your everything
But I ain’t gonna be your dog
Track two is also about leaving. “You Told Me You Loved Me” is a heartachy tune about life’s shortcomings and love’s disappointments. Between vocals by J Edwards and signature guitar work from Nashville artist Rickey Godfrey, you’ll be feeling this straight ahead blues tune.
You said you loved me
That you would never never never go
You said you love me
That you would never never go
Now you say you’re leaving
I say I told you told you so
Told your friends you would change me
Said you were gonna tie me down
Told your friends you would change me
Said you were gonna tie me down
There are nights I go out drinkin’
You don’t even stick around
I thought you said you loved me baby
At LuLu’s House, love is definitely a double-edged sword.
According to J, “New Shoes” is his take on Northern blues. The shoes are dapper, the coat is fancy and this boy is “whistlin’ while he’s walkin’.” Leavin’ again.
Edwards told me that most of these tunes have been around for years. He said, “I wrote them back when I was playing the Columbia blues clubs every weekend, so when I decided to do another CD, I came up with some different arrangements of blues ideas and songs I’d written. In fact, ‘I Got a Woman’ is one of those songs.”
“I Got a Woman” is the standout tune off the CD. It features plaintive vocals by J and more searing guitar licks from Rickey Godfrey.
J says response to the tune has been phenomenal. “It’s a solid blues song – simple progressions, simple lyrics … but every blues player I’ve jammed with falls in love with it. Someone will say, ‘Hey, if you’re going to do that song, I wanna play guitar on it.’ I was in Nashville earlier this year, at the Pro Blues Jam with Tim Gonzalez, the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar in Printer’s Alley. Rickey Godfrey was on guitar. I think it was maybe the second or third time he played it and … whoa!”
There’s a video of that performance on YouTube. You can see it for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2E5cv25Zcs.
A side story to that, J told me he had really enjoyed the guys jamming with him that night. Back at the studio, he said the same to producer Mike O’neil , mentioning the bass player, in particular. O’neil knew the guy (Gere Hoffman) and worked with him often, so he wound up playing on the CD, too.
“Taste” is another “taste of somethin’ good,” with lusty, whisky-edged vocals and a performance by the backing band that is solid on its own, but never steps on the vocals.
Rickey Godfrey, a top drawer vocalist in his own right, explains it like this: “J’s vocals are so strong, so huge, I think we all just tried to stay out of his way, and let him put it out there. No one wanted to play over him, we wanted to support him. It’s not every day you have a vocalist like this to work with.”
Track eight, “Come On In the Bedroom,” is another of my favorites, for the pure lustfulness of it. And again, great band work.
But what about the CD title? I wanted to know where LuLu’s House came from.
“I remember, as a kid,” J Edwards says, “that everyone had songs about LuLu … and some of them were kinda dirty … so this is my song about LuLu: “Eatin’ About LuLu’s.”
“You know, you see people on the side of the road sometimes with signs ‘Will Work For Beer.’ They’re honest about it.
“Well, this guy, this street musician may drink some, but it’s really about the food.”
He can “eat down to LuLu’s for 65 cents …” He just wants some pancakes. When LuLu’s House turns out to be a cathouse, too, our boy’s not opposed to sharing her bed, but it’s still the “biscuits and hamhocks” he’s really lusting for.
And that’s where LuLu’s House came from. Check out the tuba. Makes you feel like you’re on the streets of New Orleans somewhere, ready to head on over to LuLu’s. For the food.
Players on LuLu’s House include: vocals, J Edwards; piano and organ, Larry Van Loon; drums and percussion, Mike O’neil; bass, Gere Hoffman; guitar, Kenne Cramer; harmonica, J Edwards; additional guitar on “I Got a Woman” and “You Said You Loved Me, Rickey Godfrey; additional bass on “Eatin’ at Lulu’s” and “Taste,” Kevin Grantt; saxophone, “Summer’s Waiting,” Dana Robbins; tuba on “Eatin’ at LuLu’s,” Matt Glassmeyer.
Recorded at Serenity Hill Studios, Nashville, Tenn; producer, Mike O’neil; engineer, Brian Tortoro; mix, Mark Polack; mastered at Serenity Hill by Mike O’neil and Mark Polack.
Note: This is a piece I wrote back in January shortly after the death of Jeff Roberts. It ran in Coast magazine and Alternatives magazine in Myrtle Beach, but until now, I hadn’t posted it here. At the end are comments from some of Jeff’s many friends and colleagues. We all miss him like crazy. –DB, August 4, 2010
It’s amazing that one guy could make such a difference in the lives of so many. But in the days since Myrtle Beach music icon Jeff Roberts passed away, the outpouring of grief and gratitude throughout his circle of friends and his burgeoning music community has taken on a life of its own.
Musician Mike Farris was working on a Delbert McClinton cruise when Jeff passed. “I didn’t know,” he told me in a telephone conversation. “I would have been there in a heartbeat. I hate that I missed the service … I would have been there.”
Mike performed at a South By Southeast Music Feast in May 2008 and has been close friends with Jeff ever since.
“Jeff was just one of the super sweet dudes. I mean, when I was done playing, it’s like I was his kid. He was beaming. He was so proud. He was just a strong supporter.
“He was pure sunshine.
“I talked to him a few weeks ago and he actually answered his phone!
“He was in the car, waiting to pick up Hunter. We talked about his dad, had a real good conversation. He was so excited about playing golf with Hunter.
“He told me he loved me when we said goodbye, like he always did. I told him I loved him, like I always did.
“I think something deep inside him must have told him he was leaving, cause he answered the phone … and he never answers!”
Jeff Roberts left a legacy even larger than his six-foot eight-inch frame – his beloved South By Southeast music organization.
So as friends, family and community members are still reeling from the monumental loss, this loyal company of music lovers is already filling ranks to make sure SxSE thrives and the dreams of “Big Jeff” are accomplished.
“Trust the Frog”
It’s important to understand that SxSE is more than a local music promoter. They take on the responsibility of finding top quality music and bringing it here. When Mike Farris came to SxSE, many in the audience weren’t familiar with him, but they trusted SxSE.
Today South By Southeast’s core of volunteers is made up of Sam Hannaford and Seth Funderburk, who co-founded the organization with Jeff Roberts, along with long time supporters Nell, Craig and Hasee Ciaccio; Mike Millsaps; Jeff’s son, Hunter; Wade Cooper, Earl Anderson, Joey Sanders, Tommy “Uncle Daddy” Pierce; Judy and Scotty Barton; Charlie Newell; Sam’s wife, Beth Hannaford; Wrynn and Mike Harrell; Fran and Rickie Rickenbacker; and Bob “Noodle” O’Conner.
Corporate partners include: New South Brewery, Pepsi, QRock, WAVE104, Myrtle Beach Resorts, Beach First Bank and Star Music.
Sam and others from South By Southeast’s inner circle are meeting this week to determine responsibities and develop a program to increase sponsorships. Steps are already being taken to obtain 501 c (3) status for the organization.
Shows are being booked. Randall Bramblett will be back for a March 6 performance. Charleston’s Sol Driven Train will bring some southern blues and swamp funk to the Depot on April 17. They’re talking to Steve Bailey about a show.
This is exactly what Jeff wanted. And when I pay my $25 membership for 2010, it will be in Jeff’s honor. If you’d like to join me, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They’ll send you a membership form and details.
Life – and music – won’t be the same without Jeff Roberts. But I’ve made a decision. I still trust the frog.
Comments From Jeff’s Music Family
The January 11th loss of our dear friend, Jeffery Lloyd Roberts, has left a huge void in the heart and soul of not only the music community in the Myrtle Beach area, but also in the entire music family of brothers and sisters everywhere who live to make and enjoy music for all the true, right reasons. How big a void? Martina McBride sang Craig Brickhardt’s country lyric, “Where I Used to Have A Heart,” “Feels like a mile wide ditch.” Yeah, that big. No, actually bigger…
Those who knew and loved Large Jeffery here, spent several days calling and emailing, initially, just the music artists who we knew Jeff was in regular contact with because of South By Southeast show associations and his yearly trips, along with his regular group of music buddies, to the Americana Music Conventions in Nashville. After we reached Mike Farris, Lauren Ellis, Scott Miller, Billy and Jill Block, and many others, we started to realize that there was no way to include them all in the sad news… not only Nashville, but the Carolinas, West Coat, New York… well, let’s just say Jeff’s outreach and positive influence in music and, in fact, in life, covered an area only known to Jeffery and all those he touched and loved. You couldn’t have had a better friend. I feel honored and blessed to have known him, and shared lots of great times, laughs, and wonderful music with him!
Our thoughts and prayers are, and will be, with Jeff’s fine son Hunter, and his Dear Mom, Mrs. W.C. Montie Roberts.H. David Henson
Jeff Roberts was single-handedly responsible for breaking artists in Myrtle Beach and throughout the Southeast. His passion and enthusiasm for selling records, good live music and turning people on cannot be replaced. Memories of Jeff will live forever.Mary Sack Mary Sack Management
I had only spoken to Jeff a few times on the phone to discuss my booking at the Train Depot for a SxSE concert. The total of our conversations was maybe 15 minutes. Yes, he seemed like a great guy but it was the “five minute interview” that really sold me on what a great guy he really was.
It was a month or so later and the Depot was packed. The crowd was inspiring me and I felt like I was on fire. I had a great first set. Then it was time for a short intermission. Before I returned to the stage for a second set Jeff said he wanted to say a few words and then, if I didn’t mind, ask me afew questions. I said “sure,”, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, ” man, I want to go back out there and fire it up right where the first set left off. I hope this ‘five minute’ interview doesn’t kill the momentum”.
I don’t remember the exact questions. They really don’t matter. Here’s what matters. At the end of the five minutes Jeff had not only conducted a concise, thought provoking interview, he had also fired me and the crowd up for an even better second set.
And so in five minutes I learned that Jeff Roberts was articulate, eloquent, entertaining and passionate about his music. That’s all I need to know to call a man my friend.Verlon Thompson Singer/songwriter
Jeff was instrumental in getting the RandallBramblett Band to SxSE for the first trip several years ago and we’ve been coming back ever since. He brought together a great group of people for a great cause and we’ve always been honored to be a part of it. We’ll miss him.Randall Bramblett Singer/songwriter/musician
Jeff Roberts was the original Teddy Bear. He always greeted you with a big smile and big hug. Passion for music drove Jeff to do amazing things for so many talented people. Jill and I are grateful to have been embraced by Jeff and the SxSE music family. He will be deeply missed by many here in Nashville.
In addition to being one of the more astute scholars of R & B that I have known, Jeff Roberts was also one of the most genuine people I ever met. When talking with Jeff, I never had the feeling that he had any ulterior motive. I cannot tell you how rare that is in the music business. I will truly miss him.Craig Woolard Musician Craig Woolard Band
“Jeffrey Lloyd” was managing The Music Box record store in the old Myrtle Beach bus terminal when he was either a senior in high school or just starting college. It was the highlight of my day to go there every day after school and hang out and listen to Jeff’s suggestions, and he definitely led me-or, was it, shamed me!–to branch out from Elton John! He was the first “non-rural” person I knew who enjoyed country music, and he predicted its popularity years ahead of the fact. I remember his mischeivous glint in the eye and his wide grin whenever he was listening to music he loved. I also remember he would pile jalapeno peppers on his burritos in the middle of the summer and wipe his brow as he ate! I worked for Jeff and Buddy Pittman at Sounds Familiar after college, and, though we didn’t stay in touch, I feel a vacuum now in a world that no longer has these two fine men in it. For all they meant to me, to Jeff and Buddy I say, “Thank you! Goodnight!”Greta McDaniel
From the Facebook South By South East: SXSE Music Feast page:
I just heard about Jeff. Music has lost a great soul. He gave me a job at Sounds Familiar many years ago and changed my whole understanding of music. I’ll be forever grateful.Tim Hewitt
It was an honor to be Jeff’s Friend. He touched so many lives including mine.Such a big loss here at the beach. My prayers are with Hunter and Jeff’s family.Kimberly Dawn Clayton Folk artist
How many people can call a music store while you’re on the air when a CD goes ‘bad’ and have another over to you in 15 minutes so you don’t miss your song?
He made that happen. He made a lot of things happen we should follow his lead.
I have never enjoyed doing a “KZQ 12 days of …” & working on Christmas Eve more than when we did it LIVE from Sounds Familiar. You guys remember those? Love to your familySummer James Deejay
A friend, a genuinely decent guy, a great dad and a bona fide Myrtle Beach music icon – Jeff will be greatly missed.Paul Grimshaw Musician/writer A great friend for 28 years and I can’t believe you’re gone. My heart aches and I will miss your wit, wisdom and friendship. Even if I live to be 100, I will never know as much as you – what an incredible memory and wealth of musical knowledge! We shared a lot of laughs and you made sure I never left the store without more than one CD The last time we spoke was at SxSE and I’m beating myself up because we didn’t visit longer. I miss you buddy – rest easy. Rod Smith
I met Jeff through my college friends, Wrynn and Mike Harrell at one of the earlier SxSE shows at the Brewery. He always had a smile on, and when he spoke to you, it was as if no one else was in the room! SxSE was and hopefully will always be, a healing place. Keep the music LIVE and his memory will live on! Thanks and my deepest gratitude to everyone who is a part of SxSE – so much music I deeply love, I would never have heard were it not for Jeff!Janet Chapman
Like so many of you I had the pleasure of knowing Jeff. Sounds Familiar was part of my youth and, at the time, a wonderful outpost to the commercial jack in a box music stores that followed (what became of the Paul Stanley-ized Farah Fawcett poster in the back room?) Jeff was always a supporter of Sandwitch and for that I’ll always appreciate what he did for local music and local musicians. One of a kind.John D. Rutenberg
I have known Jeff for nearly 20 years, but he became a real friend to me the last two or three years. Especially the last two years, Jeff and Hunter were around our house nearly everyday. Jeff would come pick Hunter up and most days chat with me while I cooked dinner, and we always had something to talk about. And I know he listened and was interested in what I talked about because he would always bring me an article, magazine, or something related to what we talked about. He would remember things special to me, and what can I say, I never knew anyone like him.
My life forever changed on Monday when my friend did not come home, but as sad as it is to see him go, I think he has taught me (again) how important my friends are- they are my wealth. I love you Jeff, I see you everywhere, I hear your voice, and I feel your love! I meant what I said, I won’t let you down! Peace.Dana Phillips