What happened? Did the South head south for the winter? The new year’s blustery entrance and record deep freeze are taking their toll on me. I need some heat.
I’m hungry for somethin’ soulful to warm my innards and Deep Fried Southern Style, the 2010 compilation CD from Shanty’s Records more than satisfies my appetite for smokey old tunes, hot guitar licks and lip-smackin’ vocals. The 21-track disc is a tasty combination of soul-blues, R&B and shag tunes. So whether you’re fixin’ to sit back and enjoy it by yourself or invite a mess of folks over to dance and carry on, get yourself some Southern Style.
Track one is the soulful “A Love To Call Mine” by Johnnie Taylor. Penned by Paul Taylor, it’s from Taylor’s This Is Your Night album (Malaco Records 1984), and a sweet way to open the album. Track two is another tasty morsel, this time by Oscar Toney Jr., “No More Heartaches,” from his album, Sundazed (Bob Grady Records 2001).
Track three is “Katrina Katrina,” (think “Corina Corina”) by blues piano legend Henry Gray, from his Times Are Gettin’ Hard CD (Lucky Cat Records 2009). After 50 or 60 years, you think it might start to get stale, but Henry’s as real as ever.
Next on the menu is “Memphis Women & Chicken,” the classic from T. Graham Brown’s T. Brown Graham Live (Aspirion Records 2004). This soul-country tune was written by Gary Nicholson, Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts.
I have to confess here, that I don’t often enjoy compilation albums. I find them disjointed and without a concept.
Not this one.
Producer David Wade, who is also the owner of Shanty’s Records, has done a fine job of selecting tunes. The fledgling label, which he founded in 2010, is based
on the premise of “bringing back the songs and artists that have slipped through the cracks, or have been forgotten along the way.”
One of my favorite tunes on the disc is the soulful “Can’t Tear Myself Away” by Jamaican born singer/songwriter Ruby Turner from her 2005 R&B release So Amazing.
Burlington, N.C.’s Holiday Band is represented with another Dan Penn tune, “I’m Your Puppet,” originally performed by James and Bobby Purify in 1966 and later Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrill.
Two tracks from the Roadrunners are also included. Track 11 is “Let the Boogie Woogie Roll” written by Nugetre, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler; and track 18, “Devil With a Blue Dress On,” made famous by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Vocals on these two are by the late great Earl Gaines. On piano is Jay Spell, who sadly just passed away over New Year’s.
T. Graham Brown is back with his “Brilliant Conversationalist.” This is the original title track from his second album for Capitol Records (1987).
Mark Roberts & Breeze gives us “The Way You Love Me” and a rockin’ version of the 1997 Wayne Toups tune “Love Me As Hard As You Hurt Me.” The latter is also on his Cover To Cover album (Shanty’s Records 2010).
From Rickey Godfrey comes “G-Man,” written back in the 80s by Rickey’s brother and sister-in-law, Ronnie Godfrey and Kim Morrison (they’re also singing backup). A little trivia for you, this tune was featured for a bit on G. Gordon Liddy’s Radio America show in the late 90s.
Holly Singletary-Artis, well known throughout the Carolinas as one of the high-energy vocalists in the now defunct Sammy O’Banion & Mardi Gras, does a beautiful job on Carlene Carter’s “Come Here You.”
Deep Fried Southern Style is a deliciously rich music gumbo blending all my favorite ingredients – blues, R&B and soul. I wanted to know how David Wade developed his taste in music.
A deejay since the early seventies, he tells me his first gig was with the Air Force. From there, he went to CBS radio, where he hosted the syndicated Salty Dawg Blues & Review Show.
“I have been fortunate to have been able to deejay all over the world – on military bases, at American Embassy functions, state functions and more. I spent 21 years in the Air Force, retiring in 1989. Throughout my military career, I was able to keep playing music.
“I also owned Shanty’s Beach & Blues Club in Carolina Beach, N.C., which was nominated for a Cammy is first year of being opened. Shaggin’ Time was also nominated for Internet Radio Show of the Year the same year – 2009.”
Additional tracks on Deep Fried Southern Style are “Swanee River Rock” written by Ray Charles and performed by Manny Lloyd of Soul Posse; “Airtight Alibi,” another Johnnie Taylor original; “Broken Hearted Melody,” by Eliza (a hit for Sarah Vaughn back in 1959); “Stop Me From Starting This Feeling” by Clinton Horton of the Magnificents; “More Love,” a Smokey Robinson tune sung superbly by Holly Singletary-Artis; “Bubba White’s” by Charleston, S.C.’s Rick Strickland from his 2008 release Island Soul; and “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” by Men of Distinction.
Closing out the CD is the bluesy “You Do Me Wrong” by DieDra from Living the Bluz (RuffPro Records 2010) . That’s her husband Keithan Ruff wailing on the guitar and playing just about everything else on the track, too. I expect you’ll savor Deep Fried Southern Style down to this last tasty bite. I sure did.
Additional album credits: sequencing Midi, Richard Robertson and Terry Nash; engineering, J.K. Loftin/Cape Fear Studios.
Every so often, I trip over a recording, which, once I listen to it, becomes part of me. Bright Blue Light from Delta keyboard player LaLa Craig has been absorbed!
Bright Blue Light
LaLa (Laura) Craig is the amazing keyboard player for the Clarksdale, Mississippi blues band, Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks. The group performs often at Ground Zero Blues Club, which is known worldwide as the place to go for authentic Delta blues.
For Bright Blue Light, her solo CD, LaLa has written and also sings lead on all the songs.
Typically, when I play a CD for the first time, I pop it in the player without even scanning the liner notes. With this one though, I started reading at track one, “Cry Out In the Dark.” It’s an eerie unsettling tune and I needed to know the backstory.
First thing I noticed was a dedication to “the brilliant legacy of my brother, guitarist/ singer/songwriter, Buddy Craig (1957 – 2008).” Visiting his MySpace page, I learned that the talented country/bluegrass guitarist had taken his own life shortly before LaLa began work on the album.
“While it’s true that when this CD was done, my brother had only been gone less than five months.. and in retrospect perhaps some time to heal might have been in order before undergoing something so soul- wrenching as pouring out your guts and the contents of your entire life for public viewing – I do believe that it happened exactly as it should,” she wrote me. “It’s this sort of rawness and the courage of it that often helps an artist lead others into the deeper levels of feeling that the blues audience appears to seek, if not to downright demand.”
My reaction to this CD can only be described as visceral.It felt like an emotional assault. Craig’s achingly soulful tunes get under your skin before you can even prepare for it, so I asked her to tell me about some of the individual tracks.
“For ‘Cry Out In the Dark,’” the Oceanside, Calif. native told me, “I had the lyrics first; the tune just crept up and outta me one day like – not surprisingly – crying out in the dark — definitely meant to have that bittersweet pathos meets hope kinda feel.”
About the title track she said, “Quite literally, the ‘story of my life’, as it were – how I came to be called to dedicate my life to the blues, and at the relatively late age of 34 to boot. Over a decade later I still consider spirit of music, take my heart.. blue as it is to be one of the most meaningful images to ever strike me.”
One of my favorite tunes on Bright Blue Light is track three, “Friars’ Point Curse,” which LaLa calls “… a great real-life story about the adventures of myself and my tourist friend Joe. Whenever he visited the Delta and I was still a ‘newbie’ here, we’d go cruising and no matter where we sought to end up, seemed like we’d always end up in Friars’ Point! This prompted me to draw the parallel from Friars’ Point to the Crossroads legend … my conclusion? …that every Crossroads in the Delta’s just as hoodoo as the next …. a kind of a fun smokescreen that secretly sneaks a peek at my real-live take on the legend.
“Track four, ‘Delta Wind’ [is] the first song I wrote after visiting the Delta in July of 2000 and moving here a short four months later. Speaks of the feelings evoked by walking late at night – alone – in the town of Clarksdale, feeling the spirits of the old blues greats as palpably as if one could reach out and touch them; as if they were still playing for us all on the street corners and on the porches and in the jukes of this blues-infused Delta town.”
She goes on to say, “I remember reading a Clapton quote, a scaled-down version of which went something like this: the blues audience will devour a faker.
“When attempting to evolve into an artist, way back when when I was 30-something, I found it beneficial to first evolve into a person!
“I’m such a late bloomer, in everything I do. Luckily it’s never too late to bloom.”
This is an album permeated by utter sadness, but punctuated by a joy of living. Well done, baby sister.
Players include Super Chikan, guitar; Heather “PRJ” Crosse, bass; Lee Williams, drums; Paul Nunis, lap steel, mandolin; Walt Busby, guitar, bass; Daddy Rich, g uitar; Jacqueline Nassar, guitar; David Hanks Dunavent, guitar; Torey Todora, backup vocals.
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.
Folks around here have been driving themselves pure crazy waiting for Jim Quick’s latest funked-up collection of melodic metaphors telling tales of heartache, woe, one-night stands and other intimate snapshots of his tumultuous life.
Well I’m happy to tell all ya’ll that there’s no need to get your panties in a wad, it’s finally here. Hot off the Music City presses, the CD titled Down South is here, but this time around, our hero is singing a whole different tune.
He’s left his Coastline band behind – for the moment – and teamed up with Nashville songwriter/producer Gary Nicholson. All 14 tracks on the CD are either written or co-written by Nicholson, who has brought together a colorful group of mostly southern songwriters to help him tell us how it is Down South.
I don’t mind telling you I was a little skeptical since Jim Quick, a fine songwriter himself, is pretty strong in the colorful department … sort of Cole Porter meets the Soggy Bottom Boys. But it appears to be a smart partnership.
“I’ve been wanting to work with Gary Nicholson since Nothing Personal [Delbert McClinton’s 2003 Grammy-winning album, which was produced by Nicholson]” Jim tells me. ‘A Little Bit of Money,’ ‘Buying This Beer,’ ‘Mississippi Mud’ … all were totally written with Gary Nicholson in mind. What would he do if he were writing this song?”
Quick’s vocals throughout Down South are some of his strongest to date – raw and emotional, with a little swamp funk around the edges.
Opening track is “Living On Love,” co-written with Craig Fuller of Little Feat and Pure Prairie League fame. It’s a fast-paced, high-energy piece that hints of what’s to come.
Track two, “Rewind,” is a sweet little tune, almost pop in nature, but soulful and fluid. Nicholson wrote it with N.C. native Seth Walker whose own music melds blues, jazz and soul with his recently adopted Nashville’s country sound. Carolina folks will love its shag beat.
Up next is “Stronger Than You Need To Be,” penned by Nicholson and Twin City players Bruce McCabe and David Z (You may know David Z for the distinctive snare drum on the 1989 hit single, “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals). This is a tune about tenderness and surrender, accentuated by a spot-on vocal delivery from Quick.
Title track, “Down South,” follows and it’s a righteous romp through swamp living, downhome cooking and all things southern. Listen for some fine slide guitar here from Canadian Colin Linden. Southern Canadian.
“I’m a Dog,” a co-write with Delbert McClinton, is going to be a favorite at live shows. Listen closely, you’ll hear Delbert barking, too. Fun tune that I expect will become signature Coastline.
Bekka Bramlett, talented offspring of the California country-rock duo Delaney and Bonnie, is the husky, sultry female vocal on the fast moving country-edged “Deal With It.” Written by Nicholson and Billy Burnette, this tune was on Bekka and Billy, the duo’s 1997 pop rocka- billy recording, and now she adds her significant voice to Quick’s for another lively version of the tune.
She’s also one of the writers on “Strongest Weakness,” which has a rockin’ gospel sound that’ll get you out of your seat. Is that the McCrary Sisters I’m hearing?
Other tracks include “No Good Place To Cry,” a take-your-breath-away ballad written by Nicholson and Randy Houser, “Forever Man,” a Tyrone Davis-type tune, which was co-written with Billy Currington; and “It’s Too Late” from Alabama southern roots voice, Adam Hood.
“Hurt That Bad” (Gary Nicholson/Billy Currington/Paul Overstreet) will grab your heart, guaranteed. Vocals and horns are especially noteworthy here. The jumpin’ “It’s Always Something” was written by Gary Nicholson, guitar great Al Anderson, Tom Hambridge and Delbert McClinton. “Don’t Shoot the Snake” (Gary Nicholson/John Hadley/Kevin Welch) is a great blues-driven closer that brings us full circle back to the swamp.
Players on the CD include: Lynn Williams, drums, percussion; Steve Mackey, bass; Rob McNeely, electric and acoustic guitar; Gary Nicholson, electric and Kevin McKendree, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Hammond B3 organ; Colin Linden, slide guitar; Al Anderson, guitar (“It’s Always Something”); Jim Hoke, saxophone, harmonica, Jew’s harp; Steve Herman, trumpet; Chris Charmichael, strings; Delbert McClinton, har- monica and barking (“I’m a Dog”); Jim Quick, lead vocals; background vocals, Bekka Bramlett, Perry Coleman, Regina McCrary, Ann McCrary and Frieda McCrary; producer, Gary Nicholson.
Apologies to Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen and Pat Enright. Soggy Bottom Boys is just way more poetic.
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.
I’m a live music junkie.
There’s something so exciting about a live performance – where decisions have to be spontaneous and there isn’t the luxury of “fixing it tomorrow.”
To witness the synergy between players, to be part of the emotion, the energy and the bond between artist and audience … to be in the house when an artist pushes himself so far that the talent just erupts … For me, there’s nothing like it. And there’s no one who delivers like Mike Farris.
Former frontman for the Screaming Cheetah Wheelies now giving his voice for gospel, Mike Farris is a powerhouse. Whether he’s performing solo or with his band, the Roseland Rhythm Revue, he puts out an intense electrifying experience and I’m here to tell you, Mike Farris’ newest recording, Shout! Live captures the raw power of his performance.
The 14-track CD, which recently earned a Dove award for Best Traditional Gospel Recording, includes several songs from his 2007 Salvation In Lights including gospel standards “Sit Down Servant” and “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” plus originals “Selah! Selah!” and “Streets of Galilee.” In a telephone interview, Mike told me he wanted to document how much the songs have changed since he released Salvation In Lights and began performing it with his topnotch band. “When I recorded Salvation In Lights, it was just straight from my brain into the studio. The album took off and we started touring. Live, it got to be more soulful, raw. The original was mostly acoustic. There was very little electrical instrumentation.”
Players on Shout! Live include Mike Farris, vocals and guitar; Joe McMahan, guitar; Nick Govrik, bass; Keio Stroud, drums; Ericson Holt, piano, organ; Rusty Russell, Dennis Taylor and Greg Cox, horns; the McCrary Sisters: Ann, Regina and Freda, vocals.
If you’ve never heard the McCrary sisters, you’re in for a treat. Daughters of the late Rev. Samuel H. McCrary, an original member of the Fairfield Four Gospel Quartet, these ladies are making their daddy proud. Regina performed with Elvis, toured with Stevie Wonder and was a featured soloist at the Alabama Theatre in Myrtle Beach. What they bring to the Roseland Rhythm Revue is immeasurable.
Listening to Shout! Live, I felt like I was there. Mike’s energy on “Selah! Selah!” was through the roof. “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” thrilled me to the bone. Emotionally charged horns, background vocals of the mighty McCrary Sisters, Eric Holt tearing into the organ, audience reactions; it was like being at a Southern revival show and having the best seat in the house.
Shout! Live was recorded over four different Sunday Night Shout! performances at Nashville’s Station Inn. Farris has written an essay that’s part of the liner notes. In it he explains his concept for the Sunday night Shout!
“I like the idea of playing music and having church anywhere with anybody! By my own definition, church is what happens when one or more people come together and discuss, life, love, sin, God, enlightenment, witches, masters, and slaves. The human condition. I have found that that’s exactly what you get when you have “church” outside the prescriptive walls of church as we know it. People seem to let their guard down. They feel safe and warm and comfortable.
“The Shout! is a place for people to come who never found a comfortable seat in the traditional church, but always needed that ‘spiritual’ fix. We never turn anyone away. If they don’t have the money for the cover, they give what they can, if anything, and come on in. Some are there for a beer and some social time, some are there just because it makes them feel good, and some are there because they need some reassurance and to feel justified in their own private quest.
“Truck drivers mix with local music folks and housewives, college kids and little kids everywhere. Black, white, old and young, it makes no difference. We’ve discovered a great thing about this music that’s been handed down to us: Black spiritual music crosses all borders, tears down all walls, bridges all the gaps and reveals that everybody is a brother and a sister.
“We all have the same struggles and the same joys. In the end, we all walk away with a great big smile on our faces, feeling ‘excited delighted, and loved’!!!
Shout! Live is available on CD, as individual downloads and on vinyl. “If you’ve got a turntable, you’ve got to hear the vinyl,” the artist insists.
Whatever format you choose, play it loud. If you’ll let him, Mike Farris will give you goose bumps, and then some.
“Well, there’s Art Benton on keyboards and then there’s . . . me,” he answered.
You see, it was just about a year ago that I interviewed Rick about his new Rick Strickland Band when he told me, “We’ll be going into the studio almost immediately after [the band’s debut]. We are excited about putting a band album out. It’s gonna be great.”
So what gives, Rick?
Turns out Rick is so excited about the band’s sound, he decided – along with the group – that because his own studio was set up for a single musician/engineer, they should wait and do it right. “I didn’t want to be overdubbing vocals. I want the band in the studio together, and we’re definitely going to do that, but for right now I have a new solo CD.”
Rick did the drum programming. He played all the bass, lead guitar and rhythm guitar parts. He also sang all the lead and background vocals. And wrote all the tunes.
The multi-talented musician also created the orchestral arrangement and then taught it to Art one part at a time.
The 12-track recording is titled Seven. Why Seven? This is Rick Strickland, remember, and I’ve learned there are surprises around every corner.
“You know, this is my seventh solo album,” I can hear him grinning over the phone. “ My band has seven members … my wife Gail really did figure out these things. My favorite Beach Boy album is Pet Sounds, album number seven. My favorite Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, their seventh. The photo we used for the CD cover … was shot from out on the water and when we looked at the image, there was number seven on the pilings!
“And don’t even get me started on the biblical references.”
I’m happy to report, however, that the disc isn’t limited to seven songs. The 12-track recording has the classic Rick Strickland sound his fans love to love. Seven is a mix of old and new, with the main theme being relationships – getting together, staying together, breaking up, second chances, leaving, longing and love. Track one, “I’ve Got Your Back,” is a funky soul tune that will be the first single released to to deejays and radio stations. By the way, this is also one of Rick’s favorites. Picking up the pace a bit is track two “Fever,” penned back in 1980 and just as much fun today. Up next is “Life Boat,” great for a slow shag or cha cha.
“I’ll Give You More” is a sweet promise as only Rick Strickland can. Track five, “I Wanna Know You,” showcases a classic Strickland melody, but it was a lyrical surprise to me: “I wanna get to know you, before we do the physical thing.” Sweet, old-fashioned concept. I’ll be surprised if this isn’t one of the album’s most popular cuts.
“Why You Wanna Pick On Me” is the kind of tune you blast on the highway and sing along at the top of your voice. It’s a pure toe-tappin’, shoulder-shakin’ romp through a relationship. Fun.
The next track, “Faith,” written in 1988 has special meaning to Rick and his wife. “My wife really had to love me a lot to marry me. I was dead broke and for our first Christmas together, I didn’t have money to get her anything. So I wrote “Faith” and that was my first Christmas gift for her. She likes my eccentricities,” he laughs.
“I Forgive You” is about staying in a relationship when you know better. “I’d rather hear your lies than try and live without you.” You can shag through your tears.
“Forbidden Fruit” is for anyone who fantasizes about stepping out on their sweetie, but resists the temptation. The next track is “Addicted.” Rick’s talent on guitar and his soulful vocals are evident on both of these tunes.
In “Back To Square One,” we get to hear a little of that falsetto voice we’ve come to expect from Rick Strickland. It’s never enough.
“If Our Love Must End” is about taking the high road when you’re afraid the object of your affections is moving on. Okay, I’ll be a grown up, but it’s not what I want.
The band is starting to include some tunes from Seven into their live show. Seven to be exact. Rick said, “I came to rehearsal with a list of songs I wanted the band to learn, and Lesa Hudson said to me, ‘Do you realize how many you’ve included? Seven!’
Seven is due for release in two or three weeks. The seven-piece Rick Strickland Band will be at the Spanish Galleon in North Myrtle Beach for the Kick-off to KHP’s Summer Concert Series on April 16 and then again at HOTO’s in Cherry Grove on April 25. Visit Rick’s website at rickstrickland.org or join the band’s Facebook fan page.
Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention: how many grandchildren does Rick Strickland have? Seven.
Cagle & Nash
If you’re not located in the Carolinas, you may not yet know about this Charlotte, N.C. duo, but Cagle & Nash are one of the best R&B acts around. Greg Cagle plays saxophone, guitar and sings lead vocals. Rick Nash plays a mean trumpet. Both are talented composers.
This soulful recording consists of 11 tracks and for my money, any one of them could be released as a single. Presentation throughout is solidly polished. This is pop meets old school and the result is spectacular. All songs on Soul Complete were written by Greg Cagle and Rick Nash.
The first song into it, I knew I was in for a treat. “Pick Up the Phone” is a jazzy piece that shows off the vocal talents of Greg Cagle, and Rick Nash – what a horn player!
The second track, “December,” boasts some equally rich horns. Also of note are the disc’s harmonies by Cagle and backup singers Robyn Springer and Jarrett Gillis.
Musicians on Soul Complete include: Greg Cagle (drum programming, saxophone, lead vocals, background vocals, guitar, bass, vibraphone), Rick Nash (trumpet), David Rhyne (percussion), Joe Miers (bass), Bobby Aycock (piano), Larry Gianneschi, Zach Wheeler, Greg Mitchell (alto sax), David Floyd (string arrangement, strings), Robyn Springer (lead and background vocals), Jarrett Gillis (background vocals), Tovaris Matthews (drums), Kenneth Leonard Jr. (piano), Steve McGuirt (drums), Bill Baucom (piano), Di Yonna Mitchell (lead vocal).
If you’re a fan of R&B, soul or pop, you’ll want to give this album a listen.
C&N is releasing another CD titled Loungevity later this month. I haven’t hear any of it yet, but I’m expecting big things.
Awendaw Green Records
I love the simplicity and authenticity of this CD. There’s virtually no digital manipulation. It’s just one lone acoustic bluesman singing, picking and stomping his own version of backwoods Delta blues.
Jeff Norwood is a superb storyteller. He doesn’t judge. He just tells it like it is – whether he’s singing about sex, race, religion, love, money or catfish, he just has a story to tell.
“Bad Ass Boogie” is “the way music was made, back in the woods, back in the day, everybody got high, everybody got laid, that was the tune that always got played, the bad ass boogie.”
“Walking Catfish Blues” really is about a big ole catfish walking around looking for love and something to eat.
“Horny Road” is the back country counterpart to suburbia’s Lover’s Lane, only the couples don’t stop.
In the same vein, “Shake” will transplant you to a street corner or a front porch on a sticky summer evening when temperatures and hormones are on the move.
Our faithful bard wrote all but one of Awendaw’s ten tracks. “Kokomo Blues” was written by North Mississippi blues guitarist/singer Fred McDowell (1904 – 1972).
Norwood, who grew up working on a S.C. farm, has paid his dues working some rough roadhouses and juke joints. Maybe that’s why he’s so matter of fact about his subject matter.
Awendaw, which is named for the small S.C. town where Norwood records, should be part of any serious blues collection.
I first heard this phenomenal performer at a club in Columbia, S.C. He was playing to a packed room – folks who knew the lyrics to every tune and the story behind it. It didn’t take me long to appreciate Edwards’ considerable vocal talent and songwriting skill. His voice is whiskey-edged velvet, tender and tough at the same time.
His latest CD, Everything Changes delivers the same kind of live energy and raw vocals that keep his fans coming back for more. As a songwriter, J Edwards ( and yes, his first name is J) wears his heart on his sleeve, and while his tunes aren’t necessarily autobiographical, he makes us believe they are.
The 11-track disc opens with a rockin’ Delbertesque number called “Junkyard of Love,” a song about a guy talking about a girl who’s maybe worked her way through most of the guys at the bar, and by the end of the tune, he’s going to get himself a “mechanic to start working out the kinks in his heart.” He’s ready to move on.
“Carole Ann” is a hauntingly sweet tune of life on the road. Edwards then picks up the pace for “Can’t Get Over You.”
“Lover’s Moon Over South Carolina,” is a road trip anthem with a special yen for heading home to South Carolina. It was voted in the top three at the Songwriter’s and Musician’s Guild of South Carolina songwriting competition.
Let yourself give in to “Skye.” Crank it up and go. It’s just plain fun.
Track seven, “Baby,” is going to take your breath away and fill you full of longing and sweetness until you just ache all over. This is that whiskey velvet I was talking about. Add to that, guitar work by Charles Funk … well, just wait for the goose bumps. They comin’.
Without even giving you time to recover, “If I Had To” is up next and it’s another tune that strips away the layers as you listen to it. Good stuff. Also called “Conner’s Song,” J was inspired by Columbia’s Chris Conner, lead singer for Sourwood Honey and later The South, who passed away in late 2007 of lung cancer.
“Use Me” takes the emotion from the previous two ballads and channels it into a rockin’ romp for the whole band.
Edwards’ songwriting ability is evident on “Catch Me,” a song of love and leaving and lamenting the contradiction of it all. The road warrior longs to stay but feels the constant pull toward the highway. As with most all J Edwards’ songs, powerful vocals combine with solid band performances.
All songs were written and performed by J Edwards (acoustic guitar). Other players include Charles Funk (acoustic, rhythm, lead guitars); Hesham Mostafa (bass guitar); Greg Bickley (keys on “Catch Me” and “Lover’s Moon;” Buddy Parker (keys on “Junkyard of Love;” Evan Simons (drums); Mike Marchbanks (drums on “If I Had To” and “Can’t Get Over You;” Erin Bates (background vocals on “Junkyard of Love”).
At this writing, the J Edwards Band has begun work on a new blues CD. They expect to be back in the studio by early March and hope for a summer release.
Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains The Same: Expanded Reissue. This beats the pants off the original double LP. Some of the tracks that appeared on that LP are different takes, and the unreleased stuff is superb. Jimmy Page wanks all over the place, but it’s wanking of the first order. I can see why people pegged them as devil worshippers. Jimmy’s guitar playing sounds way more like Satan than anything Charlie Daniels ever dug up in Georgia.
You might think that a geek like me is listening to the new Star Trek sound track or some obscure folk singer, but I am stranger than any geek you’ve ever met. I’m listening to Tom Waits.
I just downloaded Tom Waits new live album, Glitter and Doom Live (Anti 2009). Recorded from performances across the U.S. and Europe during the 2008 tour, it is Waits at his best.
Why Tom Waits? (And if you don’t know Tom, you are missing out. For the more main stream of you out there, he did the “tango” version of “Roxanne” in Moulin Rouge and “A Little Bit of Poison” for Shrek.) Because, there is nobody else who takes the most hedonistic parts of rock, old time blues and weirdness, twists them together, and produces a style that defies classification and makes you want to hobo across America with a guitar or move to New Orleans and sing about all your ex-lovers on street corner.