DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Top Talents Head To the Beach

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on February 23, 2011

New York City, eat your heart out!

Not only is it sunny and warm here in the Carolinas, but Steve Bailey, Victor Wooten and Randall Freakin’ Bramblett are headed our way!

March 3 – Steve Bailey & Victor Wooten at CCU

Bass Player magazine said, “Steve Bailey is to the six-string fretless bass guitar what Columbus is to America.”

Internationally acclaimed bass wizards Steve Bailey and Victor Wooten will be at CCU’s Edwards Recital Hall on Thursday, March 3 at 8 p.m.

Do you know who these guys are?

Myrtle Beach’s own Steve Bailey practically invented the fretless bass. Well no, but he started playing it after he ran over a fretted bass with his car. Bass Player magazine said, “Steve Bailey is to the six-string fretless bass guitar what Columbus is to America.”

He’s played with a huge number of high dollar artists; including jazz greats, Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D’Rivera, Claudio Roditi, David Benoit and more. He’s shared the stage and the recording studio with folks like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Chris Duarte, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Kitaro, Carol Kaye, Billy Sheehan, and, of course, the other half of his double bill, Victor Wooten.

Five-time Grammy award winner Victor Wooten, no slouch himself, has earned the title of Bass Player of the Year award from Bass Player magazine three consecutive years and, according to his website, is the only player to have won the award more than once.

Victor is a founding member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (banjo master Béla Fleck, Victor Wooten on bass, Jeff Coffin playing saxophone and Roy “Futureman” Wooten on his drumitar (drum/guitar developed by the innovative Grammy winner).

Together they conduct Bass At the Beach, a clinic/competition held in Myrtle Beach and attended by bass players from all over the world and the even more intensive Bass/Nature Camp held at Wooten Woods, just outside Nashville.

“It’s rare to be able to hear someone with creds like Victor here in Myrtle Beach,” says Bailey, who is an associate professor in music and artist in residence at CCU. “We found out early on that bass players getting together is an accident waiting to happen – it’s like trying to get two elephants to ballet dance together. But when we met each other in San Francisco in 1991, we had a chemistry that’s unheard of, and we’ve collaborated on CDs, clinics, DVDs and conferences since then.”

Five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten takes the approach that music is language.

The show at Coastal Carolina  will feature music from the duo’s signature Bass Extremes project as well as their recent solo efforts. This much anticipated performance will be the second stop on the bassists’ Pushing the Limits Volume 3 Southeast tour. About the event, Bailey says, “Surprise guest performers are always a possibility, and ticket holders should bring a question or two, as we are prone to interact directly with the audience in intimate venues like Edwards.”

For more info, check out their websites: Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey. Tickets are $20 general admission or $15 for CCU/HGTC students, staff, alumni, seniors and kids 17 and under. Pick up your tix ahead of time from the school’s Wheelwright Box Office (843-349-2502) or at the Recital Hall that evening.

March 5 – Randall Bramblett Band at South By Southeast Music Feast

Right on the heels of Bailey and Wooten comes the rockin’ Randall Bramblett Band.

Randall Bramblett first came to the attention of music industry insiders (and some astute FM listeners) back in 1973 for his amazing saxophone work on Laid Back, Greg Allman’s first solo album. Allman tapped him again for his follow-up The Gregg Allman Tour, recorded in part at Carnegie Hall, for which Bramblett was again recognized by musicians and serious music lovers. One-time Allman Brothers keyboard player and more recently a backline fixture for the Rolling Stones, Chuck Leavell says, “Randall is, in my opinion, one of the most gifted and talented southern singer-songwriter musicians of the past several decades.”

Bramblett is a true musician’s musician, proficient on saxophone, keyboard and guitar. He is a skilled and highly regarded songwriter. His tunes have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Sea Level,Rick Nelson, B.J.Thomas,  Hot Tuna and so many others. He’s toured or recorded with Steve Winwood, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, Levon Helm and Cowboy.

His vocals are emotionally-charged and honest, stripped down to bare the soul. Born and raised in Jessup, Ga., Bramblett crosses genres seamlessly, melding rock, blues, soul and even pop to deliver a collection of heartfelt southern songs.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine this much talent all crammed into one guy, and don’t get me started on his band. Longtime collaborator Davis Causey on guitar is a standout; drummer is Gerry Hanson, who often functions as the band’s producer; there’s Mike Hines, also on guitar; and bass player Michael C. Steele. These guys are all talented, successful musicians in their own right. Together, the Randall Bramblett Band is a powerhouse.

Randall recently released Live At the Rialto Room, a DVD recorded on Feb. 13, 2010 at the Rialto Room in Athens, Ga. This was the CD release concert for The Meantime (Blue Ceiling Records 2010), a sparse, sophisticated recording by Randall Bramblett with Gerry Hanson on drums and Chris Enghauser on upright bass.

Randall Bramblett Band (L-R) Gerry Hansen, Mike Hines, Davis Causey, Randall Bramblett, Michael C. Steele. (Photo Jason Thrasher)

About the concert, Randall says, “It was a great night of music, and one of the most beautiful performances of my career.”

I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but I know it will be stellar. And, happily, Randall says he’ll have some at the South By Southeast show, so bring your wallet. You’re going to want at least one.

The South By Southeast Music Feast takes place, as usual, at the historic Train Depot in downtown Myrtle Beach (851 Broadway). Tickets are $25/$20 and include potluck, pizza, homemade desserts, wine, beer, soft drinks and coffee. Feasting starts at 6 p.m. and music begins at 7. Email your reservation to southxsoutheast@aol.com by 3 p.m. Friday and pay at the door. Come early, this show will be SRO. See you there!


Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on October 6, 2010


Ronnie Godfrey


Ronnie Godfrey Concert at School For Blind

It’s about 250 miles from where I am in coastal North Carolina to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind in Spartanburg … kind of a long way to go for a piano recital. But I’m thinking about making the trip.

I mean, how often do I get to hear freakin’ Ronnie Godfrey?

In case you’re one of those folks who never ventures far from the Top 40, let me tell you about Ronnie Godfrey – singer, songwriter, composer, producer and piano man – who’s well worth breaking out the Garmin.

During the early eighties, he was  the keyboard player for Marshall Tucker Band, playing on three of the group’s Warner Brothers albums. He was a driving force behind the S.C. Upstate powerhouse, Garfeel Ruff. He’s written over 2,000 songs with recordings by  Marshall Tucker Band, Billy Joe Royal, Sonny Turner, Damon Gray, Rob Crosby, Johnny Lee and others.

He’s played piano for Crystal Gayle, Charlie Daniels and David Allen Coe – among others. His list of credits is a mile long.

“Hat Full of Rain,” which Ronnie co-wrote with wife Kim Morrison, was recorded by Ty Herndon for his highly acclaimed 1995 debut album, What Matters Most on Epic Records. In 2004, Ronnie co-wrote, co-produced, played keys and sang background on Johnny Lee’s “Santa Claus Is Lookin’ For Love.”

Ronnie also produced Cole Porter’s indie-country release, Poetic Justice, which climbed to the  indie top ten charts and featured two singles that reached number one spots on the indie charts.

In 2007, Ronnie brought soulful background vocals  to Leon Russell’s Angel In Disguise release.

Born completely blind in Greenville, S.C., Ronnie was introduced to music at the S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind. On Oct. 30, he will return to present a special concert celebrating the school’s 155th anniversary.

Last week, I talked to him about his music, his family, his experiences at the blind school and about going back to where it all began. As you’ll see, it was classic Ronnie Godfrey. He tells it like he sees it.

“When I started playing in 1964, I was eight. I didn’t like it. At the school, they forced us to play … If you’re talented they make you play. For first five years, I tried to quit. All my friends were out of it and I was a little bit of a problem child anyway. I went to Dr. Walker, but he wouldn’t let me quit. Now I’m grateful. It’s a really good lesson. Don’t expect to like everything.

“When I was 15 my parents bought me a piano so I could play over the summer and I fell in love with it. Now at this 50-year mark, I want to go back to where it started and feel it …. sort of absorb and connect to where it started … be in that room again.”

Ronnie Godfrey is very matter-of-fact about his childhood. He states the facts, but doesn’t dwell on the difficulties.

“I was so troubled, ran away from school three times. My dad was in prison: he robbed a bank, and everyone knew it. I had bedwetting problems.

“The school had that 19th century parochial school, sort of Dickensonian quality to it. The housefather and his wife at the dormitory  made me wash my sheets if I wet.

“The teachers at the school were wonderful, but the dormitory was abusive.”

“One time this housefather, he was going to show me he could control me. He said I was an instigator. He put me in a room with the deaf kids.

“But, I think those things mold you if you let them.”

He doesn’t seem to have hard feelings about his father either, who shares his first name, Virgil.

About Music City, Ronnie says, “Nashville has become a cesspool. Once Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks and the others made it big, there was suddenly a lot of money. Then the lawyers showed up. Now the radio is packed with bad songs. “Somewhere Between Old and New York” by Dave Loggins? It’s about a shoe shine guy at Yankee Stadium. You couldn’t write that song now. Now it’s crappy ass songs.

“There are two ways to make money: sales money and play money. Some bribe the radio stations. You can make money without even selling records.

‘It’s not depressing to me. I’m not a typical human being. I never did fit in with the good old boy set. I didn’t hold my mouth right. I’m not even normal for blind people.”

Songwriting is clearly a great love for Ronnie Godfrey. “It’s got to have a combination of being honest and conversational, yet also a sense of imagery. Convince the listener that it’s real … like the opening to “Hotel California” … On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air . They made you know … in a very few words.”

In 1998, Ronnie began to jam  with Casey Lutton (guitar and vocals), Steve Johnson (drums and vocals) and Michael Thorn (bass). In 2000, they formed Virgil, a genre-resistant jam band. The group recorded Standin’ In a Circle, which, you can hear on the group’s MySpace page at the previous link.

“My philosophy of life is in Virgil. I believe people should be free with each other – spiritual and free and open. The church has done more to screw up manhood. People don’t believe they have the right to feel that good. If people would learn to be free and love, people wouldn’t have to fight wars.

“I see Virgil as my alter ego. Why the name for the band? We didn’t want just my name on it, but it was my concept, so it was a way to name the band.”

If there’s a single song that reveals who Ronnie Godfrey is, it’s “The Man In the Glass,” and he’s happy to talk about it.

“I did a bad thing. I knew it wasn’t right. I was drunk. I had this old pendant metronome … well, I stumbled into the piano, activating the metronome. It was telling me sit down and work this thing out. For two days … I wouldn’t eat until it was done. I couldn’t sleep.

“I had one guy , an alcoholic, it made him quit drinking. That song is my benchmark, my anthem, my way of facing up to myself.  It’s like it was meant to be. That metronome told me. That song was in my soul.”

Ronnie’s currently working on a project with Kim, his wife of ten years, also a singer/songwriter/musician. “It’s the best stuff I‘vet ever done. I’m playing all the parts. She’s singing it all. We’ve co-written it all. It’s a CD for her, Therapy.”

When will it be done, I wanted to know?

“Probably two years. I’m a guy who needs time. Virgil took five years.”

I’ve heard three rough tracks from Therapy. It will be worth the wait. In the meantime, visit the website for more info.

The South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind is located at 355 Cedar Springs Road in Spartanburg, S.C. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $7 and proceeds will benefit the School for the Blind Alumni Association. For details call 864-285-2921 or email: barbieann519@charter.net.

This Flying Under the Radar post has also been published in Coast magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine, Myrtle Beach, S.C.