DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

SaRon Crenshaw: SxSE Brings Blues With a Soul Twist to the Beach

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on December 16, 2011

SaRon Crenshaw with the red Gibson. (Photo courtesy SaRonCrenshaw.com)

South By Southeast, the not-for-profit music organization in Myrtle Beach will open its 2012 season with a show appealing to blues lovers, soul fans and R&B aficianados alike.

Powerhouse guitarist SaRon Crenshaw will be bringing his electrifying band all the way from the Big Apple to the Myrtle Beach Train Depot on Jan. 7, 2012.

SxSE board member Charles Newell, who is also the bass player for the Chainsaws, a local band, says, “I saw SaRon in Greenwich Village in October. We started working right then on getting him for a SxSE Music Feast.”

He’s a sought-after performer at spots like B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York and Terra Blues, a blues saloon in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Touring often, Crenshaw delights audiences with his fiery guitar licks and soulful vocals. The show at the intimate historic Train Depot will offer a unique opportunity to get an up-close look at his Gibson “Lucille” model guitar, which was signed by B.B. King himself.

Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, who reviews live performances and recordings for the comprehensive online music resource, Mary4Music.com had this to say about SaRon Crenshaw in a review of the 2006 Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival in New Jersey:
“All music festivals have their surprises and this fest ws no different. There’s always that one act that you catch, get awed by, then think to yourself… ‘who in hell is this/” Well that such person was SaRon Crenshaw. At one of the auxilisary stages SaRon drew one of the largest and more enthusiastic crowds of the event (at leas of the acts I saw). Until now, this regular player at New York City’s Terrablues was virtually unknown to me a lot of the crowd. However, there was no way he was allowing his unfamiliarity to become an obstacle. SaRon stood up there and played like he was Buddy Guy (except, unlike Buddy, he finished all of his songs) and the crowd was a bunch of his fans. At one point he even came down into the crowd, strolling between revelers, while playing the guitar with his tongue. This guy was a hell of a showman and more importantly, a hell of a bluesman. That’s SaRon Crenshaw, keep your eyes and ears open for him.”

Members of the SaRon Crenshaw Band include Crenshaw (guitar and vocals); Junior Mack (guitar and vocals); Al Levy (bass and vocals); Barry Harrison (drums and vocals); and Bob Schlesnger (keyboards).

Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Reservations are suggested. Send an email to southxsoutheast@aol.com, with the number of tickets and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.

Along with an incredible night of music, your ticket includes a potluck dinner and dessert, wine and beer from New South Brewery, soft drinks and coffee. Feasting begins at six o’clock and the music starts at seven. Or sevenish.

Since South by Southeast is an IRS-approved 501(c) (3) organizations, memberships and donations are wholly tax deductible.
The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information about the SxSE event,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.


CD Picks: Strange Love/Sweet Love

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on May 18, 2011

Strange or Sweet?

No matter what your leanings, there’s something to love on both of these new CDs: Strange Love by Roy Roberts and Sweet Love from the Holiday Band.
Roy Roberts
Strange Love
Ocean Beach Records (2011)
Genre: Soul-Blues

When it comes to soul-blues, Greensboro, N.C. artist Roy Roberts is one of the smoothest, coolest, classiest around, and I expect this latest offering to bring him even more superlatives.  The ten-track recording is classic Roy Roberts, showing off – among other things – his songwriting talents on all ten tracks.  Vocals range from funky to sultry and back again. The Mofo Horns section is just killer.

The opener, “My Love Bone,” is a shout out from a man to the woman who owns his heart, and other favored organs. The Cray-esque “We Still Together,”  with its nod to “I Slipped, Tripped and Fell In Love,” Roberts’ award-winning R&B tune from 2004, is sure to be a hit in the shag market. The title track, also reminiscent of Robert Cray stylings, showcases Roy’s very apt vocal abilities. “I Can’t Wait” is worth the wait. But, I’d pick up a copy today!

Players on the CD include: Roy Roberts (vocals, guitar, Hammond organ, keys), A.J. Diggs (bass, rhythm guitar), Chuck Cotton (drums), Eric Callands (piano, Hammond organ), Reggie Wall (background vocals on  “A Woman Needs Love”), The Mofo Horns: Rusty Smith (trumpet, trombone), Scott Adair (tenor, baritone sax), Eddie Blair (additional sax solos). Strange Love was produced and mixed by Roy Roberts and David Seward. Engineering/ mastering: David Seward. Recorded at Rock House Studio.
The Holiday Band
Sweet Love
Green Dot Discs (2011)
Genre: Beach-Blues

Holiday Band, for those of you outside the Carolinas, is a topnotch variety band that tours the southeast performing a range of bluesy pop, funk and Carolina R&B, better known as beach music.

Sweet Love, the band’s new ten-track CD features a tasty mix of covers and original tunes penned by band members Mike Taylor and Duane Neese.   The opening track, currently on several beach charts and a favorite with fans, is “She Sure Got Away With My Heart,”  written by country writing team Walt Aldridge and Tom Brasfield.

“We always get a lot of requests for ‘Don’t Play That Song,’ so we decided to do the Aretha Franklin version It was a chance to show off our horn section,” says band leader Mike Taylor.

“Someone Like You,” (Van Morrison) with lead vocals by  Taylor is a hugely successful track on the disc, and definitely one of my favorites.

“I love the arrangement,” says Taylor. “If you listen to the piano line, it’s almost like a Bruce Hornsby lick.”

Taylor and Neese wrote the title track about six years ago. It was originally recorded by the Castaways. “They never  pushed it that much,” adds Taylor, “ so we recorded ‘Sweet Love’ ourselves, and it’s become a real signature song for Duane [lead vocals].”

Also included on the disc is “Jukebox,” another Taylor/ Neese tune, which won a 2010 CBMA award for Best Blues Song.

Players on Sweet Love include: The Holiday Band: Mike Taylor (vocals, guitar), Bill Ward (drums), Duane Neese (vocals, trombone), Bob Martin (saxophone), Doug Neese (bass, vocals), Mike Neese (vocals, guitar). Additional musicians: Robyn Springer (background vocals), Mark Stallings (keyboards), Rick Murray (drums), Tim Gordon  (saxophone), Brad Wilcox (trumpet), Ben Shaw (trumpet), Keith Johnson, (trombone). Producers: Tim Eaton, Mark Stallings & Mike Taylor. Engineered by Tim Eaton & Mark Stallings at Studio East, Charlotte, N.C. Also recorded, mixed & mastered at Studio East.

This has been a great week for music. Strange and sweet, just like me.

CD Pick: ‘Deep Fried Southern Style’ is Hot!

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on January 12, 2011

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

David Wade (photo Jim Allen)

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.

CD Pick: ‘Nasty Man’ by Rickey Godfrey

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on November 21, 2010

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!

Rickey Godfrey at the Rusty Nail, Wilmington, N.C. Nov. 12, 2010

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).

He Shot a Hole In My Soul

Posted in Interviews by darielb on November 3, 2010

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.

DJ Prestige

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.”

Red Kelly

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!

Charlie Gower



“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.

Clifford's latest CD, released in March 2010

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.

Meet the Imperial Anthony Gourdine

Posted in Interviews by darielb on August 12, 2009
Image courtesy Little Anthony and the Imperials

Image courtesy Little Anthony and the Imperials

You simply can’t have a conversation about the  hottest vocal groups to come out of the New York scene without including Little Anthony and the Imperials. Lead singer Anthony Gourdine gave a voice to teenage passion and angst back in the fifties and continues to push the boundaries of contemporary R&B today.
Gourdine was visiting the Grand Strand last week as part of a promotional tour, and I had the chance to talk to him about the man, the music and the upcoming Little Anthony and the  Imperials concert recording at Myrtle Beach’s Palace Theater on Sunday, Sept 13.

I’m here to tell you that anyone who pigeonholes Anthony Gourdine as a blast from the past is missing the mark.

Image courtesy of Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Image courtesy of Little Anthony and the Imperials.

His – and the group’s – longevity in the business is due at least in part because they refused to let others define them. “I’ve always followed my instinct … don’t allow anyone to define me,” Anthony Gourdine told me emphatically, and it would become a theme of the afternoon’s conversation.

“I’m a creative human being, that’s what I am,” he went on to say. “I’m a singer. I’m an actor. I’m a writer. I’m working on a book right now, with a ghostwriter. I’m in a perpetual state of growth.

“My music teacher Mrs. Ethel Mannix was the first person to open me up to art. When other kids were out playing sports, I was listening to Beethoven.”

Gourdine’s father, who was a jazz musician himself, didn’t support the teenager’s interest in music. He felt the life was too hard.

But the budding vocalist was already friends with Clarence Collins, who founded the  precursor to the Imperials – originally named the Chesters – when he was 13 years old.  “It’s as though there was a hand on us, moving us in a certain way,” Anthony told me, “I like to think it was God himself. It’s destiny. I’ve always been an adventurer. My mother encouraged me in music.”

The young Imperials would have a record contract with End Records within a year, change their name to the Imperials, and have a double-sided hit record. The A side was “Tears On My Pillow” and the flip side hit was “Two People In the World.”

Also singing with the teenage Imperials was a second tenor named Ernest Wright. Amazingly, this core group – along with singer/choreographer Harold Jenkins, a member of Little Anthony and the Imperials and later the Imperials during the 70s – make up today’s innovative R&B group, Little Anthony and the Imperials.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary for the group. “People love survivors,” Anthony laughs, “and we are definitely survivors.”

Unlike so many other 50s vocal groups relegated to anachronistic reunion shows or tours, Little Anthony and the Imperials celebrate their past without living it all over again. A tangible example of this is You’ll Never Know, the group’s CD, produced by Clarence Collins and released in 2008. Clearly a labor of love, it pays homage to the past even as it reaches to the future.

The 12-track disc includes a combination of new jazz-driven arrangements of old favorites and original tunes that   – in Anthony Gourdine’s words – are going to surprise people. The album’s featured single is Gourdine’s duet  with Grammy award winner Deniece Williams, known for her pop R&B tunes including “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” and “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” her duet with Johnny Mathis.Also included is a new version of the 1964 hit “Hurt So Bad,”  (performed during the group’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show), and it is definitely not the same old same old. A new arrangement by Mary Ekler leaves no question that that this group isn’t rehashing old material.

Talking about the CD, Gourdine said, “People will be surprised. It’s what happens when folks come to our shows. They’re surprised.”

Who are their fans, I wanted to know. “We’ve had an influx of people in their 30s and 40s, whose parents told them about us, and we have folks in their 50s and such. We’re a contemporary R&B group, so our fans are anyone who loves R&B.

Little Anthony and the Imperials were honored last year with induction into the Carolina Beach Music (CBMA) Hall of Fame.

“You know, we used to play the beach towns … quick gigs here and there … and we never realized we were part of building something … it’s humbling,” Anthony said.

Despite growing  up in Brooklyn, N.Y., Gourdine’s family is from the Charleston, S.C. area. “I think it’s in the DNA,” he  told me, “because even though this isn’t my home, I feel at home. I hear the Geechee and I know it. I live in Las Vegas now, but it feels good to be on this tour through the Carolinas.”

The concert at the Palace Theater stands apart from the rest of the tour because this show is being recorded for broadcast purposes. Tickets are $45 and are available at the theater’s box office or online at www.palacetheatremyrtlebeach.com. The theatre is located at Broadway At the Beach. For more information, call toll-free 800-905-4228

In addition to the event at the Palace, the Carolina tour includes stops at Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, N.C.; War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro, N.C.; Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College in Supply, N.C.; and other locations. S.C. shows include the Peace Center Concert Hall in Greenville,  the Newberry Opera House and the North Charleston Performing Arts Center among others. For a complete schedule, log onto the website at http://www.littleanthonyandtheimperials.com or visit the group’s MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/littleanthonyandtheimperials.

Me, I can’t resist being part of history in the making. I’ll be front and center at the Palace Theater on Sept. 13. What song do I want to hear most? Surprise me, Anthony.
©2009 Dariel Bendin. All rights reserved. This will also be published in Beach Newz in Coast  magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine.

Rickey Godfrey, Tommy Black at Papa’s Pizza

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on April 17, 2009

Papa’s Pizza In Little River, S.C. To Offer Live Entertainment April  23 – 25

Rickey Godfrey.

Rickey Godfrey.

NOTE: CHANGE TO SCHEDULE. I’ve just heard that one of the guys in Tommy’s trio has some sort of medical issue – in his family, maybe – and Tommy Black has to reschedule his appearance at Papa’s. The gig is still up on Papa’s website, though. So, either way, call before you make other plans for Thursday night.  Rickey is still on for Friday night and Saturday afternoon. DB Apr. 21, 2009. 11.56 p.m.

Papa’s Pizza, Wings & Things, located in the Lowes Food Shopping Center in Little River, S.C., will offer live entertainment on Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25. Local beach artist Tommy Black will perform with his Tommy Black and Blooz trio on Thursday evening from 8 – 11 p.m. Nashville blues singer/guitarist Rickey Godfrey is set for Friday night, 8 – 11 p.m. and again Saturday afternoon, 2 – 5 p.m.

The popular local eatery has scheduled the performers to coincide with 10-day S.O.S. Spring Safari, the annual celebration of shag dancers and beach music lovers, which begins officially Friday, April 17 and runs through Sunday April 26 in the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach.
This is the first time vocalist Tommy Black will appear at Papa’s Pizza. A prolific songwriter, he penned and performed “Shadow Shaggin’,” which earned him a 2008 CBMA award for Best Smoothie. Other hits for the Fayetteville, N.C. native include “Sabrina” and “Lalita.” Recent releases include a cover of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and  “Unbreak My Heart” from the singer’s newest CD, Shadow Shaggin’ and the Ones We Miss.

For Rickey Godfrey, this is a return appearance to Papa’s.  He is well known at the beach for hits like “Can’t Change My Heart,” the number one song in beach music for some 13 months from Soul Sensations, his 2004 CBMA award-winning album and single; “If Ten’ll Kill Me You Can Give Me Nine” and “Once In a Lifetime Love,” the title track from the 2006 Group Album of the Year. His brand new soul single, “Help Yourself To Me” has debuted on Beach Music 45 at number 30 and is climbing the charts now. Back in Nashville, he has been honored as a Music City Blues Society nominee for both guitarist and keyboard player of the year.

Papa’s Pizza, Wings & Things is a homey, comfortable, welcoming restaurant that serves a range of mid-priced pizzas, calzones, salads, pastas, wings and more. Signature dishes include the Phab-U-Lous Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup and a Kitchen Sink salad, chock full of mixed greens, grilled chicken, crumbled bleu cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, red onion and more, served with a range of homemade dressings.

Tommy Black

Tommy Black

Papa’s Pizza is located at 111 Pavilion Drive, in the Lowes Food Shopping Plaza in Little River, S.C.  on the road to Calabash, N.C.  For more information, call 843-249-3663 from S.C. and 910-575-7900 from N.C.
For more information about the musicians, visit their websites:
Tommy Black: www.tommyblackandblooz.com
Rickey Godfrey: www.myspace.com/therickeygodfreyband

In recent months, Papa’s Pizza has offered customers a range of entertainers including R&B group, Sammy O’Banion & Mardi Gras, soul-blues guitarist/singer Rickey Godfrey,  singer Gary Lowder and singer/DJ Gary Brown. You can keep up with the restaurant’s future events at their website or on MySpace.

CD Pick: Rev. Bubba D Liverance

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on April 8, 2009


Rev. Bubba D Liverance

Let My Peoples Dance (2008)


Label: Ain’t Bad Records

Genre: Beach

You know you’re in for some fun when the guy’s name is Rev. Bubba D Liverance, his band is called the Cornhole Prophets and the CD is titled Let My Peoples Dance. What you may not know until you pop it into the player however is the topnotch songwriting, musicianship and production quality of this disc.

Take your cues from the title, and get ready to boogie. Opener and title track, “Let My Peoples Dance” is a cleverly written shout out to the masses to take a minute to feel the beat and shake your bootie. “That’s What You Do” is a very danceable soul tune penned by Bubba and Sam Hankins. According to the good reverend, it was written in the same mold as “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” by the Swingin’ Medallions where the writer’s so affected by a girl, her lovin’ made him turn flips, shout out loud and finally made him pass out. In this tune, her lovin’ has him “speaking in tongues.”

The swingin’ “My Baby’s a Seafood Platter”(Rusty McHugh/Wild Okra Music ASCAP) is one of just two not written or co-written by Rev. Bubba. “Ain’t No American Idol” is the rev’s initiation of a backlash against American Idol. He thinks they should have better finalists. In “Mo Better,” Bubba’s affection for 60s soul and R&B is apparent. “If You Can’t Shag” is one of the most popular – and controversial – tracks on the CD. The full lyric is “If you can’t shag, get your ass out of Carolina.” It was reportedly inspired by an eighth grade South Carolina requirement to learn the State dance – the shag. Can that be true? If you can’t shag, you can’t graduate from eighth grade?

By the way, the horns are none other than the Memphis Horns: Wayne Jackson (trumpet); Donnie Sanders (sax); and Carl Hale (trombone). Yep, the very same Memphis Horns from Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man” and Elvis’s “Suspicious Minds.” Musicians include Bubba D Liverance (guitar/vocals); Sam Hankins (guitar/vocals) Jane Rhodes (keyboard/vocals); Jonas Schultz (keyboard/saxophone/vocals); Austin Solomon (bass) Russell Garner (drums/percussion). DB. April 7, 2009.

A version of this post will be published in the entertainment section of Coast Magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine, issue April 9 – 23, 2009, p. 26.