Calvin Scott - and Beyonce
Blues, rock and roll, soul, fifties and sixties pop, cajun, jazz, folk, vinyl records, LPs, EPs, singles, New Orleans, Memphis, UK rock, nostalgia, girl groups, ska, rocksteady.
Bobby Womack, who started a four night run at a packed Jazz Cafe last night, has been around since the very beginning of soul music in the early sixties. Discovered by Sam Cooke while part of the Womack Brothers gospel group, he and his brothers recorded successfully as the Valentinos for Sam's SAR label. He controversially married Sam's widow Barbara shortly after Sam's death and embarked on a solo career which was to lead to a string of best selling albums including Communication, Understanding, The Poet and The Poet II. Another later album was entitled The Last Soul Man which, with other contenders falling all the time, could prove to be prophetic.
In the early sixties, the sweetest soul sounds around came from Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. Later in the decade the Chicago-based group pioneered social consciousness songs that championed Afro American pride and the civil rights movement. Curtis left in 1970 to pursue a solo career and sadly died in 1999, nine years after he was paralysed when a stage lighting rig fell on him at a gig.
A more extensive line-up has been announced for this year's Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans this September and I have to say it's an intriguing list. There are quite a few artists about whom I know nothing, as well as some familiar names.
Yet another New Orleans great has passed away - this time Benny Spellman, whose deep voice provided the baritone backing on Ernie K-Doe's Mother in Law and whose excellent 1962 Minit single Lipstick Traces is one of my all time New Orleans R and B favourites. Benny never had a big hit but he was a member of Huey Smith's Clowns for a while and you can catch his distinctive vocals on quite a few Allen Toussaint-related tracks of the time. Fortune Teller - the B-side of Lipstick Traces - was covered by the Rolling Stones and the O'Jays among others. Benny later recorded for the Watch and Alon labels and had minor successes with The Word Game for Alon, which was leased to Atlantic, and with Sinner Man for Sansu.
The Half Moon in Putney played host to one of the best nights of Memphis soul seen in London for several years last night with a double bill by veteran Stax star Eddie Floyd and Rufus Thomas's younger daughter, Vaneese Thomas.