Friday, May 30, 2008

RIP Jimmy McGriff

Hammond B3 organist Jimmy McGriff, who died the other day aged 72, was one of the leading exponents of organ-based soul/jazz in the 60s, along with Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff and Richard Groove Holmes, and his singles and LPs on the UK Sue label have become highly collectable. Jimmy was best known for I've Got a Woman and The Last Minute and albums such as Blues for Mister Jimmy and a Bag Full of Soul. I haven't seen any obits in the UK press yet but here's one from the Washington Post:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eli 'Paperboy' Reed

Blue eyed soul singer Eli 'Paperboy' Reed doesn't look much like a paperboy. Nor a soul singer for that matter. If anything he looks like an up and coming investment banker. But he can certainly sing. His solo show at the Enterprise pub in Chalk Farm last night in a small sweaty room showed that this Boston boy has swotted up on the greats of southern soul and has a voice and guitar style that does justice to the music. Most of the songs he sang were originals, but he included one or two covers - by the Ovations, James Carr, Sam Cooke and Kip Anderson - which showed what inspired him. Apparently he spent a year in Clarksdale soaking up the blues and it showed in his strong deep soul voice. Quite exceptional for a 24 year white boy, and I will definitely look out for him when he comes back to the UK with his band in July.
A quick Final Word for Larry Levine, the recording engineer at Goldstar who made Phil Spector's dream of a Wall of Sound a reality as well as producing some of Eddie Cochran's classics, who died recently aged 80.
A word too for Afrika! Afrika! which is coming to the end of a long run at the 02. A mixture of contortionists, great dancers and circus acts from all parts of the African continent, it's an exciting show and well worth catching if you get the chance.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Syl Johnson sings A Taste of Your Love

Here's a clip of Syl Johnson with the Hi Rhythm Section at the Ponderosa Stomp.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Irma Thomas sings It's Raining.

Here's a clip of Irma at the Generations Hall in New Orleans.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More photos from the Stomp

Some more photos from the Ponderosa Stomp: From the top: bluesman Henry Grey; ageing rock and rollers The Collins Kids; former lead singer of the Shangri-Las Mary Weiss; Betty Harris's back up singer sister Marie, with amazing eyelashes; the only survivor of the air crash that killed Otis Redding - trumpeter Ben Cauley of the Bar-Kays, now with the Bo-Keys; and rockabilly man Joe Clay.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ronnie Spector sings Be My Baby at the Ponderosa Stomp

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Some Stompin' photos

Some more photos from the trip: from top: Al Green (and roses) at Jazzfest; me and two Aussie DJs at Irma's show; Archie Bell (Tighten Up) at Jazzfest; Michael Hurtt (singer with The Haunted Hearts and Dr John at the Stomp) and Dennis Binder outside the Hi Ho Lounge; Sonny Landreth at Lafayette.. More photos to come, plus I will be uploading some video clips I took.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Back to Memphis

After the excitement of the Ponderosa Stomp we took a day off from music to recover, missing Gene Chandler at Jazzfest unfortunately. I'm told he was good and performed some of his 60s Curtis Mayfield style soul as well as Duke of Earl. On Friday we drove up with Memphis with one of the DJs from Melbourne who we met on the trip - Pierre, who is better known on radio station as Soulgroove66. This station has some great music, including Pierre's soul show, a show by Mohair Slim (alias Lloyd), who plays R and B and ska as well as soul, and Stone Love, a laid back guy who plays a mixture of stuff. Well worth a listen online I would say. Wish we had something similar in London.
On the way to Memphis we successfully dodged tornadoes that were whirling around. The guys in one of the Stompin' USA people carriers were forced to shelter in a store room at one point. In the evening we went to Beale Street and narrowly missed yet another soaking. James Govan was on good form again at the Rum Boogie Cafe and Graziano, who puts on the Porretta Festival, was there trying to persuade James to come this year. He's promised to go the last couple of years and backed out at the last minute. Latest news from Porretta is that Etta James will play, but Chaka Khan will not: she's being moved to a more suitable festival in Parma apparently. As you can see from the picture below, the religious right does not approve of sinful Beale Street: indeed even the saintly Jerry Lee Lewis is not approved of apparently. Later in the evening we went off to Wild Bill's again (pictured above) - another excellent, authentic night of blistering blues and southern soul. Pierre was impressed. Next morning we visited the excellent Stax Museum and made a quick stop at Sun Studios.
And so back home, delayed because of a faulty plane at Atlanta and again by a broken down shuttle train at Gatwick. But a great holiday.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ponderosa Stomp - day 2

The music just keeps getting better. The second day of the Ponderosa Stomp - New Orleans' annual tribute to the unsung heroes of American music - had plenty of good stuff on offer. Probably the top act was Ronnie Spector, still looking great, who ran through the Ronettes song book, with no guitar solos or other filling - just two and a half minutes of magic per song. Absolutely dazzling from start to finish. But that wasn't all. We had the full Hi Rhythm Section playing together live for the first time, with vocals from Percy Wiggins, followed by some brilliant blues and soul from Syl Johnson (pictured).
Meanwhile on the Parish stage at the House of Blues the evening kicked off with a Swamp Pop revue with Warren Storm and the Haunted Hearts, with appearances by Tommy McLean and Margaret Lewis. Elsewhere there was piano blues from Henry Grey and James Sugar Boy Crawford singing spirituals with his grandson Davell. Eddie Bo showed that New Orleans R and B isn't dead with a stomping set. Roscoe Robinson performed some interesting soul/blues and I missed Ralph 'Soul' Jackson because I was watching Ronnie. The evening featured three 60s garage bands. The Green Fuz apparently made one obscure 45 which failed to hit and has since become very collectable.They were OK without being great, as was Roki Erickson from the 13th Floor Elevators. But my choice was undoubtedly ? and the Mysterians, who belted out some high energy numbers, including of course the great 96 Tears, with Question Mark dashing around the stage wearing an outrageous orange frilly top. There were some other acts as well , including Jay Chevalier, but for me Ronnie, Syl and Question Mark stole the show, with Eddie Bo coming up on the rails. Congratulations to Dr Ike on yet another great Stomp. May it continue forever.