Monday, October 26, 2015

P.P. Arnold at the Jazz Cafe

Seamus McGarvey reviews a show by a sixties icon. 
Emerging from a gospel background, and as one of Ike & Tina Turner's Ikettes who, with encouragement from the likes of Mick Jagger, opted for a solo recording and performing career starting in London in 1966, P. P. Arnold has had an interesting history, and this appearance on Saturday October 24 was an excellent opportunity to catch her 'live', something I'd not managed to do for many years.
With a tight six-piece band led by guitarist Ray Russell, and two strong backing singers - Debra Lewis-Brown and her daughter Chantal – P. P. appeared on stage, as she herself said later in the set, 'still looking good for my ahem.. years', and in fine voice from the off on The Ikettes' 'What'cha Gonna Do' before 'the song that brought me to the U.K.', 'River Deep, Mountain High', showing that she could still do The Ikettes' 'two-step' dance routine.
There was some humorous to-and-fro with the fans in the audience about her first meeting with Mick Jagger, leading into the Cat Stevens composition which became one of her biggest hits, 'The First Cut Is The Deepest', in a suitably soulful treatment which again demonstrated her range  and vocal edge, and on into the self-penned 'Am I Still Dreaming'. There was a strong '60s feel to the set with numbers like '(If You Think You're) Groovy' and 'Everything's Gonna Be Alright' (which became a Northern Soul hit) alongside 'Speak To Me' (the flip-side of 'First Cut') and numbers like 'Uptight' and Aretha Franklin's '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman', the latter displaying her soulful delivery and her ability to really hit the high registers vocally. From her 1968 'Kafunta' album came the soulful 'Letter To Bill' and on through 'God Only Knows', 'Eleanor Rigby' and The Bee Gees' 'To Love Somebody', plus Chip Taylor's 'Angel Of The Morning', a number making the most of her expressive voice and delivery, before the melodic mid-tempo 'Beautiful Song' from the Band Of Sisters' 'Issues' album last year prefaced her closing and emotional 'Afterglow Of Your Love', composed by The Small Faces' Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane.
A nicely balanced set from a fine singer displaying all the attributes of a seasoned performer, very much at ease on stage, interacting well with the audience, complete with witty retorts to any shouts from the fans. If you haven't seen her recently, she's on at the Tales From The Woods' ( ) January 31 show at The Borderline: one for the diary. Seamus McGarvey ('Juke Blues' magazine)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saun and Starr at the Jazz Cafe

Female soul duos are rare (the Soul Sisters are the only ones from the sixties that spring to mind), but the latest Daptone act to record under their own names - Saun and Starr - are welcome additions to this short list. Originally from the Bronx, Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan Love, met at an open mic competition in 1986 and sang together for many years before moving on to provide backing for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (as the Dapettes), which they've done for the last few years. They showed at the Jazz Cafe that they are more than capable of holding their own front of stage.
Daptone released their first album, Look Closer,  earlier this year and many of the numbers they sang were from that collection, although I have to admit that there were several that I was unable to recognise. They both have superb voices which combine well together on duets and also on solo numbers where one or other of them takes the lead with backing from the other. They began with Hot Shot, their first single, an upbeat number which showed off Starr's big voice (to match her big frame) to good effect. Gonna Make Time was another good song and there were hints of Millie Jackson or Shirley Brown as the pair exchanged spoken comments.Other numbers from their album included Hey Baby and the Northern soul flavoured Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Saun slowed things down as she remembered her father, who died shortly before recording the ballad If Only, and she asked for a big shout out for Sharon Jones as they launched into Sunshine (You're Blowin' My Cool).
The excellent Daptone band left the stage at this point and the ladies showed off their gospel roots with a a couple of gospel numbers. The crowded club went quiet as they sang Down By the Riverside off mic, further demonstrating their vocal power, followed by Sweeping Through the City. The band returned and, after Another Love Like Mine, they launched into Look Closer, a superbly soulful song and probably the best of the night. Returning for an encore they continued with another great track, Big Wheel. 
Whether Saun and Starr break through into wider consciousness remains to be seen, but they work well together and sound great. Daptone has shown yet again that true sixties style soul is still alive and kicking.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Final pix from the US road trip

A few LPs picked up on my US road trip:
Top row: Freddy Cannon - Action (Warner); Chuck Jackson - Any Day Now (Wand); Deon Jackson - Love Makes The World Go Round (Atco); The Artistics - Make My Life Over (Brunswick).
Middle row: Gene McDaniels - Spanish Lace (Liberty); The Rivingtons - Doin' The Bird (Liberty); Barbara Lewis - Baby I'm Yours (Atlantic); Leroy Van Dyke - Movin' - Van Dyke (Mercury).
Bottom row: Johnny Preston - Come Rock With Me (Mercury); Marv Johnson - Marvellous Marv Johnson (United Artists); The Artistics - The Articulate Artistics (Brunswick); Nino Tempo & April Stevens - Deep Purple (Atco).
And a final batch of photos from the the trip. Here is Judy Hill, daughter of Jessie Hill, at the Ooh Poo Pah Doo bar in New Orleans.
Tommy Johnson's headstone, deep in the woods near Crystal Springs, Mississippi.
Abdul Rashid at Hal and Mal's Blue Monday jam in Jackson.
Soul singer Jj Thames at the same venue.
Another headstone, this time that of Charley Patton in Holly Ridge.
Pat Thomas, son of James Son Thomas, beside his dad's marker in Leland.
Four from the King Biscuit Blues festival in Helena, Arkansas: the Kentucky Headhunters, Bobby Rush, Sweet Angel and Jimmy Burns.
Gip Gipson, one of a four man panel discussing the state of the remaining juke joints in the South.
Three more from the King Biscuit: Ruthie Foster, Larry McCray and Lucky Peterson.
Here are a couple from Red's juke joint in Clarksdale: Teddy Johnson, of Teddy's juke joint in Zachary, selling CDs, and some of the dancers there.
This is Super Chikan at Ground Zero in Clarksdale.
Finally here is Leo 'Bud' Welch with his new LP, on the streets of Clarksdale.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Woodies on tour: Road trip photos part 4

During our US road trip I took literally hundreds of photos, including quite a few of our group and other friends we met up with. Here's a selection:
This is the group on the first day in Atlanta, at the Northside Tavern. Left to right - me, Dave, Lee and Alan.
Here's one of me with the newly unveiled display commemorating Otis Redding at his home town of Gray, near Macon, Georgia.
On to New Orleans, and here's one of me with Willie Hightower.
Two Northern lads: here are Lee and John Marriott chatting in the d.b.a bar in New Orleans.
Here's me with Brenda Holloway.
Two smart DJs at the Stomp: Robin Tomlin and Lloyd from Melbourne, aka Mohair Slim.
Here's a group photo at the Stomp, with Armand St Martin, Ronnie Cook and Kelly Blackwell.
.Here's another group photo, at the Ooh Poo Pah Doo bar in New Orleans, with Dave and Julie Thomas.
Here is one of me with Judy, owner of the Ooh Poo Pah Doo bar and daughter of Jessie Hill.
In Crystal Springs we were taken to the grave of blues singer Tommy Johnson by the mayor. Here are Dave, Lee and Alan by the headstone.
That evening we bumped into Vera Johnson Collins, Tommy's niece. Here she is with Dave and me.
Here's one of me with excellent blues/soul singer J J Thames in Hal and Mals's in Jackson.
Dave tries to escape the camera lens outside the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Mississippi.
Outside the B B King museum in Indianola.
The railway children: on the tracks at the King Biscuit festival.
Alan and Lee contemplate yet another beer at Huey's Midtown in Memphis.
Alan and Dave look on as the barman at the Blues City Cafe in Beale Street suddenly became the drummer.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ponderosa Stomp photos, day 2

More photos: this time from day two of the Ponderosa Stomp.
First, this is guitar man Raymond George.
Backing many acts on the second day, this is Lil Buck.
A New Orleans singer who sounded a lot like Ernie K-Doe, this is Jimmy 'Pistol' Jules.
An excellent blind soul singer/keyboard player, this is Lynn August.
This is James Alexander, who recorded some great Northern soul tracks.
And another New Orleans soul man, Tony Owens.
Veteran swamp pop drummer and singer, here is the ever youthful Warren Storm.
On to some rockabilly with Mack Banks.
And some more. Here is Mike Waggoner.
Former member of the Sir Douglas Quintet and the Texas Tornados, here is Augie Meyers.
Singing She's About A Mover, here is Speedy Sparks.
One of the San Antonio West Side soul revue, this is Rudy Palacios
And this is Rudy T Gonzales.
At last a female artist: the great Barbara Lynn.
The star of day two, the Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas.
Texas wild man Roy Head.
Rockabilly singer Royce Porter.