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Archive for the ‘Soul music’ Category

I’ve been listening to Afro-American music for nearly 50 years. And worst, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it – Ted

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BLACK HISTORY IN IMAGES: New Orleans in 1960 was sharply divided over the practice of segregation, and the “Citizens’ Council of Greater New Orleans” advocated some pretty silly stuff, including a protest against black musicians. Please share so we may never forget! Image and text from BlackPast.org

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696_irmaIrma Thomas (born February 18, 1941, Ponchatoula, Louisiana, United States) is an American singer from New Orleans. She is known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”.

Thomas is a contemporary of Aretha Franklin and Etta James, but never experienced their level of commercial success. In 2007, she won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album for After the Rain, her first Grammy in a career spanning over 50 years.

Life and career

Born Irma Lee, as a teen she sang with a Baptist church choir, auditioning for Specialty Records as a 13-year old. By the age of 19 she had been married twice and had four children. Keeping her second ex-husband’s surname, she worked as a waitress in New Orleans, occasionally singing with bandleader Tommy Ridgley, who helped her land a record deal with the local Ron label. Her first single, “(You Can Have My Husband but) Don’t Mess with My Man,” was released in spring 1960, and reached number 22 on the Billboard R&B chart.

She then began recording on the Minit label, working with songwriter and producer Allen Toussaint on songs including “It’s Raining” and “Ruler of my Heart”, which was later reinterpreted by Otis Redding as “Pain In My Heart”. Imperial Records acquired Minit in 1963, and a string of successful releases followed. These included “Wish Someone Would Care” (her biggest national hit), its B-side “Breakaway“, written by Jackie DeShannon and Sharon Sheely, (later covered by Tracey Ullman among others), “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is” (co-written by the young Randy Newman and future country star Jeannie Seely, among others), and “Time Is on My Side” (a song previously recorded by Kai Winding, and later by the Rolling Stones).

Although her first four Imperial singles all charted on Billboard’s pop chart, later releases were less successful, and, unlike her contemporaries Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick, she never managed to cross over into mainstream commercial success. She recorded for Chess Records in 1967/68 with some success, the Otis Redding song “Good To Me” reaching the R&B chart. She then relocated to California, releasing records on various small labels, before returning to Louisiana, and in the early 1980s opened her own club, the Lion’s Den.

Down By Law, the 1986 independent film by Jim Jarmusch features “It’s Raining” in the soundtrack. The film’s actors Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi, whose characters fall in love in the movie, dance to this song.

After several years’ break from recording, she was signed by Rounder Records, and in 1991 earned her first-ever Grammy Award nomination for Live! Simply the Best, recorded in San Francisco. She subsequently released a number of traditional gospel albums, together with more secular recordings. The album Sing It! was nominated for a Grammy in 1999.

Thomas is still active as a performer, appearing annually at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. She reigned as Queen of the Krewe du Vieux for the 1998 New Orleans Mardi Gras season. She often headlined at her own club, which is now out of business due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Thomas relocated to Gonzales, Louisiana, 60 miles (97 km) from New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina. According to her web site she is now back in her home in New Orleans.

Thomas and her husband owned the Lion’s Den Club near the French Quarter of New Orleans.

In April 2007, Thomas was honored for her contributions to Louisiana music with induction into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Also in 2007, Thomas accepted an invitation to participate in Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino where, singing withMarcia Ball, she contributed “I Just Can’t Get New Orleans Off My Mind”.

In August 2009, a compilation album with three new songs titled The Soul Queen of New Orleans: 50th Anniversary Celebrationwas released from Rounder Records to commemorate Thomas’ 50th year as a recording artist.

Thomas was the subject of the 2008 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival poster. She was chosen as the subject before the painting was chosen for the poster. Artist Douglas Bourgeois painted the singer in 2006. In 2010, Thomas rode in the New Orleans parade “Grela”. In April that year, Thomas performed at the Corner Hotel, Richmond.

During Easter 2011, Thomas performed twice at the Bluesfest music festival in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia. On April 24, she performed on the Crossroads stage, coming on after Mavis Staples; then on April 25, she headlined the Crossroads stage, coming on after Jethro Tull and Osibisa.

In December 2011, Thomas’ track “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)” was featured in Charlie Brooker‘s Black Mirror in the second instalment entitled “15 Million Merits”.

In 2013, Thomas was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the ‘Soul Blues Female Artist’ category, which she duly won.

Text from Wikipedia

My Irma Thomas CDs and LPs are still in the all to large stack of record still not ripped to mp3 so you’ll have ti maake do with videos for now – Red

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547_sugarpie_03Sugar Pie DeSanto (born Umpeylia Marsema Balinton, October 16, 1935, Brooklyn, New York, United States) is a Filipino-American rhythm and blues singer of the 1950s and 1960s.

Career
In 1955, DeSanto did some touring with The Johnny Otis Revue. Otis gave her her stage name. From 1959 to 1960, she toured with The James Brown Revue.

In 1960, DeSanto rose to national prominence when her single "I Want to Know" reached number four on Billboard’s Hot R&B chart. She recorded the song with her husband Pee Wee Kingsley. Soon thereafter her marriage to Kingsley fell apart, and DeSanto moved to Chicago and signed with Chess Records in 1962 as a recording artist and writer. Among her recordings at Chess were "Slip-In Mules", "Use What You 547_sugarpie_01Got", "Soulful Dress" (her biggest hit at Chess), and "I Don’t Wanna Fuss". DeSanto participated in the American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe in 1964, and her lively performances, including wild dancing and standing back flips, were widely appreciated.

In 1965 DeSanto, under the name Peylia Parham, began a writing collaboration with Shena DeMell. They produced the song "Do I Make Myself Clear", which DeSanto sang as a duet with Etta James, which reached the top 10. It was followed up by a 1966 DeSanto-James duet, "In the Basement". DeSanto’s next song, "Go Go Power", did not chart, and DeSanto and Chess parted ways.

Sugar Pie DeSanto kept on writing songs and recorded for a few more labels without much success; she eventually moved back to the Bay Area, settling in Oakland.

Though it had often been said that her stage performances far surpassed her studio recordings, a full length live recording, Classic Sugar Pie, was not released until 1997.

DeSanto was given a Bay Area Music Award in 1999 for best female blues singer. In September 2008, she was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. DeSanto received a lifetime achievement award from the Goldie Awards in November 2009.

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Soulful Dress
Sugar Pie DeSanto
 
Down In The Basement (The Chess Years)
1964
1997
Rhythm ‘n blues
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Use What You Got
Sugar Pie DeSanto
 
Down In The Basement (The Chess Years)
1964
1997
Rhythm ‘n blues
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Go Go Power
Sugar Pie DeSanto
 
Go Go Power (Kent)
1966 
2008
Rhythm ‘n blues
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I’ve been on a Sam Cooke high all week, and hardly played anything else on the turntables or the mp3-player. I’ve got twelve solo records with the man and four he did with The Soul Stirrers. 387 cuts. Some doublets, even triples, sure, but who cares. Anything the man did is worth listening to both two and three times – Ted

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Another Saturday Night
Sam Cooke
Portrait Of A Legend – 1951 – 1964
February 28, 1963
June 17, 2003
Soul, Rhythm ‘n’ blues

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Twisting The Night Away
Sam Cooke
Portrait Of A Legend – 1951 – 1964
January 9, 1962
June 17, 2003
Soul, Rhythm ‘n’ blues

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A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke
Portrait Of A Legend – 1951 – 1964
January 30, 1964
June 17, 2003
Soul, Rhythm ‘n’ blues

On December 11, 1964, Cooke was fatally shot by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 33. At the time, the courts ruled that Cooke was drunk and distressed, and that the manager had killed Cooke in what was later ruled a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been widely questioned.

This is 50 years ago now, and still Sam Cooke’s music is vibrant, alive and able to fill at least my mind with a deep respect and my heart with joy – Ted

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Tittle: Let Me Down Easy
Album: Bluesoul Belles: The Complete Calla, Port & Roulette Recordings
Artist: Bettye LaVette – Released: 2005
Genre: Rhythm N’ Blues, Soul

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Tittle: 40 Cups Of Coffee
Album: Barrelhouse, Boogie & Blues
Artist: Ella Mae Morse
Released: 1954
Genre: Jazz/Blues vocal

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Tittle: In The Basement, Part One
Album: Down In The Basement (The Chess Years)
Artist: Sugar Pie DeSanto
Released: 1997
Genre:
Rhythm N’ Blues/Blues vocal

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Tittle: I’ve Got To Get Away From It All (Version 1)
Album: Shades of Mitty Collier – The Chess Singles (1961-1968)
Artist: Mitty Collier – Released: 2008
Genre:
Rhythm N’ Blues vocal

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Tittle: What Happened To The Real Me 
Album: Only For The Lonely
Artist: Mavis Staples 
Released: 1970
Genre: Soul vocal

WordPress has a simple shortcode that places a music player right into your posts and thanks to some friendly e-mail coaching from Russ at Russ & Gary’s "The Best Years of Music" I am now able to use this code as you can see. If you are in any way interested in music from the days they knew how to make it their blog is a goldmine of sweet sound – Ted

From now on I’ll give you a little taste of my 3500+ records every now and then. Suggestions might be accepted if I should happen to have the track you want to hear – Ted

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348_mary wells_01Mary Esther Wells (May 13, 1943 – July 26, 1992) was an American singer who helped to define the emerging sound of Motown in the early 1960s. Along with the Supremes, the Miracles, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, Wells was said to have been part of the charge in black music onto radio stations and record shelves of mainstream America, "bridging the color lines in music at the time."

With a string of hit singles composed mainly by Smokey Robinson, including "Two Lovers" (1962), the Grammy-nominated "You Beat Me to the Punch" (1962) and her signature hit, "My Guy" (1964), she became recognized as "The Queen of Motown" until her departure from the company in 1964, at the height of her popularity. She was one of Motown’s first singing superstars.

Early life and initial recordings
Mary Esther Wells was born near Detroit’s Wayne State University on May 13, 1943, to a mother who worked as a domestic, and an absentee father. One of three children, she contracted spinal meningitis at the age of two and struggled with partial blindness, deafness in one ear and temporary paralysis. During her early years, Wells lived in a poor residential Detroit district. By age 12, she was helping her mother with house cleaning work. She described the ordeal years later:

"Daywork they called it, and it was damn cold on hallway linoleum. Misery is Detroit linoleum in January—with a half-froze bucket of Spic-and-Span."—Mary Wells

348_mary wells_02Wells used singing as her comfort from her pain and by age 10 had graduated from church choirs to performing at local nightclubs in the Detroit area. Wells graduated from Detroit’s Northwestern High School at the age of 17 and set her sights on becoming a scientist, but after hearing about the success of Detroit musicians such as Jackie Wilson and the Miracles, she decided to try her hand at music as a singer-songwriter.

In 1960, 17-year-old Wells approached Tamla Records founder Berry Gordy at Detroit’s Twenty Grand club with a song she had intended for Jackie Wilson to record, since Wells knew of Gordy’s collaboration with Wilson. However, a tired Gordy insisted Wells sing the song in front of him. Impressed, Gordy had Wells enter Detroit’s United Sound Studios to record the single, titled "Bye Bye Baby". After a reported 22 takes, Gordy signed Wells to the Motown subsidiary of his expanding record label and released the song as a single in September 1960; it peaked at No 8 on the R&B chart in 1961, and later crossed over to the pop singles chart, where it peaked at number 45.

Wells’ early Motown recordings reflected a rougher R&B sound than the smoother style of her biggest hits. Wells became the first Motown female artist to have a Top 40 pop single after the Mickey Stevenson-penned doo-wop song, "I Don’t Want to Take a Chance", hit No. 33 in June,1961. In the fall of that year, Motown issued her first album and released a third single, the bluesy ballad "Strange Love". When that record bombed, Gordy set Wells up with the Miracles’ lead singer Smokey Robinson. Though she was hailed as "the first lady of Motown", Wells was technically Motown’s third female signed act: Claudette Rogers, of Motown’s first star group the Miracles, has been referred to by Berry Gordy as "the first lady of Motown Records" due to her being signed as a member of the group, and in late 1959 Detroit blues-gospel singer Mable John had signed to the then-fledging label a year prior to Wells’ arrival. Nevertheless, Wells’ early hits as one of the label’s few female solo acts did make her the label’s first female star and its first fully successful solo artist.

Success
Wells’ teaming with Robinson led to a succession of hit singles over the following two years. Their first collaboration, 1962’s "The One Who Really Loves You", was Wells’ first smash hit, peaking at No. 2 on the R&B chart and No. 8 on the Hot 100. The song featured a calypso-styled soul production that defined Wells’ early hits. Motown released the similar-sounding "You Beat Me to the Punch" a few months later. The song became her first R&B No. 1 single and peaked at No. 9 on the pop chart. The success of "You Beat Me to the Punch" helped to make Wells the first Motown star to be nominated for a Grammy Award when the song received a nod in the Best Rhythm & Blues Recording category.

In late 1962, "Two Lovers" became Wells’ third consecutive single to hit the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100, peaking at No. 7 and becoming her second No. 1 hit on the R&B charts. This helped to make Wells the first female solo artist to have three consecutive Top 10 singles on the pop chart. The track sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Wells’ second album, also titled The One Who Really Loves You, was released in 1962 and peaked at No. 8 on the pop albums chart, making the teenage singer a breakthrough star and giving her clout at Motown. Wells’ success at the label was recognized when she became a headliner during the first string of Motortown Revue concerts, starting in the fall of 1962. The singer showcased a rawer stage presence that contrasted with her softer R&B recordings.

Wells’ success continued in 1963 when she hit the Top 20 with the doo-wop ballad "Laughing Boy" and scored three additional Top 40 singles, "Your Old Standby", "You Lost the Sweetest Boy", and its B-side, "What’s Easy for Two Is So Hard for One". "You Lost the Sweetest Boy" was one of the first hit singles composed by the successful Motown songwriting and producing trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland, though Robinson remained Wells’ primary producer.

Also in 1963, Wells recorded a session of successful B-sides that arguably became as well known as her hits, including "Operator", "What Love Has Joined Together", "Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right" and "Old Love (Let’s Try It Again)". Wells and Robinson also recorded a duet titled "I Want You ‘Round", which would be re-recorded by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston.

348_mary wells_03In 1964, Wells recorded "My Guy". The Smokey Robinson song became her trademark single, reaching No. 1 on the Cashbox R&B chart for seven weeks and becoming the No. 1 R&B single of the year. The song successfully crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, where it eventually replaced Louis Armstrong’s "Hello, Dolly!" at No. 1, remaining there for two weeks. The song became Wells’ second million-selling single.

To build on the song’s success, Motown released a duet album recorded with fellow Motown singing star Marvin Gaye, Together. The album peaked at No. 1 on the R&B album chart and No. 42 on the pop album chart, and yielded the double-sided hits "Once Upon a Time" and "What’s the Matter With You Baby".

"My Guy" was one of the first Motown songs to break on the other side of the Atlantic, eventually peaking at No. 5 on the UK chart and making Wells an international star. Around this time, the Beatles stated that Wells was their favorite American singer, and soon she was given an invitation to open for the group during their tour of the United Kingdom, thus making her the first Motown star to perform in the UK. Wells was only one of three female singers to open for the Beatles, the others being Brenda Holloway and Jackie DeShannon. Wells made friends with all four Beatles and later released a tribute album, Love Songs to the Beatles, in mid-decade.

Former Motown sales chief Barney Ales described Wells’ landmark success in 1964: "In 1964, Mary Wells was our big, big artist, I don’t think there’s any audience with an age of 30 through 50 that doesn’t know the words to My Guy."

Text from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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intro_illIn one sense, the term ‘soul’ has simply been a convenient label for the record industry to attach to the music that sells to young Afro Americans, replacing earlier tags like ‘race music’ and ‘rhythm & blues’. It has been used in the seventies to refer to an increasingly broad and diverse range of styles. But its entry into widespread usage around 1964 did coincide with a distinct shift of emphasis in the dominant stylistic approach in the Afro Americans field.

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284_lula_reed_02Born Lula Marietta McClelland, 21 March 1921, Minjo Junction, Ohio. Died 21 June 2008, Detroit, Michigan

An attractive singer in whom the seed of soul is particularly strong, Lula Reed belongs to that coterie of stylists who closely followed the lead of Dinah Washington in the early 1950s. Many sounded like little girls – many were little girls – but Lula, like Dinah, clearly wasn’t. Unlike Dinah, her switch from praising the Lord to singing the Devil’s music was more of a wrench for her and it ultimately resulted in Lula turning her back on the limelight and retreating to the welcoming bosom of Christianity.

According to her King press kit, Lula Reed was born in Port Clinton, Ohio, possibly in 1927. She found her voice singing in her local church choir and was taken under the wing of Professor Harold Boggs, who nurtured the young 284_lula_reed_01talent. Himself a well-known gospel singer, Boggs began his recording career on King Records in Cincinnati in August 1952, about six months after Lula had made her well-starred debut for the label with Sonny Thompson‘s Orchestra. Her only national hits would prove to be those first two Henry Glover-penned songs recorded as vocalist with Thompson’s band on 14th December 1951: “Let’s Call It A Day” attained the #7 position of the Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart, while “I’ll Drown in My Tears” surpassed it to stall at #5. The former song was revived by Billy Gayles and Ike Turner in 1956, while the latter – retitled Drown in My Own Tears – was taken to the top of the Billboard R&B chart in early 1956 by Ray Charles on Atlantic, since which time it has been covered dozens of times by artists as diverse as The Righteous Brothers, Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin, and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

From early 1953, with two big R&B hits under her belt, Reed began enjoying releases under her own name, although the backing band was invariably still Thompson’s. Sadly, despite the commercial promise of her first two releases and being voted the nation’s #4 rhythm and blues singer by The Cash Box trade magazine in 1954, Reed spent six more years with King Records searching in vain for another elusive hit. She and her now husband, Sonny Thompson, took a break from the label from 1958 to 1960, with Reed spending two years with Chess’ Argo subsidiary (during which time, King released her only solo LP “Blue and Moody”), but they returned briefly to the fold in 1961, recording on the Federal label. The following year Reed was teamed up with Freddy King for a handful of duets and the celebrated “Boy Girl Boy” LP on the King label, but by the end of 1962 she had left the company, left Cincinnati and left Thompson to spend a year with the label owned by her early admirer Ray Charles – Tangerine Records.

coverBy late 1963 it was all over: always one of those troubled artists in whom the secular constantly warred with a more dominant spiritual side, Lula Reed quit the world of R&B in the early 1960s to go back home and the church that had uncovered her talent. All efforts to contact her and interview her about her “wicked” recording career have since been rebuffed.


Text by Dave Penny found at
Black Cat Rockabilly

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Thee Midniters were an American group, amongst the first Chicano rock bands to have a major hit in the United States. Also they were and one of the best known acts to come out of East Los Angeles in the 1960s, with a cover of "Land of a Thousand Dances", and the instrumental track, "Whittier Boulevard" in 1965. They were amongst the first rock acts to openly sing about Chicano themes in songs such as "Chicano Power" and "The Ballad of César Chávez" in the late 1960s.

The band was promoted by Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg on local radio station KTYM, Inglewood and by his fill-in Godfrey [Godfrey Kerr]. Huggy Boy was later the most popular DJ on KRLA.

11749163_tm2Achievements
Thee Midniters are the only 1960s band from East Los Angeles that released a greatest hits album. The band was one of the first to integrate horns, timbales, congas, keyboards and electric guitars to produce a sound somewhat on the order of Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears, albeit a few years before those bands were "big". Most band members attended Salesian High School, off the corner of Whittier Blvd. and Soto St. during their times with the exception of drummer George Salazar who attended Garfield High School.

Highly professional and musically sophisticated compared to the surf bands of the day (they were largely school-trained), Willie Garcia and Thee Midniters were regarded in the East LA of the 1960s as The Beatles on a smaller scale, though they sounded (and still sound) more like a big, soul-gospel review group with a hefty dose of salsa.

A well-known disc jockey, Casey Kasem, said, "They were the best band I ever hired". Kasem filled a regular slot on KRLA AM top forty radio in the 1960s and promoted concerts and dances at the time.

11749163_tm3Thee Midniters continue to be impressive with a combination of original and new members and will appear in Raven Productions’ PBS pledge break special "Trini Lopez presents the Legends of Latin Rock," along with El Chicano, Tierra and Gregg Rolie (of Santana and Journey fame) in the spring of 2009.

The band members
Thee Midniters were akin to an East LA allstar band. No other group from the area, and not many from elsewhere for that matter, could boast such a collection of talent. At the top was Willie Garcia a.k.a. Little WIllie G., the lead singer. "Willie G. was one of the most soulful Latin persons I ever heard," said the singer Brenton Wood. "He could really deliver a sermon, and he had a lot of feeling in his vocals." Willie took obscure soul ballads such as "The Town I Live In", or "Giving Up On Love" and made them more beautiful by his own special delivery.

After many years away from the band, Garcia returned in the ’90s to front one of the most sophisticated bands of any genre from the Los Angeles area.

Then there was lead guitarist George Dominguez, whose forte was blues rock. Dominguez had a devoted following among younger players across East LA. For example, Cesar Rosas, later to gain fame as one of the leaders of Los Lobos, would stare at George on stage to see how Thee Midniters’ guitarist played leads and riffs that Cesar could not figure out on his own. On several Midniters’ songs, in particular the live version of "Land of a Thousand Dances", Drummer George Salazar is as ferocious as the best rock players of the time. Trombonist Romeo Prado, was known to be the band’s music arranger and was a huge influence in the overall sound of Thee Midniters. Also Guitarist Paul C Saenz, was one of the members that played with Thee Midniters, in the late 1960s, after that went on to perform with singer Etta James.

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Thee Midniters have continued to play through the decades under the leadership and management of Bassist Jimmy Espinoza and Saxophonist Larry Rendon, the two original players remaining in the line-up from the original 1960s group. Since 2006 they have featured Greg Esparza as the lead vocalist along with longtime Midniter mainstays through the years such as Bob Robles on lead guitar, Aaron Ballesteros playing drums, Bobby Navarrette on sax, Bobby Loya on trumpet and Bob Luna playing keyboard. In 2008 they were part of The Latin Legends concert at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and most recently were honored as a legendary garage rock band co-headlining with The Trashmen from Minneapolis, Minnesota known for their hit song "Surfin’ Bird" at the 9th Annual Ponderosa Stomp in 2010 at the House of Blues in New Orleans.

Among the group’s other songs to either achieve national or regional success are "Whittier Boulevard," "Love Special Delivery" and "That’s All."

The name
Thee Midniters adopted the unusual "Thee" to avoid the possibility of a legal challenge from the established R&B group of a somewhat earlier era, Hank Ballard & The Midnighters. Thee Midniters’ popularity and influence was such that a number of Eastside bands of the time adopted the "Thee" moniker, including Eddie Serrano and Thee Enchantments. Thee Headcoats and Thee Hypnotics of more recent times are others.

Text from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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When taking a break surfing YouTube the other day I discovered a few new Elkie Brooks videos so I added another page at “The British Invasion”

I know that Vinegar Joe and Elkie wasn’t really part of that invasion as they never got big in the US, but what the heck. She’s been one of my absolute favourites ever since I saw her on stage the first time way back in the early 70s so her goes:

Pt9 – Elkie Brooks Videos

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Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story details the story behind the legendary label that launched soul music greats — from Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes to The Staple Singers and Booker T. & the MGs — on Wednesday, August 1 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). For more information visit http://www.pbs.org/gperf

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the PBS broadcast coincides with the 50th anniversary of Stax and the relaunch of the label by Concord Music Group.

One of the longest-running performing arts anthologies on television, the award-winning GREAT PERFORMANCES series presents the best in music, dance and theatre. The series is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, public television viewers, and PBS. Major corporate funding is provided by UBS. Posted by PBS on YouTube

 

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11295_mb1Maxine Ella Brown (born August 18, 1935, in Kingstree, South Carolina) is an American soul singer.

She began singing as a child, performing with two New York based gospel groups called the Angelairs and the Royaltones when she was a teenager. In 1960, she signed with the small Nomar record label, who released the smooth soul ballad "All in My Mind" (which was written by Maxine) late in the year. The single became a hit, climbing to number two on the US R&B charts (number 19 pop), and it was quickly followed by "Funny", which peaked at number three.

Brown was poised to become a star and she moved to the bigger ABC-Paramount in 1962, but left the label after an unsuccessful year despite several singles to sign for the New York-based uptown soul label, Wand Records, in 1963.

Brown recorded her best work at Wand, a Scepter Records subsidiary, having a string of sizable hits over the next three years. Among these were the Carole King/Gerry Goffin songs "Oh No Not My Baby", which reached number 24 on the pop charts in 1964, and "It’s Gonna Be Alright", which peaked at #26 the following year. She also recorded duets with label-mate Chuck Jackson, including a reworked version of an Alvin Robinson hit, "Something You Got", which climbed to #10 on the R&B chart. However, the company turned its focus to other bigger-selling acts, such as Dionne Warwick and B.J. Thomas.

11295_mb2All backing vocals for Maxine’s records were performed by Cissy Houston and the Sweet Inspirations (the same group that backed Elvis), plus emerging writer-producers Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Hoping to increase the line of hits for Maxine and her singing partner, Chuck Jackson, Ashford and Simpson took their song catalog to Scepter Records looking for a deal. When they were turned down, the couple approached Berry Gordy at Motown Records who immediately hired them. Songs that were penned for Maxine and Chuck became blockbuster hits for Ray Charles, such as "Let’s Go Get Stoned" (co-written by Josie Armstead), as well as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell‘s "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough".

In 1969, Maxine left Wand for Commonwealth United where she recorded two singles, the first "We’ll Cry Together" reached #10 in the Billboard R&B chart and also made the lower reaches of the Hot 100. A spell with Avco Records followed, but her later recordings generally met with little commercial success. Despite her seeming lack of visibility, Brown is acknowledged as one of the finer R&B vocalist of her time, able to handle soul, jazz, and pop with equal aplomb.

 

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In the mid sixties some of America’s most talented Soul singers banded together and set out on a European tour that would go down as one of the greatest of all time. The artists on tour were all on the Stax-Volt record label and included Booker T. & the MG’s, The Mar-Keys, Arthur Conley, Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd and The King of Soul Otis Redding.

The Stax-Volt label was sort of a Memphis equivalent to Detroit’s powerhouse Motown, although Stax was much smaller. After the tour in Europe in 1966 and 1967 the group returned to the states and many of the acts continued on to huge stardom, Otis Redding being the biggest. Sadly, he died in a plane crash in December of 1967 at the young age of 26.

Watch all 6 videos here.

NRK, the Norwegian National TV station was not a wealthy station back in the sixties and I don’t know if it was dumb luck or a stroke of genius that made some technician save these tapes from being reused, but we owe that man great thanks. This is nothing less than pure golden music historyTed

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