Saturday, June 30, 2012

"(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People" By The Chi-Lites

The Chi-Lites get political on the ferocious funk/soul protest anthem "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People," released in 1971. The Chi-Lites were generally known for their classic romantic ballads like "Have You Seen Her?" and "Oh Girl," but on this track the group goes ham and blasts the system and the greedy fat cats and crooked politicians who run it.

The track points out the huge imbalance in the distribution of the nation's wealth where you have many people living below the poverty line while a select few get the the bulk of the wealth. The song demands a stronger voice among all of America's citizens, including minorities, and the disadvantaged. The treacherous groove and the Chi-Lites' soulful, angry vocals give the socially conscious track a sense of power and urgency.

The song is the title track from the Chi-Lite's third album (1971) and was written by lead vocalist Eugene Record. The song had a strong showing on the charts. It climbed to #4 on the R&B charts and #26 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it charted at #32 on the UK Singles Chart.

The album itself also did extremely well. It peaked at #3 on the R&B charts and #12 on the pop charts. The collection also featured the smash "Have You Seen Her?," which topped the R&B charts and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was largely written and produced by Eugene Record. Also, "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People" was featured on the soundtrack to the 1995 film Panther.

Download track at Amazon

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Top Bands Heading To Florida For DeLuna Fest In September

Bad Brains
A slew of big-name musical acts will descend upon Pensacola Beach, Florida for the 3rd Annual DeLuna Fest come September. The three-day festival will be held on September 21-23 at Pensacola Beach. The artists will perform on four stages (two directly on the Pensacola Beach sand). The event will offer an eclectic mix of musical styles and a truly impressive lineup of top-name artists and bands.

Some of the performers scheduled to take the stage at the festival include Jimmy Cliff, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Florence and the Machine, Dwight Yoakam, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Bad Brains, Ben Folds Five, Zac Brown Band and DJ Jazzy Jeff, among many others. Sounds like it's going to be one helluva beach party.

DeLuna Fest made its debut in 2010 as a revival of America's original beach party nearly 500 years ago. The festival pays homage to the landing of Spanish Conquistador Don Tristan de Luna on what we now know as Pensacola Beach, Florida in 1559. Upon landing, de Luna and his crew threw the ultimate beach party. DeLuna Fest also marks Pensacola's countdown to its 500-year anniversary. 

The inaugural De Luna Fest in 2010 had a great lineup of performers that included Stone Temple Pilots, Willie Nelson, Bush, Daughtry and Better Than Ezra.

For more info about DeLuna 2012, check out their website.

Willie Bobo's "Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries"

"Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries" is a dope track by the late, great Latin jazz percussionist Willie Bobo. The song's haunting, mysterious groove is a killer. The first time I heard the song was when I was watching a scene from Peter Berg's pitch-black comedy Very Bad Things some years back. And I was floored by the track. It sounded incredible and stayed with me after I had finished watching the movie. So I had to find out who recorded it.

Bobo was born William Correa on February 28, 1934 and grew up in Spanish Harlem in New York City, NY.  He began playing bongos at 14, and only a year later, he was performing with the King of Mambo Pérez Prado. At this time, he was also studying with legendary Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria, while also serving as his translator. At 19, Bobo joined Latin jazz great Tito Puente for a four-year stint.

Pioneering jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams gave the famed percussionist the moniker "Bobo" when they recorded together in the early '50s. During his distinguished career, Bobo played in a variety of styles, including Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Latin soul, Salsa, Latin folk, world fusion and boogaloo. He was highly skilled on several percussion instruments and had performed with jazz giants such as Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery and Chico Hamilton.

"Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries" was written by Bobo and trumpeter/cornetist Melvin Lastie. The track was featured on  Bobo's album Uno, Dos, Tres 1-2-3, which was released in 1966. Santana did a cool live cover of the track at Woodstock in 1969. Bobo died at only 49 from cancer on September 15, 1983.

Download Song At Amazon

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Snoop Dogg and The Black Keys Set To Hit The Stage At Catalpa Music Festival In July

 Snoop Dogg and the Black Keys are among the scheduled artists to perform at the inaugural  Catalpa Music Festival. The festival will take place on July 28-29 on Randalls Island in New York City. The festival will run from 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm each day. According to their website, the organizers of Catalpa are "striving to be a pioneering New York festival, unique in its programming, atmosphere and aesthetic." The festival will stress on-site artistry, interactive experiences and experimentation in the musical performances.

The 40 scheduled performers at the event will represent a diverse array of musical genres, including blues, rock, hip-hop, electronic, reggae and indie.

In addition to Snoop and the Black Keys, some of the other scheduled performers include Cold War Kids, TV On The Radio, Matt and Kim, Zola Jesus, Felix da Housecat, Dirty Heads, the Big Pink and Fort Atlantic, among many others.

To learn more about the festival and ticket info, visit their website

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Brand New Heavies Bring Some '70s Old-School Flavor To "You Can Do It"

I was checking out acid jazz pioneers The Brand New Heavies' 1997 cover of '70s dance track "You Can Do It," which was originally recorded by Al Hudson and The Partners in 1979. The Heavies effectively channel some vintage '70s magic on this infectious cover. It  really sounds like they could have recorded this back in the party-'til-you-drop "Me Decade."

I really dig the vocal arrangements on The Heavies' rendition. Their voices flow so well together and are at once smooth and extremely soulful. And the groove is tight, with great horn lines, phat bass and some funky guitar licks. And the keyboard part that's played throughout the song keeps things percolating. It kind of reminds me of the main keyboard part on Kool & the Gang's hit "Ladies' Night" or Chocolate Milk's "Girl Callin'." "You Can Do It" is one of those tracks that makes you want to sing along because it's just so damn catchy.

The Brand New Heavies are an acid jazz and funk band that was formed in 1985 by drummer/keyboardist Jan Kincaid, guitarist Simon Bartholonew and bassist/keyboardist Andrew Levy. The three musicians were former schoolmates in the London suburb of Ealing. The three shared a mutual love for classic American soul and funk music from the 1970s. The trio was originally an instrumental act and went by the name Brother International and later added a horn section.

The group changed their name to the Brand New Heavies after signing their first record deal. As the Brand New Heavies, the group gained a cult following in the London club circuit. The group became pivotal figures in the burgeoning acid jazz scene in the UK during the late '80s and early '90s. (Acid Jazz is a beat-heavy genre that fuses elements of jazz, funk and hip hop). Vocalist Jay Ella Ruth eventually joined the group as its lead singer.

Ruth's tenure with the Heavies was short-lived. She was only with the band during 1990. She was succeeded by American singer N'Dea Davenport, who spent four years with the band. The Atlanta-born singer rejoined the Heavies in 2005 and is still with them.

"You Can Do It" is from the group's album Shelter, released in 1997. Grammy-winning and twice Oscar-nominated singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett was the lead singer of the Heavies at this time. She had joined the band in 1996 as Davenport's replacement. In addition to her lead-singing duties, Garrett contributed to the writing of six of the album's tracks, including the hit song "Sometimes." Garrett left the group in '98 to concentrate on her own songwriting.

Garrett was replaced by Carleen Anderson as the group's lead singer. Anderson is the daughter of soul singer Vicki Anderson, who is best known for being a part of James Brown's revue during the '60s and early '70s. Carleen is also the stepdaughter of  the late, great Bobby Byrd, who was James Brown's long-running right-hand man as well as founder and original member of the Famous Flames.

Anderson left the group in 2000. Following Anderson's departure, the Heavies had two other lead singers (Sy Smith and Nicole Russo) before they reunited with Davenport in 2005.

Download Track at Amazon

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bernie Worrell Orchestra Headlining Local & Legend Music Festival

Keyboard master and P-Funk alum Bernie Worrell and his orchestra will be headlining the 4th Annual Local & Legend Music Festival next Saturday on June 23. The concert will take place at Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, New Jersey.

The annual festival is an affiliate of World Of Originality, Inc., which is a not-for-profit corporation. The festival is an event that the entire family can enjoy and will have wine tasting, local vendors and great food. And the festival will also feature a terrific lineup of musical talent.

In addition to the Bernie Worrell Orchestra, some of the others artists and bands scheduled to perform at the event include Larry Marshall, CC Coletti Band, Jessi Teich, Ten Foot Tall, The Almighty Terribles and Coral Maze.

Proceeds from the festival will go to providing scholarships for students in the Music and the Performing Arts as well as PALS, a Music Therapy Program

For more info about the festival, go to their website.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"The Boss" By James Brown

Years before Gangsta rap blew up in the early '90s, James Brown was releasing gangsta cuts like "The Boss," "Papa Don't Take No Mess" and "The Payback." I guess you could say that James was the ultimate OG. The smooth funk groove on "The Boss" has so much swagger that it can make even the most funkless and uncool among us feel like Miles Davis for a minute.

"The Boss" is from Brown's soundtrack for the 1973 blaxploitation film Black Caesar starring Fred Williamson. The film is about the rise and fall of a powerful Harlem crime boss. It's no Shaft or Super Fly, but it's a decent flick and better than many other similar films of the genre.

Some of the song's lyrics seem like they could be about James himself. He was always a boss. I like how he defiantly blurts out, "Told you so!" during the bridge. It's like he's taunting all those who said he'd never get over and doubted the power of his funk. The groove is just so chill, and the bass line is a killer. Also, the horn arrangements by Fred Wesley are stone-cold.

With its gangsta themes and swaggering funk, it's not surprising that hip-hop artists picked up on the track. Gangtsa rap pioneer Ice-T famously sampled the groove for his 1990 single "You Played Yourself." The track has been sampled by a number of other hip-hop artists as well. "The Boss" was written by James Brown, Fred Wesley and Charles Bobbit.

Download "The Boss" at Amazon

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guitar Phenom Orianthi Covers Michael Jackson's "Give In To Me"

In this clip guitarist/singer/songwriter Orianthi Panagaris performs a moving acoustic cover of Michael Jackson's hard rock ballad "Give In To Me" before a group of students at the University of Southern California (USC). Her rendition has a quiet power and really does the original  justice. The young guitar slinger was slated to be MJ's lead guitarist for his ill-fated concert series This Is It, which was to be a 50-date residency at London's renowned O2 Arena starting on July 13, 2009.  The Australian-born guitarist also appeared in the documentary film This Is It, which chronicles the rehearsals and preparations for the upcoming concerts at O2 Arena.

Orianthi is an amazingly talented guitarist and is also a pretty solid singer/songwriter. At only 27, she has already made quite a name for herself in the music industry. MJ was not the only music legend with whom she has shared the stage. She has jammed with prominent musicians such as Carlos Santana, Prince, Steve Vai and ZZ Top, and in February 2009, she played before millions of viewers as the lead guitarist for American Idol winner Carrie Underwood's band during a performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards.

Orianthi has released three albums and an EP so far. She scored a hit with the pop-rock song "According To You," a track from her second album Believe (2009). The song went to #8 on the Australian Singles Chart, # 3 on Japan Hot 100, #22 on Canada Hot 100 and #17 on U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In August of last year, Orianthi joined legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper's band as as his new lead guitarist.

"Give In To Me" is a track from Michael Jackson's Dangerous album (1991). It was co-written by MJ and record producer/songwriter/musician Bill Bottrell. The track features a blazing guitar solo by ex-Guns N' Roses member Slash, who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other original members of GNR. Although the track wasn't released as a single in the U.S., it charted quite well in other parts of the world, making the top 5 in several countries.

At the beginning of this clip, Orianthi shares a cool little anecdote about when she auditioned for MJ's band at Neverland Ranch.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Blue Note Jazz Festival 2012 Brings The Jams In June

Cassandra Wilson
A top-notch roster of talent will be featured at the 2nd Annual Blue Note Jazz Festival this month. The festival began on June 10 and will run through June 30 with more than 50 scheduled performances at several venues throughout New York City. The event will offer a diverse selection of local and international talent. Some those artists scheduled to perform at the festival include Stephanie Mills, Bootsy Collins, Meshell Ndegeocello, Kathleen Battle, Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), Cassandra Wilson, ?questlove, Groove Theory, Average White Band, and Stanley Clarke & George Duke, among many others. 

The festival is presented by Blue Note Entertainment Group, which operates the Blue Note Jazz Club, the Highline Ballroom and B.B. King Blues Club. And with a few exceptions, the festival performances will take place at one of those venues. The Blue Note Jazz Festival made its debut in June of last year and featured more than 80 performances in 15 venues throughout New York City.

Blue Note Entertainment Group was established in 1981 by Danny Bensusan with the opening of the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club in New York's Greenwich Village. The Blue Note soon became one of the first venues in the country to present jazz in an intimate, upscale setting, and Bensusan has been credited with revitalizing jazz in New York City. For more info about the Blue Note Jazz Festival, visit their website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chaka Khan and Reba McEntire To Share The Stage At The Hollywood Bowl

Music icons Chaka Khan and Reba McEntire will share the stage for the 2012 opening night gala at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, June 22 at 8:00 p.m. The legendary music powerhouses are this year's inductees into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Both will join conductor Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for performances. Screen legend Julie Andrews will host the event, with presenters and special quests to be announced. The gala is presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Both Khan and McEntire have had long, distinguished musical careers. Khan's celebrated career in music spans nearly 40 years. She shot to fame as the lead singer for funk/soul band Rufus in the 1970s and then went on to an extremely successful career as a solo artist. On May 19, 2011, the 10-time Grammy winner received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Khan is considered one of the most influential vocalists in R&B music.

Often referred to as "The Queen of Country Music," McEntire has been a huge star in country music for many years. She has sold 57 million records in the U.S. and more than 70 million worldwide and is the second best-selling female country artist of all time, behind Shania Twain. McEntire is also an actress and has appeared in several films. And she starred in the family sitcom Reba that ran on the WB (now CW) from 2001 to 2007.

The Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame was established in 2000 and honors artists “whose unique achievements embody the spirit of the Bowl." Other inductees have included Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Plácido Domingo, Donna Summer, George Harrison, Carlos Santana and B.B. King. 

For more info about the event or to purchase tickes, visit the Hollywood Bowl website.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Earth, Wind & Fire Performing "Magic Mind" Live In Japan

This clip of Earth, Wind & Fire's explosive performance of "Magic Mind" gives a sampling of what a badass live band they were back in the day. The performance is from a 1979 concert in Japan. The Phenix Horns really tear it up and show why they are considered one of the tightest horn sections on the planet. The rest of the EWF are also killing it. And Maurice White wins the audience over with tons of charisma and showmanship. He's just an incredible front man and all-around great musician.

Earth, Wind & Fire still tour, but without Maurice. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the late '80s, which eventually led to him retiring from touring in 1994.  For me, it just doesn't feel like an authentic Earth, Wind & Fire show without him. It's sort of the equivalent of not having Mick Jagger on stage at a Rolling Stones concert. However, I don't fault the other members for continuing to tour. It's something they love to do, and they get paid for it.

I had the good fortune of catching EWF live a few times in the late '70s and early '80s, and let me you, their live shows were out of this world and would leave you with a natural buzz. They always gave 110 percent on stage, performing with impeccable musicianship while exuding infectious, positive energy. I don't think I've ever heard of an Earth, Wind & Fire show where any violence broke out or anyone was arrested. It was just the kind of vibe they gave off and the type of audience they attracted. Probably the worst thing you'd ever find at an EWF show is the occasional pungent smell of weed wafting through the air, and I don't really consider that a bad thing. Everyone was just really chill at EWF concerts, and you'd always head home feeling good, bobbin' your head with a big smile on your face.

"Magic Mind" is from Earth, Wind & Fire's amazing triple-platinum album All 'n All, which was released in November 1977. "Magic Mind" was the fourth and last single released from the collection. It's a kinetic funk workout that encourages listeners to make the best of their relatively short time on this planet by actively pursuing their goals and dreams, expanding their minds, and just living and loving to the fullest. The monster groove is enough to jump-start you in that direction.

Download Studio Version of Magic Mind at Amazon

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Duwende Bring Their Sweet Harmonies To Stevie Wonder's Classic "As"

I've been checking out Duwende's incandescent cover of Stevie Wonder's classic track "As."  Their swirling, intricate harmonies are just amazing on this cover. The acclaimed a capella band's flow sounds so smooth and effortless here. I've been into Duwende for a little over a year now, and they continue to amaze me with their incredible talent. I think even Stevie himself would dig what they did with his song.

In May of last year, the sextet released a tribute album to Michael Jackson that was made up of a cappella covers of some of his biggest hits. The band showed great originality and versatility on the album, bringing their own unique style to MJ's tracks. Their cover of "As" makes wish me they'd do the same with Stevie. Well, if not a full tribute album, it would be cool if they'd at least cover a few more of his songs. "As" is from Stevie Wonder's landmark, Grammy-winning double LP Songs In the Key of Life (1976).

Duwende have been in the studio recently working on new music. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing their next studio effort. Additionally, the band is scheduled to perform at SteveStock: A Summer Music Celebration on June 13. The show will take place at Sullivan Hall in New York, NY. In another bit of Duwende news, tenor Neal Mortimer retired from the band back in April of this year. Noah Hercky recently joined Duwende to become their newest tenor. He's singing the lead part on their cover of "As."

Related Blog Entry: Duwende: A Capella Magic

George Clinton and the P-Funk Crew Performing at "Fantasy of Funk" Festival Next Month

Next month, George Clinton and P-Funk are scheduled to perform at the "Fantasy of Funk" festival at Seminole Casino Immokalee, which is located in the town of Immokalee in Florida. The Funk Mob are set to hit the stage at the event on Saturday, July 21. In addition to the P-Funk crew, the other bands scheduled to perform at the outdoor event on Saturday include New Orleans brass funk-rock band Bonerama; R&B/blues band the Nouveaux Honkies; and the Glen David Andrews Band, a brass band out of New Orleans that melds gospel, funk and R&B in its sound.

The "Fantasy of Funk" festival starts 1:00 p.m Saturday and will also feature about 10 food trucks dispensing gourmet treats. To kick off the event, Seminole Casino Immokalee will host a free party at its Zig Zag Lounge on Friday, July 20, at 7 p.m. Party-goers with the funkiest outfits will be rewarded with cool prizes. The Nouveaux Honkies will perform at the Friday jam as well as at  the "Fantasy Funk" fest the following day. All those in attendance should have a funky good time. To get more info about the event, visit here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Starbelly Jam Music Festival Coming In July

Next month, an impressive line-up of musical talent will be featured at the 13th Annual Starbelly Jam Music Festival. The three-day event will take place in Crawford Bay Park, British Columbia on July 20-22 (Fri., Sat, and Sun.). The performers featured at the outdoor event will cover a wide range music styles, including funk, world music, rock, blues, hip hop, reggae, electronica bluegrass, folk, soul and more. In addition to the live music, the family-oriented festival will offer plenty of entertainment and fun activities for children, and kids under 13 get in free.

Some of the artists and bands scheduled to perform at the festival include Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, the Barr Brothers, the Cave Singers, Gaudi, Youssoupha Sidibe, Jamie Janover, Vortex and a ton of others. The festival will also offer on-site food, a craft faire, free workshops, roaming jugglers and clowns, and much more. Camping is also available at several locations within a few minutes walk from the festival grounds, and there are other accommodations in the area. Starbelly Jam Musical Festival made its debut in 1999 and is put on each year by a community-minded group of volunteers who freely give of their time and expertise to ensure that the festival is run smoothly and is an enjoyable experience for all those who attend. For more info about the festival, visit their website.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"This Is The Way We Funk With You" by Parliament

"This Is The Way We Funk With You" is a super-dope track by Parliament. It was one of the two new original studio tracks from the epic double album Live: P-Funk Earth Tour, released in 1977. The song starts off with loud snoring courtesy of Michael "Kidd Funkadelic" Hampton. It's kind of a bizarre cut but very funky nonetheless. The track has sort of a nursery rhyme feel that belies the ribald lyrics sung by powerhouse P-Funk vocalist Glen Goins.

The extremely suggestive manner in which the the future Brides of Funkenstein (Dawn Silva and Lynn Mabry) sing "funk me" in the background killed any chance of the track receiving radio airplay. And let's not forget that this was seven years before Prince released the equally suggestive "Erotic City," in which Shelia E. sings "We can funk until the dawn." Many swore up and down that the Purple One and Ms. Escovedo snuck in another F word in place of "funk" on some parts of the song. However, unlike Parliament's track,"Erotic City" received serious radio airplay. Look at what a mere seven years can do.

Anyway, back to "This Is The Way We Funk With You." The song really showcases what great vocal talent P-Funk had at its disposal. Goins and the background vocalists really shine on this track. The song was penned by George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Eddie Hazel and Glen Goins. That's quite an impressive group of songwriters. The groove also has a phat thumpin' bass line.

Download Song At Amazon

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, The Beach Boys And Other Great Bands To Perform At Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2012

Ben Folds Five
A myriad of distinguished bands and artists will descend on Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennesee for the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts  Festival on June 7-10. Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beach Boys and Phish are among the headliners at the four-day festvial. The performers at the fesival will cover a wide range of music styles, including hip hop, jazz, bluegrass, indie rock, world music, americana, country music, reggae, electronica and other alternative music. Some of the other bands and artists who will be performing at the festival include the Shins, Black Star, Kenny Rogers,  Alice Cooper, the Roots, Ludacris, Ben Folds Five, the Civil Wars and a slew of others.

The inaugural Bonnaroo Festival was held in 2002. The event was created and produced by Mark Barr and AC Entertainment and is held each year at Great Stage Park, a 700-acre (2.8 km²) farm in Manchester, Tennessee.  In the beginning, the festival focused primarily on jam bands and folk rock but became more eclectic in recent years. However, the festival still recognizes its roots and continues to feature jam bands and folk rock. Bonnaroo has grown into one of the biggest music festivals in the U.S. Last year, more than 90,000 people attended the festival. In addition to the performers, Bonnaroo also features craftsmen and artisans who sell unique products, as well as food and drink vendors, a comedy tent, silent disco, cinema tent and a Ferris wheel.

Each year, the festival draws some of the biggest names in music. Some of the celebrated artists and bands who have performed at the festival in the past include Pearl Jam, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers, Arcade Fire, the Flaming Lips, Buffalo Springfield and the Black Crowes. To get more info about the festival, visit their website.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Lined Up" By Shriekback

I've been checking out this cool track by British post-punk dance band Shriekback called "Lined Up." It's a sick cut and is quite addicting. It has a mysterious, hypnotic groove with an indelible slap bass line. The song was released back in 1983, and it still sounds as fresh and original as it did when it first came out. Abstract keyboard sounds waft through the groove, and the band members sing the cryptic lyrics in haunting unison. The track creates a dark, desolate atmosphere that draws you in. When I first heard the track, the words "swamp funk" immediately sprung to mind. For some reason, the groove always makes me think of someone crawling through the swamp.

"Lined Up" is from Shriekback's debut LP Care (1983). It's one of the band's better-known tracks and was a minor hit in the U.S. and reached number 39 on the Australian ARIA charts. Shriekback was originally formed in North London by Barry Andrews (keyboards/synthesizers/vocals) and Dave Allen (bass). Andrews had previously been a member of both XTC and the League of Gentlemen. Allen was formerly a member of Gang of Four. Shriekback soon expanded into a trio with the addition of Carl Marsh (guitars/vocals), who was previously a member of the band Out on Blue Six.

Shriekback was known for their unique, unconventional sound that melded synthesizers and drum machines with heavy bass lines and eccentric vocals. The band scored several hits on the UK Indie Chart. Over the years, Shriekback has disbanded and reformed a number of times and went for a seven-year period in the '90s in which they didn't release any new material. In 2010, the band released the ablum Life In The Loading Bay, which was met with mostly positive reviews from music critics.

Purchase Care on Vinyl at Amazon

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Aretha Franklin Headlining 2012 Essence Music Festival

Aretha Franklin will be one of the headliners at the upcoming 18th Annual Essence Music Festival. The legendary Queen of Soul will be joining a cornucopia of big-name talent at the four-day festival, which is scheduled for July 5-8 (Thursday through Sunday). The event will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Franklin is expected to be honored with the first-ever "Power Award" during her festival performance. Some of the other renowned musical artists scheduled to perform at the event include Mary J. Blige, D'Angelo, Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Stephanie Mills, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole, Estelle, the Stylistics, Doug E. Fresh, the Pointer Sisters, and a slew of others. The event is being billed as one of the largest gatherings of black artists in the country. As in previous years, the musical performances will be held at the Superdome while seminars with influential speakers, artists and authors will take place at the city's convention center.

Democratic U.S. Rep Maxine Waters of California will be one of the highlighted speakers at the festival. Some of the other speakers will include the Reverend Al Sharpton, author/educator Dr. Steve Perry and comedian/actor Steve Harvey, who's the author of the best-selling relationship advice book Think Like a Man.

The Essence Festival made its debut in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine, but grew into an annual music festival that celebrates contemporary African-American music and culture. Over the years, the festival has drawn some of the biggest acts in music. Typically the festival's lineup features a mix of iconic music legends, current superstars and talented up-and-comers. Last year, the festival drew more than 422,000 attendees. 

Since its inception, the festival has taken place in New Orleans, except for in 2006 when it was held in Houston, Texas due to Hurricane Katrina. Essence will once again partner with the City of New Orleans to help support initiatives that will benefit its young residents.  For more festival info, visit their website.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Temptations Deliver The Funk On Hit "Shakey Ground"

The Temptations dropped this lethal funk bomb back in 1975. The gutbucket groove reflected the funk movement that pervaded R&B music during this period. It seems like everybody was gettin' funky at this point. What James Brown had set off a decade earlier had come into full bloom, and the Tempts did not sleep on the funk. "Shakey Ground" is straight nasty, rusted-nail funk. It's probably the funkiest cut the legendary Motown group has ever released. Dennis Edwards' raspy, soulful voice is well-suited for funk. His vocals sound so dope here that I kind of wished he had become the lead singer for an all-funk outfit following his departure from the Tempts in 1977.

To ensure that maximum funkatude was achieved, the Temptations tapped two P-Funk members to play on the track: William "Billy Bass" Nelson lays down the wickedly funky bass line, and Eddie "Maggot Brain" Hazel contributes some dirty, funky licks. And the P-Funk connection doesn't end there. Hazel co-wrote the track as well. So it's not surprising that the track turned out so funky.

"Shakey Ground" is from the Temptations' album A Song For You (1975). In addition to "Shakey Ground," Nelson and Hazel also played on the album's funky dance track "Glasshouse." "Shakey Ground" was the last song by the Tempts to top Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart. And it charted at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has been covered by a number of noted artists, including Etta James and Phoebe Snow.

Download Shakey Ground at Amazon

Related blog entry: "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations