By Bob Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been seven years since I first opened
the doors of the Old Curiosity Shop, and even in that relatively
short period of time we’ve seen changes. In 2010, the Gold Line
trains terminated at Sierra Madre Villa (and I have maintained that
Metro should call this station East Pasadena because it’s a long
uphill hike to Sierra Madre). The Expo Line to Santa Monica was
still under construction and this was just the first section to
Culver City. On the national scene, by the time you read this, our
country will have a new President, one who, shall we say, has an
unusual background for a Chief Executive of the U.S. It seems like
one faction is overjoyed to see Mr. Obama turn over the reins of
government to Mr. Trump, and the other side is just hoping our
country can survive the next year, let alone the next four.
Now that the Gold Line is open to
Azusa-Citrus, and the Expo line is running to Santa Monica, I’ll try
to get out to downtown LA, Wilshire Blvd and the Crenshaw-LAX area
to “supervise” those projects. Pat has been talking about taking a
cruise to Alaska, where we might see a big clawhawkus bear or even a
moose, and/or cruising through the Panama Canal, reflecting on the
Bad Old Days when gold seekers heading to California risked their
lives to cross the fever-ridden swamps of the Isthmus of Panama and
wait in a wretched seaport for the steamer to take them to San
On the music scene, January 8 brought Art
Fein’s Elvis Birthday Bash, with its usual wide-ranging tributes to
Elvis Presley and the songs he made famous, or at least
recorded. This is another event that I learned about from Evie
Sands when she appeared at the 2003 EBB at the House of Blues in W.
Hollywood. I’ve been to several of them over the past 14 years, in
various locations around and near LA. This time it was at the Viva
Cantina in Burbank near the equestrian center.
One special reason for going was that Skip
Heller’s Hollywood Blues Destroyers band would be there with Suzi
Carmichael, their new singer. It took me a while to realize that
I’d seen her last year at the same location, only in completely
different attire and playing a left-handed Fender guitar. Following
HBD was a new act: Emmy Lee and the Rockabelles. Emmy soloed on a
scorching Trouble, the Rockabelles joined her for Can’t Help Falling
in Love, and they really blew me away with a cover of Ruth Brown’s
This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’. Turns out they had come all the
way from Atascadero (north of San Luis Obispo) and I think everyone
agreed that if they had come that far we should get a bonus song.
Emmy Lee and the Rockabelles at the Elvis
Birthday Bash--8 Jan 2017
Back in December, Evie Sands was the special
guest of Bill Gardner’s Rhapsody in Black radio show on KPFK, which
airs on Saturday afternoons from 2 to 4 PM. Evie brought some of
her favorite soul and R&B recordings from her collection and, for
the first time ever, played a track from her new CD, “Shine for Me,”
on the radio. This was just a taste of the EPCD that will be
released in April, an event long awaited by fans of the “Inimitable
Empress of Soul/Pop” - or as local music writer and impresario Jonny
Whiteside calls us - “The international cult of Sands
worshipers.” This was in the middle of December, his last show of
the year on the 29th featured R&B songs that made the charts in
1956. At least half of the records he played I have in my
collection in one form or another, so it was like “old home week,”
bringing back memories of the music that enlivened my teenage days.
His program for Jan 14, 2017 featured music
from January 1955. This was when I was just getting into the R&B
sound, not realizing that a couple of years later knowledge of this
genre would lead to my first “day job” at the local music store.
Right after Stingy Little Thing (a
Midnighters record that probably didn't get that much airplay), I
made notes about I Wanna Hug Ya, Kiss Ya, an obscure number by
Buddy and Claudia, because the piano part reminded me of Stan
Freberg's parody of The Great Pretender and the piano player who
rebelled against playing "that cling-cling-cling jazz."
I knew You Don't Have to Go by Jimmy Reed,
because I bought the record for the "B" side instrumental, Boogie in
Mama Talk to Your Daughter by J. B, Lenore
(aka Lenoir). I almost bought a 45 copy of this, but it had a
skip in the grooves. It's been covered by many artists,
including John Mayall and George Thorogood, but this is the
original. But I never thought of it as an answer record
to Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean. (to this day I tend to
pick up any tambourine within reach and do Ms. Brown's intro to that
song, wishing that there were a band ready to pick up the beat.)
Reconsider Baby and Baby Let's Play
house--last Sunday I was at the Elvis Birthday Bash in Burbank.
These two songs weren't on the play list, but when I heard them
today, I remembered that Elvis covered them, along with other R&B
hits of the 50s. We did have covers on Lawdy Miss
Clawdy and Hound Dog.
The Wallflower by Etta James and "the
Peaches." One of Johnny Otis' discoveries; there's quite a story on
the 45CAT website about this record. I've known for years that
Richard Berry played "Henry," but I didn't know that the singer
didn't become Etta James until after the recording was made.
Maggie Doesn't Work Here Any More by the
Platters (before they became famous). I've forgotten whether I
heard this on the radio (on a show specializing in rarities) or a
friend had a copy, but they sure hit the big time when they switched
to Mercury Records. The title reminded me of Bob
Dylan's Maggie's Farm.
Tweedlee Dee by LaVern Baker. I was
more a Ruth Brown fan, but this song will get everyone up and moving
around. Speaking of Ms. Brown, one of the "bonus numbers" at
the Elvis tribute was Emmy Lee and the Rockabelles doing a smoking
cover of This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'
Tomorrow Night by Lavern Baker: I
have a King 45 reissue of the original by Lonnie Johnson, which I
found in a record shop in Paso Robles back in 1959, and by strange
coincidence, that's where Emmy Lee has a gig next month.
God Only Knows and Kokomo: Two titles
that would be used in the '60s and the '80s by the Beach Boys.
Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin') by the Charms.
This was a case of an R&B group covering a pop group. They did
a good job on the vocals, but the Cheers version has a bass sax and
some guitar licks that Otis Williams didn't. It works both
ways-- the Cheers covered the Robins' I Must Be Dreaming; both songs
were written by the dynamic duo of Lieber & Stoller.
Looking forward to: Feb 4 will see the
Chaos Band back in Sierra Madre at the Buccaneer for their first
show in many months. Adam will be back from his extended visit to
Southeast Asia and nearby archipelagos, and it will be great to see
the band back together.
Here they are, almost a year ago:
The Chaos band: in back, Kurt Medlin drums;
left front, Evie Sands, vocals and guitar; Teresa Cowles (Ms.
Sparklebass) on the Fender bass and backing vocals; and Adam
Marsland on vocals and 12-string (Big Bear) guitar.
Until we meet again, keep the shiny side up
and the dirty side down, and stay stoked!