I found this photo of The Lamp Sisters recently and since I always find it nice to put faces to the records I listen to, I thought I’d go ahead and share it here with you.
The Lamp Sisters hailed from Detroit, starting out as backup singers for who else but name bearer Buddy Lamp. Buddy, a recording star who jumped to Don Robey’s Duke imprint in 1968, wielded plenty of attention and commercial success that could easily highlight band members to the masses during intermissions. Robey likely saw both the talent and selling points of three attractive ladies that already stood so close to the limelight and signed the group to a recording deal. The results were four 45s issued on Duke over the next few years, none of which seemed to climb the charts to much-coveted positions. Continue reading
The age-old booze peddler wisdom is that if you can finagle a way to stock your bar with patrons who won the female genetics lottery, you will never hurt for money. Get the ladies in the door and the men will follow in droves. I found this nice little advertisement for the Twenty Grand Club and thought I should share it here. The audacity of the claim makes me want to go there alone.
A few doors down from where the Turning Point Club stands, today the property at 3348 Old Spanish Trail is nothing more than a razed lot. I hope some former patrons of the Twenty Grand Club chime in and share their memories of the place.
A couple friends found this program from The 2nd Annual Astrodome Jazz Festival 1973 and rightfully decided I would appreciate owning such a piece of Houston history. You may ask, why am I posting about jazz when this site is dedicated to all things soulful? Well the two genres have always ran hand in hand. A ceaseless back and forth of using each others styles, musicians and even covering each others songs. I would equate it with today’s constant collaborations between contemporary r&b artists with that of hip hop artists. All of these musicians and the sounds they make or made are the results of influencing each other. Endless musical reverberations for better of all mankind.
The festival, which was spread out over two days, featured Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, Billy Paul, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Herbie Mann, David Newman, Bobby Womack, Ella Fitzgerlad, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Charles Mingus and Freddie Hubbard. This all took place in the Astrodome, the world’s first domed stadium and aptly nicknamed “Eighth Wonder of the World,” which could accommodate nearly 60,000 raving concert goers or sports fans. The festival was like Houston’s answer to Wattstax.
The one thing that bothered me is that the concert program doesn’t list any local musicians. Surely, with such fertile grounds as Houston, you would welcome some local talent on the stage, right? Well I dug around and turned up evidence to the contrary. According to the Lubbock Avalanche Newspaper, the concert made room for the Fifth Ward Express featuring BoBo Mr. Soul as well as Bubbha Thomas and the Lightmen. I love to envision The Lightmen playing “Luke” for 60,000 people in the same place J.R. Richard struck out every batter that walked into the place. I’ll try and upload some scans of some of the advertisements in the back of the program in the future.
In case you’re curious, ticket prices ran from $5.50 to $10.
Though I don’t own any Halloween related 45s from actual Houston groups, I do own this nice little ditty by Port Arthur artists on a local label. Huey Meaux’s Jet Stream imprint made an unusual choice in direction when they decided a group from an industrious small town an hour and a half drive from Houston should lay down a Halloween inspired tune.
The Port Arthur natives, James Duhon, Talmadge Armstrong, Ken Johnson, A.C. Guillory and Al Trahan quietly forged a small batch of releases under an array of different spellings of names and or monikers, most noticeably, The Ascots. There were solo releases by Talmadge Armstrong as well as Al Trahan on the Spindletop imprint both featuring “The Escotts.” A smattering of releases by James Kelly Duhon, one of which, “Heart Breaker (Child Maker)” found a national release on the Mainstream label.
I know, I know, things have been pretty quiet around here lately. Sorry. I’ve spent the better part of the Summer and beyond on the road and as much as I love writing about home, I always find it difficult when I’m not well ensconced in the Bayou City. Well, I’m here now and intend to keep the BCS faithful up to par with my general ramblings on what was once and the musical legends that roamed our fair city. -BK
Kool and Together’s story is so unsuspecting; it’s hard to believe it actually happened. Three brothers raised in the Southwest Texas town of Victoria, created an amalgamation of funk, soul and psychedelic rock and did so by their own accord.
Though the group wasn’t from Houston, they spent plenty of time here performing and recording the majority of their output for Huey Meaux’s Pacemaker imprint. When Heavy Light records sought out the master tapes to the single “Sittin on a Red Hot Stove” a funk number wound tighter than a coil and turned up an unreleased album of primordial psychedelia-infused soul, they did what any good label does and arranged to release it.
I don’t know what you’re plans are for this evening but I do know they should include going to Dirty Honey at Boondocks. Hey, great soul music and it’s free. Like you need another excuse, oh wait, I have one. Marcos Prado from the Dallas Smoke will be my very special guest deejay. That should seal the deal right there.
Hope to see you tonight.
I have always wondered what’s the story behind the Supreme Lounge.
How long was it the Supreme Lounge? Was there always a bar here? What was there before? The beautiful mid-century relic has stood there at the corner of Holman and Dowling for longer than I’ve been alive at the very least. Last week, I drove by and seeing the plywood covering the door is no longer there, I decided it was time to do a little friendly trespassing. unfortunately, the interior is nothing more than a burned out shell littered with broken shards of half-pint liquor bottles.
Anyways, as Houstonians know all too well, this city relishes bull dozing more than preservation and older buildings fall by the wrecking ball far too often. I’m just glad to see it.
photo by Nick de la Torre
Genius, madman or both, I had always hoped to someday get to interview Huey Meaux and clarify many remaining mysteries surrounding local musical lore. Sadly, Huey Meaux passed away this morning after several months of declining health. The man knew how to make a hit record and nothing short of legions owe some part of their careers in music to him. From Barbara Lynn and Sunny Ozuna (of Sunny & the Sunliners) to Freddy Fender and the Sir Douglas Quintet, Meaux could hear the potential long before their songs were ever laid to tape. It was Meaux who upon first hearing Archie Bell & the Drell’s “Tighten Up” recognized the gravitas it held and took it to Atlantic on Skipper Lee Frazier’s behalf.
He had his demons too and those demons sent him to prison for fifteen years. The enigmatic Cajun has left a legacy in his wake. A body of work that is nothing short of staggering. I hope we Houstonians and citizens of the world will try to remember what was so bright about this man’s life and attempt to look past the sullen shadows that crept around it.
Andrew Dansby wrote a nice piece about Meaux’s passing this morning for 29-95 you can read here.
One of the ugliest parts of the Vietnam War was the havoc it waged right here on the home front. A discriminatory draft system promised legions of African American men would be forced to leave their girlfriends, wives and children and head off to a questionable war they wouldn’t return from for a minimum of twelve months. And that was the upside of the situation.
Uncle Sam was hell-bent on stopping the spread of Communism, much to the detriment of the American Solider. Sadly, many wouldn’t come home alive and some of those who did, brought home new demons like drug addiction or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For the loved ones back home, it could all just be too much for a relationship to bear. It’s easy to become lonely when there’s an ocean between you and the world you know. The Dear John letter became all too commonplace in this incomprehensible era of callous Cold War.
Vietnam was an all too-real part of life if you lived in the sixties or seventies. Your best friend was there, your brother was there, your son was there, and your husband was there. You could be going there. It’s no wonder that the Southeast Asian war inspired countless artists to write some of their best material.
While I remain much more comfortable on the interviewer’s side of the tape recorder than the interviewee, I’m honored to have played a roll in today’s story in the Houston Press. Craig D. Lindsey was kind enough to pepper me with question for his article about today’s deejays playing soul music alongside my friend and Fistful of Soul founder Stewart A. Anderson.
“The way I see it is, if I do something, I want to do it right,” says Koshkin. “And I just wanted to know that it’s going to be appreciated. And I know Houstonians, you know, who appreciate that sort of thing. But, at the time, when I started doing it, there was nothing like that going on in town.
“And I was really curious,” he adds. “I mean, it just seems so out of left field, you know. There’s this random white guy playing a bunch of weird, ’60s soul music for people. How are people gonna respond to that?”
You can read the entire story here.