Category Archives: Bayou City Soul

Bobby Bland and the Malibus Just Can’t Stand It

Bobby Bland Poster

I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to track down anyone and everyone I can that had a hand in shaping the sounds of Houston’s vast soul scene. Over the years, I’ve found a decent number of long-lost musicians, a handful of hustling record label owners and fortunately, a couple fellows who produced their music.

That being said, there’s still a lot a people out there I’d like to sit down with and listen to their stories. Please send me an email if you have an uncle or friend that was involved locally with soul music in the 1960s or 1970s that I could speak with. The one thing I’ve had the hardest time getting my hands on is local music ephemera like posters, playbills and pictures. So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when this Bobby Bland flier showed up in my mailbox recently.

Bland, born and raised in Tennessee made a name for himself more than half a century ago when he recorded his first record for Chess in 1951. It wasn’t long afterwards that he signed with the then-fledgling recording label Duke. After a short stint in the military shaped his resolve to sing, upon his release he learned Duke had been sold to Don Robey and its base of operations relocated to Houston to run side by side with his Peacock imprint.
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Stop Reading and Start Dancing

dirtyhoney Sep 2010

Once again, Houston’s regular installment of some of the meanest soul, funk and R&B 45s is back for your funky pleasure. Come out to Boondocks this Saturday, September 4th for a night of drinking and dancing in any order you prefer.

This month’s special guest is JLA from Washington DC. He’s never played Houston before, so it should be quite the nice treat. As always, the evening is FREE and strictly vinyl, no laptops, no ipods, no CDs, no whatever that isn’t made of polyvinyl chloride.

I hope to see you there.

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When Skipper Lee Frazier Tightened Up Houston Politics

skipper lee flier

After a successful career as one the most popular radio deejays in Texas and producing Archie Bell and the Drells’ seminal hit “Tighten Up,” Skipper Lee Frazier did what anyone else would do, he ran for political office. In the early seventies, Frazier made an ill-fated bid for Harris County Commissioner Seat, Precinct 1 here in Houston.

On a visit over at his house in Sunnyside a few years back, I found this small handbill within a cardboard box mixed in amongst other ephemera. When I asked Frazier about his attempt to get into the political arena he smirked at me and gently remarked “I thought I knew how to fight dirty but then I tried my hand at politics. It’s a whole other level of crooked and I suggest you never try such a foolish thing.”

Very well Skip, I like you better as a radio deejay and hit-maker anyways.

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The Kashmere Stage Band

Kashmere Stage Band

Kashmere Stage Band in Okinawa, Japan 1975

Every now and then, without warning, a human may be struck with a sudden impetus to take stock of what they’re doing with their life. I was interviewing a member of the Kashmere Stage Band for this article last week when I realized just how much I love what I do. At that moment, there was nothing else I’d rather be doing than listening to this grown man tell me how high school kids from poor broken homes, brought the funk to school. That from 1969 to 1977, the Kashmere Stage Band won 42 of 46 local, regional and national competitions. That competing against them was akin to entering a talent show and finding out James Brown had entered the same contest.

The Kashmere Stage Band played nothing short of a vital roll in the history of Bayou City Soul music. These kids helped break the mold for what a school band plays and how they play it to this day. Not to mention, they were like the all-star farm team for Houston’s multitude of musicians to draft from.

Here’s an excerpt from the story I wrote in the Houston Press:

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A Podcast: Coming in Bits

David Turner - Honky Tonk Bud

Thursday night’s radio show seemed to go off without any hitches. Great records were played, in-studio singalongs were had while the microphones were off (for the better of all mankind) and repeated high fives took place. I brought out some fantastic, some eccentric and some downright random soul and funk records to play for the people. Thanks to Phunkwhatchaheard radio-show-host Jaekim and the wonderful thing that is the internet, you can download the show below.

I was also quite pleased to play El Gusano’s “Work Your Hand to the Bone” from the Fantasia Del Barrio LP which will be the next release on Heavy Light Records come this September. A fantastic concept record from Texas that bridges the gap between the funky workouts of Chicano Soul with Vietnam Vet Psychedelic inspiration. Unfortunately Donald Lee Richardson & the Executives’ gorgeous ballad “Bring Your Love Home to Me” was severed halfway through but I suppose that’s just how the internet operates sometimes.

Take a gander at the playlist:

david turner – honky tonk bud -D&D
billy garner – you’re wasting my time – New Day
the vontastics – why must we part – Checker
hebrew rogers – cant buy soul – Original Sound
perk badger – do your stuff – Hit Sound Records
t.s.u. tornadoes – play the music tornadoes – Volt
dottie cambridge – he’s about a mover – MGM
the pacesetters – i’m gonna make it – Audition
emanuel laskey – I’ve got to run for my life – Thelma
diana ross & the supremes – he’s my sunny boy – Motown
bobby butler & the latinaires – next time you see me – Teardrop
??? – the hot box radio spot – New World Pictures
darker shades ltd. – trackin down jody part 1 – ACR
frank williams & the rocketeers – show me what you got – Lloyd
the houston post – get with it – Houston Post
henry boatwright – the african slide – Genesis
james williams & the ghetto sounds – wazuri part 1 – Ghetto
el gusano – work your hand to the bone – Heavy Light
neto perez & the originals – t.c.b. or t.y.a. – Capri
ray frazier & the sounds of madness – i who have nothing – Stanson
billy garner – brand new girl – BGP
the naughty stewardesses – radio spot cut 1
ananda shankar – streets of calcutta – BMG
billy lee richardson & the executives – bring your love home to me – Shagg

Have a download on the house.

The Phunkwhatchaheard Radio Show ONE-HUNDRED [DJ Brett Koshkin eccentric soul 45s Mix] (05 Aug 10)

Addendum:
You can now stream the podcast or download it at the Phunkwhatchaheard podcast page.

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Last of the Vinyl Unicorns

Car load of 45s

Just a quick note.

In 2010, it’s still possible to find untapped 45 jukebox distributors in the Fifth Ward of Houston.
Now get out there and find some history.

-b

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Dirty Honey Friday August 7, 2010

Dirty Honey Aug 2010

Your monthly dose of rare funk and soul 45s is back with Brett Koshkin and special guest from Austin Second Line Social.

I’m very excited to have my Soul Happening cohort down to Houston to wreck the dance floor. He’s a busy man these days. When not doing Soul Happening in Austin with me, he’s DJing the Second Sunday Sock Hop at the Shangri La and providing some of the best soul music around to the public at his store Breakaway Records.

FREE as always, nothing but the best and rarest soul vinyl will be played.

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Dancing the Gulf Coast Better

For close to ten years now, I’ve been DJing with a group of fantastic guys in Austin under the moniker “Soul Happening” formerly, WAXPLOITATION! The shows we do together are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to toot my own horn, I just see more people having nothing short of a blast at the shows, something I’m very proud of.

We figure it’s time we do some good because, well… we can. We should. So we’ve put together this show with our very bitter friends/enemies the Second Sunday Sock Hop. I hope to see you there.

Soul Happening vs SSSH Benefit 07-30-2010

Soul Happening vs Second Sunday Sock Hop Benefit 07-30-2010

The Battle for Soul Supremacy!!!
Soul Happening vs. Second Sunday Sock Hop
A Benefit for the Gulf

Friday July 30th, 2010
At The Mohawk – 912 Red River
Austin, Texas

Nobody is happy about the BP spill in the gulf. We’ve watched friends and family lose their way of life, their livelihood, all they know striped from them by a black plague of sorts. States on the Gulf of Mexico have always played an important role in our lives. Most, if not all of the record collections you hear at the two big soul nights in Austin seem to have a rather large percentage of singles from these areas. Gulf States artists like Eddie Bo and Little Beaver have been staples at Soul Happening and the Second Sunday Sock Hop since their inception and have worn out many a dance floor. When Mardi Gras comes around, the Sock Hop celebrates it to the fullest, putting on a decadent party every year. When Katrina’s dark waters ran amuck, Soul Happening held a benefit show playing nothing but Louisiana soul and funk. These lands provide the food we eat, the music we love and more culture and traditions than entire countries could dream about having. And now these lands need our help.
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How a Crazy Cajun Shaped Houston’s Musical Landscape

Huey Meaux

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, only a few men held enough water to influence the sounds of soul music on a commercial scale in Houston. The men that could put your record in the Billboard charts or put your musical career in the ground, the gate keepers so to speak of the Bayou City.

There was Don Robey, owner of the illustrious Duke-Peacock-Backbeat family of labels. He recorded everyone from Bobby Bland and Junior Parker to OV Wright and Carl Carlton. He built a small empire from his office over on 2809 Erastus Street (The building which still stands today as the Charity Baptist Church) including the legendary nightclub the Bronze Peacock.

Skipper Lee Frazier split his time as a radio DJ on KCOH 1430AM (he still broadcasts today on KWWJ 1360AM) and as owner of his Ovide Records imprint. The 1968 release of Archie Bell and the Drells “Tighten Up” firmly cemented Lee’s stature amongst the heavyweights of Texas record label men. But even if it didn’t, having other acts like the TSU Toronadoes and Masters of Soul on his roster certainly did.

But neither Robey nor Lee had the influence on the scale that Huey Meaux had.
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We Dance Just As Good As We Want

Photo by Mark Roach


Archie Bell Tightens Up

Last Week, I went out with Photographer Mark Roach and Assistant Extraordinaire Alex LaRotta to finally meet Mr. Tighten Up, Archie Bell and his lovely wife Juanita in the flesh. If you want to write and record the history of Houston soul music, you’d be hard pressed to come up with someone else that played such a vital roll in the story to start with.

The two were nothing but a pleasure to spend the afternoon with and Archie loaded us up with stories about starting out in Houston, what it was like touring Africa and plenty of other nuggets. Most interesting were some facts I had never learned in my years of research like the different figures that filled rolls as members of his group The Drells through their career and how Archie may have got his start in one very, very, very infamous local high school band.

You’ll be able to read all about it when the Bayou City Soul Project finishes later this year. Until then, check out a few of these great photos Mr. Roach took to tide you over and watch this video of Archie Bell and the Drells doing a live version of “Tighten Up.”
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