Kashmere Stage Band Documentary Screening & Performance

Finally, after its SXSW premier back in March, Houston will get some soulful recognition, paid in full tonight. Mark Landsman’s documentary Thunder Soul, the story of the Kashmere Stage Band will screen this evening for free at Discovery Green Park as part of Houston’s year-old Cinema Arts Festival. I was fortunate enough to be present during the shooting of the film and have been eagerly awaiting its local unveiling. Afterward, there will be some words with Landsman and the KSB director’s son, Conrad Johnson Jr as well as a performance by the band.

If you find yourself in Houston tonight, you should really be here. It’s a great moment for civic pride and a hugely important part of the history of Houston music. If you’d like to learn more about the story of the Kashmere Stage Band, here’s an article about the group I wrote in an August issue of the Houston Press titled The Thunder Rolls. And no, I didn’t name the story, yes the editor did in fact name it after the Garth Brooks song and no, I will never forgive him for it.

Things kickoff at 6:45 at Discovery Green Park and you can learn more about the event at the Cinema Arts Festival website.

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The First Bayou City Soul Mix Download

I was recently asked by the kind folks over at Peaceuvmine.com to contribute a mix of a handful of some of my favorite Houston-related soul 45s. It was supposed to be just a short little thing to be used as a compendium of sorts for the engagement I did with Flash Gordon Parks over at 4400 Almeda. After three canceled sessions (sorry guys!) I finally spent a couple hours rummaging through my Houston 45s and an afternoon at Peaceuvmine Studios later, this recording is what you get. What you hear is nothing more than thirty seven minutes of exactly what I wanted to listen to that day. From gritty r&b to sweet soul records that should of been huge hits but never quite made it past the Harris County line.

Give it a gander and please let me know what you think.

Bayou City Soul Tracklist:

1. The Fantastics – High Note (Copa)
2. Bobby Williams – Baby I Need Your Love (Sure-Shot)
3. The Insights – Turn Me On Sweet Rosie (Peacock)
4. Ambassadors of Soul – Cool Sticks Beat (Pt. 1) (Ovide)
5. The Cold Four – Love And Care (Drells)
6. Leon Mitchinson and the Eastex Frwy Band – I’ll Take You There (Mitchtone)
7. The 4 Avalons – {I Don’t Wanna Be A} Playboy (Ovide)
8. TSU Tornados – Please Heart Don’t Break (Rampart Street)
9. Joe Hughes -May The Best Man Win (Boogaloo)
10. Johnny Adams – {Sometimes} A Man Will Shed A Few Tears Too (Pacemaker)
11. The Soul Brothers f/ Harold Bennett – Blues For A Belly Dancer (Copa)
12. Johnny Williams – Honey Child (Cinema)
13. Miss LaVell – Stop These Teardrops (Duke)
14. The Americans of 72 – Crackerjack (Part 1) (Libra)
15. Archie Bell & The Dells – Houston TX (Atlantic)
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Speaking on Houston Soul Music

Just a quick note for any of those out there who may be interested. Saturday October 23rd, I’ll be speaking about the history of Houston soul music and then playing some of the best examples alongside DJ Flash Gordon Parks. If there’s something you’ve always wondered about a group or record from Houston, feel free to email me and we can try and discuss it during the lecture portion or afterward. This is a community-based event and I welcome all the interaction possible. There might be a few surprise musicians in the house but I’m not making any promises as of now. The evening will start at 6pm and be over by 9pm, so make sure to get there in a timely manner.

Saturday October 23rd.
4400 Almeda
Houston, TX

Here’s some more information about the event from the press release.

ROOTamentary examines the cross-section of generations, races, and cultures being exposed to Blues, Funk, Soul, and Jazz music. The program also promotes the significance of the “mom-and-pop” record store and the importance of vinyl preservation. This experience is designed to create a hyperlink that connects success to the stories of those recording artists that built the foundation. Young artists will be exposed to their musical predecessors to draw inspiration that will enhance the quality of their musicianship.

This month we will be focusing on artists from Houston TX and also highlighting the contribution of Duke/Peacock Records to music and culture. This will be the final chapter in our series….Special guest DJ Brett Koshkin will be stopping thru to share some of his rare 45s…..You don’t want to miss this!

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The Mythical Unicorn: Duke 45 Sleeves

Duke 45 Sleeve

While vinyl relics from Houston become tougher and tougher to locate as the years pass, proving the existence of other ephemera from a bygone era can feel more fiction than fact at times. It would only make sense that a record company the size of Don Robey’s Duke imprint would manufacture their own 45 single sleeves. After all, Robey paid enough attention to Duke’s sister company Peacock that he used beautiful five-color labels on his 45s. A dauntingly expensive endeavor at the time for a record enterprise, as the more colors used for printing, the more expensive the label being stuck onto to the actual vinyl became. This is the reason many record companies, particularly independents ones, tend to use one-color labels to this day.

Records, being made of polyvinyl chloride or styrene tend to weather the storm of time decently enough. As long as the listener doesn’t toss them around like frisbees and returns them to their sleeves after playing them, there’s not much threat of degradation. Paper on the other hand seems to deteriorate at a much faster pace and paper 45 sleeves tend to be no exception to the rule.
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When Tejano Found Its Soul Power

While African Americans did the brunt of heavy lifting when it came to soul music in Houston, it’s a common misconception that they were alone in their musical direction at the time. Houston had its share of multicultural groups in the sixties and seventies that played along the same lines like Soul Bros INC and Masters of Soul. But, it was largely the Chicano groups that found inspiration and then their own interpretation with the genre.

I’ve asked compatriot, I’m Shakin Blog Man and Bayou City Soul Assistant Extraordinaire, Alex LaRotta to contribute a moment of his time to expound on the subject. LaRotta sent me three MP3s for your downloading pleasure and the following story that explains what happened when Chicanos put down the Accordion and started listening to James Brown records. -BK

Tejano Got Soul

As La Onda Chicana (The Chicano Wave) musical movement spread wide in America’s southwest in the mid ’60s, Texas was a breeding ground for a young generation of Chicanos making soul music their own groovy thing. Adding R&B beat and rock instrumentation into their musical repertoire, Tex-Mex soul/rock music legends like Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs, ? and the Mysterians (though from Michigan, recorded/produced in San Antonio with a distinct Tex-Mex sensibility), Doug Sahm and Sir Douglas Quintet, and El Bebop Kid (known popularly as chicano country star Freddie Fender) rose to pop prominence and inspired leagues of young Latinos to cut their own American-styled rock and soul records. In a matter of speaking–move over bajo sexto and accordion, I’ll take my guitar with an electric pickup.
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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)

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


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