Tag Archives: Gene Barge

Reclaimed Soul Episode 007: Architects of Chicago Soul, Building for Tomorrow.

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In this installment of my radio show (called “Reclaimed Soul”), I feature interviews with some Architects of the Classic Chicago Soul sound who are “scratching and crawling” today to restore the South Side Clubs and Venues that made them who they are as artists. Two such architects are profiled below:

Tom Tom Washington (pictured here) is basically my hero. He’s also a very humble and cool individual to be around.
As a Chicagoan and a music lover, his distinctive Horn and String Arrangements are like home to me.
Tom Tom came up in Chicago’s Ida B. Wells Projects and studied music under the tutelage of James Mack (an awe-inspiring arranger in his own right). He wound up arranging dozens of records for Chicago Music Heavyweights such as Earth, Wind, & Fire, The Emotions, Tyrone Davis, Deniece Williams (who is from Gary, IN), The Staple Singers, Ramsey Lewis, Leroy Hutson, The Chi-Lites, Otis Leavill, Betty Everett, Jerry Butler, Loleatta Holloway, and many, many, more.

We also talk to Gene Barge, a legendary Producer/Arranger who worked at Chess Records (working with Etta James, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Billy Branch, and many more). A saxophonist, he was also a session man on recordings all over town. He later received a Grammy for his work in Chicago with Natalie Cole. He also starred as “Percy” in Andrew
Davis’ “Stony Island” (1978) recently released on DVD for the first time.

For more on Reclaimed Soul, visit: http://vocaloreclaimedsoul.tumblr.com

for more on Tom Tom Washington, click here

for more on Gene Barge click here

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Stony Island (the movie) returns to Chicago!

from siskelfilmcenter.org:

STONY ISLAND
(aka MY MAIN MAN FROM STONY ISLAND)
1978, Andrew Davis, USA, 97 min.
With Richard Davis, Edward Stoney Robinson

At the Siskel Center, 164 North State Street, Chicago

Wednesday April 4th (8pm-9:30pm), Thursday April 5th  (8:15pm-9:45pm)
“Stony Island has been the birthplace of great American music and amazing musical talent, nurturing the likes of my fifty year brother, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Kahn, Curtis Mayfield and Maurice White. I’m also a kid from the South side of Chicago . MUSIC MAKES US ALL ONE AND “STONY ISLAND ” IS A TESTAMENT TO MUSIC BEING THE WORLD’S COMMON LANGUAGE. THIS TIMELESS MOVIE IS FILLED WITH BIG-TIME HEART AND SOUL. From the Gene Barge tenor sax version of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King, to the guitarist’s guitarist Phil Upchurch, one of my all time favorites – this flick is kicking!”
—Quincy Jones

For his first feature, Chicago native Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE) made the most of atmospheric neighborhood locations on Chicago’s South Side in this lively, funky, bluesy story of two dreamers pulling together a band from nothing. Multicultural before it was in fashion, and independent before there was a movement, STONY ISLAND became a breakout phenomenon. Richie, a Stony Island guitar player, and his best friend Kevin, recruit their undiscovered talent in Chicago’s dives and alleyways. A venal alderman, an insurance scam, and the state funeral of Da’ Boss are the icing on the cake, but the cake is music, with Gene “Daddy G” Barge, Larry Ball, Ronnie Barron, and more. Also includes appearances by Rae Dawn Chong and Dennis Franz, and the cinematography of Tak Fujimoto (FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF). 35mm. (BS)

Director Andrew Davis will be present at both screenings for audience discussion. He will be joined by Tamar Hoffs, Gene Barge and Susanna Hoffs on Wednesday and by Richie Davis, Tamar Hoffs and Susanna Hoffs on Thursday.

Stony Island comes to DVD April 24th, 2012.

 

Howlin’ Wolf: getting in the mood with a psychedelic “Spoonful”

An absolutely beastly rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful” by… Howlin’ Wolf. I feel like playing this cut tomorrow night.

Part of a push at Chess Records in the late 1960s (spearheaded by Gene Barge and Marshall Chess) to rerecord both Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters in the then contemporary Psychedelic Blues style featuring awe-inspiring session work by Morris Jennings, Phil Upchurch, and more. Read more about this groovy situation here.


Electric Mud: Electrified Delta Blues got a New Jolt

muddy rain

(“Tom Cat” by Muddy Waters)

The late sixties in Chicago was a wild time.  The Democratic National Convention and the Riots in 1968 labeled us as unruly, Serial Killer Richard Speck in 1966 labeled us as unsafe, and Martin Luther King, Jr.,  (marching in North Lawndale for equal housing in 1966), labeled us as a place that “The people of Mississippi ought to come to….to learn how to hate”. And yet we created such sweet music…

  Roaring blues, sophisticated jazz, gritty garage rock, smoothed out vocal pop, and shimmering soul (among other genres) all “jus grew” here.  Chess Records (based near 22nd and Michigan) was, in fact, the epicenter of the Electrified Delta Blues that changed the sound of popular American music FOREVER.  That was the music that served as rock-and-roll’s bassinet.  So it was no surprise that Chess Records, nearing the end of the 1960s and reinvigorated with fresh young talent (producer/arranger Charles Stepney, drummer Morris Jennings, and guitarist Phil Upchurch among them), decided to have their living legend artists (i.e. Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf) re-record their groundbreaking 1950s work in an updated funky psychedelic blues style. 

 White psychedelic rock artists had been ripping off their artists’ work for years.  Now they were, in effect, reworking their own art.  Muddy and Wolf weren’t feeling it.  Critics of the day panned the works. Yet, today, the albums born out of this time (including “Electric Mud”) have an almost cultish following.  Produced by Marshall Chess and the legendary Gene Barge, this body of work is just another example of good old Chicago invention….. For a sample of Howlin Wolf’s psychedelic blues tryst, click here.

Drummer Morris Jennings discusses Muddy Waters’ album “Electric Mud” with Ethnologist Jeff Thomas.

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more about “Morris Jennings Discusses Muddy Water…“, posted with vodpod