I’ve worked for newspapers, tv stations, web sites, but I’ve never spent meaningful time in front of a microphone at radio station before. A few weeks back, I finally got my chance. Michael Murphy, the host of WRIR’s Mellow Madness, let me guest host his long running music program. After a few week of practicing, I realized that playing music and talking at the same time wasn’t something I was going to get good at quickly. Fortunately, I was able to secure a professional (DJ Marc) with years of experience to make me sound like someone who had done this before.
Here’s my playlist.
Completeness / Minnie Riperton
Mountains / Prince & The Revolution
Semi-First Class Seat / Mutiny
Spinning Wheel / Sammy Davis, Jr
80′s Joint / Kelis
The Oak Tree / Morris Day
Hot Line To Jesus / Rance Allen Group
Sunday Morning People / Honey Cone
Take Me Lord / The Henley Family Gospel Singers
Love Won’t Let Me Wait / Major Harris
Sea Of Tranquility / Kool & The Gang
Please the Pleaser / First Cosins Jazz Ensemble
Twice (?uestlove’s Twice Baked Remix featuring Solange Knowles & The Roots) / Robert Glasper Experiment
Baby I Won’t / Skillz
Girl, I Think The World About You / Commodores
Holding Back The Years / Simply Red
Funkin’ For Fun / Parliament
Do You Love What You Feel/ Rufus
Ghetto life / Rick James
A Night To Remember / Shalamar
I’ll Keep My Light in My Window (with The Combo Barbaro) / Quantic Feat. Alice Russell
Ain’t No Sunshine / The Dells
Sweet Talk / Jessie Ware
Dare Me / The Pointer Sisters
Shifting Gears / Johnny Hammond
Westchester Lady / Bob James
Seven Minutes Of Funk / Tyrone Thomas & The Whole Darn Family
Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone / Scatman Crothers
Joe Quarterman’s coming to town, and there’s going to be trouble. I spoke with the veteran soul man, known for his classic single, “ (I Got) So Much Trouble in My Mind,” recently for Style Weekly and here’s some of our conversation that didn’t make the cut.
Have you been to Richmond Before?
Many, many years ago. As a matter of fact, when I was going to school at Virginia State College, there was a band I played with called the Magnificent 7, and we backed up The Temptations in Richmond, in the late 60′s.
Your first album turned out to be your only album. How did you feel about it when it was finished and how do you feel about it now?
Well, I tell you, back then I thought it was good enough to be looked at for a grammy, ’cause we gave it our best. It was one of kind, you know? It was a different album. We really put some time in on that album.
How did you feel about it now?
I still feel good about it. I think it was my best effort. I’ve done a few others singles and things like that, but I haven’t done anything as good as the “so much trouble” album.
Your story is different. You didn’t suffer after your departure from the music business with bad situations or bad habits. You just kind of walked away.
I had to. I had to get another life. Anytime the president of the record company, this guy, Larry Newton, he was the former vice-president of ABC Paramount, and GSF records was a spin-off from that, he stood in a board meeting, my attorney there, my manager, Lloyd Price, a whole bunch of other folks, and he said that he didn’t give a damn how many hit records I sang or wrote, they weren’t going to pay me one penny.
Yeah! That cut like a knife, you know? My attorney said, well, you know, these guys are just rip-offs, just try to live up to your end of the contract and once you get out of it and we’ll try to get you another contract. But see that broke my heart. My heart wasn’t in it after that. ‘Cause me and my guys had works so hard to make some of the best funk music that anyone could hear back then, and then to be rewarded with a slap in the face? I was supposed to be bringing the bacon home … they were supposed to tally up. I was hoping I could’ve paid the band members a bonus, take care of my family catch up on my bills, you know what I mean?
But none of that happened. No matter how hard I worked, I was not going to be financially rewarded for it.
Who has the rights to the material?
I have been fighting that battle for 30 years or more. I’ve spent money with attorneys and so forth. They had sold some of the publishing rights to Gandy Music, that’s Sylvia Robinson and Joe Robinson’s legacy.
Yeah, the Sugar Hill Group. They sold it to this company, Music Licensing, out of the Netherlands. I went after them, and they had sold it to Soul Brothers in London. And I haven’t gotten one penny since 1974. But the truth is none of them own the music, I own the copyrights ans so forth. So it’s a matter of piracy. They know I can’t do a whole lot about it unless I cough up a whole lot of money and wait a long time. They’ve got lawyers who do this all the time, workin’ on their team, that know how to deal with cats like me.
What role has DJ Pari played in your recent career?
DJ Pari has awakened my soul. He put me in Europe, and my reception has been wonderful. My thanks to him for that. He’s kind of shaken me up to generate my interest in recording and doing shows and so forth. I really appreciate all he has done for me so far. I wish we could do more, but I’m sure he’s doing his best.
Joe Quarterman plays Saturday May 19 at Balliceaux, 203 N. Lombardy St. Tickets are $10-$12. balliceauxrva.com.
Lela Bizz has talent. But that’s not enough these days. As what was the music industry continues to crumble, the few remaining record labels are looking for artists and groups that know how to handle their business as well as a microphone. With her web site, professionally produced videos and music distribution on itunes, Richmond songstress is ready for the big leagues. Let’s hope she gets drafted soon. More about her in this week’s Style Weekly.
Miami Police are investigating singer and Virginia native Chris Brown for allegedly snatching a phone from a fan on Sunday morning. According to police reports, Brown noticed the 24-year-old woman attempting to take a picture of him, and took her iPhone 4G, saying, “Bitch, you ain’t gonna put that on no web site.”
NBC 6 Miami reports that the state attorney’s office is preparing the arrest warrant for Brown.
I’ve written extensively about D’angelo during his self-imposed exile from the music industry. Most of my reporting involved court dates, accidents, allegations and rumors. I was beginning to think I would never turn in a story about his return to the world of music, but here it is.
Aside from the visual proof that he’s alive, what’s amazing about this tour is that it’s done with almost no promotion from his label (RCA) or managment. The existence of the tour was only discovered when the singer’s name started to appear on the concert lists for various European venues. The singer’s facebook and myspace accounts, which could be used to promote a impromptu swing through Europe, appear to be dormant. D’angleo still hasn’t done a substantial interview in years. But he’s still selling out venues, based on music made more than a decade ago. Damn, motherf••ker.
Now that’s he finally got himself together, maybe he can finish that album we’ve been waiting 12 years for.
Retro soul queen Sharon Jones was among the singers featured recently at VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul and she suggested that there was at least one diva who didn’t deserve her spot on the stage. The former prison guard doesn’t name the soul perpetrator, but on recent radio show on Friday, she dropped a hint as she bemoaned the sad state of popular music:
“They call those kids up there talkin’ bout they’re soul singers, don’t get me wrong, they sing, they do their thing, they’re pop singers. They need to get it straight. I think soul has lost what it’s all about. Anytime you get some little young, I’m not gonna call names, you get somebody that’s been out here five minutes, come up and sing a song and you can’t even remember the hook of the song they singing, because it’s not soul.”
D’angelo has been making serious plans to return to the concert stage next year. But like much of what the singer does, the details are murky and difficult to discern. At this point, it’s hard to confirm who is actually managing the singer. With the tour starting in a little over a month, D’angleo is still asking people to play with him. The lead guitarist for The Time, now called (The Original 7even), Jesse Johnson posted on his facebook page recently that he’s been talking with the singer about about playing on the mini-tour early next year.
So if Roots Drummer and D’angelo colloborator Questlove is to believed, Johnson could be joining bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Chris Dave in the singer’s comeback tour. Europe is still far away from where the Richmond native is now, but it looks like he’s getting there.
Nikki (Katie Finneran, L) and Gary (Chad Coleman, R) discuss raising their teenage daughter Cr: Greg Gayne/FOX.
Chad L. Coleman’s life would make a great film. He emerged from poverty and a tragic family circumstances to become a respected actor, family man and a mentor to young people. His latest role is “Gary” the divorced husband in the new Fox sitcom “I Hate My Teenage Daughter.” I spoke with him recently about life after The Wire for Style Weekly.
Here’s more of my chat with jazz songstress Gretchen Parlato. The rest of our talk can be found in the latest issue of Style Weekly, on stands now.
We were talking about the light and dark on the album. The song, “Holding Back the Years,” does that represent the dark or the light?
Ooooh that’s good. It’s both. That’s what really good about that piece and probably I would say all of them. Every piece probably has those elements. “holding Back the years,” is one that Robert Glasper suggested. And when he suggested it, I wasn’t sure about the song first, just because I knew the song obviously and I was a fan of it, but never really thought about singing it. I looked up the lyrics to make sure that it was relevant to me and I just fell in love with what that song could mean. I edited a few lines of one of the verses, by taking it out it had a more general theme, which like you mentioned, allowed it to be both light and dark. So even if you think of the chorus, “I’ll keep holding on,” that could mean darkness, some one is kind of clinging and stuck, holding on to something that is not there. Or its light, like I’ll keep holding on,” as if life is roller coaster, and you re just holding on and going along with it and and being open to the possibility and holding on to what you have in good way, moving through it and moving forward. Every time I sing it I can have a good twist with it, and be thinking about each side.
A lot of the songs have that, a lot of them on the album, I think al l of them have each elements of light, lights of … to it, as a performer I could kind approach it that way. It really it hopefully for the listener to feel it and experience for themselves and maybe every time you listen, you might hear it in a different way.
Which is kind of like life, most things that happen, you could see them from a different angle , maybe if there’s some space and time around the situation, you know? Someone lost their job, let’s say, or they didn’t get the job that they wanted, that became like this horrible thing in the moment. And then maybe, that leads them to some other profession in their life, some other field that they never thought they could do. And you look back on it, and think actually was was a good thing, because it led to something else. ‘ It’s really about life. Theses songs are really about much bigger and deeper issues in a really good way.
Did you talk with Mick Hugnall at all?
No, I don’t what he thinks of the song, or has even heard it or has any clue about it. That would be amazing. I would be curious to know if he approves of it. I hope so. But you never know. It’s always cool to know, if ever, they actually do hear the cover. I know with “Weak,” the composer, Brian Alexander Morgan, he ended up hearing the song, back in the myspace days, it could’ve been facebook, someone put up a video of the songs and he contacted me through one of these social networks. He really liked it. It’s a really cool think when you can get that kind of feedback from the source.
How do you process the feedback you get from critics? Are you bothered by reading it?
My belief with that, at least right now, is that, I think it is good to read it. I think it is good to see it and the process and the goal would be to allow it to … kind of read it and kind of know where it comes from, consider the source, consider that everyone has an opinion. Have some compassion, I guess, for the writer, in a way where, meaning like, okay, who are they, what might they be hearing and how might they filter this music through their own experience. And then you kind of move on through that, take what you can with it, and there’s always a lesson it it, then move from it and know that it’s one moment that’s not a huge defining thing.
I guess that’s what people say to do with all kinds of feedback, whether its good or bad, this one thing is one person’s opinion, that can mean a lot, but there is a way to kind of let that go. Luckily, there been really positive feedback about this album, but there’s always going to be critics, and when that comes around, I think it’s better for me to actually read it and not be in the dark, you know. Critics is one thing, but … there is one thing, there’s this whole thing with youtube comments, those can get pretty ridiculous, there are times where I have to stop looking at those and move on, because people get really absurd with what the things that they post about people.
There is a sense where you read it, you listen to it, you let it go. But if it’s constructive criticism, then that’s healthy. But if it’s just someone being a punk about stuff, and being rude and racist and whatever, as abusive comments can be, you know, it kind of like there’s no need for that. I’ve learned a lot from people who have given me criticism, tried to take that and use it.
I guess you know what my next question’s going to be about.
I don’t. What’s that?
Well, we’ve talked about critics and you tube, and I have to ask you about … Helen Mackenzie.
Oooh, of course. How could I even question. What would you like to know about Helen Mackenzie?
Where did she come from?
She came from her hair. She came from that wig. The story was, this was Christmas Eve, 2006 or 2007 and my high school friend had this ridiculous wig, that used be a nice, clean kind of purple bob-cut wig. She left it in her car in the sun, and found it months later, and that’s exactly what it looked like. It was all shriveled and matted and it turned blue, it looked just like how you see it in the videos. I just put it when we had a Christmas Eve dinner with family and friends, my friend had a video camera and this is something that we do all the time, somebody has a camera and we just improvise and make up little … and be silly. So that’s what happened, it was not a planned thing.
This is a another side of me, if I wasn’t a singer, I’ve always loved to act. I’ve never really taken any kind of formal training, but I do love it and I do love to dress up. And I love to improvise. Making people laugh and laughing at other things in life, that is greatest feeling in the world. Thinking of the whole “Lost and found” thing, when you laugh, even if you are in a really dark place, in that very specific moment, you forget. You’re able to physically forget and get caught up in something in a good way that makes you laugh. And then you might go back to your dark place, but if someone can make you laugh in a split second, you’ve found some light. I love the idea that laughing and crying are both these opposite, both light and dark, lost and found kind of reactions, but they really come from the same place.
That’s kind of the deeper thing, about this lost and found opposition, it really is complete opposite, but the core is the same, so they’re opposite, but they’re very similar, you kind of need one to balance out the other.