Archive for October, 2010

R.I.P. Denny Weston

October 28, 2010

We just received this news from Lily Appel:
Sadly I write we lost Denny Weston at 1AM PST 10/28

We have no further information for now, but will update this post as information is provided.

This is a photo of Denny with the Londonaires.
Left to right is Vern Ruppert, Terry Elton, Denny Weston.

This is Denny with The Original Esquires
L. to R.- Louie D’Eugenio, Joe Rubino, Denny Weston (bass), Al Hoffman, Tony Eckheart

The Esquires

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Bluesette Reunion 2010

October 21, 2010

In some respects I, and many of you, were living in a parallel universe in 1965 to the bands and patrons of the Bluesette. While we were sporting matching plaid tux jackets they were wearing random paisley frocks; while we were playing for the well-oiled crowd at Hollywood Park, they were playing it sober at the Bluesette.

Guy in front of the Bluesette

The Bluesette embraced a wide range of music, but they were clearly locked into the so-called “British Invasion.”  We all dealt with it in our own way, but whether or not you hated or embraced this musical wave one thing was for sure—it was not to be ignored.

I was in a 10-piece R&B band called the Dynamics when the Beatles landed. We didn’t fight it. We had 2 singers (Mike “Jones” Hodgeman and Jerry Treffinger). This made us able to mount a little Lennon/McCartney duet action, so we did a Beatlies set as a feature. It was great. No room for horns, so me, Buzz, Barto and Santo found a comfy spot to sit and have a smoke while the rest of the band worked harder than us.

The Bluesette was a non-alcoholic night club in central Baltimore City at 2439 North Charles Street, near 25th St., Charles Village that clearly embraced the new music. In operation from 1965 to early 70’s, the Bluesette was more than just a music venue—it was a significant part of the youth culture at that time. You can read more of the Bluesette story here. For more info and participation, there’s also Bluesette on Facebook.

The Bluesette is mounting a reunion on November 14, 2010 … just a few weeks away. It’s being held at Frazier’s On The Avenue, 919 W. 36th Street in Baltimore, MD, starting at 2:00, and I have no doubt that it will be as interesting and musical as other musical reunions with which we’re familiar. You can learn more at the Bluesette Reunion on Facebook.

Bluesette Reunion flyer

R.I.P. for a Big Man

October 11, 2010

I huge man in the R&B  pantheon died of natural causes yesterday morning in Amsterdam, where he had just arrived to perform a sold-out show. This announcement comes from Solomon Burke’s website.

Everything about Solomon Burke was oversized. He was a mountain of a man physically. He fathered 21 children in his life and left 90 grand children behind. He began his adult life as a preacher and sang gospel. Burke was also an undertaker and had a mortuary business in Los Angeles. He was trained as a mortician early in his life and had worked in his uncle’s funeral parlor.

In 1964 he wrote (along with Jerry Wexler and Bert Berns) and recorded “Everybody Needs Somebody,” an enduring soul standard that his been covered by the Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, and was even revived for a climactic scene by the Blues Brothers. This is Burke performing it himself in the UK (2003): Everybody Needs Somebody.

As in that YouTube clip, Burke’s more recent performances were done from a sitting position, ensconced in an oversized throne, but this photo (below) is how I remember him from 1966, when I had the luck to be with the Majestics when we backed him up at the Baltimore Civic Center.

The robe was royal blue, and he actually wore it while performing. In fact, I feel like I have a better shot at getting to heaven, having been baptized by the profuse perspiration that flew everywhere when preacher Burke jumped and stomped and shouted and sang in that hot robe.

Solomon Burke was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. This favorite recording from my own collection is a fitting way to close. Goodbye, Solomon Burke.

"Goodbye, Baby"