9 pm, Friday, May 27, 2016. The Village Club, 1120 Village Road, Hwy. 17 North, Lexington, Mississippi. All-Star Send-Off Party for WAGR's Tracy "The Dirty DJ" Harris. Also appearing: Grady Champion, J'Wonn, Nathaniel Kimble, The Love Doctor, Wood, J.J. Thames, Lady Trucker and more. Hosted by WAGR's DJ Big Money. 662-834-1025.
9 pm, Friday, May 27, 2016. Mavericks Nite Club, 2 Independent Drive, Jacksonville, Florida.Cupid. 904-356-1110.
Friday, May 27 & Saturday, May 28, 2016. Alexandria Amphitheater, Alexandria, Louisiana. Little Walter Music Festival. Kenny Neal, Shemekia Copeland, Mr. Sipp and more. See festival website.
Saturday, May 28, 2016. Elm Mott Roping Arena, 2188 Lincoln City Road, Elm Mott, Texas. Cupid & Dance Party Express.
5 pm, Saturday, May 28, 2016. McIntosh Farms, Dekalb, Mississippi. 17th Annual Branch Hill Blues Festival. Vick Allen, Duchess Jureesa McBride, Avail Hollywood, J'Wonn, Big Yayo and more. Gates open at 2 pm.
1 pm, Saturday, May 28, 2016. John Hunt Park (Jaycees Fairgrounds), 2151 Airport Road SW, Huntsville, Alabama. Memorial Day Blues Fest. T.K. Soul, Con Funk Shun, Ginuwine, Bishop Bullwinkle, Adrena and more. Gates open at 11 am.
Saturday, May 28, 2016. Huntsville Dragway, 502 Quarter Mountain Road, Harvest, Alabama. 20th Annual Old School & Blues Festival. Sir Charles Jones, Wendell B, Pokey Bear, Mystikal, Cameo, Johnny Gill, Klymaxx featuring Bernadette Cooper and more. Gates open at 11 am. See festival website.
Saturday, May 28, 2016. Waco, Texas. Zydeco & Blues Crawfish Festival. Jeter Jones, Cupid, Jack Daniels, Cedryal Ballou.
Saturday, May 28, 2016. Lloyd Pavillion, 2616 Gamble Road (I-10 East, Exit 217), Monticello, Florida. Billy "Soul" Bonds, Carl Sims, Theodis Ealey, Ms. Yanni. Gates open at 3 pm.
Saturday, May 28, 2016. Treasure Island Event Center, 5734 Sturgeon Lake Rd., Welch, Minnesota.Aretha Franklin. 800-222-7077.
Saturday, May 28, 2016. Riverdome, Horseshoe Casino, Bossier City, Louisiana. Gladys Knight.
JUST ADDED! 8:30 pm, Saturday, May 28, 2016. Evers Blues Lounge, 1028 Pecan Park Circle, Jackson, Mississippi. Birthday party for J.T. Watkins. Also appearing: various guest artists. Doors open at 7 pm.
Saturday, May 28 & Sunday, May 29, 2016. Opelousas, Louisiana. 30th Anniversary Zydeco Extravaganza. Tucka, Keith Frank, Chris Ardoin, Geno Delafose and more.
1 pm, Saturday, May 28, & Sunday, May 29, 2016. John Hunt Park (Jaycees Fairgrounds), 2151 Airport Road SW, Huntsville, Alabama. Memorial Day Blues Fest. T.K. Soul, Con Funk Shun, Ginuwine, Bishop Bullwinkle, Adrena and more (Sat.), O.B. Buchana, Solomon Thompson, JR Blu, Dru Hill and more (Sun). Gates open at 11 am.
4 pm, Sunday, May 29, 2016. 1930 Wall Hill Road, Byhalia, Mississippi. 5th Annual Blues Fest. Bishop Bullwinkle, Bigg Robb, J'Wonn, Latimore, Tre' Williams, Sweet Angel. Gates open at ll am. 901-268-7007.
6 pm, Sunday, May 29, 2016. H&H Farm, Highway 11 South, Fosters, Alabama. Blues-N-Groove Festival. Sir Charles Jones, Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle, Terry Wright, L.J. Echols, Diedra. Gates open at 2 pm.
Sunday, May 29, 2016. The Stadium, Highway 4 East, Holly Springs, Mississippi. Vick Allen, Bobby Rush, T.K. Soul, O.B. Buchana, Terry Wright. 901-355-7318.
Sunday, May 29, 2016. Winnfield Civic Center, 2000 South Jones St., Winnfield, Louisiana. Southern Soul Classic. Tucka, Big Pokey, Ghetto Cowboy and more.
Sunday, May 29, 2016. Madison County Amusement Park aka Johnny Baldwin Horse Track, 850 Sulphur Springs Road, Canton, Mississippi. LaMorris Williams & Band.
Monday, May 30, 2016. Lucas Ball Park, Highway 84, Prentiss, Mississippi. Tucka, Big Pokey, Lacee, Jeff Floyd, Bishop Bullwinkle, Nathaniel Kimble, Ms. Tabatha. Gates open 10 am. 601-206-0163.
Friday, June 3, 2016. Riverside Theatre, 116 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Aretha Franklin. 414-286-3663.
Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4, 2016. A.V Bull Sallas Park, 21675 B. McClesky Road, New Caney, Texas. Texas Bikers Southern Extravaganza.
Gate Opens at Noon. Step Rideau Zycedo Band (Friday), Bigg Robb, Sweet Angel (Saturday). See festival website.
2 pm, Saturday, June 4, 2016. Lamont's Entertainment Complex, 4400 Livingston Road, Pomonkey, Maryland. Dr. Nick's 1st Annual Southern Soul Festival. J. Red, Hardway Connection, T.J. Hooker Taylor, Jesi Terrell, Jim Bennett, Stone Pleasure Band. 301-283-0225. Rain or Shine. Gates open 12 Noon.
Saturday, June 4, 2016. Resorts Casino Tunica, 1100 Casino Strip Resort Blvd., Robinsonville, Mississippi. T.K. Soul. 662-363-7777.
8 pm, Saturday, June 4, 2016. SPACE, 1245 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. William Bell, John Levanthal. 847-492-8860.
Saturday, June 4, 2016. Cook Family Park, Pine Bluff-Altheimer, Arkansas. Sir Charles Jones, J'Wonn, Terry Wright, Jaye Hammer, Lenny Williams and more. Gates open at 12 Noon.
Saturday, June 4, 2016. American Legion Post 248, 5070 FM 1398, Hooks, Texas. Vick Allen. 903-547-7248.
Sunday, June 5, 2016. 3rd & Lindsley, Nashville, Tennessee. William Bell.
2 pm, Sunday, June 5, 2016. American Blues Hall Of Fame, 421 S. Main St., Memphis, Tennessee. Book-Signing w/ live entertainment: David Whiteis, SOUTHERN SOUL BLUES.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd St., New York, New York. William Bell. 212-691-1900.
Thursday, June 9, 2016. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
R&B Festival Series. William Bell. 718-636-4100.
Thursday, June 9, 2016. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, 1721 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bar-Kays, Dazz Band, Confunkshun. 800-729-7244.
Friday, June 10, 2016. Elks Club, 3041 Ross Clark Circle, Dothan, Alabama. L.J. Echols. 334-792-9167.
Friday, June 10, through Sunday, June 12, 2016. Grant Park, Jackson & Columbus, Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Blues Festival. Pat Brown, Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Irma Thomas, Theo Huff, (Tribute to) Otis Clay, Eddie Cotton, Tommy Castro, Shemekia Copeland and many more. See festival website. Free.
Saturday, June 11, 2016. Athens, Texas. Real Cowboy Association Black Rodeo. Jeter Jones.
Saturday, June 11, 2016. The Regency Hotel, 400 Greymont Street, Jackson, Mississippi. 53rd Annual Medgar Evers Homecoming Celebration. Millie Jackson, Peggy Scott-Adams, Robert "The Duke" Tillman, The Manhattans w/ Gerald Alston. 601-948-5835, 601-969-2141.
7 pm, Saturday, June 11, 2016. Union County Fairgrounds, El Dorado, Arkansas. Bigg Robb, L.J. Echols, Ghetto Cowboy, Urban Mystic, Stephanie Pickett, CTC Band. Gates open at 6 pm. 870-866-7441.
4 pm, Saturday, June 11, 2016. Old Spanish Trail Ampitheatre, Stillwell Boulevard, Crestview, Florida. Pre-Father's Day Show. Theodis Ealey, Omar Cunningham, Chris Ivy, Miss Lady Blues, Ms. Yanni and more. Gates open at 2 pm.
Saturday, June 11, 2016, 2016. Bottleneck Blues Bar, 4116 Washington St., Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vasti Jackson. 601-638-1000. Free.
Saturday, June 11, 2016. Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, 705 Grand Avenue, Shreveport, Louisiana. Anthony Hamilton, Fantasia.
Saturday, June 11, 2016. Club 601, 412 North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, Natchez, Mississippi. Vick Allen.
7 pm, Friday, June 17, 2016. Jackson, Tennessee Fairgrounds Hall, 800 S. Highland Drive, Jackson, Tennessee. Bobby Rush, Mr. Sam, Toni Green, Ms. Genii. Doors open at 6 pm. 901-679-4601.
Friday, June 17, 2016. Rockin Willy's, Airport Fernwood Rd. Fernwood, Mississippi. Mr. Sipp. 601-684-0607.
4 pm, Saturday, June 18, 2016. North Charleston Coliseum, 5001 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston, South Carolina. Southern Soul Festival. Sir Charles Jones, Tucka, Doug. E. Fresh.
7 pm, Saturday, June 18, 2016. 101 W. Milam (Downtown), Wharton, Texas. Nellie "Tiger" Travis.
Saturday, June 18, 2016. Attala County Coliseum, Kocsciusko, Mississippi. Vick Allen, Avail Hollywood, Lavish TrueSoul, Jennifer Watts, Mz Candy Cane, KoKo Soul. 601-258-1926. (5-14-16 Just Added for June 18th gig: Tre' Williams. Source: WAGR Lexington, Ms.)
3 pm, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Hooper's Park, Hwy 460E, Crewe, Virginia. Father's Day Weekend Blues Show. Kenne' Wayne, Big G, Sir Jonathan Burton, Joe Tex Jr. and more. Gates open at 1 pm. 804-615-2196.
Saturday, June 18, 2016. Wolf Creek Amphitheater, 3025 Merk Rd. SW, College Park, Georgia. Bobby Rush, Betty Wright. 404-613-9653.
Saturday, June 18, 2016. Brazos Park, Waco, Texas.T.K. Soul.
7 pm, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Empire Event Center, 4905 Clio Road, Flint, Michigan. Pre-Fathers Day Southern Soul Show. Ms. Jody, Napoleon Demps, Deborene Bland. BYOB. 810-423-6010.
Saturday, June 18, 2016, 2016. Bottleneck Blues Bar, 4116 Washington St., Vicksburg, Mississippi. Jarekus Singleton. 601-638-1000. Free.
Saturday, June 18, 2016. CenturyLink Center, 2000 CenturyLink Center Drive, Bossier City, Louisiana.
Sunday, June 19, 2016. Mr. J's, 4610 W. Fond Du Lac Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. T.K. Soul.
6 pm, Saturday, June 25, 2016. Bonnie & Clyde Trade Days, 20550 Hwy. LA 9, Arcadia, Louisiana. 2 Legit's 7th Annual All-White B-Day Bash. Big Pokey, LaMorris Williams, Terry Wright, Luster Baker, Magic One. Gates open at 5 pm. 318-280-6271, 870-866-7441.
Saturday, June 25, 2016. DeSoto Parish Courthouse Square, Mansfield, Louisiana. Juneteenth Blues Night. T.K. Soul, Jeter Jones, M.P. Soul, Crystal, Tha Don, Windstrom Band.
7 pm, Friday, July 1, 2016. Lake Charles Civic Center, Rosa Hart Theatre, 900 Lake Shore Drive, Lake Charles, Louisiana. Marine Corps Blues Night. Ms. Jody, Mr. Sipp, Jeff Floyd, Lacee. 337-491-1432.
Friday, July 1, 2016. The Charity Hall, Eutaw, Alabama. T.K. Soul.
6 pm, Saturday, July 2, 2016. Nolan Memorial Park (aka Ponderosa Park), Wisner, Louisiana. 8th Annual Nolan Norman Day Celebration. T.K. Soul, Big Pokey, Nathaniel Kimble.
Saturday, July 2, 2016. Bama Theatre, 600 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tuscaloosa Southern Blues And Soul Showcase. Bishop Bullwinkle, Omar Cunningham, L.J. Echols, Urban Mystic, Diedra. 205-394-9242.
Saturday, July 2, 2016. Natchez City Auditorium, 207 Jefferson Street, Natchez, Mississippi.Lacee's Birthday Party. Special Guest: Tucka.
Saturday, July 2, 2016. Cedar's Field, Canton, Mississippi. Grady Champion.
Saturday, July 2, 2016. Festival Grounds, Hwy. 10, Greensburg, Louisiana. Vick Allen.
Sunday, July 3, 2016. The Macon Centroplex Coliseum, 200 Coliseum Drive, Macon, Georgia. T.K. Soul, Sir Charles Jones, Lenny Williams, Ms. Jody. 478-751-9152.
Sunday, July 3, 2016. Madison County Amusement Park aka Johnny Baldwin Horse Track, 859 Sulphur Springs Road, Canton, Mississippi. Bigg Robb & Band.
2 pm, Sunday, July 3, 2016. Carnes Park, Highway 80, Whitehall, Alabama. Lebrado, Katrenia Jefferson, LaMorris Williams, O.B. Buchana, King Russell, Lady T, H-Town. Gates open at 12 Noon. 251-643-2608.
7 pm, Sunday, July 3, 2016. Warfield Point Park Road, Greenville, Mississippi. Grady Champion, Big Yayo, Sir Charles Jones, Pat Brown, Mr. Jones, LaMorris Williams, J'Wonn, Adrena.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Chene Park Amphitheater, 2600 Atwater Street, Detroit, Michigan. Patrice Rushen. 313-393-7128.
8 pm, Saturday, July 16, 2016. The Elks on D.I.P., 33671 Dauphin Island Parkway, Mobile, Alabama. Nikki DeMarks 60th Birthday. Big Pokey, Tucka, Lacee, Lil' Jimmie, Simone De, Miss Lady Blues, Till 1, Alonzo Reid, Tony Tatum, Franky, Will Easley. 251-379-8283.
Saturday, July 16, 2016. The Ball Park, Winnfield, Louisiana. T.K. Soul & Band.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Madison County Amusement Park aka Johnny Baldwin Horse Track, 850 Sulphur Springs Road, Canton, Mississippi. Denise LaSalle, Lady Trucker and more.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016. B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 West 42nd Street, New York, New York. Ruben Studdard. 212-997-4144.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016. Horseshoe Casino Hotel, Tunica, Mississippi. Jus' Blues Music Awards Show. Syl Johnson, Queen Ann Hines, Ruby Andres, Zac Harmon, Chick Rodgers, Eddie Cotton, King Edward, L.C. Cooke, Big Bill Morganfield, Mud Morganfield, Billy Branch. Hosts: Beverly Johnson, Calvin Richardson. See Jus' Blues website.
Saturday, August 6, 2016. Artesia Park, Artesia, Mississippi. Vick Allen.
8 pm, Saturday, August 13, 2016. The Centre, Halifax Community College, 200 College Drive, Weldon, North Carolina. The Heavy Hitters Of Soul. Wilson Meadows, O.B. Buchana, Karen Wolfe, David Brinston, Hardway Connection. 919-827-2033.
Saturday, August 20, 2016. Jackson Convention Complex, 105 E. Pascagoula St., Jackson, Mississippi. Latimore, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Jagged Edge, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Kindred The Family Soul. 601-960-2321.
8 pm, Saturday, September 24, 2016. Durham Armory, 220 Foster Street, Durham, North Carolina. The Heavy Hitters of Soul. Ms. Jody, Sir Charles Jones, Lacee, Lenny Williams, J. Red. Doors open at 7 pm.
8 pm, Saturday, October 1, 2016. The Centre, Halifax Community College, 200 College Drive, Weldon, North Carolina. The Down East Southern Soul Concert featuring The Heavy Hitters Of Soul. Vick Allen, T.K. Soul, Sir Charles Jones, Kenne' Wayne, Lacee. Doors open at 7 pm. 919-827-2033.
E-mail concert listings and corrections to:
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--Daddy B. Nice
From Daddy B. Nice's BEST OF 2014 page...
2014: THE YEAR IN SOUTHERN SOUL
The year did not begin auspiciously. Floyd Taylor, son of the late great Johnnie Taylor and a contemporary southern soul headliner in his own right, passed away on February 21st, causing his stepbrother TJ to remark, "He died pretty much the way my dad died: a heart attack (at too young an age)." A masterful and discerning vocal interpreter, Taylor's career was notable for spanning southern soul's two generations of songwriters, from the best of Charles Richard Cason and Lawrence Harper (of his father's generation) to Simeo Overall of the new.
A few days later Eddie Holloway, a lesser-known but seminal figure renowned for contemporary southern soul classics like "I Had A Good Time," "Poor Boy" and "My Mind's Too Strong," passed away in obscurity, without fanfare.
A young recording artist (Jeter Jones) trying to break into the southern soul market released an album whose instrumental tracks Daddy B. Nice--in a CD review--recognized as identical to certain Bobby Jones and Chuck Roberson songs of the recent past, setting off a firestorm of litigation between Desert Sounds CEO Charles Peterson and his former producer, Eric "Smidi" Smith.
Daddy B. Nice himself underwent a lung cancer scare and finally had surgery in May, returning successfully after two bouts in the hospital to discover that "Funky" Larry Jones, owner of the Soul & Blues Report, a monthly compendium and summary of southern soul deejay playlists and a vital niche in the southern soul internet community, had died. Other websites (Boogie, Blues Critic) made attempts to provide the same function, but at year's end the loss was still felt and seemed irrevocable.
That, along with the June death of Don Davis (the producing genius behind Johnnie Taylor) and the early-September passing of Joe Poonanny, the Weird Al Yankovich of the chitlin' circuit and the last of a dying breed of blues parodists, was the bad news.
The good news was that, stimulated by an invitation to Kim Cole's Celebrity Birthday Bash in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in July, your Daddy B. Nice rebounded to attend (and chronicle) three multi-act southern soul concerts in thirty hours, including getting out on the dance floor.
There was cause. Southern Soul stars were appearing everywhere across the Deep South, from Texas to the Carolinas. A month later, Southern Soul Labor Day concerts and associated sales would surpass a million, and the concerts continued to proliferate, populating weekends throughout the calendar that would have been few and far between ten years ago.
But what really uncorked the euphoria in 2014 was the return to recording of southern soul's younger-generation leading lights, Sir Charles Jones and T.K. Soul. After long absences (especially in Sir Charles' case), both performers produced sets of significant material with fresh yet authentic sounds, in T.K.'s case stripped-down, acoustic-dominated arrangements.
The two CD's, combined with the much-anticipated debut by J'Wonn (I GOT THIS RECORD) and the latest drop from O.B. Buchana, made it a banner year for male vocalists.
Women, not so much. For the second year in a row Denise LaSalle and Shirley Brown were sorely missed. Both appeared only rarely, and neither released new product. Ms. Jody and Nellie "Tiger" Travis were relatively quiet after big years in 2013. Sweet Angel reposed and, as expected, Peggy Scott-Adams (whose early partner, JoJo Benson, died just before Christmas) failed to follow up on her 2012 return to southern soul. Candi Staton and Uvee Hayes returned with new CD's, however.
Some of the major male stars--known for productivity--were also MIA in 2014. Mel Waiters, Theodis Ealey, Latimore and Bobby Rush produced little new studio work, and in pursuit of an elusive Grammy that even the late Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis never won, Willie Clayton's new album disconcerted some longtime fans with its slide into atmospheric, Isley-style soul.
Young Grady Champion was the year's sensation (following fellow Jacksonian J'Wonn in 2013). Champion drew a cover story in "Living Blues" magazine after signing with Malaco Records for his new album BOOTLEG WHISKEY. Rare for a Delta artist, Champion drew national interest and crossover appeal.
Waiting in the wings, and getting no respect, was Chicago phenomenon Theo Huff, whose "It's A Good Thing I Met You" drew high praise (#5 for the year) from Daddy B. Nice for its approximation of--you guessed it--vintage Willie Clayton.
Lil' Jimmie's dance jam "She Was Twerkin'" was the underground sensation of the year, the subject of constant fan queries on where to buy--the answer was always, "Nowhere." Which reminded your Daddy B. Nice of an old Lil' Jimmie song called "I'm Not Going Nowhere," a song so full of double-negatives you're not sure what he means.
A young artist named Wood redid Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "Mr. Sexy Man" with a lounge-band sound ("Foxy Lady"), drawing copyright ire.
Tyree Neal, Pokey and Adrian Bagher formed a group called The Louisiana Blues Brothers.
Memphis-based Anita Love (Humphrey), former back-up singer for Sweet Angel, had an out-of-left-field smash with "Keep Knockin'", while Memphis-based songwriter John Cummings continued his transformation into a first-rate recording artist.
Vick Allen was in a stage play in Jackson, Mississippi, while singles ("Crazy Over You," "True To Me") continued to spit out of his going-on-three-year-old SOUL MUSIC album like candy from a child's Christmas wind-up toy.
Steve Perry of "Booty Roll" fame thought better of his name change to Prince Mekl and became good old Steve Perry again.
WAGR in Lexington, Mississippi and its colorful deejay, Big Money, became the exciting new southern soul station to stream on the Internet.
And last but not least, storied DJ Ragman returned in December to WMPR in Jackson, Mississippi--also on the Web--doling out southern soul music in the afternoons with his trademark, champagne-fizz optimism.
By the end of the year, life in Southern Soul was good.
--Daddy B. Nice
From Daddy B. Nice's BEST OF 2013 :
SOUTHERN SOUL MUSIC: THE YEAR IN REVIEW Despite the usual attrition 2013 was a fantastic year for the last "segregated music" in America (as singer/songwriter Luther Lackey called Southern Soul music in an insightful "farewell" interview with Daddy B. Nice in January), with steady output from veterans and buzz-filled epiphanies seemingly on a monthly basis by a parade of bright new and/or little-known performers.
Not to be mistaken for your mama's southern soul, 2013 was the year of Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "Mr. Sexy Man," called in many quarters the "number-one song" in America. Even Medea (aka comedian Tyler Perry), boasted that the song--the result of Travis' reunion with writer/producer Floyd Hamberlin--was her favorite during a guest stint on The Steve Harvey show.
One of the keys to the song's popularity was the line in the chorus, "what-yo-name-is?" (which Medea mimicked perfectly), proving once again that good English grammar ("What is your name?") just doesn't (don't?) make sense in the world of blues.
Like a 100-year flood, "Mr. Sexy Man" crept into media outlets long known for eschewing southern soul music, but close in its wake, especially throughout the established chitlin' circuit, was Ms. Jody's "Just Let Me Ride," in which the fiercely competitive diva "saved the horse and rode the cowboy," in the process notching her finest club song to date.
And Ms. Jody also took the music beyond its roots, winning (and triumphantly performing) at the Carolina Beach Music Awards for her single "Still Strokin'," the title tune from the same CD featuring "Just Let Me Ride."
The successes of Nellie "Tiger" Travis and Ms. Jody marked the ascension of a new generation of divas: both had started out as the best of a class of newcomers around 2005.
But the ultimate southern soul high of the year, at least for the insiders fortunate enough to hear his debut in the Delta (Jackson, Mississippi, the heart of the music), was the Big Yayo-tutored singer J-Wonn's "I Got This Record."
With only word-of-mouth, local air-play and one meagerly-recorded live-with-boombox YouTube video on the sidewalk of Farish Street (remember the Rue Davis song?), J-Wonn became an overnight sensation, the charisma and sensitivity of his vocal compelling your Daddy B. Nice to call his coming-out party "dramatic enough to recall Sir Charles Jones' 'Friday' or LaMorris Williams' 'We Can Do It (Impala)'."
Deejays called this song "the #1 song in the WORLD," (How's that, Nellie Travis?), but it was really the #1 Song in the Delta, where its popularity thrust J-Wonn on stage with Willie Clayton and subsequently led to headlining gigs with the likes of respected Southern Soul veterans Wilson Meadows and Dave Mack.
J-Wonn's lightning-speed acceptance--without a published CD--wasn't unique. Only a few months earlier, during the heat of the summer, a young performer whose only claim to fame was being the little sister of singer/songwriter L. J. Echols, put out a single called "Mad Dog 20-20."
An anthem to low-budget, country-style inebriation, with brother L.J.'s admirably rustic guitar picking for background, Krishaunda Echols' "Mad Dog" (which your Daddy B. Nice called "the best thing since the late Jackie Neal") broke with only a YouTube video, without the benefit of distributed single or CD.
In the span of two months, Ms. Echols became a feted headliner at Mississippi southern soul concerts, most exceptionally headlining a show at the Laurel, Mississippi fairgrounds with the greatest divas in Southern Soul (Peggy Scott-Adams, Denise LaSalle and Shirley Brown), with the radio spot featuring Krishunda's "Mad Dog 20-20" exclusively in the commercial.
So fast did events unfold, there was often a disconnect between the day-to-day Southern Soul media, which catered to and supported the small but vital network of established Southern Soul artists, and the emerging younger generation of new acts, largely introduced by Daddy B. Nice, often with little distributed product--J-Wonn, Krishunda Echols, T-Baby, Fredrick (King Fred) Hicks, Adrian Bagher among them--who more often than not had little access to the chitlin' circuit network of the older generation.
Unheralded, young, Delta-based producer Big Yayo (Stevie J's "Because Of Me," LaMorris Williams' "Impala"), was again at the heart of the action, producing not only T-Baby's "The Swag" but J-Wonn's resplendently-arranged ballad, "I Got This Record." And Big Yayo's 2012 success with the disco-edged, Dave Mack-sung, club anthem "Booty Talking" presaged the success of Nellie Travis' similarly-driven "Mr. Sexy Man" in 2013.
Another vital stream of new southern soul music came from a traditional bastion of the genre, southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, where--with the demise of the once-invaluable Chico's Radio--WDLT Mobile's deejay Nikki DeMarks fought the good fight, championing artists like Stephanie McDee, Cupid and Tucka, whose "Sweet Shop" seduced listeners.
"Twerking" finally hit the mainstream. Hey, America: Louisiana's Jackie Neal was doing it and singing about it a dozen years ago.
And Jackie Neal's little brother Tyree finally moved out of her shadow, producing Big Cynthia's best work in years, not to mention producing fellow Louisianan Pokey and providing the irrepressible guitar lick in the Louisiana-based, "return-of-the-southern-soul-queen" Stephanie McDee's instant classic, "When I Step In The Club."
2013 was noteworthy for the publication of David Whiteis's monumental primer to contemporary Southern Soul: Southern Soul Blues (University of Illinois Press).
The overwhelmingly-accurate, exhaustively-researched tome was the first up-to-date analysis of contemporary Southern Soul in cloth and paper, lending further credence (in the mainstream) to the genre's still obscure existence.
Whiteis wrote (and confirmed with your Daddy B. Nice) that the term "southern soul blues" was a compromise--that the phrases "southern soul," "soul-blues" and "southern soul blues" were all used interchangeably in the book. Yet, such was the heft of the book's influence that respected European online critic Heikki Suosalo wrote that:
“Soul-Blues” is now in the U.S.A. the common term for the music we used to call and still call in Europe “southern soul.” Even though some artists like Willie Clayton don’t like the phrase “southern soul” in terms of describing his music – and Chicago isn’t very south, I agree – I’ll still use it anyhow, because it’s an established, respectable term, going all the way to the 60s. Among European soul music lovers, it’s a positive term and it conjures up an image of certain kind of music, highly emotional and powerful. It’s not necessarily tied up with geography, but purely sound. We also have “northern soul”, and every black music fan and club-goer in Europe understands what we’re talking about."
In the critical sphere, 2013 was also the year Daddy B. Nice completed his Top 100 21st Century Countdown, two and a half years in the making, and the first ranking of southern soul artists since his Top 100 Southern Soul Artists a decade earlier, with Sir Charles Jones replacing the late Johnnie Taylor as the #1 Southern Soul Artist. Mel Waiters, Willie Clayton, T.K. Soul, Bobby Rush, Ms. Jody, Shirley Brown, Theodis Ealey, O.B. Buchana and Bigg Robb rounded out the top ten.
A vocalist some industry people doubted existed emerged from anonymity in an interview with Daddy B. Nice: Will T., the mysterious singer of the original "Mississippi Boy," (often attributed to Charles Wilson), one of the most iconic and oft-covered songs in contemporary Southern Soul. It was written by the same Floyd Hamberlin of this year's "Mr. Sexy Man" fame and most recently covered by Sir Charles Jones under the title "Country Boy."
2013 posted outstanding CD's by some of Southern Soul's banner artists: Theodis Ealey, Vick Allen, Mel Waiters, Ms. Jody, O.B. Buchana, Klass Band Brotherhood and Donnie Ray, to cite only a few.
2013 witnessed the passing of some of the music's most beloved practitioners: Artie "Blues Boy" White, Gus Geeter (of Alabama's King Tutt Band) and Tina Diamond. And in December, to the consternation of the blues community, Robert "Chick" Willis--in his heyday one of the most risque of performers--passed on to Soul Heaven.
Onetime enfants terribles Bobby Rush and Willie Clayton found themselves the elder statesmen of traditional rhythm and blues, with old classics like Rush's "Hard Feelin' With Me" (from Blind Snake)...
For different folks.
Special kind of stroke
For the soulful folks."
...and Clayton's "Can We Talk" (from Full Circle), dressed up with reggae dancehall trimmings, rematerializing in current air play and wowing a new generation.
Lyrical highlights that made 2013 a little more distinctive:
"Hey mista sexy man,
What yo name is?"
Nellie "Tiger" Travis, "Mr. Sexy Man"
"Everyone's watching you throughout this room,
Women watching men watching you.
Jealousy is kicking in."
Mel Waiters, "Hottest Thing"
"Tonight we're eating perch with tartar sauce."
Big "Ro" Williams, "Good Love Muscle"
"They conversated (sic) for awhile."
Vick Allen, "My Baby's Phone"
"Just like Al Green said,
'I'm tired of being alone,'
Thank God for the men
That made these smart phones."
Billy "Soul" Bonds, "Get Her With My Twitter"
"They call me Pokey,
Big pokey bear,
Anytime you need me, baby,
I'll be there."
Pokey, "They Call Me Pokey"
(from an album entitled JOSEPHINE SON POKEY)
"We didn't know a damn thing about bills.
Thought we were living it up like in Beverly Hills.
Plenty of Kool-Aid and government cheese,
Collard greens and black-eyed peas.
Man, those were the good old days."
Vick Allen, "I'm Tired Of Being Grown"
"I'll tell you what.
Stop giving up the cookie
And see how long he stays around."
Nellie "Tiger" Travis to Adrena in "Another Woman's Man"
And, from the debut of the year...
"I caught 'em at the grocery store.
I caught 'em in the Mall.
Saw 'em at the casino,
But my grandma even caught 'em at bingo."
J-Wonn, "I Got This Record"
--Daddy B. Nice