Monday, April 23, 2007


Who Will Be Our Lucky Winner?


Yes folks, it's that time of year again. The time of year when ol' Red steps off the curb and heads South to Louisiana. Just like last year, when we uncovered a lot of cool stuff about Elton Anderson, I'm looking forward to seeing what we can figure out.

Now, if you recall, the song we used last year came off of a long lost cassette tape that 'The Big Bern' made of a WBGO Mardi Gras broadcast sometime in the early eighties. Why argue with success, I figured... back to the audiotape!

Our 2007 Mystery Tune


This positively COOKIN' instrumental shows just how great New Orleans music can be. All the elements here are absolutely top shelf. I mean check out that rhythm guitar, the piano, the sax, the drums, the bass... YEAH YOU RITE!!! I played this song to death twenty years ago, and it still holds up as one of my all time faves...

Now, at least last year we already had a title to start with, this time we got nuthin'!

And so, we are looking for:


...and while you're at it, let's see who can identify each of the musicians playing on this amazing record.

As always, the first to leave the correct (and most complete) answer in the 'comments' wins.

Wins what? Well, I don't know yet, but it'll be something cool that I dig up down in Sugar Town (last year's winner, Todd Lucas, was all smiles).

Best of luck, and I'll be back (with the official judges) early next month.

(While I'm gone, I'll be doing some preliminary leg work for our upcoming Case Five, which also has its origins in New Orleans... stay tuned!)


Ok, I'm back. Sort of.

New Orleans was just ROCKIN', let me tell ya... it's gonna take me a while to absorb all the incredible music (and food) I took in while I was down there, and get back on track.

Anyway, yes, this case is a tough one. I did confer a bit with ol' Detective Dan at Jazz Fest, but we were unable to come up with anything conclusive...

Hugo over at Monkeyfunk said: "I'm going for Gentleman June Gardner on Emarcy..."

Very cool hypothesis!

Albert "Gentleman June" Gardner is a legendary New Orleans drummer who was a member of Edgar Blanchard's seminal Gondoliers. He was already a seasoned road veteran who had worked with Lionel Hampton and Roy Brown when he was hired by Sam Cooke in late 1960. June had been holding down a regular jazz gig at the Joy Tavern with AFO stalwarts Harold Battiste and Red Tyler, but quickly became 'one of the boys' in Sam's touring outfit.

The great Mustard Greens has been featured at both Home Of The Groove and Funky 16 Corners. Apparently first issued on Hot Line, it was picked up by Blue Rock which, according to the label, was distributed by Mercury. The 45 also lists the amazing Wardell Quezergue as the arranger, and credits it as a 'Nola (Quezergue's own label at the time) Production'. The B side of this record was called 99 Plus One.

Whew. Now, the 'Emarcy' label referred to above by Hugo comes in when Gardner's two Hot Line/Blue Rock singles (the other, according to Dan, was Hot Seat) were collected, along with some other tracks, and issued on an LP called Bustin' Out. I don't know anything about the Emarcy label, and I can't recall offhand seeing anything else on there... That's the track list for the original album at left. Is it possible that our mystery selection is one of these cuts? Well, I'm not sure, but there is one way to find out...

It's Gonna Rain

Tuff City Records has reissued the album (along with two numbers Gardner did with Senator Jones in 1970) as 99 Plus One: Rare & Unreissued Jazzy Soul & Funk 1965-1970 . It's Gonna Rain was apparently originally issued as the flip of the great I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher. The Gentleman June version has appeared on several New Orleans comps before. It's got this kind of Ramsey Lewis' In Crowd thang goin' on... I'm lovin' the Wardell horn charts! Anyway, I just ordered the Tuff City CD, and we'll see what happens.

By the way, I saw Mister Gardner, who now leads a tight local combo, at Jazz Fest last weekend. They were great. It's good to see him still out there performing, man.

In the meantime, Hugo, thanks for pointing us in that direction! I'm definitely leaning towards it being a Quezergue arrangement... what do the rest of you think?



That's right, I woke up this morning, and found this in the comments:

"I KNEW I had heard that song before! Here are the details:

Title: "Tighten Up"
Artist: James Rivers
Label: Eight-Ball #1560
Release date: ca 1966-67

This is very strange. I was pretty sure that it was a James Rivers record. Just a hunch, I thought. Then, looking on ebay I spotted a copy of this very single (flip side is "Bird Brain") and bought it the other day - unheard, mind you. It was priced right. Just a freak of fate. Label scans will be sent on its arrival. So, I looked and listened to everything I had on Rivers on vinyl and CD - no luck. Then just by chance tonight I ran a search on my mp3 files and found it.

Red, Larry Grogan had this tune on his 'Funky16Corners Radio v.10 - Funky Nawlins Pt2' last year and I downloaded it then. It was hidden in that bigger file. If I hadn't searched, I wouldn't have seen it..." - Dan Phillips

Well I'll be dipped!!

Not only did I already have the answer right there in front of me, I had it on my damn IPOD!! As I said before, Dan and I talked about the contest a bit down at Jazz Fest... where I actually SAW James Rivers in the Jazz Tent!!

You can't make this stuff up, folks!

Kudos go, of course, to the very cool (and 'deep-crated') Larry Grogan for being hip to this great tune already... and shame on the rest of us, I guess, for not taking the time to actually LISTEN to all the stuff we download! Nevertheless, da rules are da rules, and good ol' Detective Dan is hereby proclaimed the winner of this year's contest!

I'll be sending down his nifty prizes (an assortment of local 45s I scrounged around for while I was down there) ASAP, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank him, and all of the rest of you, for playing!


Closer Walk

Let me leave you with this big fat buttery take on the traditional Gospel Hymn 'Just A Closer Walk With Thee', Mr. Rivers' only Instant release. The Allen Toussaint piano is positively transcendent here, as is James' full-bodied tenor. Say Amen, somebody! The guitar on these early Instant sides is usually credited to the great Roy Montrell... I wonder if that's him playing the 'chanks' on 'Tighten Up' as well?

Please make it a point to check out the excellent James Rivers article and discography that our lucky winner put together at his own superb 'blog', Home Of The Groove.

Life is good.


As promised, detective Dan has sent us a scan of our mystery 45's label (you will note, dear readers, that it is a B SIDE!), along with some incisive commentary:

"Just a couple of notes about the Eight-Ball label. You will note co-producer credit to L. Worthy on this record. That's Lionel Worthy, who I think owned Eight-Ball, such as it was. Rivers had three releases on Eight-Ball and there were three more by other artists: Bobby Brown, Clemon Smith, and the Majestics.

A bit later, Worthy started the Kon-Ti label. He had a recording studio set up behind his auto body repair shop on Conti St in New Orleans. Rivers had two more releases on Kon-Ti. Toni Washington had two; and there were two more by Prince Conley and Carolyn Wicker. Like Eight-Ball, it was a short-lived enterprise."

Thanks, Dan!

Larry (da man) Grogan weighed in with:

"Hey Red!
I don't know how I missed this. Love this track, as well as 'Closer Walk..' (a fave song of mine thanks to my Pop). I have a nice one by Rivers called 'Funky Flute', which has a little bit of edge warp, but it's such a good record it might be worth the noise..."

I'm down, Larry. We could turn this into a mini-case on James Rivers, if everybody's interested... bring it on! (By the way, don't miss your chance to pick up the Funky Nawlins Box Set over at Funky 16 Corners, and while you're at it, do the right thing and help out with the annual pledge drive).

By the way, detectives, we still haven't identified the incredible musicians that are backing James up on Eight Ball 1560 here, now, have we?


OK, folks, our lucky winner has come through with the A side of our mystery 45:


Bird Brain

Dan: "I am guessin' that James is on both harp and flute. I'm surprised he didn't throw in any bagpipes - but it is a short side. The whole feel of the rhythm track reminds me of 'Can I Get A Wtness' - not really all that original, but his breakdowns are cool."

They sure are, Dan, thanks for sharing! Pretty wild stuff, huh? Kinda like Jethro Tull meets Paul Butterfield or something. I don't think I would ever have pegged it as a New Orleans record... keep 'em coming, guys!