Thursday, February 22, 2007

In the Pocket with Mr. Solid

By John Lee

David Ritz

David Ritz is the author of the Marvin Gaye biography "Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye." Mr. Ritz made a big splash in 1978 when he wrote the “collaborative autobiography”, "Brother Ray" with Ray Charles. He Has also co-written books with Smokey Robinson, the great producer at Atlantic Records, Jerry Wexler, Etta James, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and the Neville Brothers. He has won the Ralph Gleason Music Book Award four times.

His works with Etta James, B.B. King, The Neville Brothers and Jerry Wexler were the winners of the Music Books Award top prize. These books are a great way to get true insight in to some of the greatest Rhythm and Blues artists of our time. Recently, he wrote the biography of the great singer, Jimmy Scott. Mister Ritz also wrote the lyrics to Marvin Gaye’s ” Sexual Healing”.

Check him out! I think you’ll dig his work!

Robbie Laws' Bigger Blues Band

My good friend, singer, songwriter and bassist Charlene Grant gave me a DVD of Robbie Laws’ Bigger Blues Band live at the Waterfront Blues Festival. Robbie Laws is a Portland, Oregon guitar man, but the Bigger Blues Band is Seattle all the way. A rhythm section of Charlene Grant on bass and Steve Sarkowsky on drums, Frank “Hot Rod” Holman on the Hammond B3, and a horn section of Mike West (saxophone), Mike Toule (trombone), and Greg Lyons (trumpet).

They did a fine job backing Robbie Laws. This is a nice set of seven tunes with the highlight being the O.V. Wright classic, “ I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy." The Bigger Blues Band will be backing Robbie Laws at The Highway 99 Blues Club in downtown Seattle , Saturday March 24th 2007.

Joey Gilmore

My friend Roger Lindgren recently brought me a CD he picked up on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise - Joey Gilmore’s “The Ghosts Of Mississippi Meet the Gods of Africa”. This is a short (10 tunes) but great collection of funky and soulful blues. Highlights are the title track, the soul blues piece “Love to See You Smile,” and the mournful telling of the murder of the young black teenager from Chicago, Emmett Till in 1955 Mississippi, “Things Have Not Changed”.

I saw Joey Gilmore at The Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival. If you get a chance to see him or pick up “The Ghosts Of Mississippi” CD, don’t hesitate. His web site is:

Catch you on the rebound!

Quote of the month:

When the late, great, country blues musician Furry Lewis was rediscovered in the 1960’s and appeared on the Tonight Show, Furry told Johnny Carson, "Why should I marry when the man next door has a wife?"

Electric bassist John "Mr. Solid" Lee was born in Alaska and has been active in the Seattle blues scene for about 30 years. He currently plays with the Crossroads Band. Photo by Mike Coyote.

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