Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hey Folks! Welcome to my first liner note entry from my archive of liners written for CD reissues! Hope you enjoy this one I've posted here, one of many I've done for SOUL MUSIC RECORDS regarding the brothers TAVARES! Read and enjoy!

Released in late 1973, CHECK IT OUT marked the album debut of the brothers TAVARES on Capitol Records. The siblings - Ralph, Pooch, Tiny, Butch and Chubby - had a few singles released via the label in the mid-late 1960’s, when they were known as Chubby and the Turnpikes. Upon their return to Capitol in the early 1970’s - shortly after the company had established their Black Music Division under Larkin Arnold - Tavares hit the ground running with the single, “Check It Out” b/w “The Judgment Day”. Produced by Robert “Boogie” Bowles, the 45 hit the Top 5 on the R&B charts, #30/Pop in the fall of 1973. When it came time to produce the album, Capitol opted to hire hit maker Johnny Bristol to work with Tavares on that effort, a decision that Bowles actually approved of. The result was at Top 20 R&B long-player for the quintet.

To recap the “inside story”, paraphrasing their 1966 Turnpikes single (!), Ralph, Perry (Tiny), Arthur (Pooch), Antone (Chubby) and Feliciano (Butch) - along with their eldest brothers John and Victor - all grew up in New England, listening to American doo-wop as well as the folk music of their Cape Verde heritage. By 1963, Chubby, Pooch, Butch and Tiny formed Chubby and the Turnpikes (Ralph was serving his country in the US Army during this time) and started performing soul tunes in the Massachusetts area. After he earned an honorable discharge, Ralph joined them and they took off for New York City to audition for record labels in 1966. “Juggy Murray had the Sue/Crackerjack labels,” explained Tiny Tavares in a 2012 phone interview. “We cut ‘Nothing But Promises’ and ‘I Know The Inside Story’ first for his company. Then, Capitol Records showed interest in those sides after hearing them from Juggy and released them nationally.”

It was during their Turnpikes years the brothers met a Southern gentleman who was studying at the prestigious Berklee Music School in Boston, guitarist Robert “Boogie” Bowles. “I met Tavares while playing gigs within the Boston and New Bedford area, which helped pay for my schooling,” Robert explained in a 2014 telephone interview from his home in Nevada. “This was during their Chubby and the Turnpikes tenure. The group played regularly at a nightclub owned by football player Jim Nance of the New England Patriots. A few months later, Jerry Butler came to Boston for a gig but needed a guitarist, so I was hired for the gig. Jerry liked my work and offered me a spot in his touring band, which included keyboardist Sonny Burke. So, I left Berklee and Boston to move to Chicago, where Jerry was based”.

While Bowles moved to the chilly Windy City, Tavares embarked on a tour in the warmth of the Bahamas in the late 1960’s. It was during this time the group dropped the Turnpikes moniker for the family name. In 1973, Brian Panella - a former record promotion man - became Tavares manager and came to the group with a proposition. “Brian told us that Capitol had established a Black Music Division and placed company attorney Larkin Arnold in charge,” said Chubby in a 2012 conversation. “They were looking for acts and Brian felt it was a good idea to submit a demo.”

Bowles picks it up here, from a 2015 interview - “After six and half years with Jerry Butler, I started getting ambitious!! I wanted to do more writing and producing. So I wrote three songs - ‘The Judgment Day’, ’I’m In Love’ and ’What Can I Do’ - and then reached out to Ralph Tavares to see if they were interested. At that time, the group were performing in the Bahamas and, according to Ralph, they were so frustrated with having these gigs all over the place and no record deal, the brothers were ready to quit the music business! So, I asked Ralph to send me a tape from one of their live gigs and I would not only send them my three songs, I also offered to fly them into Memphis to record at Mark XVI - a sixteen-track studio Jerry had acquired from Isaac Hayes. When I received the tape Ralph had sent, the one song that stood out was ‘Check It Out’. I loved the way they did the tune and decided to write an arrangement for the song. I called Ralph to tell him that the brothers may have a smash with this one. It was also in this conversation that Ralph informed me that the brothers changed their name from Chubby and the Turnpikes to Tavares.”

Composed by Billy Osborne (brother of Jeffrey) with the late Floyd Butler of the Friends of Distinction, “Check It Out” was featured on the Friends’ 1970 album, “Whatever”, as an uptempo tune. Tavares took a different route and turned it into a ballad, which the Friends’ leader, Harry Elston, and his partner Floyd (who died in 1990) admired and liked. “We dug what Tavares did with ‘Check It Out’,” said Elston in a 2013 interview. “Our label, RCA, wanted the Friends to stick with this uptempo bag for our tunes, even though our 1969 hit ,‘Going In Circles’, was a million-seller AND a ballad!! We were glad Tavares made ‘Check It Out’ a hit as a slow song, which worked.”

(What also should be noted is the Billy Osborne, co-author of “Check It Out”, was an old acquaintance of the brothers Tavares, who knew him from their years in Providence, Rhode Island - this according to a brilliant article authored by Rick Bellaire for the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame Archive. The Friends’ RCA single had left the “e” off of Billy’s last name, so the group had no idea that was their hometown friend, until Billy showed up at the album’s release party to congratulate them!)

After agreeing to record together, Tavares and Bowles met up in Memphis - where the latter was surprised to see that Chubby wasn‘t there. Bowles - “I asked the brothers ‘where‘s Chubby?’ and Ralph explained that he was in the hospital, recovering from an injury!! So, they brought their older brother, Victor, with them to record. I had Winton Felder on bass, Sonny Burke on keyboards, the late Al Jackson on drum (of Booker T. and the MG’s fame) and myself on guitar as the rhythm section. So, we went in to cut ‘Check It Out’, and Victor nailed the lead vocal on the first take!! He sounded brilliant and the brothers’ harmonies were flawless. As a safety precaution, we cut a second take and Victor REALLY sang his heart out on that one!! I looked over to my engineer, Steve Stepanian, and said, ‘Dear God, we have a hit!‘ We cut the songs at Mark XVI in Memphis, sweetened the tunes at Universal Recording in Chicago - Bruce Swedien engineered that session. Then I mixed/mastered the tracks back at Mark XVI with Stepanian”

The one song from their session that resonates for Bowles to this day is “The Judgment Day”, which was released as the b-side of “Check It Out”. “The inspiration for ‘The Judgment Day’ came from my upbringing in the church,” said Bowles. “My dad, mom and family played and sung Gospel music - ‘The Old Rugged Cross’, ‘In The Garden’ were two songs we loved. So, being a spiritual person, that part of me still remains to this day. So, when it came time to write songs for Tavares, ‘The Judgment Day’ was one of them. Looking back, I realized the tune wasn’t really what the industry would consider to be a ‘commercial’ song. But at that time, it was special for Tavares and myself.”

Soon after ‘Check It Out’ was released as a single, the record climbed quickly up the soul and pop charts, peaking at #5 on Billboard’s R&B listings and #30/Pop. The success of the record earned Tavares a guest shot on Soul Train, American Bandstand and the Tonight Show. By this time, Chubby was back in the group, while Victor left Tavares and relocated to the south. Capitol wanted an album right away and Tavares were ready to have Bowles man the boards for that effort. However, the Boogie man himself felt the timing wasn’t right for him to produce a full-length record. Bowles - “Tavares wanted me to produce their debut album, but I advised them to go with whomever Capitol wanted to hire for the project. Frankly, I just wasn’t ready to produce an album because I was in the process of relocating from Chicago to LA with the hopes of starting a production company. But I didn’t have enough songs written and you know the music biz phrase, ‘it all begins with the song.‘ So, I advised Tavares to go with whomever Capitol wanted to produce their album and the label’s choice was Johnny Bristol, who had a bunch of songs to his avail, being a longtime composer, producer and artist, dating back to his years in Detroit. He was a seasoned music man , whereas I was just getting my act together. Capitol recognized that, so hiring Johnny to produce Tavares’ debut album was the right move.”

The late Johnny Bristol was the producer/artist on the go at the time. He began his career under the wing of Harvey Fuqua via the Tri-Phi/Harvey labels in Detroit, moved with his mentor to Motown, composed and produced smashes for Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love”), Junior Walker and the All-Stars (“What Does It Take To Win Your Love”) as well as Diana Ross and the Supremes (“Someday, We’ll Be Together” - which he cut years prior with Jackey Beavers on Tri-Phi). By 1972, Johnny became an in-house producer for Columbia Records - working with Boz Scaggs and Buddy Miles. However, when Columbia frowned on the idea of him recording solo works, Johnny left the label. "They turned me down, man, they turned me down!" Mr. Bristol exclaimed to John Abbey in an August 1974 interview for Blues & Soul magazine.. "You see, they had first right of refusal because I was signed to them as a producer and any project that I involved myself with had to be offered to CBS first".  No worries, for Johnny'signed with MGM, had the monster hit with “Hang On In There, Baby” (top ten pop/soul smash) and started his own production company.

Hired by Larkin Arnold, Capitol's Black Music chief, Johnny got right to work with Tavares for the album sessions, which took place in the West Coast.  Bristol assembled an excellent cadre of musicians to record with Tavares. James Gadson (drums), Bobbye Hall (percussion), Mike Melvoin and Joe Sample on keyboards, guitarists Dean Parks, Melvin “Wah-Wah” Ragin, David T. Walker as well as Funk Brother supreme, bassist James Jamerson. For the arrangements, studio vet H.B. Barnum was brought in to handle the charts. 

As far as the song selection, tunes came from a few Bristol-led collaborations, such as the gentle balladStrangers In Dark Corners”, which Johnny recorded four years later for the brilliant and underrated Atlantic album, “Bristol’s Crème” and the mid-tempo That’s The Sound That Lonely Makes (Bristol had called one of his most favorite songs he‘d composed.). In addition, Johnny co-wrote the uptempo “Wish You Were Here With Me, Mary”, “I’ll Never Say Never Again” - a short and sweet mellow track, and “Let’s Make The Best Of What We Got”. The late Billy Preston wrote and first recorded “Little Girl” for his second Apple Records album from 1970, “Encouraging Words”. For the CHECK IT OUT album, arranger H.B. Barnum stayed true to the Gospel feel of Billy’s original, yet allowed Tavares to stretch out vocally on their version, thus making this ballad a six-minute epic. Rounding out Tavares‘ Capitol debut are “If That’s The Way You Want It” and “Mama’s Little Girl” - written from the pens of Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, who’d later work with the quintet on their albums, “Hardcore Poetry” (1974) and “In The City” (1975) as producers and composers.

The CHECK IT OUT album peaked at #20 on Billboard's R&B LP Chart, while the second single, "That's The Sound That Lonely Makes", went to #10 on the soul singles listings.

As far as Tavares’ connection with Robert “Boogie” Bowles, after the latter resettled in Los Angeles, the two parties reunited in 1976, when former Jerry Butler colleague and Motown producer Freddie Perren manned the boards for their “Sky High”, “Love Storm” and “Future Bound” albums (Bowles, along with Sonny Burke, played on the sessions for these releases). “I had moved to LA in 1974 with the goal of setting up a production company there,” said Bowles. “However, I soon realized that I just didn’t have the drive to write songs on a consistent level. After landing a couple of producing gigs for folks such as Brenda Lee Eager (of Jerry Butler’s “Ain’t Understanding Mellow” fame), I get a phone call from Freddie Perren, who was hired by Capitol to produce Tavares’ ‘Sky High’ album. He said that the brothers really want me to play on the session and his contractor is going to call me to set up the date. So, after the contractor did contact me, I hauled my amp and guitar to Paragon Studios and laid down my guitar track for ‘Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel’. After it was over, Freddie came up and said, ‘man, you’ve got a rhythm feel I like very much! We’re gonna be working together again!’ And so, we did - for the next five years and many hits!”

Through the 1970’s and into the earl 1980’s, Tavares became a powerhouse vocal group with the right songs, arrangements, production and chops to deliver fine work, which they were able to do effortlessly through their eight year tenure with Capitol Records (1973-1981). With folks such as Bowles, Bristol, Perren as well as , Bobby Martin (1979’s “Madam Butterfly), Bobby Columby (“Supercharged”, 1980) and Benjamin Wright (“Love Uprising”,1981), Tavares had excellent “ship captains” who helped steer the group towards many levels of success. And that journey started with this album.

Check it out!!

February 28, 2015
New York City

Telephone interviews with ROBERT “BOOGIE” BOWLES (November, 2014 and February, 2015), CHUBBY TAVARES (April, 2012) and TINY TAVARES (April, 2012).

A SOULFUL CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT “BOOGIE” BOWLES (December, 2013) and A SOULFUL CONVERSATION WITH HARRY ELSTON OF THE FRIENDS OF DISTINCTION (August, 2013). Radio interview podcast series produced and conducted by Kevin Goins (www.mixcloud.com/musicmankevin).

Blues & Soul Magazine interview with Johnny Bristol, August 1974. 


Thanks to Robert “Boogie” Bowles, Harry Elston, Chubby Tavares, Tiny Tavares and David Nathan for their cooperation.

Hope you enjoy these notes as it was an honor to have written them! If you like what you have read and want to see more, drop me an email at newgroovesradio@gmail.com. Until next time, best regards!

Kevin Goins - KevGo

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Hey Folks! I know it’s been a LONG while since I had been doing any sort of blogging. A couple of years, in fact! Well, I felt it was time to revive my old Blogger page, but with a new twist Rather than focusing on music news and information, I decided to devote this Blog to my work as a record industry liner note author.

Since 1998, I’ve written liners for several CD compilations and reissued works, starting with Columbia/Legacy’s Earth Wind & Fire’s Greatest Hits. From there, I’ve provided writing works for labels such as Tuff City, Funky Town Grooves, Purpose Music Vaults and Soul Music Records. 

The artists whom I’ve covered include Tavares, Melba Moore, James D-Train Williams, Booker T. Jones, Ronnie Dyson, GQ, Audrey Wheeler, Noel Pointer, Jerry Butler, G.C. Cameron, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Temptations, Five Stairsteps, Freda Payne, the Sylvers, Seawind, Ray Parker, Jr. – just to name a few!

Therefore, THE KEVGO FILES, will contain the liner notes of CD releases I have done over the past few years. Many of these notes contain quotes from interviews I had conducted specifically for those assignments. Folks I had spoken to for these notes were the artist or a colleague of that act if the subject is deceased (for example, I interviewed songwriter Vinnie Barrett and producer Stan Vincent for the reissue of Ronnie Dyson’s One Man Band album), the producers, songwriters, record label executives and industry leaders.

So, I hope you will enjoy reading the liner notes contained in THE KEVGO FILES, as much as I enjoy writing them.  A labor of true love, indeed. 



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

AUGUST 20, 2014

Hey, folks! Thanks for checking out another edition of the KGMJ! Been busy taking care of biz but wanted to share a few new developments with you, starting with......


The screen-shot says it all, gang.  Put together the webpage last weekend which will serve as an online business card for the music management, consultation and administrative company I have.  If y'all want to bookmark the page, click here - THE KEVIN GOINS ORGANIZATION


Brooke is a singer/songwriter whom I'm consulting for marketing and promotions via my company, the Kevin Goins Organization. Her latest independently-released album, "Listen", was produced by my old college bud, James A. Manno
She hails from the Midwest, earned her stripes here in the Big Apple on stage as well as in concerts and has developed a nice following as a result. Her album is filled with inspirational-flavored tunes that many can enjoy.

Brooke's "Listen" is available via Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Check out this tune from the album, a great wedding song called "HERE IN THIS MOMENT".


The man who brought us "Life As A Ballad" (and another client of the Kevin Goins Organization) was interviewed by the British Ambassador of Soul himself, music journalist DAVID NATHAN for SOULMUSIC.COM. They talk about Abiah's work over the years, his upcoming album as well as a tune he contributed to David Nathan's Global Music Unites project (not available on any other album!). Listen in and enjoy - ABIAH INTERVIEW WITH DAVID NATHAN
Thanks again for checking out the KGMJ!! If you'd like to be added to my email list for updates and such, let me know!! The address is kevingoins@juno.com. Take care!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I’M BACK!!!!

Hey Folks! I know it’s been a mighty long time (shoo-bop-shoo-bop, my baby…sorry, couldn’t resist!) since my very last entry here on the KGMJ. Hell, it’s been practically a YEAR when I made my last posting.  A lot has been going on thanks to my venture into the wonderful world of music management and consulting.  Been working with a few great independent artists on the scene who are making some SERIOUS music and getting their tunes to the masses.  You’ll get to meet them as the KGMJ rolls on a monthly basis.  I do plan on setting up direct email to those who’d like to get updates on a weekly basis. So, if you’re interested, drop me a line at kevingoins@juno.com and you’ll receive them.  Let’s get on with KGMJ, starting on a somber note.


A comrade-in-arms within the world of music researchDuring his 35 years with us, Bob Abrahamian's work is massive. A young man who dove into record collecting in his native Chicago thanks to hearing classics being sampled, Bob took this passion quantum leaps further. He not only collected literally thousands of recordings, Bob became a researcher in the area of Chicago soul music. Via his weekly WHPK-FM radio series, "Sitting In The Park" (yes, named after the Billy Stewart hit from 1965), Bob featured the artists and their music. 

Bob expanded his collection to publicity photos, concert posters and radio station charts. Most importantly - he cast light to Chicago soul artists who may not have had hits outside the Windy City but had a tremendous impact within their own backyard. Thanks to his archiving, Bob became one of many go-to folks when record companies such as the Numero Group needed an old picture still from a Regal Theater show or recording session notes.

Bob became a friend to several of us music collectors, including yours truly. When he and I communicated via the Soulful Detroit Forum site, Bob shared a ton of information that helped me within my work as a liner note writer and reissue consultant. His radio series was one of many things that inspired me to launch SOULFUL CONVERSATIONS in 2012 and for that, I appreciate Bob's support.

But here's the point of this post and forgive me if it reads like I'm rambling. Bob's cause of death last Thursday (June 5th) was suicide, prompted by years of depression. In a note he left behind, Bob said that he felt as if his life's work didn't matter.

Like hell it didn't.

Tell that to the many older artists whom he helped over the years, those who felt as if the public had forgotten all about them. Bob did more than document their life's work - he assisted them in many other ways possible. Teaching computer skills, running errands on their behalf, spending time listening to their stories. But more importantly - Bob helped document their HISTORIES so that the public will remember and never forget.

I will miss his FB postings and the knowledge he shared over the years. All I can say to conclude is to please let those in your lives know that they are appreciated, respected and loved. And don't wait to tell them, do it TODAY.

Thank you. Bob, for being there for this fellow musicologist and friend. You and your work WILL be remembered.

For more on Bob, here's his obituary from the Chicago Sun-Times with a link at the bottom to the last segment of "Sitting In The Park".


A lot has been happening with this powerhouse curvy girl since she was last featured here on the KGMJ! Three sold out shows here in NYC, a successful tour of the UK and France (with another European jaunt planned for late June of this year), the release of her sophomore album, “JOURNEY OF A WOMAN" (pictured above) earlier this year. But rather than go on and on, let’s go to her last press release...

- "JOURNEY OF A WOMAN"  entered BILLBOARD’S TOP 200 R&B ALBUM CHART at #95 and the Top 200 R&B/HIP-HOP ALBUM listings at #153





Here’s what folks have said about “JOURNEY OF A WOMAN”…..

“’Journey Of A Woman’ has an uplifting tone that should bring new life to the neo-soul movement” - Downbeat Magazine

“Rajdulari takes the listener on a melodic ride…filled with expressive and welcomed twists and turns. ‘Journey Of A Woman’ is one blessing worth listening to.” - Soul Train.com

“Rajdulari’s ‘Journey Of A Woman’ commands the listener’s attention (with) musicality and confidence.” - Urban Music Scene

“JOURNEY OF A WOMAN” is featured on Bob Baldwin’s syndicated radio series, NEW URBAN JAZZ LOUNGE. Album in rotation at WVSU-FM (Birmingham, AL) as well as the UK’s STARPOINT RADIO and JAZZ FM. 

Video for the single, “NATURAL”, now has over 10,000 views.

What more can be said?? Oh yeah, BUY HER LATEST ALBUM!!! Available via her website - http://rajdulari.com/ - as well as Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and fine retailers such as the following….

SOUND OF MARKET (Philadelphia)

As mentioned before, Rajdulari will be performing in Paris and London in June and July!  Watch out for her, Europe!! She can't wait to share her journey with you again!!

Here's a behind the scenes peek at a studio session for JOURNEY OF A WOMAN....


Thanks so much for checking out the latest KGMJ and look out for more to come in 2014!! If you like what you see and hear, feel free to share this with a friend or colleague.  Take care and be well!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

KGMJ - JUNE 30, 2013

Hey Folks! I know it’s been over a month since I last posted here.  Been busy with many projects so let’s get on with the latest report!


Legendary composer/singer BARRETT STRONG was honored with a benefit concert that took place here in the Big Apple on Saturday, June 22nd at the Cutting Room. Produced by Motor City rock/blues siren (and Barrett’s protegee) Eliza Neals and emceed by yours truly, performers such as The Fellas, Judd Harris, Danni Gee, Julien, Lizz Kristi, Steven Feifke, Sal Carolei, Tyrone Smith, Jent La Palm, Michael Galante, Shane Visbal, Debra Devi, Paul Orbel, Chris Ams along with Drew Schultz’s Funk Machine and Ms. Neals gave a rousing show highlighting Barrett’s soul classics (“Money - That’s What I Want”, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, “Ball Of Confusion”, “Just My Imagination - Running Away With Me”, “I Wish It Would Rain”, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”).  An audience Q&A took place as well as an award presentation from the R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum, which inducted Barrett this year.  

The show was a near-sell out with all proceeds going towards Barrett’s medical concerns.  A great night that honored a great man of music!


What do GLADYS KNIGHT, TONI BRAXTON, BABYFACE, CHICAGO, HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS, CHEAP TRICK, THE O’JAYS, THE GO-GO’S, TOM TOM CLUB, CHEAP TRICK, SMOKEY ROBINSON, BIG DADDY KANE, RAKIM, MIGHTY SPARROW and MARVIN SAPP all have in common? They’ll be in Brooklyn NY in July and August as part of the BROOKLYN CONCERT SERIES, being held this summer!  Two locations will hold these events - Coney Island and Wingate Field.  And guess what - the shows are FREE!!! Check out the flyer and log onto http://www.brooklynconcerts.com/ for more information as well as directions to the venues. If there’s one place you gotta be in NYC, it’s Brooklyn, baby!!


Singer, songwriter and proud-as-hell “curvy girl” RAJDULARI will bring her brand of contemporary R&B/soul and jazz to the Iridium near Times Square in NYC on Saturday, July 27th.  Born in Michigan and raised in Boston, Rajdulari cut one independent release in 2011 (“HoneyWine”) and is working on a new album, “Journey Of A Woman”,  Her latest single, “Natural”, has earned over 4,500 spins on You Tube and is available for download purchase via iTunes.  In addition to earning awards in the area of soul and jazz in her hometown and New England area, Rajdulari is also a successful plus-size model for fashion magazines and runway work.  She’ll be doing two shows at the Iridium on Saturday night (8pm and 10pm) so click the link and make your reservations soon (http://theiridium.com/events/1853/rajdulari/).   Meantime, take a look and listen to her single, “Natural”.


During the golden era of Chicago soul (mid-1960s to late 1970s), very few acts from the Windy City had the type of career that MARVIN SMITH had enjoyed. He and THE ARTISTICS cut many solid sides for the Okeh and Brunswick labels such as “This Heart Of Mine” and “I’m Gonna Miss You”. As the latter tune hit the Top Ten of the R&B charts in 1966, Marvin recorded his first solo side, “Time Stopped” -which earned him a guest shot on American Bandstand.  He joins us for this SOULFUL CONVERSATION about his work with the Artistics, producer Carl Davis, the great Curtis Mayfield as well as the solo tunes he has available today.


In 1958, AL GORGONI was hired to produce and play guitar on demos for the Aldon Music Publishing Company, which was co-owned by Don Kirshner and Al Nevins.  He went on to become a top-notch session guitarist, contractor, arranger, composer and producer - working with giants such as Carole King, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Cissy Houston and the Sweet Inspirations, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, B.J. Thomas, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Chip Taylor.  He’s in the process of producing a documentary based on his career and the period of time known to many as The Brill Building Era.  Al took a break from his work to join us for this SOULFUL CONVERSATION about his career, which gives us an inside look at how many great rock & roll classics were created.


Tune in next time when I’ll have even more music biz news, info and SOULFUL CONVERSATIONS. Take care, be well and thanks so much for reading!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

KGMJ - MAY 28, 2013

Hey folks! Thanks for checking out this new edition of the KGMJ as we roll from spring into summer. Can’t believe this year has gone by so quick so far!  We’ve got three great audio interviews posted here with Harry Elston from the Friends of Distinction, singer Beverly Bremers and producer/arranger/Chicago soul legend Willie Henderson.  But first, we remember this music great who has left us recently….


Saturday, May 25th should have been a joyous day for this soul/pop legend who turned 64 years old that day.  Sadly, the following morning, word came from his younger brother, Keni Burke, that this great music man had passed away.

CLARENCE BURKE, JR. of the Five Stairsteps, died on Sunday, May 26th. He was the group’s chief songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist during their reign on the soul and pop charts.  

While millions of fans remember the Stairsteps for the classic, “Ooh-Child”, their Top 10 platinum pop smash from 1970, what gets obscured by the mainstream media is the songwriting and production prowess of big brother, Clarence, Jr.  For those who have already read and know about his great gifts, forgive the didactic “history lesson” that’s about to take place.

The second oldest of the Burke family from Chicago, Illinois, Clarence, Jr. showed his skills quite early on.  With his school chum Greg Fowler, Clarence penned several tunes that became big R&B hits for the Five Stairsteps between 1966 and 1968.  “World Of Fantasy”, “Come Back”, “You Don’t Love Me”, “You Waited Too Long”, “The Girl I Love” and the moody favorite, “Danger! She’s A Stranger”.  What made these songs so intriguing is that Clarence’s and Greg’s writing reflected a maturity that was not common in many teen-oriented tunes of that time.  Their approach to love and romance with its ups and downs went beyond the “ooh-baby-I-love-you” theme to discuss things such as taking a chance with someone you may not know (“Danger! She’s A Stranger”) to the pull-no-punches “You Don’t Love Me”.   Mind you, Clarence had composed these gems before he graduated from the prestigious Harlan High School in the Windy City.

In regards to Clarence’s vocal delivery, check out the clip of the Stairsteps on Dick Clark’s “Where The Action Is” from the summer of 1966 (where they performed their hits while rocking on a pontoon near a lake).  Yeah, they were lip-syncing but forget that for a minute and see how Clarence delivers his performance.  Talk about smooth! He was definitely channeling the greats while expressing himself in song.  Think Jerry Butler, Smokey Robinson and Sam Cooke all rolled up into one.

Finally, there was Clarence, Jr. the producer. The group’s underrated (and criminally unreissued) 1977 album, “2nd Resurrection” wasn’t the first time he was behind the studio console manning the boards. Clarence did that back in 1968 for the Stairsteps’ second album, “Our Family Portrait” (released on Buddah Records).  He worked closely with veteran arranger Johnny Pate as well as the family patriarch, Clarence, Sr. (a/k/a “Papa Stairstep”), to create a great record.  “Our Family Portrait” was indeed the shape of things to come from Clarence, Aloha, Dennis, James and Kenneth (“Keni”). The guidance he received from Pate, Papa and the late Curtis Mayfield served Clarence well when he went on to produce “2nd Resurrection” as well as the recordings with the Invisible Man’s Band (which, fortunately, are available on CD and for download).

For those who haven’t heard of these works from the mid-late 1960‘s, I highly suggest you pick up the CD collection, “The First Family Of Soul - The Best Of The Five Stairsteps”, that was issued via BMG/Buddha Records over ten years ago.  Another one is “The Complete Curtis Mayfield Years” from the folks at Outta Sight Records, which covers the Stairsteps’ debut album on the Windy C label as well as 1969’s release, “Love’s Happening” (first released on Curtom Records). Songs from “Our Family Portrait” (“Something’s Missing”, “A Million To One”, “Under The Spell Of Your Love”) can be found on various compilations and iTunes.

Here’s the clip of the Stairsteps performing “World Of Fantasy” from 1966.  Farewell, Clarence - and thank you for the music. 


A couple of weeks ago, I launched a new Internet radio program devoted to R&B, jazz, soul, pop, dance and Latin sounds for “grown folks” called IN THE GROOVE.  How best to describe it? Simple - music that’s not too fast or slow, just down the middle and all good!  The show is available via Mixcloud and it will be a bi-weekly program.  Check out this recent IN THE GROOVE where I paid tribute to Clarence Burke, Jr., the Five Stairsteps as well as other great acts that I call the groups of “teen soul." Click the link and enjoy! http://www.mixcloud.com/musicmankevin/in-the-groove-tribute-to-clarence-burke-jr5-stairstepsteen-soul/


Forty-five years ago, Harry Elston, Jessica Cleaves, Barbara Love and the late Floyd Butler formed one of pop/soul’s enduring vocal groups of the era - the Friends of Distinction.  From the get-go, they scored a hit with their classic version of “Grazing In The Grass” (a #1 pop/soul instrumental for Hugh Masekela).  Other smashes followed - “Going In Circles”, “Love Or Let Me Be Lonely”, “Time Waits For No One” - as well as great album cuts such as “I Really Hope You Do” (Grazin’) and “Lady Mae” (Real Friends).  Actor Will Ferrell included the Friends’ “Grazing In The Grass” in the 2004 hit movie, “Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy” and the tune makes another appearance in the trailer for the upcoming “Anchorman 2”.  Harry joined us for this SOULFUL CONVERSATION about the group’s career and successes. http://www.mixcloud.com/musicmankevin/a-soulful-conversation-with-harry-elston-friends-of-distinction/


In 1971,while starring in the Broadway smash musical, "The Me Nobody Knows," BEVERLY BREMERS scored a Top 20 hit with “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember”, a tune that was reminiscent of the girl-group sound from the early 1960’S.  While she did score two more smashes after “Remember” hit, Beverly was signed to Scepter/Wand Records, which had just lost two hit makers - Dionne Warwick and B.J. Thomas - to major labels and the company was on the verge of closing their doors for good.  From there, Beverly went to Columbia Records with little to no success but was able to create a new career doing voice-overs and composing.  She hit pay dirt when the music she wrote for Disney’s “Mousercise” album helped the record sell over a million copies.  We caught up with Beverly at her home in L.A. for a POP TALK to discuss her work.


Producer/arranger/session leader/sax man WILLIE HENDERSON joins us for a SOULFUL CONVERSATION about his career and work.  The hits he produced for Tyrone Davis ("Turn Back The Hands Of Time", "Can I Change My Mind"), the many sessions that utilized his talents (too numerous to mention here), the Brunswick/Playboy recordings he made and his near-move to Motown Records (yes, Mr. Henderson came mighty close to joining the Sound of Young America in the early 1960’S!) - all covered in one great interview.  Tune in and enjoy!  http://www.mixcloud.com/musicmankevin/a-soulful-conversation-with-willie-henderson/

One year ago this month (May), I made my transition back to New York City after living in the Northwest Wisconsin/Minnesota area for several years.  It was a move that was needed and not at all regretted.  After some bumps in the road (many moves before settling here in Brooklyn, health issues and a witch of storm named Sandy), things have definitely been on the upswing.  I’d like to thank you all for bearing with me as I finally settled into a groove that is working well. Here’s to the rest of 2013 and tune in next month for another edition of the KGMJ!

Monday, May 20, 2013

KGMJ - MAY 21, 2013

Hey folks! Thanks for stopping by this edition of the KGMJ.  Lots to talk about this time around including two new SOULFUL CONVERSATIONS, so let’s get right to it!


This Brooklyn-based band calls their music Afro-Beat.  I say they combine the best of the J.B.‘S, Santana and Tower of Power .  Funky rhythms, cool organ riffs and thunderous percussion anchor a killer six piece horn section and as well as two guitarists.  In other words, their sound is BIG, LOUD and ALL GOOD!!  Zongo Junction just wrapped up a three-week gig at NYC’S Bowery Electric so be sure to check them out when they come to your area.  In the meantime, click the link and enjoy their performance of “TUNNELBAR”.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5NwTmZWOA8


Ten years ago, Detroit-based venture capitalist Chris Rizik launched a website- SoulTracks.com - devoted to soul and R&B.  It was a passion and a labor of love that within the next few years grew into one of top sites to read and hear about soul music from all corners of the spectrum - classic, contemporary, domestic, international, released by major labels and independent companies.  On Saturday, May 25th, the good folks behind Soul Factory Presents at DROM-NYC in lower Manhattan will pay tribute to SoulTracks.com with performances by the legendary Force MD’S as well as Angela Johnson and Russell Taylor. Check out the flyer for info regarding reservations and click the link to view the SoulTracks site! http://www.soultracks.com/


Over 30 years ago, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five brought us hits such as “The Message” and “White Lines”, among others.  The group became the first rap/hip-hop act to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along with their classic, “The Message”, being entered into the Registry of the Library of Congress as being one of the influential musical pieces that impacted American society.  I caught up with RAHIEM of the Furious Five recently for this SOULFUL CONVERSATION http://www.mixcloud.com/musicmankevin/a-soulful-conversation-with-rahiem-of-the-furious-five/


On December 7, 1964, singer Sam Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles area hotel.  It was documented that he was killed in self-defense by the manager of the establishment but through the years many have suspected foul play.  

Author B.G. Rhule has revealed in her latest book, “One More River To Cross - The Redemption of Sam Cooke”, that the music legend’s death was indeed the result of circumstances that point to a certain insider within Mr. Cooke’s camp - a person that was very close to seeing dismissal from their employ.  Never before seen autopsy reports and photos in the book show that Sam was brutally beaten with blows that indicate more than just being hit with a broom by the hotel proprietor.  Check out this SOULFUL CONVERSATION with Ms. Rhule and hear for yourself.  http://www.mixcloud.com/musicmankevin/a-soulful-conversation-with-author-bg-rhule/


Musicians, colleagues, loved ones and fans paid tribute to the departed jazz horn legend/educator/leader on May 7th at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church.  It was a night of excellent music and remembrances from Donald Byrd III, Herbie Hancock, Nat Adderley, Jr., Najee, Bobbi Humphrey, Kevin Toney of the Blackbyrds, Johnny Kemp, Don Mizell, Wallace Roney, Cyrus Chestnut, Maurice Brown, Poogie Bell, Jeremy McDonald, Jimmy Owens, Doc Gibbs, Clifford Adams, Keith Robinson, the Koka Strings Ensemble, Onaje Allan Gumbs, members of the Abyssinian Church Choir, the Reverend Calvin Butts III and the man who organized the whole event, keyboardist/composer Alex Bugnon.  Enjoy the pics!

Herbie Hancock

Bobbi Humphrey

Alex Bugnon

Abyssinian Choir (Johnny Kemp, top row - third from right)

Herbie and Alex

Cyrus Chestnut blowin' his horn

Record label executive Don Mizell, whose late brothers (Larry & Fonce) collaborated with Donald Byrd.

Musicians performing "Places & Spaces"

Najee on the flute

Najee, Bobbi with Jimmy Owens on flugelhorn

The Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church

Wallace Roney on trumpet w/Alex 

Wallace, Bobbi, Najee, Jimmy and company


Look out for the next KGMJ as we kick off the summer featuring a SOULFUL CONVERSATION with Harry Elston, founder of the Friends of Distinction, as well as a KGMJ INTERVIEW with singer/songwriter Beverly Bremers (“Don’t Say You Don’t Remember”) - two best examples of sunshine soul and pop! Until then, share any feedback you have in the comments area below or stop by my Facebook page.  You can even drop me an email to kevingoins@juno.com. Take care, thanks for reading and listening!