Sunday, April 29, 2012

Johnny B. Irie

(This is for Greg and Sharon, who lived up near Mandeville once upon a time.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chuck Berry at The Howard Theatre, 4/28/2012

April in D.C.  It's not Paris, I guess, but how about a week that starts with brunch with The Harlem Gospel Choir, continues that evening with Taj Mahal, includes a midweek show by Meshell Ndegeochello, and ends with consecutive performances by McCoy Tyner and Chuck Berry.  Pretty good week.

That's part of what's happening the week of April 22 at The Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.  You can check the full calendar and get tickets to Chuck's show HERE.

The Howard Theatre holds special memories for Chuck Berry.  Daryl Davis told about taking Berry back to The Howard in 2010 before the restoration.

 we stopped to get something to eat and as we drove through Washington, DC that evening, Chuck reminisced about playing there in the 1950s. He mentioned the Howard Theatre. Having graduated from Howard University, I knew exactly where it was. I also knew he would be stunned and disappointed to know how run down it had become. I made a detour and under the cover of darkness drove Chuck his old stomping ground. 

This guy had not been there in over 50 years but still knew the area and was telling me about what was on which corner and little tidbits of information. Sure enough, when we turned down the street, everything he had said was accurate. He pointed out the rooming house where he would stay because in those days, Blacks couldn’t stay in the White hotels. He had named a bar next door to the Howard where the entertainers would hang out. Sure enough, there it was. It had since changed names but it was still the same bar in the same building. 

As I suspected, when he saw the now decrepit Howard Theatre, his excitement turned somber and he shook his head. I explained there has been a lot of talk about refurbishing the Howard and that while there is hope, so far it’s been nothing but talk. The neighborhood is now very crime- and drug-ridden. As we drove around the building and through the backstage alley, he pointed out the backstage door he used to use. I could tell these were bittersweet memories; the good times he had there, countered by the racism he would have to face off stage at hotels and restaurants to coming back 50 years later and reliving the fun times in his mind of this once thriving area, only to face the reality of the run down neighborhood and it’s decrepit landmark. While the neighborhood has new faces, there are still people who reside there from back in the day and would remember seeing Chuck Berry at the theatre across the street from their homes. I couldn’t help but wonder what they would have thought had they been able to see through my tinted windows on my car and seen their idol from their youth, fifty years later sitting in front of the Howard.  
Read more of Daryl's stories HERE.

The theater is no longer looking grim.  Learn more about its restoration and see a film about its history HERE.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just Let Me Hear Some of That...

It says here that an interview of CHUCK BERRY will be part of a new film about The Beatles' first trip to the United States.  (I'm guessing it's old interview material.)

(AND GUESSING WRONG!  Check out the trailer to see an elderly Chuck remembering The Beatles.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chuck Berry (and The Who) at Royal Albert Hall, 1969

Peter K. in Sweden shared this amazing German footage of a Who/Chuck Berry show at The Royal Albert Hall in London in 1969.  Too bad there's no sound from the show itself.  The frenzy is worth a look.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jaguar and the Thunderbird

Well, Ferrari, maybe...

In the "All Time Best St. Louis Musician"brackets it's down to just two: Miles and Chuck.   VOTE HERE!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top 100

Thank you Peter K. for this article from St. Louis Magazine about a celebration of St. Louis's top 100 musicians of all time (folks like Miles Davis, Ike and Tina Turner, and you know who.)  Guess who showed up.

Friday, April 13, 2012

It Hurts Me Two (the Remix)

So, the other day I did two songs-- me on piano, drums, guitar and drone, but I wasn't too happy with "It Hurts Me Too."  So I just redid the guitar and (gotta warn you) turned up the the vocals.  I think it's better.

Elvis Costello talks about what it's Like to Perform a Chuck Berry Song for Chuck Berry!

Here's Elvis Costello, right here in Seattle, talking about performing "No Particular Place to Go" for Chuck Berry.  GREAT story.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Almost: My Early Life in Music Videos

When I was a kid my father took me and my eldest sister on a trip to London, Paris and Ireland.  It was an unforgettable experience-- one that left me with an enduring love for travel and new places. 

In London we did the usual things, including a visit to Trafalgar Square, where I let flying rats crawl and flap all over me.  That's me in the orange shirt.  My father's the white haired man.  And if you look behind him in the lower photo you can see that there's a crowd in the distance.

We went to investigate and found a rock band filming an early music "video."  I remember that I sort of knew the band, that they'd had a hit, and I think I remember that I'd already heard the record they were pretending to play on the radio once or twice-- but that particular tidbit of memory might be a figment of my imagination.

Anyway, here's a picture of the band-- or part of it.  The golden brown hair is mine.  Was mine, anyway.  You can see the fountain in the background, and the big lion.

Anyway, one evening recently I thought I'd try to figure out who we saw.  The only thing I remembered-- or thought I remembered-- was that the group's name started with a "T."  So I began searching.  I figured the trip was in the fall of 1969.  I googled "British pop hits 1969" and almost immediately found a list of hit songs that broke it down month by month.  In November I found my group: The Tremeloes!

It took some verification.  Were they a one hit group, at least from my perspective in The States?  Pretty much.  I learned pretty fast that they were responsible for "Silence is Golden." 

But then it struck me.  We live in a Youtube universe.  So I went to Youtube and searched for the Tremeloes.  And bango!  There they were!  Near the fountain!

The sad thing: no Peter.  No Daddy.  No Rooney.  No Rich.  In fact, you'll notice that the camera never points in our direction.  Most shots are taken from close to where I was standing.  Or maybe we were off feeding pigeons when the money shots were taken.

Ah well.  Invisibility is golden.  Memories, too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More About The Howard Theatre

A really good story in The Washington Post about the reopening of The Howard Theatre that says a lot about how the people in the community feel about having it back.  Chuck Berry plays there at the end of April.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back to the Basement

This afternoon I went back to the basement and made two spur of the moment tapes of Blues that CB has recorded a few times.  The first is "My Babe."  It starts out pretty good, then falls apart a bit at the end, but I didn't have the patience to record the drums again.

The other is "It Hurts Me Too."  I couldn't get the voice to record loudly enough, which might be a blessing for you, but sounds sort of weak.  This recording business is a mystery to me-- so think of it as a live rehearsal. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

"You Need You Some Shoes, Chuck!"

A nice obituary tribute here to journalist Gil Noble, with an introduction that reminds us that it's hard to do the scoot in slippers!  (Especially at The Apollo.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blue Ribbon!

Some nice pictures taken by amateur photographer Bill Dillane of a 2006 Chuck Berry show.  You can check them out HERE.  Mr. Dillane won first prize at the North haven Fair with the picture you see here. According to Mr. Dillane:

Chuck Berry did a free concert on June 17, 2006 at Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT to celebrate that city's bicentennial. Chuck was great in his one-hour concert, and he displayed a lot of energy.

Nick Stargu of local duo After All was Chuck's keyboard player that night.  Nick has two videos of the concert on his duo's web site at .  I believe the other musicians, except for Charles Jr., were also from this area.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Explain This One

If you CAN!

Chuck Berry and Bruce Springsteen at Cole Field House

Here's a blog post and contemporary review of Chuck Berry's performance with Bruce Springsteen at the Cole Field House in 1972 or 1973.  Of course my favorite version is the one Daryl Davis-- who snuck in as a kid and watched it all from backstage-- shared with GoHeadOn a couple of years ago.  Davis explained how everyone was in a panic because Chuck hadn't arrived:
He walked toward where I was standing a few feet from the band. As he passed me, I didn’t say a word, I just watched him. He laid the guitar case down on an amp crate and opened it up. The bandleader approached him with the rest of the band and said something to the effect of, “I’m Bruce Springsteen and my band is your backup band. We’re really looking forward to playing with you.” At the time, few people outside of Asbury Park, NJ knew who Bruce Springsteen was. Chuck shook hands and Bruce went on to tell him that they had been going over some of his repertoire earlier and asked what songs he might want to play that evening. Without pausing or missing a beat, Chuck said, “I think I’ll play some Chuck Berry songs,” and walked on stage and plugged in his guitar. It was a great concert. When he came off stage, he packed up his guitar but had forgotten the cord. The audience was screaming for an encore. Chuck walked back onto the stage and the crowd thinking he was going to play another song cheered even louder. He pulled the cord out of the amp waved to the crowd and duckwalked off the stage. He walked right by me again and again, I didn’t say a word. I was just in awe. He went out the door and got in the rental car and drove himself to wherever he was going.
You can read the whole thing HERE.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The (New) London Sessions

Ron Wood will be "curating" a salute to Chess Records this June in London-- a show I'd like to see.  At least two Chuck Berry songs-- No Particular Place to Go and Maybellene-- will be featured.  Read about it HERE.