Bonefish Johnny
Get Down Town: Bourbon On 2nd

Kicking a roots rock lounge duo with Kilmo and my Hammond Auto-Vari 64 (see buttons above) every Thursday evening in September at Bourbon On 2nd in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I’ll also be reprising Shack Daddys with Kilmo, Bob Taylor and John Yarling at this same New Orleans themed venue on Sunday, September 18 from 5 to 9 PM.

Thanks for the mammaries, Jack

Crabby Jack’s was one of the many South Florida “raw bars” where I have performed, and like another thatched roof dive I used to play nearby, it has gone up in smoke. I remember an early 90’s gig at Crabby’s where Groove Thangs opened and closed for mega-chesty stripper Crystal Storm (seen here on the Sally show). We cranked her intro tape through our system, which consisted of nothing more than Andrew Dice Clay yelling “Look at those f*cking tits!” Ah, those were classy times…

Relating to recent passings…

Amy Winehouse (7/23): Despite the seeming inevitablity of her demise, I think we all hoped she would get it together and go on to greatness. She was an original, even if she was a throwback. I thought she was a great songwriter and considered "Love Is A Losing Game" to be a classic (and this intimate performance of it to be iconic). I covered it live a few times myself and had even worked on some novel arrangements at one point, but had forgotten about it and even about Amy until I heard the news of her passing. I posted this practice vid accordingly.

Eugene McDaniels (7/29): Of the many ideas we’ve tried out for various Groove Thangs recordings, one was Pat singing in multiple voices an a cappella version of “Compared To What”, the epic song written by the recently departed Eugene McDaniels. While Pat based his rendition on the hit live recording by Les McCann and Eddie Harris (see amazing film footage of their actual performance here!), this cutting tune has been covered many different ways. My personal favorites include Della Reese’s funky take, the late Dee Dee Bridgewater’s last video ever, Ray Charles’ disco version and of course anything reggae, especially some trippy rocksteady. Less palatable is when we heard the chorus of this masterpiece thundering out of a Coke commercial! Given the provenance of the tune, it seemed a real desecration. Like, what they said.

While Eugene McDaniels is rightly praised for his strident crypto-spiritual funk of the 70’s (listen to “Headless Heroes of The Apocalypse” and dig some truth for today from three decades ago), his earlier career is often glossed over. But as a Brook Bentonesque pop-soul singer in the 60’s known as Gene McDaniels, he cut some of Bonefish Johnny’s all time favorite songs! "100 Pounds of Clay" is a weird one that charted, wherein Gene cites perennial creation myths as the origin of love, but it is in "Tower Of Strength" that the earlier McDaniels truly got deep, exploring sexual power relations in the guise of a goofy pop hit. In it he enumerates how a real man should go about dumping a woman, reaching a misogynistic crescendo of having that bitch on her knees when suddenly, with a simpering gulp, he admits the scenario is pure fantasy. A gorgeous trombone line echoes with an emasculated refrain, emphasizing that this is indeed a confession of weakness without equivocation. Ironically, the candor of such an admission renders the singer stronger than ever. He knows he’s fronting when he’s fronting. While seeming to reinforce the power equation of trad gender roles, the message could very well be questioning the premise of power itself. If only the warmongers trying to prove their strength could likewise drop the facade and admit that towers they ain’t. Compared to what, indeed!

Meanwhile, it was some strange synchronicity when two halves of two different songwriting duos passed away on the same day…

Nick Ashford (8/22): Half of Ashford & Simpson, the team with his wife Valerie may be known to you either as performers of 80’s hits like “Solid” or as writers of Motown canon for Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. Before any of that they wrote “California Soul” (hit for The 5th Dimension but most heads agree that this is THE version) and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” for Ray Charles, as well as another Charles tune one twit may think is obscure but we know to be a founding template for heavy metal!

Jerry Leiber (8/22): The lyricist partner of Mike Stoller in Leiber & Stoller named me, among other great accomplishments. Let us pause now to ruminate on mortality via a most poignant Leiber & Soller masterpiece (featuring orchestration by Randy Newman)…

Me and The Raiford Starke Band this Sunday from 2-6 PM!

Me and The Raiford Starke Band this Sunday from 2-6 PM!

An 88 with Piano Bob

I’ve been jiving and fronting with Piano Bob’s 88’s for a while now and it’s only getting to be more fun! Look for us on Sunday afternoons at The Big Easy in Hollywood, FL on August 21 and 28. Awesome singer and drummer Lou Abott will be rounding out that trio. I will also be kicking it with Bob at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus on Friday, August 19. We will beat you Daddy eight to the bar!

A Blue Tuesday

Famous Frank of The Nucklebusters has been hosting a blues night every Tuesday at Boston’s for several years now. I am privileged to have played it with Shack Daddys, Groove Thangs and my Funky Roots Revue, and I hope to play it again when the restaurant venue reopens in October 2011. The last Blue Tuesday in July before closing for renovations was quite a jam and I got up on David Shelley’s guitar with Frank (guitar) plus Bongo (congas), Tim (drums), Chuck (bass) and Scott (organ) of The Funkabilly Playboys. Dig it:

Recent shows

Recent shows: My Funky Roots Revue featuring special guests Raiford Starke (guitar, vocals) and Stevie Grandmaison (bass, vocals) plus Jeff Renza (drums) at Boston’s On The Beach in Delray Beach, FL for a Blue Tuesday in June as well as for their Red, White & Blues Festival on the 4th of July. I also played that event with Piano Bob’s 88’s at the start of the weekend, so it was an all-Boston’s holiday for me! Bob Taylor (keyboards, vocals) joined the line-up for a return to Nectar at Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek. We made some good music - check out the video on my Youtube channel if you missed it.

On Golden Fire

Sighted this decorated truck of a traveling band on my recent road trip. The shark don’t bite but those Squires are strung!

The AOL addy is a nice touch

St. Augustine Bluzfest, Father’s Day Weekend

Bonefish Johnny will be performing with New Orleans harp player and composer John Carey, along with South Florida favorite Piano Bob, on June 18-19, Saturday and Sunday, at The St. Augustine Bluzfest. Should be quite fun!

Check out John Carey’s latest release with Piano Bob on CD Baby!

Baby, Baby Don’t Cry?

To some of you he’s just the King of Cartoons, but for us baby boomers he was probably the foremost stentorian thespian of color we knew. Rightly  exhibited in The Museum of UnCut Funk (http://www.museumofuncutfunk.com/The_Museum_of_Uncut_Funk/William_Marshall_Exhibition.html) for his groundbreaking role as Blacula, the vampire noir, actor William Marshall made his biggest impression on us as Dr. Richard Daystrom in the Star Trek episode “The Ultimate Computer”. Marshall’s mad scientist was a real tour-de-force on the small screen and one of the strongest black characters yet shown on TV at that time.

What you won’t see in any museum is William Marshall’s turn on the soul mic. In some funk that is definitely cut, I found this track on a World Pacific Jazz sampler of The Gerald Wilson Orchestra featuring Marshall on vocals. You can’t say he’s really singing with his Shatner-esque approach here, his wildly careening inflections rendering the song title into more of a question than a declaration. It just goes to show that you don’t send a Shakespearean to read pimp lyrics.