Saturday, August 18, 2018. Landers Center, 4560 Venture Dr., Southaven, Mississippi (Memphis). Terry Wright, Calvin Richardson, Bobby Rush, Nellie "Tiger" Travis, T.K. Soul, Sir Charles Jones, Tucka.
Saturday, August 18, 2018. Underground 119, 119 South President St., Jackson, Mississippi.Dexter Allen. 601-944-0907.
Saturday, August 18, 2018. River Front Park, 600 Sophia St., Fredericksburg, Virginia. Southern Soul All White Affair. Pokey Bear, Summer Wolfe, Cold Drank.
Saturday, August 18, 2018. TJ's Night Life, 4801 Leigh Drive Raleigh, North Carolina. Adina Howard. 919-713-1300.
7 pm, Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25, 2018. Sheraton Suites Philadelphia Airport, 4101 B Island Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2018 Heritage Appreciation Award and/or Lifetime Achievement Award. Nellie "Tiger" Travis. 215-365-6600.
Saturday, August 25, 2018. T's Lounge, 1900 Highway 80, Jackson, Mississippi. Coco's Birthday Bash. Andre' Lee, Nikita, Coco, Dave Mack, Chris Ivy, Magic One, Adrena, Krishunda Echols, Mister Zay, Emerson Hill, Big Yayo, Val McKnight, Summer Wolfe, Shunte Nicole. Host: WMPR's DJ Handyman.
Saturday, August 25, 2018. Harker Heights Event Center, 710 Edwards Drive, Harker Heights, Texas. Summer Soul Jamboree. Fat Daddy, Lacee, Omar Cunningham, L.J. Echols, Mo' B, Miss Portia, Rosalyn Candy, Jinda, Rhomey, P2K, Tucka, T.K. Soul and more. 254-554-3600.
3 pm, Saturday, August 25, 2018. Mr. B's Park, 7243 Gatewood Road, Woodford, Virginia. Kenne' Wayne, Big G, Katrenia Jefferson, Jim Bennett. 804-389-3558.
Saturday, August 25 & Sunday, August 26, 2018. Park Theater, Park MGM Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada. Stevie Wonder. 844-600-7275.
10:30 pm, Thursday, August 30, 2018. Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted St., Chicago, Illinois. Nellie "Tiger" Travis. 773-477-4647.
8 pm, Friday, August 31, 2018. Montgomery Performing Arts Centre, 201 Tallapoosa Street, Montgomery, Alabama. Calvin Richardson, Sir Charles Jones, Big "Ro" Williams, Ronnie Bell, Mose Stovall.
Friday, August 31, 2018. Delhi Civic Center, 232 Denver St., Delhi, Louisiana. T.K. Soul.
7 pm, Friday, August 31, 2018. City Winery, 650 North Avenue, Ponce City Market, Atlanta, Georgia. Bobby Rush. Doors open 5:30 pm.
Friday, August 31, Saturday, September 1 & Sunday, September 2, 2018. Texas Horse Park, 811 Pemberton Hill Road, Dallas, Texas. Riverfront Jazz Festival. Erykah Badu & more (Fri), Bobby Rush, Sir Charles Jones & more (Sat), T.K. Soul & more (Sun). See festival website.
Saturday, September 1, 2018. McComb Bo Diddley Pavilion, Main Street & Railroad Blvd., Downtown, Macomb, Mississippi. 10-year Bo Diddley Memorial Tribute. Jeter Jones and more. 228-627-8288.
Saturday, September 1, 2018. Cherry Street Pavillion, 116 Cherry Street Helena, Arkansas. T.K. Soul.
Saturday, September 1, 2018. Cox Business Center, 100 Civic Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma. All White Southern Soul Classic. Pokey Bear, Cold Drank, Veronica Ra'elle, Calvin Richardson, Bigg Robb.
11 am, Saturday, September 1, 2018. Bonnie & Clyde Trade Days & RV Park, 20550 Highway 9, Arcadia, Louisiana. 1st Annual Blues & All Day Music Festival & Trail Ride. Donnie Ray, Jeter Jones, Dave Mack, Summer Wolfe, Avail Hollywood, Ves, Rhomey, Ghetto Cowboy, Luster Baker, Napoleon Demps, Crystal Thomas, O Flava Psi, M.P. Soul, Coupe DeVille, Coco, Kiko Pryor, Sweet Nay, C. La'Mont, Wendell B. 254-368-5574, 318-278-1287.
4:30 pm, Saturday, September 1, 2018. 900 OU Sykes Lane, Meridian, Mississippi. Q.V. Sykes 3rd Annual Labor Day Festival. L.J. Echols, Big Ro Williams, Chris Ivy, Ms. Jody, Lady T and more. 601-480-4635. Gates open 9 am.
5 pm, Saturday, September 1, 2018. Cherry Street, Helena, Arkansas. Luther Lackey, T.K. Soul, Millie Jackson, Charlee Jr. 870-572-9506. Gates open 3 pm.
Saturday, September 1, 2018. Our Favorite Place, 127 N. Main St., Eufala, Oklahoma. Dinner (6:30 pm)/Show (7:30 pm). The Platters. 918-689-1515.
Sunday, September 2, 2018. Texas Horse Park, 811 Pemberton Hill Road, Dallas, Texas. Riverfront Jazz Festival. T.K. Soul.
6 pm, Sunday, September 2, 2018. Richwood Park, Richwood, Louisiana (Monroe). Southern Soul Sunday. Karen Wolfe, Adrian Bagher, Jeter Jones, Luster Baker, Ghetto Cowboy, Ricky White, Vick Allen, Nathaniel Kimble. BYOB. Gates open 12 Noon. Host: Vickie Baker.
4 pm, Sunday, September 2, 2018. Ellis Field, 39 College St., Culloden, Georgia. 4th Annual Blues Festival. Bobby Rush, Stan Butler, Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Stacii Adams and more. Host: MC Lightfoot. Rain or Shine. Gates open 2 pm. 404-386-2288.
4 pm, Sunday, September 2, 2018. Wall Hill Park, 1939 Wall Hill Road, Byhalia, Mississippi. Labor Day Weekend Blues Festival. Tre' Williams, L.J. Echols, Falisa JaNaye, O.B. Buchana, Mr. Sam, Gerod Rayburn. Gates open 12 Noon. 901-268-7007.
6 pm, Sunday, September 2, 2018. Festival Plaza, 101 Crockett, Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport Blues & Southern Soul Festival. David Brinston, Ms. Jody, Carl Sims, Jeter Jones, Avail Hollywood, Ves. Gates open 5 pm. 318-220-6118.
Sunday, September 2, 2018. Riverfront Park, 100 1st Ave N., Nashville, Tennessee. Sir Charles Jones, After 7, KeKe Wyatt, Lakeside and more. Doors open 4 pm. 615-862-8750
Friday, September 7, 2018. Leflore County Civic Center, 200 MS-7, Greenwood, Mississippi. Southern Soul End Of Summer Jam. Pokey Bear, Tucka, Cold Drank, Mr. Amazing Prince of Blues, Lazar, Sassy D. BYOB. 662-457-2769.
7 pm, Friday, September 7, 2018. L.T. Ellis Center, 610 Munson St., Laurel, Mississippi. Omar Cunningham, Tre' Williams, Lacee, Miss Portia, Fat Daddy, Big Yayo. Doors open 6 pm. 769-223-2746.
1 pm, Saturday, September 8, 2018. Jackson County Fairgrounds, 2902 Shortcut Road, Pascagoula, Mississippi. Big Yayo, Lacee, Tucka, Omar Cunningham and more. Rain or shine. Host: Nikki DeMarks.
Saturday, September 8, 2018. Cannery Casino Hotel, 2121 East Craig Road North, North Las Vegas, Nevada. Seventies Soul Jam. Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, The Stylistics, Eddie Holman, Heatwave. 702-507-5700.
Saturday, September 8, 2018. Union Bank & Trust Pavilion, 16 Crawford Circle, Portsmouth, Virginia. Clarence Carter, Latimore, Theodis Ealey, Nellie "Tiger" Travis. 757-393-8181.
Saturday, September 8, 2018. Union County Fairgrounds, 1430 East 19th Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. Vick Allen.
10:30 pm, Friday, September 14, 2018. Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S. Wabash Chicago, Illinois. Nellie "Tiger" Travis. 312-427-1190.
Saturday, September 15, 2018. Bok Homa Casino, 1 Choctaw Road, Heidelberg, Mississippi. T.K. Soul. 866-447-3275.
7 pm, Saturday, September 15, 2018. Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St., Chattanooga, Tennessee. Pokey Bear, Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Cold Drank.
12 pm, Noon, September 15, 2018. Delta Blues Park, 1135 Dycus Road, Greenville, Mississippi. Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival. Dorothy Moore, Willie Clayton, Bobby Rush, Grady Champion, Latimore, J-Wonn, Nathaniel Kimble, Jo Jo Murray, Vick Allen, Karen Wolfe, Mr. Sipp, Chick Rodgers, Jimmy Duck Holmes, Kern Pratt. Gates open 10 am. See festival website.
12 Noon, Monday, September 17, 2018. Main Street (Outdoors), Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. SOS Fun Monday Shag Festival. Ms. Jody, Wall Street, The Magnificents Band.
10:30 pm, Thursday, September 20, 2018. Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted St., Chicago, Illinois. Nellie "Tiger" Travis. 773-477-4647.
8 pm, Saturday, September 22, 2018. Mesquite Arena, Mesquite, Texas. Bad Boys Of Blues. Bishop Bullwinkle, Big Pokey Bear, Sir Charles Jones, Willie Clayton. See website.
Saturday, September 22, 2018. Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. No Pain No Gain Tour. Betty Wright, J. Red The Nephew, Lenny Williams, L.J. Echols, Shirley Murdoch, Big G and more. 919-996-8700, 252-578-3504.
Saturday, September 22, 2018. Clarksdale Civic Auditorium, 506 East 2nd St., Clarksdale, Mississippi. Adrian Bagher, Big Yayo, Avail Hollywood. 662-404-6381.
Saturday, September 22, 2018. Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie, Texas. Maze feat. Frankie Beverly, Anthony Hamilton. 972-854-5050.
Saturday, September 22, 2018. Fairpark, Downtown, Tupelo, Mississippi. T.K. Soul.
Saturday, September 29, 2018. Wolf Creek Amphitheater, 3025 Merk Road, College Park, Georgia. Tucka, Pokey Bear, Willie Clayton, J-Wonn, T.K. Soul, Sir Charles Jones. See website.
Saturday, September 29, 2018. 79 County Road 1226, Morris County, Pittsburgh, Texas. Keepa Steppin Rydin Club Annual Trail Ride. Jeter Jones. Gates open 12 pm, Noon.
Thursday, Friday & Saturday, October 4, 5 & 6, 2018. West Helena, Arkansas. King Biscuit Blues Festival. Bobby Rush, 8:30 pm Thursday, Deidra & The Ruff Pro Blues Band, 4 pm, Saturday, B.B.Queen, 5 pm, Saturday, Sweet Angel, 6 pm, Saturday. See festival website.
8 pm, Saturday, October 6, 2018. Golden Nugget Casino, 151 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, Mississippi. Nellie "Tiger" Travis. 228-435-5400.
Saturday, October 6, 2018. Cook's Family Park, Highway 79 between Pine Bluff & Altheimer, Altheimer, Arkansas. Altheimer Blues Fest. T.K. Soul.
Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7, 2018. Shelby Farms Park, 6903 Great View Drive North, Memphis, Tennessee. Mempho Music Festival. Bobby Rush, William Bell, The Bar-Kays, George Clinton & Parliament, Janelle Monay, Beck, John Nemeth, Don Bryant, Nas and many more. See festival website.
Friday, October 12, 2018. HorseShoe Casino Tunica, 1021 Casino Center Drive, Robinsonville, Mississippi. Jus' Blues White Linen Party. The O'Jays. 800-303-7463.
Saturday, October 13, 2018. Chrysler Hall, 215 St. Paul's Blvd., Norfolk, Virginia. Legends & Heavy Hitters of Southern Soul. Roy C, Big G, T.K. Soul, Lacee, Betty Wright, Lenny Williams. Doors open 7 pm. 757-664-6464.
Friday, October 26, 2018. Trotter Center, 402 2nd Avenue North, Columbus, Mississippi. T.K. Soul. 662-328-4164.
Friday, November 2, 2018. Carolina Theater, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro, North Carolina. T.K. Soul. 336-333-2605.
8 pm, Saturday, November 3, 2018. Brownville Community Resource Center, 3200 West DeSoto St., Pensacola, Florida. Latimore, Lomax, Big Yayo, Kenne' Wayne, Walter Waiters, Magic One. Hosts: WDLT's Nikki DeMarks & Beverly McDowell.
8 pm, Saturday, November 3, 2018. Durham Armory, 220 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina. Legends & Heavy Hitters of Southern Soul Tour. Shirley Brown, Peggy Scott-Adams, T.K. Soul, Roy C, Black Diamond. Doors open 7 pm. 800-419-1270.
10:30 pm, Friday, November 16 & Saturday, November 17, 2018. Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted St., Chicago, Illinois. Nellie "Tiger" Travis. 773-477-4647.
Saturday, November 24, 2018. Brown Auditorium, Nash Community College, 522 N. Old Carriage Road, Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Willie Clayton & Friends: Annual Thanksgiving Southern Soul Concert. Willie Clayton, Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Bigg Robb, Black Diamond, Lebrado. Doors open 7 pm. 800-419-1170.
Friday, November 30, 2018. Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, 7096 East Fourteen Mile Road, Warren, Michigan. Millie Jackson, The Emotions, The Manhattans featuring Gerald Alston. 586-268-3200.
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ATTENTION: DADDY B. NICE'S CONCERT CALENDAR IS THE MOST PIRATED PAGE IN THE SOUTHERN SOUL MEDIA. THIS FEATURE REQUIRES PAINSTAKING WORK AND RESEARCH AND HOURS OF TIME TO COMPILE. DO NOT COPY THIS CONCERT CALENDAR WITHOUT READING THE FOLLOWING:
All material--written or visual--on this website is copyrighted and the exclusive property of SouthernSoulRnB.com, LLC. Any use or reproduction of the material outside the website is strictly forbidden, unless expressly authorized by SouthernSoulRnB.com.
--Daddy B. Nice
Overflow From Daddy B. Nice's BEST OF 2015 page...
2015: THE YEAR IN SOUTHERN SOUL
January began without holiday hangover, as up-and-coming producer Big Yayo debuted as a performer with a piece of "southern soul electronica" called "Cowgirl" featuring his protege, "I Got This Record's" J'Wonn, the ultimate balladeer, singing an uptempo chorus on his first-ever club jam.
February ushered in a Valentine's Day weekend to be remembered with southern soul concerts across a broad spectrum of the South, from Hooks, Texas (Avail Hollywood) to Memphis (Bertha Payne) to south Atlanta (Lomax) to Greenville, Ms. (J'Wonn) to Canton, Ms. (L.J. Echols, Terry Wright, J-Wonn, Krishunda Echols, Bigg Robb, Napoleon) to Vicksburg (Shirley Brown, Carl Sims, Jaye Hammer, Wilson Meadows, Pat Brown, Adrena) to Corpus Christi (Mel Waiters) to Decatur, Ga. and Talladega, Alabama (T.J. Hooker Taylor) to Tuscaloosa (Tre' Williams, Jeff Floyd) to Panama City, Florida (Ms. Jody) to Germantown, Tenn. (Mavis Staples) to Montgomery (Bigg Robb, O.B. Buchana, Tucka, Lebrado, Lomax, Toia Jones) to Farmerville, La. (Avail Hollywood) to Mobile (L.J. Echols, Andre' Lee, James Payne, Geno Wesley) to Dallas and the annual Blues Is Alright Tour (T.K. Soul, Theodis Ealey, Mel Waiters, Clarence Carter, Latimore, Millie Jackson) to Shiner, Texas (Rue Davis) to Texarkana (Omar Cunningham, Wendell B) to Indianola, Ms., B.B. King's hometown (Chris Ivy, Lil' Jimmie) to Baytown, Texas (Kenne' Wayne, AP Heavy But Sweet) to East Tyler, Texas (R. Kelly, Avail Hollywood) and back to Memphis (Jarekus Singleton), setting the bar for a record-breaking year in Southern Soul clubs.
Mindful of the concert bonanza, Daddy B. Nice urged fans in March to get out of the airport hubs (Memphis, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans) and "walk on the wild side," visiting the "holes-in-the-walls" in the verdant countryside where the true contemporary blues reigns supreme. In Jackson, premier nineties' vocalist Robert "The Duke" Tillman (Ace, Ichiban) re-emerged, as did storied DJ Outlaw at WMPR, while young Jackson guitar-blues stars Jarekus Singleton, Grady Champion and Mr. Sipp parlayed their mass audience-friendly blues far beyond the Delta.
April saw the breakthrough collection THE LOUISIANA BLUES BROTHERS, explode in the southern soul demographic via its suddenly iconic single,
"My Sidepiece," featuring the powerful-piped, Reggie P.-like vocalist Pokey (or Big Pokey Bear), whose electric stage show featured the singer thrusting and gyrating with a passion not seen since Bobby Rush's twerking dancers.
The song's message that it was okay to have a "woman on the side" because it's in the "genes" alternately fascinated and disgusted listeners, and not always along gender lines, and the "sidepiece" theme became a motif in countless new southern soul songs. Meanwhile, Pokey et. al.'s new album, BEAT FLIPPA I GOT THE BLUES VOL. 1., released in February, shot up the charts, bringing a rock-and-roll-like energy, immediacy and accessibility to the southern soul scene that thrust its brilliant producer (Beat Flippa) and roster of talented artists (Pokey, Tyree Neal, Adrian Bagher, Vince Hutchinson, Mz. Pat, Veronica Ra'elle, Rosalyn Candy, etc.) into a level of popularity even southern soul's veteran artists had to envy.
Also in April, the great sixties' artist Percy Sledge, who recorded one of the most powerful southern soul songs of the last fifty years, "When A Man Loves A Woman," passed away with scant fanfare.
May was the worst month, the cruelest month... ....Mother's Day and Memorial Day weekends witnessed another slew of record-breaking fan-friendly southern soul concerts, but the nation and entire world mourned the passing of B.B. King, whose ties to Indianola and Jackson, Mississippi were real and renewed each summer, when B.B. always returned for the Medgar Evers Homecoming Celebration and played for his original chitlin' circuit fans in the Delta.
But for contemporary southern soul fans it was the passing of song-master Mel Waiters that really hurt. Unknown outside of blues circles (unlike the world-famous B.B. King), Waiters was an irreplaceable part of the southern soul pantheon of recording artists, having largely kicked off the contemporary scene with his "Hole In The Wall," fashioned in the late nineties in the tradition of Mel's inspirations, Z.Z. Hill and Buddy Ace. For many fans, Waiters was the number-one performer in the South, and Mel never shied away from the kudos. YouTube videos document his exciting "contests" with Sir Charles Jones, which did so much to enliven the concert scene.
June marked the appearance of a rapping preacher named Bishop Bullwinkle, whose "Hell Naw To The Naw Naw" continued a trend of unknown artists (like J'Wonn, Tucka, Pokey) eclipsing southern soul's veteran artists in notoriety-slash-popularity in one fell swoop (be it a single or album). Whereas J'Wonn had stunned the southern soul community a couple of years earlier with his straight-forward youth and sensitivity, the nearly seventy-something Bishop Bullwinkle simultaneously astonished and dumbfounded fans with his fearless, back-woods vision of the world compressed into a six-minute, no-holds-barred sermon castigating hypocrisy in the church and gangsterism in the hood.
While J'Wonn had seemingly thrust the entire world off his back with the momentous words, "I Got This Record," the grizzled Bullwinkle did the same with his proclamation, "My name is Bishop Bullwinkle / From the church of nothing but the truth..." ....In less than a month his YouTube video (there was no published record) had a million views--unheard-of for a southern soul song--and by the end of the year it was approaching ten million. Clearly, Bullwinkle's "Hell To The Naw Naw" had cut through layers of padding and pretension to strike a deeply-felt, common nerve with fans.
In August Tucka and T.K. Soul sold out the 3,000-seat Houston Arena Theatre, notching a new high in audience numbers for a pair of southern soul acts.
Jackson's own James "Hot Dog" Lewis, keyboardist, performer and producer, passed away in October.
Late summer sizzled with gigs--July 4th, Labor Day--the fans' thirst for the music couldn't be slaked--culminating in the biggest concert-venue weekend ever Thanksgiving.
From Thibodeaux, Louisiana (Cupid, Lebrado, Pokey) to Montgomery, Alabama (T.K. Soul) to Canton-Jackson, Ms. (J'Wonn, Big Yayo) to Opelika, Alabama (T.K. Soul) to Hattiesburg, Ms. (J'Wonn, Big Yayo) to Tchula, Ms. (Tre' Williams) to Grenada, Ms. (J'Wonn) to DC area Pomonkey, Md. (Jeff Floyd, J. Red, Hardway Connection) to Birmingham, Alabama (Calvin Richardson, Nellie "Tiger" Travis) and back to Hattiesburg (T.K. Soul) and way out to San Diego (Cupid) and back to Vicksburg (Bishop Bullwinkle, Terry Wright, Bigg Robb, Lacee, Stevie J) to New Orleans (T.K. Soul) to El Dorado, Arkansas (T.K. Soul, Ghetto Cowboy, Summer Wolfe) to Charlotte, North Carolina (Lenny Williams, Ann Nesby) and Wilson, North Carolina (Jeff Floyd, Wilson Meadows, Hardway Connection) down to Tampa, Florida (Clarence Carter, Bishop Bullwinkle, Betty Wright, Shirley Murdoch) and Sebring, Florida (Bobby Rush, Theodis Ealey) and way up to Gary, Indiana (Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Willie Clayton, Latimore, Otis Clay) and back to the Delta in Tchula, Mississippi (Big Yayo, J'Wonn) and Pickens, Ms. (The Love Doctor, Terry Wright, Sorrento Ussery, Pat Brown, Nathaniel Kimble, Doctor Dee, Lady Di) to Meridian, Ms. (Big Robb, Vick Allen, Lacee, JR Blu) and thence back north to St. Louis (Bobby Rush, David Dee) and Chicago (Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Willie Clayton, Otis Clay, Latimore) and back home to Jackson (Andre' Lee, T-Baby) and the re-opened Evers Blues Lounge on Pecan Park Circle next to WMPR (Roy C., LGB, Doctor Dee, Dennis Fountain).... From all of these venues, enthusiastic fans supplemented their turkey with southern soul music.
2016 marked Southern Soul's most serious forays into the mainstream yet, and Bishop Bullwinkle was southern soul's "Donald Trump," refreshingly candid, wildly off-the-wall. At year's end, Bigg Robb took down Bullwinkle's video for copyright infringement. Turns out the Bishop had used the instrumental track from Robb's "Looking For A Country Girl" for the backing track to "Naw Naw," but Bishop Bullwinkle was uncontrite, telling Daddy B. Nice in a profanity-laced interview that he "dared" Robb to take him to court. As one industry insider noted, it didn't matter that the song hadn't been published (as a record); its online streaming revenues alone amounted to the same thing. And so it went in the raucous, wild-west-like cradle of the musical universe--the Deep South--where the music is as primeval and super-sized as the SEC. (And still unknown nationally...Go figure!) And as Jaye Hammer (one of 2015's finest vocalists) says in his juking new ode to the Delta, "I Ain't Leaving Mississippi." ....
"You know, someone came up to me the other day and said, 'Hammer! They told me you had moved to Chicago."
I said, "What? Man! People are always spreading rumors. But let me say this. I ain't leaving Mississippi. Mississippi is my home. If you think I'm gonna leave Mississippi, you might as well leave me alone."
--Daddy B. Nice
From Daddy B. Nice's BEST OF 2014 page...
2014: THE YEAR IN SOUTHERN SOUL
The year did not begin auspiciously. Floyd Taylor, son of the late great Johnnie Taylor and a contemporary southern soul headliner in his own right, passed away on February 21st, causing his stepbrother TJ to remark, "He died pretty much the way my dad died: a heart attack (at too young an age)." A masterful and discerning vocal interpreter, Taylor's career was notable for spanning southern soul's two generations of songwriters, from the best of Charles Richard Cason and Lawrence Harper (of his father's generation) to Simeo Overall of the new.
A few days later Eddie Holloway, a lesser-known but seminal figure renowned for contemporary southern soul classics like "I Had A Good Time," "Poor Boy" and "My Mind's Too Strong," passed away in obscurity, without fanfare.
A young recording artist (Jeter Jones) trying to break into the southern soul market released an album whose instrumental tracks Daddy B. Nice--in a CD review--recognized as identical to certain Bobby Jones and Chuck Roberson songs of the recent past, setting off a firestorm of litigation between Desert Sounds CEO Charles Peterson and his former producer, Eric "Smidi" Smith.
Daddy B. Nice himself underwent a lung cancer scare and finally had surgery in May, returning successfully after two bouts in the hospital to discover that "Funky" Larry Jones, owner of the Soul & Blues Report, a monthly compendium and summary of southern soul deejay playlists and a vital niche in the southern soul internet community, had died. Other websites (Boogie, Blues Critic) made attempts to provide the same function, but at year's end the loss was still felt and seemed irrevocable.
That, along with the June death of Don Davis (the producing genius behind Johnnie Taylor) and the early-September passing of Joe Poonanny, the Weird Al Yankovich of the chitlin' circuit and the last of a dying breed of blues parodists, was the bad news.
The good news was that, stimulated by an invitation to Kim Cole's Celebrity Birthday Bash in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in July, your Daddy B. Nice rebounded to attend (and chronicle) three multi-act southern soul concerts in thirty hours, including getting out on the dance floor.
There was cause. Southern Soul stars were appearing everywhere across the Deep South, from Texas to the Carolinas. A month later, Southern Soul Labor Day concerts and associated sales would surpass a million, and the concerts continued to proliferate, populating weekends throughout the calendar that would have been few and far between ten years ago.
But what really uncorked the euphoria in 2014 was the return to recording of southern soul's younger-generation leading lights, Sir Charles Jones and T.K. Soul. After long absences (especially in Sir Charles' case), both performers produced sets of significant material with fresh yet authentic sounds, in T.K.'s case stripped-down, acoustic-dominated arrangements.
The two CD's, combined with the much-anticipated debut by J'Wonn (I GOT THIS RECORD) and the latest drop from O.B. Buchana, made it a banner year for male vocalists.
Women, not so much. For the second year in a row Denise LaSalle and Shirley Brown were sorely missed. Both appeared only rarely, and neither released new product. Ms. Jody and Nellie "Tiger" Travis were relatively quiet after big years in 2013. Sweet Angel reposed and, as expected, Peggy Scott-Adams (whose early partner, JoJo Benson, died just before Christmas) failed to follow up on her 2012 return to southern soul. Candi Staton and Uvee Hayes returned with new CD's, however.
Some of the major male stars--known for productivity--were also MIA in 2014. Mel Waiters, Theodis Ealey, Latimore and Bobby Rush produced little new studio work, and in pursuit of an elusive Grammy that even the late Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis never won, Willie Clayton's new album disconcerted some longtime fans with its slide into atmospheric, Isley-style soul.
Young Grady Champion was the year's sensation (following fellow Jacksonian J'Wonn in 2013). Champion drew a cover story in "Living Blues" magazine after signing with Malaco Records for his new album BOOTLEG WHISKEY. Rare for a Delta artist, Champion drew national interest and crossover appeal.
Waiting in the wings, and getting no respect, was Chicago phenomenon Theo Huff, whose "It's A Good Thing I Met You" drew high praise (#5 for the year) from Daddy B. Nice for its approximation of--you guessed it--vintage Willie Clayton.
Lil' Jimmie's dance jam "She Was Twerkin'" was the underground sensation of the year, the subject of constant fan queries on where to buy--the answer was always, "Nowhere." Which reminded your Daddy B. Nice of an old Lil' Jimmie song called "I'm Not Going Nowhere," a song so full of double-negatives you're not sure what he means.
A young artist named Wood redid Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "Mr. Sexy Man" with a lounge-band sound ("Foxy Lady"), drawing copyright ire.
Tyree Neal, Pokey and Adrian Bagher formed a group called The Louisiana Blues Brothers.
Memphis-based Anita Love (Humphrey), former back-up singer for Sweet Angel, had an out-of-left-field smash with "Keep Knockin'", while Memphis-based songwriter John Cummings continued his transformation into a first-rate recording artist.
Vick Allen was in a stage play in Jackson, Mississippi, while singles ("Crazy Over You," "True To Me") continued to spit out of his going-on-three-year-old SOUL MUSIC album like candy from a child's Christmas wind-up toy.
Steve Perry of "Booty Roll" fame thought better of his name change to Prince Mekl and became good old Steve Perry again.
WAGR in Lexington, Mississippi and its colorful deejay, Big Money, became the exciting new southern soul station to stream on the Internet.
And last but not least, storied DJ Ragman returned in December to WMPR in Jackson, Mississippi--also on the Web--doling out southern soul music in the afternoons with his trademark, champagne-fizz optimism.
By the end of the year, life in Southern Soul was good.
--Daddy B. Nice