By Brent James
Nestled inconspicuously on 12th Street in West Oakland in a neighborhood known as Prescott (or the “Lower Bottoms” to the longtime residents of the area) is a quaint little building that you will probably miss if you blink. A structure of brick and hardwood and matted red carpets that haven’t been touched since the 1960s, the building standing at 1658 12th Street is the Continental Club – a once a mighty Jazz and Blues supper joint that helped Oakland and the East Bay Area garner the reputation of being the “Motown of the West.” Along with Slim Jenkins’ Supper Club, Esther’s Orbit Room, and dozens of other nightclubs that sprawled along 7th Street, the stages in these rooms once hosted the likes of Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Etta James, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Ike and Tina Turner, and even Jimi Hendrix. The list goes on and the stories are endless if you’re lucky enough to get some face time with the “old timers” of the area. In this neighborhood, people still say “good morning” and spend many a Summer night on their porches, so that’s pretty easy to do.
By Brent James
Hey you! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Like it’s next week. We’ll leave the chocolates and stuff to you, but we’ve got your music covered. Pick up any of these releases to help you seal the deal. Or to just enjoy quietly on your own with some white wine. That sounds great, actually.
This compilation CD was just released and features some of Turner’s best songs, focusing on her comeback from 1983’s Private Dancer and on. Songs include a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “The Best” and more.
I mean, c’mon, duh. You can’t go wrong with any Sade album, but this readily available collection has all the hits, including later period songs like “Soldier of Love.”
Etta James "I'd Rather Go Blind" (live 1992)
As part of the ongoing Amoeblog series honoring Women's History Month (Which ends today, March 31st), this blog is the second part of the two celebrating women blues artists. The first, earlier this week, focused on women from the classic blues era (circa 1920s), while this one takes a look/listen at women blues artists spanning the decades since.
Koko Taylor "Blues Never Die" (1975)
Big Mama Thornton "Bumble Bee Blues" (with Muddy Waters Band, 1966)
"When you in trouble blues is a girl's best friend" sings Koko Taylor on her 1975 recording of "Blues Never Die" (audio above). Taylor, like many of the longtime blues women here (including Big Mama Thornton, whose track "Bumble Bee Blues" with Muddy Waters Band is also above) have also been categorized over the years as rhythm and blues, rock & roll, and jazz. The late great Etta James, who we lost just two months ago, is an example of a blues artist who was also classified as jazz, rhythm & blues, rock n roll, and gospel too. A 1992 concert version of her singing "I'd Rather Go Blind" - written by Ellington Jordan and co-credited to Billy Foster but first recorded by Etta James in 1968 - appears above. As we know, the moving song has in the years since become a standard for countless artists to cover.
Among the "good" of this year's Black History Month was Robert Glasper's excellent
Black Radio album on Blue Note released Feb 28th, 2012
Maybe it's because this is a leap year that Black History Month 2012, which ended two days ago, seemed a little out of whack. Or maybe it was because it was a Black History Month that started on a really bad note when, on the morning of Feb 1st, the tragic news that Don Cornelius of Soul Train fame had taken his own life was the first thing we were to read about. That was bad enough but this tragic news came hot on the heels of the world losing a string of other black music/cultural icons, including in just the preceding two weeks both Etta James and JImmy Castor. And then, of course, ten days later, on the eve of the Grammys, the whole world was taken aback with the shocking news that Whitney Houston had died at age 48. Not exactly a great time to joyously celebrate black history!