Archives for category: Steve Cropper

Jack White Blunderbuss Tour – Nashville Teletalkin’ Style

Jack White has increased the size of his dominion behind the Homeless shelter near Cannery Row. The Third Man Records location has expanded to almost an entire city block just south of the new Convention Center.

Black and Yellow gumballs by the front door. photo – Brad Hardisty

The timing couldn’t be better since the tourist destination is just a short brisk walk from the modern rolling roof of the Convention Center that is set to open next year with a brand new gargantuan Omni Hotel attached.

Inside the Third Man Records Store, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Third Man Records catalog of releases is in an ever-increasing stream much like hot lava leaking out of an active volcano.

The original and current store front. photo – Brad Hardisty

Third Man has not only exposed Nashville Artists, such as Pujol and Jeff The Brotherhood to the rest of the world, but, spurred a renewed interest in Rockabilly Queen, Wanda Jackson and found some great regional acts, such as Birmingham, Alabama’s Dan Sartain and Japan’s classic garage rock all-girl band The 5678’s.

Remodel, used to be an alley way, leading to back door to enter the venue for special events. Now – modern take on Art Deco style entrance door. Note the handrails. photo – Brad Hardisty

Third Man Records has hosted many live events, just about all of which are recorded and released on vinyl.

Probably the most historic recording was Jerry Lee Lewis, which had so much demand that it turned into an outdoor festival with an all-star band featuring Memphis alumni, Steve Cropper on guitar. The Third Man Records release of the event being one of the label’s finest moments.

Looking onto the new addition. photo – Brad Hardisty

Other notable artists who have Third Man Records releases include Tom Jones, Beck, Flat Duo Jets and Insane Clown Posse.

Dumpster still in place while finishing the addition. photo – Brad Hardisty

It seems that Jack is really flexible on his taste and has been a real asset in developing Nashville into Music City.

Third Man Monkey Band by the front window. photo – Brad Hardisty

Most items that are available on the website are available at the Third Man Record Store. If you are local and have not stopped by, you have really missed something, especially, the monkey band playing unreleased cuts from Blunderbuss.

If you are truly “died-in-the-wool” modern country, you probably still have relatives that wouldn’t mind a unique Christmas gift such as a Third Man Records turntable slip mat or box of six Third Man Records designed Guitar Picks.

Looking south towards original store front. photo – Brad Hardisty

The Nashville Bridge congratulates Third Man Records on their expanded Nashville operations.

Store Hours are Mon-Sat 12-6 pm and Sun 1-4 pm. You can call Third Man Records at (615) 891-4393.

Third Man Records is located at 623 7th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee, 37203.

–    Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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photo – Brad Hardisty

Nashville’s Queen of the Blues, Marion James, who had a Top 10 hit in 1966 with “That’s My Man” on Excello Records whom also once had a young Jimi Hendrix in her band at Club Del Morocco, presided over the proceedings of the 30th Anniversary of The Jefferson Street Musicians Reunion & Benefit which celebrated the Rhythm and Blues era of 1950-1970 that was Nashville on Jefferson Street, 4th Avenue and even a part of the Printers Alley where the event took place last Sunday, Oct. 7th, starting at 2Pm at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar.

Marion James – Nashville’s Queen of the Blues, photo – Brad Hardisty

A great collectible program was available that had the lineup of bands as well as a comprehensive piece on the importance and history of the people and places that made up the great Rhythm & Blues era in Nashville.

There are mentions of Johnny Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Earl Gaines, Little Willie John, Gene Allison, and Christine Kittrell. The included story entitled; “Scuffling: The Lost History of Nashville Rhythm & Blues” was written by Daniel Cooper in 1996 and is one of the most comprehensive articles written about the scene that was played out at The Baron, Club Del Morocco, The New Era, The Club Revillot, Maceo’s (a great photo of Ray Charles playing at Maceo’s is featured in the program), Sugar Hill, Deborah’s Casino Royale, Ebony Circle, Pee Wee’s, even a beer joint called Behind The Green Door (Marion claims to have came up with the name of this joint).

Nashville had its own R&B imprints back in the day, Bullet, Tennessee Republic, Excello, Calvert, Cherokee as well as Athens, Sims, and Sound Stage 7.

The importance of Music City’s R&B, was just as huge as Memphis, although not as well known to the rest of the world. The music of Nashville was in thousands of southern state jukeboxes and being played on the mega powered Nashville pride WLAC back in the day.

Jimi Hendrix with The King Kasuals, Club Del Morocco, early 60’s

There are discussions right now to start a fund to erect a statue of Jimi Hendrix near where the Club Del Morocco once stood on Jefferson Street. While Seattle has every right to claim Jimi as their own, it was here along with best friend and brother in arms, Billy Cox, that Jimi spent his time honing his skills and developing his songwriting craft (building riffs with Billy that would show in later compositions) in probably the most demanding city then and now for a guitarist to prove his worth.

Jimi may have lost out a guitar dual to Nashville’s great and gracious Johnny Jones, but, performing in Nashville only strengthened his resolve and allowed Jimi the opportunity to tour with the powerhouse performers of the day like Little Richard & The Isley Brothers. Johnny later paid tribute to Jimi by releasing his own version of “Purple Haze” with Jimi’s former band, The King Casuals in 1969 on the Brunswick label for all you collectors out there.

John Richards, photo – Brad Hardisty

Starting at 2PM, the New Orleans feel of the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, began to heat up with local favorites John Richards, Miranda Louise and Delicious Blues Stew getting the party started.  The stage announcer, Peter Burger, plays saxophone with Stacy Mitchhart  and also got to play in Marion James during her “burn- the- house- down” set!

There was a great silent auction to benefit the Marion James Musicians Aid Society that helps to support the musicians that made the scene happen between 1950-1970; especially with medical costs. As you all know, being a musician means forgoing a lot of insurance benefits. It was a chance to give back to the community that gave us so much.

Classic Cropper by Michael Patrick Maness, photo – Brad Hardisty

I myself eyed a print of Steve Cropper signed by the artist Michael P. Maness, after a few bids, one very close to the cut off time, it is all mine! While there were several other great pieces of art of BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and an autographed Buddy Guy gig poster, it is rare to come across an art piece of Steve Cropper, my personal icon for what he has been able to achieve in his life, that so captured the essence, Hawaiian shirt, custom orange Fender Telecaster and all.  It will go on the wall next to my art print of another Memphis legend, Furry Lewis.

Those in attendance included Baton Rouge Bluesman Larry Garner, as well as current King of The blues in Nashville, Nick Nixon.  I had heard Steve Cropper was out of town, but, I did hope to see Billy Cox at the event with no such luck. I did catch him once hanging out with old friends at a Sunday night Blues Jam at Carol Ann’s, so; he is seen around town now and then. It would have been great to see Larry Carlton or Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys show up at one of these events, maybe, down the road apiece.

Tom Cat of Bad Moon Blues Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Bad Moon Blues Band featuring Tom “Tom Cat” Whisenhunt, who has won a pair of Blues Guitarist awards, did some Strat-o-castin’ which started turn the heat up in the joint.

Regi Wooten, photo – Brad Hardisty

As the afternoon settled early evening, it was Carissia and Company that set the bar featuring Regi Wooten on Guitar. Although his brother, Victor Wooten, may be more well known, it was Regi’s guitar style that inspired Victor to go for some of the things he is known for on the bass.

Carissia, photo – Brad Hardisty

Playing of “Taps” to honor those Nashville blues musicians who have passed on. photo – Brad Hardisty

Carissia and Marion James look on as candlelight procession starts, photo – Brad Hardisty

Before Marion James’ set, there was a candlelight procession honoring passed Jefferson street artists such as Earl Gaines and Jimi Hendrix, before making mention of those who have passed on recently such as Nashville’s Donna Summers and Bob Babbit. Finally, after a moment of silence, “Taps” was played by a lone trumpet.

Lola Brown (daughter of Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown, the first black female surgeon in the south) performed a stirring Gospel rendition of “I’m Goin’ Way Over Yonder” and Carissia took a turn on the classic Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready.”

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., photo – Brad Hardisty

When Marion James took center stage with “The Queen’s Band,” the tiny stage was covered with some of Nashville’s finest performers on everything from horns, guitar to Hammond B3. Marion had three backup singers, including Lola Brown. There were at least 10 musicians, including Samuel L Dismuke jr. Jr. on trombone, who Marion said she considered to be one of her sons onstage. There was no denying why Marion James is the current “Queen of the Blues.”

Everybody stopped for about 30-40 minutes. Nobody was eating their Cajun burgers or swallowing down a couple of fries. There was no talking or chitchatting or wandering around. Time stood still as Marion cut through like a hot knife in a stick of butter.

Marion James, “The Queen of the Blues”, photo – Brad Hardisty

It was an electrified performance that was not to be missed. Marion not only sang some of her classics, but, some of her new songs from the new release on Ellersoul Records, Northside Soul with the attack of Sister Rosetta Tharp in a street fight with James Brown. Marion won!

This was the main event, although, a great late night jam featuring the Andy T Band and Nick Nixon was still in the wings.  After several hours, the night built to a crescendo and I left with my Steve Cropper print rolled carefully.

photo – Brad Hardisty

It was the end to another successful year for The Jefferson Street Musicians Benefit sponsored by Jefferson Street Sound.

–   Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

News came fast and furious over the web of the passing of Donald “Duck” Dunn, a cornerstone of Memphis Soul and Blues.  Steve Cropper posted a message to his Facebook page, saying, “Today I lost my best friend; the World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live. Duck Dunn died in his sleep Sunday morning May 13 in Tokyo Japan after finishing 2 shows at the Blue Note Night Club.”

Al Jackson, Booker T. Jones, Duck Dunn, Steve Cropper

Dunn’s other surviving MG’s bandmate, keyboard player Booker T. Jones responded to his friend’s death on his official website, saying “I am struck deeply by Duck’s death… God is calling names in the music world. He gave us these treasures and now he is taking them back. Duck was too close to me for me to at this point realize the full implications of his passing… I can’t imagine not being able to hear Duck laugh and curse, but I’m thankful I got to spend time and make music with him. His intensity was incomparable. Everyone loved him. None more than Otis Redding.”

Another legendary bassist – Bootsy Collins – took to his Facebook page to post a message about Dunn: “Yesterday, We Lost Another Brick in our Musical Foundation. ‘Donald Duck Dunn’ has Joined that Musical Stax Soul Orchestra in the Sky. Send out prayers & love vibes to his Family & Friends.”

Dunn was born in the city that changed the world of music, Memphis, Tennessee on November 24th, 1941. His father nicknamed him “Duck” while watching Disney cartoons with him one day. Dunn grew up playing sports and riding his bike with fellow future professional musician Steve Cropper. After Cropper began playing guitar with mutual friend Charlie Freeman, Dunn decided to pick up the bass guitar. Eventually, along with drummer Terry Johnson, the four became “The Royal Spades”. The Messick High School group picked up keyboardist Jerry “Smoochy” Smith, singer Ronnie Angel (also known as Stoots), and a budding young horn section in baritone saxophone player Don Nix, tenor saxophone player Charles “Packy” Axton, and trumpeter (and future co-founder of The Memphis Horns) Wayne Jackson.

Duck would be a part of the second wave of the Memphis music explosion. The first being the triumvirate of cutting edge rock and roll, blues and country by the likes of Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Johnny Cash.

As the sixties began, Rhythm and Blues began a soulful turn as the first recognizable integrated group, Booker T. & The MG’s, not shy on group photos, started a stretch of hit soul instrumentals beginning with “Green Onions.” This was long before Sly & The Family Stone, with Steve Cropper’s songwriting chops and guitar playing locked in arms length with the tight-in-the-pocket bass playing of Donald “Duck” Dunn.

“I would have liked to have been on the road more, but the record company wanted us in the studio. Man, we were recording almost a hit a day for a while there,” Dunn said.

Dunn may be best known for his role in The Blues Brothers as the pipe smoking quiet bassist, but, in reality he was one of a handful of bassists to define popular music of the Sixties.

The Blues Brothers Band, Duck with pipe

Speaking about The Blues Brothers Band, “How could anybody not want to work with John and Dan? I was really kind of hesitant to do that show, but my wife talked me into it,” Dunn said in a 2007 interview with Vintage Guitar magazine, “and other than Booker’s band, that’s the most fun band I’ve ever been in.”

Cropper has noted how the self-taught Dunn started out playing along with records; filling in what he thought should be there. “That’s why Duck Dunn’s bass lines are very unique”, Cropper said, “They’re not locked into somebody’s schoolbook somewhere”. Axton’s mother Estelle and her brother Jim Stewart owned Satellite Records , where Steve Cropper worked in High School, and signed the band, who had a national hit with “Last Night” in 1961 under their new name “The Mar-Keys“.[3] The bassist on “Last Night” was Donald “Duck” Dunn, but he left the Mar-Keys in 1962 to join Ben Branch‘s big band.

From there it was with Booker T. & The MG’s, featuring Steve Cropper on guitar, a band that even once had Isaac Hayes fill in on Keyboards while Booker T. went to college. Dunn once said that he and Cropper were “like married people.” “I can look at him and know what he’ll order for dinner,” he said. “When we play music together we both know where we’re going.”

Probably one of the most noteworthy gigs was with Otis Redding. Steve Cropper wrote several songs for Redding on which Duck played. Otis Redding and Booker T. & The MG’s toured Europe and got a reception similar to what The Beatles got when they came here.

There were two acts at the famous Monterey Pop Festival that blew everybody else away and that was Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding, with Booker T. & The MG’s playing in Mohair Suits in contrast to Jimi’s flamboyant English rocker duds that he had taken on from swinging London. In fact, to the new hippie generation of the bay area, Otis and the band looked downright square, but, the minute Otis with Duck on a solid rhythm section kicked in, they mesmerized the crowd and were considered the best performance of the prototype early rock festival.

The twin performances were the first to be released as a live recording from that night as a back-to-back live album entitled Otis Redding / The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival released by Reprise Records on August 26, 1970. Otis Redding was at the pinnacle of his career at that time. He was booked as the closing act on the Saturday night of the festival, June 17, 1967. Otis came to the stage following a set by his backup band, Booker T. & the MG’s. However, Otis’ high charged performance ran into a time limit under the festival’s permit, resulting in his having time to perform only 5 short songs.  The performance came on the end of a successful European tour. Otis died less than 6 months later, but not before writing and recording his biggest song ever, “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay,” with Steve Cropper listed as co-writer.

As the bands’ career started to wind down, Duck became a go-to session man in the 70’s, especially after the demise of Stax Records.

Duck with Neil Young onstage in 1993

Dunn went on to play for Muddy Waters, Freddie King, and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart. He was the featured bass player for Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty‘s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” single from Nicks’ 1981 debut solo album Bella Donna, as well as other Petty tracks between 1976 and 1981. While not credited as playing on any Elvis Presley Memphis tracks, I have reliable sources that in fact, Duck, was called into “fix” the bass parts or rather replace what was recorded earlier on some of Elvis’ biggest Memphis tracks. Due to Duck’s contracts or business relationships at the time, it would not have been proper for Duck to be listed in the credits, such was the music business in Memphis in the Sixties and Seventies. He reunited with Cropper as a member of Levon Helm’s RCO All Stars and also displayed his quirky Southern humor making two movies with Cropper, former Stax drummer Willie Hall, and Dan Aykroyd, as a member of The Blues Brothers band.

Dunn played himself in the 1980 feature The Blues Brothers, where he famously uttered the line, “We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline!” He appeared in the 1998 sequel Blues Brothers 2000, once again playing himself. Dunn supported Neil Young live and in the studio and continued to play with Cropper and Jones, usually with the late Al Jackson, Jr.‘s cousin Steve Potts on drums, as Booker T. & the MGs.

While The Blues Brothers film took place in the north, the music was more than enough pure Stax and featured many of the songs that Duck originally played on.  In fact, John Belushi stayed at the home of Duck’s brother in Memphis while working out the music and script for The Blues Brothers movie. In a way, it would have been more accurate if the film had taken place in Memphis.

In 1992, Duck was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Member of Booker T. & The MG’s.

His legacy is carried on by the next generation that listens to Memphis soul and especially his original bass lines. U2 Bassist, Adam Clayton, as well as other current players have mentioned Duck as an inspiration.

For the last several years, Duck was still sought out for endorsement deals, musicians wanted Duck on sessions willing to pay whatever it would take, but, it was not about the money, it was whether or not he believed in the music enough to leave some quiet time with family and maybe some deep sea fishing with neighbor and friend, Brian Johnson of AC/DC.

Dunn received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2007.

He is survived by his wife, June; a son, Jeff; and a grandchild, Michael, said Michael Leahy, Dunn’s agent.

Robert Dunn, Duck’s brother, King Records Memphis Office Manager, Passed away four days after Duck.

Update: Duck’s brother, Robert “Bobby” Dunn, who was 2 years older died the Thursday after Duck’s Passing. There was a possibility of a double funeral, but, the family decided to keep things separate.

The brothers who were close, sharing the same bed until they were 12 years old, growing up in Memphis, were actually reunited in their passing as they were both at the same funeral home for a few days before arriving at their final resting place.

King Records Warehouse

Robert was an avid fan of Rythm and Blues and was responsible for introducing Duck as well as Steve Cropper to the music of The 5 Royales as well as other great music like Hank Ballard that lead to their interest and development in the Satellite, Volt and Stax Records scene starting with their first single as The Mar-Keys while still in their teens.

King Records / James Brown Production logos

Robert ran the King Records office in Memphis until 1968. This was in a time when there were still a lot of problems in the south. Robert would stay with the musicians in “colored” hotels during those times. On one occasion when he was with James Brown, the Hotel desk clerk was not going to  let Robert stay there because he was not “colored”. James Brown said that if he goes the whole band goes and he backed down and Robert stayed along with James Brown and the rest of the band as usual.

King Records Biography, James Brown on cover

James Brown was involved with King Records at the time, which released singles with a James Brown Production stamp on the opposite side of the King Records logo on the label. Robert had a big influence on what became the Stax sound inadvertently being the brother of Duck and having an influence on him and the younger Steve Cropper.

Beale Street Parade for Duck on Wednesday afternoon.Photo – Mike Brown, The Commercial Appeal

Robert’s funeral took place on Monday with most of the same family and friends that attended Duck’s funeral and Beale Street Parade on Wednesday.

They are survived by their older brother Charlie who spoke at both funerals. 

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com