Daddy B. Nice’s Corner July 2019 – news and opinion on Southern Soul RnB music and artists
July 21, 2019
On The Birthplace Of Southern Soul:
Jackson, Shreveport Or Memphis?
Old friend and media mate Jerry “Boogie” Mason recently reported on the efforts of at least two cities who are vying for the title of “the birthplace of southern soul”. The cities are Jackson, Mississippi and Shreveport, Louisiana, with Memphis, Tennessee also in the discussion.
First of all, why is this such a big thing? Well, twenty years ago, when the old stars like Johnnie Taylor were dying off and the new stars like Sir Charles Jones and T.K. Soul were fighting an uphill battle to market their music, nobody much cared for the term “southern soul”. The old stars from my generation–Taylor, Tyrone Davis, Peggy Scott-Adams, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton, Bobby Rush, Lee “Shot” Williams, Bill Coday, Cicero Blake, Ronnie Lovejoy and the like–had suffered so much neglect, abuse and marginalization under so many genre designations that they were wary of being pigeon-holed. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that in their minds southern soul was likely dead. Moreover, the “southern soul” tag was regarded in the music industry as variously outmoded, restrictive (the “southern”) and amateurish or dilettantish.
And although the ties between artists and audiences were genuine and celebratory, from a career (financial) standpoint, the southern soul–or chitlin’ circuit–way amounted to a “road of many tears”. By today’s standards, concerts were woefully few and far-between, and hardly anyone outside of B.B. King(made famous by blues-loving British rockers) was making enough money to quit a day job. But no matter how much resistance the old stars had to calling their music “southern soul” on record, I noticed in casual conversation they always reverted to “southern soul” when they needed to describe the music, be it their own or the music in aggregate coming out of the Delta.
Into this fragile and transitional time period (roughly late-nineties to 2005) came a few harbingers of change in the media’s take on southern soul, and it all had to do with the burgeoning internet. Daddy B. Nice, Boogie, Blues Critic, and Funky Larry Jones jumped into the fray with media platforms. Others, like Chitlin’ Circuit, American Blues Network and Southern Soul Network, failed after a time, and it was interesting to hear in Boogie’s report that the Chitlin’ Circuit’s “CC Sweet” (Cassandra Peagler), absent from the scene for well over a decade, has rejoined the southern soul media as a member of Boogie’s staff.
Nor were all of these media promoters crazy about the term “southern soul”–excepting your Daddy B. Nice, who joined with Sir Charles Jones, who defiantly proclaimed himself the “King Of Southern Soul”–and in the process single-handedly legitimized the term–after Malaco Records had rejected him, and also Uncle Bobo of Jackson’s WMPR radio station, who regaled his listeners in the wee hours of the
morning on the ecstasies of southern soul music, much of which (like The Love Doctor’s “Slow Roll It” written by Charles Jones) he was producing under his given name of Senator Jones for his label Hep’ Me Records. He loved to say the words “southern soul” and he’d repeat them as if you were the only person in the world listening to him. And at that hour of the morning, you might have been.
But the efforts of the four main website promoters of southern soul music–Daddy B. Nice, Blues Critic, Boogie and (the late) Funky Larry Jones–were vital to the survival of southern soul in the first decade of the century and its growth since then–so much so you might call the southern soul sites a fourth “city,” making the Internet itself “the birthplace of contemporary southern soul.” Before that, the artists–even what we now think of as the classic artists–had no national or international presence.
The reason that cities like Jackson and Shreveport vying to be “the birthplace of southern soul” is such a watershed moment is that no one could have predicted southern soul music would even be “alive” in 2019, much less being fought over for bragging rights. I have long held that Jackson, Mississippi is the hub of southern soul music. It was where I experienced my “conversion,” much like St. Paul being blinded and thrown from his horse on the way to Damascus. Jackson was the hometown of southern soul’s flagship label, Malaco Records, and the home of the most influential (and the only “daily” radio) outlet playing southern soul, WMPR under the tutelage of Charles Evers, the ramrod-straight brother of martyred civil rights legend Medgar Evers. Jackson and its surrounding Delta counties were the hotbed for the artists and the venues, and although southern soul artists recorded from all over the country–from L.A. to Chicago to Florida–they almost all had ties (and frequent trips) back to Jackson. Jackson, Mississippi is where I have spent 80% of my time in the South over the years, and if you wanted to research southern soul music and artists, you’d want to get a hotel room in Jackson and plan on making a lot of day trips into the surrounding countryside.
It wasn’t until the last decade and the emergence of Pokey Bear and Tucka (and producers Beat Flippa and Highway Heavy) that Louisiana rose again as a southern soul power, although Senator Jones had had Louisiana ties (Mardi Gras Records), as well as seminal singer Jackie Neal of Louisiana’s Neal family, as well as early and influential producer Jimmy Lewis (Butch Records), who wrote for and produced Peggy Scott-Adams. T.K. Soul, too, was a Louisianan.
And while Jackson will always be first and foremost in my mind as the heart of southern soul, Shreveport, Louisiana has a genuine claim to being the “birthplace”. Here is why. Stan and Lenny Lewis of Paula Records and later Suzie Q Records of Shreveport lit the spark that started
the contemporary southern soul conflagration with the initial releases by David Brinston (“Party Till The Lights Go Out”), O.B. Buchana (“Let’s Get Drunk”) and Maurice Wynn (“What She Don’t Know Won’t Hurt Her”). (Carl Sims had launched his “Seventeen Days Of Loving” on the Paula label just a few years earlier.) In a recent CD review of Shreveport-based P2K Dadiddy’s “Welcome To Da Boom Boom Room,” I called Shreveport, Louisiana “the last place in America you’d want to live, but the first place in America you’d want to go into a dive, punch a jukebox and listen to popular music.” Most of the Shreveport stable of artists soon moved on to Memphis and Ecko Records under the direction of John Ward, but those early records on Suzie Q–now rare, obscure and legendary–were the bridge that took us media types from the lavish, nineties-era, live-instrument, southern soul recordings of Malaco to the twentieth-century southern soul of today. When Malaco/Waldoxy closed down its southern soul program with the dire prediction that southern soul was dead, it was the efforts of all the people mentioned above and the young artists who believed in the genre that soldiered on in spite of Malaco’s closed doors.
So Shreveport was critical to contemporary southern soul, just as critical as Birmingham, Alabama’s Charles Jones and Jackson, Mississippi’s Senator Jones. Memphis, on the other hand, has never had the southern soul presence to compete with Jackson, Mississippi, in spite of the longstanding contributions of its hometown label Ecko. Tourists to Memphis looking for “blues” are to this day directed to Beale Street for the “clean blues,” the “petrified blues,” not the “living blues” (i.e. southern soul) or the clubs that cater to southern soul (which are few and far
between). Too rough, too raucous, the Memphis luminaries have determined. So Memphis has turned its back on southern soul in the same way Malaco Records, which values Grady Champion over Sir Charles Jones, has. (Sir Charles got the last laugh, he’s a rich man.) Like an endless hangover, Memphis has never recovered from the glory days of Stax Records, when the local music industry was rolling in cash. What is left is the residue of mid-twentieth century blues and the great Stax catalog, with all the living blues–the southern soul–relegated to the back alleys and surrounding countryside (the Delta to the south).
The greater message here is not that one or another city is the true “birthplace” of southern soul. It’s that southern soul has survived and prospered. It is a THING. And all of us who have loved it and promoted it can take great satisfaction that we have turned out to be on the winning side. They (the non-believers) haven’t a clue to what a good time we’re having, and frankly, your Daddy B. Nice doesn’t care any more. This music sustains me, keeps my juices flowing, makes me laugh and makes me dance–in sum, gives me reason to live. Each month, I have a dozen new southern soul singles I crave to listen to; of what other genre can you legitimately say that? Southern Soul is the cusp of the new rock and roll, full of energy and immediacy, humor and hormones.
The same music, as a matter of fact, I would be listening to long, long ago, in the black pitch of the night, delivering Sunday papers at 3 am in the morning with my dad on his farm-country paper route, pulling in stations as far away as–yes!–Shreveport Mississippi(!)–listening to The Marcels’ version of “Blue Moon” until Dad opened the car door and slapped my hand from the radio dial hard enough to get a bruise against the metal dash. Then he’d turn the dial back back to jazz, omni-present in those days. But those precious moments, when Dad took a turn getting out of the car and delivering a rolled-up paper through a dog-ridden yard to an S-clamp on a house with a spoon holding a quarter glistening in the moonlight, were like heaven to me. How could I have known then it was southern soul heaven?
–Daddy B. Nice.
See “Is Jackson or Shreveport the official birthplace of southern soul?”
See “Jackson City Council declares city the birthplace of Southern Soul music”.
See Daddy B. Nice’s Concert Calendar to experience the breadth and scope of today’s southern soul scene.
July 14, 2019:
Top Of The Charts
Readers of Daddy B. Nice’s Guide to Ronnie Lovejoy know that for the past year and a half I have relegated Johnnie Taylor to the #2 Southern Soul Artist so that I could right a perceived wrong and feature Lovejoy’s “Sho’ Wasn’t Me” as the #1 Song in Southern Soul. Which it is. But that experiment, I think, has run its course. It’s time to reinstate Taylor in the #1 spot of the Top 100 Southern Soul Artists chart where everyone intimate with southern soul knows he belongs. In doing so, “Soul Heaven” moves back into the #1 spot on the Top 100 Southern Soul Songs chart,
upending the more deserving “Sho’ Wasn’t Me,” which I shall continue to headline as the “#1 Song in Southern Soul” on the Ronnie Lovejoy page.
–Daddy B. Nice
See Johnnie Taylor Artist Guide
July 6, 2019
An expanded list of the songs vying for “Top Ten Singles” in July
TOP 10 “SPILLOVER” JULY 2019
Among new albums, Bigg Robb’s Muzic, Stan Mosley’s Resurrection and Fat Daddy’s Gone Love You Right albums are well-represented with at least three singles apiece. The bragging rights (with five singles) belong to Slack (producer Ronald “Slack” Jefferson) and his debut compilation, My Music, My Friends.
1. “I Did My Time”—Bigg Robb
2. “Why Me?”—Gentry-Jones
3. “Good Times”—Lomax
4. “You Can Ride It”—O.C. Soul & The Soul Patrol
5. “That Thang”—Volton Wright featuring Slack
6. “Superstar”—Vick Allen
7. “Funky Blues”—DJ Wildman Tim
8. “My Cake”—Mr. Campbell
9. “We Come To Party”—Jeter Jones
10. “Bottle After Bottle”—P2K DaDiddy
11. “3 Legs”—Annie Washington
12. “Strong Woman”—Fat Daddy
13. “I’m Rocking With The Thick Girls”—Lil’ Jimmie
14. “Hoe To A Husband”—Summer Wolfe
15. “Get It And Hit It”—Stan Mosley
16. “Country Party”—DJ Wildman Tim featuring Slack
17. “Let Me Put My Name On It”—Bigg Robb
18. “Wave To The Sky”—Super Soul Posse (Big Yayo, Krishunda Echols, Andre’ Lee, L.J. Echols, Adrena, Adrienne Daniel, D. Broom & Emerson Hill)
19. “Fantasy Man”—Hisyde
20. “Mama And Daddy”—Bigg Robb featuring Vick Allen
21. “Right Hand Know”—Fat Daddy featuring Lacee
22. “Southern Soul”—Sassy D. featuring Cold Drank
23. “We’re Gonna Have A Good Time”—Stan Mosley
24. “Hold My Trembling Hand”—Ghetto Cowboy
25. “A Woman Like You”—Darnell Da’ Bachelor
26. “Red Beans And Rice”—Teslanay
27. “You Walk Like It’s Good”—Jarvis Greene
28. “Drowning In A Sea Of Love”—Sir Charles Jones
29. “Party Rock”—Fat Daddy
30. “Baby Daddy”—Tyree Neal
31. “What We Do”—Cupid featuring Andrew Jackson
32. “Monkey Stick”—Royal D. featuring Jeter Jones
33. “Party”—Mr. David featuring Nelson Curry
34. “First Love”—Fat Daddy
35. “We Gotta Do Better”—Stan Mosley
36. “Dance Floor Remix”—Nelson Curry
37. “Two Lovers”—Miss Mini
38. “Is It Real?”—Bishop Bullwinkle
39. “Sex With My Ex”—T.J. Hooker Taylor
40. “Try Me”—Adrian Bagher
41. “Family Reunion”—Mose Stovall
42. “Alabama Boy”–Big “Ro” Williams
43. “My Milkshake”—J. Dallas
44. “No One Can Replace You”–Sargent Tucker
45. “After Hours”—Christopher LaMont
46. “Da Fire”—Dee Dee Simon
47. “Let’s Party”—Big G
48. “Mr. Rogers”—Darnell Da’ Bachelor
49. “For The Weekend”—Joe Nice featuring Nelson Curry & Mr. David
50. “In The Morning”—Corey Rudolph featuring Little Kim Stewart