Northern soul, deep funk, and fine living in Pittsburgh. You are what you dance to.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Soulcialism last Friday

Thanks to everyone who came out, danced the mashed potato, sucked down several barrels and a thousand cases of bev-er-age, and had what seemed to generally be regarded as a damned fine time Friday night at the Eagle. Special bigups to Mary and Willis and urraybody at the iggle. The dancefloor was packed - at one point, according to Johnno, the entire floor of the building was shaking - and very sweaty, and little pockets of extra-dance broke out in the adjunct room and the entrance hall room. Nice-up.

I was particularly excited to see some of the new thangs we had on offer go down a storm Friday: "Love Factory" by Eloise Laws in particular, but also the Skull Snaps ("My Hang Up Is You") which we haven't played for a year or two, Millie Jackson's "My Man, A Sweet Man", and, of course, the Soulcialism classic-to-be "Cashin' In" by Voices of East Harlem.

The big news now, of course, is that next Friday, Sept. 9, sees the return of Des and Paul from the U.K. These guys are both Northern Soul collectors going back to the Wigan Casino days (Paul was at the Casino's FIRST EVER all-niter), and are stopping by Pittsburgh on their cross-country trip just to come and play records and hang out at Soulcialism. Let's show 'em a good time, eh?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

With Antoinette K-Doe at the Mother-in-Law Lounge, New Orleans - Burn, K-Doe, BURN!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Burn, K-Doe, Burn!!

Final post of my morning catch-up.

Just back from New Orleans, where much beauty was beheld in the form of crawfish etouffe, red beans and rice, Sazerac, Vieux Carre and Ramos Gin Fizz cocktails (big thanks to Marvin Allen at the Carousel bar for being one of the world's greatest bartenders and mixologists), Abita beer, and, of course, soul, R&B and jazz music.

Three places stand out in my mind as Soulcialist highlights: Donna's bar and grill with the world-famous Treme Brass Band, who proved that anarchistic brass-band music is amongst the world's most excitingly soulful, even (especially?) when played by musicians who seem to have no more than a passing-through knowledge of the real, physical world. These guys didn't seem like they knew there were instruments, nonetheless a club and an audience. Yet the full-frontal cacophonous chaos they produced ended up being spot-on perfect for the vieux carre - taunting, laughing, 75% overjoyed and 25% death-march music.

Secondly, Jim Russell's Records in the Lower Garden District. Again, chaos: Like the best record stores, there seemed to be absolutely no rhyme nor reason to the organization. But, while that unknown copy of "Do I Love You" or Frankie Beverly never reared its head, I picked up some lovely if less-rare stormers to keep the masses happy at the White Eagle on Friday night. Most importantly, Jim's daughter-in-law Denise ranks up there with the Jerry's crew in terms of friendly-and-helpful - a rare commodity in the record game. (PS - Jim's a Pittsburgher by birth and rearin'. Rawk on, yinz.)

Third, and most importantly, Ernie K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge. Certainly the greatest bar I've ever walked into - a shrine to the late great self-declared "Emperor of the Universe", Ernie K-Doe, singer of hits such as "Mother in Law" and "A Certain Girl", noted eccentric, and creator, from beyond the grave, of some damn fine hot sauce as it turns out. The lovely and gracious Antoinette K-Doe, Ernie's widow, greeted us at the door and stayed with us all night, bowling me over with tales about her pals - you know, like Jerry and Billy Butler, James Brown, Jessie Hill, Robert Parker, etc. Even Antoinette refers to her place as "impossible to describe", so I'd best wait 'til it's all sunk in a bit more. Suffice to say: GO.

Never Souled Out - Weekends pile up

It's never too late to rehash old good times - and this one was just two weeks back.

First off, Aug. 13 was Never Souled Out (see mass of photos below) at the Shadow Lounge. A great time, and a watershed moment, we may later agree, in Pittsburgh's northern soul thang. Eight deejays in two rooms playing six hours of soul music only SEEMS like a good idea until you mix in 150-200 people and a pair of beer barrels through the night, filling the Lounge with dance moves (good and lousy - both count!) and fine, fine sounds.

After a bottle of champagne and a long-ass night, it seemed that DJ's idea of keeping setlists of what we each played wasn't as logistically impossible as it had at 7:30pm - in other words, I've got no information on the lovely sounds Grover brought in from Western Ohio, or the newies that DJ or Johnno played. Hell, I'm not sure what new things I spun meself, though I believe a funk set from Daptone Records, "Cashin' In" by Voices of East Harlem, and "Wake Up to the Sunshine" by Joey DeLorenzo all went down a storm.

Secondly, Aug. 14, Solomon Burke out at Hartwood Acres. I mostly agree with Ed Masley HERE that Burke's voice is in fantastic form, and that his band is absolutely top-notch - from organist Rudy Copeland's chaotic Hammond-and-Leslie stabs to the bari sax player's hot-in-the-face-of-tech-difficulties jump onto harmonica. But Burke played to the crowd TOO much, skipping a lot of his own hits and recent-album beauties in favor of a long medley-ish performance of blah blah blah soul hits like "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and "Georgia on my Mind". But Solomon Burke's nothing if not a salesman, and the audience was in a buying mood, with hundreds of ex-hippie lasses doing the white-liberal-guilt in the caged-off stagefront box. I don't blame him.

When he did shine brightest, like on "If You Need Me", it was magical, his voice shooting from tender weep to valley-filling full-throated melodic shout, 0-60 in one glissando. Hope we get him back someday soon.

Never Souled Out at the Shadow Lounge - my fave is the dude with the suit and the brown paper bag. This town's all class. (Photo, you guessed it, courtesy DJ Riel)

Never Souled Out at the Shadow Lounge - DJ makes the damn thang work! (Photo, somehow, courtesy DJ Riel)

Never Souled Out at the Shadow Lounge - before that last glass (read: cup) of Champagne, I knew how this thing worked... "The Right Track" by Billy Butler in cue. (Photo courtesy DJ Riel)

Never Souled Out at the Shadow Lounge - Austin is, I dare say, Mashed Potato-ing. Perfect.(Photo courtesy DJ Riel)

Never Souled Out at the Shadow Lounge - Sean does the Monkey Time

Friday, August 12, 2005

Little Milton

Little Milton succumbed to the inevitable last week - read the Guardian's obit HERE. I do hope that someone (ah-hem, Johnno?) will have the prescience to haul Soulcialism/White Eagle favorite "Grits Ain't Groceries" along to Never Souled Out tomorrow. Then again, if we start doing the obit-record thing, we gotta play the Chi-Lites and Four Tops and ... well, it'd end up being a seven-rooms-of-gloom of a night.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hittsburgh ain't Never Souled Out

Ton of stuff going on in Hittsburgh - I'll be as brief as possible.

Big news, obviously, is Never Souled Out this Saturday night - nearly double-digit DJs spinning Northern Soul, Deep Funk, Motown, and other yummy goodness (including, of course, your Soulcialism pals). There's a piece in the City Paper HERE, and a blurb in the P-G HERE, if you're looking for some kind of media validation.

Sunday night is the large-and-in-charge Solomon Burke at Hartwood Acres. I saw Burke a few times in 2002 and believe-thou-I, it is amongst the only shows my slow-and-old ass would still rate as 'not-to-be-missed'. Check out Ed Masley's interview with the King HERE, or my li'l preview HERE, or, of course, the man's website HERE.

And for a great read, check out Tube City Almanac's piece - Long Backup on the (Cameo) Parkway Finally Ends - HERE. A nice rundown on the Cameo/Parkway label catalog's sordid past, done by good people over in the rare-vinyl capitol of earth, McKeesport!

Soulcialist Party Workers

Welcome to the SWP HQ blog.

Inspired by a combination of my twin inabilities (can't create a website OR shut up), I've decided, as SPW Minister of Propaganda, to open up this blog as a space to discuss northern soul, funk, rare groove, and any other kind of soulful music as it stands here in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. (He said 'area'.)

Here you'll be able to find out what's on the Soulcialist agenda, what the SWP and pals are listening and dancing to, where we'll be, and anything else that seems worth chatting about in the vast void of the bloggosphere.

Please don't hesitate to leave comments or email me for more information, to get your two cents in, or just to say hi.

Thanks. And remember - you are what you dance to.