Grooves & Cuts – February 2023 by John Apice
Some Americana Birth Dates, Nostalgia & Happenings in February:
Don Everly (The Everly Brothers) was born in Kentucky (1937-2021). Ray Sawyer vocalist & guitarist with Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show born in Alabama (1937-2018).
Bob Shane, a founding & last surviving member of The Kingston Trio (“Tom Dooley”) was born in Hawaii (1934-2020). Jimmy Carl Black (James Carl Inkanish Jr.) born in El Paso was the drummer for The Mothers of Invention, Geronimo Black & Frank Zappa (1938-2008).
“I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles reaches #1 for 7 weeks in 1964. Graham Nash born in England in 1942 became a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Skip Battin was born in 1934. He was “Skip” of Skip & Flip (“Cherry Pie”) before becoming the bassist for The Byrds in 1971. Battin died in 2003. Singer Roberta Flack was born in North Carolina in 1937 & retired in 2022. She had a hit with the Ewan MacColl song “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.” Ewan was an English folk singer-songwriter who had been married to folk singer Peggy Seeger – her half-brother being American folk singer Pete Seeger.
Buddy Holly, Richie Valens & Big Bopper all perished on Feb. 3, 1959, when their private plane crashed in an Iowa field. Johnny “Guitar” Watson was born in Houston, TX 1935 & passed away in 1996.
Melanie Safka, born in Astoria, Long Island, NY in 1947 continues to record/perform to this day. She recorded her “Lay Down (Candles In the Rain),” with the Edwin Hawkins Singers.
Neal Cassidy, (Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”) dies in Mexico in 1968 from exposure. James Dean, actor of “Rebel Without a Cause,” “East of Eden,” & “Giant,” born in 1931, died in a car crash in 1955 & probably never heard one note of rock n’ roll.
Tom Rush — born in New Hampshire (in 1941) is a folk artist whose song “No Regrets,” was covered by other artists including Scott Walker. Carole King the Brooklyn-born songwriter (1941) was a young Brill Building writer with her husband lyricist Gerry Goffin. They wrote multiple 60s hits for many artists that charted with their songs including “Up On the Roof,” “The Loco-Motion,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” & “I’m Into Something Good.” Her solo career included the classic LP “Tapestry.”
Gene Vincent born in Virginia in 1935 was Capitol Records’ answer to Elvis. He wasn’t bad. Tim Buckley born in Washington, DC in 1947 & died in 1975 was the father of the late singer Jeff Buckley (d. Dec 1997).
Eric Andersen was a singer-songwriter born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1943. The group America’s “Horse With No Name,” charted at #1 in February 1972. Many thought it was a new Neil Young song. It wasn’t.
The Detroit-born Sonny Bono (1935) started his career behind the scenes with Phil Spector, in the 60s he wrote & had hits with Cher. He went on to become an elected Republican member of Congress. Sonny died in a 1998 skiing accident. He wrote songs like “Needles & Pins,” (The Searchers) & “Laugh at Me,” (Ian Hunter) among many others.
Native American Buffy Sainte-Marie was born in Maine (1941) & continues to record & perform to this day. The controversial singer Nina Simone was born in North Carolina, in 1933 & died in April 2003. Her song “Mississippi Goddamn,” was banned from the radio.
Elvis Presley enters the charts at #1 for the first time on Feb. 22, 1956, with “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Poco’s pedal steel guitarist Rusty Young born in California in 1946, died in April 2021. England’s George Harrison (The Beatles’ lead guitarist) was born Feb 25, 1943, & died in L.A., 2001.
In New Orleans, in 1928 Fats Domino made his entrance – one of the original rock ‘n rollers. Died Oct. 2017. Bob “The Bear” Hite lead singer of many Canned Heat blues songs was born in California in 1943 & died in 1981.
A Beach Boys’ cover of “Barbara Ann” is released & hits the charts. The lead vocals, however, are sung not sung by a Beach Boy but by Dean Torrance of Jan & Dean with Brian Wilson’s harmonies. While not credited on the album you can hear Carl Wilson clearly say thanks at the end to Dean.
Finger-style guitar extraordinaire John Fahey was born in Takoma Park, Maryland (1939). He wrote a biography of bluesman Charlie Patton & started his own record label Takoma to release ethnic recordings. Guitarist Leo Kottke recorded for Fahey’s label. One of Fahey’s best-known performance songs is the classic “Poor Boy Long Way From Home.” He was ranked #35 on Rolling Stone’s 100 best guitarists of all time. Considered a giant of 20th Century Americana music. Fahey died in 2001 following heart surgery.
*Some information compiled from The Illustrated Rock Almanac & The Illustrated Rock Encyclopedia of Rock. Thank you.
The Arcs – Electrophonic Chronic
While not everything on this 12-cut collection will appeal to die-hard Americana-Roots aficionados there are some tunes treated creatively with a techno current. The music has a pop-Americana feel & it comes through in “Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” An achingly sad ballad with lead guitar trimmings, shallow piano notes & the proper electronics to move it along.
The song “Only One For Me,” continues with its slow, light cymbal ride & warm vocals. I thought this CD would be a wash since it’s designed to look like an electronica LP. Some songs sound like undeveloped ideas rather than finished pieces. Yet, the 5 musicians assert themselves with some strong tunes.
“Eyez,” comes along with a late 70s new wave vocal timbre similar to Echo & the Bunnymen, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark & early Depeche Mode (when they had some melodic ballads that weren’t drenched in synths). It’s all made attractive.
This is their 2nd effort Electrophonic Chronic (Easy Eye Sound) & it had been shelved. It came to me late since it was finally released Jan. 27th – the band has redeeming Americana. They pick at the low-hanging fruit of the vintage trees where old 45s, garage records, old soul music, Joe Meek productions, flea-market & garage sale bin music still hang.
Produced by Dan Auerbach (Lead vocals/acoustic & electric guitar/bass/bgv/percussion) & Leon Michels (Ace-tone/synth/bgv/Rhodes/Hammond B3/piano/horns/flute/mellotron/glockenspiel) how can you spite them? Joining them are — the late Richard Swift (drums/bgv/percussion), Homer Steinweiss (drums/percussion), Nick Movshon (bass), Shawn Camp (fiddle), Russ Pahl (steel guitar), Sam Bacco (congas/percussion), Garo Yellin (cello), Hiroko Taguchi (violin), Ray Mason (horns), Shae Fiol & Mireya Ramos (background vocals).
Highlights: “Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” “Only One For Me,” “Califone Interlude,” “River,” “A Man Will Do Wrong,” & the soulful “Behind the Eyes.”
B&W photo courtesy of Alysse Gafkjen. Recorded in Nashville, TN, Queens, NY & NYC the CD @ Bandcamp + https://www.thearcs.com/
Trio Profondo – Mosaic
This Chicago-based trio consists of Jimmy Farace (baritone sax), Stephen Parisi Jr. (bass) & Paul Barrilles (drums) & their 9 original tracks on Mosaic (Drops March 31-Independent) is their debut.
The Buffalo, NY recorded endeavor opens with “Orange Lilac” with its bellowing deep bass lines of Parisi & the crisp jazzy drums of Barrilles followed by a warm Farace sax. All laid down as a penetrating jazz melody. This isn’t so much free-form jazz but more the exploration Dave Brubeck initiated though this young trio lacks the lead piano spirit.
However, the lack of a piano doesn’t distract from the overall propulsive ride this trio instinctively demonstrates. There’s originality at work – Barrilles light cymbal touch decorates rather than explodes. Jimmy’s sax punctuates nicely around the pulsating fills of Paul’s very sophisticated Joe Morello-styled drums.
Nothing sloppy on these tunes – they have a stylistic range, full-bodied & though a small combo they have sufficient energy in their showcase. They definitely go for the groove with each composition. What makes it different from the past is the ability to sound a bit “out there” at the same time as cruising through some silken 1950s lines that lend a little retro & noir tint to the album’s continuity. “The Newness of You,” summons images of Jack Kerouac — head down typing scenes for “On the Road.”
The trio can step back & add raw immediacy — moodier & more atmospheric “When the TV’s On & No One’s Home.” It has a coolness about its arrangement. Nothing’s bombastic or wildly fueled. The music is focused. No misfires. Even the bass solos are melodically deep & engrossing. This is a well-recorded trio; they never interfere with one another though even in the more maniacal moments it’s done tastefully.
There are tunes here that will have a retro technique or recall another era but that’s what music’s all about. The trio goes into many territories & their scope of music has remarkable charm. “Lock the Door,” has a bass dynamic solo with the gentle brushes of Paul driving it low-key but effectively.
Then, a calculated well-timed drum solo that savors the skins individuality as struck. Musical drums? Yes, it’s so here. This CD reinvents the jazz of the 50s without copying it. It captures its spirit. It brings it into the 21st Century where new, younger ears can discover it for themselves & not feel like they’re listening to grandpa’s music.
Highlights – “Orange Lilac,” “The Newness of You,” “When the TV’s On & No One’s Home,” “Lock the Door,” “Abandoned Name Tag” & “Mosaic.”
The Natural Lines – Self-Titled
This album of bright pop-oriented music is by a band that has some well-defined melodies sprinkled through their self-titled debut. While not at a Beatles level they do have the significant hummable tunes of an early Badfinger, Korgis & Squeeze type of care. The vocals are strong & the songs are savvy.
There are 11 cuts to the Kingston, NY-based band on their Self-Titled (Drops March 24–Bella Union) well-chiseled-out collection of captivating songs. While they follow the line of the artists mentioned they do have their own curve that renders them an ensemble of original musicians. None of the tunes ever come off as too confectionary.
“A Scene That Will Never Die,” is a little more intense. But the vocals are the attraction. While the songs are light-hearted they’re all composed & arranged within a commercially-endearing well-articulated song craft. This particular tune has all the magic of a memorable melody & the bonus is that it’s performed with significant color & sincerity.
For some this may be too popish & sweet but in reality no more than what some of the classic rock bands of the 60s built careers on. The more sophisticated songs of The Kinks, the methodology of Supertramp, the alt-jangle pop of Georgia’s Guadalcanal Diary, & the consistency of many Down Under bands that invested in smartly produced melodic songs – Dragon (“April Sun In Cuba”), Hunter (“Rain”), Mi-Sex (“Only Thinking”), the Black Sorrows (“Chained To the Wheel”) & Crowded House.
Musicians – Matt Pond with Chris Hansen (guitar/bass/keys/sax/vocals), Anya Marina (vocals), Hilary James (cello/vocals), Kyle Kelly-Yahner (drums), Louie Lino (keys), Sarah Hansen (horns), Sean Hansen (drums/bass), Kat Murphy (vocals) & MJ Murphy (vocals).
Highlights – “Monotony,” “A Scene That Will Never Die” “Don’t Come Down,” “HELP,” “Alex Bell,” “Person of Interest,” & “No More Tragedies.”
Color image by Jesse Dufault. CD @ https://thenaturallines.bandcamp.com/album/the-natural-lines & https://thenaturallines.com/
Lauren Morrow – People Talk
This is Ms. Morrow’s first full-length 10-cut CD where she puts her soprano to work on several new genres of music. Produced by Parker Cason People Talk (Drops March 31–Big Kitty Records) features songs Lauren explored that brought her beyond her country music. She adds to her equation a little Brit-pop, 80s new wave, 90s alternative & rock n’ roll attitude. She lays out “I’m Only Nice When I’m High,” with playful 60s female pop artist sparkle. Especially Diane Renay (“Navy Blue”). Ms. Morrow’s glistening smile can be heard through her vocals.
The Nashville-based, Atlanta-bred singer isn’t new to the music game (15 years) but this time out she’s solo & more herself. What I like about this artist is her spunk & willingness to take risks & challenge herself & while it’s not always wise to step out of a comfort zone many artists know that there’s a degree of reinventing oneself if you want to stay viable.
You can’t sing the same songs over each successive LP in the same style. Ms. Morrow tosses the dice & judging from the songs in this collection she comes up with a winning hand. “I’m Only Nice When I’m High,” is engaging. She doesn’t imitate many contemporary singers but does have roots in another era that hasn’t heard this kind of affirmation.
Many of today’s singers are good but lock themselves in safe genres. Their voices while strong are not necessarily original sounding. There aren’t many Patsy Cline & Loretta Lynn’s in today’s tones. That’s because country has gone too far to the pop side & has left the rural traditional purity behind. That is unless the performer is a bluegrass singer like Alison Krauss or a veteran like Emmylou Harris.
Lauren Morrow is on a musical surfboard & she’s well-balanced on a wave of originality, with a little resemblance but with lots of decorative tone in her delivery. What she does need to do is find a niche that will become wholly her own as Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss & Emmylou Harris have.
Color image courtesy of Lauren’s website. CD @ https://laurenmorrow.com/music
Logan Springer & The Wonderfully Wild – Crow
This is a well-disciplined set of intriguing music that unfolds like an old rug with a dust of old songs that aged well. “Greenbacks & Gold,” is sung raw & low-key with strikingly beautiful music & basically retro-type guitars with a modicum of dark balladry & deviant rock & it’s all good is what it is.
This Davenport, Iowa-based band is a cousin of Drivin’ n’ Cryin,’ the Bottle Rockets, Southwind, Jason & the Scorchers, Drive-By Truckers & so many other roots-based well-chiseled acts that take songs to a level many artists dare not touch. It’s a stormy Midwest place, it’s blue-collar sweat, it’s smokey tunes in a warm sinister wind & all told in a voice that’s seen & experienced things.
This 10-cut CD Crow (Drops March 3-Independent) was produced by Logan (lead vocals/guitars) & the band — Ben Schwind (bass/guitar/backing vocals), Murray Lee Rice (piano/organ/guitar), Tom Swanson (guitars/backing vocals), Craig Sheborn (drums/gong/percussion), Brian Cooper (drums), Erin Moore & Chrissy Boyer (backing vocals).
Sometimes I wonder if music like this is actually entertainment or if it’s a letter to America to remind her of what kind of people check in on her after dark. This is quite compelling, not scary, but far from homogenized music. Highlights – “Greenbacks and Gold,” & “Crow” among others.
Color photo courtesy of Abby Peters. CD @ Bandcamp & https://glgmusicpr.com/portfolio-items/logan-springer-and-the-wonderfully-wild/
Jaye Madison – Mirror: Framework – EP
These Nashville-based, Texas twins Jordan & Madison Skinner (performing as Jaye Madison) have released an L.A. recorded set (first of 3) produced by Grammy Award-winner Mikal Blue & co-produced by Dean Dinning & Josh Daubin (of Toad the Wet Sprocket) & Wallflowers guitarist Michael Ward & Dalton Cyr (piano/guitar).
Jordan writes from a light side & Madison a little darker – a nice contrast from these young singer-songwriters. This collection has 4 tracks on Mirror: Framework – EP (Drops March 31-Independent) which explores typical subjects, but they do it with inspiration & creativity & it all impacts the ear immediately.
Highlights – “Catch 22,” “Shadow Man,” “In the Grey,” & “Devil I Know.”
CD cover photo & color image courtesy of Libby Danforth Photography. CD @ https://jayemadison.com/
IVA – Nobody’s Woman – EP
This is quite a different angle since singer-songwriter IVA can also slide easily into an operatic voice which she does with her new pop career. Quite thrilling on her 18-minute Nobody’s Woman (Drops March 3-Independent) & produced by Ross Bellenoit & Jaron Olevsky.
Now based in Brooklyn, NY & Delaware Iva’s songs are exuberant & intriguing. What is just a 4 song EP is still a focused introduction to a songwriter with soaring vocals & class. Are there influences? Certainly. But from the start, Iva’s voice is like a magician’s wand. It simply conjures an illuminating original sound.
The opening tune “Mid Air,” (that should have been called “One Step Ahead of the Avalanche”), is tantalizing. Great song. A nice tug on the ear throughout. The set was recorded in Philadelphia with multi-instrumentalist Ross Bellenoit. The songs touch upon heartbreak, addiction, friendship & the dissolution of a long-term abusive yet, romantic relationship. Heady stuff.
If I had to put Iva in a box with other singers several would come to mind in combination – Aimee Mann, Mary Black, Natalie Merchant, Maria McKee & I’d include Susan Osborne (Paul Winter Consort – “Lay Down Your Burden,” from Common Ground LP).
I think what works best for Iva is when she focuses on deeper, sensitive, compelling lyrical compositions rather than songs that are too sweet & pop-oriented. She doesn’t have a mainstream female vocal for cute commercial songs. She has a voice that lifts songs with serious intent & definitely would do well with soulful tunes, bluesier songs, & sexy songs like Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” or Julie London’s “Cry Me a River.” Songs that give her an opportunity to light up the room.
The songs on this EP are all fine classy examples of Iva’s sensitivity, her song hooks & their commanding themes. “Oh, Christian,” is spine-tingling at the coda – excellent composition. Iva just has to remember that a powerful voice requires persuasive creative elaborate songs because there are many singers with strong voices who never lift off because of the material. Susan Osborne & Bird York both always remained one step behind major fame despite their elegant vocal prowess & Bird’s masterful seductive tone – long before Adele existed.
But these songs provide a peek at Iva’s diamond-sharp performances. Where her perfectly timed “showboating” is never overplayed. And most importantly, not relied on. Everything is well-manicured consistent pieces displayed by a true professional. What’s nice about these brief songs is their simplicity. No highly carbonated instrumentation, no bombastic arrangements & she negotiates the lyrics with finesse soulfully. A pleasure to listen.
Highlights – all 4 songs are winners – a full CD will be quite a welcome musical experience. Musicians featured – Jaron Olevsky (Hammond organ), Matt Scarano (drums) & Sam Nobels (bass).
Images courtesy of IVA’s website. CD @ Spotify & https://ivavoice.com/about/
Streetwise – The Road Ahead – EP
This one is from a New York retro rock band set to release the third of 3 collections written & performed by Brooklyn-born guitarist Raymond Castronovo (aka Streetwise). Recorded in their NYC studio their previous works included Ray’s debut LP “Crossing Bridges,” (2021) & an EP “The Other Side,” (2022).
This new set of 6-songs gives a respectful nod to 60s-influenced R&R with 4 originals & covers of Carol King-Gerry Goffin’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” & the legendary Chubby Checker dance hit “The Twist.” Not as energetic as Checker’s original but Ray pours on a soulful translation to show how effective the song (coupled with “Twistin’ USA”) can be in a slower, guitar-charged, environment. Wow. Double-wow.
Castronovo says he wrote many songs for The Road Ahead – EP (Drops March 3–Independent) after a specific memory. Something from his teen years, moments with his buddies, flirting with girls & watching his own children grow up. Typical things but not necessarily subjects often covered by commercial music. No matter where you are in your life – there’s always a road ahead. This is a great concept.
What’s even more special is recruiting Joe Martinez the original Chubby Checker bassist from 1960’s “The Twist,” to return again. Joining Aaron Staniulis (keyboard), Carl Obrig (sax), Linda Mackley (drums) & Heather Simon (backup vocals).
Castronovo does wonderful work. Somewhat in a Willie Nile, Garland Jeffries, Dion DiMucci New York City exuberant style. Highlights – “Pittsburgh” & “The Twist.”
Color image courtesy of Raymond’s FaceBook. The 24-minute CD @ https://www.streetwiseny.com/
Jay Carlis – Alive In the Radio Age
Coming March 24 is the Lehigh Valley, PA artist whose music pulls you in on a silken line – 8 potent melodic Jay Carlis tunes with good lyrics & savory vocals. Even his subjects are compelling. He mentions author Thomas Wolfe & writes a short tune to the Grateful Dead’s secondary lyricist John Perry Barlow (Robert Hunter was the primary lyricist). But that alone makes it all worth exploring each opulent piece.
Carlis’ vocals are not wimpy or saturated with angst. While he isn’t as identifiable as a (Yusuf) Cat Stevens or Gordon Lightfoot he does have a somewhat David Gray style that sneaks in & with songs like “Volcanoes & Whales,” (while not possessing the deeper tonality & folky gracefulness of the late Fred Neil), Carlis does possess that kind of musical sensibility.
Jay projects with precision & the songs are varied enough to keep interest high. There are no lulls in his music. On “Your Shadow,” things get really cool with Nicole Tecce’s backing vocals which should be used often as a nice contrast to Carlis’ vocals. Compelling stuff.
Like the late Gerry Rafferty & Clifford T. Ward, Jay fills his sophomore CD produced by arranger Ross Bellenoit (guitars/banjo/keys/percussion/backing vocals) Alive In the Radio Age (Drops March 24–Independent) with excellent stories.
Musicians – Andy Keenan (pedal steel), Charlie Muench (bass), Chuck Staab (drums), Jaron Olevsky (piano/backing vocals), Andrea Weber (cello) & Nicole Tecce (backing vocals).
Highlights – “Your Shadow,” “The Ghost of Thomas Wolfe,” the excellent “Such a Mystery,” “Concrete & Stone,” “Volcanoes & Whales” & “To John Perry Barlow.”
Color image courtesy of Chris Sikich. CD @ Spotify & https://www.jaycarlismusic.com/
Jaimee Harris- Boomerang Town
Received this interesting sophomore CD by Jaimee Harris tardy but it’s a bold step forward in this sophisticated 10-song country-folk endeavor. An ambitious family arc song cycle with some serious topics.
Harris grew up in the small Texas town of Waco. Her music explores the social, personal & political currents of such a place. Tunes inspired by personal experience & emotional truth. The 47-minute CD Boomerang Town (Folk ‘n Roll Records/Thirty Tigers) was released Feb. 17 & primarily tells the story of how it is to live in small towns & knowing its personalities. The grieving for loved ones, having dreams & realizing how small decisions will affect a lifetime. How small town & big city people can individually share common threads.
Produced by Mark Hallman & recorded in Austin, Texas the majority of the original songs are serene, some moody & atmospheric without sacrificing gutsiness. They don’t sound too country-like, too folky, or rootsy in the truest sense. Songwriting-wise she possesses the storytelling verve of Dolly Parton & the weighty balladry of Bruce Springsteen/Steve Earle/John Mellencamp. The ruralness is inherent. There’s a dramatic tint to her vocals that keeps the edgy balladry with a mellifluous beauty.
Ms. Harris’ vocals (acoustic guitar/backing vocals) while not always powerful, have an intimate tonality in a Mary Chapin Carpenter-Allison Moorer manner. Vibrant lyrics that are compelling with distinctive melodies. She has good phrasing & there’s an intimacy to her style. Lyrically, she is creative. Never veering too close to commerciality yet having enough pop sensibility to grab an ear.
Jaimee usually maintains a vocal similar in tradition as well with Aimee Mann & Marie McKee & is as accessible as Emmylou Harris (no relation). Everything’s versatile. “How Could You Be Gone,” is an intense piece.
What’s intriguing about her performance is that she doesn’t follow the aggrieved country singers’ methodology. It’s not country-inflected music cut on a commercial traditional lathe. There’s an acute originality to her approach & her music is solid at all times. This isn’t pop-country with all its sugar & cream.
“The Fair and Dark Haired Lad,” has a clean David Mansfield violin that cruises through. Jaimee’s voice delicate as it is (“Sam’s”) has a hint of aggression that makes her voice all the snappier in her storytelling. Her “Good Morning My Love,” is sung with Bruce Springsteen-intonation — interesting. It comes from a refined gentle female voice which is not an imitation, just a stylization well-applied. The touch of an accordion is classy.
Musicians – Andre Moran (electric guitar swells/slide guitar), Mark Hallman (bass/acoustic & electric guitars /percussion /piano /harmonica /drums /Hammond /accordion /suitcase /Cajon /backing vocals/trap & wood drums/Wurlitzer), Sammy Powell (Hammond/piano), Betty Soo & Kris Nelson (backing vocals), Brian Standefer (cellos), Savid Mansfield (violin/viola), Dirk Powell (accordion) & Taylor Hallman (tambourine).
Highlights – “Boomerang Town,” “Sam’s,” “How Could You Be Gone,” “The Fair and Dark Haired Lad,” “On the Surface,” “Love Is Gonna Come Again” & Missing Someone.”
CD & Digital Links can be bought at the artists’ respective websites. No photography will appear without a photographer’s credit or owning source.
Burt Bacharach @ 94 – a Grammy, Tony & Oscar-winning composer of over 52 Top 40 charted hits including the theme to the Steve McQueen 1959 film “The Blob.” Along with that — “Alfie,” “Walk On By,” “Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” “My Little Red Book,” “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” & dozens more for a wide range of genres & many notable artists through the 60s & 70s. Burt worked with the late Hal David (lyricist). Burt passed away from natural causes in L.A. (Feb 8) & had been married to actress Angie Dickinson (1965-1981). Photo courtesy of Twitter.
Floyd Sneed – @ 80 – Canadian drummer for Three Dog Night in the 70s (1942-2023). No cause of death at this writing. Photo of when Sneed was with the band — courtesy of Legacy.com.
Barrett Strong – @ 81 – Singer-songwriter (1941-2023) who wrote some early Motown songs with producer Norman Whitfield — such as the classic “Money (That’s What I Want),” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “War,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” & “Just My Imagination.” No cause of death at this writing. B&W photo courtesy Barrett Strong archives.
Phil Spalding – @ 65 – Session bass guitarist who played for 45 years with many artists including Mick Jagger, Ray Charles, Judie Tzuke, Elton John, Joe Cocker, Randy Crawford, Seal, Steve Hackett & Steve Howe, was a member of Mike Oldfield’s live band & a member of GTR (disbanded in 1987) died unexpectedly Feb. 5. B&W Photo courtesy of Nick Porter Photography.
Charlie Thomas – @ 85 – Was a singer with the classic vocal group The Drifters (1958-1967). He was the lead singer on 2 hits “Sweets For My Sweet,” & “When My Little Girl Is Smiling.” He was inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame in 1988. His entire career spanned 1957-2023. Charlie passed away on January 31. Color image courtesy of Debby Wong/Shutterstock
Huey “Piano” Smith @ 89 – (Jan. 1934-Feb. 2023) was a New Orleans-born rhythm & blues pianist whose music style was an influence on the early development of R&R. Smith was the composer of the classic 1957 hit “Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu,” that was also a hit in 1972 for rocker Johnny Rivers. He also wrote “Sea Cruise,” which became a hit for Frankie Ford (1959). Smith was an early piano player on several of Little Richard’s Specialty singles. B&W portrait image courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
Butch Miles @ 78 – (July 4, 1944-February 2, 2023) was an American jazz drummer born in Ohio who played with the Count Basie Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett & countless other artists too numerous to mention. Miles came to the Count Basie Orchestra after being recommended by both Mel Torme & drum legend Buddy Rich. He played with that orchestra for 14 years. First for 4 years in the mid-to-late 70s & then returned for ten additional years (1997-2017). Color image courtesy of Drummer World.
Grooves & Cuts – February 2023