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Sights and Sounds from The Cutting Room, June 7 (Part 2)

More from our show.

Andricka Hall and Chrissi Poland crush Tell Me Something Good (with great soloing from Louise Baranger and Peter Calo) and then Chrissi smolders on Since I Fell For You.

Tell Me Something Good: 

Since I Fell For You: 

Photos by Ben Ross

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Sights and Sounds from The Cutting Room, June 7 (Part 1)

What a great show!

Andricka Hall and Keith Fluitt got the the crowd moving with Got To Get You Into My Life and Who Stole My Radio.

Got To Get You Into My Life: 

Who Stole My Radio: 

Photos by Ben Ross.

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More Great 21st Century Soul and R&B

Last year I wrote a blog post about how there’s been an onslaught of artists that are producing truly world-class R&B and soul, including Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and Shemekia Copeland (not to mention Adele and Bruno Mars).

Here’s a very worthwhile addition to this list:

A friend told me about Chrissi Poland almost a year ago and I’m delighted to report that the stars have finally aligned and Chrissi will be joining us for our upcoming show. See The Top Shelf at The Cutting Room on June 7 for more information.

(and yes, it is entirely “possible” that we will perform this song on June 7. Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh!)

An appreciation of Jackie Wilson

There have been many discussions about which artist had the greatest influence on Michael Jackson. One name that pops up on many lists is Jackie Wilson.  Consider this clip from the TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream that dramatizes “Mr. Excitement” mesmerizing a young MIchael Jackson.

The actor here is doing a fine job, but readers should really check out the real deal.  Here’s Wilson closing “Shindig” in 1964.

If you look carefully you’ll see the Righteous Brothers and a very young Bobby Sherman joining Wilson on stage.  Willy Nelson was also on the show that night, but I’ve not been able to spot him during the show’s “dance off”.

Here’s another clip of Wilson performing the same song a year later (keep your eyes out for Fontalla Bass).

In addition to Wilson just killing it, I love the house band, which features the likes of Leon Russell, Billy Preston, and Glen Campbell.

(Note: It’s nice to know these folks were in fact mortal.  Check out some problems with the form around 1:50 where only some people in the and move to the IV chord).

I’ll leave you with a clip of one of my favorite Jackie Wilson songs, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” which Wilson recorded in 1967. The Top Shelf performs this from time to time.

And yes, that is James Jamerson on bass even though it’s not a Motown recording.

Covering The Beatles

I love writing new arrangements of familiar tunes but I shy away from Beatles songs as many attempts by others have resulted in horrible failures.  Just listen to the Sleepy’s commercial that uses “In My Life” and you’ll hear what I mean.

That said, there are some exceptions and one truly astonishingly arrangement is Earth, Wind, and Fire’s version of “Got to Get You into My Life”.

Don’t get me wrong; the Beatles’ version is great, but I think Maurice White and company’s take is the definitive version of the song.

There was no way I was going to improve upon this gem, but given that the recording fades out I did write a tag so we could have a tidy ending.

We haven’t performed this for a while but we’ll take this on  — along with some Chicago and Blood, Sweat, and Tears — at our next show at The Cutting Room on June 7.

An Appreciation of Isaac Hayes

Every music part in The Top Shelf book contains two common elements.  The first is a warning to any interloper about making a copy of an individual part:


What can I say? I work hard on these arrangements.

The second element comprises the names of the songwriters as I want my bandmates to know the person or people responsible for composing the gem that is on the music stand.

So, several years ago I had a big surprise when I looked up who composed the three songs that make up our “Sam and Dave” medley:


I had no idea that the creator of Hot Buttered Soul, the Theme From Shaft and the voice of “Chef” on South Park was also an amazingly prolific songwriter and producer for Stax records in the 1960s.

…and the composer of three of my favorite Soul / R&B tunes.

I’ll leave you with Sam Moore and Carla Thomas’ recording of When Something is Wrong with My Baby written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

Thank you, Mr. Hayes.


Sights and Sounds from the Cutting Room — March 22, 2013

Our inaugural performance at The Cutting Room was a big success.  Great crowd, great room, great vibe, great time.

For those of you that were not able to make it — and for those that were able to make it and want to re-experience it — here’a a video montage with photos from Amy Kerwin.

Make sure to check out more photos here.