Tag Archives: steve wexler

Highlights from The Cutting Room — October 17, 2014

Here are some highlights from our show at The Cutting Room on October 17, 2014.

River Deep, Mountain High

Featuring Andricka Hall on lead vocals.


Love The One You’re With

Featuring Edlene Hart on vocals.


Oh, Darling

Featuring Russ Velazquez on vocals.


Higher Ground

Featuring Russ Velazquez, Edlene Hart, and Andricka Hall on vocals.


The Letter

Featuring Tom “Blues Buddha” Dudley on vocals.


For Once In My Life

Featuring Keith Fluitt on vocals and Steve Wexler on bass.

Sights and Sounds from The Cutting Room — July 19, 2013

It was HOT, HOT, HOT outside and the band was smokin’ inside.

Here are some of the sounds…

Love The One You’re With
Edlene Hart channels Aretha

Higher Ground
Russ Velazquez channels both Stevie Wonder *and* Sammy Davis Jr., with Gene Lewin driving the band

Unchain My Heart
Tim Ouimette’s inspired trumpet solo

Oh, Darling
Russ Velazquez takes on this Beatles classic with Jon Cobert on keys

Edlene Hart gives it her all on this original arrangement of the Hoagy Carmichael Classic

Green Onions and James Bond
R&B Meets the movies

…And here are some of he sights from Amy Kerwin of Dragonfly Photography.

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Sights and Sounds from The Cutting Room, June 7 (Part 4)

Chrissi Poland, Edlene Hart, and Keith Fluitt tearing it up on 25 or 6 to 4, our encore for the evening.  Check out the Top Shelf horns (Tim Ouimette, Louise Baranger, Joe Meo, and Jon Saxon) and guitar work from Peter Calo.

25 or 6 to 4:

Photos by Ben Ross

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Sights and Sounds from The Cutting Room, June 7 (Part 3)

More highlights.

Peter Calo sings Penny Lane and Louise Baranger nails the piccolo trumpet solo, then Peter leads the band on his original song 99 Percent.

Penny Lane: 

99 Percent: 

Photos by Ben Ross

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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!)

Two Great Bass Lines from a Great Bass Player

Several years ago a very good friend of mine asked me to play bass on a gig and learn what he said was the best disco song ever.  I looked at him skeptically and he quickly pointed out that the song was in fact a really good song, period.

He also said it had a great bass line.

The song in question was Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and after listening I had to admit it was a very good song.  And I liked the bass line and bass tone so much I wanted to know who was the bass player on the track.

A search on the Talk Bass forum revealed that the player in question was Henry E. Davis, the bass player for LTD and the same person that played the great bass line on “Back in Love Again.”  I decided to contact Henry and ask him about how he got his great sound and groove.

Here’s what he had to say about his sound and approach to the Thelma Houston song:

I was influenced by Larry Graham, the Godfather of Thump.  As a matter of fact,  he was the first bass player that I was aware of that played walking octaves.  I had no idea that he played with his thumb when I first heard him with Sly and the Family Stone, but I liked the lines he played so I incorporated his lines into my arsenal of riffs, practiced it until his lines felt comfortable in my hands.  The Graham-influenced style of playing was first explored with my own group. LTD, and then “immortalized” first with Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover”, and then on Thelma Houston’s record.  A lot of producers on subsequent sessions wanted that “Love Hangover thing” on their records.  I complied but didn’t really feel it because those songs/sessions didn’t have all the same elements that the Love hangover sessions did; i.e. the song, the musicians, the studio, the time we recorded, the studio, the joking, the overall mood, etc.  Musical performance is a “thing of the moment” that takes in to account everything involved in that moment; what’s happening influences what happens.

We exchanged more e-mails, discussing basses, strings, pickups, and his excitement over LTD getting back together, as well as a promise to give me a bass lesson when the tour got to New York.  I also pointed out to him that he had achieved a type of immortality in that the recordings he made in the 1970s were being enjoyed 30 to 40 years later by an entirely new generation of listeners.

Sadly, Henry died last year and I never got to meet him and take that bass lesson.  But I am very glad I got to tell him how much I enjoyed his work and how much it had influenced my playing.  Indeed, I’ll be playing at least one of hist bass lines at The Top Shelf’s upcoming performance at The Cutting Room on March 22.

In the meantime, I leave you with two great Henry E. Davis bass performances.  Enjoy.

Lake Street Dive’s “I Want You Back”

My greatest joy in music comes from arranging and orchestration. Arranging is taking an existing song and coming up with a new approach to how it should be scored and performed.  For those readers uncertain of what I mean, a great example of taking a song, turning it on its ear, and delivering a truly brilliant arrangement may be found in Earth Wind and Fire’s version of “Got to Get You into My Life.”

I’m always on the lookout for creative re-renderings, and one of my bandmates told me recently of a novel cover of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.” I have to agree that this slowed-down, acoustic, and sparsely-produced recording by Lake Street Dive is terrific.  BTW, you’ll notice that they keep the Wilton Felder bass line from the original version (and the bass line is one of the best parts of the song.)

Okay, raise your hand if you listened to this a second time (one, two,… yeah, lots of hands.)

While The Top Shelf may not perform this particular song on a given night, when you come out to see us perform you will hear novel arrangements of one or more songs, guaranteed.

An Appreciation of Booker T and the MGs

The Top Shelf has a fun show coming up on February 7 at DROM called From Booker T to Beyoncé: 50 Years of Motown, Soul, and R&B.  We will be performing songs that span five decades including songs from Booker T and the MGs and Beyoncé:

Widely popular in the 1960s, Booker T and the MGs were the Stax Records house band that played on hundreds of recordings by great soul artists including Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Eddie Floyd.  The group also released a number of instrumental albums under its own name and had a huge hit in 1962 with “Green Onions.”

They were also one of the first racially-integrated groups — and they were based in the Deep South!

Here’s a clip of the group performing in 1966 on the show Shindig!  The clip starts with the group playing “My Babe” but then switches to “Green Onions”.

You’ll also note Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass.  The original recording featured Lewie Steinberg on bass; Dunn took over in 1965.

The Top Shelf plans to perform our own take on this tune, but we’ll of course do our best to be true to the source material.