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  Mike Little is a member of the Electric City Shag Club in Anderson, South Carolina.  He is also a member of the Association of Beach & Shag Club DJ’s and the National Association of Rhythm & Blues Deejays.  He hosted for 3-1/2 years The Saturday Morning Beach Party on WANS, 1280 AM in Anderson, which was rated by Arbitron as the highest rated AM show listened to and number three overall for that time slot.  In 2004, he was awarded the Rufus Oates Award by the National Association of Rhythm & Blues Dee Jays for his writing contributions.  He now serves on the Board of Directors of the NARBDJ.

Have You Heard...

by

Mike Little

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We all know that new music breaks out at SOS, especially during the Spring Safari following the Association of Beach & Shag Club DJ's event, Deejay Throwdown.  One of the hottest songs that was introduced at Throwdown and was played continuously at SOS was Share My Love by R. Kelly.  The song was recently released as a single and will be a part of his new full album, Write Me Back, which will be released soon.  If you do not have the song, get it.  If not already, this number is going to be hot in the Rhythm & Blues circles.  Robert Sylvester Kelly, a native of Chicago, began performing during the late 1980's and debuted in 1992 with the group Public Announcement.  He went solo in 1993.  Not only is R. Kelly a singer, but he is a songwriter and record producer, writing, producing and remixing songs for many artists including The Isley Brothers, Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Celine Dion and many others in the U.S. and abroad.  In March 2011, he was named by Billboard magazine as the most successful Rhythm & Blues Artist of the last 25 years.

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Donnie Ray's Who's Rockin You, the title track of his year old Ecko Records release, is still going strong.  The Montgomery, Alabama resident has released his latest, I'm Going Back, and the title track was hot at SOS.  I look for this to be in chartland in short order.  Released just the week before the Spring Safari began, I'm Going Back really caught on and was played frequently.  However, this is not the only good song on the album.   Check out Bring Back My Blues and I Remember The Good Old Days.  Both of these have potential to be played and enjoyed by the dancers.  Donnie Ray was born in Texarkana, Texas in 1959 into a musical family that taught him to believe that his talents were a gift from God.  By the time he was fifteen, he was performing in his father's band, Aldredge Brothers Band.  He learned to play the guitar, becoming an instrumentalist as well as a singer.  He later mastered lead and bass guitars, the keyboard and drums.  Donnie Ray signed with Ecko Records in 2005.  I'm Going Back is his eighth release with the Memphis record company.

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On the heels of Rick Strickland's release of Rhythm + Romance, The Rick Strickland Band has released the band's first album together.  All previous releases have come from Rick Strickland as a solo artist.  The new album, Hangin' Out, features the song Every Now And Then that hit it big breaking out for the Spring Safari.  This number should easily find its way into the charts in short order.  When I first heard Watch Yourself  I thought I would be listening to a Del Shannon remake, but then the unmistakable voice of Rick came alive with some great backup vocals from the band.  Rick Strickland is no stranger to the world of Beach Music.  In 2005, his song, Something Smooth topped the charts earning him the Carolina Beach Music Awards' Songwriter of the Year, and two years later it was the title track of his album, which earned top honor in the CBMA.  In his early years, his song, She Can't Fix Grits, was a major hit for ShagTime, who backed his lead vocals on the number.  Lisa Hudson is also a member of The Rick Strickland Band.  She is also a lead vocalist in her own right, having won her first two CBMA trophies, Songwriter of the Year and Smoothie of the Year, for her hit song When You Look At Me.  Other band members include Art Benton on Keyboard and vocals, Debbie Anderson of vocals and bass and Don Hamrick on drums.

 

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Songs from KHP's new release, Stepping Out Tonight, were played frequently during the Spring Safari.  Leading the pack was The Carolina Breakers' Second Chance.  Jim Quick's All That Matters To Me was a close second.  Atlantic Groove's remake of Floyd Taylor's I'm Crazy 'Bout That Woman In Red was also heard frequently.  The party goers also picked up on Rhonda McDaniel's Look Before You Leap.  The song comes from her new release, Where The Boys Are from KHP.  Gary Lowder is a busy man.  Not only is he a member of The Carolina Breakers, he has his own solo endeavors.  During the safari, the title track from his new album, Coastin', was released.  Coastin' also hit it big during the ten day festival.  I am sure there are other songs that broke out for SOS, but these are the ones that caught my ear the most.

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Another song that was heard often during the ten day event in Ocean Drive was Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down by the Heritage Blues Orchestra.  The gospel/blues song had them flocking to the dance floors.  The New York City-based group consists of Junior Mack, a self-taught musician, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Bill Sims, Jr. and Chaney Sims on vocals.  The trio is back by saxophonist Bruno Wilhelm, Vincent Bucher on harmonica and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums.  Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down comes from the group's debut release, And Still I Rise.

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On another note, California-based The Strata-Tones has released their debut recording, Dressed Up To Fess Up.  When band  founder, composer and lead guitarist Bruce Krupnik decided to create the most professional, tightest, best dressed Blues and Rhythm & Blues band Central California had ever seen, he contacted drummer Rick Pittman about putting together the band.  He next contacted local blues harmonica legend Kevin McCracken, followed by Ken Burton with his classic Hammond B-3 organ sound.  The next draft pick was bass player Wil Anderson and later vocalist Valerie Johnson who had filled the shoes of the legendary Janis Joplin for Big Brother & The Holding Company.  With Valerie's vivacious vocals and stage presence up front and the band well rehearsed and dressed to kill, the group was ready to take the stage by storm, and that they did.  Dressed Up To Fess Up carries several numbers that will cause the dance floor to fill, including the strong Raggedy Annie, as well as Together For Some Time.  Either one of these could easily work their way into the charts.  Also, you will want to listen to BeBop Baby.  It too has some possibilities, especially on the West Coast.  Dressed Up To Fess Up by The Strata-Tones should not be hard to find.  If you do have trouble, you can get it from CD baby.     

 

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  Memphis, Tennessee-based Ecko Records contains to maintain Top 10 positions for Ms. Jody's The Bop and Donnie Ray's Who's Rockin' You.  Ecko has just released O.B. Buchana's latest, Let Me Knock The Dust Off.  The key song from the album is Bang That Thang.  This number may just join The Bop and Who's Rockin' You in Beach Music 45's Smokin' 45.  Bang That Thang is more uptempo, but should do well.  There are a few more on O.B.'s release of which we should take note.  Throw Down is another uptempo number that is very similar to Band That Thang.  I don't know, but there is something about Bang That Thang that edges out Throw Down.  You also need to take a listen to the title track, Let Me Knock The Dust Off, as well as Mr. Telephone Man.  These also have some potential.  O.B. Buchana was born in Mount Bayou, Mississippi, spending his childhood in Clarksdale, the city that played a major role in the development of Blues legends.  O.B. began his musical career singing in his church choir at an early age.  It did not take long for him to emerge as a lead singer.  As a teenager, he was lead singer of the gospel group, The Mighty Suns of God.  In the early 90's, he signed with the label, Blue River, kicking off his recording career.  In 2004, Ecko Records recognized his talents, signing him to a contract.  O.B.'s releases have received national recognition, bringing him to the limelight of the Ecko family.  Let Me Knock The Dust Off by O.B. Buchana should be easy to find.

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When two veteran Blues musicians and longtime friends come together to record an album, it's got to be good.  That is what Longtime Friends In The Blues is.  Good!  Bob Corritore, a lifelong advocate of the Blues, and Chicago Blues veteran James Vancy Jones, a.k.a. as Tail Dragger, have come together to record a CD that is packed with plain, good ole Blues music that will satisfy the soul.  Of the ten cuts on the Delta Groove Music release, there are at least five that will work well.  Joining Bob and Tail Dragger are Henry Gray on piano and vocals on several of the tracks, Kirk Fletcher on guitar and Chris James on guitar.  Check out I'm Worried and So Ezee.  I especially liked Done Got Old.  I believe that the dancers who like to get out on the floor with some good Blues music will especially like this one.  Bob and Tail Dragger come together for the vocals on this one.  Boogie Woogie Ball also caught my attention.  It is mostly instrumental with Henry Gray on the keyboards giving vocals like Champion Jack Dupree used to do on so many of his recordings.  Chicago-born producer and harmonica player Bob Corritore began collecting Blues albums, playing harmonica and attending Blues gigs after hearing Muddy Waters on the radio when he was twelve.  Over the years, Bob has played at many of Chicago’s clubs and even formed his own Blues record label.  Tail Dragger was born in Altheimer, Arkansas and ,like so many other Blues artists, moved to the Chicago Blues scene.  He has been recording under the name of Tail Dragger for over fifteen years.

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  Do you remember the song I Know by Barbara George?  I love that upbeat tempo song.  Nathan Jones & The Rhythm Scratchers has a song on their new CD from Delta Groove Music called What You Make Of  It.  One of the cuts from the CD reminds me an awful lot of the Barbara George classic.  The song is I'm A Slave To You.  Of course it is fast, just as I Know, is so pitch control is a necessity.  I think you will find a lot of interest from the dancers on this one.  Nathan Jones started his career as a full-time musician at age eighteen.  A year later, the San Diego area musician got the call from renowned Blues veteran James Harmon to join his band, which led Nathan touring and recording for three and a half years with The James Harmon Band.  Now with his own band, Nathan Jones & The Rhythm Scratchers, he has recorded his first CD.