I just finished watching the beautifully made documentary about Bill Withers' rise to fame from tiny-town West Virginia, Still Bill. I've been thoroughly in love with the man and his music for many years, but this intimate look into his life and thoughts not only reaffirmed my affection but enhanced it. It's a portrait of a truly genuine guy who made no compromises or self-sacrifices in order to become famous. He merely sang from his heart about what he knew, where he came from, and how he got to where he is. Just listening to Bill talk is fascinating. He's full of everyman wisdom, legitimacy, and soul.
I'd highly recommend any fan of music, people, documentaries, or great afros watch Still Bill. Hell, I'd recommend everybody watch it. It's streaming on Netflix right now.
Ray Charles was really three people. Little known fact. There was Jazz Ray, Blues Ray, and Country Ray. Here's a gem from Jazz Ray during his heroin-fueled Atlantic days. "Deed I Do" is a track from The Genius Of Ray Charles that doesn't get much attention, maybe because it's an oft-covered jazz standard that's been played by everyone from Ella to Les Paul. The band provides plenty of bombast and swing in equal measures and Ray catwalks his way through the vocal delivery going from hushed to yell, low-down to up-high. At it's core it's a loungy rendition that ends in slowed down theatrics.
It's time to promote another Kickstarter drive, as we are wont to do here at Those Who Dig. Today we'd like you to reach in your jeans pocket, pull out that wad of cash you forgot was in there, and send it over the to the great Wisconsin-based band Blessed Feathers so they can rent a van and hit the road. They're offering some great rewards for donating so go do it!
Also, listen to the first single from their upcoming album above, and be sure to download their self-titled debut album for whatever price you choose on Blessed Feathers' Bandcamp page. It's a haunting beauty.
Well, after over a year of blogging wildly, jumping between genres like a kid with ADD, and building the TWD brand, I think it's finally time I bring some focus to my blogging. We started this site because all of our tastes are eclectic and wide-ranging – a quality that seems to be lost among todays musical landscape of buzzbands and indie trends. While my personal listening habits continue to be crazy, it's just too exhausting to try to give equal opportunity to every genre, era, and style that I love.
As anyone who has read this site since it's inception knows, I love soul. I love funk. I love Motown. I love old R&B. Maybe more than anything else. So that's what I'm going to focus on writing about. Everyone digs this music, and there's a big void (with some exceptions) in the modern music scene uncovering these gems. I'm going to start consistently sharing and giving my views on jivin', dip dappin' jams that I dig up in vinyl crates or happen across through other means. I'll still occasionally introduce you to brilliant new bands, but listen kids, we need a soul injection in this here scene.
My man Archie Bell & The Drells is helping me usher in this new era. "Tighten Up" is a southern funk staple and easily one of my all-time favorite songs. Bell introduces the song with a nod to his Texas hometown since these were the days after the Kennedy assassination and Texas' image was on shaky ground. Then the groove sets in and Bell walks us through the smooth, exaggerated "Tighten Up" dance (that the Drells so deftly illustrate in the video). You can't beat this brand of simple, clean, hip-shaking funk. Thanks for the welcome, Archie.
Alright, people, it's list time. After each week of Velvet Underground month, I'm going to present my ranking of the band's songs. Since this sort of thing can get contentious, here's my disclaimer: this is totally subjective and my opinion. It doesn't reflect empirical best, just what I like best. Also, it could very well change. Ok? Here goes…