Rockin’ the park

We used to rock all summer long in the big tent outside our local casino, but they took it down a couple of years ago. Hasn’t been the same since.

We used to rock all summer long at county fairs all around our corner of Wisconsin, but all we get now is one country act after another.

These days, we rock when and where we can find it. This summer, we had to drive a little, but we found it in a couple of small-town parks.

This is one such story.

We rocked with this cat when we saw Milwaukee soul legends Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds. This is “Rockin’ Ricky” Brenneman of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where they have a nice little summer weekend festival called Metro Jam.

Ricky was our blissed-out leader that Friday night, rocking an electric blue shirt under his white suit, nicely complementing his salt-and-pepper mullet and his wild, long, gray soul patch. (The photo is from Saturday night, which I couldn’t attend. Ricky changed shirts.)

Perhaps the only cat better dressed was Harvey Scales himself, in a glittery purple shirt and white pants, then a glittery gold shirt and white pants. The star of the show is a man of the people. He hopped down off the stage for an impassioned “When A Man Loves A Woman,” then led a snake dance during a long jam toward the end of the show.

I appreciate Ricky’s passion. He jumped right into that snake dance.

We heard Scales do a bunch of covers, backed by the Seven Sounds’ guitars and horns as tight as it must have been back in the ’60s, when they were regulars in the clubs and beer bars around Wisconsin.

The set list: “Sweet Soul Music,” a most lascivious “Mustang Sally,” “Try A Little Tenderness,” “Love-Itis,” “The Twist,” “Who’s Makin’ Love,” “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay,” “Get On The Good Foot,” “When A Man Loves A Woman,” “Soul Man” and, of course, “Disco Lady,” the  Scales tune that became a huge hit for Johnnie Taylor.

Scales finally played one of his own for the encore at Washington Park. A funky new dance, circa 1970. Harvey’s nearing 70, but he still can bring it, even if he can’t slide across the stage on his knees anymore.

“The Yolk,” Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds, Chess 2089 7-inch, 1970. This tune and “The Funky Yolk” are on “Love-Itis: All the Rare & Unreissued 45’s from the Vaults of Magic Touch: 1967-1977,” a hard-to-find compilation CD released last year.

(True confession: I had not heard “The Yolk” before that night. I immediately went looking for it when I got home. So all credit and many thanks are due to DJ Eddy Bauer, who posted the 45 image and the tune on his blog earlier this year.)

Photo: Via Rockin’ Ricky’s Facebook page, but taken by Doug Sundin of the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter

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Filed under August 2010, Sounds

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