Category Archives: Sounds

Getting Cozy at the club

Last month, I finished a three-year history project for which I live-tweeted, sort of, the Green Bay Packers’ back-to-back-to-back championship seasons of 1965, 1966 and 1967, day by day, exactly 50 years after it happened.

To do that, I went through the local paper on microfilm at the library. Along the way, I turned up all kinds of interesting material unrelated to my project. I started posting that stuff in a couple of Green Bay history groups on Facebook. It’s been fun, so I’m still doing it.

Which brings us to 50 years ago this weekend, the second weekend of March 1968.

Chicago sax man Cozy Eggleston and his swinging jazz combo played a four-night gig as the Club Coal Bin in downtown Green Bay had its grand opening. The club was in the basement of the Labor Temple. Its slogan, U.S.G.S.T., stood for “Us Swingers Gotta Stick Together.” The club apparently was trying to class up its act. It used to be the Coal Bin Bar, a strip joint. Six months earlier, it had featured Bobbie Page, “The Sex Bombshell” who was “known throughout Wisconsin and Iowa.”

Even though Cozy Eggleston had become the main attraction, it was unusual to see black performers at Green Bay nightclubs, even in 1968. Was he a big draw? No way of knowing, but he has an interesting story.

Cyril J. Eggleston was in his 20s when he joined the Army during World War II. He was a military policeman. He also started playing the sax. When he came home to Chicago after the war, he attended the Chicago Conservatory School of Music. After that, Cozy Eggleston gigged around Chicago, playing tenor sax with any number of jazz and R&B groups and at any number of long-gone nightclubs.

Cozy eventually formed a popular band featuring his wife Marie, whose stage name was Marie Stone. In 1949, while playing at the Manchester Grill on Chicago’s south side, she was described as a “blues singer, ace musician and the bombshell of the alto sax.” At the Club Evergreen in Chicago’s north side, they’d “leave the stand and come down to blow among the guests,” according to the Chicago Defender of Dec. 30, 1950. The photo at left is from a 1954 issue of Hue magazine, which was to sister publication Jet magazine as People magazine was to Time magazine.

On Saturday, Aug. 23, 1952, Cozy and his combo parlayed their popularity into a recording session for States Records, a Chicago label that specialized in black artists. They laid down a couple of instrumentals, “Big Heavy” and “Cozy’s Boogie.” Cozy and Marie played sax, with Jimmy Boyd on piano, Ellis Hunter on guitar, Curtis Ferguson on bass and Chuck Williams on drums.

States didn’t release the 7-inch until February 1954. When it finally came out, “Big Heavy” became the soundtrack to some of the East Coast’s biggest radio shows. It was the theme song for both George “Hound Dog” Lorenz on WKBW in Buffalo and Alan Freed on WINS in New York.

Fast forward to March 1968, when Cozy and his combo played the club in the basement of the Labor Temple in Green Bay. They were brought back two weeks later for a return engagement said to be “by popular demand.”

About this time, Cozy produced and released a soul-jazz LP, “Grand Slam,” on their Co-Egg label. I’ve seen it dated from 1967 to 1969. DownBeat columnist John Corbett, in his book “Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium,” calls this record “an all-out soul blue flame” and a “classic.” It features Cozy, Marie, Karl Johnson on the Hammond organ and Ken Sampson on drums. You can find most of its seven cuts on YouTube.

In 1990, Cozy produced and released “Whammin & Slammin,” on his Co-Egg label, revisiting six of the seven cuts on “Grand Slam” and adds what Discogs calls some “leftover recordings.” Chicago Tribune reviewer John Litweiler called it “straight-ahead organ-sax band entertainment” from Cozy, whom they called “one of Gene Ammons’ many musical offspring.” It features a cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” done as a fast waltz. Can’t find any of this one on YouTube, though.

Cozy Eggleston, who was 48 when he played that basement club in Green Bay in March 1968, kept playing for years. He also played the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Park District’s Summer Jazz Series. He was a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians Local 10-208 for 67 years.

Cozy Eggleston died in Chicago in December 2012. He was 92. He left a large family that included two sons, two daughters, 10 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under March 2018, Sounds

Turn it up to 11

This last week of February marks 11 years since the debut of this humble blog.

As I write this, I’m listening to “Testify!” the WFMU radio show hosted by my friend Larry Grogan, whom I know well but have never met in real life. He, of course, is the proprietor of the mighty Funky 16 Corners blog and streaming radio empire.

As I look for songs to share with this post, I see all the cool covers downloaded the other day and recommended by my friend Jameson Harvey, whom I also have never met in real life. He, of course, is the proprietor of the fine Flea Market Funk blog.

As I consider the 11-year journey, a shout-out to the fellow bloggers I’ve had the pleasure to meet in real life, my friends Jim Bartlett from The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, Greg Erickson from Echoes in the Wind and Joe Accardi from Life Out Of Tunes.

Thought about something from “11” by the Smithereens. Nah, everyone knows that.

Thought about something we could turn up to 11. Nah, not the weekend yet.

Thought about an 11-minute song. Don’t have one.

So let’s just enjoy Garland Jeffreys covering the Beatles.

“Help,” Garland Jeffreys, from “14 Steps To Harlem,” 2017.

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under February 2018, Sounds

The Zen Christmas

This year, I wanted to experience the Christmas season on the fly, seeing what I could see and hearing what I could hear at random.

So, when I was out and about, or in the car, or at home, it was fun catching the snippets of Christmas music that came along at random in the stores and on the radio and online. That includes the WFMU “Testify!” and Funky 16 Corners Christmas shows from my friend, the mighty Larry Grogan. (Who, by the way, should unwrap a MacArthur genius grant one of these years.)

Some were new to me, some not. It was good to appreciate again the great horn charts on the Carpenters’ version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

I wanted to try something different, to get away from the same old, same old Christmas experience from time to time. To that end, I have a lot of Christmas music in my collection, and I listened to almost none of it.

There are a few exceptions, of course. On Christmas Eve, this is one.

Reverent yet thrilling, Irma Thomas’ rendition of “O Holy Night” is done as a New Orleans-style dirge with some moody Hammond organ and some terrific gospel voices singing backup.

creolexmascd

Ten years ago, my friend Rob in Pennsylvania declared this to be “goosebump-inducing stuff.”

It still is.

“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print and not available digitally, but Amazon will rip you a copy. It’s also on “MOJO’s Festive Fifteen,” the fine Christmas compilation CD that came with the January 2011 issue of MOJO magazine, if you can find it.

Embrace the moment, especially at Christmas.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas music, December 2017, Sounds

How to shop for record diggers

As the holiday season arrives, we present the following as a public service.

Your loved one is a record digger. You want to give them a good gift. I’m blessed to have a family who gets it, and is good at doing so.

If you’re Santa, here are a few guidelines. If you’re waiting to unwrap the gifts, please feel free to share with your loved ones.

Less is more, Part I. It’s better receive one nice record than an overstuffed, overpriced box set.

Less is more, Part II. It’s better to receive one nice record that gets dropped right onto the turntable than a stack of records that goes unplayed.

Talk to the folks at the record store. They might know your record digger better than you do, and they’re more than willing to help you find what you seek.

It’s OK to give a gift certificate. Let your record digger pop for obscure stuff neither you nor the record store folks would ever have considered. (Which explains how “The Hullabaloo Show” by The Hullabaloo Singers & Orchestra made it into one of my crates last month.)

It’s OK to ask for a wish list. That’s the best possible scenario for all parties. The giver is confident of giving something the recipient wants to receive.

That happened this summer. Four days before my June birthday, I went to see Garland Jeffreys. When I got home, I mentioned that he had a new record out. (Money was tight, so I didn’t stop by the merch table.) A couple of months later, out of the blue, we had to stop at the record store while running errands. Turns out a certain special order had come in.

“Waiting for the Man,” Garland Jeffreys, from “14 Steps to Harlem,” 2017. On which he covers his friend Lou Reed. He played this one for us that night.

Speaking of wish lists, here’s the one I typed into my phone while hanging out at the record store not too long ago.

— Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, “Soul of a Woman”

— Bob Seger, “I Knew You When”

— Mavis Staples, “If All I Was Was Black”

— The Isley Brothers and Santana, “Power of Peace”

— The “Soul Christmas” reissue on Stax

— My friend Norb’s book “Fear of a Norb Planet”

Ahem.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under November 2017, Sounds

Still not my (trick-or-treat) bag

At the Green Bay Record Convention on Saturday, one of the record diggers asked whether I had any spooky or eerie music. No, sorry. But I did have a suggestion. So here, adapted from a blog post written 10 years ago, is my take on Halloween and my recommendation for that gent.

Halloween is not my thing.

We always went trick-or-treating when we were kids, but we never had the cool costumes. Our parents raised three boys on a rather modest income, so we would get a mask — usually a popular cartoon character — and that would be about it. Just the way it was.

Masks meant a choice of the lesser of two evils: Wear my glasses under the mask and have the mask not fit properly, or go without my glasses and not see anything clearly. I remember going as Superman because it was easy enough to scare up a cape, and you didn’t need a mask. (And you could take the glasses on and off as needed.)

On Halloween 1970, we were visiting my grandmother, so we had to go trick-or-treating in her town that Saturday night. Grandma lived in an old rental house in a rundown neighborhood hard by the railroad tracks in a small central Wisconsin town. We were kids, so we never really noticed. It was just Grandma’s neighborhood.

My brothers and I — we were 13, 11 and 6 — had covered a couple of blocks when we walked up to a low-slung one-story house with a flat roof and a bunch of junk in the yard. It faced the tracks. We rang the doorbell and shouted “Trick or treat!”

After a short while, the door creaked open and a disheveled middle-aged woman peered out. Startled, it took her a couple of moments to comprehend what we were doing there. I was only 13, but somehow, I knew what was going on. She wasn’t expecting anyone.

The woman didn’t say much — maybe “Oh, my” — and then walked away from the door. Through the screen door, we saw her rummaging around a table. She came back to the door and dropped a couple of pennies into each of our bags.

The woman who wasn’t expecting anyone didn’t have anything to give anyone, either. I suppose we kept on trick-or treating that night, but that was it for me. Done forever.

I’ve always wondered whether the kids in that little town just knew — or were told — not to go down to that house. We were visitors, and kids, and didn’t know any better.

Ever since, Halloween has not been my thing.

However, in the spirit of the season, I will confess …

gomeztish.jpg

— I greatly prefer “The Addams Family” over “The Munsters.” Make of that what you will.

— Horror movies? Also not my thing, though I watched enough of them late at night in the mid-’70s. I had a girlfriend who liked them more than she liked me. The ones I enjoyed most had Vincent Price in them. He was cool, as my friend Andrew explained long ago in one of his lovingly crafted Halloween countdown posts over at Armagideon Time.

— I like “The Cask of Amontillado,” an Edgar Allan Poe story in which a man is plied with wine, then sealed behind a brick wall and left to die. I discovered it in high school. Some 20 years later, in 1995, I also dug the “Homicide: Life on the Streets” episode partly based on that story.

“The Cask of Amontillado” also is one of the cuts on the only album I associate with Halloween. It is, of course, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” the first album by the Alan Parsons Project. It’s a prog rock concept album based on Poe’s stories.

By the mid-’70s, Parsons was highly regarded for his work as an engineer on albums by the Beatles, Paul McCartney, the Hollies and Pink Floyd. He then became a producer, then created “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” with Eric Woolfson, who pitched him the idea.

More than 200 musicians played on that 1976 album, which was arranged by Andrew Powell.

You know “The Raven” from that album. It wasn’t the single — that was “(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” — but it became more widely played, and rightly so.

So, for your Halloween listening pleasure … two treats only. No tricks.

“The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the Alan Parsons Project, from “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” 1976.

(Arthur Brown does the wild vocals on the latter.)

My copy is the original vinyl. I haven’t heard the late ’80s CD version, to which Parsons added readings by Orson Welles and extra synthesizers.

Leave a comment

Filed under October 2017, Sounds

Remembering Muddy Wilbury

Everyone takes something different away from the music they hear.

Sometimes an obscure lyric or chord or melody is seared into your head forever. Sometimes something everyone else digs barely registers with you.

There you have the sum of my experience with Tom Petty.

When he died earlier this month, there I was, standing off to the side again. As the parade of deeply felt and richly deserved tributes streamed past, there I was, holding up a tiny sign that read “I liked the Traveling Wilburys.”

“Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3” came out 27 years ago next week, in late October 1990. It’s one of my favorite records from a time when I wasn’t exactly sure what I liked. That was a time when many of my favorite artists had either lost their way or fallen off the map. It also came out at a time when CDs were overtaking vinyl, and I was still sorting all that out. I have the CD. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Roy Orbison — old Lefty Wilbury — was gone, so this incarnation of the Wilburys consisted of Spike, Muddy, Clayton and Boo Wilbury. You know, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan. Still a good group. I’d listen to any group with Spike and Clayton, then and now.

Muddy sang lead on two of the 10 cuts on the record. This one, with Clayton singing the bridge, has long been one of my favorites.

“You Took My Breath Away,” the Traveling Wilburys, from “Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 3,” 1990. It’s still available.

Still a good way to remember Tom Petty.

Leave a comment

Filed under October 2017, Sounds

Missed that scene

Upon my arrival in Madison, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1982, WORT expanded my horizons every weekday afternoon. There was something new and mind-blowing seemingly every day on the indie radio station at 89.9 FM.

Though my sweet spot was the emerging Americana music genre, I also was exposed to something harder-edged, something distant even from the trippy sounds I’d heard on free-form FM radio just a decade earlier.

The WORT DJs loved these new groups: the Replacements, Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, X, the Minutemen and then fIREHOSE, almost anything from the mighty SST and Twin Tone labels.

And, yeah, Hüsker Dü.

Writing this evening in the wake of Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart’s death, my friend Larry Grogan said:

“It’s entirely likely that if you are of a certain age or taste Hüsker Dü might have either been off your radar completely or not your cup of tea.”

I must plead guilty. I heard all those groups on WORT, but I am of a certain age. I’m just a little older than Grant Hart and just a little older than my many friends who dug Hüsker Dü and who keenly feel the loss of Hart today.

It just wasn’t my scene. But by all accounts, what a scene it was.

Again, my friend Larry:

“How exciting it was to do zines, and play in bands, and go to basement/loft shows of all kinds and discover that there was an entire underground world of people just like you that felt the same way about things, and creating/connecting in a pre-internet world where in-person and snail-mail were the order of the day. Grant Hart and Hüsker Dü were a big part of that world. … It was truly a different time, and unless you were there, you’ll never really know how amazing it all was.”

Turns out, a good half-dozen friends were part of that amazing scene. Norb’s band opened for Hüsker Dü at a venue that was more or less in my Madison neighborhood, then had a memorable encounter with Hart years later. Paul hung out with the band and also had a memorable encounter with Hart. Tom worked one of their last shows. Dave has good memories of Hart opening for Patti Smith with a most unexpected cover.

I respect their passion for Hart and for Hüsker Dü, one expressed so well by my friend Vince, another member of the Clan Grogan of New Jersey:

“No band hit me out of the gate or has stayed with me so potently as Hüsker Dü. They inspired me to play the way I do and were so beyond so many of their contemporaries. Their music is always close at hand. They were the perfect combination of smarts, emotion, hooks, and pure unadulterated fury.”

Reflect that passion. Go play some Hüsker Dü records.

1 Comment

Filed under September 2017, Sounds