Happy Birthday, Archie Bell!

Mr. Tighten Up was born on September 1, 1944!

Growing up in Houston, Texas, Archie Bell started singing in church before cutting his teeth in a junior high school vocal group called Little Pop and the Fireballs. By the time he’d made it to high school, he’d formed the Drells, who, though Texans through and through, specialized in a breezy thread of Chicago-style soul. Their unique approach won them many a talent contest and brought them to the attention of local disc jockey and Ovide Records head honcho Skippy Lee Frazier. Their first outing for Frazier, 1966’s “She’s My Woman” became a local hit but the next year Bell was drafted. Before heading off, he and the Drells managed to lay down a few tunes in the company of Texas State University’s ace instrumental soul squad the T.S.U. Tornadoes. One of the songs was a loose, infectious number called “Tighten Up,” which was subsequently released and became a hit, first in Houston and then all over the country.

It crested at number one on both the pop and R&B charts while Drell was recovering from wounds in Vietnam. Learning of his windfall, he began traveling back to the U.S. to record while on leave, and eventually lit out for a national tour with the Drells. It was after a show in New Jersey that he met Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Philadelphia’s leading songwriting and production team. The partnership wound up being a fruitful one, scoring hits such as “I Can’t Stop Dancng,” “Do The Choo-Choo” and the most excellent, “(There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown,” which was later re-invented to perfection by the New York Dolls.

Scene Report: Turner Family Picnic

Last night, the primal sounds of fife and drum music were echoing at the Turner Family Picnic, an annual North Mississippi Hill Country tradition, and Bo-Keys leader Scott Bomar, Ponderosa Stomp graphics designer Kerri Mahoney and I were there to listen. Since the death of Rising Star Fife and Drum Band founder — and Turner … Continue reading Scene Report: Turner Family Picnic

“Yea, Yea, Daddy Let’s Go for a Ride” – Roy Perkins “Drop Top” on Gogurt Commercial

Poetic justice on a grand scale as the infectious strains of Roy Perkins’ “Drop Top” is currently getting massive airplay in a new Gogurt commercial on kiddy cable tv. I’ve seen several different kids repeat it after just one viewing- “BA DA BA DA DAAAAA – DROP TOP!” All hail ROY!

Top Ten Swamp Pop Songs – Billy Delle’s Records from the Crypt

Yat raconteur and one of the last great WWOZ dj’s – Billy Delle, recently counted down his top ten Swamp Pop records on his radio show. I grabbed a stack of post its and commenced to a writing. Starting it off with his own freewheeling scat interpretations of iconic New Orleans R&B hits Delle segued … Continue reading Top Ten Swamp Pop Songs – Billy Delle’s Records from the Crypt

Scene Report: Pee Wee Guidry & the Country Boys featuring Joe Timmons

I had been seeing these guys’ names in the paper for awhile now, playing in Kenner and Metairie, and have been intrigued: Pee Wee Guidry & the Country Boys featuring Joe Timmons. I saw where Pee Wee has played with pianist/singer Kenny “L” Lachney, according to Kenny L’s bio page for the West Bank Musicians … Continue reading Scene Report: Pee Wee Guidry & the Country Boys featuring Joe Timmons

2017 Ponderosa Stomp #13 Concert