Thursday, May 13, 2010

For months, area musicians and music fans have organized benefits to help D.C. area singer Nadine Rae, who put her career on hold to deal with serious injuries she received from an automobile accident last winter.
Rae attended the latest benefit to thank supporters in person—with a song.
Rae, whose required reconstructive surgery after her car flipped over in Anne Arundel County several times on Christmas Eve, performed briefly at a benefit held for her on April 11 at the Silver Spring American Legion Hall. The event was organized by the D.C. Blues Society and by Barbara Chandler, wife of blues guitarist Memphis Gold.
The benefit offered its guests a rare D.C. area treat: a chance to hear a show featuring both Memphis Gold and legendary blues guitarist Bobby Parker, who joined the benefit after learning of it for the first time that day. Performances by B.T. Richardson, Stacey Brooks, Dr. S.O. Feelgood and Lady Rose made the requested donation of $15 even more of a bargain
But, despite the formidable array of talent, Rae was the definite star of the evening, particularly when, backed by Memphis Gold and his band, she sang a brief set that ended with a energetic rendition of “The Thrill is Gone.”
As she sang, it was obvious in her face how much she loved being in front of an audience.
Still, once she stopped singing, she made it clear later that her fight for good health is not over.
“I want to tell you something, I did get broke up in that car accident, but I also just out of the house two weeks ago for congestive heart failure,” she said. “The medicine that they gave me, I was already fighting a weight problem and the medicine they gave me just might add to it. So they took fluid off my heart.”
But, when the guests reacted to her words with sighs of pity, she reminded them that the occasion was meant to be joyous, not sad. “No, don’t say ‘aww,’ ” she said. “because I’m here!”
Rae, who will perform with the Patty Reese band at the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival on May 22 and will open for Parker and Chuck Brown at the State Theatre on June 10, later explained what has kept her going throughout the ordeal.
“It’s like the old saying, music soothes the savage beast and it’s therapeutic for me,” she said.” I love the art. So, getting paid and having gigs, all of that is great but I love the art and I enjoy making people happy and giving them hope and giving myself some encouragement. It’s a ministry, you know what I mean?”
Memphis, who injured his back in a fall a few years ago, recalled that Rae had sung at a benefit for him. Their performance of “The Thrill is Gone” earlier in the evening was “a spur of the moment thing,” he said. “But we had done it several times together, you know, and we just do what we do,” he added.
Musicians overall said they were glad to help. “It’s a good thing to help somebody that’s in need,” said bassist Michael “Judge” Farrell, who joined Brooks and Lady Rose for sets. “Nadine had an accident. She doesn’t have medical insurance. It’s too bad. It’s unfortunate,” he said. ”So those of us who are more fortunate can share and spread around the wealth, help somebody out. It’s a good thing to do this.”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Folks, I recently had a chance to ask Washington area bluesman Memphis Gold how a guitar player can improve his playing. Here is what he said:

"Just play together and be in tune, and guitar players, they should learn to let it be an extension of themselves. A lot of guitar players, they play a lot of notes. Slow down. Make what you say, make it like you mean it or whatever. It’s like talking to yourself, talking to your instrument."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Richard Waller

Richard Waller III should be even more comfortable with bass players than most drummers: his father plays bass. Good thing, for as resident drummer of Gerald Veasley’s Bass Boot Camp, Waller comes into contact with scores of bass players. The seemingly tireless drummer, recording engineer, composer and producer teaches one of the boot camp’s most popular workshops, a “groove” class in which bassists demonstrate how well they hold the groove by jamming one-on-one with him. He also gives a workshop on recording techniques, another popular class.
At night his drumming is the glue that holds together the camp’s pinnacle event, a Saturday night jam open to any and all students.
The Philadelphia native brings a wide range of experience to the Boot Camp. A formally-trained drummer, he played with Veasley for three years. His work as a recording engineer and producer has included projects with Veasley, John Legend, The Roots, Grover Washington, Jr. and Philip Bailey, among others.
He founded RCP Records, which specializes in rhythm and blues and hip-hop, and currently runs Walcom Music Group, LLC, which offers music production, publishing and music business consultation services. He has also composed music for film and television, including “The Cosby Show.”
After one of his classes, he offered his insights on the relationship between bassists and drummers:
BBP: What is your strategy for dealing with all of these bass players?
Waller: My strategy for dealing with all of the bass players is to basically maintain the relationship between the bass player and the drummer. It’s an important relationship that can’t be neglected because at the end of the day if a vocalist or keyboard player or instrumentalist who’s up front, at the end of the day if the band is not happening, the bass player and the drummer get blamed first. Period. Because they feel as though, people playing messed up one time, it’s fine. Think about when you’re on stage and the drummer messes up. You can even go to another song, they’ll still be talking about how “three songs ago, the drummer, man he totally missed the downbeat. It wasn’t happenin’ at all.” They never forget it. Same thing with bass players. Bass players, because you got all that low end, and you’re the only person there…so when the bass player makes a mistake, it’s amplified. When the drummer makes a mistake it’s amplified. But if the keyboard player makes a mistake they call it hip…because he resolved his mistake. We can’t resolve the beat, ‘cause it takes us a while to find out where we were, you know. What happened was, when Gerald first started and at the time—I don’t think I was touring with Gerald yet, but I did tour with Gerald for three years—at the time when we started, it was a thing where, you know, I was already doing clinics and I would have various bass players and that was the relationship. So it was, you know, “how are you going to have like 80 bass players there and their main job is to work with the drummer, you have no drummer in the place. You know so, he gave me a shot at doing the workshop and then actually, through the questionnaires, it became the most popular workshop. So that’s how I ended up constantly doing it. Plus my father was a bass player, so I really understood the relationship, you know, because if I didn’t play right he beat me (laughs). Just kidding.