Odyssey Five - 2nd Time Around

(Photo by Andy Tennille)

Odyssey Five’s performance last Saturday, as part of the Crossroads Concert Series at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, is the very reason one gets into the “business” of prying into the lives and related legacies of our state’s musical veterans. Only teenagers when they recorded their lone LP, First Time Around, for Brunswick Records in 1975, the ladies of Odyssey Five are far more familiar with these songs today than they were when the lyrics sheets were shoved into their hands by producer Alonzo Tucker some 35 years ago. Time has also been kind to the voices of Odyssey Five, taking on a far more mature and finessed timbre in the intervening decades. Retro-upstart Ronnie Levels and his Genius Band, having cold-called Carolina Soul with the question: “Why doesn’t someone around here organize a soul revue?” were given the mandate to become part of the solution, and rose to the occasion. We hope this is the beginning of not just beautiful things for Odyssey Five and Ronnie Levels, but other Carolina Soul combos wishing to get a little more mileage out of their catalogs. We have proven that there is both a platform and an audience for this type of affair, and hope that Saturday’s time-machine talent show is the first of many.

Dungeon Family

Preparing for Crossroads 2 at SECCA (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, if you’re nasty) has sent me scrambling across Winston-Salem, screening bric-a-brac and artifact for the exhibit that will accompany this monumental concert event. Pictured here are several players and participants from Golden-Era Winston-Salem as seen through the lens of former parks employee and nightclub owner, Rodney Sumler. These very community events, everything from voter registration drives to portable concerts aboard the Showbobile, sewed the seeds for Sumler’s legendary Dungeon Club, which showcased too many Carolina Soul luminaries to mention (one, Odyssey 5, will be performing at Crossroads 2). These collages themselves were the basis for the monthly collages found in the pages of Sumler’s enduring AC Phoenix, which has served the Triad community for over 27 years. 

75 years of the Silver Stars.

The Silver Stars gospel group of Orangeburg County, South Carolina enters their 75th year this fall, and they’ll celebrate the occasion on September 11, 2011 in Holly Hill, South Carolina. To purchase advance tickets, contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), and we’ll put you in touch with the appropriate parties.

When asked about the Stars’ longevity, vocalist Nehemiah “Slim” Small (who was only born the year that original manager Robert White Sr. assembled the first line-up) explained that “we know what people like and what people don’t like.” Mr. Small, who’s been with the group for 40 years (second only to George Inabinett, who’s clocked in a half century), also added that “the biggest things that break up a group are women and money.” Here’s a photo from one of his first years:

And here’s the 2007 line-up:

One staple of the Silver Stars’ programs throughout the years has been “The Bible Days,” and we are pleased to share a late-‘70s take that’s found on their only-ever 45-rpm release.

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Silver Stars “The Bible Days” (Smoke 45).

Star Search - The Leder Brothers

Upon the release of “I’d Like To Touch A Star,” Steven and Sheldon Leder were enamored with soul musicians like Stevie Wonder, but more likely to be mistaken for Steely Dan. Wilson, North Carolina, although a safe distance from the coast, was well-within the event horizon of beach music’s influential reach. So between regional sets by the Embers and treks to see Count Basie in some intracoastal bowling alley, the Leder Brothers kindled a manner of music they felt made dutiful nods to all of their influences. All one-thousand of them. 

Oddly, Steven and Sheldon Leder were not even the most famous Leder Brothers in Wilson County when this record (and the corresponding LP, Capitol Hill) materialized. Brothers Leon and Morris Leder got a forty-year head start, opening their own Leder Brothers enterprise in 1934, a department store which still serves the needs of the Tobacco-centric city to this day. Being recent emigrants from Eastern Europe, Leder Brothers catered to all residents, Black, White, or otherwise. Once Steven and Sheldon began demoing songs, scheduling gigs and recording dates, what better name than the reputable Leder Brothers? The name you can trust? Several of Leon’s children maintain the shop, a mom-and-pop (brother-and-sister, rather) stronghold for Wilson County residents seeking anything from Sunday Best suits to tube socks.

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“I’d Like To Touch A Star” by the Leder Brothers

“Natural Attraction” by Family Sircle.

Durham, North Carolina’s Family Sircle group plans to release two CD singles ahead of a 14-track full-length in mid-August. The first single, which you can preview below, is entitled “Natural Attraction.” The group will be performing this number and many others in concert at the Alston Avenue Elks Lodge on Saturday, July 2nd (3920 South Alston Ave, Durham, NC). This will only be their third performance since long-time vocalist Edgar Saunders passed away in the fall of 2009.

These sweet soul specialists’ Carolina Soul roots run deep. Edgar Saunders (in the middle on the cover of their 1999 debut, below) sang with several local ‘70s-era acts including Blue Steam (aka Formula 12) and the Modulations. His brothers Stanley Saunders and Jerome Saunders worked with Duralcha and the Differences, respectively, and represent half of their re-vamped vocal line-up (they’re on the left and right in the picture at the top of this entry). Barry Nichols (pictured in the middle, above) and Pierce McKoy (not pictured; worked out-of-state for a spell with national artist Main Ingredient), share the singing duties.

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Excerpt of “Natural Attraction” by Family Sircle (2011).


The Carolina Soul website serves as a living encyclopedia of soul music made in North and South Carolina. We strive to share Carolinian songs and stories of the last half century, and we invite the input of musicians and fans. We hope you will contact us if you have information on bands or recordings from the region.