LOOKING FOR CAROLINA SOUL 
 VINYL SALES?

Shirley Clinton CD release concert in Greensboro, 6/25/11.

R&B vocalist Shirley Clinton will celebrate the release of her third solo CD “Just Think About It” on Saturday June 25, 2011 at the American Legion Post in Greensboro, North Carolina (3214 McConnell Road; near NC A&T’s Aggie Farm). Opening acts include Betty Jackson, a new solo artist and a sister of Ms. Clinton, and Psychic, a Greensboro-based reggae performer. More details are on Facebook.

A niece of George Clinton, Ms. Clinton’s first record “You Mean the World to Me” came out in 1992; her sophomore effort “So Love” followed 17 years later under the moniker Queenie ToVahn. Preceding her solo career, Ms. Clinton cut her teeth on the 1980s Carolina Soul scene. By the mid-‘80s she was the lead vocalist for the Undertakers Band of Greensboro. Later known as Horizon, this outfit was managed by Curt Moore for a time. The musical leaders of the group were the guitarist brothers Johnny and Allen Woodard and Clinton family friend Lonnie Dodson on keys. (Dodson now tours with the Chairman of the Board.) Before breaking out on her own, Ms. Clinton next joined the Mighty Majors, subject of previous Carolina Soul posts.

Voices of the Monitors.

“We go all the way back to 1957. It’s when we organized this band. I’m one of the only original people who’s still left. These guys will quickly tell you that they aren’t that old. Don’t let them fool you, they are. We organized the band, and we called ourselves the Monitors. I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember this, but there was a radio program called The Monitor, I think it was NBC. And it was the first time that they started putting all the news on one program: the sports, the weather, the local news, the state news, the national news, all in one program. So when we heard that, we said ‘that’s what we want to do, we want to be a band that can play all kinds of music.’ Anything you want to hear, we’re able to do that. We got guys who played around James Brown for years…Clarence Carter, they’ve been all around the world playing. Our repertoire is very extensive. We could be here all day long and never repeat the same song. That’s what we’ve been doing for years, and we just love music, and we’re going to keep on doing this until we just don’t have any more air.”

Those are the words of Bill Myers, early in a PineCone-sponsored gig on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at Bond Park in Cary, North Carolina. His group, the Monitors, traveled from Wilson, North Carolina to showcase their time-tested blend of jazz, r&b, soul, and oldies to a receptive crowd at the Sertoma Amphitheatre. The band will be performing on a national scale in early July; they’ll play several dates at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC.


From right to left: Sam Lathan (drums), Bill Myers (saxophone), Richard “Dick” Knight (trumpet), Gerald Hunter (guitar), Mollie Hunter (vocals/percussion).

Follow the link below for an audio montage featuring several of the group’s long-time members in concert last Saturday. You’ll hear from Mr. Myers (who had a hand in the original 1960s recording of “The Love Knot”), guitar player Gerald Hunter (vocalist on “A Lover’s Question”; he led several groups in the 1970s such as the Evening Light Gospel Singers), vocalist Mollie Hunter (on “Jazzy Lady”), drummer Sam Lathan (vocalist on “More Today Than Yesterday”; he anchored James Brown’s rhythm section for a time in the 1960s), and trumpet player Richard “Dick” Knight (soloist on “Mister Magic”; this one-time James Brown band member founded Kinston’s Dick Knight and the Bossatettes in the 1960s).

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Montage of the Monitors, live in concert.

Butch Kennedy photo archives.

Butch Kennedy of Charleston, South Carolina wrote in last August and revealed his amazing connections to Moe the Rooster, King Clyde Perkins, Lady Jam, and Midnight Blue, all of whom were previously profiled here at Carolina Soul:

“I just viewed your site I was wondering if moe the rooster is still alive. I just found out king clyde is no longer with us. My name is Butch Kennedy I was a DJ in the 70’s I was Mr. Boogie I worked with Lady Jam and was curious we used to play at Clydes Celestial !! all the time I also played with Midnight Blue from 1972 until 1976 thanks for the memories.”

Since then, Butch has gradually made his way through his photo albums, sharing with us these priceless images of himself and Lady Jam:

Thank you!



Anthony Hamilton’s Secret Hook

The shock waves of Carolina patriotism were still still being felt long after Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up” stubbornly evaporated from rotation in the early aughts. In 2004, Charlotte’s Crime Family penned their own anthem to the Old North State. Of the SEVEN individuals mentioned on this label, omitted is that of Queen City’s R&B King, Anthony Hamilton, whose breakthrough album Comin’ from Where I’m From had been released just months prior. Although nostalgic shouts to institutions like Bike Week and Myrtle Beach decorate this more-than-successful Carolina Rap relic, the Crime Family does a greater deal of block hugging and gangster posturing. Although I often question the authenticity (and more often the logic), of committing such court-admissible braggadocio to record, Charlotte’s Hidden Valley Kings, as revealed on that episode of Gangland (History Channel), practiced comparable caution. To aspiring drug dealers: If wire tapping devices start falling out of your customer’s pockets, be a little more skeptical of the “It’s radios and shit” explanation. However, to aspiring rappers: THIS is how you fit Michael Jordan, Julius Peppers, and Clay Aiken into one verse. Kudos. 

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“Carolina’s My Home” by the Crime Mob.

Stillman-Davis Misdiagnosed

As with most Tarheel records from the 1980s, this is largely unlistenable. The term “novelty” only begins to contextualize the piano boogers, cowbell abuse, Huey Lewis sax-foolery, and wet-noodle vocal posturing that mar this attractive picture disc. What is actually pretty cool is the Switched-On rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever.” That I can live with. Although College Town records maintained a post-office box in Durham (strike one), the Stillman-Davis Band also produced a picture disc for the Fighting Illii, leading one to believe that the the hyphenated duo didn’t have Tarheel-specific Fever after all. Regardless, they’d clearly come down with something. I guess that’s what you get for messing around in Durham. 

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‘Stars and Stripes Forever” by the Stillman-Davis Band

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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.

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