Hark the Sound of Tarheel Voices

Not to give anyone the impression that Carolina Soul has been bought out by ESPN, or, heaven forbid, Fox Sports South, but March Madness offers welcomed respite from all the other manners of madness that plague us April-February. I keep trying to tell my fellow Winston-Salemites/Tarheel brethren Stuart Scott and Hubert Davis—People don’t want all this sports gossip, off-court drama, and contract politics. They want iPhone photos and locker room improvisations. Props to Alan Lomax, the Mike Jordan of Field Recording. Props to the 2011 Carolina Tarheels Heels—Go wherever the winds of basketball greatness may take you. 

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Assorted Sounds by the UNC Men’s Basketball Team and Pep Band

Duke Scores! One Real Band

Nate Smith is a New York native and Duke University graduate student, who hosts Funk Disco Dance Fridays on WXDU 88.7-FM, Fridays from 6-8 pm.

This rich, White Yank was granted the olive branch of blog space on Carolina Soul to bring some real love to Duke University for their 2011 ACC Men’s Basketball Championship.  Coach K would not recruit Chuck D, but I feel like Radio Raheem right now: right hand, left hand, love and hate, Duke and Carolina… Left hand hate KO’d by love! I love you Carolina fans for being who you are and thinking what you think. But as my friend would say, Baby blue, Carolina is not populist! That’s State. Go cheer on that.
If you want to hear a band that flips preconceptions about Duke on its lid, look no further than the One Real Band. Duke’s Harlequins may be “Carolina Soul-lite,” but ORB has soul. Former Durham club operator Bro. Yusuf Salim (RIP) says ORB “offer a repertoire of great variety, guaranteed to move you no matter what your favorite style may be.” And these guys had style (@jalenrose, I am awaiting my Twitter apology). We’re talking jazz, funk, proto-rap, soul, and (regrettably) standards. A trio of brothers Kimbrough, Duke alum and harbinger of Plumlee, led the band, which crossed town-gown boundaries to fill out its seven-piece. Guest singer Fleecia Heath, in her first Google hit and only appearance on their sole 1981 LP It’s Nice To Know There’s Still ONE REAL BAND, offers the most fragile of modern soul vocals, telling her counterpart Nat Martin, “We come back once again to the place where we began—one time in hate, the next in love.” Carolina will have its turn back at the top again one day, but until then…

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“Here We Go” by One Real Band

Harlequins: Straight Baby Thighs

Since becoming obsessed with the Big Ghost Chronicles, written anonymously by a Ghostface Killah-channeling genius, it’s hard not to call the Harlequins “shampoo-blooded” or simply “mad soft, b.” None the less, the University of New Jersey at Durham deserves some manner of acknowledgement for knocking the Tarheels off in the ACC Tournament last Sunday. I would call the Harlequins a poor man’s Four Freshman, but Duke University threatened to take legal action if I associated them with poor people. What deserves mention more so than this loofah-centric vocal ensemble is the backing prowess of the Harrison Register Quintet, comprised of Jim Crawford (tenor), John Ziolkowski (trumpet), Bobby Boyd (bass), Frank Bennett (drums), and Register himself on guitar. Bennett stands for having led the accomplished Duke Ambassadors a decade or so after Creed Taylor himself played trumpet in the seminal student ensemble. “Following an introduction by the Harlequins, a latin [sic] beat is the setting for this composition by arranger Wayne Barber.” Although the Harlequins have some serious pipes, and the Quintet some serious chops, they’re more like diet Carolina Soul. Carolina Soul-lite, Nahmean? 

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“I’ve Never Felt This Way Before” by the Harlequins

Records Indicate: Tarheels, #1

Saturday, March 5th, one college-basketball powerhouse will emerge ACC conference leader, and one will take an L in the anything-BUT-civil war that is Carolina v. Duke. As the moment of truth approaches, we need all the spirited wind that our Carolina-blue sails can withstand. Although fight songs like “Tarheel Stomper” pre-empted historic gameplay, others celebrate the certified triumphs of some of our most successful squads. Case in point: “Number One” by Hoke Simpson is a faux Calypso ode to the 1957 Championship Tarheels, a cluster of talented New Yorkers (still “works” for Duke) who eventually eked out a victory over Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas squad in triple overtime. Colonial Records was home to Andy Griffith’s breakthrough concept monologue, “They Called It Football.” I like the part where he says “Big Ah-range Drank.” Colonial Records was owned by former Daily Tarheel Editor Orville Campbell, who can be seen here with his most successful act.

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“Number One” by Hoke Simpson with Ken & Ralph, Roy & Jerry

Brandon D Works at the Mall

Greensboro rapper Brandon D is basically the man. Here he is seen ringing up my purchase of Nixon’s Songs About Him at his independent music kiosk inside Hanes Mall, Winston-Salem. Similar transactions have transpired regularly between Brandon and I, from the trunk to the flea market, for several years now. Brandon Davis is second generation rap family here in the Carolinas. His uncle, “Fly” Eli Davis, was instrumental in bringing the Payroll Records roster to prominence in late-‘80s Greensboro, and presently manages Charlotte R&B phenom Anthony Hamilton. Although Brandon received major-label attention from a tailspinning Elektra, the independent rap game has afforded Brandon complete control of his craft, immortalized most recently in his top-grossing Carolina Legend mixtape and the autobiographical Purple Rain-style dramamentary, Trap Boomin’. My first exposure to Brandon was via 2005’s Carolinacentric classic, “Da Kak Joint,” which uses Billy Joel’s “Moving Out” to great effect. Yes, that Range Rover has a Brandon D graphic wrap, and yes the name of that store is Hood Locker. This is Greensboro. Get used to it.


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.