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.
Excerpt of “Natural Attraction” by Family Sircle (2011).
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…
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?
“I’ve Never Felt This Way Before” by the Harlequins
Venerable Durham, North Carolina cultural arts festival Bimbé enters its 41st year, tomorrow, Saturday, May 22, at the CCB Plaza downtown.
1976 looks to have been a good year, with three Carolina Soul outfits on the bill, Blue Steam and Duracha, both of Durham, and the allegedly never-recorded Black Genesis of Raleigh. (Newspaper advertisement comes from The Carolina Times.)
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.