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).
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.
“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).
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.