LOOKING FOR CAROLINA SOUL 
 VINYL SALES?

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.

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

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

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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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