James Funches, who we profiled in Sophisticated Fight Song, has played in a number of memorable ensembles over the last three decades, teaching music within the Forsyth County School System for the better part of that time. Reggie Buie, a native of Chicago, grew up next door to drummer Isaac “Red” Holt, one of Ramsey Lewis’ preferred timekeepers, who would one day comprise one half of the soul-jazz franchise, Young-Holt Unlimited. The two were making decent money backing Carolina vocalist Janice Price, when a performance opportunity arose at Wayne’s Lounge, located in the long-demolished Ramada Inn on N. Marshall Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Buie loaded drum patterns and bass lines onto floppy disks, and the duo played smoothed-out standards and R&B numbers for a consistent crowd. “I wasn’t crazy about it until I saw the first check,” reflected Funches of the sessions. “We got paid like there was six of us!”
Recorded on April 29th, 1993, new jack swing’s newly minted song book was put to good use, with Today’s “Why You Gettin’ Funky on Me” (from the House Party Soundtrack), Johnny Gill’s “Fair-Weather Friend,” and perhaps the genre’s most infamous offering, “Poison,” by Bell Biv Devoe.
Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison,” as performed by Funches & Buie
Wax Poetics is a fantastic publication, for whom I have been granted the liberty of telling many a Carolina tale over the years. The latest, from Issue 40, sheds some light on the roots of Winston-Salem’s permanently burgeoning rap scene. Due to lack of infrastructure and negligent radio, rappers from Winston never seem to gain true traction, and no one’s willing to back me on the brilliance of PWISD’s “Scared of the Tre Fo” (Keep your heads up, fellas). The magazine is available at Borders, Barnes and Noble, and a grip of independent bookstores, most of which can be located here. You’ve got ‘til the end of month.
Total Sound was recorded at Greensboro’s Crescent City Sound Studios in 1969 as part of a fundraising effort for Winston-Salem State University’s budding stage band, the Swingin’ Rams. “We bought band uniforms with proceeds from that album,” reflects saxophonist James Funches, who is pictured on the cover of this collegiate oddity. Although Total Sound boasts numerous young talents, from Sunshine Band saxophonist Eugene Timmons to future WSSU musical director Emory Jones, we relish “Ram Strutt” for a string of solos by a triumvirate of hometown royalty. Bassist Hobert Sharpe (the Blenders), saxophonist Galvin Crisp (Opus 7), and flutist James Funches (the Eliminators) would all go on to record seminal Carolina soul records upon completing their educations at Winston-Salem State University. Everyone gets an +A!
In the fall of 1957, North Carolina’s State Baptist Convention upheld a 1937 ruling prohibiting dancing on the campus of Wake Forest. After burning Convention president Reverend J.C. Canipe in effigy, the entire student body staged a walkout during the next morning’s mandatory service at Wait Chapel. Nearly two thousand students bunny hopped across campus, dancing well into the night. The protest attracted the attention of Life Magazine, who published an impressive spread on the conflict, quoting an anti-dance delegate as saying, “Dancing deteriorates the spiritual atmosphere, wherever it takes place,” and campus sweetheart/baton operator Linda Kinlaw as saying, “The riot was more fun than a panty raid.”
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.