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Southern City: Hal and Jean, The Paramount Four and The Poodles - E. Mark Windle (excerpt from "House of Broken Hearts")

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Southern City: Hal and Jean, The Paramount Four and The Poodles - E. Mark Windle (excerpt from "House of Broken Hearts")

Gallatin is a tiny rural town in Sumner County, a mere thirty miles from Nashville. New York author Ken Abraham notes in More Than Rivals that Gallatin was a typical segregated main street southern town in the 1960s with separate drinking fountains, parks and pools and engagement in sports activities. Working class families of both races did interface to some extent, finding themselves experiencing common financial hardship and living conditions, though blacks typically held the lowest paid jobs available in the area. Abraham explains that African-American entrepreneurship did gradually create community based services such as taxi services, dry-cleaners, barber shops...

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Lee Tillman and the Secrets - E. Mark Windle (excerpt from "Rhythm Message").

Lee Tillman and the Secrets  - E. Mark Windle (excerpt from "Rhythm Message").

Inductee of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010, Lee Tillman was born and raised in Denham Springs, a small city approximately five miles from Baton Rouge. He started singing as a teenager in the late 50s, as a member of various vocal groups on and around a local college campus. In the evenings he would go to see Lester Robertson perform at a local club who at that time had a record out called “My Girl Across Town”. One night when Lester called him up on stage to sing two or three songs, local Buddy Stewart was listening...

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Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B King. Review by Toby Broom

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B.B King, the consummate bluesman, a bluesman with a guitar named Lucille. Actually a succession of guitars, but the origin of the name comes part way through this autobiography of raw, painful and ultimately uplifting honesty. In December 1949, aged 24, Riley ‘Blues Boy’ King is gigging in a house-turned club in Twist, Arkansas. A rubbish bin half- filled with lighted kerosene is warming the freezing night air but is knocked over as a fight between two men breaks out. A river of fire rages through the room and B.B King joins the stampede to flee the burning building. Realising...

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Merle Spears (excerpt from "Rhythm Message" by E. Mark Windle)

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Merle Spears (excerpt from "Rhythm Message" by E. Mark Windle)

In contrast to many of the other artists discussed in Rhythm Message, Merle Calvin Spears was a singer very much in the gritty R&B vein. For few recordings he made, Spears demonstrated a vocal talent similar to that of Bobby Bland. The author recalls that somebody once said of Bland (or perhaps Little Milton, though it could easily apply to both) that the artist belonged to a genre “too bluesy for soul fans, too soulful for blues fans”; Merle Spears could be described similarly. Yet all these artists have firmly established their musical home in northern soul Hall of Fame....

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The Chashers (excerpt from "It's Better to Cry") - E. Mark Windle

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The Chashers (excerpt from "It's Better to Cry") - E. Mark Windle

The Chashers’ “Without My Girl” is one of the more obscure releases and not that well known even among rare soul collectors, partly due to the record being one of the more recent discoveries on the northern scene. The track may have been first played in the UK at the Middleton all-nighters by DJs Carl Willingham and Phil Shields. By the time “Without My Girl” came out in late 1968, The Chashers had evolved from a merger of earlier bands.  The two writers, Lamar (aka Tom) Collins, lead singer and Roy Thompson, guitar, were members of The Avalons, originally from...

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