Willie Mitchell - Monkey Jump (Hi EBS 1130)
Some Good News for the New Year
My good friends in Memphis, Julius Bradley and Sylvester Sartor of the Resartus Management Group gave me a call just before Christmas and gave me the news:
Poppa Willie Mitchell will be honored at The Grammys this year with a Trustees Award, which is the 'non-performing equivalent' of a Lifetime Achievement Award.
How great is that?
They asked me to kind of keep it quiet until the official announcement was made, but when Jud Phillips sent me an article from the Commercial Appeal about it, I figured the coast was clear. I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Willie on this well-deserved (and long overdue) recognition by NARAS (the people who run the Grammy awards), and to thank all of you who joined in our email campaign to try and nudge them in that direction last August. You know who you are!
Now, we're all aware that Willie Mitchell is indeed a 'performer' as well, but hey, we'll take what we can get! Willie will receive the award at a private ceremony in Los Angeles on February 9th, followed by a televised presentation at The Grammys the following night. Mitchell told The Appeal, "I will definitely be there."
This positively cookin' version of a Junior Walker composition comes from one of those cool 'jukebox album' packages that I found (still sealed!) on eBay not too long ago. It was released in 1968. We've spoken before about how Joe Cuoghi, the boss at Hi in those days, was a firm believer in the power of the jukebox (kinda like me), and said that he moved more vinyl that way than he ever did by promoting it on the radio. Willie, in many ways, was the king of those jukebox routes, as his tight no-nonsense good time instrumentals were extremely popular all up and down the line.
The logical extension of the work he had been doing with his jumpin' band in local clubs for years, these little jukebox EPs brought 'The Memphis Sound' to roadhouses and gin joints all across America. In addition to that, they provide us today with a glimpse of the very nucleus of what would mature into the amazing Hi Rhythm, who would go on to create so much of our favorite soul music in the years to come. Music that was produced, of course, by the one and only Poppa Willie.
Congratulations again, Mr. Mitchell, like I've told you before, you are THE MAN!
In other news, I was totally astonished to wake up this morning and find out that the ol' B Side was featured (along with my good pal Jason Stone's always excellent Get On Down With The Stepfather Of Soul) in The Guardian, the giant UK news source. In an article by music writer Chris Salmon, he names us as one of the top twenty sources of 'the best music you can find - for free - on the internet'. Well thanks there Chris, I'm blushing over here!
Happy New Year One and All!