Friday, September 02, 2005

Dell Stewart - Let My Lover Go

I sat in front of the TV last night, watching the news, and crying. First and foremost, I couldn’t bear to see little children and old people, baking in the New Orleans heat without water, food or shelter. I imagine my child, or the rest of my family in a similar situation and it breaks my heart. The second thing that came to mind, was the great cultural and artistic loss the destruction of New Orleans is. To employ a mythical comparison, it’s as if the glittering culture of modern Atlantis was washed away in a deluge. The city of New Orleans is so much more than just a spot on a map. It has a character in a way that almost no other city in the US does, from the decorative ironwork and slate roofs in the French Quarter, to the old houses in the 9th ward, to the sounds of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Tuts Washington, Professor Longhair, Kid Ory, Buddy Bolden, Chris Kenner, Diamond Joe, Eddie Bo and countless others echoing in the ether. Looking at the aerial shots of the city, submerged in foul water, one can’t help but wonder if anything will remain. Only when the loss of human life is tallied and understood, will we be able to step back and begin to consider the material losses. How many historic neighborhoods will have to be bulldozed? What traces of the old music will be salvageable (i.e. master tapes, old stashes of local vinyl, historical documents)? Thanks to the blessed lunacy that allowed my parents to believe they could drag their 5 kids across country pulling a trailer, I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans back in 1977 (I was 15). Not yet old (or sophisticated) enough to grasp the real depth of the city’s musical history, I was however struck by the magic of the French Quarter. As soon we drove down Bourbon Street it was immediately obvious that we were seeing something unlike anything else in the America of 1977. It was like stepping out of a time machine. Aside from having to sidestep hordes of drunken Elks (there was a convention in town) it was a real pleasure to walk the streets and soak up the atmosphere. As long as my wife and I have known each other we’ve always talked about taking a trip to New Orleans, and now sadly, it is not to be. That said, all we can do (besides donating as much as we possibly can to the relief efforts, and hoping the Federal government gets off its ass sometime soon) is keep the people of New Orleans in our thoughts, and the music of New Orleans pumping back into the ether, from our stereos, radios, tape decks, ipods, whatever. Keeping that in mind, I offer you a small but tasty slice of NOLA music that I was lucky enough to track down about a month ago. I had posted a tune by Professor Longhair and the Clippers, and in the ensuing discussion with Dan Phillips from Home of The Groove, the comp ‘New Orleans Soul 60’s’ came up. I grabbed a copy, and of course started to try and track down some of the 45s (I already had 2 by Professor Longhair). The one 45 I was able to find was ‘Mr Credit Man’ b/w ‘Let My Lover Go’ by Dell Stewart. I’ll be honest and admit that what little I know of Stewart comes from the liner notes of the comp. Stewart was a friend of the songs composer Earl King, and he sounded so much like Earl that King’s wife thought it was him singing when she heard the record. ‘Mr Credit Man’ is a pretty nice slice of early NOLA soul, that owes a stylistic debt to the Marvelettes ‘Please Mr. Postman’. I found the b-side ‘Let My Lover Go’ to be the more interesting number. Where the a-side has it’s ear turned to Detroit, ‘Let My Lover Go’ has a real NOLA feel, with some cool piano and a great vocal by Stewart. Nothing earth-shattering, just a good solid piece of New Orleans R&B/soul to help us remember what made that city so great. Remember, the post below has a link to donate to the Red Cross. Also, stop over to the Soulstrut board, where a string of charity record auctions are going on.


Anonymous CaptWrong said...

Who approves new accounts at Soul Strut? I'm ret to go, but I have to get an account approved.

9/02/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

There are several moderators and I know some of them are on line today. Did you try to sign up for an account?

9/02/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous CaptWrong said...

I'm in there. Thanks mang.

9/02/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous CaptWrong said...

BTW, this is some awesome shit y'all are doin'.

9/02/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Posted a link to the Soulstrut message board from my own blog. Thanks for the tip.

9/02/2005 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Thanks for participating guys!

9/02/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

The vocal similarities of Dell and Earl are uncanny. Thanks for posting this b-side. As I mentioned before soemwhere, Earl wasn't singing on the songs he wrote and produced for Watch because he was still under contract with Motown, which, of course, never did anything other than hold him back.

I just noticed the soulstrut info,
I'll try to get that link up at HOTG, too. Thanks so much, Larry!
I'm sorry you and your wife didn't make it to "Old New Orleans".

9/04/2005 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Resonance FM, London (UK)'s non-profit experimental art radio station will broadcast a special show dedicated to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Thursday 8th September 2005 - 7pm-8.30pm London Time (2pm-3.30pm East Coast time).

Listen online at

"New Orleans has probably made a bigger contribution to 20th century music than any other city. From the birth of jazz to Mardi Gras street parades, rock and roll, soul, R&B, funk and hip-hop. The havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina has shocked the world. Jack Thurston is joined by jazz pianist and New Orleans resident John Richardson, trumpeter John Hoare and Stuart Baker and Pete Reilly from Soul Jazz Records for a celebration of New Orleans music and reflections on the terrible events that continue to unfold."

9/06/2005 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Marie said...

Late reading this post, but I felt the same. Buddy Bolden -all that blazing history - came instantly to mind. Today (the 6th)his recorded birthday.

(The "required reading" linked to his name leaves out "Coming through Slaughter." The best book on the Bolden-era of New Orleans - real or imagined. All the rest are details.)

Yet reading the horrific accounts today of the dead found in the Convention Center... seems that daily, the unimaginable scope continues to expand.

But every bit helps.

9/06/2005 02:32:00 PM  

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