Etta James (January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012)
A little over a week ago saw the passing of one of the greatest blues singers of all time, Etta James. Her voice had a profound influenced on many singers who came after her from Janis Joplin to Susan Tedeschi. Even today, many pop divas will try but will never come close to Etta’s musicality and soul.
For those who has never heard of Etta I would go out and check out the 2 CD set from Chess Records called The Essential Etta James. This set is complete with her hits and songs that showcases her talents.
On DVD, you can find a full concert, Burnin’ Down The House, but I would also recommend a couple of other videos. First, Chuck Berry’s Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll where in this period in time (1986) Etta was no longer in the spotlight, but her performance on this show proved she still had it.
Next B.B King & Friends - A Night Of Blistering Blues. Among the star-studded affair, B.B. brings out 3 female vocalists: Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Etta. From the opening number it is plain to see that Etta is the true Queen of the Blues and she was there to let everyone know that she was not ready to let go of the crown.
Etta will be truly missed.
It has been a couple of weeks since my last entry so I have quite a few things to share.
First let’s start with the Wednesday night jam that I was supposed to be part of. I got a call in early January from their bandleader and bassist looking for a guitar player. Their other guitarist was going on tour with another group so having someone to fill in was top priority. The gig did not pay that much but I was still looking forward to it as a way to just get out there and keep my chops up to par. Next I made arrangements in my teaching schedule so I would be able to do this weekly gig and on January 10th made my way to the venue. Upon arrival I found out something odd. A cover charge of $5 was being asked to attend, which was something that I never heard of for an open jam. Anyhow we got the show rolling. A keyboard player joined us for the first set, followed by a bass player and singer/harp player. The jammers were quite good. Apart from the 3 jammers the place was empty and we were asked to close up shop early. Then I found out that I was not going to get paid. The bandleader was depending on the cover charge to pay the rest of the band (which was me and the drummer). The cover charge was not mandated by the club and it would have been his responsibility to collect. He then told us that he would pay us later on in the week. He also mentioned that the jam was on hiatus for a week and we would return on the 25th. I waited over a week and no phone call was made to tell me he had my money. So I gave him a call and left a message asking him to confirm if the jam was still on. Well surprise, surprise, Wednesday came and went and he has not even acknowledged my phone call let alone have the money that he owes me. I would have been more than happy to talk to him and figure something out to get this jam going. Well, his loss.
Next I got to do a couple of gigs. The first was the acoustic show at the Manchester Arms. The date got changed a couple of times to accommodate other bands. Unfortunately Lord Bubba wasn’t available that night, but he recommended a good replacement, Bruce Griffin, who took the gig. I was quite happy with his playing. Check out his group the Binder Brothers at www.thebinderbrothers.com. Gig number two was the electric show down at the Salty Dog. All went well and we should be back in late March.
In between the shows I made a phone call of my own to a promoter I knew for a music festival. I thought that with my new albums I would have a chance to perform at this festival. During our conversation I found out that he was still in charge a winter music festival. Even though it was late I asked if there was any openings left. He did mentioned that he was waiting for another band to call back about a gig and that we had been waiting for quite a while. He told me the date and I confirmed I was available. He said he wanted to give the other band another day to decide. I said cool, just give me a call if you need someone. Two days later (not one), he calls me back stating he could not wait any longer and gave me the date. Then I proceeded to make my phone calls to bandmates and posting the date on my website. Later that evening he called back stating that the other group just called him and now wanted to do the gig. The reason it took so long was because they were waiting for other band members to confirm. The news left me a bit deflated but that is nothing new to this business.
Here is what I’d like to say about these matters. Musicians (and people) should have a little more respect for each other when it comes to this business (and in life as well). When it comes to the jam band, all the guy had to do was be up front with the money, and leave the decision to me whether I wanted to do the gig or not. If I decided to do the gig and got no money for it, it would be my problem. Then after all this, all he had to do was contact me to talk or even set up a meeting. Now if he ever calls again I will not have kind words for him and when talking to other musicians I will warn them of his unprofessionalism.
As far as the other situation, when someone calls you to book a gig be professional about it and make a quick decision. I either say yes or no on the spot. Then I call up the rest of the guys. If someone can’t do it, I find someone else. None of this waiting around and leaving someone on the hook when it comes to the date. Again respect was not shown and someone is left in the wind. It just happens to be me.
First I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year! The holiday season was quiet for me but that was not a bad thing as it gave me the chance to recharge my internal battery and get ready for this new year.
I also want to thank everyone who has bought the new albums either at live gigs or online through CD Baby and iTunes. For an artist, it is always nice to know that someone out there is listening and enjoying the music. Which brings me to a strange request I received by email. Here is that email:
Dear Mr. Joe Poirier,
My name is Ivica Visnjic and I am a really big rock, blues, roots and Americana music lover from Croatia, 62 years old. Just now I am told you have a new album entitled "SUNSHINE” and I am glad.
I have a big interest in this CD, but unfortunately (and really), I am not in a financial position to buy it at present. Mr. Poirier, maybe you can send me an free copy of the CD? I would be very grateful for it and excuse me for being impudent. I will promote the CD among my friends here in Croatia.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and help. Looking forward to hearing from you!!!
Best regards from Croatia,
P.S. Also, I´d be really very grateful for an autographed picture of yourself (large dimension if possible).
I asked some of my musician friends and they never heard of such a thing. Next I did a Google search and found that other artists have received similar emails from the same sender and are also wondering what’s up. So what I am asking is if someone out there has more information on this matter. Whether or not they sent a CD and what came of it. Any information would be helpful and you can email me at: