Fontella Bass one of music giants who left us
We start today with a cartoon — well, a description of a cartoon — by John Caldwell, an old friend of mine whose credits include national newspaper syndication and the New Yorker and many other magazines, and who loves all Texas music.
The cartoon shows a tiny desert island with a single palm tree. A ragged shipwreck survivor shouts “RESCUE ME!” From a ship steaming away, a crew member shouts back as if to a trivia question, “FONTELLA BASS, 1965!”
R&B singer Fontella Bass was among the giants of music we lost last year.
Her hit “Rescue Me” perfectly exemplified 1960s sexy soul, while her life had the glory and the grind of old-school show business. Bass claimed she co-wrote “Rescue Me,” but she didn’t earn royalties until a 1995 settlement after living near poverty for years. She sang with, married and divorced trumpeter Lester Bowie of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and sang with her half-brother David Peaston. Her last album “No Ways Tired” (1995) earned a Grammy nomination.
Last year, we also lost, in chronological order: “At Last” R&B singer Etta James (73, and, yeah, she sang it better than Béyoncé); pop singer Whitney Houston (48, and by most measures the biggest star who left us last year); Monkees pop-rock/TV star Davy Jones (66); music-TV hosts Dick Clark (82, “American Bandstand”) and Don Cornelius (75, “Soul Train”); drummer-singer Levon Helm (71, The Band, and a long encore/second career); Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch (47); soul/disco singer Donna Summer (63); BeeGees singer Robin Gibb (62); “Moon River” smooth-pop singer Andy Williams (84); and jazz giant “Take Five” pianist Dave Brubeck (91).
We’ll miss them all.
A Place for Folk
The newly launched A Place for Folk series resumes on Friday with Everest Rising. Local favorites, this band comprises longtime members bassist-singer Pete Gernert-Dott and banjoist Bill Flanigan, with new members multi-instrumentalist Trevor Wood and singer Dale Wade-Kesey. They’ve just released their debut album, “New Home Found.” Show time for A Place for Folk (First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, 1221 Wendell Ave.) is 8 p.m.
Admission is $16; students $14; children age 6 and above with parent $2. Phone 377-0002.
Some gracious readers commented recently by email on past Jukebox columns. Here’s some of what they said.
• About Dave Brubeck, Bill Thyne wrote: “I had seen him perform several times during my lifetime, but none were as thrilling as a concert at Skidmore College during Saratogafest in June 2011. That night Dave appeared with his son Chris and his group Triple Play. What a night of music! Dave played in the second set, which was totally from the Dave Brubeck music book of classics. But what struck me the most that night was something that you highlighted in your article, namely ‘Stokowski lightning.’ His son escorted Dave to the piano from the wing.
“My initial impression was how frail Dave looked as he shuffled across the stage with his son’s arm as support. But when his hands touched the keyboard, there was a transformation you could see. His mind and hands became those of a 25-year-old. He hadn’t lost a thing, and the joy from his smiling expressions throughout the performance showed how delighted he was to be in his element again.
“The crowd was wildly enthusiastic and supportive, and we were treated to what could have been the last public appearance by Dave Brubeck — certainly the last in this area.”
• Bob Dwore recalled a whole different batch of Union College concerts than I’d cited in Jukebox, proving that nobody can get to all the shows, or even all the really good ones.
Bob wrote: “I attended some of the ones you discussed and missed others as I was living away at college in the early ’70s. Let me add a few more that you may or may not have been present at:
“Beach Boys — original lineup and my very first concert. Memorial Fieldhouse 1965.
“Animals — original lineup — roughly 1966 or 1967 — Memorial Fieldhouse.
“Wilson Pickett with Flip Wilson as the opener — Memorial Fieldhouse, circa 1966 or 1967.
“Poco — original lineup (with Richie Furay, Rusty Young, etc.) and one of the very best concerts I ever saw, circa 1971, Memorial Chapel.
“Pat Metheny — Memorial Chapel, late ’70s/early ’80s.
“Jethro Tull — Achilles Rink, or was it at the Fieldhouse?
“Charlie Daniels — Achilles Rink.
“The Flock — Memorial Chapel.
“There were countless other shows that have long since faded from my memory that either were on the campus or at other venues sponsored by Union. One that comes to mind in this category was the Kinks at Proctor’s, probably early/middish ’80s.”
Thanks for writing, and reading!
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.