Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Here we are at the end of another year. I was sitting here looking @ the tree & contemplating this past year. It was a very good year. It was a very busy year for the Slacks. The band has come a long way in the past year. And I must say it has been an honor and a pleasure to play and work with talented professionals who really care about the music. More importantly, I am proud to call these men FRIENDS. I am looking forward to 08 and making sweet soul music, capped with the release of our first original Slacks CD.

But I also can't help but think of all the friends and great music makers we lost this year. Ike Turner, jazz great Oscar Peterson, Little Milton, Luther Ingram, Boots Randolph, just to name a few. And last, but not least, one of the Slack biggest fans, Apache. To you all, R.I.P

Yes, it was quite a year, ending with the annual Slacks Christmas party. That was BIG fun. We met & made alot of new friends. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. And let's have a prosperous and SAFE 2008.

Diamond D

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cantab Chicken Christmas!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Chicken Slacks Christmas/Winter Solstice show last night, it was a good turnout and a fun time had by all. The Slacks got down and played some holiday ditties along with our usual funky fare. Santa never actually showed up but we had plenty of Back-door Santas out on the dancefloor and it was a sight to see! Here's hoping your holidays are joyous and we look forward to partying it up with you in the coming year of Thursday nights and beyond. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Money talks...

Usually it's a great joke when, after someone in the audience shouts out a song request to the band, Diamond D tells them: "Just write your request on the back of a $50 bill, and we'll consider it." It always gets a laugh. But last night at the Cantab some dude actually called us on it! He pulls out a crisp new "fitty" and said "Sign Sealed Delivered", a tune by Stevie Wonder that the band has never performed. Doh! After a quick survey of the band (Slim knew it, Rosco knew it, Curtis sorta knew it, I sorta knew it, and Johnny would try the vocal) we launched into it. Fantastic! What a joy it was to whip this one out off the cuff and have it rock! That's one we'll be adding to regular rotation. So folks, bring down those Ulysses S Grants and stump the band!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Thanksgiving at Muscle Shoals

Over Thanksgiving we visited the bathroom that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards locked themselves into for two hours to write "Wild Horses." It's a small bathroom, as is the building that holds the newly restored Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

My wife Amy's hometown is right next door, in Florence, and we got personal tours of both Muscle Shoals and FAME Studios. Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) had its first success with the 1961 hit by Arthur Alexander, "You Better Move On," and the studio did move on, to record Wilson Pickett's "Land of a Thousand Dances," Etta James' "Tell Mama," and dozens more records that went platinum and changed the pop landscape. It is where Aretha Franklin launched her soul career in 1967 with "Never Loved a Man the Way that I Love You." I sat down at the very same Wurlitzer piano that Spooner Oldham played for that great opening hook at the top of that song.

Our visit to the second studio-- Muscle Shoals Sound Studios-- was the coolest part of our day. We pulled up to the place and no one was around and the doors were locked. We peered through the windows and didn't see much. We took some pics of the building. Then a man in a pick up pulled in and parked behind us, and he was Noel Webster, the current owner of the studio, the man responsible for restoring the place after a few years of its being shut down, and the man responsible for getting the place on the National Historic Registry. (Sun Studios is the only other studio so designated.)

Noel was happy to see us and we hung out a long time. Saw the bathroom, yes, and the vintage console and the two-inch tape set up. All vintage gear, down to the original orange vinyl sofa and chair used for breaks. But the big deal was the timeless genius of the place itself, the great and rare acoustics: a warm sound, due in large part to the wooden floor and a whole lot of hard and soft surfaces in a relationship that could never be engineered by anything but good fortune. They still get reverb by dropping a mic down into the basement (Chess did the same thing. Did STAX?). Music just sounds good in there. Cozy and warm, it's a perfect place to record a rocker like "Brown Sugar" or a ballad like "Many Rivers to Cross"

Most of us know the history: In 1969, the legendary FAME house band started Muscle Shoals Sound in a tiny ex-casket factory not too far from FAME, out on Jackson Highway, with a loan from Atlantic's Jerry Wexler. The new musician-owned studio went on to create a big chunk of rock and roots history: The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Millie Jackson, Traffic, The Staple Singers, Paul Simon, Leon Russell, Bobby Womack, Delbert McClinton, Jimmy Cliff, Willie Nelson, Rod Stewart, and again, Aretha Franklin-- they all went to Muscle Shoals, 65 miles, at the time, from any Interstate Highway, to isolate and do nothing but work inside the music.

Phil Collins and Tom Petty have booked Muscle Shoals sessions this December. Noel continues his cause to get STAX, Capricorn, Capitol, Chess, Motown and other studios on to the National Registry, to restore them as needed and keep them restored and safe from destruction, to honor the music that came out of churches, farms, factories, bars and high schools to change everything. Yeah, everything.

So guys-- how about a trip to northwest Alabama?

In Remembrance

The Chicken Slacks lost one of it's biggest fans this month. We didn't know her name, but she was there almost every Thursday night. You might remember her, she always wanted to hear Brick House. You might have even talked to her. She was a very interesting person to talk to. She did a lot of living in her fortysomething years. I called her the Indian lady. Being Native American myself, I can say she represented her culture & heritage with great diginity & grace. She worked construction, auto mechanic, boxed & was very active in martial arts. Our dear sister's voice was silenced forever by a heart attack the second week of this month. 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. Which brings us to this: We all have something to be thankful for. Our health and most of all our Life. As I have always said, tomorrow is promised to none of us. Live every day like it's your last day, because you never know. Every day we should try to bring some happiness to someone's life. I will miss her sitting off on the side of the band, just watching the band & the people and just having a good time. I will miss her little scooter she came to the Cantab on with her 2 littledogs that she carried with her all the time. Her last time at the Cantab, she bought the Slacks CD just because it had her favorite song of all time on it. That was also the last time she requested us to play Brick House. It feels good to know that we were able to fulfill her last request from the Chicken Slacks. I just wish I could've have talked with her a little more. Never let a day go by or an opportunity to tell our loved ones that you love them. EVERYDAY!!! Because tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Everyday we are alive is a blessing and a gift from the Supreme Being. She is now partying and enjoying BrickHouse with the greatest musicians in the universe.
RIP dear sister and God Speed. We will truly miss you.

Diamond D

Summer of '07

Hey boys and girls,

How y'all doing? It's been a while, but here we are. It was one hell-of-a summer. We did alot of weddings this year. A couple stand out, though. The Stump wedding was a blast, as well as the State House wedding. I don't know about you, but I really had fun at the wedding we did for the New Orleans couple. That was the most fun I had all summer at any wedding. At the end of that one, I felt like one of the guests. It really went over the top when the horns (& myself) led the whole wedding party into the second line dance parade. It REALLY REALLY felt like I was back home again. I haven't danced like that in years. (God I miss N.O., there's no place like home Toto). And what really brought the whole year to an end was the return trip to Bar Harbor, where we had the pleasure of closing Carmen Verandah's for the year. Met some really NICE people there (see Pics). Can't wait to go back next year. KT, WE WILL be coming back, so as the song says "Get Ready" cuz here we come. So now it's on to the New Year. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. And we hope you have a happy holiday. Don't party too much (yeah, right). Do all that you can & DO IT GOOD!!

Diamond D

Monday, November 5, 2007

Soul Christmas

This month the Slacks are busy rehearsing a few holiday soul tunes to get you in the spirit of giving (and, of course, receiving). Look for Clarence Carter's Back Door Santa and the bluesy Merry Christmas, Baby. We're also gonna throw in some timeless holiday classics revved up with a soul twist. This ain't Bing Crosby, baby! Don't expect anything until after Thanksgiving, though. Personally we are sickened that CVS has their candy canes and Santa hats out already.

Monday, October 29, 2007

World Series Champions

The Sox have won again!

You may have missed your chance to watch part of the series at the Cantab, with the Chicken Slacks ... but this means you can come out to dance this Thursday with no distractions!

Monday, October 22, 2007

George Masso

Just found this: the 81 year old "Grandfather-of-the-Bride" who sat in with us during our jazz set at Friday's wedding in Newport is George Masso, a trombonist with a substantial resume. He worked with Jimmy Dorsey in the 40's, and after a long teaching career, returned to the scene, touring with the Benny Goodman Sextet and working with Woody Herman, Bobby Hackett, Bobby Rosegarden, and many others. He has a handful of recordings. Sweet man with a very sweet tone. Look him up on the All Music Guide website. I feel honored to have played with this guy, but more than that, I feel lucky that I simply got to hear his great chops.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Year Eve plans coalescing

Check the show schedule for the New Years Eve gig announcment soon!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wedding season: "Wrap It Up"

Well, here it is October and I'm about to send out the last "Wedding Advance Sheet" to the guys for the wedding in Newport, RI this Friday. These things always take a lot of work but after 15 of them this year alone, we're pretty used to it.
This will be the last wedding the Slacks have booked for '07 (oh, wait, there's one more in November, up in "Brrrr" Harbor, Maine). I must say it's been a lot of fun. People always ask me "Do you like playing weddings?" as if it's a hassle, like I have to rent a tux and buy a gift and find a date and all that. It's not like I was IN 15 weddings, we were just the PARTY! And we love to throw a party as you know. Weddings are a lot of fun: great locations, super happy people, gourmet food, fabulous dresses, and the inevitable "make a circle" dance contest. Chicken Slacks: We don't make music, we make memories. How's that for a slogan!?
Anyways, we're already booking weddings for next year, and if it continues at this pace, it'll easily surpass this year's numbers. Kudos to our sound engineer Rob Swalley, always the first to arrive and the last to leave, "working for that minimum wage..." as Jackson Browne once said. The man is a genius and makes us sound incredible. Thanks Rob.
We took some video at some of the weddings this season; I hope to put something together for YouTube at some point...stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Origins of the Cantab

After two years of Thursday nights, I was wondering where the Cantab got its name? We all know where the Chicken Slacks name comes from -right?

Well, wherever, whatever, whoever it was, its a pillar of the Boston music scene!

See you all Thursday night!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Record night at the Cantab

It was a record night for our Thursday residency. 155 paid admissions (just over capacity) and record bar receipts. Great to see so many new faces mixing with our favorite regulars. Jeff G on sax and Mike "The Hammer" Null on guitar added some nice spice and a bit of the "X" factor that always keeps the band on their toes. The A/C was cranked but it was still hot as hell up in there. The place was electric. See y'all next week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

writing songs for new CD

Thinking about original tunes for our next CD. I have three or four songs in the well, and am cool with any collaboration and all suggestions about music and lyrics. I’m changing gospel tunes I’ve written-- what has always been at the heart of soul music-- and I’m not committed to these songs as personal expressions of my genius. D: I am a genius and I know you are jealous. I have a lot of ballads, and I know we need only one or two ballads total for the CD. I have some rave-ups, too. I’m gonna have fun hearing my tunes get funked (not a typo) up. Hooks, ear candy, break downs, bridges—all that is gonna be a lot of fun for me. See you Thursday at the Cantab. Curtis

Friday, September 21, 2007

Slacks in the Boston Herald

The following article appeared September 21, 2007 in the Boston Herald.

Chicken Slacks at the Cantab
by Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald

Maybe it was inspired by Little Joe Cook’s marathon man mentality, but the Cantab has always been a bastion for musical streaks. Geoff Bartley has been running a Monday open mike night for more than a decade. The Tuesday bluesgrass sessions are another long-standing tradition. But the natural successor to Cook’s legacy is Chicken Slacks.

Last week, the band - named after a misheard Sam Cooke lyric (“He’s dancing with the chick in slacks”) - celebrated two years of Thursday gigs. For their 104th show, the r & b revivalists celebrated with 200 fans crowding between belly dancers, jugglers, balloon artists and one dude in a chicken suit. Oh, and foot-stomping Stax soul music.

“When we first started at the Cantab they were having different bands,” said drummer Justin Berthiaume. “It took a little salesmanship to turn it into a month of Thursdays. After that month we thought, ‘Hey, we just could keep this thing going.’ Now it’s been two years.”

With a seven-piece band, the streak is even more impressive. Members have come and gone, the lead singer’s been replaced, but they’ve never missed a Thursday.

“The key is that the band and the Cantab are unpretentious,” Berthiaume said. “Old, young, black, white, they’re all here.”

Monday, September 17, 2007

A few Circus photos!

Thanks for the photos Elise!
The 2 Year Anniversary Circus was a rousing success! Thank you to all our fans for making it such a special night for us! Look for an online photo gallery of the night coming soon at our homepage.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Truly a Circus!

Alicia the belly dancer, Miss Adventure, a man in a Chicken suit ... it was truly a circus last night for the Slacks 2nd year Anniversary Party at the Cantab.

I saw at least two (2) party-goers almost overcome with emotion (and, perhaps, alchohol?) tumbling towards the band.

And I saw Steve tearing it up on the dancefloor!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Holly Harris digs the Slacks!

Just got an email from my friend Holly Harris, the celebrated radio host of Boston's long-time "Blues On Sunday" program on WBOS 92.9 FM. Seems that Diamond D put a Slacks CD in her hands recently and she let me know that she loves it and has been announcing it on her show! This gal is the real deal, she really knows her stuff and that makes her praise even more meaningful. I'm not just schmoozin' here, either. Give Holly a jingle any Sunday night between 7PM and 11PM - she just might reward you with a Slacks track on the airwaves!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ballroom dancing with the Slacks!

Some serious dancers have been showing up the past few Thursdays down at the Cantab, dominating the floor for the first set, and causing this sax player to stare, slack-jawed, as I sheepishly shuffle from right to left in between horn lines.

You gotta see these guys!


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Anniversary Circus plans well underway

About ten days left until our Two-Year Anniversary Circus at the Cantab! The party favors arrived this week and they looks smashing (free with paid admission)! I've got most of our circus performers wrapped up, with a few surprises still to be confirmed (or simply figured out). Mighty Slim will again be MCing the festivities with his center-ring top hat. I'm still trying to get PETA to sign off on the live chickens, but it's not looking good. This is Cambridge, after all.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Maine - always a trip

It was a bit of a stressful day heading up to Maine for the wedding this past weekend. Didn't expect the traffic to be so intense (what should've taken 3 hours instead took over 4). But we all made it with plenty of time to spare and were well into some swingin' jazz when the guests finally arrived.
We were immediately thrown a curve ball when the venue told us the bartenders here are instructed not to serve alcohol to band members. "Wha-wha-what?!" Not that we drink a lot, but it's certainly nice to have a beer with the guests, loosen up a bit, and feel like part of the party. It was no fault of the bride and groom, I'm sure they knew nothing of it, and of course we didn't say anything to them on their big day. Some places, especially in Maine, have really weird rules about musicians and alcohol, as if we're not responsible enough to handle it. Many places tell you that they see the band as an employee of the venue, and they don't allow their employees to drink. Well, I can see why you wouldn't want a waitress drinking on the job, but a drummer? And technically we were not employees of the venue, we were hired by the bride and groom. But hey, I'll stop ranting. Really not a huge deal. We still had fun and we all left very well hydrated with plenty of Maine's finest tap water (with ice of course).
None of that stopped the band from delivering a great night of music. It always amazes me when I first evaluate the crowd and decide "hmm, I don't think their the dancing type" and then three songs into it, after dinner and a few drinks, the dancefloor is packed. What can I say? We get 'em excited.
The reception hall was carpeted, with a circular dancefloor of hardwoods in the middle. That circle must have been 30 feet across. I kept monitoring the dancers, waiting for the time when the dancefloor would be so packed that people would spill over onto the carpet. I think it was about 10.30pm when this happened, and it made me smile. That's when I knew we had them.
Back at the hotel we had a nice little after hours (Diamond D found a gas station that sold beer). We were tossing the frisbee at 1am (who knew Alec could throw so well?) and watching Hendrix on the DVD. It was surprisingly cold that night (I could see my breath). Next thing I knew it was 11am and Diamond D was knocking on my door, trying to wake me to get on the road, another successful show completed and the long ride home ahead of us.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Random Kudos

Hey, just me checkin' in - as the newest member of Slacks Nation, I feel it is necessary to point out that I have truly enjoyed my role in this band and look forward to many more musical experiences with this group of talented, focused, organized - yes, organized - and funny people. Also looking forward to another sojourn to Maine this weekend! Wagons ho!!!

Monday, August 6, 2007


All I got to say is:

Brandi, you're a fine girl

Old State House Wedding

Hey Guys,
Great wedding Saturday @ the Old State House (especially under adverse conditions). Being as I was under the weather, I commend you guys for doing a stellar job. This band runs like a well-oiled machine, and it's good to know that when one (or more) isn't up to par or missing, that the rest of the team can pick it up a notch & carry the show. It's an honor to play with such professional musicians. With that being said, It was AWESOME to play in such a historic place. That was my first time in there, and I must say, it was an overwhelming AND educational experience. To see the actual clothes worn by John Hancock (such a little guy) & see actual artifacts from Bunker Hill was amazing. I didn't even know Boston had a West End till I'd seen the black & whites of the neighborhood. We actually rocked a place where it all started. That was pretty cool. PLUS I got to meet some COOL people too. I WILL be going back real soon, when I can spend more time. Think the ghosts of past enjoyed the show?

Diamond D

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Back to Boston

It was a great weekend on the road in the beautiful State O' Maine, and now we are back in Boston for a soul-packed home stand! Down east in Bar Harbor we rocked Carmen Verandah's for two very hot, very groovin' nights. The band was uplifited by the hoots and hollers of the crowd, and constantly packed dance floor at Carmen's. If you are in Bar Harbor, check this place out - it rocks, and the food is good, too! And now we return home to hold court at the Terrace Lounge at the Marriott Copley Place. I dig this room, as it is both smooth as silk and funky at the same time! There's a dedicated local crowd that hangs there, plus lots of folks visiting the Hub. And, of course we come home to the Cantab Thursday where we re-charge the soul power system! See ya all then!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The triumphant return to Worcester

So it had been over a year since we played Worcester. We always love playing Worcester. Me and Diamond D spent some time here in our youths (hell, I was born two towns away) and we still have lots of friends and musician buddies in Central Mass. Since Union Blues closed last year, we had a lot of trouble finding a good venue for the band. But as soon as Gilreins opened up (or should I say re-opened, ten years later) I knew we'd found our Worcester home.
We had a great time on Friday the 13th at Gilreins, the band was smokin' and the crowd was into it. The staff was real nice, the club itself was beautifully detailed, and the sound system was stellar (thanks Jonathan!). I listen back to the recording and you can hear the intensity of the band and the excitement of the audience. D was so psyched to be back (he had played here years before with his previous bands, including the Rhythm Rockers) and a lot of folks turned out to see him tear up the room once again.
A few days after the gig, I got a call from the owner, who thanked me profusely for such a great night and inquired about our imminent return.
So it looks like we've found our new Central Mass headquarters! Looks for us again in October!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fourth gig in four nights, and you guys still worked your asses off at Glenn's on Sunday. Most I've seen on the dance floor there in eleven years. It's great working with seasoned pros. Our next trip to Glenn's Restaurant and Cool Bar in Newburyport is September 30. We'll pack them in once again. Great food, huh?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Great Job!!!

Hey guys, great job this weekend! The band is really tight and it's really fun. I especially enjoyed the Toga Party. We should get more of those. Matter of fact, I think the Chicken Slacks should throw their own Toga Party & sell tix. Think about it. See Y'all Thursday. Enjoy the Peace.
Diamond D