Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy holidays to all!

Dig this by Count Sidney and His Dukes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ski season is here

Come see us kick off the season at the Cannonball Pub at Cannon Mountain Ski Resort, Franconia Notch, New Hampshire! Saturday, November 26, 3:00 - 6:00. NO COVER.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Winding down

One last wedding tomorrow in Pittsfield, VT. Twenty wedding receptions this year in six states! Thanks to all for inviting us to the party.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winter on it's way...

Winter means reaching deep into the treasure chest and pulling out new gems to learn. Maybe this one by James Brown friend and partner Bobby Byrd. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"I Still Want to Sing"

Written by Camille Dodero in 2005

Part 5: ‘It’s Too Bad We Had To Say Goodbye’

Money is a recurring theme with Cook. When asked if the Thrillers ever become blasé banging out the same tunes night after night, he replies, "I guess they do. But they don’t get tired of making that money."

Money was also cited as the major reason Cook yawed from the Cantab after his stroke. Last April, the Boston Globe reported that he wanted more money than Cantab owner Richard "Fitzy " Fitzgerald could afford, so Cook was out of a job. But Fitzy says the Globe report was overblown, that Cook wasn’t kicked to the curb, and that money wasn’t really the issue. "He was just going through something," says Fitzy. "And now he’s back."

But what is clear about the interlude is that Cook requested that the Nut Man caricature disappear, so Fitzy draped an American flag over it. Around the same time, Western Front owner Martin Gilmore heard about the severance, went to Cook’s house, and offered him a regular Thursday-night gig at his Cambridge club. "When Joe lost his job at the Cantab, I’d read about it and I took him in, "says Gilmore." He was broke. I stepped in because I loved Joe. He said he was through with the Cantab."

But a few months after Cook began working at the Western Front, Gilmore says Cook returned to performing at the Cantab — without informing his new boss. "Little Joe wasn’t being honest with us, so I just made a phone call to Joe and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me that you were working at the Cantab? Month after month, I was wondering where the audience was.’ So I terminated him working at the club. "Gilmore says it’s against his code of club-running ethics to compete with nearby club owners. Besides, he points out, the two clubs’ close proximity can’t support back-to-back performances by the same musician. "It’s like if I’m your boyfriend and you’re going with me and you find someone else, you would have the decency to say, ‘It’s over, I’ve found somebody else.’ "

"It didn’t work out," is all Cook will say about the Western Front episode. " It was off the main drag. People wouldn’t come because it was real out of the way."

Fitzy doesn’t have much else to say about it, either. "He called and asked to come back. He’s welcome to play here for as long as he wants, "says Fitzy." I think he knows that. "

Part 6: ‘Peanuts’

Cook may’ve been alive just months before the release of Frank Silver and Irving Cohn’s ragtime shimmy "Yes! We Have No Bananas " — a Vaudeville-inspired novelty later squealed by Benny Goodman’s reed — but the song’s silly sketch seems to be kindred with many of Cook’s compositions. The titles of Cook’s dance numbers read like dishes in a child’s cookbook: "Let’s Do the Slop," "Doodle Pickle." Then there’s "Someone for Me," a track Cook plans to include on his next self-produced CD. On the version recorded live at the Cantab, the crowd howls as he sings:

Eye-talians love spaghetti
And the Chinese love their rice
Frenchmen love their perfume
And an Eskimo loves his ice
Like the Englishman loves his cup of tea
I know there’s someone for me

"I like to make happy songs, comical songs," Cook explains. " I don’t like to make ‘Baby, you left me’ songs. " Of course, on Blast from the Past, the sentimental vocalist does do his fair share of pleading, whining, and begging women called "Darling "to come back:" Please Don’t Go," "Lonesome," "Don’t Leave Me Alone," and "These Lonely Tears.” But by the early ’60s, the schmaltzy-suitor shtick segued into a silly streak that would eventually have him singing unabashedly about daddies, Elvis, booty, and items in his refrigerator with the same reverence.

And Cook does love the items in his refrigerator. He quit drinking decades ago — he was a Scotch-and-milk guy — and gave up card-playing last year ("After God healed me, I quit all that gambling. I promised God I wouldn’t gamble"), so gluttony is a last remaining vice. His most recent writing, an unfinished jingle that mingles two of his major passions, God and food, is the work of a trencherman:

Lord, make me able
To push myself back from the table.
Because I don’t want to be big and fat
And that’s the end of that.

Then there are a trio of Cook’s on-record paramours who share their proper names with groceries: Cherry, Stringbean, and Peanuts, Cook’s soul mate. "Peanut was a little girl who lived down the street," Cook explains. " Her older sister was calling her and all Peanut could say was ‘Uh-oh, uh-oh.’ "(In the original version, Cook sings "Peanut," not the plural version, but a typo altered how the song will forever be remembered.) In Cook’s discography, Peanuts is his first love. In the sequel to "Peanuts," the finger-snapping diddly-dee" The Echoes Keep Calling Me," Cook confesses to a day-long tryst in a valley with Peanuts. The final installment of the trilogy, "Stringbean," is a kiss-off to Peanuts: he disses his former flame, calls her a gold-digger, and boastfully admires the idiosyncrasies of his new sweetheart." I love this girl/She’s so tall/She sleeps in the parlor with her feet in the hall."

Peanuts’s influence is everywhere: around Cook’s neck, on his finger, in the car he drives, on the googly-eyed goober magnets on his refrigerator, on the street sign that marks "Little Joe Cook Square" in Cambridge. She’s his first love. She made him the center of attention. She made him feel special, important, and loved. She introduced him to Paul Simon, B.B. King, and Lionel Hampton. She has kept him employed beyond his 80th birthday. Peanuts made him a Legend.

Despite the fact that Cook’s wife doesn’t think he should be exerting himself as much as he does, despite the fact that he has to concentrate on the lyrics when he sings " so that I won’t forget them, " and despite the fact that his aching knees cause him to spend two-thirds of the night perched on a wooden stool, Cook refuses to retire. Until last weekend, his schedule included four nights a week at the Cantab — three nights singing and one night MCing a weekly blues jam. But a week ago, he suffered a second mild stroke and spent the weekend recuperating in the hospital. By Tuesday morning, he decided to reduce his performance schedule to Friday and Saturday, but resisted the idea of quitting entirely. "My wife wants me to retire," Cook says over the phone from his Framingham home, a day after being released from the hospital. "For what? So I can sit home and get fat?"

Cook’s utter obliviousness to the ticking of the clock — his refusal to dismiss the notion of scoring another hit, his inability to recognize that his golden oldie is antediluvian by oldies-station standards, his unwillingness to bow out after two minor strokes, a heart attack, and a bout with prostate cancer — is his true talent, the secret to his longevity. "Obviously, the fact that he’s unchanged in the times is pretty amazing, "says Cambridge city councilor Galluccio." He embodies a consistency and a kind of freezing of time — something for people to go see and escape a changing world. "

"I don’t want to sit home, eat, and look at the TV all the time," says Cook. "I still want to sing."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Little Joe Cook: "Us music guys are messy"

Written by Camille Dodero for the Boston Phoenix in 2005.

Part 4: ‘Mine’

Little Joe Cook flings open the front door of his Framingham ranch house with a pit bull in his grip and a black cloth knotted around his head like Aunt Jemima’s kerchief. The dog is Fate, a friendly pooch he got from a granddaughter in Philadelphia. Though Fate snuggles with Cook in bed and whines when they’re apart, it was Joanne Cook who chose the dog’s moniker. "It wasn’t me, "Cook huffs. " I wouldn’t name it no Fate!"
In the kitchen, there are stamped envelopes, CD jewel boxes, spiral notebooks, crumpled invitations, paper napkins, unfolded bills, and a dog leash strewn across the table. "My wife gets mad because I mess up the table," he mumbles. "But, you know, us music guys are messy."

Hiding among the clutter is a mimeographed sheet listing the dates of Cook’s 1960 tour with B.B. King. There’s also a page of graphs representing the Billboard chart progressions of songs that start with the letter "P" ; "Peanuts" sits near Elvis’s " Peace in the Valley " and Freddie McCoy’s " Peas ’n’ Rice. " Deeper in the pile is a blue plastic pillbox divided into 28 compartments — a week’s supply of Cook’s medication. The slots labeled bedtime specify 8 to 10 p.m.; many nights, he hasn’t even started his Cantab shift by 10 o’clock.

Cook likes to answer questions with objects. When asked how he’s feeling, Cook says, "Good. I’ve started on a fruit diet. I ate fruit this morning. I ate a banana.” He spies a banana on the counter and points. "See?" He rolls his chair over to the refrigerator, swings open the door, and pulls out a plastic-wrapped container of cantaloupe slices. "And I had, what you call that?" Cantaloupe?" Yeah, I ate that. And a pear. That’s all I ate. "The refrigerator door is still open.

When asked about In God We Trust, his still-in-progress CD submerged in the confusion of his kitchen table, Cook disappears into the cellar and returns with a boom box. On the cover of the disc, his face is superimposed over an American flag. The packaging describes the collection as " a patriotic touch of gospel " ; this means Cook overhauled a couple of old songs and retrofitted them for the current international climate. " Say a Prayer for the Boys Over There "used to be" Say a Prayer for the Boys in Korea" ; the respectful antiwar anthem "Mr. Bush in the White House Chair" is an unintentionally hilarious overhaul of the Jimmy Carter tribute "Mr. Peanut in the White House Chair."

After the record is finished, Cook points to the radio. It’s tuned to WODS Oldies 103.3 and playing Sonny and Cher’s "I Got You Babe. " "They play everybody else’s record but mine," he mopes. "I get royalties from Philadelphia, Tennessee, New York. I don’t know why they don’t play my record here. I listen all the time. I tell some of my fans to call in." ("Fifties music is no longer a focus, "explains WODS-FM programming director Greg Strassell in an e-mail." WODS now features music mostly from 1964-1975.")

Cook’s home is a boxy place with brown shutters, a fusty basement studio, and lots of mirrors. Mirrors line cabinets and cover an entire front-room wall. Where there aren’t mirrors, there are images of the Cook family: graduation photos of 19-year-old Joe Jr., Cook’s son with Joanne; a painting of Cook wearing glasses with peanut-shaped lenses; Joanne’s painted portrait.

Joanne is both the cover model for Cook’s Lady from the Beauty Shop (Beantown International) and the inspiration for the song of the same name. In the dated picture on the record sleeve, she’s a beaming, shiny-faced girl nearly eclipsed by a bouffant perm. She’s obviously much younger than her husband.

"Don’t put her age in there," Cook snaps when asked. She’s younger, right? "Yep," he grunts. "There’s a big difference."

Cook cites his greatest accomplishment as his Apollo appearance. "They told me, ‘Little Joe, you make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.’ And they’re right. Apollo was a hard audience to accept you. They’d boo you off in a minute. "He swears he wasn’t nervous." It was just like eating, picking up your fork and stuffing it in. " Back then, he was playing to a different crowd — mostly black folks — and now he’s playing to a gaggle of white college kids. Cook isn’t fazed. "It doesn’t matter," he says. " I’m out there to make some money."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Little Joe Cook: Splish Splash, The Apollo

Written by Camille Dodero for the Boston Phoenix in 2005.

Part 3: ‘My Time Ain’t Long’

The American Heritage Dictionary defines "legend"as an unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical. " There are plenty of unverified stories swirling around Little Joe Cook. One anecdote that often gets printed in the local press is a tale about how Bobby Darin offered the song " Splish Splash " to Cook, who’d already hit it big with "Peanuts." "He wrote that song for me and I told him to sing it instead," says Cook. " I went on a tour, came back, and heard that song playing everywhere. I was kicking myself."

Official Bobby Darin archivist Jimmy Scalia can’t confirm the story, so he asks Harriet "Hesh" Wasser, one of Darin’s best friends. "When I presented the story to her, she did not know of this to be true," he writes in an e-mail." She remembers Bobby writing the song and taking it to Atlantic. She also felt that if Bobby had someone in mind it would probably be Fats Domino. So we’re not saying that this didn’t happen, we’re just simply saying that we have no proof that it did."

Then there’s the tale of how Cook tried to record "The Twist" before Hank Ballard or Chubby Checker did, but it was too randy for his record company. "The Sensational Nightingales wrote ‘The Twist’ and they gave it to me in 1955 or ’56, "Cook says." Later, I took it to my record company. And they wouldn’t let me put it out. They said it was too suggestive. Then the Nightingales gave it to [Hank Ballard]."

Nightingales tenor JoJo Wallace can confirm this. "Before I accepted Jesus, I was doing rock ’n’ roll and blues," he says. "I never will forget it. During that time, we were courting two little girls and we were singing to them, ‘Come on baby, let’s do the twist,’ so they’d shake and spin and dance ... that’s how we wrote the song. "Wallace says they’d sing the ditty for friends and acquaintances and eventually, it got passed along." Joe Cook heard it too and he got on fire. We said, ‘Help yourself.’ We didn’t know anything about any copyrighting."

Other stories have more official verification. "Let’s Do the Slop," the single released before "Peanuts," was a regional hit in Philadelphia and New York; the strength of its popularity scored the band a spot on American Bandstand and an engagement at the Apollo Theater. Cook returned for a solo appearance at the Apollo, toured the country, and felt golden. He followed up "Peanuts" with the single "The Echoes Keep Calling Me," but it didn’t chart.

Thus began the post- "Peanuts" period. Cook fulfilled his five-year contract with OKeh and moved to smaller labels. He managed his daughters’ group the Sherrys. By all accounts, he taught Tammi Terrell — who would later become famous for her duets with Marvin Gaye — to sing. He got divorced, relocated to Massachusetts, and met his second wife, Joanne, at the Cantab. He played clubs with names like the Beach Ball, the Downtown, Railroad Inn, the Blue Mirror, the Italian Villa. He sang at blues festivals and doo-wop revivals. He landed a gig at the Cantab and stayed. And all along, he sang "Peanuts," he guesses, "more than a million times."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Little Joe Cook: The Back Story

Here's our second installment of the Little Joe Cook article written by Camille Dodero for the Boston Phoenix in 2005.

Part 2: ‘This I Know’ 

No birth record exists for Joseph Cook, the only child of Annie Bell, a blues vocalist who once toured with jazz singer Ethel Waters and Bessie “Empress of the Blues" Smith. Cook’s grandmother, a mother of 13 who found time to be a preacher and a midwife, helped deliver him at home on December 29, 1922, in South Philadelphia. 

Though he’s used his paternal cognomen throughout his life, Cook never knew his father. Performing and preaching were both in Cook’s blood, so at around 11, he and three cousins started singing spirituals together. "I was a natural, "Cook recalls." My mother was an entertainer and my grandmother was a preacher, so I was just gifted. " Cook also danced throughout his adolescence, winning Philly-area dance competitions and earning the nickname " Jitterbug Joe. "

After dropping out of high school to work full-time, 18-year-old Cook married his first wife, Lilly, who would later be the muse for "Lilly Lou," the love song on the B-side of "Peanuts." Over the next few years, Cook earned a living working for the Navy, helping to construct the USS Wisconsin, toiling as a jitney driver for Campbell’s Soup, and sorting coins at the US Mint for 85 cents an hour. With Lilly, he also fathered three children: two daughters (who would later be two-thirds of the Cook-managed ’60s girl group the Sherrys, along with Cook’s niece) and a son, who died at a year old.

Meanwhile, Cook sang. He’d grown up listening to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong. But his mother forbade him to sing secular music, even though she herself had spent many years crooning the blues. "She came off the road and got religious," Cook writes in the liner notes of Blast from the Past, a nearly complete collection of his late-’50s and early-’60s recordings. " That’s when she didn’t want me to do what she was doing as long as she was living. "

So instead of singing rock and roll, Cook taught it. "He loved gospel," recalls Joseph " JoJo " Wallace, a long-time friend and a tenor for the 60-year-old gospel quintet the Sensational Nightingales. " But that wasn’t all that he wanted. "

While performing with the spiritual group Evening Star Quartet, Cook managed a doo-wop group of seven male vocalists. "I taught them guys how to sing, how to walk on stage," Cook remembers. " I wrote all the songs and everything. "Some of them had to be fired — a few kept skipping daily rehearsals to shoot hoops — but there were always replacements waiting in the wings." Back then, I had a good ear, " Cook reasons. " Everybody used to come to me. "

"Word got around that Joe had this band," says fellow Philly native Reggie Grant, 62, the Thrillers’ saxophonist who’s known Cook for nearly 50 years. "I would be riding by this church and hear this group rehearsing down in the basement. I would sit at the window and watch them perform. But they weren’t singing spirituals in the basement of that church, "he says, pausing for dramatic effect." They were singing rock ’n’ roll."

"My wife’s sister used to make fun of us," Cook recalls. " She’d say, ‘You guys sound like frogs.’ We said, ‘People’ll pay us to sing like this.’ She said, ‘I wouldn’t pay no money to hear you guys.’ "

But eventually, people did: Cook convinced the owner of the local club Diamond Horseshoe that his "nice-looking" boys would attract girls to the venue if his group sang there weekly. "We’ll pack this place clean, "Cook remembers telling the owner. They did. And it was at the Horseshoe where Cook’s band got its name. "One girl said, ‘You guys thrill me,’ "says Cook." I said, ‘I like that name, I’m going to name you guys the Thrillers."

Soon after, Columbia Records heard the buzz about the Thrillers and sent a talent scout to a rehearsal. The way Cook tells it, Farris Hill, the Thrillers’ lead at the time, screwed up in front of the scout. "I would say, ‘Faz, do it like this’ when he’d mess up, "Cook explains. " And I’d sing it. So the Columbia guy says to me, ‘I like your voice. Why don’t you sing it?’ I said, ‘No, this is the group the Thrillers. I’m singing spirituals.’ He said, ‘You could do the record and let him learn off the record.’ Faz said, ‘Yeah Joe, I can’t sing it like you do.’ "Cook pauses." My mother didn’t want me singing no rock ’n’ roll. But she’d been passed away. "

So Cook sang. "I didn’t want to stop them from making money," he rationalizes. When Cook & the Thrillers were offered a deal with Columbia subsidiary OKeh Records, they didn’t have the money to get to New York. So Cook pawned either his first wife’s jewels or her sewing machine — the recollections vary — and paid for the boys to go to New York. "The rest, "he says, " is history. "

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Chicken Slacks were fortunate to be offered Little Joe Cook's Thursday night spot at The Cantab Lounge back in 2005. As our Six Year Anniversary draws near, we offer five installments of a fine article written by Camille Dodero for the Boston Phoenix in 2005.

The Little Joe Cook Story
by Camille Dodero

Part 1

Joe Cook gets mad when people call him a fad. Doo-wop devotee Phil Groia called him that in the 1991 liner notes of Little Joe Cook & the Thrillers Meet the Schoolboys (Sony Music Collectables). Cook, who likes to boast that his squeaky-trumpet shrill "made me famous all over the world, " is not a fad. Just look at the embossed script on his glinting, gold-leaf business card. Or the sign bearing his glossy headshot outside the Cantab Lounge, the Central Square watering hole where the 80-year-old warbles two nights a week. They both read: LEGENDARY LITTLE JOE COOK.

That’s right, Little Joe Cook is Legendary — with a capital "L." Back in the ’50s, he fronted a rock-and-roll vocal group called Little Joe & the Thrillers. In 1957, their signature single, the doo-bee-doo-wah ditty " Peanuts, " rode the Billboard charts for 15 weeks, peaking at 23. That same year, he bopped on stage at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater and hoofed a self-choreographed, toe-tapping shuffle called "The Slop" on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand; he also appeared at New York’s Paramount Theater for an Alan Freed showand flitted around the country billed with the likes of B.B. King, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Lionel Hampton. Simon & Garfunkel’s first paid gig was opening for Little Joe Cook & the Thrillers in New Haven, Connecticut.

Nearly half a century later, Cook recalls these triumphs repeatedly in conversation, as if his legendary status — albeit a self-appointed one, since the shimmering business card and photo caption are his own design — consists entirely of 45-year-old feats. But despite his insistence on reliving those faded nights of bright lights and grand finales, Cook’s post- "Peanuts" period hasn’t been all epilogue. Rather, those ephemeral days of national radio play are, in many ways, the prologue to Cook’s story.

‘Down at the Cantab’

The Cantab Lounge isn’t a place you’d take your 80-year-old grandmother — unless grandma likes the smell of booze, exudes the soul of Aretha Franklin, and doesn’t mind the occasional shady man asking her to dance. It’s inclusive, unrefined, and random. On weekend nights, the joint is rollicking with college students and post-grad professionals, birthday parties and liquid-courage displays. During the daytime, it’s a racially diverse dive of hard-boiled barflies, sunken-cheeked smokers, and blaring television screens. Tiffany-style Michelob Light lamps hang from the ceiling; a white clock behind the bar tells time, but its numbers are clustered in a shriveled heap around the six, as though passed out, appearing beneath the words WHO CARES? Nearby, a framed painting of a naked woman’s backside hangs, her peach-like bum mooning the customers.

This is the second home of Little Joe Cook, a/k/a the Nut Man, an old-school octogenarian who praises God, hot nuts, and hot women. A soul singer with arthritic knees, stubby bowlegs, and dyed hair, Cook has been performing here intermittently with the Thrillers, his four-piece backing band, for nearly 25 years. Every Friday and Saturday, he plods to the microphone at 10:20 p.m. Usually, he’s outfitted in a dapper jacket and turtleneck, and gilded with a golden peanut-shaped ring and matching necklace.

"When most people think of the Cantab, they think of Joe," says Cantab owner Richard Fitzgerald. " The two go together. "

Even in his absence, Cook’s influence is palpable. On one wall, there’s a cartoon-y mural of a toothy peanut surrounded by a silhouetted quartet of instrument-playing goobers. The staff’s green golf shirts read CANTAB LOUNGE/THAT’S WHERE IT’S AT, a line borrowed from Cook’s boogie tune " Down at the Cantab. "Even the regulars mention him when he’s not around: on a recent Thursday afternoon, as updates about the Rhode Island nightclub fire spill from the television, a pudgy, mustachioed guy mutters to no one in particular, "They better leave us alone here. Joe Cook of all people is going to have pyrotechnics? I don’t think so."

Cook isn’t a pyrotechnics kind of performer — some nights, he and the Thrillers can barely run the sound system — and the closest his live show gets to special effects is when an unidentified chunk falls from the ceiling and thumps long-time guitarist Candido Delgado on the head. And for the most part, Cook’s recital seems dictated by a script rather than a set list. Lately, he begins with "This Little Light of Mine," a hymn most Christian kids learn at vacation Bible school. He tells the crowd that God healed him from his 2001 stroke and asks everyone to give God a nice round of applause. Then he segues into "Hot Nuts," a song in which he hobbles around the dance floor, points to men seated at nearby tables, and says things like, " See that fella dressed in brown? He’s got the biggest nuts in town. "The audience laughs when he does this — pretty girls especially, who tend go " Woooooh! " when they hear Cook talking about nuts.

Women love Little Joe. They kiss him. Some press their lips against his fingertips; others nuzzle against him for snapshots. More than a decade ago, a group of female fans made up T-shirts and called themselves the "Beauty Shop Girls, " a reference to Cook’s sexy-siren serenade " Lady from the Beauty Shop. " During one recent late-night break, Cook ambled out of the Cantab’s bathroom and three blond girls standing by the jukebox cheered, waved, and high-fived him.

"I was told that I had to check out Little Joe Cook before he died," says 25-year-old Evan Monsky, a Philadelphia transplant who moved to Brighton six months ago and went to see Cook after hearing about him through a friend. " This kind of reminds me of a bar mitzvah."

Cook & the Thrillers do perform at weddings, graduation parties, and birthday bashes. And with the exception of fervent sax player Reggie Grant, the Thrillers do sound somewhat like a wedding band: traditional, comfortable, rote, and unmoved. The drummer, Shane O'Donohoe, a dead ringer for every high-school social-studies teacher you ever had, occasionally looks like he’s napping. And their covers are dance classics with family-function pasts: Leo Sayers’ "You Make Me Feel Like Dancin’," Marvin Gaye’s "What’s Going On."

But Cook’s on-stage charm wins audiences. "I love seeing him," says Cambridge city councilor Anthony Galluccio, a long-time friend of Cook who designated an intersection beside the Cantab" Little Joe Cook Square " in 1999, when he was mayor of Cambridge. "You know what songs he’ll be playing when you walk in, you know how he’s going to act, and you always know how you’re going to feel when you leave."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Six year anniversary coming up

Doing design work for some of our giveaways, gearing up the's about time to celebrate our six year residency at The Cantab Lounge on September 22! More info to follow.

It was our good fortune to take over the Thursday slot when Little Joe Cook became too frail to carry on, back in 2005. In celebration of the great Little Joe Cook-- the Peanut Man-- and his 25 year run at The Cantab, we'll soon be posting a multi-part article written by Camille Dodero for the Boston Phoenix in 2005.

It's quite a story....

Here's a pic of Little Joe Cook at The Cantab.

See you on the 22nd for our Sixth Year Anniversary Circus.!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Travel time

Busy month...on the 6th we played a wedding reception in Peterborough, NH. Tomorrow, the 14th, we play a wedding reception in Newton, RI, and then we play The Narragansett Cafe on Friday, the 19th, in Jamestown, RI, followed by a reception the next day in Hyde Park, VT. Then, on August 27, we play a wedding reception in Bethlehem, CT. Traveling, traveling, traveling...

And, of course, we're at The Cantab on Thursdays...

We're looking forward to our first appearance at The Narragansett Cafe-- the club has a great reputation as a friendly neighborhood bar, attracting big acts, simply 'cause Cathleen Squires and the staff love the music and make it easy. "Best live music in Newton County," says Rhode Island Monthly. Also, says Rhode Island Monthly: "the best neighborhood bar in all of Rhode Island."

See you there!

The Narragansett Cafe
25 Narragansett Avenue
Jamestown, Rhode Island

call (401) 423 2150 for more info.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spotlight on Mark Purrington

Now and then we'll be sharing video featuring performances by each of our great players. We start here with a great drum solo by Mark Purrington from last week's Cantab performance. Mark was using the small kit that night-- just a snare, bass, hi-hat, and crash cymbal, and shows here how much music you can make from a limited setup. Mark is one of the best in Boston.

Mark, 24, is from Dartmouth, MA. He has studied at Bridgeton Academy and Berklee School of Music, and continues to be a voracious student of all great musical genres. And he's a great golfer!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Busy week...

Yes, it's a busy time of year-- the week of June 13 includes an outdoor concert on Wednesday at Titus Sparrow Park in South Boston, our regular Thursday night residency at The Cantab in Cambridge, a return to Johnny D's Uptown in Somerville on Friday, and a wedding at the Boston Public Library on Saturday...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Congrats to all graduates!!

Our college fans have been very good to us-- we thank you for your support and wish you many prosperous and happy years upon your graduation. And don't forget to come back and visit!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wedding season is here

The cool thing about The Chicken Slacks playing weddings is that we bring the same music and the same show that you'll find at any Slacks performance-- classic soul and funk, played Slacks-style. This year we'll be playing some twenty wedding receptions in six states, and almost all of these gigs come to us by word of mouth, many from our Boston fans who have no interest in a typical "we play all styles of music" wedding band.
We've had some memorable times in memorable places-- Squirrel Island, Maine (quite the boat ride under stormy skies), Battery Gardens, NYC (great view of the Statue of Liberty), the Fogg Museum at Harvard (getting paid to see all that great art!), Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Hall (one of so many great historic barn venues), and that wedding in Gloucester, MA, where all the men wore tuxedos and fishing boots...
We have a great time playing weddings for fans! Thanks to all who have invited us to the party.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Benefit for Minds Matter on April 16

Each year The Chicken Slacks perform for two or three benefit events that we believe to be important and life-changing. We're looking forward to joining Minds Matter of Boston for their Spring Soiree this April 16 at the Cyclorama in Boston.

Minds Matter is a non-profit organization with chapters in eight cities nationwide, helping prepare disadvantaged high school students for college by arranging test training, career panels, financial-aid guidance, and preparatory mentorships.

Tickets are still available! Learn more in this article from Stuff Boston magazine.

Hope to see you there for this important event.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New material from down deep in the soul bag......

Wow, Diamond D has sent a CD around to band members of some very cool and off-the-radar deep soul gems. We started learning these tunes last week, and the band is psyched.

Proud to play the music of these fine artists: Harrison and the Majestic Kind, Kip Anderson, Stacy Lane, Tiny Watkins, Otis Clay, Renaldo Domino, Marion Black, Perk Badger. These artists put out some terrific songs that never made it to mainstream radio.

But they'll make it to a Chicken Slacks dance floor near you!

Stacy Lane

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Slacker portraits from Mardi Gras season

Jeremy at Johnny D's.

Curtis at Johnny D's

Mark at The Cantab

Mike Reavey at Johnny D's

Mike Duke at The Cantab

Slick Rick backstage at The C-Note

Diamond D with band friends Polina Itelman (left) and Lauren Strader (right) at The Cantab.

Thanks to our fans and venues for three great parties!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This just in: join us for Fat Tuesday!

The Chicken Slacks are celebrating Mardi Gras-- the actual day of Mardi Gras-- at Johnny D's in Somerville, Massachusetts. Lots of New Orleans funk and classic soul. See you there!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mardi Gras season almost here...

So when exactly IS Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras 2011 falls on Tuesday, March 8. Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday”, is the last day of the Carnival season, as it always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. However, up here in New England we just find a good date close to Fat Tuesday and have masquerades and costume balls, celebrating the funky music of New Orleans.

Find The Chicken Slacks this year at the Second Annual Chicken Slacks Costume Ball, at the great C-Note in Hull, Massachusetts. New Orleans dance party!

See you there on Saturday night, March 12....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Check out our YouTube channel

We're having fun with our Chicken Slacks YouTube channel, adding new live videos of the band, plus posting dozens of classic videos of the music that has inspired our vision.

New live Slacks video includes three songs from our recent appearance at Johnny D's in Somerville, Massachusetts-- covers of deep funk classics from Clarence Reid, Rufus Thomas, and Johnny Guitar Watson.

Our "favorites" collection includes many obscure gems-- Cardell Funk Machine, The Soul Investigators, The Soul Brothers Six, The Soulfadelics-- and great cuts from more familiar names-- Spencer Wiggins, O.V. Wright, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and more.

Drop on by Chicken Slacks TV! Updates every week.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Looking through the photo album

Some faves from 2010...

Private party at Copperfield's on Landsdowne Street

Opening night at The Tap in Haverhill, MA

Another Thursday at The Cantab Lounge...

New portrait by Ron Pownall.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Just found this...

...on The Highlife:

From Dec 22--

"I only just found this out recently, but The Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, MA has a gem of a night every Thursday. Brought to courtesy of one of the funkiest and most soulful units this region has to offer, The Chicken Slacks. One of the gentlemen sitting by where I was just happened to be the father of the drummer, Mark, and was himself a drummer. He also happened to mention that Mark had randomly broken out his old Gretsch drum kit from 1957 for that night. Talk about classic. Please ignore my giggly commentary, I was kinda caught up in the funkiness of it all. Check them out one of these days when you get a chance."