Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the great Donny Hathaway singing "This Christmas," released in 1970 on Atco. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A couple more for a soul Christmas

Otis Redding's rendition of "White Christmas," was released by Stax in October of 1968, ten months after Otis' death. It's an introspective, almost melancholy version of the Isaiah Berlin classic, and is the second song covered by both Bing Crosby and Otis. ("Try a Little Tenderness" being the first.) Both recordings show Otis' genius at turning a song into his own.

And that's what James Brown does with "Please Come Home for Christmas." The last thirty seconds of this recording is James Brown going completely James Brown. The track, co-written by the great Charles Brown and Gene Redd, appears on "James Brown's Funky Christmas," a 1995 collection of seasonal tracks released in 1966, 1968, and 1970.

We wish you a fine Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

And here's another

Sweet ballad from Carla Thomas: "All I Want for Christmas is You." First recorded in 1963, the recording appeared on Atlantic's "Soul Christmas," released in 1968.

Carla Thomas, "The Queen of Memphis Soul," was born in Memphis in 1942, a daughter of Rufus Thomas. Her first recording, "'Cause I Love You," was a duet with Rufus, recorded at the brand new Satellite Studios, a precursor to Stax Records. "Gee Whiz (Look at his Eyes)" was recorded soon after. Distributed by Atlantic, it became her first breakthrough hit, reaching the top ten on the pop charts and the top five on the R&B charts. The song propelled Satellite/Stax into the national spotlight.

In addition to "Gee Whiz," Carla is perhaps best known for her 1966 recording "B-A-B-Y" and her 1967 duet with Otis Redding, "Tramp."

"Soul Christmas" is a must-have for soul fans!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday favorites-- top five

We'll be posting five of our favorite holiday soul songs over the next few days.

Here's the great William Bell singing "Everyday Will be Like a Holiday," released as a single on Stax records in November, 1967. In January, 1968, it climbed to #33 on the R&B charts.

"Everyday Will be Like a Holiday" was co-written by Bell and Booker T. Jones, and produced by Booker T. at Stax Studios in Memphis. The recording features an awesome opening guitar riff written and performed by Booker T. himself. Booker T. also sings the high harmony.

"It was not really designed to be a Christmas song," claims Bell. "We wrote the song in October. Rhythmically, rather than put tambourines on it, we put bells, just shaking them for the rhythm. When the record came out they played it during the holiday season and they just adopted it as a holiday record."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks to all who have supported and inspired us this past year!

Here's one of the great thank you songs, from Sam and Dave. Enjoy your holiday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Harvard Crimson writes up The Chicken Slacks

Thanks to Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey on this fine article about The Chicken Slacks for the Harvard Crimson. Ben interviews four Slacks players, plus our friend Kit Holliday and founding member Justin Berthiaume. Nice description of The Cantab scene.

Here Ben discusses soul music and cover bands:

          "Soul music, even in its original form, has mostly been played by cover bands. Many soul and Motown greats would cover each others' songs, which in turn were often written by songwriting teams. With the exception of singer-songwriters like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, soul and Motown music has always been sung by thrown voices; snatches of melody and refrain that come out of the dance halls and bars through the voice of a singer. So when Valadez talks about "putting a little Chicken Slacks into it," he and his band are essentially doing the same thing with their arrangements that the 'original' artists did. Only they are working decades later and most frequently in a bar where high-definition is something that comes with a channel in the 800s rather than off a vinyl cut from more wax."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Our first time at Union Street. Gonna be a big bash.

Listen to Brother Wayne on Wednesday, October 24, 12-2:00 PM, for free ticket giveaways! WMBR, 88.1 on your dial.

Thanks to Stephen Bourassa at New England Jazz Productions for the gig!

See you at Union Street Restaurant, 107R Union St, Newton Centre, MA (617) 964 6684!

Friday, September 28, 2012

New video

The Slacks perform a down and dirty little known classic by Stax/Volt artist Lee Sain:

"So Much Trouble on my Mind."

Maybe too much to play at a wedding...

Lee Sain

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jeremy's picks

Recommended by our Music Director, Jeremy Valadez: deep soul gems, old school classics and contemporary funk:

1) Do the Thing, Charles Lattimore

2) 99 1/2 Won't Do, Wilson Pickett

3) Get Down with It, Bobby Marchan

4) Authoritay, Alan Evans Trio

5) I Know You Got Soul, Bobby Byrd

6) Like Yesterday, The Monophonics

Enjoy the music that inspires the band!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In town, out of town

Lot's of miles recently-- New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts,  and Vermont in the last four weeks. New Hampshire and Rhode Island coming up.

This just in: another gig at Ryles in Cambridge, MA. Great food, great music, an historic venue. See you there on Friday, October 12, 2012!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

Summer is here and the schedule is heating up. We play 11 gigs in June, performing in four states. Check out our schedule page for details.
Take note that we play a rare Saturday show at The Cantab Lounge. Come see what all the Thursday fuss is about! 
See you soon!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

That's How Strong My Love Is

Check out Tracy Fontes singing a powerful rendition of "That's How Strong My Love Is." The Roosevelt Jamison composition is usually associated with Otis Redding, but was first recorded by O.V. Wright on the Goldwax label, in 1964, when Jamison was Wright's manager.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mark Purrington moves on

We wish our drummer Mark Purrington great success as he leaves the Chicken Slacks to concentrate on his studies. Mark has been in the band for 2 1/2 years, and his great chops have pushed the groove and pumped the funk to our great satisfaction. He's always had an enthusiastic spirit; he's been a joy to work with.

And did you know he's a great golfer?

Mark: we expect you to visit the Cantab now and then!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fun time at Ryles

Here's some video footage of Friday's appearance at Ryles. Thanks to James Jones for his fine sound engineering!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The great Wilson Pickett-- Don't Fight It.

We got a lot of response when we posted Wilson Pickett's 1965 recording of "Don't Fight It." on our Facebook wall. Recorded in 1965 at Stax Studios and produced by the legendary Jerry Wexler, this recording features the Stax house band Booker T and the MG's, plus The Bar-Kays' horn section. The recording peaked at #4 on the R&B charts and #53 on the pop charts.

Other singles from Pickett's three 1965 Stax sessions were Pickett's first #1 hit "In the Midnight Hour" (a million seller), and "Ninety-Nine and a Half Won't Do," (#13 on the R&B charts).

All of Pickett's Stax recordings from 1965 were co-written by Pickett, Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd, except "634 5789," (#1 on the R&B charts), which was attributed to Cropper and Floyd only.

All classics in the southern soul tradition. Gritty with a huge back beat!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Welcome Tracy Fontes

We are pleased to announce Tracy Fontes , our new lead vocalist! Tracy, a Providence native, comes to the Slacks after a seven-year gig singing with renowned vocalist and Roomful of Blues alum Mac Odom.

Tracy grew up with Motown and Philly soul, and his voice reminds one of the great soul crooners Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke and Edwin Starr. The Slacks look forward to adding material to the repertoire that will showcase Tracy’s high tenor style. “If you are not growing, then where are you?” says Tracy.

“Tracy has been coming to rehearsals amazingly prepared,” says Slacks guitarist and long-time Tracy fan Mike Duke. “Great work ethic,” says Slacks music director Jeremy Valadez. With his veteran’s showmanship, he has already gained a close following at our weekly Cantab gigs

“It’s all about sharing good music,” says Tracy. He’s looking forward to bringing song ideas to the Slacks and getting into the recording studio. A fan of collaboration, Tracy says the Slacks “are the right guys to do it with.”

What else? Tracy owns a 1989 Cadillac Fleetwood coupe with a vinyl Landau roof. Class act all the way.

Welcome aboard Tracy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Chicken Slacks return to Ryles

This will be good. We haven't played Ryles in a couple years, although we've played a handful of Mardi Gras and New Year's Eve gigs at Ryles in the past. Nice to be back at one of the great venues.

Great showcase if you're considering us for a wedding, concert or party.

See you there!

Ryles Jazz and Cabaret Club
212 Hampshire St.
Cambridge, MA
(617) 876 9330

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Getting in that Mardi Gras mood

Some inspiration:

Carnival Time, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson

Go to the Mardi Gras, Professor Longhair

Mardi Gras Mambo, The Hawkettes

Second Line, Stop, Inc.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mardi Gras!

That time of year, again! On February 18, we'll be hosting a Mardi Gras party for the third year in a row at The CNote in Hull, MA, 159 Nantasket Blvd. A favorite venue for us. The music starts at 9:45 and ends at 12:45. Wear your finest Mardi Gras duds! For more info call the CNote at 781 925 4300.