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  #1  
Old May 1, 2003, 10:03 PM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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Kentish Steele

Greg wrote:
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A month or so ago, at an obscure community hall in deepest Surrey, I nearly ripped my teeth out and tore my face apart while listening to NTR back up Kentish Steele singing James Brown's I'll Go Crazy.
Kentish is still playing? Wow. I see him around the West End all the time. He's a masseur at one of the fitness joints around here. Anyone remember when he ran for mayor?
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  #2  
Old May 2, 2003, 01:35 AM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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A "masseur?"
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  #3  
Old May 2, 2003, 01:04 PM
Mel Mel is offline
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"masseur": a man whose work is massaging. (Webster's)
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  #4  
Old May 2, 2003, 04:16 PM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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I definitly didn't mean to apply any sort of extracurricular meaning to the word... I just thought that that term was a little dated? I thought most "masseurs" or "masseusses" prefer the term "massage therapist", no? But it's way off topic anyway... is this fellow a singer? Jazz or more bluesey/soul stuff? Where does he sing?
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  #5  
Old May 2, 2003, 06:06 PM
Greg Greg is offline
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Here’s a long, rambling response to Morgan’s question. Be forewarned this might be off-topic for a jazz forum.
Kentish Steele is a talented singer who was one of the mainstays of this city’s thriving R&B scene in the 60s. I lost track of him for many years, probably because I spent most of my adult life outside Vancouver. (Did he win his bid for mayor?)
But I saw him last November, for the first time in yonks, when he sang at the Night Train Revue’s 40th anniversary gig. And again with NTR a month or two ago in Surrey. (My dentist and plastic surgeon have since warned me about Kentish Steele, NTR, and James Brown songs taken in combination.)
NTR’s lineup changes slightly on different dates, but the band has something like 17 players, including a five-piece horn section (with a fucking bari!).
And that’s not counting the singers. Again the lineup varies, but could include Suzanne Cliff, her two daughters, Billy Dixon, Harry Walker, Sybel Thrasher and Hans Stamer, as well as Steele. Carl Graves flew in from LA for the 40th anniversary gig. I heard Jason Hoover was invited, but couldn’t make it.
Most of these singers, like Steele, fronted their own bands during R&B’s halcyon days.
Brian Tansley and Brian Pulham, sax and bass players respectively with Steele, each provides a good account of the period (and of the Northwest Sound, an Oregon-Washington-B.C. rock style with a strong R&B influence) at http://theregents.net/shantelles.html
These days, NTR gigs usually sell out in advance with little or no publicity. I learn of them through the occasional three-line blurb appearing in the Queue music listings, which come with the Thursday Sun. If you like James Brown, Aretha, Redding, Pickett, the Stax-Volt crowd and so on, you’ll want to check out NTR.
John, I agree that King Size is a great fucking tune, something of a tour de force (even if the back-up vocals are a little, umm, off). Also, as a Vancouver native I’m flattered that a Seattle expatriate, who arrived in the early 70s after all that had peaked, appreciates this city’s R&B heritage. Of course, you have an R&B background yourself.
But enough about the past. Morgan asked what kind of music Steele does now and where he performs. All I know of are the NTR gigs. Maybe he’s up to other stuff as well.
Talk to us, Kentish!
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  #6  
Old May 2, 2003, 06:31 PM
John Doheny John Doheny is offline
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Well all I can say Greg is that Seattle ain't that far away. I tend to think of that whole scene as more or less a homogenous "Northwest R&B" thing anyway since a lot of the same bands worked clubs in both cities as well as Portland and Eugene etc. And don't forget Jimi Hendrix ( who grew up just FOUR BLOCKS from me, man I was blown away when I found that out ) was the guitar player with Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers for a while, and also used to play Pharoah's Retreat in Gastown with his own band before he went to England and became a big deal.

Anyway, I played in a couple bands in the 80's with Reyal Johnston and Doug Cuthbert and they schooled me up good and proper on a lot of this local lore.
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  #7  
Old May 2, 2003, 07:54 PM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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trivia

Kentish is more on topic than hockey. The term masseur may be outdated but then, thankfully, so am I, so to me it's the latest thing. Kentish lost out to probably Jack Volrich (I don't recall which election exactly but I'm sure I voted for him). His band, if I recall correctly, was The Shandells. I have no idea if it has anything to do with Pia Shandell but I hope not, even though she was hipper then than now and actually was a waitress at Oil Can Harry's for a few weeks. Kentish has a son, also Kentish, whom I met at the Cellar a year or two ago so this thread does have jazz relevance. I asked around and Kentish apparently doesn't have a computer so he probably won't be talking to us.

Ooops . . . I just checked and it wasn't The Shandells, it was the Shantelles, but I'm leaving that bit in because how else can I work Pia into the jazz forum?
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  #8  
Old May 2, 2003, 07:59 PM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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Greg... thankyou very much. R+B is my (not so) secret love... I'd love to check this guy out. Sounds like he's got some serious heritage that he's bringing to the game...
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  #9  
Old May 2, 2003, 08:08 PM
Greg Greg is offline
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A shame we won’t be hearing from Kentish.
John, I knew that Jimi Hendrix had played here at least a few times prior to becoming famous. But I didn’t know he had been in Bobby Taylor’s group. Any recordings you know of?
Do you mean he grew up four blocks from where you lived in Seattle, or from where you live in Vancouver? (A lot of people don’t know his father was from here and Jimi lived here for one or two periods as a kid.)
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  #10  
Old May 2, 2003, 08:12 PM
Greg Greg is offline
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Thanks, Morgan. For some reason I really like to hear about it when serious jazz people like R&B.
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  #11  
Old May 2, 2003, 09:09 PM
John Doheny John Doheny is offline
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Greg,

As a kid in Seattle I lived for a while at 29th and Cherry, near what is now Martin Luther King Boulevard ( My wife and I were in Seattle a few weeks ago and had a bite at the Catfish Farm on MLK) . According to Hendix's biography " Voodoo Child in the Aquarian Age" he lived for a number of years a few blocks west on Cherry in an apartment with his father Al. The book also mentions his sojourn in Vancouver and his attendance at King George Secondary in the West End.

As far as I know there are no recordings of Hendrix with the Vancouvers. The story as I know it says that the band had a house gig at the Elegant Parlour on Davie, underneath the Retinal Circus ( the building is still there behind the gas station at Davie and Burrard) and Little Richard came through town and hired Jimi for his touring band. A lot of these stories I come by through Doug Cuthbert so I should really make an effort to get him to come here and tell them himself, since we seem to have established a little R&B sub-thread. I've been trying to get in touch with him to see if he knows how to contact Dale Jacobs but he's not answering his phone.

Morgan. R&B is your "not so secret love"? Ah, man, I knew you were a quality guy. And in the fortunate position of getting to discover, for the first time, this town's long and noble heritage in this genre. I would recommend you get your hands on the aforementioned cooker "Kingsize" by Jason Hoover and the Epics. You MUST hear the Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers LP ( as Tommy Chong puts it," The voice of an angel. The soul of a devil. "I've heard some out RAGEOUS stories on Bobby, far too scandalous to repeat here).I've seen it on CD at Virgin on Burrard. An album I've regretably lost somewhere years ago that I dearly wish somebody would put out on CD is the compilation "Live at the Grooveyard." The licensing would be a mega headache but it's got virtually ALL of the heavies from that (mid 60's) period, like the Shockers,the Shantelles, the Epics, the Night Train Revue ( killer version of Joe Tex's "The Letter Song") Soul Unlimited featuring the Raible Brothers etc.


When I first started playing strip joints up here in the early 70's the remnants of this scene were still around. The Club New Delhi on Main and Keefer, though it had more of less degenerated into a peeler bar by then, still had autographed pictures of the acts that used to play it on the wall in the dressing room, folks like Ike and Tina Turner and Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces. Kentish sat in with us there a couple of times, as did Freddy (Hose Nose) Cartenuto from Little Daddy and the Bachelors, and Robbie King from the Vancouvers. Greg I'm sure you're aware that Ted Lewis, the drummer with the Vancouvers, changed his name to Duris Maxwell and played with Powder Blues on their first few albums. And their rhythm guitar player Tommy Chong teamed up with Cheech Marin and made a bunch of dumb movies as Cheech and Chong. I'm pretty sure Henry Young played with some of these bands too. I know he played with Doug Cuthbert and Bobby Taylor when Bobby moved back here for a while about 10 years ago.

Most of these guys are 5 or 10 or more years older than me and they were sorta my heroes when I was 16 or 17. There wasn't the kind of divide between jazz and R&B that developed later on, I mean I certainly didn't see any contradiction in being into both Coltrane AND James Brown and I don't remember anyone else on the scene who felt that way either, aside from maybe the odd snob or two. And like I've said here before, a lot of my favorite players are at home in both camps ( Lee Allan, Tony Dagradi, Dave Say, Steve Hilliam, Stanley Turrentine, Ernie Watts, Alvin "Red" Tyler..Gee..All tenor players.hmmm) and I really think it gives their playing so much more depth.
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  #12  
Old May 2, 2003, 09:57 PM
Greg Greg is offline
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Scintillating stuff!
No, I didn’t know about Ted Lewis, aka Duris Maxwell.
I have heard Henry Young several times, but was unaware of any connection with the others you mentioned.
So it was in Vancouver that Little Richard nabbed Hendrix!
As for Live at the Grooveyard, re-releasing it might not be so hard. One of the original members of the Night Train Revue, organist Chuck Cliff (husband of Suzanne Cliff, father of the Sweet Inspirations (two NTR singers whose names I don’t know) and the guy behind NTR’s revival), owns the rights. His e-mail address isn't hard to find.
But Christ Almighty, John, you’re a wealth of fascinating lore. Maybe, during your formative years, there was something emanating from Cherry Street.
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  #13  
Old May 3, 2003, 01:29 AM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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Loving jazz but not Rhythm & Blues is like loving a woman (or a man or whatever) and not having sex. Not sure that's a good analogy but you get my drift.
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  #14  
Old May 3, 2003, 01:41 AM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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Brian, that's exactly what I would have said If I had ever had sex.... I imagine it's just like that.
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  #15  
Old May 3, 2003, 03:17 PM
kentish kentish is offline
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Thank you Brian for making me smile today. It's nice to know that after all these years my presence is still felt. I ran for Mayor in '85, '86 and '89... although it was more like a slow crawl. I'm still in the West End and still singing with NTR, having a blast. More info later with anecdotes (when I next get to a computer!).

Love and blessings
Kentish
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