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"Chicago Streetwise Editorial " & "The Citizen"



Because we heard on the news that STEVIE WONDER’s show was post- phoned at Meigs, oops Northerly Island last night because it rained on his musical parade Monday evening.  As of press time today Tuesday it’s No Wonder in Chicago just yet.  However Stevie flew the jet to Chicago after Oprah’s Obama event-filled celebrity FUN weekend gig in California.  Ooops…we don’t mean Stevie was the pilot, but here’s why that is an interesting concept.  1 - It has been written that the Wonder man has driven a car in the California desert with the help of a passenger / helper. And 2 – With the instrument and computer technology available don’t you think for a moment that the mind and physical being of Stevie Wonder could not steer that jet from point A to wherever.

Steveland Judkins Hardaway landed in Saginaw Michigan in May of 1950 looking at things as all kids do.  But according to our information source, Stevie lost his sight due to an excessive amount of oxygen in his incubator.  Moving to Detroit at an early age, “Little” Stevie spent many hours in the company of his personal radio searching up and down the dial for the music he came to love.  A piano was available, and then he got and learned harmonica.  Without being there, can’t you just picture Stevie sitting on his front steps blowin’ in the wind – when Ronnie White from the Miracles gets neighborhood word on the talented kid down the street, Ronnie after seeing Stevie’s talent on the drums, piano and harmonica, set up the interview with Motown’s Berry Gordy and Clarence Paul who would mentor the new artist.

EVERYBODY SAY NO - no not yet…
It took a few minutes to get Mr. Stevie into the star position because the direction of the material indicated that Motown management was not yet in the hitbound lane.
The Tamla label releases of “I Call It Pretty Music But The Old People Call It The Blues” and “Contract On Love” made it to the radio but not off the shelves.  Stevie was a star in training, and like Marvin Gaye he was playing drums and occasional harmonica on other Motown sessions.
Two albums were recorded and neither had the hit elements necessary.
  What was missing was CHICAGO !!! and the southside’s Regal Theatre at 47th and South Parkway in Bronzeville.  Also missing, about seven hundred screaming fans, Choaker Campbell’s Motown band and the Ampex open reel recorder that captured the Chicago  electricity of “FINGERTIPS” or as you have said…EVERBODY SAY YEAH !!!
The seven minute version on the “12 Year Old Genius” live album was cut down to the 3 minute version for radio and radio it did.  Of course WVON was the first to wear out “Fingertips Part Two” on 1450am. WLS and WCFL followed, and so did an entire industry named Stevie Wonder.

Well get out that adding machine, the pre-calculator, and lets count.  On any given Stevie song I figure there are at least THIRTY Stevies involved and here’s why.  With an ever expanding technical toolbox HE DOES ALL THESE JOBS

1 Writer  2-3  Publisher/Copyright owner  4-14  Lead singer and backgrounds 15-20 piano/keyboards/strings harmonica  21 – 24 drums rhythm 25 engineer  26 27 supervisor accounting.   28-30 Management booking promotions and personal appearances.  I think this is a fair estimate of what it takes to be Stevie Wonder.  Ooops I forgot RADIO STATION OWNER.

When Stevie writes his first book I’ll be the first in line.  I trust Chicago weather co-operated with the Wonder Guy.  But I think he had enough to keep him busy while we all waited for the clouds to clear.

By the way I was at the Regal Theater when “Fingertips” was recorded, so “Everybody Say Yeah” !!!


The Citizen


WKKC 89.3 and me
Let’s play some Dusties! It’ Sunday morning and after loading all the stuff into the car.  It’s time to hit the expressway and listen to every station on the radio.  I stop at WBBM for news and McDonald’s or Izola’s for coffee. On the way to the Kennedy King WKKC studios still in the old building I’m mentally preparing for the Miracles and Temptations, The Great 8 and all the things we do to make the show special.  The Dances We Used To Do are at 1 o’clock and the blues break is at 2.  This makes us play songs you just don’t hear on the radio anymore and the people really seem to enjoy it. By the time it’s over at 4 I’m whipped but it feels so good. Please tell your friends about the show with the REAL dusties - Sunday morning on WKKC 89.3 fm.  Thank you for making us your choice.

RADIO IN CHICAGO  The Little Stations
I was on WHPK 88.5 fm for about 6 months in 1981.  It was a unique station then and it’s great now.  Sunday mornings HPK plays traditional jazz while Sunday evenings they get into dusties about 6 until 9.  My friend Bob does “Sitting In The Park” from 7:30 until 9 concentrating on Chicago/Midwest rarities. Further down the dial at 88.1 fm is WSSD.  They used to be “The Blues Station”, now under the direction of Steve McKinney with a mix of blues, gospel and talk, SSD is a survivor More next week.

Have you noticed the uniform hairstyle for the Chicago news ladies? Long and curled on the ends. Check ‘em on 2-5-7-9-32 more so than not.>>I think we’ve been spoiled by the first two rounds of DANCING WITH THE STARS so I hope the new season stands up.  The quiz shows? I still like Howie Mandell and the brief case babes show DEAL OR NO DEAL.  But my number one TV time is still “60 Minutes”.>> 26 WISHES - Don’t you wish you could see THE BIG BILL HILL SHOW and the original SOUL TRAIN from Channel 26 WCIU.  If the U’s Got It, then show it!!!

Bunches of movies as usual but nothing really super good…oh yeah, they’re holding the blockbusters until the holidays to get your shopping money…do it every year.>> However there is a new film with MORGAN FREEMAN - not a heavy movie but if you’re a fan of  Morgan’s you’ll want to see it.>> If you missed the films that were shown at the Black Film Festival try to see them when they go into general release.

I keep running into good stuff on SAM COOK.  A friend told me about a book on Sam that I was not acquainted with and WOW this was the missing piece of the puzzle.  So YOU are ordered by ME to get a copy of OUR UNCLE SAM the Sam Cooke Story From His Family’s Perspective.  This is the must-have book - more than any other Sam story book including the “Dream  Boogie” book or the first one, “You Send Me”.  ERIK GREENE is the author and grand nephew of Sam Cook.  It was by chance that I found Erik and the ‘family’ book.  A book signing session on September 12th was so very informative – I wish you could have been at the Avalon library for the three hour session.  The twelve of us who were there are now experts on the life and adventures of Sam Cook.  BUY THE BOOK through and across the counter at the DuSable Museum and the Department of Aging Atlas Center Gift Shop 79th and Cregier, east of Stony Island.  Visit the web site at Git It!!!
IT’S OUR MUSIC and the people who do it.
GOSPEL Stealin’??? I don’t mean to be mean BUT I know you’ve heard “Yesterdays” by Mary Mary…Nice song, great production, arrangement, recording, and presentation BUT This hit gospel song is so CLOSE to a number of Natalie Cole recordings, that Mary Mary had to be the first two students in the Cole School of Music Production.  From the well played keyboard into to the Mary Mary moans near the end of the song, somebody stole some Capitol label Natalie Cole styling that was recorded here in Chicago – Inseparable – Our Love – Don’t you just hear it?  Maybe we’ll get a panel of experts together to certify the similarity in spirit and sound.  Veronica Williams, Marylyn Frizzel, Mrs. Luckett, Pam Morris, Marcella and Aaron at WKKC and Effie Rolf at WVAZ and whoever is at WSRB 106 and 102.3…They’ve all got to agree that the stylings ARE the same.  Like identical.  There are only 11 black and white notes on the piano and It’s all good music!!!

My producer, Najula, is a Ray Charles 4 dimensional inspirational spiritual fanatic who has learned that Ray’s command of music reached into what could best be described as “Soul Jazz”.  Three albums will show you 1- the Mint Julep album 2 – the Betty Carter “Baby It’s Cold Outside album, and 3 - the best  - The Genius of Ray Charles with Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying is the ultimate.  Ray was quite a guy >> We hear Roy Ayers is in town and you should see him if you can – excellent.  Gotta play “Mystic Voyage” this week on the show, and maybe “You Send Me” too.  >>  Are you aware of Mose Allison?  To be a non-brother he had soooo much soul.  From Mississippi,  Mose played and sang his way through the 50s-60s with several albums.  Parchman Farm was his major single, but “If You Live” is my personal favorite>> For the girls, with one of the most profound live albums was the Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport concert, simply the BEST! >> George Green is supposed to be bringing me a copy of Opus De Jazz, but I haven’t seen it yet Come on George!!!

The Blues comes in all forms and from many people >> Not necessarily well known but Milt Buckner had a 45 out called “Mighty Low” that was such a wonderful recording called “Mighty Low” It was nothing like any other organ based piece so if you see it get it. Never saw an album >> I’m still looking for Memphis Minnie stuff >> Anybody know where Little Milton used to live? Need address. Somebody take me to the Checkerboard please.

Mark your calendar and make your plans to be at the BLACK ENSEMBLE THEATRE for a very special night on Friday September 28th when Jackie Taylor gets a special award from The Best Music Of Your Life. This is going to be a great event tied in with the opening of Jackie’s new musical “Makes You Want To Hollar” I promise you a great time.  Call 773 769 4451 for details.

ROBERT BYRD has gone on to be with Soul Brother Number One.  BOBBY BYRD passed away earlier this month.  You’ve heard Bobby so many times but didn’t know who he was.  Mr. Byrd was a friend to James Brown while both were incarcerated.  Bobby’s family sponsored James Brown’s parole from prison. They formed The Avons and later changed their name to the Famous Flames, the group that James stepped out of to become the Godfather of Soul.  Bobby was the other voice with James on Lickin Stick, Sex Machine, and so many of Mr. Brown’s hits.  Bobby Byrd had one outstanding 45 single, “We’re In Love” in 1965 with James Brown.   Bobby Byrd who departed this month, was born 8/15/34.  A truly Famous Flame.


A PARALLEL THOUGHT Leave those ladies alone.  When Oprah was doing her South African school thing the spoilers were knocking her for donating HER money to HER dream overseas “when she shoulda gave it to the peoples here ‘cause we needs them dollars too”.  Should have left that woman alone.  Fast forward to August 2007 and we find lovely Linda Johnson Rice pledging two and a half million to The Annenberg School for Communications at the University of California.  Well I’m so glad the spoilers learned their lesson and made no audible comments about Linda’s donation to her alma mater in California.  We guess the spoilers learned and got an “A”.  Right on Linda and Oprah !!!

Congrads to two clubs on the southwest end for finally opening >> The Gentle Persuasion is bringing back new memories of it’s previous life at 90th and Ashland.  >> Mr. G’s is brand new beautiful and active at 87th and Ashland. >> The Atlas Center in the Dept. of Aging at 79th and Cregier is really full of business for southside seniors, Stop by and get a schedule of the many activities that work seven days a week.  This is getting to be a real popular place for those 60 and over.  Ask for Natalie.>> The 2nd Wednesday Seniors at the Harambie House on 119th have a great time line dancing from 12 noon ‘til 4. >> Learn line dancing on Mondays at Neal school 86th and Michigan, at 6pm.



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