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There arenʼt too many artists making soul music today who had a release in 1969, back when R&B was first beginning to give the drummer some. Lee Fields, however, is one such artist—or maybe heʼs better labeled a phenomenon. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip- Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. With a career spanning 43 years, releases on twelve different record labels, and having toured the world over with his raucous-yet- tender voice, itʼs mind-blowing that the music heʼs making today with Brooklynʼs own Truth & Soul Records is the best of his career. Lee’s new Album, Faithful Man (out March 13, 2012), is the latest testament to how his music and voice continue to amaze and inspire listeners around the world.
With a catalogue that ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues to contemporary Southern soul to collaborations with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig, Lee Fields has done it all. Today, Lee Fields continues to evolve with Truth & Soulʼs house band The Expressions who add their sweeping, string-laden, cinematic soul sound. Released in June 2009 on Truth & Soul, My World was their first full-length together and was called “one smoking mother of an old-sound soul record” and a “throwback done right” by Pitchfork.
While drawing comparisons to artists like The Moments, The Delfonics, The Stylistics, and—of course—James Brown, Faithful Man has been able to create a space of itʼs own due to the groupʼs desire to interpret and further the formulas of good soul music rather then parrot and imitate them. Chalk that up to Truth & Soul producers and co-owners Jeff Silverman and Leon Michels, as well as the high level of musicianship of everyone involved. These are the same individuals that wrote, produced, and played on Aloe Blaccʼs global smash hit LP Good Things (Stones Throw Records) and have provided the back drop for records by El Michels Affair, Adele, Liam Bailey, Ghostface Killah and Jay-Z to name a few.
“In a curious case of musical evolution, the older Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sound of soul that he grew up with as a young man, ” noted music writer, scholar and DJ Oliver Wang regarding Fields in a piece for NPR in July 2009. Faithful Man is the next step towards realizing that perfection.
Renowned throughout the global Funk community, Lee Fields has poured his grunts and screams over a legacy of funk and soul hits from the early seventies, including such 45 rpm classics as She’s a Lovemaker, The Bullis Coming, and The Funky Screw, not to mention his well sought after Let’s Talk It Over LP. This LP draws four digit bids from collectors worldwide. His recordings with the hard funk purists at TRUTH & SOUL, Desco, and Daptone Records in recent years has solidified his place as the King of contemporary funk music as well.
When Truth & Soul started as a record label in 2004, the first mission of label owners Jeff Silverman and Leon Michels, was to record a sweet soul record that would be modeled after the near perfect formula that bands like The Moments, The Delfonics, and The Stylistics had created. Music that was both tough as nails and sweet as honey. Music with laced with lush strings and smooth vocal harmonies layered over hard-hitting rhythms. Michels and Silverman called in a few trusty associates, which included singer Lee Fields, and recorded the single “Do You Love Me” b/w “Honey Dove”. What happened in the studio was pure magic and thus, The Expressions were born.
Fast forward almost two years and The Expressions featuring Lee Fields have successfully created a unique and personal sound that can hold court with the bands they set out to emulate. However, what was created in the process goes beyond just a carbon copy of a sweet soul music. The music has developed into a deeply soulful mix of old and new. The formula stayed the same but the style has been adapted for the ears of people who didn’t grow up on Al Green or Sam Cooke. Elements of modern music have crept their way into the mix to create something entirely fresh and unique. The Expressions have surely lived up to the name, each song they make is choked full of raw emotion that permeates deep through your ear hole straight to the soul.
check out a video of Lee and Sharon Jones performing their hit song “Stranded In Your Love”:
SIDNEY BARNES backed by THE SECRET B SIDES:
Mr. Sidney Barnes grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, listening to and learning to appreciate Country/Western and Bluegrass as well as Gospel music. When Sidney began to think seriously about a musical career, there was no such thing as Rock n’ Roll, only Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, Pop and Do-Wop. But after Elvis and Allen Freed, that all changed, and a young Sidney Barnes began his long journey into the dark and exciting world of show business. After forming several vocal groups in Junior High and High School (while living in Washington, D.C.) with school mates including a young Marvin Gaye, Van McCoy and Herb Feimster (of “Peaches and Herb” fame), Sidney felt ready for the big time. In order to increase his chances of success, the Barnes family moved to Newark, New Jersey as close to New York city as they wanted to be.
In no time at all, he was knocking on doors, and singing for anyone who would listen to him. He was led to a fledgling New Jersey record label called Gemini Records, where he recorded his very first record called “Wait My Love”. The record was a modest local hit, but, at that time, Sidney felt more comfortable as a member of a group, rather than a solo artist. He formed a group called “The Serenaders” with friend and neighbour George Kerr. The group played at local nightclubs and talent shows around the New jersey area, and landed a recording contract with Riverside records. Their only release on Riverside was a song called “Adios My Love”. But soon Riverside folded, and the Serenaders were once again looking for that big break.
That big break came in 1962. Sidney heard through the music grapevine that Berry Gordy was opening a branch office of Motown records and Jobete Music in New York. Sidney, always the leader, was knocking on the new Motown office door just as the desk and furniture was arriving. After auditioning for Berry Gordy, the Serenaders were signed to a contract and flown to Detroit. There they found themselves in the now legendary Detroit Hitsville recording Studio, with many of the early Motown stars. To make a long story short Sidney and George Kerr became head songwriters, producers and talent scouts for Gordy’s New York office. This office was headed by Gordy’s wife, Ray, a beautiful, sweet and wonderful woman who changed Sidney’s life with her coaching, encouragement and kindness. After helping to build up the Jobete music catalogue, he helped to bring in an old friend and New Jersey resident George Clinton and his singing group, Parliaments a do-wop vocal group at the time.
Sidney is currently featured singing on at least fifty different CD compilations. Released a 15-song CD entitled “Sidney Barnes, Then and Now (1960-1999)”. The CD includes some classic Sidney Barnes recordings from the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s. As well as doing occasional studio work with his old buddy George Clinton, Sidney has also just finished his Autobiography “Standing on Solid Ground.”
This band is for lovers. Based in the bohemian stronghold of Asheville, North Carolina, the Secret B-Sides produce a fresh sound, rooted in the classic feel of R&B and Soul music, updated with the modern sensibilities of Hip-Hop.
The concept of the band is simple. It’s a band about three things: 1) love, 2) dinosaurs, and 3) flying saucers. Fully equipped with these three essentials the Secret B-Sides are here on the planet, ready to help the people of Earth get together, feel a little sexy, and have some good, clean fun–to the sound of drums, electric bass, keys, and nylon-stringed guitar, finished with a vinyl-smooth vocal.
check out a video of Secret B Sides:
check out a video of Sidney Barnes: