Tower of Power; Remembering Gary Moore; Kate Reid Concert
Anytime a band can hang in for 40 plus years as an entity and through it all remain as vital and identifiable as the days when the members first burst onto the scene, it is cause for celebration.
That is certainly the case when it comes to assessing the amazing run that Tower of Power
has enjoyed since becoming the beacon of the Bay Area funk and soul scene in the late sixties, subsequently earning a spot on national and international stages after releasing two brilliant albums for Warner Brothers in 1973 and '74.
Formed and led by the tenor sax player Emilio Castillo, Tower of Power hit the airwaves with This Time It’s Real and So Very Hard To Go, both of which were perfect vehicles for singer Lenny Williams. The eleven-piece band followed up that self-titled disc with ‘74’s Back To Oakland and they were away to the races with the power ballad Just When We Start Makin’ It and the slinky and funky Can’t You See. Prior to those albums this finely tuned band of crack instrumentalist had already primed fans with songs like Still A Young Man and Down To The Nightclub, which are still in T of P’s set lists today.
Tell me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe the horn-driven, soul-drenched band has performed in Alberta since 1974. I vividly remember the band playing the Kinsmen Fieldhouse in Edmonton’s River Valley to a somewhat small but enthusiastic crowd in the spring of that year, but Castillo, baritone sax man Doc Kupka, and rest of the T of P horn section hadn't made their way to Alberta until the early nineties, in support of Huey Lewis.
So it was a bit of a thrill to make contact with Castillo for a future installment of Points North last week, just as the Tower of Power 40th Anniversary CD and DVD is about to hit the streets.
That Edmonton area music fans are about to get a taste of part of the sound that made T of P so immediately appealing also had this fan revisiting a few Tower of Power discs last week.
Bruce Conte, the guitarist for Tower of Power when the band achieved lift-off, is bringing his band to Edmonton for a gig presented by SIRENS on Saturday night (February 12) at the Lions Central Senior Rec Centre at 11113-113 street.
Conte also did another stint with the band from 2006 through 2007 before moving to the Philippines, and he found time to join his brothers in soul and R&B music when the cameras were trained on the band and a number of Tower of Power alumni at the Fillmore West in San Francisco two years ago to celebrate 40 years of T of P.
Coming to the province with a four-piece band and female singer, Conte plans on dishing out a cross-section of material that mines funky r&b or blues veins.
“I’ve got lots of material from my five solo albums and some original arrangements of classic r&b tunes,” says Conte who is on the bill with Amos Garrett and the Eh Team and Jimmy and the Sleepers.
Looking back on his time spent with Tower of Power, one of Conte’s fondest memories goes back to the seventies.
“When I first joined the band we had a top 10 hit with So Very Hard To Go which put us on all the major television shows like Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and Soul Train. Plus we toured all over the world with acts like Santana, The Doobie Brothers, Sly Stone, and The Temptations. It was a magic time,” recalls Conte who points to George Benson, Albert King, and Grant Green as three of his major influences.
The bottom line is that the hardwood at Lions Central Senior Rec Centre should be scuffed up from in front of the stage to the back of the hall with Conte, Garrett and Jim Guiboche serving up tunes built for shaking up a storm.
Tickets for the dance are available at Ticketmaster outlets and Myhre’s Music for $30. At the door tix are $35.
As for my interview with longtime Tower of Power leader Emilio Castillo, we’ll be passing along those stories, ranging from his early days watching Sly Stone in Oakland to touring with Little Feat for the Waiting For Columbus
sessions, in a Points North
installment by early March.
was a blues guitarist who had legions of fans in this part of the world, although the Irish performer spent the vast majority of his time touring in his own backyard and continental Europe.
Sadly, those of us never got a chance to see him live, never will, as Moore died suddenly on the weekend while holidaying in Spain.
The former member of Thin Lizzy was a brilliant technician who delivered a perfect balance between wonderfully constructed solos and soulful ensemble arrangements. As a singer, he was never one to emulate or impersonate his great blues heroes as he found his comfort zone as a vocalist early on in his recording career.
Never one to stand still or go through the motions, Moore lent his talents to a wide array of projects, including a rekindled Colosseum, albums with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker of Cream fame, and even adding a tasty solo to the Traveling Wilburys' She’s My Baby.
There’s no shortage of superior recordings from Moore currently available, many of them released on the Eagle Rock label, as well as some fine nicely packaged compilations from his days with Virgin/EMI.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more complete power blues ballad than his Still Got The Blues for You and there are many outstanding concert DVD performances of Moore performing that gem, including a few shot at what appeared to be his second home, The Montreux Jazz Festival. There’s also footage of Moore trading hot licks with B.B. King and the late Albert Collins, worth locating.
At 58, his passing leaves a big hole in the contemporary blues scene. Moore, who was apparently a real gentleman, will be missed by blues and blues-rock fans all over the world.
Last year a Penguin Eggs magazine poll named Kate Reid
the “Favorite New Discovery” of the year, ahead of such critically acclaimed emerging artists like Paolo Nutini.
Not long after, Reid added a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination to her resume for her I’m Just Warming Up
recording, and has since bolstered her press kit with a string of rave reviews from a variety of respected sources from across the country.
The singer-songwriter returns to the province, after winning over Edmonton Folk Fest audiences last summer, for a one-off gig this Saturday night (Feb 12) at the ARTery.
It’s a cozy room and if you want tickets don’t wait until the last minute - pick up advance tix for $19 at either Myhre's Music or at Permanent Records. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m.