Category Archives: Soul

Mavis Staples Tribute

Last night (Nov. 19) I was lucky enough to attend a special concert in Chicago celebrating the 75th birthday of Mavis Staples. Man, that was an experience—one that was unique to Chicago and showcased a huge range of American music from the past 50 or 60 years.

The show was being taped for a DVD release, so it had issues with flow and continuity—too many stops and starts to feel like a ‘real’ concert experience, which got a little frustrating after a while. It ran one ‘episode’ at a time, with a special guest (or two or four) taking the stage, usually backed by a crack 13-piece band that included stunning vocalists the McCrary Sisters and bassist/musical director Don Was.

But ultimately it was a spectacular experience.

Continue reading Mavis Staples Tribute

Classic Songs: Bill Withers, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’

Bill Withers wrote “Ain’t No Sunshine” and released it back in 1971 on his album Just As I Am. The song was a hit at the time (reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100), but since then, it’s taken on new life and found vast new audiences, thanks to many cover versions.

Here’s a version of Bill and his band performing the song in 1972 that shows just a powerful (and subtle) a performer he was — and how much he owned this song.

This was Withers’ first hit song — it even earned him a GRAMMY in 1971. After this, he went on to reach No. 1 in 1972 with “Lean on Me” and then No. 2 with “Use Me” later that same year.