Master tape of the week: Chester Randle's Soul Sender's

A recent patron inquiry about Chester Randle’s Soul Sender’s got us digging through the masters in the Goldband Recording Corporation Collection, 1930-1995 (#20245) to find this open reel tape of Soul Sender’s alternate takes and practice jams.  These tracks are rough and the arrangements are only just coming together, but Randle’s heavily distorted guitar cuts through the mud-sludge bass while Milford Scott’s hammond B-3 organ practically pours over the raw funk of Bill Parker’s drumbeat.  The full weight of Lake Charles’ humid swamp air lays heavy on this boogie.  Sounds great to us.
There are three different versions of each “Sweet Potato” and “Soul Brother’s Testify” on FT-6694.  Unlike the final versions, these rehearsal tapes do not feature horns as part of the ensemble.  It’s great to hear the band try on licks and solos, developing the lyrics and arrangements, and laying down some seriously noisy sounds.  These tracks eventually saw release on Eddie Shuler’s ANLA imprint. “Soul Brother’s Testify, parts 1 and 2,” (ANLA 102) is a sought after release by funk and soul record collectors and the opening breakbeat has been heavily sampled by hip hop artists.  For more information on ANLA releases in the collection see the Goldband finding aid, the SFC Goldband online exhibit, and the list below, but for now, some music.
– “Sweet Potato,” take 3, intro
FT_6694_Sweet Potato_1
– “Sweet Potato,” take 2, guitar solo
FT_6694_Sweet Potato_Solo
– “Soul Brother’s Testify,” take 3, intro
FT_6694_Soul Brother’s Testify_Intro
– “Soul Brother’s Testify,” take 3, end
FT_6694_Soul Brother’s Testify_End
The Soul Sender’s ensemble appears on recordings under a few different names with only slight variation–The Original Soul Sender’s, Charles Randle’s Soul Sender’s, sometimes without apostrophes.  Guitarist Charles Randle performed with Bill Parker, Milford Scott, and likely the unknown musicians as well, in a variety of groups like Clarence Garlow & His Accordion and the Chester Randle Orchestra.  Bill Parker was himself a local R&B star in the early 1960s with his Showboat Band, a group that also occasionally featured young guitarist Chester Randle.  Parker recorded numerous other sides for ANLA and Goldband and eventually founded his own Showboat Records.
Eddie Shuler started ANLA in the 1960s to feature soul and R&B artists from South Louisiana and East Texas as an extension of the blues, cajun, swamp pop, and zydeco music he released on his Goldband Record label.  Shuler founded Goldband in the 1940s initially to release country, cajun, and western swing records, including those by his own band, the All Star Reveliers.  In the early 1950s, Shuler bought an old holiness Church at 313 Church Street in north Lake Charles, Louisiana and developed the Goldband Complex, including a recording studio, record shop, and Shuler’s television repair business, Eddie’s Quick Service TV.

Shuler recorded regional artists for a regional market, distributing the recordings from the back of his car to record stores and to jukebox operators who placed the records on jukeboxes leased to local clubs, dancehalls, and restaurants.  Shuler had an ear for talent and for the changing tastes of his audience, building an impressive roster of artists over the years, including the first recordings of legendary Cajun accordionist Iry LeJune, the first hit record by then 13 year old Dolly Parton, Rockin’ Sidney, Boozoo Chavis, Cookie and the Cupcakes, and Cleveland Crochet, whose 1961 recording “Sugar Bee” became the first Cajun tune to break the Billboard Top 100.  Shuler’s accomplishments and struggles in the music industry are too many to list here, but for one of the best written histories the music of South Louisiana, see John Broven’s 1983 book South to Louisiana: the music of the Cajun bayous.
Original/Chester Randle’s Soul Senders materials in the Southern Folklife Collection include both 45 rpm records and open reel tape.  Follow the following link for more information on the materials listed below, Goldband Recording Corporation Collection, 1930-1995 (#20245):
45-8083, ANLA AL-102, “Soul Brother’s Testify”/”Soul Brother’s Testify”
45-8085 ANLA AL-118. “Low Blow, Part I”/”Low Blow, Part II”
45-8088 ANLA AN-105. “Take a Little Nip”/”Why did I let you go,”

Open reels: FT-6694; FT-6695; FT-7031; FT-7758; FT-7774; FT-7861; FT-7896; FT-7933; and FT-7968.

Photo of the Week: Let the sunshine in with Louis Armstrong

One way to brighten up a gray day is to find this possibly autographed promotional photo of the great Satchmo himself, Louis Armstrong.  We like to think Mr. Armstrong conceived of the photo design himself: serenading his own smiling face, as bright as the sun, playing music and riding a trumpet surfing the sound waves pouring from his own disembodied hands.  This delightful photo came to the Southern Folklife Collection as part of the John Garst Collection (# 20136).
Finding the photo made us think about a concert recording of Louis Armstrong and his All Stars made on May 8, 1954 at Memorial Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Digitized in the the SFC studios in 2006, the original recording is stored in the UNC Music Library.
Featuring Billy Kyle on piano, Kenny Johns on drums, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Trummy Young on trombone,  Arvell Shaw on bass, and guest vocalist Velma Middleton, the recording shows a band in top form.  Armstrong is the consummate bandleader, laughing and cracking jokes, and the band and the audience both follow suit making for an enthusiastic and raucous performance.  It was a good day to be in Chapel Hill.  The concert mixes jazz standards and pop tunes into Armstrong’s own signature New Orleans musical gumbo, kicking off with a wonderfully woozy version with “When it’s Sleepy Time Down South” and including a swinging version of the then brand new rock and roll hit, “Blueberry Hill.”  Enjoy the collection of audio selections from the concert below, including the intro to “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” and Armstrong’s unforgettable vocals on the hit “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: Introduction, 8 May 1954
[audio:|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_intro]
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue”
[audio:|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_Struttin’ with Some Barbecue]
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: Intro, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”
[audio:|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_Kiss_Intro]
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: Vocals, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”
[audio:|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_Kiss]