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30 November 2011

Ray Charles Live Over Radio At The Ann Arbor Festival (1973)

Photo by Cecil Lockard.
On 7 and 8 September 1973 the 4th Ann Arbor Blues And Jazz Festival took place at Otis Spann Memorial Field. The festival had been inaugurated by the University of Michigan in 1969, but was canceled in 1971. In 1972 the festival was successfully revived, and in 1973 the new organizers felt its programming was strong enough for a nation-wide live radio broadcast by NPR (over WILL AM and FM). The Ray Charles Show wound up the festival and the radio program on the Saturday evening. The entire festival was also broadcast by local station KUT-FM and KUNC, the University of Colorado's radio station, as part of a fundraiser (sources: Greeley Daily Tribune, Waterloo Iowa Daily Courier, 7 Sep. 1973).

A kind spirit provided me with some decent copies of six tracks that were performed during this concert (probably originating from the radio broadcast mentioned above).
Mr. Kip Brown submitted some great intelligence about what went on during Brother Ray's concert, and shared the correct set list. The best news is that the whole performance by the Ray Charles troupe has survived:
  1. Unidentified instrumental
  2. Intro
  3. Let The Good Times Roll
  4. Busted
  5. Hey Mister
  6. Georgia On My Mind
  7. I Feel So Bad
  8. He Called Me Baby (All Night Long) (with The Raelettes)
  9. I Can Make It Through The Days (But Oh Those Lonely Nights)
  10. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  11. Love Train (The Raelettes)
  12. I Can't Stop Loving You (incomplete due to sound problems)
  13. Shake (The Raelettes)
  14. Every Saturday Night
  15. Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong
  16. Louise
  17. What'd I Say
  18. Let's Go Get Stoned
#1 - see comments below.
#5 is a unique live versions, only known from the album Message From The People (it could've been a perfect protest song for the Occupy movement!).
Tune #8, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long), is the only known recorded performance by The Raelettes of this country song (written in 1962 by Harlan Howard). The Patsy Cline's version from 1963 was probably best known, but I guess this version by The Raelettes came closer to Candy Staton's record (Fame #1476) from 1970 (listen to clip, below), ...although the gorgeous version by Ella Washington (a #77 Pop/#38 R&B hit released by Sound Stage 7 in 1969; listen to clip, below) is also a worthy contender [but see Kip Brown's 3d comment].
#15, Louise, is a marvelously souled up version of the original release. I think if this version would have been released as a single, it could have been a much bigger hit.

Personnel:
Musicians: Greg Abate, Claude Johnson - alto saxophone; Wilbur Brown, James Clay - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - bariton saxophone; Dan Ackerman, Phil Guilbeau, Walter Miller, Tony Horowitz - trumpet; Glenn Childress, Don Switzer, Ken Tussing, Craig Woods - trombone; John Henderson - organ;  Harvey Sarch - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; Scott von Ravensberg - drums. Raelettes: Dorothy Berry, Denise Jackson, Mable John, Vernita Moss, Madelyn Quebec.*
*   Based on notes provided by Joël Dufour, and comments by Tony Horowitz.  

Patsy Cline, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long):


Ella Washington, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long):


From Ann Arbor Sun, April 23.
Ad from Ann Arbor Sun, July 12, 1973.
Handbill.
Ad from Ann Arbor Sun, Aug. 8, 1973.
More promotion materials here.

7 comments :

  1. Thank you for the page on the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues And Jazz Festival, but I would like to clarify a couple of things.
    Ray was the Saturday night headliner, but the festival and the radio broadcast continued on into the next day.
    I have the complete radio broadcast of the entire festival, all thirty hours of it, which includes the Ray Charles set in very good quality. Ray does stop several times during the set to admonish the sound people (he didn't shout) who apparently underestimated the importance of a well working sound system to a performer like Ray since being blind he relied his hearing to navigate through a show. The promoter of the show was legendary "hippie" activist John Sinclair, who probably hired his buddies to run sound and were probably pretty well stoned by the time Ray took the stage. It appears the sound problems were in the monitoring system and with Ray's main vocal mic. Ray is heard saying "They don't know what the hell they're doing" several times.

    The set list for the show is as follows:

    Instrumental (Band Warm Up)
    Let The Good Times Roll
    Busted
    Hey Mister
    Georgia On My Mind
    I Feel So Bad
    He Called Me Baby (All Night Long)-Raelettes
    I Can Make It Through The Days
    Look What They've Done To My Song (Ma)
    Night Train-Raelettes
    I Can't Stop Loving You (incomplete due to sound problems)
    Shake
    Every Saturday Night
    Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong
    Louise
    What'd I Say
    Let's Go Get Stoned

    The sound problems seem to strike during "Night Train" as Ray makes them restart the song. "I Can't Stop Loving You" is abandoned before it ends because Ray's mic is failing. Judging by the stage banter, it sounds like Ray gives up piano playing prior to going into "Shake" and has John Henderson take over keyboards while he sings into a different mic elsewhere. It's an excellent performance otherwise.

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  3. And thank YOU for this interesting intelligence, Kip!
    It's great news that the performances of all these marvelous musicians have survived.
    Is there any chance that you can share the complete audio of Ray's concert with me?

    bob[at]result[dot]com

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  4. Hi Bob,

    I'm still transferring audio from the original reel to reel tapes of the broadcast and tweezing them in post production to make them sound better, so perhaps one day I'll make the show available.

    Regarding the song titles on tracks #7 and #9;

    On #7, I guessed at the title based on the lyrics of the chorus, but a quick search confirms the song is, in fact, titled "Love Train". The girl's vocals are mixed rather low on this song and it was difficult to hear the words exactly and it sounded like they were saying "Night Train".

    On #9, "He Called Me Baby (All Night Long)" is a country song written by Harlan Howard and has been recorded by Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell (changed to "She") and others.

    Best,
    Kip

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  5. Hey Kip, "perhaps one day" sounds terrible. Can you please make it a little less conditional? (I wouldn't mind at all to listen in to a sub-optimal copy to start with;-!).
    I'm dying to hear "He Called Me Baby".
    I'm also very curious about the orchestra's instrumental. You called it a "Band Warm Up" in your first comment. Does this mean that it was just Ray's usual walk-on tune (usually 30 to seconds seconds long), or was it another, complete, tune?

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  6. The "Band Warm Up" as I called it is an eight minute long "jam" type song, with several instrumentalists taking solo spots. Ray's walk-on music follows the jam. The Raelettes rendition of "He Called Me Baby" is a mid-tempo groove with Ray providing backup vocals intermittently throughout the song. It is very similar to the Candi Staton version you linked to above.

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  7. Thnx. The title of that instrumental really has to be identified;-!

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