Original Pinettes Brass Band + Betty Harris "The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul" (Night Two)
DJs Ginger Light & Pierre Baroni (Melbourne OZ)
305 E 5th Street
Austin, TX, 78701
Doors 9:00 PM / Show 10:00 PM
Original Pinettes Brass Band
The Original Pinettes Brass Band, the world's only all-female brass band, was formed by Mr. Jefferey Herbert in 1991. Each member born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, attended St. Mary's Academy High School an all-girl catholic school. Beginning with 16 or more members, the Original Pinettes ended up with not only St. Mary's females but other females around the town.
The Original Pinettes Brass Band can be seen at many different venues, such as: The Jazz & Heritage Festival, The Satchmo Festival, The Essence Music Festival, and The French Quarter Festival, just to name a few. They also experienced traveling overseas when they performed in Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara Turkey and Ascona Jazz Fest in Ascona, Switzerland. The ladies also have a long resume around the town for doing parties, wedding, conventions, schools, nursing homes, etc....The band has very much in common with the other male brass bands around the city. The only difference being is the Original Pinettes are all females! The ladies gained more respect when they were crowned the winners of the 2013 Red Bull "Street Kings" brass band blowout competition when they beat three other male brass bands changing the name to Red Bull "Street QUEENS!" The ladies have also performed with Arcade Fire and Katy Perry.
Some of the ladies specialize in other careers, also. From college students to a computer tech, some of the ladies are mothers and wives. Nothing will get in the way of these ladies who consider one another sisters. "We're not blood related, we're love related...." says leader, Christie Jourdain.
Riding down the disloyal roads of the entertainment business, the ladies still haven't had a chance to show much of the world their skills. Knocked down so many times, the band remain standing tall and faithful. "Not even Hurricane Katrina could stop us from doing what we love." Said Christie Jourdain of the band. "The band member were misplaced after the storm hit. We were in six different cities, not knowing if everyone (and their families) made it out safely. But now, we are back like you never heard us before! The Original Pinettes Brass Band is here to stay....Thank you, GOD!"
Today, the band is still on a journey of becoming the best in the business and to take over this male dominant industry. The Original Pinettes Brass Band dream is to travel worldwide and to show everyone that music definitely is a universal language!
"The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul"
Ia seven year recording career that yielded 8 sides for Jubilee Records, 18 for Sansu and 2 for SSS, Betty Harris left a legacy of soul vocals that rival any of her contemporaries for complexity, imagination and pure soul.
She was born 1941 (or 1943 depending on the reference) in Florida to a Minister father and a missionary mother. As a teenager she went to work for R&B star Big Maybelle as a maid. Big Maybelle encouraged Harris’ talent, and in 1960 she recorded her first single, "Taking Care of Business" b/w "Yesterday's Kisses," for Douglas Records.
Via her association with Big Maybelle, Harris met the mighty Solomon Burke, who recommended her to his producer Bert Berns.
With Berns and Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller at the controls, she re-recorded Burke’s hit ‘Cry To Me’ for Jubilee Records in 1963. This went on to be her biggest hit, hitting #10 R&B and #29 pop. This was rereleased in 1970 and charted again. Harris’ version is a slower, deeply soulful take, filled with gospel flavor (aided by an auspicious backing group that included Cissy Houston and Dee Dee Warwick). The slower tempo allows Harris to spread out her velvety tone, exercising a fantastic dynamic range and control, punctuating things with the occasional growl. The flipside, ‘I’ll Be A Liar’ has some of the country/soul flavor of contemporary sides by Burke and Arthur Alexander, with a nice soulful touch at the end of each chorus.
The a-side of the follow up 45, ‘His Kiss’ has a similar sound, but it’s B-side, ‘It’s Dark Outside’ is a fantastic slice of moody, southern soul. Garry Sherman’s arrangement has a deep sophistication, reminiscent of some of the sides Bacharach and David were doing for Scepter with Dionne Warwick and others. The bluesy piano, and prominent placement of Eddie Bert’s mournful trombone make a solid foundation for Harris’s emotion-filled delivery.
The next 45, her last for Jubilee, was ‘Mojo Hannah’, an R&B classic, with lyrics that forecast her voyage into the heart of New Orleans. It was originally recorded by Henry Lumpkin on Motown (co-written by Andre Williams - the lyrics bear his humorous touch), and was also be covered by Larry Williams as ‘Louisiana Hannah’ and would later be a big New Orleans hit for Tami Lynn. The flip, ‘Now Is The Hour’ is another showcase for Harris’ way with a sloooow bluesy number. The way she starts the tune by stretching the word 'now' out to about six syllables is a joy to behold.
Of the two unreleased Jubilee sides, ‘Everybody’s Love’ is standard (over-arranged) pop fare and Harris’ voice is ill-used in this context. ‘Why Don’t You Take Him’ has the same basic failing, in that it seems like Berns, Leiber and Stoller were trying to force Harris into a different mold. While not horrible, it doesn’t contain the grandeur of her best work.
Harris met up with Allen Toussaint while on tour in 1965. Their partnership began with the very first single on the legendary Sansu label. It would last four short years but resulted in some of the finest records to come out of New Orleans (or anywhere else for that matter) in the 60's.
The Toussaint / Harris partnership mirrored that of Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick in many ways. Both Toussaint and Bacharach were prolific composers who specialized in following their songs from the first compositional idea all the way to the pressing plant. Unlike Bacharach, much of Toussaint's best work would elude the Top 40. Despite the fact that their five year association yielded only a single hit, the 20 sides they did between August of 1965 and March of 1969 were of a consistently high quality, acting as a showcase for Toussaint's prodigious compositional talents and Harris’s brilliant singing.
This is one of the great injustices of pop music history, and a testament to both the uniqueness and the insularity of New Orleans musical culture. In Betty Harris, Allen Toussaint found a spectacular voice with which to deliver his songs.
Photo by Nick Gordon