blog posts

A Bit Of Good News At a Grim Time 

On a day when Tracy and I have received nothing but bad news about the present and flat out grim news about the near future, it was very pleasant to receive some unexpected GOOD news just now. Namely, we belatedly learned that the King Louie Organ Trio's debut CD, "It's About Time," received a rave review in the top French jazz magazine back in February. ("Jazz Hot" is, in fact, the world's oldest jazz magazine--founded in 1935.) Pretty cool! 

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King Louie Organ Trio 
IT’S ABOUT TIME 

Frances…

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My Brush With Al-Qaeda 

Yesterday, while reading a Facebook post about New Years Eve gigs, I got to recalling my most memorable NYE gig—one that didn’t even happen.   


The story begins in comical fashion.  In early 1998, Peter Dammann, then-guitarist and manager for the Paul deLay Band—announced to us band members that we’d landed a nice-paying NYE party at the Seattle Space Needle.  A bunch of big-wigs were to be in attendance, including the mayor of Seattle, the governor of Washington, Paul Allen, and Bill Gates.  But a couple…

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Jimmy Mak's: A Dream Come True 

 

The story of Jimmy Mak’s is way too big for one person to tell.  It could fill a library!  But for me, as for many other musicians and music fans, the impending closing of Jimmy Mak’s—at least at its current location and possibly forever—is triggering a lot of personal memories.  I performed at this wonderful venue (including both locations) around 1,800 times over 19 plus years!  There were so many magical nights along the way that I can’t get my mind around it.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that my…

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Remembering Paul deLay 

 

During my ten-year stint in the Paul deLay Band, we worked on dozens of Paul's quirky, brilliant, original songs. But the one we worked the longest and hardest on—by far—was “Remember Me.” Week after week in early 2001, we'd assemble in my Gresham garage and play the song—never to Paul's satisfaction. It wasn't that he didn't know what he wanted. The song had come to Paul in a dream, nearly fully-formed. But that was the challenge: to make it sound just as it had in that dream—haunting and ghostly…

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Bruce Conte, Soul Vaccination, and Me 

 

With an exciting new Soul Vaccination CD, featuring guest guitarist Bruce Conte, about to be released, I've been thinking about how it came to be.  It's a long, winding story, going back to my teens in San Francisco.


Back then—in the late '60s—Bruce was playing in a band called Common Ground, led by my first organ teacher, Norm Bellas.  They rehearsed a couple times at my folks' house in SF, which is how I first met Bruce.  Bruce was just a couple of years older than me, but he'd been playing…

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"Soul Diva Meets the Blues Monsters" 

 

In gathering and posting materials for my new website, I got reacquainted with some of my old recording projects.  One that stood out was the 1994 release (long out of print), "Soul Diva Meets the Blues Monsters" by Linda Hornbuckle with No Delay.  Listening to the CD for the first time in many years, I was knocked out.  And in talking to Linda, Dennis Carter (engineer & co-producer on the project), and guitarist Peter Dammann, I learned I wasn't alone.  They all feel that CD is one of the very best…

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Beyonce, Esmerelda, and Other Loves 

 

The other day, in a Facebook post about an organ rental I’d just done, I included a photo of a particularly lovely Hammond B-3.  The post stimulated a lot of comments--mainly about the photo!  The pictured B-3 was indeed a beauty--and as it happens, there’s an amusing story about it.  

Just as B.B. King named his guitar ("Lucille“), I name my B-3's.  Their names, almost always beginning with the letter B, usually evoke the image of large, homely women: e.g., Bertha, Belinda, & Beulah.  But this…

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Bay Area B-3 Heyday 

 

The Oregonian dubbed me “Portland's Boss of the B-3,” but in part that's because I'm the best-known of a very small group.  Oh, there's some wonderful gospel organists playing in Portland churches, but as far as blues-jazz B-3 guys, we're far & few.  By contrast, when I came up in the San Francisco Bay Area music scene of the '70s, there were organ players—and good ones—all over the place.   The B-3 was a dying instrument—being replaced first by the Fender Rhodes piano and then by synthesizers—but I was…

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"King Louie's Video Vault" 

 

I was an "early adopter" of video recorders, purchasing a Quasar VHS top-loading VCR soon after the machines made their debut.  I don't remember the price, but it was steep, and the blank tapes were no bargain either at $16 apiece (that was on sale)!  Likewise, I jumped on "Hi-Fi" VCR's when they first went on the market, and on "Super-VHS" machines when they appeared (with their own over-priced blank tapes). 

There was a method to my madness: back in those days (late '70s thru early '90s) I was…

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King Louie, Pianist? 

 

Last night, I played a gig with "Big Monti" Amundsen at the Trail's End Saloon in Oregon City, OR.  Nothing too remarkable there: I'd played five or six times with Monte before, and back in the day I played at the Trail's End all the time, especially with the late, great Paul deLay.  But what was different last night was that I didn't bring an organ & Leslie speaker to the gig.  In fact, while the keyboard I used--my Nord Stage 2--does have a great organ sound, I played piano and electric piano on it…

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NAMM-ed Out!!! 

 

Well, Tracy and I just spent three days in Anaheim, CA at Winter NAMM 2012.  We had a great time, but three days later we're still experiencing a NAMM hangover.  For the uninitiated, here's the Wikiedia entry for the NAMM show:

The NAMM Show is one of the largest music product trade shows in the world, founded in 1901. It is held every January in Anaheim, California, USA, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Its only major competitor is the Musik Messe in Frankfurt.

NAMM is a trade-only business show

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Busy Week Ahead: Oakland, CA & Bend, OR 

 

The Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group has the night off at Jimmy Mak's this Thursday (1-12-12), but it'll be a busy week for me nonetheless.  First, on Wednesday, Tracy and I are flying down to Oakland, California for our friend David K. Mathews' Ray Charles Project @ Yoshi's.  The show will feature three outstanding vocalists: Tony Lindsay (Santana), Chris Cain, and Glenn Walters.  Plus, I'm told that one of my all-time favorite organists might stop by and sit in: Chester Thompson (Tower of Power, Santana). 

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The Monte Carlo Club, San Francisco 

 

In looking for some video clips for this website, I came across a "Monte Carlo Club Reunion" camcorder recording from 1987.  By that time, the San Francisco nightclub being celebrated had been gone for about a decade.  But its spirit was alive that night in '87, and the video--poor in quality as it is--captures that, so I've added it to this site.

I first played at the Monte Carlo (then the Keyhole) in '72.  It was a small, predominately black jazz club on Bayshore Blvd, near Candlestick Park.  I was…

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My Organ Rental Business 

 

Something most people don't know about me is that I've been renting out Hammond B-3 organs & Leslie Speakers for nearly as long as I've been playing them.  For a long time, it was a rare thing--someone would call me out of the blue and ask if they could rent one of my organs.  This was back when I lived in the SF Bay Area.  Some of those rentals were pretty cool--like the time I rented a B-3 out to Billy Preston.  Unfortunately, he was so animated at the keyboard that he broke the bench!  (I was…

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Looking forward 

 

UPDATE , 2-28-12: The 5-18-12 Wicked Wilson Pickett tribute by the Portland Soul All-Stars, referred to below, is being converted to an Etta James tribute (see details under the "Gigs" tab).  Stay tuned to this website re/ future stagings of the Wicked Pickett and other soul legends tribute performances.

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It's been great, looking back & reminiscing as I've assembled materials for this website.  But as my first jazz bandleader, Jules Broussard, used to say, "The past is a nice place to…

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More memories & news 

 

I played a gig in Bend with Renato Caranto, Edwin Coleman III (from Soul Vaccination) and Derek Sims this past Saturday.  The gig was great: part of the Jazz At Joe's series.  The ride home was expected to be another thing--a long, grueling affair, fighting off sleep, fog, and oncoming headlights all the way.  But it turned out to be enjoyable as Edwin and I shared stories from "the Way Back Machine."


He particularly enjoyed my tale about having to tackle a giant drunk at Portland, OR's Candlelight one…

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Going Down Memory Lane 

 

The website has been up about a week now, and I've been getting lots of positive feedback.  For me, the experience--especially gathering materials for the site--has been a real walk down memory lane.  At times this has been pure fun--like finding an old photo of myself with Bruce Conte's 80's cover band "Hot Street."  At other times--especially when viewing photos, CD tracks, & videos of the Paul deLay Band--it's been bittersweet.  It's hard to accept that Paul passed away at such a young age.

The good…

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First Blog 

 

Well, I've finally broken down and gotten a website!  I hope you enjoy it.  If you explore a bit, I think you'll discover some pretty cool stuff: bios, CD tracks, photos, gig posters, videos, and much more. 

Most of the uncredited photos were taken by my lovely wife & manager Tracy Pain.  Most of the cool design work on posters, CD covers, etc. was done by my friend, the brilliant Nike whiz (and shredding guitar player) Dave Gill.  The "banner" photo (at the top of the site) as well as the nice photos…

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