2016 Honorary Lifetime Member Recipient
by Rhetta Akamatsu
For over 20 years, Carlos Capote has been a vital part of the Atlanta Blues scene and of The Atlanta Blues Society. His member number is #048 which means that as the Society turns 21, so does Carlos' membership. He even met his wife, Terri, through the Atlanta Blues Society!
Carlos was born in Florida and discovered blues in high school, but it was while a student at Georgia Tech that he taught himself harmonica. He ventured into Northside Tavern, where he became acquainted with the local blues scene and honed his skills under the mentorship of Mudcat and Stoney Brooks. In 1997, he formed his own group, The Breeze Kings, and they have gone on to become one of the most popular groups in Atlanta. They have been chosen by Creative Loafing as Best Blues Band an amazing 10 times, have completed four European tours, released 4 albums and played over a thousand shows across the Southeast. They have also represented Atlanta at the International Blues Challenge three times, most recently in 2010.
As far as the Atlanta Blues Society is concerned, Carlos and The Breeze Kings have been sponsors since 1999. Carlos has served as Director of the Blues in the Schools program in the past, and, as Co-President George Klein stated, "Carlos has always been willing to do anything, anything at all, that we asked him to do or that needed doing."
Aside from his musical contributions both with the Breeze Kings and as a guest on numerous other albums, Carlos is a dedicated musicologist and historian and has a special appreciation and concern for the elder members of the blues community, and he has enthusiastically worked with older musicians like Frank Edwards, Neal Pattman, Cora Mae Bryant, Eddie Tigner and Tommy Brown. He has also been a mentor and example to younger musicians coming up. His genuine love for the music and dedication to its promotion along with his prodigious talent and hard work have made Carlos a treasured member of the Atlanta Blues Society for all these years and for many more to come.
By Steve Derrick
The early 1950s were a transition time for popular music. The big bands were fading in popularity and the crooners were being replaced by singers with more soul and feeling. Rock and Roll had not yet completed the metamorphosis from the blues, but the cocoon had formed and the butterfly was developing. It was a difficult time for artists. They were single acts relying on devious agents who often stole their songs as well as their money. Performers had few laws to protect them, recording studios, agents and, publishers often took advantage of artists, never giving them the recognition and payment for the songs they wrote or the music they recorded. Atlanta’s own Tommy Brown was one of those artists who had never gotten the recognition he deserved, until more than 50 years latter. In 2002, Tommy received a package in the mail from BMI containing his award for having Billboard’s number one record. Tommy’s recording of Weepin and Cryin' was the number one record in 1951, but Tommy was not around to enjoy its success, receive his award, nor to profit from performances; Tommy was serving our country in the Marines. What did the record company do? They hired a stand-in to perform all over the country as Tommy Brown. A lot of time has passed since then, but through the years Tommy Brown kept performing his own style of rhythm and blues, entertaining audiences with humor, style and of course great music. His importance in the blues community was again recognized on May 7, 2015, when the Blues Music Hall of Fame in Memphis inducted Tommy into its Hall of Fame.
Born May 7, 1931, the youngest of four brothers and the son of a Methodist Minister, Tommy was destined to be an entertainer. His first paying job was at the age of 7 dancing at the YMCA and getting paid $7. Shortly after, he started dancing at the Top Hat Club and the 5 O’clock Supper Club. Fate was on his side when his 7th grade music teacher turned out to be Elmer Calloway, Cab’s brother. Tommy learned to play the drums, formed a band and has not stopped performing since. Atlanta Black radio was just getting started in 1948 and Tommy landed a 15 minute Saturday afternoon spot on WERD under the name of Sweet Papa TB. In addition, he would perform on another station, WEAS, the same day. In an interview with Juke Blues Magazine, Tommy reflected on this with Brian Baumgartner; “So I would do my show on WERD, and then leave Auburn Avenue, traveling 10 to 12 miles in 20 minutes to do my show on WEAS. Many days I would be there by myself with my base drum, sock cymbal and their piano, since the rest of the band wouldn’t show”. Tommy also played several venues with his band the Maroon Notes such as college frat dances, and teenage dances at the Royal Peacock, Atlanta’s major Black entertainment venue. This gave Tommy exposure to some of the big name performers such as Sugar Chile Robinson, T-Bone Walker and Roy Hawkins, who often used Tommy and his band for backup. One such artist, Billy Wright, signed the Maroon Notes as back up on his road tours. This exposure acquainted Tommy with the likes of Little Richard, The Griffin Brothers and later James Brown. Becoming recognized as an all around performer, Tommy moved out from behind the drum set and became a respected vocalist with a flair for dancing and comedy. It was with the Griffin Brothers that Tommy first recorded on the Savoy label. His version of Tra-La-La, on the flip side of the Griffin Brothers instrumental Hoppin', charted at Number 7 in 1951. This success lead to another recording session which released Weepin and Cryin'.
In 1952 Tommy became a solo act relying on the Shaw Agency to handle his booking at top clubs in Chicago and Harlem, working with top bands such as Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams, Choker Campbell and Bill Doggett, in venues such as the famed Apollo Theater. New York, Chicago, St. Louis and Atlanta were all regular stops for Tommy’s act. He was recorded on labels such as Imperial, United, RCA Victor’s R&B label Groove and later he formed his own recording company, Huntom records. In 1957 Tommy was a member of promoter Irvin Feld’s “Biggest Show of Stars” tour, performing on the same stage as LaVern Baker, Clyde McPhattter, Fats Domino, The Crickets, Paul Anka and the Everly Brothers.
The death of his mother in 1977 brought Tommy back to Atlanta to take over her personal care homes for the elderly and mentally handicapped. Like many performers Tommy’s career had its ups and downs. His 15 year marriage ended in divorce and he was faced with raising his daughter as well as managing his mother's business. Through it all Tommy remains the consummate performer, always there to entertain you. His quick wit and infectious smile makes you happy you got a chance to meet one of the nicest men on any stage.
2015 Atlanta Blues Society Honorary Lifetime Member Recipient
Record Producer - Songwriter - Entertainer - Business Man
In a distinguished career as a singer, songwriter and producer, William Bell has come to define the essence of “soul.” Born in Memphis but based in Atlanta since 1970, William Bell was one of the pioneers of the classic Stax/Volt sound, joining such other illustrious musical forces at that label as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MG’s, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, Carla and Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers and the Bar-Kays, among others.
William recorded his first sides as a member of the group the Del Rios. In 1961, he made his solo recording debut with the classic single, “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” which became one of the fledgling label’s first major hits. After a two-year stint in the Armed Forces, William released his first full-length album in 1967, the classic The Soul of a Bell, which included the Top 20 hit single, “Everybody Loves a Winner.” That same year, blues great Albert King recorded what came to be his signature tune, “Born Under a Bad Sign,” also written by Bell, which has since become one of the most-recorded blues songs. Among his other classic hits at Stax were “Any Other Way,” “Never Like This Before,” “A Tribute to a King” (William’s personal tribute to Stax legend Otis Redding), “I Forgot to be Your Lover,” his internationally-acclaimed duet with Judy Clay, “Private Number,” and the perennial Christmas music favorite, “Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday.”
In 1970, William moved to Atlanta and struck pay dirt in 1977 with “Tryin’ to Love Two” on Mercury Records, which topped the R&B charts and eventually spent more than six months there. As a songwriter, William Bell’s compositions have also been recorded by such diverse stars as Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, Billy Idol, Lou Rawls and Rod Stewart, among many others. In 1985, William launched Wilbe Records in Atlanta and issued the album Passion, which produced three chart singles in the U.S. and was a major hit in the U.K. “I Don’t Want to Wake Up Feeling Guilty,” a duet with Janice Bullock from that album, stayed on the American charts for close to nine months. A song from that album, “Headline News,” was released as a single in England and was later voted one of the top ten records in 1987 by the readers of Blues & Soul magazine in the U.K.
In addition to releasing more of his own albums in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, William began to produce and develop other artists for his Wilbe label. After 1992, he took a break from recording, but continued to perform around the world. Some of his performing highlights during that period included the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in 1995 and three memorable nights during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta that saw him paired with such fellow Memphis legends as Rufus Thomas and Ann Peebles. 1997 turned out to be a very rewarding year for William, as he reaped accolades from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, winning their R&B Pioneer Award; and The State of Georgia, which inducted him into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame by then-governor, Zell Miller.
In 2000, he returned to the recording studio and released “A Portrait Is Forever”, an album of all original songs, on his Wilbe label. Other awards he’s received over the last few years include the prestigious W.C. Handy Heritage Award in 2003; and that same year, he received the BMI Songwriter’s Award for his tune, “Put That Woman first,” recorded by Jaheim. In 2004, he received the Joe Pope Pioneer Award, presented at the Beach Music Awards. In addition, Wilbe Records was voted “Record Label of the Year” in 2004 at the Southern Konnection Radio and DJ Conference, and was voted “Record Label of the Year” in 2008 and 2010 by the Jus’ Blues Foundation.
After an absence of over five years, William Bell released a brand new studio album, “New Lease on Life” in the spring of 2006, whose title track is already riding high on the southern soul charts. “New Lease on Life” is packed with the kind of classic songs and grooves that fans of William have come to expect. In addition to “New Lease on Life,” other standout songs in an album full of highlights include the testifying “Playaz Only Love You (When They’re Playing),” the soulful duet with Jeff Floyd on “Somebody’s Gonna Lose A Good Woman” , plus “My Body Don’t Know”, “Got An Island Feeling”,“Treat Her Right (Like a Lady)”, the gospel-influenced “Save Us” and “Every Sunday Morning.”
William also continues to produce and develop a number of new artists on his Wilbe label, such as Jeff Floyd, Lola, Dave Morris & Reginald “Wizard” Jones & The “Total Package Band”. William Bell “Live In New York City”, his only live recording, is also now available! In 2012 William performed with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and made three appearances in Concert at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Also he performed for the Smithsonian Festival in Washington DC, which drew almost a million people in three days. In 2013 William complete a successful tour of Europe, has filmed a movie with Snoop Dog, now known as Snoop Lion, which will be released soon. He was honored to perform for the President of the United States at the Whitehouse, to rave reviews.
William is also a member of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame and is featured prominently in the Stax Museum. Additionally William continues to be involved with the STAX Soulsville USA functions and the STAX Music Academy Kids, performing with them on numerous occasions. William's latest project he's been honored to be involved in is the "Take Me to the River" feature film, celebrating the inter-generational and inter-racial musical influence of Memphis.
William Bell continues to be a major force in the music industry!