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Warren, I’m a huge Persuasions fan. I’ve got a bunch of their LPs and CDs, and I’ve seen them in concert at clubs in DC twice (in the Jerry Lawson era). My favorite tune by them is “Mortal Man,” which I would have posted as the Friday tune if I had realized earlier that it was on You Tube. Maybe next week.
In their prime, these guys were amazing in concert, and here is how those went down. They would do 2 sets, and halfway through the second set they would invite everybody in the crowd to come up on the stage and sing with them. Usually about 20-25 people did; I did both times I saw them.
There would be 4-6 people gathered in circles around each guy with a mic. And he would pass it around the circle — all of us knew the songs, and the a Capella parts of the song that that particular singer sang. It was fun and joyous.
Once, my pal Larry and I caught them at the Cellar Door. We were seated at a table with Sen. Phil Gramm’s son and Rep. Frank Wolf’s daughter. They were on a blind date. She remembered me from an econ course we took together at Maryland. This was one night in 1981, I believe.
Larry was the most incredible pothead I’ve ever known — he functioned way, way better stoned than not. And he was not on this night, and somehow he worked that into the conversation. So Phil Gramm’s son took him out and got him high. After the concert, when we were outside, he passed Larry a joint, and his phone number, and said something like, “If you want any more of that, give me a call.” And that was the last time I saw either one of them.
Flash forward to the fall of 1984. I had gotten tickets to see the play Doonesbury at the Warner Theatre. I went with my buddy Skidar. And sitting directly in front of us was none other than the very recognizable Sen. Phil Gramm and a woman, probably his wife. ‘Oh man, I thought, this is going to be fun.’
When intermission came, they were still in their seats, and so were we. So I turned to Skidar and said in a normal-volume voice, “Hey Skidar, did I ever tell you about the time I met Sen. Phil Gramm’s son at a concert at the Cellar Door? He was with Frank Wolf’s daughter on a blind date. Their dads had set them up. And guess what — you’ll never believe this — he’s a DOPE DEALER. He gave some to my buddy Larry. It was really GREAT STUFF!”
Well, Gramm and the woman in front of us got stiffer than corpse. Oh damn it was funny.
Dan, what I really like about the song is how it reminds me that melody, musicality and authenticity used to define soul music, unlike the histrionic American Idol-type empty “singing” that is so endemic today. They really show the way the group harmony vocal tradition can generate passion better than many more elaborately staged musical productions.
Coincidently, I was dating the younger sister of the sheriff of Alexandria during 1981. But come to think of it, that’s about all I’d better mention…;)
When the Persusions sing, you don’t even notice there aren’t any instruments. They’ve got a wall of sound that’s equal to anything Phil Specter ever did.
Warren you reminded me of “Minglewood Blues”
“I’m a wanted man in Texas, busted jail and I’m gone for good,
Sheriff couldn’t catch me, but his little girl sure knew she would.”
Yes and that took real singing and harmonizing that no machine can do! That is pure talent.
Nice catch dobbs, you’re the eyes of the world. This same group cut a very fine album of Dead covers, and even another one of Zappa covers (he signed them to their first recording contract).
Here’s a 5 min. clip from local D.C. television c. 1974 (The familiar Mr. Chung, emcee, joins them at 3:00 min mark).
Jerry Lawson was on The Sing Off TV show a year or two ago.
Not my “coming-of-age” music, but I love Lambert Hendricks and Ross.
You can also find videos of Lambert and Hendricks scatting.
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Wed, 22 May 2013 13:19:25 +0000
Metro Columnist Dan Casey knows a little bit about a lot of things but not a heck of a lot about most things. That doesn't keep him from writing about them, however. So keep him honest!
He welcomes your rants, raves and considered opinions, so long as the language is civil (i.e. no four-letter words). He'll read all your posts and may or may not respond.