Thursday, February 24, 2011

What is a Froomee?

Fred asked and answered the question for himself this week in Paris, which culminates Saturday night at the New Morning, where he will appear as a special guest of The Froomees. Here's what he's learned:

"What is a FROOMEE??
Well, Froomees are cute little musicians who are determined to be funky.
They have their own engineers.
And with a little help from their funky friends ...
... me and my drummer Bruce Cox, who withstood much abuse,
I think they’re gonna have a hit record."

Also this week, Fred met his youngest known fan, 2-yearold Lou-Ann, who's clearly digging his "Best of," CD.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Video from Arte TV

The French-German Arte network recently featured Fred with Sly Johnson on Manu Katche's One Shot Not program. Click here for video from that appearance, including a performance of the Socalled penned tune "Beautiful," from Fred's new CD "With A Little Help From My Friends," performed with Katche and keyboardist Ben Sidran of Steve Miller Band fame. Enjoy!

Also, here are photos from the hang at the Arte studios in Paris last fall.

Fred with Sly Johnson vocalist Dominique
Sly getting a shot.

Funkin' with the Froomees

Fred is in his element this week -- in the recording studio working with the young French band, The Froomees. The amazing Bruce Cox, Fred's drummer in the New JBs for nearly 20 years, also is taking part in the session, and, in Fred's words, "played his ass off last night!" Here are some photos from the day, with captions by Fred.

Bruce helped me. Here he is with co-leaders of the Froomees, Djamila and Kristle.

The rest of the Froomees rhythm section: Pascal, guitar; David, bass; and Simon, piano.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fred funks French musicians

Fred's in Paris this week, where for the fourth year in a row he was a featured instructor at the annual funk workshop organized by French sax woman and longtime friend Djamila Alioua (pictured below to Fred's left).  New JBs drummer Bruce Cox worked with drummers this year. Singer Kristle Raynaud (far right below), led the vocal workshop. Participants included the director of the Normandy Conservatory, along with his wife and 13-year-old son (last photo).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Setting that '70s mood in Bonn

Coming up on May 6, during the next European tour, Fred and the New JBs will play in Bonn, Germany, as part of the Pauluskirche church's "Soul Preacher" series, thanks to the work of church member and our friend, longtime fan, and our favorite photographer and graphic designer, Heinrich Buttler, who writes that he has been doing some research to get in the mood:

... I have a 300 plus something single collection. Strictly 7 inch 45s on vinyl by James Brown, Fred and other J.B. related artists. The J.B.'s had - for some odd reasons - a bunch of different names. For instance J.B.'s Wedge, The Progressors, The Devils, A.A.B.B. and others ... I found eight singles that read "Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s" and two are introducing "Fred Wesley & The NEW J.B.'s". The latter two are the same, just issued by different European countries. ... I have made color copies from the singles and will decorate the church hall or the front of the stage with these covers, so the people can catch the feel of the time when the records came out. ...

He was kind enough to share the following images and information, which we're now sharing here. Enjoy!

Fred Wesley & The J.B.s, 1974, Polydor Int. 2066455, probably French issue
Damn Right I Am Somebody, Part 1 &2
Same as above but German issue
"...the hard to find DJ-Edition of 'Damn Right I Am Somebody.' This record never leaves ebay below $100 because it contains the unedited version of the same titled song 'Damn Right I Am Somebody (Love And Happiness).' In the original recording Brown says: 'To me happiness is Fred WERLEY aaaammh Fred WESLEY playing his horn.' For the official release the mistake in the middle was cut out. Strange enough, but this is the only variation to the market pressing. Plus the promo LP contains a sticker that reads:  'Promotional copy DJ not for sale.'"

All the Funky Fred rarities from Heinrich's collection.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Letters to Fred?

Happy Valentine's Day.

What better day than today to launch a new series for this blog, "Love Letters to Fred." We often receive  notes of praise and funky testimonies from fans that are so lovely they deserve a larger audience. So, send them in to and we'll post them.

Why do you love Fred? Are you a young trombonist or other musician who has been inspired by him? Are there one or more of his songs, perhaps with James Brown or P-Funk, that played an important role in your personal history? Have you had the chance to meet him and learn firsthand that he's a legendary great guy in addition to being a legendary artist? Let us know. Thanks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Portland photos

Thanks to Corey Plank, who was on the scene with his camera and tripod, here are some additional photos from Fred's concert with the talented young jazz players of Portland, Oregon. Enjoy.

Fred with Horsford Middle School students

Fred with Cleveland High School students

Fred with Beaumont High School students

Fred with Chief Umtech Middle School students

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stuck in Iowa: Feb. 1, 2011

The monster storm that swept through the Midwest on Feb. 1, 2011, stranded Abraham Inc. in Iowa after their show at Grinnell College. The NYC concert at Le Poisson Rouge had to be canceled since travel wasn't expected to be possible again until Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011.

Fred speaks to a local TV interviewer about the weather delay in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as David Krakauer and Brandon Wright of Abe Inc. listen.

Fred in the show in Iowa.

Abe Inc photos - January 2011

Fred has been on a tour the past week with the klezmer-funk-hip hop collaboration Abraham Incorporated. The tour hit Winston-Salem and Raleigh, North Carolina, and Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and will finish up Wednesday at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.

Fred's longtime running buddy and musical cohort Maceo Parker, home in Kinston, N.C., came to the Raleigh show with some relatives, including his son and bandmate Corey Parker, who lives in Raleigh.

Here are some pictures. Enjoy.

David, Fred and Socalled at Wake Forest University's Wait Chapel with young klezmer clarinet protege, Jordan Hutchinson (third from left).

With sax man Mike Acosta at Dark Pines Studio in Graham, NC, where Fred managed to fit in a quick recording session for Acosta's upcoming album.
Dionne Maldonado of WFSS-FM , the NPR News & Jazz station at Fayetteville State University, interviews Fred, Josh and David at the Stewart Theatre at NC State University in Raleigh. 

Josh, David, Maceo and Fred

Abe Inc. saxophonist Brandon Wright, Fred and David in Raleigh

Abe Inc. with Maceo

Abe Inc. bassist/vocalist Jerome Harris (right), with his 84-year-old father Guy Harris, who drove to Raleigh from his home in "Little " Washington, NC, for the show. 

Grinnell College students boogie to "House Party" in Iowa.

Fred, David and Josh with Grinnell student radio station DJ Daniel Kisslinger after the Iowa show.