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ROCKTALK

'Blues Bidness' CD Pays Homage to the Masters

Tim Casey & the Bluescats will celebrate release of the recording at Classroom party.

February 01, 1996|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tim Casey loves the blues so much, he just can't stop singing about it.

The Classroom's mainstay performer and booker is having a party at the club Friday night to celebrate the release of his new CD, "Blues Bidness." The album features 15 tunes, 12 of which are originals penned by Casey with various collaborators.

Casey, a guitarist and singer, says he purposely tried to include examples of several different blues styles--such as Chicago, shuffle, Texas, Louisiana Delta, early jump and swing--in the album's mix.

"It's the versatility of the album that is its strong point," Casey says. "There's going to be something everybody likes on the album."

"Blues Bidness" is definitely aimed at those who like their blues with healthy doses of brass and sass. First, there are the punchy horn sections that were arranged by Casey himself. And second, a touch of cockiness pervades the entire album. Casey is an artist who is not shy about his talents or the music he plays.

Instead of more traditional themes about lost love, many of Reseda-bred Casey's lyrics celebrate the blues itself--with songs like "Blues Vampire," "24 Hr. Bluesman" and "Rock the Blues." The album also includes four instrumentals.

Casey says the CD's title, "Blues Bidness," is his way of honoring the old masters of the music he loves.

"Anyone who plays the blues and says they're not honoring those guys, they don't know what they're talking about," Casey says.

* Tim Casey & the Bluescats play at 9 p.m. Friday at the Classroom, 8333 Tampa Ave., Northridge. No cover. Call (818) 885-0250.

Cotton Is King: King Cotton holds court at B.B. King's Blues Club every Sunday evening. But the King is not a blues singer per se, but rather he leads an R&B band with a decided emphasis on vocal harmonies. Why? Because that's the way the King wants it. And it's good to be King.

As a young white boy growing up on a dairy farm in Navasota, Texas, in the early 1950s, King Cotton used to listen to both country music and R&B on the radio.

"I loved country music and I loved the black stations equally," Cotton recalls in a raspy growl of a voice. "I'm a music lover."

But it was the R&B-based vocal harmony groups such as the Clovers and the Moonglows that captured the young man's musical soul. Cotton still collects records from that era.

"I love all that stuff," Cotton says. "They (the old records) got some real singing on them. Now, we do that old-school style of singing."

After a stint in the Navy during the Vietnam War, King Cotton decided upon a musical career. He made a permanent move to Los Angeles in 1975. He was a founding member of longtime L.A. faves the Bonedaddys in 1985. He left that band in 1987 and soon after formed his current unit, with four singers including himself. Besides four-part harmonies, the singers trade off on lead vocals.

The band plays a variety of R&B music with frequent guests sitting in. Stevie Wonder dropped in for a tune a few weeks ago, Cotton says.

"Whether it's bebop or hip-hop, it's all soulful music," Cotton says.

The band is about to release its first CD, "El Royale Flush en El Blue Cafe," which features 18 tunes, all covers of what the band does best: classic but obscure R&B tunes.

The other band members are singers Dexter Dickerson, Gregory "Popeye" Alexander and Donny Gerrard, plus guitarists Charles Small and Tommy Kay, drummer Walter Rodriguez, bassist Bobby Tsukamoto and Cece Worrall on sax and related instruments.

* King Cotton plays R&B every Sunday at 8 p.m. at B. B. King's Blues Club, Universal CityWalk, 1000 Universal Center Drive. $6 cover. Call (818) 622-5464.

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