Numero Group: By The Numbers

Phoned In: Eccentric Soul Pilgrimage at a Glance
November 28, 2011, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Methodology, Playlists, Syl Johnson

Most of the talent flew MDW > RDU for November 19th’s Eccentric Soul Revue at Durham’s Carolina Theatre. But Numero’s nucleus saw the 781-mile trek as an opportunity to touch base and break bread with some of the fine folks who make running our record label possible. After crawling out of our minivan and cracking open our iPhones, this is what we had.

Day 1 – Indiana: On the first day we set course for Bloomington, Indiana, where we had a date with Bellwether MFG, the company that manufactures the lion’s share of our packaging, CDs, stickers, and miscellaneous miscellany. A note to club owners: If you want folks to be excited about playing your club, BUY A MARQUEE. Seeing your name is moveable type never tires. Brass from Secretly Canadian were out in force spilling industry secrets left and right. Despite the well-trodden red carpet at the Bishop, the image we took away from this leg of the journey is of an unrelated nature:

Day 2 – Nashville: While we had plans to tour United Record Pressing, we first stopped by a handful of area retailers.

The Groove had this impressive clock (courtesy of our old distributors, ADA) that prominently features the Syl Johnson box set. Grimey’s had a couple hand-screened LPs by an area instrumental outfit called Hands Off Cuba that have been getting considerable spin at headquarters. We also stopped by Jack White’s Third Man Records, which no doubt benefits from its proximity to United Record Pressing. With over 100 titles in their catalog, they undoubtedly had to deal with George at URP to assure their projects make it into the hands of their inexhaustible customers.

(To see how records are made (spoiler alert: it’s fascinating) click here)

Day 3 – Atlanta: Driving into town, we dined at a Wendy’s, where we sampled the city’s native soda, Coca-Cola, from a touch-screen machine that could manufacture raspberry Sprite, vanilla root beer, and grape everything.

No trip to Atlanta is complete without visiting Little Five Point’s institutional Criminal Records, where we caught up with Fred White of the Decisions. Perhaps a release will come of it? On the way out of the Peach State, we visited picturesque Athens, Georgia, where Wuxtry impressed us with their Numero section.

Days 4 – Greenville, SC: Not a bad day of driving, we cruised into Greenville, SC around dusk, where Horizon Record‘s Gene Burger had arranged for us to DJ at the shop’s neighboring Bohemian Cafe. He even let us craft a custom bin card for local bandleader Charlie Spivak, which obviously harkened an influx of used Spivak titles in the weeks succeeding. The term “Steakhouse Jazz” was used freely.

(Horizon Records owner Gene Burger with a few plates of Spivak)

As an after thought, we dropped in on Cabin Floor Records, which contained a trove of private press experiments and area oddities, each sitting attentively on neatly organized shelves. One such Greenville sitar thing bore liner notes that began thusly: SIX WAYS TO AVOID THE EVIL EYE. Owner Joe Shirley III didn’t have a business card, but he gave us this found photo, in its self a score:

(“Nancy and Speedy, Indianapolis, Ind.”)

Day 5 – North Carolina: The Tarheel State was our trip’s bull’s eye. Coursing through tobacco country, record retailers in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill and Carrboro were restocked in quick succession. After some kind of talking thing in front of learning enthusiasts in Durham, we bolted to collegiate frequency WXDU, where things got as blurry as this photo indicates.

(From left to right: Crazy people. Download the show here. Playlist, here.)

Day 6 – Showtime: Father-and-son team Greg and Jon Kirby stop at Allen and Son’s BBQ, an institution that Oprah sidekick Gayle King hardly even rated on her televised quest for the country’s best sandwich.

(From left to right: Cole Slaw, Brunswick Stew, Pulled Pork BBQ)

Much of the day was spent on stage, getting all of the entertainers calibrated. Our backing unit, the Sweet Divines & Divine Soul Rhythm Band had but a few hours to get on the same page as local horn section D-Town Brass, who then had to collectively coordinate with each of the night’s featured front men, Renaldo Domino, the Notations, and Syl Johnson.

(Bandleader J.B. Flatt putting it together and keeping it together)

The show, in short, a success. Yes! Weekly’s Ryan Snyder wrote the only traditional review of the concert, which is a pretty accurate portrayal of the evening’s events.

Afterwards, Carolina Soul aficionado Jason Perlmutter lugged his disc jockeying equipment to the tiny-but-mighty Whiskey, where we rode the night until the wheels fell off. If pictures exist, we’d love to see them. It was full, but not too full, and there was much rejoicing in the wake of a great concert, and a successful week instigating new friendships and shoring up old ones. With about 8 hours of sleep combined, we climbed back into the van, embarking on a pleasantly uneventful voyage home.

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