Music Tonight: It's a fittingly slow Monday for concerts, as touring bands gradually make their way back to the road after the Thanksgiving weekend. But that doesn't mean there's no live music in the area tonight. You can dance the Mondays away, Salsa-style, at The Mad Frog in Corryville, as Latin ensemble Tropicoso continues its long-running Monday night residency. Or you can enjoy some yummy, spicy grub and check out Gypsy Jazz kings The Faux Frenchmen at Allyn's Cafe in Columbia-Tusculum, one of the quartet's regular gigs. One residency that is coming to an end is Slack Panther's Monday night showcase at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The new local Indie Rock crew has been the club's November "House Band," so their every-Monday concludes tonight. The foursome — whose Facebook description claims "post-grunge neo wave" as the band's genre — released the eight-song Love Space Desire Forever Love Heartache Longing Cincinnati this year. It's available at the popular rate of "name your price" on the Slack Panther Bandcamp site here. Below, give a listen to the track "Brightest Star." The band performs two sets at MOTR tonight, starting at 10 p.m. The show is free.
Momentous Happenings in Music History for November 30
On this day in 1988, actor/rapper LL Cool J visited the Ivory Coast and performed what has been deemed the first major Rap concert in Africa. Well, the first major half-of-a-concert, at least. The performance was halted after the crowd got out of control. All was not lost, though — LL still ended up being crowned "Chief Kwasi Achi-bour" in a village where he helped a hospital be built.
Though he's done a lot of acting work since, will LL ever top his debut film appearance, where he stole the show in a scene from 1985 cult flick Krush Groove? Doubtful.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a Nov. 30 birthday include: Legendary host of Pop music TV show American Bandstand, Dick Clark (1929); Soul singer best known for his hit "(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right," Luther Ingram (1937); Punk-turned-Pop star William Michael Albert Broad, better known as Billy Idol (1955); Hip Hop MC/lyricist with the group Whodini ("Friends," "The Freaks Come Out at Night"), Jalil Hutchins (1963); American Idol runner-up Clayton Holmes Grissom, known to his "Claymates" as Clay Aiken (1978); and under-heralded R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist Shuggie Otis (1953).
Shuggie — the son of R&B pioneer Johnny Otis — got a big first break in 1969 when he was just 15. Al Kooper invited him to play guitar on a sequel of sorts to his casual, jammy Super Session album with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, which came out as Kooper Session in 1970. Also in ’69, Otis' debut solo album, Here Comes Shuggie Otis, was released by Epic Records. Two years later, his album Freedom Flight was issued, featuring the song he's most known for, "Strawberry Letter 23." While both the single and album did OK for Shuggie, five years later, a Quincy Jones-produced cover version by The Brothers Johnson became a big hit, reaching No. 5 on the singles charts.
"Strawberry Letter 23" ended up being a big part of Otis and The Bros. Johnson's legacy; with its unique sound and groove, it has been used in numerous TV shows, commercials and movies. It has also been sampled tons, on tracks by everyone from DJ Quik and OutKast to Beyonce and Girl Talk.
Otis, who has a reputation for being private and reclusive, saw his music career experience a resurgence in the ’90s and early ’00s, thanks to name-checks by stars like Prince and a 2001 reissue on David Byrne's Luaka Bop Records. Otis is reportedly working on a fourth album (nearly 40 years after his third), which is said to include material written between the mid-’70s and now.
Here are both "original" versions of "Strawberry Letter 23."
UPDATE: Due to post-Thanksgiving foggy-mindedness, I thought today was Nov. 30! Slack Panther's show is indeed Nov. 28; the "Day in Music" bits are for Nov. 30 … so now you'll have plenty of time to prepare your Shuggie Otis birthday celebration. Apologies for the confusion (mine and any other I may have caused). We'll be back to more timely, accurate posts tomorrow.