Music — The Soul Band

The Soul Band

by Bill Copeland

On a mission from Memphis The Soul Band to play Whippersnappers next week

Tim Pike is a soul man.

Most Manchester music fans know this blues singer-guitarist from his sitting in with Mama Kicks on Wednesday nights at the Black Brimmer. Others know him from his numerous blues bands. His latest project, The Soul Band, finds him fronting a group of Boston A-list musicians who play the Memphis-born music of the 1960s and 1970s.

Appearing at Whippersnappers in Londonderry next Thursday, Jan. 20, The Soul Band, which will feature Monster Mike Welch on guitar, has a set list that includes Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. 

“The music just has a vibe to it,” said Pike, of Goffstown. “It has a lot to do with the players, particularly from around Stax Records. The core band at Stax Records was Booker T and the MGs. It consisted of Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Booker T and Al Jackson Jr. on the drums. They had a particular vibe about the way they wrote and the way they played. They were so deliberate about the parts and the grooves and  making it cook.”

“What I love about it is the expressiveness, the soul,” the singer continued. “A lot of those songs are just about everyday things like your girlfriend, or going out on a Saturday night, having your heart broken. Things we can all relate to, but it’s sung with so much soul, so much feeling, that it’s  pretty infectious.”

Pike said  this music has important social and historical roots in the United States. It is no surprise to the singer that this genre of American music grew out of the Memphis music scene, home of High Records, Sun Records, and Stax Records.

“I believe it’s as exceptional an American export as jazz or baseball,” Pike said “It’s unique to America, and it’s unique to that one area, Memphis. That one particular area turned out so much great music between ’64 and ’74. It’s astounding. Those guys would get in the studio and bang out an album in eight hours, and it was purely great writing, great musicians, and great singers, rolling a tape and letting it go. There was nothing fancy about it, the way they did it.”

When soul music first came on the market, the musicians had to make it on sheer talent.

“It stands out particularly against today’s market where everything is digital,” Pike said. “If the singer can’t sing, they can put it back into tune on the computer. They can use computers to alter the gender of the singer if they want. You don’t have to be any good. You just have to have the right face, and the right tits and ass, and they can stick you on an album and sell it.”

 In the 1960s and ’70s, players didn‘t have the luxury of lacking talent, Pike said.

“Back then, it was a four-track tape machine,” Pike explained. “It was actually an eight-channel board down to a two-track tape. They set up and played that stuff and what you hear is what they did. As a musician I love that too because I think our country has lost sight of what music is. For the rest of the world, American jazz and blues and soul music is held to a really high place, and cheesy pop music is way on the back burner. But here at home — where this great music came from — it’s lowest on the ladder. Blues musicians, jazz musicians and soul musicians are some of the cheapest paid musicians I know.”

Aside from Pike on vocals and Welch on guitar, The Soul Band features bass player and band leader Brad Hallen (Iggy Pop, Elliot Easton, Aimee Mann), sax player Mark Earley (Roomful Of Blues, The Temptations, The Coasters, Albert Collins), drummer Steve Chaggaris (Ken Clark Organ Trio) and keyboardist Curtis Haynes (Roomful Of Blues) and New England’s top trumpet player, Scott Aruda.

Pike is excited to be working with guitarist Monster Mike Welch.

“I met Mike probably two years ago through other musicians that I knew. It was actually more socially. It was at a couple of backyard barbecues and just hanging out. I had heard of Mike. You can’t be in the blues scene around here and not have heard of Mike Welch. He had never actually heard me play and sing, and I only heard recordings of him until Brad asked me to come sing on the soul gig. That was the first night we really played music together.”

Call Whippersnappers at 434-2660 or visit Whippersnappers is located right off  I-93, exit 4. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.

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