We’ve looked at faces, we’ve looked at booties. We heard singing voices and speaking voices.
Now I wanna go to the deepest level of our conscious and subconscious perceptions of race. Can you listen to a group of musicians in a groove... and tell if they’re black or white?
With so many white boys out there givin’ up the funk, it might not be so easy. Then again, it’s hard to fool Mother Nature. (Not to be confused with: “Is it live or is it Memorex?”)
So... let’s have a contest. There are six musical snippets below, roughly 40 seconds apiece. Some are by black musicians, some are by whites. The first person to correctly race-identify all six tracks, A thru F – black or white? Negroes or not Negroes? – will win a prize.
That prize is an excellent Johnny Otis CD from 1992 – “Spirit of the Black Territory Bands.” (Downloadable from iTunes and eMusic.)
Mr. Otis, of course, is the son of Greek immigrants who decided to become a black musician. (And became a legendary one.)
For an example of the old-style swingin’ on the “Territory Bands” album, click here and spin “Harlem Nocturne” on my Vox blog.
The rules are simple: Post your six guesses in the comments thread. Only one set of guesses per player. And if you happen to recognize any of these bands... please keep the information to yourself until the contest is over.
Here we go:
UPDATE (09/21/07): No winner this time, y’all. Dang... some white muthafunkers got their game tight enough to pass the blindfold test! Wild Cherry would be proud.
So here’s the rundown:
Even though most of you pegged Track A as a white band, this one had me fooled. When I copped it via Napster years ago, I assumed “Message from the Godfather” by the James Taylor Quartet was some obscure James Brown tribute/ripoff from the 1970s.
Nope. JTQ is a British band (pictured at right), and this cut came out in 2001.
Track B is “Tighten Your Wig” by Galactic, a highly regarded New Orleans funk unit (pictured below).
Track C is “Pledge” by Jef Lee Johnson, a one-man band out of Philadelphia.
Track D is a cover of the J.B.s’ “Damn Right I’m Somebody” by T.J. Kirk, the hipster quartet of Charlie Hunter, Will Bernard, John Schott and Scott Amendola.
Track E is an untitled live jam by Jean-Paul Bourelly, Vernon Reid, Dennis Chambers and T.M. Stevens. You can download this one for FREE from Bourelly’s website. Just follow this link, scroll down to where it says “Jean-Paul Bourelly & Vernon Reid – Live,” and click “track 2.”
Track F is “Funk Reaction” by Lonnie Smith. Or Lonnie Liston Smith. There is much confusion on this matter. Either way, he black. This track was recorded in 1978.