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"What about Robert Johnson?" "What about John Shines?" - Johnny Shines, answers a request from the audience, Sydney

Author Topic: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?  (Read 6368 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« on: March 21, 2006, 12:12:06 PM »
Looking for something totally unrelated I came across this in issue 42 of Record Research (March/April 1962, p.12). What really caught my eye was a proposed three weeks at Chicago's Playboy Club! :o
Doug
Quattlebaum
By Paul Sheatsley
An exciting blues and gospel singer with the unlikely name of Doug Quattlebaum has been keeping audiences happy during a two-week stay at Gerde's Folk City (11 W. 4th St., New York) opening February 6. A rather small crowd was on hand for Doug's opening night, a Tuesday evening, but as the word spread about Folk City's latest blues attraction, the house was packed by the time Friday and Saturday rolled around. Doug plays a powerful driving amplified guitar to accompany his intensely rhythmic singing, and his repertoire is varied and classic. About two-thirds of his numbers are blues -- traditionals such as See See Rider or Trouble in Mind, or more modern ones like his own Love My Baby Blues, recently recorded for Prestige. About one-third are gospel songs like Go Tell It On the Mountain or On the Old Camp Ground, the latter with a moving interpolation of the Lord's Prayer at slow tempo to contrast sharply with the rocking beat of the spiritual.

Until very recently, the name of Doug Quattlebaum was known to only a few collectors through the fine sides he made for the Gotham label in Philadelphia about ten years ago. These items have long been virtually unobtainable, and Doug himself dropped from sight. His rediscovery occurred only last summer when Pete Welding, who has been taping Philadelphia street singers for a forthcoming LP on "The Philadelphia Scene, found him driving a "Mister Softee" ice cream truck -- with his guitar plugged into the truck's amplification system, entertaining the kids with his blues! Since then, Doug has been kept busy in the recording studios, and a Prestige Bluesville album (No. 1065, appropriately titled "Softee Man Blues") should be available about the time this appears in print. Normally, this album would not have been released for several months, but Kenny Goldstein and others at Prestige were so enthusiastic that they decided to rush it out immediately. British collectors can look forward to a Quattlebaum LP soon to be issued by Tony Standish on his Heritage label, and Doug also appears on one track (Mean Old Frisco) of a forthcoming LP on the British '77" label.

Doug himself is a tall, well built man in his middle thirties who creates an almost scholarly appearance behind his horn rimmed glasses. He talks easily and well and has a very relaxed sense of humor. Until he starts to play, he conforms not at all to the stereotype of the rude country blues singer. Yet Doug Quattlebaum comes from just such a background. He is related to the Crudup family (Arthur "Big Boy" was the brother of Doug's stepfather); he was born and raised in Florence, South Carolina, and his first instrument was a crude guitar which he fashioned with his own hands. At the age of 14, his family moved to Philadelphia, the city he still calls home. Doug surprised us by volunteering the information that between 1950 and 1953 he was leader and guitarist of the Bells of Joy, a popular gospel group which toured the South, and that he is on four of the sides they made for the Peacock label in Texas during that period. For the discographically inclined, Doug recalled "Stop Right Now, It's Praying Time" (Peacock 1700) and "Leak In This Old Building" (Peacock 1708) and gave the personnel of the group at the time as Mitch Hatfield (baritone & guitar), Al Ballard (tenor), Lelon Rorie (lead) and Willie Lisbon (bass). Doug has accompanied the Ward Singers on many occasions during the last two years, and even now is working with a Philadelphia gospel group known as the Musicalaires which he assures us "will soon be ready. " As a blues singer, he played the Purple Onionin Toronto in December and has a contract with the Chicago Playboy club for a three-week engagement in January 1963

Mister softee's loss is certainly the blues enthusiast's gain!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2006, 01:15:53 PM »
What a great find, Bunker Hill!  I remember being somewhat baffled by the "Mr. Softee Man" Prestige Bluesville album when I first saw it in the '60s.  I've since heard it, and found Doug Quattlebaum to be an exceptionally exciting singer.  His guitar-playing was relatively simple, as I recall it.  I think he played everything in Vastapol, like the Philadelphia street singer Blind Connie Williams, though with nowhere near the complexity of Connie Williams' playing, which was just about on a par with Josh White's for sophistication in Vastapol.  I sure wish somebody could license the albums of the more obscure players from the old Prestige Bluesville catalog, like Doug Quattlebaum, Wade Walton, Robert Curtis Smith, and J.T. Adams w/Shirley Griffith for release on CD, but that is sort of an old plaint around here.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: March 21, 2006, 07:19:20 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2006, 11:44:25 PM »
The LP that Heritage were supposed to be releasing never happened and had to wait until 1997, see:

http://www.wirz.de/music/quattfrm.htm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2008, 08:09:06 PM »
Hi all,
I recently picked up the Doug Quattlebaum Testament CD, "If You've Ever Been Mistreated", TCD 6003, recorded in 1961 by Pete Welding, when Doug Quattlebaum was 34 years old.  The 19-song program splits between original numbers, sophisticated Blues/R & B numbers like "What'd I Say", and Gospel songs. 
Doug Quattlebaum was a very strong singer with a powerful and very clear rich tenor voice.  He was also a gifted vocal mimic, whether by intention or unconsciously, and to hear the accuracy with which he reproduced some of Sam Cooke's pet vocal riffs is kind of shocking. 
Instrumentally, Doug Quattlebaum was fairly limited in his approach.  He played everything in Vestapol, but didn't utilize any of the little two or three-fingered positions at the base of the neck most often used by players working in Vestapol to play the IV and V7 chords.  Instead, Doug confined himself to the use of barre chords up and down the neck for all of his chording apart from the I chord, which ended up making for a kind of "blocky" sound.  He had good time though, was comfortable playing runs in the treble and bass and worked in a boogie bass line on occasion. 
He sounds as though he was a friendly, good-natured kind of guy.  On a couple of songs he briefly cracks up at the extent of his involvement in the vocal or his efforts on the guitar.  It's pretty winning.
I found his singing of the Gospel numbers in the program to be the strongest aspect of the album.  He does some hair-raising and really beautiful singing on "The Story of Adam and Eve", "Touch the Hem of His Garment" (fantastic!) and "He May Not Come When You Want Him".  Like many blues singers who also sing Gospel, he seems to feel the Gospel material stronger. 

Doug Quattlebaum's singing was very strong, indeed, but at this stage of his career, he sounds as though he had not fully arrived at his own style yet.  His was a pretty urban sound, too.  For those of you who are interested, the CD can be purchased at:  www.rootsandrhythm.com, for less than 10 bucks.
all best,
Johnm         

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2008, 05:25:42 AM »
Doug Quattlebaum's only commercial recording was in 1953, one side of which being the song "Lizzie Lou". Although the 78, 45 and the 1:48 version on the Testament all credit him as composer, it was in fact a minor R&B hit in 1950 on Aladdin for Calvin Boze. [Bunker Hill supplier of useless information]

Offline Stuart

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2008, 08:37:27 AM »
[Bunker Hill supplier of useless information]

One man's trivia is another man's profundity. Thanks for thinking of us, BH!

Offline oddenda

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2008, 03:54:55 AM »
Hi, Folks -

          My hazy memory tells me that when Bruce Bastin and I were beating the SE bushes, we checked a telephone book for the Florence, SC area - it was a fairly small book, but "Quattlebaum" was a rather common name thereabouts! In the inimitable words of T.A. Waller, "One never know, do one!" The two Welding sessions are lovely - the Testament recorded using some sort of electric guitar with slight tremolo on the amp (contrary to the review in Red Lick's catalog)... nice effect, and quite different from the later National session on Bluesville. His Prestige album has been one of my favorites ever since it was released back in the early/mid 60s. Quietly it grabs your attention and doesn't let go, and such a beautiful voice. Nice.

yrs,
     Peter B.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2008, 11:32:25 PM by oddenda »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2011, 11:59:20 AM »
I thought I'd give this a "bump" in light of Roots & Rhythm selling copies of what I thought was a long out of print CD.

DOUG QUATTLEBAUM If You've Ever Been Mistreated
Testament TCD 6003 Usual Price = $14.98/ Sale Price = $8.98
Back in stock. Previously unissued recordings from 1961 by excellent singer and guitarist from Philadelphia. Quattlebaum is a superb singer and an original guitarist and his material includes original songs and traditional blues, gospel and R&B songs.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2011, 12:02:45 PM »
That is a nice CD, Bunker Hill, and I have a very brief review of it about three posts above your post in this same thread.  I'm glad it's available again.
All best,
Johnm

Offline RB

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2011, 05:35:41 PM »
I have the Quattlebaum CD noted above and have enjoyed it.  But I write not becasue of that but because I was a boy living in Philadelphia at the time Welding and Goldstein were interested in and recorded Quattlebaum and a few others there, and I remember African American street singers in the downtown market area at the time, on Market Street, in fact, about 13th, where there was a Woolworth's discount store, on the south side of the street, in front of which they played.  

I remember listening to the singers a little bit. 

The thought of this, from about fifty years ago, seems important to me.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2011, 06:18:03 PM »
Hi RB,
Did you ever see Blind Connie Williams?  He played guitar, with some slide mixed in, and a little accordion, and was a terrific singer, with a beautiful high voice, who could sing pretty and sweet or "dirty".  He sang mostly Gospel material.  I saw him once at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, around 1964, but never saw him in the city.  There is one CD of his music out on Testament Records, likewise recorded by Pete Welding.
All best,
Johnm

Offline RB

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2011, 08:53:04 PM »
John, I'm not sure who I heard on Market Street.  I think I heard the singers a number of times and--as you kn ow--they certainly weren't 'featured' in any way--I suspect they were barely tolerated.  There were a number of different ones, and it was a long time ago, but I think I heard the same ones several times.  There were other street 'vendor' types there, it was lively but very low class, and most people were disregarding the street life.

I think I did hear Connie Williams at a Philadelphia Folk Festival (though I think a little later than 1964, say 1966 or so).  Somebody there, maybe Williams, sang 'Pennies from Heaven,' I think this was Williams.

The Testament record of the Philadelphia street singers that I very much like is by Scott and Clay (whose first names I can't at the moment recall) who both sang and one played accordion and sang gospel traditional songs.  Recorded by Welding.  All of this is very good, and a beautiful song is 'Wait 'til I put on MY Robe, Oh Yes, Oh Yes.'  

I don't know whether I might have heard these two ... I hope so.  I did make up a song about them, which has some nice features   'Two blind men were singing that day/one named Scott, the other was Clay.'
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 08:54:54 PM by RB »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2011, 11:03:13 PM »
The Testament record of the Philadelphia street singers that I very much like is by Scott and Clay (whose first names I can't at the moment recall) who both sang and one played accordion and sang gospel traditional songs.  Recorded by Welding.  All of this is very good, and a beautiful song is 'Wait 'til I put on MY Robe, Oh Yes, Oh Yes.'  

I don't know whether I might have heard these two ... I hope so.  I did make up a song about them, which has some nice features   'Two blind men were singing that day/one named Scott, the other was Clay.'
William Scott, vocal and Clarence Clay, vocal & accordion recorded Philadelphia, 1st June 1961. The Testament CD (6030) was entitled Clay And Scott. My copy seems to be misfiled or, at least, I can't find it. From memory Welding devoted an article to them in an issue of Blues World.

There was also a Bluesville LP (1066) which they recorded under the name of The Gospel Keys the following year. I think this may have been done by Sam Charters but don't own the record to check.
         
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 11:06:27 PM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2011, 02:35:06 AM »
A bit of digging has brought forth this from the booklet  accompanying the Folkways LP Jazz Vol. 1 The South (dated 1950). Their song is Can't Feel At Home and credited to Herb Abramson of all people.

The photo is credited to "PM" and caption reads reads The Two Gospel Keys 1947. (click to zoom)
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 02:37:26 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline RB

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Re: Doug Quattlebaum at the Playboy Club?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2011, 04:38:11 AM »
Thanks, Bunker Hill.  I can probably find my CD--of Scott & Clay, I never had the LP--today. 

But, as to the Gospel Keys, one, I recall that photograph that you've sent in, I saw it back in the sixties, two, I think I recall the version of 'I Don't Have a Home,' (a real beauty) that is referenced, but three, these are two women (and scott and Clay were two men).

Don't you think it likely that there were two 'groups' crfedited as 'The Gospel Keys?'

 


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