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"Bobee (What A Spirit Walks That Way)"
Three instrumental excerpts
Track-a-Week begins with three excerpts from the instrumental version of "Bobee (What A Spirit Walks That Way)". Herlin Riley is on drums-set, Kirk Joseph on sousaphone, and Roger Lewis on baritone and alto saxophones. What a rich and driving sound of celebration they make here! I'm so lucky to have them with keyboardist Michael Torregano Jr. in the Rivers Answer Moons band!
These peers from New Orleans are, I think, matchless. Jump on these trains!
_Bobee (What A Spirit Walks That Way) Herlin-Kirk-Roger excerpt #1
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_Bobee (What A Spirit Walks That Way) Herlin-Kirk-Roger excerpt #2Artist Name
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_Bobee (What A Spirit Walks That Way) Herlin-Kirk-Roger excerpt #3Artist Name
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Photo by Jake Ricke, Feb. 1, 2022.
Photo by Ryan Hodgson Rigsbee, December 2017.
Photo by Jake Ricke, Feb. 1, 2022.
Bobee walks with eyes straight ahead
Bobee walks with his chin thrust out
Bobee shines like orbs and buttons of brass
Bobee is a lad goin' to earn to his way
What a lyric is that boy
What a man came home from the Corps
What a son plays secrets like his Dad
What a spirit walks that way
Herlin sang wordlessly as he and Kirk and Roger and I listened to the playback of "Bobee ..." in the control room of Rick G. Nelson's Marigny. His voice was like the ululations I'd heard from Native American singers, Nilak Butler and Willie Lonewolf, who were appealing to Spirits and/or mourning the lost, while producing albums at the Olde West studio in San Francisco in 1991 and 1992.
"Why don't you add that, Herlin? What you're singing."
"What? Was I singing?"
"Yeah. It's good. Sounds like you were expressing what you hear in the track. It's good! Soulful!"
"I don't know. I didn't even know I was doing anything."
"Why don't you add it? It's very good. See what happens."
Herlin's vocal here is an extension of the love, I think, that went into "Bobee ..." and all of Roger's début album as a leader, ALRIGHT! Roger had written the tune after passing of his first-born son, also named Roger and nicknamed "Bobee"--for whatever reasons Roger can't remember. The son was a shining 21, going through college, a Marine reservist, and then was diagnosed with a rare and untreatable bone-disease that took him within 18 months. Roger's and Kirk's Dirty Dozen Brass Band recorded "Bobe" on the DDBB's 1990 album New Orleans. The son's story, as Roger told it to me in January 2020, and snapshots of him, inspired my lyrics. Jump to Summer 2021, amid " 'COVID-19' ", " 'vaccines' ", and mandatory masking. At practice in the New Orleans Musicians' Union room, the day before our recording in Rick's Marigny studio, Herlin had said, "I think I got something," and delivered to us the astonishing combination of toms, snare, kick-drum and percussion (one person, one drums-set!) that opens the track. Kirk at once picked up with his fitting, charging train of melodic bass-lines.
Roger is born in 1941, Herlin in 1957, and Kirk in 1961. The younger New Orleans' musicians must have known Bobe as a peer. Their feeling for Roger's loss and their liking for his tune's melodies, harmonies and drive give the whole track its soaring lift. Then there was Herlin's voice.
The photo below is by Maryse. It records our joking about the profound language that Herlin had invoked. He'd reached into. I think, his own Church and mother tongues of Spiritualist churches everywhere. And it made everything about "Bobee ..." richer and better.
Again, please click to listen on Bandcamp.
Rick G. Nelson, Roger Lewis, DP, Herlin Riley, and Kirk Joseph, between our recording of
"Bobee (What A Spirit Walks That Way" and Rivers Answer Moons' tribute to Kidd Jordan,
'Maybe You See Horses'. It's August 1, 2021. I hold Cisco Bradley's biography of William Parker, Universal Tonality. Photo by Maryse Philippe Déjean.
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