Mardi Gras Weekend with Betty Harris + Tomar & the FCs


Mardi Gras Weekend with Betty Harris + Tomar & the FCs

Fri · March 1, 2019

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$15.00 - $18.00

This event is 21 and over

Betty Harris - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Betty Harris
"The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul"

Ia seven year recording career that yielded 8 sides for Jubilee Records, 18 for Sansu and 2 for SSS, Betty Harris left a legacy of soul vocals that rival any of her contemporaries for complexity, imagination and pure soul.

She was born 1941 (or 1943 depending on the reference) in Florida to a Minister father and a missionary mother. As a teenager she went to work for R&B star Big Maybelle as a maid. Big Maybelle encouraged Harris’ talent, and in 1960 she recorded her first single, "Taking Care of Business" b/w "Yesterday's Kisses," for Douglas Records.

Via her association with Big Maybelle, Harris met the mighty Solomon Burke, who recommended her to his producer Bert Berns.

With Berns and Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller at the controls, she re-recorded Burke’s hit ‘Cry To Me’ for Jubilee Records in 1963. This went on to be her biggest hit, hitting #10 R&B and #29 pop. This was rereleased in 1970 and charted again. Harris’ version is a slower, deeply soulful take, filled with gospel flavor (aided by an auspicious backing group that included Cissy Houston and Dee Dee Warwick). The slower tempo allows Harris to spread out her velvety tone, exercising a fantastic dynamic range and control, punctuating things with the occasional growl. The flipside, ‘I’ll Be A Liar’ has some of the country/soul flavor of contemporary sides by Burke and Arthur Alexander, with a nice soulful touch at the end of each chorus.

The a-side of the follow up 45, ‘His Kiss’ has a similar sound, but it’s B-side, ‘It’s Dark Outside’ is a fantastic slice of moody, southern soul. Garry Sherman’s arrangement has a deep sophistication, reminiscent of some of the sides Bacharach and David were doing for Scepter with Dionne Warwick and others. The bluesy piano, and prominent placement of Eddie Bert’s mournful trombone make a solid foundation for Harris’s emotion-filled delivery.

The next 45, her last for Jubilee, was ‘Mojo Hannah’, an R&B classic, with lyrics that forecast her voyage into the heart of New Orleans. It was originally recorded by Henry Lumpkin on Motown (co-written by Andre Williams - the lyrics bear his humorous touch), and was also be covered by Larry Williams as ‘Louisiana Hannah’ and would later be a big New Orleans hit for Tami Lynn. The flip, ‘Now Is The Hour’ is another showcase for Harris’ way with a sloooow bluesy number. The way she starts the tune by stretching the word 'now' out to about six syllables is a joy to behold.

Of the two unreleased Jubilee sides, ‘Everybody’s Love’ is standard (over-arranged) pop fare and Harris’ voice is ill-used in this context. ‘Why Don’t You Take Him’ has the same basic failing, in that it seems like Berns, Leiber and Stoller were trying to force Harris into a different mold. While not horrible, it doesn’t contain the grandeur of her best work.

Harris met up with Allen Toussaint while on tour in 1965. Their partnership began with the very first single on the legendary Sansu label. It would last four short years but resulted in some of the finest records to come out of New Orleans (or anywhere else for that matter) in the 60's.

The Toussaint / Harris partnership mirrored that of Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick in many ways. Both Toussaint and Bacharach were prolific composers who specialized in following their songs from the first compositional idea all the way to the pressing plant. Unlike Bacharach, much of Toussaint's best work would elude the Top 40. Despite the fact that their five year association yielded only a single hit, the 20 sides they did between August of 1965 and March of 1969 were of a consistently high quality, acting as a showcase for Toussaint's prodigious compositional talents and Harris’s brilliant singing.

This is one of the great injustices of pop music history, and a testament to both the uniqueness and the insularity of New Orleans musical culture. In Betty Harris, Allen Toussaint found a spectacular voice with which to deliver his songs.

Photo by Nick Gordon
Tomar & the FCs - (Set time: 10:30 PM)
Tomar & the FCs
Photo by Lyza Renee

Tomar & the FCs are the retro-soul band of your dreams. Their vintage style, soulful lyrics, and truthful melodies will take you on a journey through R&B past, and into a dreamy future.
Venue Information:
305 E 5th Street
Austin, TX, 78701