When I was informed of this documentary by a long time friend, I was moved in so many ways. First, as it is released concurrent with "Ray", the Ray Charles biography with Jamie Foxx, it is a double blessing for me. Ray Charles was probably the main musical influence during my childhood and whose amazing sound made such an impression on me that I ultmately became a professional musician and songwriter. Little did I know back then, the Fifties, that it was Tom J. Dowd who was so great a part of that huge "sound". But even more significant on a personal level, Tom later produced three albums I was involved with as an artist and musician. (Two Wet Willie LP's and one Billy and the Beaters LP) Of course there were many years between that and the first time What'd I Say shook my ear drums. Just noting why this is such a meaningful documentary personally. I am extremely grateful to the producers and director of this film for using their talents to finally get this story down for those of us who share the passion they obviously feel. It memorializes the life of a guy who was not just a genius in his many talents, but who had the most amazing ability to get the music out of the artist and onto the tape. His demeanor and warm way of communicating with musicians were a blueprint to proper studio etiquette. He gave us a forum where we could be our most effective and creative, there is no question about that. He inspired countless tracks that are so deeply a part of our lives whether you are a musician or a fan. When John Lennon recorded Stand By Me, we realize that Ben E. King's hit made him "feel" the same things that you or I felt, and Tom Dowd's "touch" was a huge part of that timeless classic. In fact, he discusses "touch" in this documentary. I can remember a few times when he turned to me when listening to a playback, and commented on a particular figure I had played saying "that's nice touch." Definitely made my day! And I just have to say, Mr. Dowd, you had a touch like no other. This world is lessened with the departure of you, but your legacy continues to take us to places we all need to go.
Acapella group, ROCKAPELLA has released a live concert in CD, DVD, and VHS, entitled Rockapella: In Concert. Included in this live set is, you guessed it, KEEP ON SMILIN'. Check them out at Rockapella.com.
Wet Willie will be given an award of achievement from the Alabama Music Hall of Fame on March 17, 2001. There will be a black tie ceremony in Mobile, Al. that evening with a performance by the band. It is humbling to say the least to stand among the ranks of such luminaries and mentors like Nat King Cole, Hank Williams, W.C. Handy, Jerry Wexler, and Dinah Washington, to name but a few. Wet Willie looks forward to this prestigious event with great pride and humility.
Wet Willie is now officially a relevant part of the "techno-dance" phenom. Notable and popular flava of the day artist Fat Boy Slim has sampled none other than the Wet Willie classic "Macon Hambone Blues" for song(s) on his latest release, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars. Check it out and let us know what you think. By the way, if you really wanna dance, listen to the "Red Hot Chicken" Mp3 download on our website....
"KEEP ON SMILIN", Wet Willie's anthem from the Seventies, has been performed and recorded by a few artists. One version that is particularly good is available currently from the duo "Charles and Eddie", two R&B singers. It's on an album called Chocolate Milk, and is a cool version of the tune. Also, Terrance Simien, a young virtuoso Zydeco accordianist from Louisiana who has received major critical acclaim recently, has included Keep On Smilin' on his latest release, Positively Beadhead.
It's official. The entire Wet Willie Capricorn catalog has now been reissued, all including the original artwork and with great integrity in regards to the packaging. This coupled with the digital remastering of these great old LP's will take you back indeed. All that's missing is the scratches!. Check your fave CD outlet, Record Store (do they still have those??), or online source for CD's.
WET WILLIE inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame at a huge festive gala, Saturday, September 21, 1996 in Macon, Georgia. Representing the band were Jack Hall and John Anthony along with their wives and children. The black tie event was covered by E Channel, CNN and numerous other media. Needless to say the band is quite proud and humbled by this achievment, in standing among the ranks of such musical persona as Lena Horne, Ray Charles, Hoagie Carmichael, and a plethora of others. The brand new facility is quite spectacular and has a website if you want to visit via Internet.
WHITE CLAY RECORDS, whose home is literally at the source, Macon, GA., and whose offices and studio, PHOENIX SOUND, are what used to be THE original Capricorn Studio, has released its debut Compact Disc, aLIVE DOWN SOUTH, a great compilation album with live tracks from multiple Southern Rock bands and including WET WILLIE. This is landmark stuff for the diehard fans who know that this same studio is where some of the Seventies most memorable music was created and where the rich heritage of Southern Rock by definition was literally spawned. . . Pretty kewl, I must say. You can contact them directly by going to their website, linked above.