Fatback Band Letter

January 5, 2009

The gig in New York took me back many years, what a way to bring closure to 2008. We arrived that Friday morning 10 AM. We stayed at Newark airport, across the river from New York and 30 minutes from the gig, for costly reasons. As you know, the band originated in Queens-New York. Three of the members still lives in the New York area, the other members resides in the Carolinas. We scheduled to meet in Queens at my old buddy Warren Daniel’s house, about 6: o’clock that afternoon. We left Newark about 4:30 and it took 3 hours to get there, an hour and a half or more just to get through Staten Island. That’s how badly the traffic was backed up. When you get away from the big apple you forget what the traffic is like. In my hometown, we only have a 30 minute rush hour and we complain about that. Anyway, we arrived about 7:30, at Warren’s.

Let me give you a little background on Warren Daniel. We met back in the early Sixties. We were on a gig together with “The Doc Bagby Organ Trio,” he was on sax and I was on the drums. The gig was in Brooklyn at the Arlington Inn. That was the beginning of a forty years old friendship. I have seen all of his kids grow up, taught his son drums & played gigs together. When he booked a gig I played drums when I booked one, I used him. Our dates were getting many, which we each had to form our own groups.

The beginning of Fatback was Johnny King, Johnny Flippen, Bill Curtis and Warren Daniel on Sax. Earl Shelton replaced Warren. Then I added George Williams on trumpet and the rest is history. Johnny King hadn’t seen him in about twenty years, George & Flip too; it was really an old reunion. Of course we had a Jam session that was the pre-warm up, for the gig. Later that evening went by my old office, which is now a Candle, Incense and Copy shop. Yes, Linden Blvd has changed, like everything else, but it's still funky looking. I also ran in to another old friend of mine, Lee Collin, a Bassist. He was the music director for Ben King (Stand by Me) when he was hot. I didn’t have anytime to do any visiting, we were moving too fast, but I did stop by my favorite Jamaica restaurant Jean’s, under new management. I thought something was wrong as we approached. I noticed beautiful curtains up to windows; this was not the Jean’s I remember. The one I knew was funky, people standing in line waiting. We stayed, it wasn’t bad… just didn’t have the right ambience.

Saturday night had all the things that go with funk. First, no sound check, not a real dressing room, late putting the show on, when we started the PA system went wild! At that moment I knew we were back in the real funk. And that this is going to be a great night. This is what funk is about. Putting it right in your face, PA system or no PA system, everybody was in the mix, the room was just the right ambience. The promoters couldn’t have picked a better room. You lose something in your big venues. The funk gets lost. The closer you’re to people the better they can get involved. To enjoy funk music you have to be a part of it. New Yorker’s know how to get in the Funk. It’s like Chitterlings you can’t clean them up to much or they will lose their taste. Thank you.

I would like to share e-mail with you from a Fatback fan, a funk master that attended the show Saturday night in NY from Canada. If you like to share your musical experiences with others, please send them to me at Bill.c@att.net and we’ll get them out there. Some new music will be coming down soon, like in March… another trip with Fatback.

Thanks for love and support.


On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 2:27 PM, DJ $ Bill wrote:
"A pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a sacred place or shrine of importance to a person's beliefs and faith."

My long journey began in earnest, many years ago and though I will not complete it in this life, I have been lucky enough to take many steps towards it.

Much of this has taken place over the years in NYC, NY, USA, cities that I love, not for it's buildings or tourist attractions, but the people and especially one group of musicians, who had sadly left by the time I made my first long journey there.

My mission has been to thank the artists who have brought me so much joy, in times of need, as well as to share that joy with others.

What started this pilgrimage of mine?

"Ladies and Gentlemen. One of the Funkiest bands on the East Coast…

The first time I listened to the "Keep On Stepping'" LP, beginning to end and back again, tears of joy streamed down my face, as I first heard, what I didn't know I had been searching for.

Pages could be filled without effort, describing the lasting impact this has had on my life, and in turn anyone else I have played Fatback for, however I'll now return to more current events.

A ten hour trip that turned into fourteen, with the bus from Canada getting a flat tire along the way, still landed me in Manhattan at 11a.m. on December 27th, 2008, the day, for the first time in fifteen years the Fatback Band was playing in New York.

A beautiful day, not only weather wise, but also because I knew I was only hours away from hearing, meeting and thanking a band who had changed and saved my life.

I had heard their recent Live In Tokyo recording and knew they still had the goods then. I had still prepared myself, just in case the prime had passed and I was going to be hearing the ghost of Fatback past.

Regardless, I knew it would be a special night for me, a chance to look in the eyes of these men, though mere mortals, my musical super heroes and hopefully in return they could see the pure joy in my heart, that they were responsible for.

Don't confuse this outpouring of Love and appreciation for fanaticism, or something akin to a gaggle of teenage girls, losing their minds over the Jonas Brothers. This is (not just) knee-deep and far beyond the groove.

If you are looking for a song by song review of the show, you’ll need to keep on searchin', but if you are trying to find out what seeing Fatback Band live will make you feel like, I'll try my best to describe, but think I already have.


Even with some unfortunate technical issues that were not Fatback in origin, it came though loud and clear, a tight, funky band that still has Love and Joy for what they do and the power to spread that energy to anyone within hearing distance. Their playing was every bit as good as my first exposure and the results were the same.

After the show, I tried my best to express, but don't think that I'll ever be able to. In return, I met a group of people who have the same energy individually as they do in their music. Warm, friendly, humble, and happy, the type of people I surround myself with and have chosen to make up my family.

Back on the bus at 5:40 a.m. and headed home to Canada, until the next journey/pilgrimage. This experience will continue to echo in my mind and heart forever.

I hope it is not a once in a lifetime event, my spirit is full, but will always have room for more Fatback.

Begin your own pilgrimage, of course I recommend going to see Fatback Band, but anyone or anything important to you, that has brought you joy, comfort or answers.

Do these things!

I hope that 2009 brings us all more happiness, but encourage all, not to wait around and go and get it too!


“I Found Lovin’”


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