The Heineken TransAtlantic Music Festival – A Preview

Music festivals conjure up visions of Woodstock and Monterrey Pop, tales of Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and vaguely lucid memories of Voodoo and Langerado (oh how I miss Langerado). Rhythm Foundation each year does its part to contribute to the music festival quilt of America with its own very distinctive, very intimate Heineken TransAtlantic Music Festival. Combing the world for innovative musicians, they have for years fashioned a program that meshes with Miami’s diverse music appetite. This year marks the 13th year for TransAtlantic, a two-day affair set for this Friday and Saturday at the North Beach Bandshell  on 73rd and Collins Ave. I’ve been attending this festival for years, since before my kids were born (they are 9 and 7 now) and always come away with good memories. Past performers include Aterciopelados, Sidestepper, Jorge Drexler, Seu Jorge, Amadou and Mariam, and Zero 7.

Here’s a preview of this year’s intriguing lineup.

Performing on Friday April 10th:



In this age of fusion, sampling and copycat acts, it is a real pleasure when purity shines through. Puerto Candelaria at its core is a Cumbia band from Medellin, Colombia, and they celebrate their ancestral roots with a dose of theatric, surreal flair that reminds one of the magical realism found in a Garcia Marquez passage.


Budos Band.jpg

This New York instrumental band first performed at TransAtlantic in 2009, and they don’t travel light. Eleven members, lots of horns and percussions. Their music sounds like extended reflections on retro cop show theme songs. No wonder they have been described as a “70s Psychedelic” band. I like the 70s. I like psychedelic. And I grew up on Starsky & Hutch so I’m looking forward to hearing them blast away on Friday night.

On tap for Saturday April 11th:



French born. Chilean roots. The daughter of exiles from the Pinochet regime, Ms. Tijoux embodies the gulf between the developed and the developing world with a hip hop bravado that pops like Missy Elliott and crackles like Lauryn Hill. Her “1977” track (the year she was born) was featured in a Breaking Bad episode. (Remember the Mike & Jesse day-long money pick up sequence?) She made NPR’s 2012 list of Best Latin Alternative Music of the Year in 2012 (“Las Cosas Por Su Nombre”) and has continued to be featured there. She is a star and she’ll be tearing it down on Saturday night.



Brother and sister duos worth there place are rare in music. The Carpenters? Pass. The White Stripes? You had us fooled for a while. Wild Belle is a brother-sister music act from Chicago that draws from reggae and paisley pop. Brother Eliot is the instrumentalist (he usually bounces between the piano and the saxophone) while sister Natalie delivers vocals with a subdued Bond girl quality to her. Their music is shag carpet cool.

Finally, each night will also feature a local band: MY DEER on Friday night and BLUE JAY on Saturday. Both are newcomers to the local indie scene. This is another fine thing Rhythm Foundation does well. No matter where the transatlantic flights take them, they never forget their roots.

For more info, visit this link.

The Record Man Spins Again


In 1978, at the apex of Disco, there were two record companies that soared above the rest: Casablanca and TK.casablanca-main-sp

Casablanca had New York City, Donna Summer, The Village People, and was backed by Warner Brothers.

TK was in Hialeah, Florida, started from the trunk of a car, and went on to produce 27 gold records, operate more than twenty different labels, and become the largest independent record company in the world.

TK was the brainchild of the late Henry Stone, innovator of record distribution, king of record promotion, pioneer of Disco music.

Now a new documentary film on Henry Stone titled THE RECORD MAN is set to premiere Tuesday, March 10th at the Miami International Film Festival.


The film was directed by rock-doc veteran Mark Moormann and produced by first-timers Mitch and Debra Egber of Beacon Films. I interviewed Moorman by phone recently. We talked TK. We talked Henry Stone.  He said this film embodies much more.

This is the history of Miami music.

Stone cut his teeth selling early R&B records in Los Angeles around 1946 from the trunk of his car. Two years later he was in Miami. When Stone arrived here in 1948 the local record industry was non-existent, nothing but mob-owned jukeboxes turning over 45s in dive bars, juke joints, and brothels.

Legend goes that someone recognized him in the street, told him he had boxes of records to unload and offered them to Stone. Stone bought them all, stored them in a warehouse near downtown Miami, and, voila! he was in the record distribution business. Stone started Tone Distributors and got to work.  With the emergence of television, radio programming in the late 40s/early 50s was shifting away from variety shows and soap operas towards more news, talk, and music. So Stone befriended a few local DJs and would nudge them to play his records.  When nudging was ineffective, he’d slip a hundred dollar bill or two inside the record, whatever it took, because once that record hit with local listeners, Stone would sit back and take orders from retailers. The next day he’d be phoning the record company to place an order for 10,000 copies of the record, say, Sam Cooke’s 1958 classic, You Send Me.

He eventually struck deals with Atlantic Records, Chess Records, Motown, and others to distribute their product in South Florida. Within a few years, records did not get sniffed in Miami unless they passed through Henry Stone’s hands. But he didn’t stop there.

Distributing records for all the large companies is one thing, but he made real impact when he opened his own recording studio. The record distributor turned record maker:

In the 50s he recorded Ray Charles.

In the 60s he recorded James Brown.


In the 70s, he moved the production to an 18,000 square foot warehouse in Hialeah, changed the name from Tone Distibutors to TK Productions (TK was named after Terry Kane, a sound engineer he poached from North Miami’s Criteria Recording Studio), and made music history.

Soul, R&B, funk, disco, even early rap music – TK composed it, produced it, and sold it. TK had more than 20 different record labels. Often they’d have multiple records burning up the charts at the same time. Moormann said this strategy illustrated Stone’s business acumen.

So the radio stations wouldn’t get wise and see that it was the same company that was making all the records and getting on the air.

Left to Right: Willie Clarke, Betty Wright, Clarence Reid, Steve Alaimo, Henry Stone

Left to Right: Willie Clarke, Betty Wright, Clarence Reid, Steve Alaimo, Henry Stone

Moormann recognized during the making of the film that Miami’s music history is inspired by its geography, its fluidity, and its diversity.

There’s a legacy here [Miami] of great music and people making their own music.

Moormann interviewed dozens of musicians and music people for the film. He said everyone was very accommodating. These included Harry Wayne Casey (KC of KC & The Sunshine Band), Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), and R&B singers George McCrae (Rock Your Baby) and Anita Ward (Ring My Bell).

They wanted to tell their story.

But this is not all feel-good stuff.  There were lots of business deals that went awry. The record industry has always had a seedy side and Stone was no angel. Stone had many rifts. Moormann said from the beginning he was always looking for the edgier story.

[The film] is not a black and white thing. There are lots of gray areas. But that was the record business.


Moormann said the hardest interview was Stone.

Henry lived in the moment and was always thinking forward.

It took a lot of interviews. He didn’t come clean on some business stuff. But the last interview in his place, he just delivered.

Selling out to the mob, payola, …

Not long after Disco died in 1980, TK crashed and filed for bankruptcy.  It was epic, said Moormann. Stone sold whatever catalog of music he had remaining for a fraction of its value today.  But soon after, he was back in the game producing and promoting Miami Freestyle records. He remained in the fading spotlight till the very end (Stone passed away in August 2014 at the age of 93).

Henry Stone did many things right. And sure, he did many things wrong. But he was a scrapper who did things his way.

That’s kind of who he was.

He was a record man.

Copyright © 2015 Long Play Miami

For additional information about the film including available tickets, visit this link:

Peace, Love and GrassRoots

Just follow the fingers.

So says the man wearing sunglasses. He points ahead as we pull into Virginia Key Beach Park in Key Biscayne, Florida for the 4th Annual GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance. It is Saturday afternoon, day 3 of this four-day festival.

We follow the fingers, each one like the last one, magic wands ushering us towards the parking lot to settle among the cars, trucks, vans, jeeps, and campers. We are six today: me, my wife, my two sons, my friend, his daughter.

We get our tickets at the entrance and that’s it, there is no more finger-pointing. There is no more direction from others. We are on our own.

As we walk down the main trail towards the festival, our eager shadows lurch forward on the dust ahead of our feet. A breeze slips past the mangroves and onto our faces. We are, after all, on a beach, and we are open to wind, and sun and sand and sea.


The trail is lined by tents on either side. There is disorder in the frames and colors and shapes of the tents and yet there is symmetry; They are here and now.

There are people on blankets.

There are people on camping chairs.

There are people drumming.

2015-02-21 17.16

The first festival music I hear is traditional Cuban music by Los Consortes at the first stage called the Zen Village. It is nostalgic and comforting to me and a reminder that we are a flare shot’s distance from Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

We don’t linger here. We are hungry.

We find pizza. We find beer.

As roadies begin to set up at the main stage, the guy next to me explains bluegrass music to his wife.

A man with sunflowers dangling from his straw hat spins an umbrella over his head.

Another man wearing a Viking helmet conquers a little spot near the stage.

When Donna the Buffalo is finally introduced, there are roars of elation from the crowd.

The woman sitting next to me takes repeated photos of the band. She tells me she is the cousin of singer Tara Nevins. Tara also plays the classic fiddle, the accordion, guitar, the electric fiddle, while, song after song, guitarist Jeb Puryear keeps an element of zydeco strumming.


There is dancing.

2015-02-21 17.57.45

2015-02-21 18.12.31

The sun begins its long descent behind the crowd and the trees.


I slip out the back of the stage to find a restroom and I’m immediately drawn to a steady beat-thumping taking place at the aptly named Dance Tent. San Francisco-based MC Yogi is leading a prayer-like electronica ritual, a balancing act that combines Hare Krishna and Ultra Music Fest.


MC Yogi makes women sweat, men bare their chest.

There are smiles and laughter.

There is euphoria.


We are dry. We are salty.

We find Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Sweet Cream and Cookies ice cream at a Ben & Jerry’s cart. The kids get ice cream on their shirts and fudge on their cheeks.

Across lonely picnic tables, the Zen Village is hosting Miami singer Sindy Rush, an attractive blonde vocalist that looks like 80s2015-02-21 18.58 metal queen Lita Ford. A guy behind me yells “Sindy, you’re hot” during a break and she says thank you in a very casual and courteous way like she’s heard this before.

Sindy is hot. And there is smoke. And lights. And when there is apparent confusion before her next song,  more smoke and lights drape Ms. Rush and her band and now they are all silhouettes, and they launch into an appetizing cover of The Eurythmics’ Here Comes the Rain Again.

We are curious.

One of the delightful things about music festivals is the traveling retailers and Grassroots has no shortage of hand-crafted items for sale. What sticks out here is the prevalence of Native American art and crafts. We hear tall tales from a Pascua Yaqui tribesman from Tucson.

We buy a buffalo whistle and a pipe flute and incense that is used by indigenous people during cleansings.

By now the sun and the clouds are gone.

We are fading. We find hammocks.

When one of the festival announcers says, “we have a surprise for you,” and introduces local gospel and soul queen Maryel Epps, I rally our crew to get a closer look. Lo and behold, we are surprised.

2015-02-21 20.12.10

She belts a few Motown tunes but it is her rendition of Sly & the Family Stone’s Dance to the Music that moves mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, husbands and wives.  Ms. Epps glows in a long flow of pink (she is by far the best dressed person in all the festival.)

2015-02-21 20.16.11

After the show we chat with Ms. Epps backstage and take photos with her. Then leave her to savor her moment.

We wander off to wait for the next act.

A bit later, Cuban singer Danay Suarez strolls onto the main stage and in a thick-like-froth accent delivers a greeting to the crowd.

How-wa-ju Grass-rrootz?

And then the band kicks into a slow, steady, reggae rhythm and Danay drops a Nina Simone-like vocal over the beat, beckoning the crowd concealed in the dark towards her. Her singing comes through with an echoing effect, like waves.

2015-02-21 21.44

We stay for awhile, transfixed, until it is time to go (the kids are ready).

The path back to our car is unlit and unmarked but we follow fingers and voices and direction again.

As we drive away, sand becomes asphalt, trees become condos, moonlight become traffic lights.

Back to the city.

We are fulfilled,

for now.

But soon we will long for more peace, love and GrassRoots.


Copyright © 2015 Long Play Miami


Galactic Mission: Complete


Sometimes the evening clouds part and the constellations appear. The Little Dipper bends toward the heavens, the Big Dipper makes eyes with the North Star, and the Seven Sisters gather and form a Kumbaya circle. It is at this time in your otherwise ordinary life on Earth that cosmic forces align and draw you in. So preach people who study astrology. And for one moment last month, I was a believer.

Check that; I was an astronaut.

A few days before, I took a break from work and checked my Facebook page. There, among the barrage of status updates, selfies, and sponsored ads, I came across this concert promotion posted by The Rhythm Foundation, a local organization that’s been hosting lively music performances in South Florida for over two decades.


Let me talk about a particular funk band — Galactic.


Since the late 1990s, this New Orleans quintet has displayed a flawless, other-worldly funk that never goes sour. Their sound is a gumbo that mixes a saucy southern soulful rhythm guitar, finger-lickin heavy Bayou bass lines, and skippety be-bopping percussive beats with a sprinkle of cowbell and a double dash of high-hats. And that’s just the instrumental jams. When they invite rappers to lend vocals, add one part old-school-hip-hop to that gumbo, dropping verses on the hard street life of the Big Easy.

This is head-bobbing music, back and forth, back and forth. If Rush concerts are ground zero for air drummers, then a Galactic concert is ground zero for head bobbers.[1]

On two occasions I had a chance to watch Galactic perform. The first time was at New Orleans’ Voodoo Music Festival in 2010 and the second time was at last year’s Sunshine Music & Blues Festival at Mizner Park in Boca Raton, and both times I was regretfully too inebriated so I missed my chance to acquire a proper appreciation for their live gigs.

So when my Facebook page brought me this news of a free Galactic concert on a Friday night, I stared at that astronaut on my computer screen for while. But then it hit me, that sonic boom of resistance and left-brain logic speaking to me from a voice closer to home listing all of the why-nots:

  1. Friday night.
  2. Rush hour.
  3. Distance.
  4. Kids.
  5. Saturday soccer matches.
  6. Saturday chores.
  7. Etcetera.

So I shrugged, passed the cursor over the thumbs-up symbol, and settled for adding my “like” to the photo.[2]

Reason prevailed and I forgot about the whole thing. I went back to work.

On Friday morning, on my way to the office, my wife calls me. Bad news, she says. The check-engine light is on in my car.

I immediately called our go-to mechanic shop and informed them. They said I could bring the car Friday night and drop the keys off through one of the bay door slips.

That evening after our kids’ soccer practice, we piled into both of our cars. I had one of my kids with me, while my wife tailed behind with our other son.  We made plans by cellphone to have dinner near the mechanic’s shop. We knew of a few family friendly restaurants in that area. As we drove towards the traffic heading north on Interstate-95, it hit me, this idea, like a comet crashing into the frontal lobe of my brain:

Honey, the mechanic is around the corner from Hollywood ArtsPark.
Let’s go see Galactic.

This time the wave of resistance was no match for the cosmic forces. We had no choice but to acquiesce to the forces and the planets and the moon.

Thirty five minutes later, we were at Fillmore Street and 24th Avenue, in Hollywood, Florida, dropping off the VW keys with the last mechanic there.

Then we directed my car towards ArtsPark to search for a parking space amid the crowded street corners and distant music 2015-01-30 20.53.28from the opening band (Monophonics). We found a spot on a side road, crossed a few streets, and entered a Friday night of neon and tie dye and bearded men in flannel shirts while the first band wrapped up their set.

We snacked on hot dogs and chips.

We killed time. We waited.

Suddenly, the bright lights dimmed to space-age blues and pink. Galactic arrived and got rolling. We side-stepped the crowd and found an ideal spot near the corner of the stage. I took turns putting my kids on my shoulders where they could see the band up close through the clouds of smoke and clusters of neon, along with other miniature people secured to the shoulders of their own dads.

When trombone player Corey Henry grabbed the mike and rapped to the crowd, hands went up and waved back and forth with the beat. When the band introduced vocalist Erica Falls, we were transported light years away.

2015-01-30 21.15.31

That night we bobbed our heads.

That night we were astronauts.

And when the night ended and our mission was complete, we returned home safely.

Here’s a track from Galactic’s 2007 From the Corner to the Block:


[1] Speaking of head-bobbing: Toy bobble heads are reported to date back to around the 1840s and are based on a character from a Russian-penned short story that was described to have a neck that resembled “the neck of plaster cats which wag their heads”?

[2] Why does Facebook only permit a thumbs-up option to express your feelings about a post? What about the fist-pump or the high-five? I believe those have earned a spot on our menu of digital expressions, Facebook. And while you’re at it, so have the thumbs-down, the middle finger, and the double middle finger.

Copyright © 2015 Long Play Miami

Soul Flashback – January 1976 (Gridiron Edition)

Thirty-nine years ago this week the City of Miami hosted Super Bowl X. The game matched the defending champions, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Dallas Cowboys.

untitled (2)

And it was a classic.

Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw connected with Lynn Swann for a 64 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to take a 21-10 lead. Less than two minutes later, Roger Staubach lead a Cowboys touchdown drive to pull within four points with less than twosuper_bowl_x_swann_original_display_image minutes to go in regulation. Then the Cowboys recovered a fumble and with 18 seconds left, the ball at the Steelers 38 yard line, Staubach tried to pass it to Drew Pearson for the win. But the ball was intercepted at the 2 yard line by safety Glen Edwards.

Game over. Steelers won 21-17.

Some 20 miles north from the stadium was Sunny Isles, a town located in North Miami Beach known for its beach front hotels and steady mix of wise guys, tourists, and rock stars (e.g, part-time resident Eric Clapton used to comb the beach, Jim Morrison combed the bars, etc.)

The night after the Super Bowl, euphoric and possibly hung over Steeler fans got another treat to go with their victory. It happened at The Swinger Nite Club inside the Marco Polo Hotel.

The Swinger opened in 1971 and lived up to its swanky name. Al Green, Wilson Pickett, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Chubby Checker, Sister Sledge were just a few artists to play gigs there.


On Monday, January 19, 1976, Miami soul singer Betty Wright aka Miami’s First Lady of Soul, fresh off her fourth album, performed at The Swinger.

Danger High Voltage, released in 1975

Discovered by Deep City Records co-founders Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall at the age of 15, Wright’s career took off fast. She had her first hit in 1968 (“Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do”), her first chart topper in 1971 (“Clean Up Woman”) and by the mid 1970s, she was global, so her coming back home to play at a club in Sunny Isles was as rare as seeing Steeler fans doing the Hustle.

Below is a new clipping from the Miami Herald that was published 39 years ago today about this Betty Wright performance that brought together an unlikely yet fortunate crowd comprised of “disco freaks” and Steeler fans.

This is the hit song that Betty Wright closed with that January night. The song won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1976:


End Note: The Marco Polo survived. Today its a condo-hotel known as the Aventura Beach Club with the hotel operation managed by Ramada (Ramada Plaza Marco Polo Beach Resort.)


Vinyl Love


Last Saturday was Record Store Day, a day to pay homage to the vinyl record and the independent record shop. The idea for Record Store Day (or RSD) was born in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners in Baltimore, Maryland: their mission was simple – maximize awareness towards an industry and culture that was racing towards extinction. According to, RSD is a day “for the people who make up the world of the record store — the staff, the customers, and the artists — to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities.” Guess what? Its worked. This year marked the 7th consecutive year for RSD. Approximately 2,000 record shops from around the world celebrated with parties and concerts and opened their shops to larger-than-normal crowds of record enthusiasts looking for new releases or re-issues. Miami’s finest record shop – Sweat Records – reported on Twitter witnessing “MADNESS” this past weekend (the vibe, not the London band with the 1982 hit single “Our House”); hundreds of record fans stood in line and braved the early morning showers to get their vinyl fix. Similar RSD enthusiasm was documented in cities across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Vinyl record sales have been trending upwards each year. Its very common today for musicians to once again include vinyl record releases of their music. And demand is growing. Record sales figures are projected to reach $9 MM this year, up from $6 MM in 2013, and $4.5 MM in 2012. Yes, those are small figures compared to the number of iTunes downloads but nevertheless a remarkable and impressive achievement in this digital age.



Nostalgia aside, plain and simple, there has always been something unique about record buying and record playing that far exceeds the joy one gets (or I get) from the CD or iTunes.  I’m talking vinyl love here; real, tangible love.

Back when I was a kid, this is how I spent the best parts of most Saturday afternoons at the mall, while my mother shopped at the woman’s clothing store next door:

Maybe you have a similar memory.

Flipping through the latest albums on display at the record shop, pulling one out to view the cover art or the song list before placing it back and flipping some more until the next one catches your attention. Finding the one or two albums that made all the sense in your little world.

On the car ride home, new record on your lap, you tell your mom to drive faster. You secretly curse every red light along the way.

At home, you remove the plastic wrapping, pull out the record sleeve, study it – the graphics, the liner notes – and when you’re ready to hear the music, you tilt the sleeve to let the record slide out onto your hands. You hold it firmly but with care from the sides so as not to tarnish it with fingerprints. You might even inspect the record for any dust particles still hanging on to it.

You turn the record player on and gently place the disc on the platter fitting the center over the spindle so that it pokes through and secures it for what’s next. The turntable is ready. You press the spin button, turn the volume way up, place the needle on the record, and await the bull-rush sensation when the needle comes in contact with the first sonic groove.


I love vinyls. Around 1997, I began a deliberate effort to ‘collect’ records and curate my own collection for years to come. I thought the days of LPs and 45s were numbered. So I began a buying spree. Local libraries, garage sales, estate sales, and small record shops from as far away as Toronto. I made it a point that every business trip include a visit to a neighborhood record store.

2014-04-18 00.13.31

However, today the majority of my collection is comprised of three separate private collections that I acquired from previous owners who either passed on or just wanted to move on. I have given each collection a name as a tribute and token of my appreciation to its previous owner. They are:

1. The Steve
2. The Lourdes
3. The Raul

As an ode to Record Store Day and vinyl love, in general, I will be posting a story about each of these collections in the coming weeks.

The first post will feature the most recently acquired.


The Raul Collection

[New York club DJ/record producer 1978-1988]

Principal Genres: Disco, Freestyle, Soul


2014-04-19 01.32.26


2014-04-17 22.39.56


2014-04-19 00.02.18




“Deep City” Has Arrived


A couple of award-winning documentary filmmakers and an avid art collector & philanthropist have teamed up to produce a very charming documentary about the first black-owned record production company in Florida: Deep City Records. Deep City operated in Miami from about 1964 to 1968. It was founded by two friends who first got the idea to make records when they were college mates at Florida A&M. Willie Clarke was the creative; Johnny Pearsall was the entrepreneur. They enlisted the multi-talented Clarence Reid and the three of them set the course for Miami’s special contribution to the soul music landscape of the 1960s.

Deep City recorded local musicians, many of them native Miamians culled from the churches of Liberty City and the night clubs of Overtown, while others were transplants from Jacksonville, Georgia, Arkansas, and other far away places. The record label released songs by Helene Smith, Betty Wright, Them Two, Frank Williams & the Rocketeers, Freda Gray, and Johnny Killens & The Dynamites, to name a few. Local R&B legend Little Beaver played guitar on some of Deep City’s deepest cuts.

The film, titled Deep City: The Birth of the Miami Sound, had its world premiere last night at the SXSW [South by Southwest] Festival in Austin, Texas.

Next stop on the festival circuit is Miami where this Friday, March 14th, the movie will have its Florida debut at the Miami International Film Festival (8:30 PM, Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center). Tickets for the film can be purchased here.

Long Play Miami is honored to be among the first to receive a copy of the movie’s trailer, and, with the filmmakers’ permission, shares it here for all music and film fans to enjoy.

Read the previous Long Play Miami post on the making of the film from January 2013.

Photo Shoot: Willie “Little Beaver” Hale

A few weeks ago Little Beaver agreed to let me take some photos of him for this site. This was our second meeting.

During our first meeting back in December, when I asked if I could invite my friend Joe to photograph our interview, he refused. Next time, he promised.

So when he agreed, he was simply honoring his word.

I headed to his home in Opa-locka on a Friday afternoon in January with my wife’s Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, a swivel desk lamp with a 60 watt light bulb, and an extension cord.

In his living room I set up the lamp on his coffee table, connected it to a nearby socket, and swivel-aimed the light towards him while he sat down on his bar stool.

Do you want me to wear my Little Beaver glasses?

Before I could say yes, he was already reaching for a pair of shades folded on top of the bar.

And so began the first-ever Long Play Miami photo shoot.

2051-01-17 15.13

2051-01-17 15

2051-02-17 15

I then asked him if he could get his guitar.

You mean, Katie Pearl?

I thought you’d want me to.

I’ll be right back.

Beaver guitar 2

Little Beaver strummed the guitar for a bit. And then, the strumming flowed into a familiar tune as he began playing his famous guitar track from the 1971 Betty Wright classic, Clean Up Woman.


During the photo shoot, I took notice of the drink coasters around his living room. coasters

After he put away his guitar, I sat down on the couch and we talked for awhile, about mundane things like the weather (“I was a little nippy this morning… 39 degrees.”) to far less mundane things like whether he’d ever play in public again (“You know, when you don’t play, you get rusty…”).

Then he remembered something he wanted to show me. He left the room for a minute and returned with a photograph that was mailed to him by his friend Lawrence Watson from Forrest City, Arkansas, where he grew up.

I was maybe 15-16 yrs old.

[That was] Some juke… some little hole in the wall. See the snare drum sitting on the chair?

We were ‘wood-sheddin.’


(That’s Watson on the far left with the bass guitar and of course, that’s Beaver – with the shades.)

As the daylight began to fade, I asked if I could take a couple of photos of him outside.  This idea didn’t seem to sit well. There was a moment of hesitation in the way he remained on the bar stool.

But then he just said yes and we walked out the front door.

In the late afternoon sun, Little Beaver stood in the space between the corner of the façade and a half-shuttered window. Occasionally he’d look to either side of him. He wanted to make sure none of the neighbors were watching.

2051-01-17 15.32

Because, as he has told me before,…

Willie “Little Beaver” Hale doesn’t like ‘all that fuss.’


See the Long Play Miami interview of this Miami soul/funk legend from December 2013 here (Part 1 and Part 2).

Copyright © 2014 Long Play Miami