Posted in music on July 2, 2008
After two sold out summer soul revue-style shows in 2007, Chicago-based southern music label The Rabbit Factory, Inc. returns with a bigger and better line-up. Not since Atlantic Records foray into the American south or the golden age of soul music at the Apollo Theatre and Chicago's Regal Theatre has the gritty sound of southern soul appeared up north with such force as with the Rabbit Factory Soul Revue. The two-city vintage "chitlin circuit"-styled bill features classic southern soul artists performing with an eight-piece dance band, Wiley & the Checkmates, from Oxford, MS. These shows are a godsend for many fans of American music.
The Rabbit Factory is record label forged by Chicago DJ and record collector, John Ciba, and NYC industry veteran, Derek Evers, with the intention of preserving archival as well as new, relevant southern music. These upcoming events will celebrate the release of two long-awaited new releases from the label: The Birmingham Sound: The Soul of Neal Hemphill Vol. 2 as well as the new album by Wiley & the Checkmates We Call it Soul. Songs from both albums will be performed live.
The July 6th New York City show will feature the core Rabbit Factory Soul Revue of The Checkmates performing with Herbert Wiley, the Legendary Roscoe Robinson (Blind Boys of Alabama), Ralph 'Soul' Jackson (Spooner Oldham/Muscle Shoals) and Hermon Hitson (Jimi Hendrix/Isley Brothers/Joe Tex). This line-up has been receiving rave reviews from its high profile performances at SXSW and the Ponderosa Stomp. The show itself is part of the popular JellyNYC McCarren Park Pool Party series, opening for Ronnie Spector.
The July 12th Chicago date will be outdoors at the Hideout, home to all of the Rabbit Factory's local events, and features the core Revue as well as Laura Lee (70s woman's rights soul icon/Al Green's girlfriend), Harvey Scales ('Disco Lady'/Milwaukee's godfather of soul) and other guest appearances by Chicago soul greats. Local support slots are filled by the Adam Fitz Band and up and coming instrumental soul group the Stacks, who were both apart of the sold out Syl Johnson Rabbit Factory show in February 2008. In keeping with the chitlin circuit aesthetic the outdoor stage will be a tractor-trailer and Wallace's Catfish Corner, West Side institution, will be offering classic soul food.
The Rabbit Factory has pulled out all the stops to create something very special - something you won't find at your summer blues fest or over-hyped rock festival. It is something refreshing but faintly classic and rooted in a bygone piece of American culture creating an atmosphere beneficial as much to the artists as to the audience.