Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Hey guys,

Just a little note to thank all of you who came out to the show last Sunday.
It was a fabulous, fabulous show. In fact, it may have been my best show ever! The band was fantastic and the turnout was awesome! People were dancing, singing and having a good old time! So thank you everyone, for supporting us and making this our best show ever.

If you missed the show, you’re in luck! We’re doing another show next month. It will be a Live Broadcast via the internet, and we’re holding a contest so the viewers can pick the time, date and price of the show.
Stay tuned for the details, or look to the left to vote on the particulars:

Part 2 of my latest blog is below..

Thank you again, and remember.. music can change the world..
Enjoy the summer..


"Now… Back to the story!

We needed singers, so we put out the word in our ‘Hood’ that a spot was open. I can’t remember who, but someone suggested “‘Lil’ Vivian from 200” (200 was the building Vivian grew up in). She had sung in our class production of “The Wiz” and she was GREAT!!!
At first her mother objected (I’d later find out that her mother sung professionally also), but I guess with a little nudging from Mrs. Evans, she landed the role of Dorothy. When we held auditions for the singing spots Vivian blew the other girls out of the water!!!! We had our Star!!

One problem though, just as when she starred in our school play, Vivian was still afraid of singing in front of people. Well, unbeknown to a few of the guys and me, Vivian would quickly lose that fear.
At the beginning of her first practice with us, Vivian walked in the band room guided by on of the biggest, smoothest dudes I had ever seen around our side of town. It was her Uncle Lincoln. We started out pretty slow, but needless to say, by the end of that practice we’d all done pretty well.

Within two weeks we had about 5 songs down pat. The tightest of them all was Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover”. Vivian sang the “----“ out of that song. And, of course, I held the bass line right in the pocket, LOL.

During those days, trips from NYC to Atlantic City were well awaited when summer hit. Mr. Byrd gave an annual bus ride to AC every year. Since he’d given us access to a room for rehearsal, he considered us to be “His Band”, so he often checked in on us. Well, it was during one of Mr. Byrd’s unannounced visits, that he brought us some of the best news a bunch of kids from the projects could ever expect to hear: we would be the opening act for Marvin Gaye (at the old Coliseum) in Atlantic City.

I will never be able to explain the excitement we all felt; I’ll say this though, it was over the top. We practiced hard, and though I honestly don’t remember the set we’d put together, I remember it being tight! We reached out to some of the guys in the projects who were already playing professionally by that time and they made sure that we had it right.

Julian had his brother Tim (who was already a guitar virtuoso, touring Europe with a Funk band), Everett had his oldest brother Freddy (who had started out playing in the same band as Tim, but was doing a lot of keyboard work in the studios at that time) and I had the help of two bass players (John – who had begun his bass career playing funk with Tim and Freddy, but had crossed-over to Gospel when he got Saved, and Jerome, who was touring Europe with Tim).

Kenny was a natural and his ear was amazing! Though he couldn’t read a lick of drum music, Kenny could pick up the drum line – stroke for stroke- by listening to the LP’s. Yeah, we got it right! We got it tight!! Besides Vivian, we had two other girl singers. If I’m correct, one’s name was Valerie and the other was Caroline. To be honest, they were only there to fill in space because Vivian had the vocals locked!! LOL!!!"

Stay tuned for part 3


Wednesday, August 3, 2011



Hello, Hello, HELLO!!

It’s been such a long time I know! All I can say is, I miss you guys so much!

I’ve run into so many of you around NYC, I’ve gotten emails, etc, asking, “Why haven’t I been getting emails from you? When are you performing? Where have you been?”

Well, here I am ;-) Actually, to be more accurate, I’ve been keeping my head down making headway with this new record, which I’m not even going to talk about since I don’t have the new record in my hands ready for you to hear (guilty).

I have been busy though. I toured with Joe Cocker last summer in support of his new record, “Hard Knocks”, which I also submitted songs for (none of my songs made it, next time though..).

After that I worked with Cher at Caesars Palace in Vegas in the fall. Then I did the Capitol Jazz Cruise.
In the spring of this year I did a workshop for a new play directed by THE Bill T. Jones (Fela). So I have definitely been busy.

In fact, I have a show coming up this very weekend at the lovely Feinsteins Nighclub. This will be my first show in two and a half years and I’m hoping to see all of you there..

The information is below.


This Sunday, August 7th, 2011 – 8pm
540 Park Avenue (corner of 61st Street)
$20. Advance/ $25. Door (Dinner required)

Chris Parks - bass
Sherrod Barnes - guitar
Ron Thompson - piano
Eric Brown - drums
Tim Ries - saxophone
Mark McGowan - trumpet
Clark Gayton - trombone

The show is called I Am Music. I called it that because I still love music as much today, as when I was a kid sitting in front of the record player.
I’ll be featuring new music from 2 different records, songs from the last CD, Sunny One Day, and music I’ve written for other artists.

I have a KILLER band and you guys know I don’t do things halfway, so you know we will be JAMMING up in Feinsteins. Make your reservations quick because tickets are going fast.

‘Til Sunday, here’s a little something (further below) for you to read, my latest blog post, written by a childhood friend of mine, Gerald McDonald, about our first band together.
See you Sunday, and remember, music can change the world..


"Where I’m From (Pt 1)..

Without mentioning the year, Id like say that the culmination of this event took place during the summer of my last year in elementary school.

I’d always loved music and wanted to play and instrument badly. So, in the beginning of that school year I joined the P.S. 92, Mary McCloud Bethune School’s Orchestra. I had no idea what instrument to choose.
The music instructor, Mrs. Stratfield, suggested the cello, and I agreed.
From cello I went on to play bass guitar.

A great friend of mine, Julian Green, who lived in the St. Nicholas Projects (I lived in Lionel Hampton Houses), and his brother, Tim Green, had already been playing guitar professionally in Funk bands and performing all over Europe. Well Tim began to teach Julian guitar and me Bass.

We learned pretty quickly too. By the end of the spring we’d formed a band with two brothers, also from the St. Nicholas Projects: Kenny and Everett Veasley. Their older brother Freddy played Funk keyboards professionally. He taught Everett keys, and Kenny taught himself to play drums – by ear - and he was funky. After joining forces we still needed a place to practice and someway or another, we got Mr. Byrd to give us open access to a room in the St. Nicholas Projects Community Center, of which he was in charge.

By mid summer we’d already had a few songs “down pat” and were pretty tight! We added a percussionist, “Big Larry” to the band and were well on our way to stardom, LOL!!! The only thing that we needed was singers.

Before I go any further, I must take you back to the beginning of the school year. Our teacher that year, Mrs. Judy Evans, was amazingly educated and Afro-centric. She taught us as if she were teaching adults, giving us the gumption to reach for whatever we wanted in life. We were the “TOP” class for that year.

Well, a couple days after the school year had begun, Mrs. Evans made an announcement to the class that we’d be having a new student, that had been skipped a couple of grades, joining our class. You can imagine the chatter in the room. Seemed as if no one wanted a “Nerd” joining our class and we were about to give this new kid hell! But, on that day, in walked the cutest, prettiest little girl I’d ever seen. She was scared and timid to the point of being terrified. But,… She was beautiful. That was the first time I had ever set eye on “Vivian Sessoms”.

Now,… Back to the story!"

Check back next week for Part 2.. ;-)