Farewell, Uncle Russell

Bass player Russell Givens, affectionately called "Uncle Russell," born, Oct. 17, 1937, passed away Nov. 9. His music and life will never be forgotten. He was called "the best bass player I ever hea

Dec 5, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Bass player Russell Givens, affectionately called "Uncle Russell," born, Oct. 17, 1937, passed away Nov. 9. His music and life will never be forgotten. He was called "the best bass player I ever heard" by the great B.B. King, who had Russell in his band. Givens played with a number of Jazz and Blues greats over a span of 50 years.

Givens' band, The Kinfolks, was well known in Greater Cincinnati. He played with local Blues legends H-Bomb Ferguson, Albert T. Washington, Big Ed Thompson, Big Joe Duskin, Pauline Creamer and Otis Candy Finch and also Jazz player Jug Green, who was in Gene Ammon's and Sonny Stitt's band. Nationally, he traveled the Blues, R&B and Jazz circuits with a smokin' style and swingin' grace. He played with Howlin Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Lou Rawls, Hank Crawford, Lynne Hope, Caldonia Reynolds, Gene Allison, Bobby Humphries and Amos Milburn.

Givens had a strong Funk style undercut by a Jazz backbeat and Blues shades of north and south. A true master of the bass, he had an unforgettable sound and smile, which slowly came across his face whenever he played.

His last gig was at the legendary Kingston Mines club in Chicago in October with The Danny Adler Band. Adler, creator of "Roogalator" and "Cincinnati Fatback," played with Givens off and on for many years. Givens passed the torch on to some younger Blues players at the Kingston Mines that night. They said, "Guys like him are the reason we wanted to do this."

We were lucky to hear Russell Givens and should be grateful that his recordings have survived. The saints came to pick him up, and we dance to his rhythm as they march him in. (Tebbe Farrell)

Author Tebbe Farrell served as H-Bomb Ferguson's manager in the 1980s.

'Tis the Season ´ for Benefit Concerts
´ Earlier this year, doctors discovered a tumor in the skull of one of the area's best and more popular singer/songwriters, Katie Reider. And, as is usually the case with our compassionate local music scene, several of the local native's musical pals are coming to her aid. Reider's label-mates at the local Blue Jordan Records are turning their annual holiday show into a benefit to help her with her medical bills. The show on Saturday, "Being for the Benefit of Ms. Kate" (a nod to John Lennon on what will be the anniversary of his murder), takes place at Molly Malone's in Covington (formerly Jack Quinn's) and features an astounding lineup. Artists slated to appear include Liz Bowater, Mike Helm, Lines And Spaces, Maurice Mattei and the Tempers, Janet Pressley, Matthew Shelton, Jake Speed and David Wolfenberger and the Co-Conspirators. Showtime is 8 p.m.

´ If you have spare toys (or, if not, feel like going on a Toys R Us shopping spree), Friday is your day to pretend to be Santa for those less fortunate. Two musical events will be collecting toys (and raising money) for Toys for Tots, the Marines' gift drive which began 60 years ago and disperses presents to needy children.

Rockers Zero 1 Zero, Queen Drag, Chakras, The Screaming Kings, Under Destruction and Pulse 8 play at Covington's Madison Theater for what will be the third annual Toys For Tots benefit organized by this group of musicians. Doors open at 8 p.m., and admission is $7 or one new toy (no old, jelly-oozing Stretch Armstrongs!).

Since you'll be in Northern Kentucky anyway, swing by the Southgate House's Junie's Lounge Friday as well. Local charity/music org the Rivertown Music Club is presenting its monthly One More Girl on a Stage showcase, dubbed "One More Girl Christmas Pageant" this time around. The 10 p.m. show features female-driven groups The Dishes, Tupelo Honey and The Tammy Whynots. There's no cover charge, but donations (money and, of course, toys) are encouraged.

´ So you've given all your toys away. Now it's time to raid the pantry, grab some of those canned goods and head out to Dirty Jack's in Carthage Saturday. The benefit for the Freestore FoodBank kicks off at 9 p.m. and features a strong Hip Hop-heavy bill that includes Ill Poetic, Sket Brock, Wes Blizy, Lazy Ass Destroyer, Death Dealaz, Hollowpoint Priests, KY Kingz, Beedy Eyez, Legal Dope, Jay's Groove and DJ Blaze. Admission is three canned goods or $5 (which will all be donated to the Freestore).

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com