It has been a very sad summer in terms of losing some of our finest local musicians. Bassist Christopher Walker and guitarist Skip Chavis passed away last month and now two more charismatic artists have died, both succumbing to cancer.
• Legendary Funk guitarist and Cincinnati native Phelps “Catfish” Collins passed away Aug. 6. Collins (along with his younger brother Bootsy) was an architect of Funk as a member of James Brown’s JB’s, Parliament/Funkadelic (fellow P-Funk guitar alum Garry Shider died just a couple of months ago) and Bootsy’s Rubber Band, and he was responsible for some of the greatest Funk guitar riffs ever laid down. Collins’ guitar can be heard on some of Funk’s biggest, most influential hits, including Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and Parliament’s “Flash Light,” two songs Rolling Stone put in its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Bootsy Collins recently announced a celebration of “The Catfish Life,” scheduled for Sept. 4 at Covington’s Madison Theater (a free event, because, according to Bootsy, Catfish’s motto was “If it’s free, it’s for me”) and the formation of a musician’s assistance fund “to help unfortunate musicians that fall on bad times and can not afford their own burial.” Send an e-mail to
• Michele Feaster, singer for Blues/R&B band II Juicy (which took its moniker from Michele’s nickname), passed away on Aug. 7 after battling cancer for the past four months. She was 45.
II Juicy formed in 2004 and had a pretty quick rise on the local club front. The band had been playing cover tunes until it signed up for the 2006 Cincy Blues Challenge, which required groups to play three original songs. In just a couple of weeks, the band put together three originals — and won the Challenge, earning a spot at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in early 2007.
The band — a popular draw at area clubs thanks to the solid musicianship and Feaster’s effervescent stage presence and soulful, brassy vocals — has been nominated for several Cincinnati Entertainment Awards and performed a great set during the 2009 CEA ceremonies.
Those interested in helping Feaster’s family with expenses can make a check out to “Play It Forward” (another local musician’s assistance charity) and put “Michele Feaster” in the memo. Checks should be mailed to Play It Forward (care of Jim Hunt), 1 East Main St., Amelia, Ohio, 45102.
• Northern Kentucky natives Lauren Houston and Jesse Thomas team up for a “combined CD release show” Friday at the Southgate House. Poppy songwriter Thomas is a Covington native who relocated to Los Angeles in 2008 and was signed by producer Jim Roach (who also helped her secure high-end management) for his Red Parade Music Group label. Her debut, Hazel EP, will be available for the first time at Friday’s show. The rootsier Houston (from Morning View, Ky.) is releasing her sophomore effort, Morning Time In Morning View, showcasing her personal songwriting and Folk/Pop/Country/Soul sound. (iamjessethomas.com; lauren-houston.com)
• Saturday at York Street Café, The Cla-Zels (led by singer/songwriters Joan Whittaker and Jason Erickson) host a release party for their new full-length, I Own Hawaii, an incredibly eclectic album showcasing the band’s solidly melodic writing and adventurous musical approach, which shifts tones, moods and styles so often it’s sometimes hard to tell if it’s even the same band from one song to the next. The group — also featuring bassist Chris Barlow and drummer Brian Baverman — will be offering free copies of Hawaii to all in attendance Saturday. (www.myspace.com/theclazels)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]