Read the Musicians Network newsletter article from 1990 written by Chick Hall, Jr. about Chick Hall, Sr.
The following is from WAMA:
Chick Hall Sr. was a country-jazz guitar virtuoso who made Armed Forces Radio records with Glenn Miller. Around 1953, he began playing with his own band, the Chick Hall Trio. After playing for a few years at the Surf Club, on Bladensburg Road in Colmar Manor, Chick decided that he'd like to make the club his musical home, and so he bought the place in 1955 and began playing there 6 nights a week. The Surf Club transitioned from Jazz to Country Music, and many of the country greats visited, including Jim Reeves and Lefty Frizzell. Patsy Cline sang her heart out at the Surf Club. Jimmy Dean, Roy Clark, Charlie Daniels, dropped by to jam. (some believe that Jimmy Dean's sausage recipe came from the Hall's kitchen table) It was around this time that the Colmar Manor/Cottage City area was in it's heyday, with numerous clubs such as the Crossroads, Rusty Cabins (which turned into Burt Motley's), the Dixie Pig, Angelo's, the Wheel, and Basin Street, mostly all offering live music 7 days a week. There was always a party going on.
Things change gradually. Chick got married early on and had two sons - Chick, Jr. and Chris. In 1975, a developer made a good offer on the Surf Club, so Chick sold the club property, and built another one up the street at 4711 Kenilworth Ave (at the corner of Kenilworth Ave and Crittendon Street), He is survived by his wife of 67 or so years, and his kids Chick and Chris.
Friends may call at Murphy Funeral Home of Arlington, 4510 Wilson Blvd. from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 25.
Joe Stanley is the godfather of the down-and-dirty R&B sax of the '50s and '60s.
— He led the great Bill Black Combo (Elvis Presley's backup band)
Joe's family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a special fund set up in Joe's name.
Make checks payable to:
Photos courtesy of Ron Weinstock.
Joseph Melvin Shamwell's songwriting career is documented by more than 110 titles logged with Broadcast Music Incorporated. His career began in his birthplace, Washington, D.C., in 1967 at Waxie Maxie's Record Store where he befriended Eddie Floyd. He moved to Memphis and collaborated with Floyd on many titles and also wrote with Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Tommy Tate, Steve Cropper, William Bell, Homer Banks, and others. Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Tommy Tate, the Bar Kays, William Bell, Con-Funk-Shun, Johnnie Taylor, and Booker T & the MG's all recorded Shamwell's songs.
Luevenia Turner Combest, known to many of you by her nickname "Moody", passed away on Tuesday. Moody was a member of the DC Blues Society from its inception, and was a dedicated volunteer for many, many years. Her specialty was food and catering, and she fed hundreds of DCBS members over the years.
Baltimore and Annapolis based bass player Jeff Sarli died in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 of complications of kidney disease. Jeff moved to Nashville in January of 2006 and was working steady in the Nashville music scene and touring nationally and internationally with a number of artists. He had been on dialysis for about eight weeks and was being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Jeff was 48.
Agnes B. Jackson
We are sad to announce that the mother of Dave Jackson, Ms. Agnes B.
Jackson, died recently. Dave is a long-time loyal DCBS supporter and regular
bassist at our monthly jams. The board members of DCBS on behalf of our
August 30th, 2005 Washington Post
Wade Matthews, 50, a versatile and highly regarded electric bass player in the Washington area since the 1970s, died Aug. 18 at Manor Care in Bethesda. He had HIV and complications from liver cancer and pneumonia.
Over the years, Mr. Matthews played in bands of almost every style, including rhythm and blues, rock, jazz and New Age.
He first attracted notice in the 1970s playing with saxophonist Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering, a jazz-fusion band. He also performed with the Kennedys, Nils Lofgren, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tommy Lepson, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, among others, and maintained a rigorous schedule of recording-session work, including for commercials.
The son a Navy master chief, Wade Courtney Matthews was born in Bethesda and raised across the United States before graduating in 1972 from Rockville High School. As a youth, he played trombone and guitar, switching to bass as a high school sophomore and soon beginning his professional career.
One of his early jobs was with the Rent's Due Band, led by Bill Holland, now the Washington bureau chief for Billboard magazine.
"Wade was undeniably leagues beyond most bass players who chose to play rock or R&B, and his facility on electric bass was just astounding to his colleagues," Holland told The Washington Post last year. "That's always been a part of Wade's musical personality, but in recent years he began to have a real affinity for playing less and nailing it more -- the groove, the placement of notes, wiser choices, realizing the importance of putting air around a note."
Mr. Matthews formerly taught bass at Montgomery College in Rockville. He was a Silver Spring resident and a member of the Episcopal Church of the Spirit in the Kingstowne section of Fairfax County.
His marriages to Melanie Monke Matthews and Kirstine Larsen Matthews ended in divorce.
Survivors include a son from his second marriage, Wade Matthews Jr. of Naples, Fla.; a sister, Susan Jackson of Rockville; and two brothers, Lee Matthews of Charles Town, W.Va., and Joel Matthews of Stafford.
Sept 28, 1957 - Sept 9, 2005
For anyone on the music scene in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and
half the Mid-Atlantic seaboard in the past fifteen or twenty years, Tony
"Y Not" Miller was a familiar face you'd come to expect almost anywhere. If
it was happnin' he was there and you'd know it. From DC area bands to
National acts the likes of Little Feat, Tony was part of the show -- working the crowd with disarming panache and moving band merchandise faster than hotcakes. If he wasn't wearing their latest CD on his forehead, it was because he'd sold them all before the show started. He was a team player too. Jack Kent Cook appointed him Official Redskins' Santa and star of the holidays half-time show, back when it really meant something to be an official Redskins anything. It comes as a shock to all of us who knew him that he succumbed to a heart attack last Friday at home in bed. If Tony was short on anything, it certainly wasn't heart. He had that in abundance and shared it with his public. An unmatchable color in the fabric of our music community is gone and we'll miss him. But when the angels sing, you can bet Tony's working the pearly gates with a halo stuck on his head.
First I have to say May deepest sympathies go to the friends and family of Tony Miller who past on Sept 9, 2005. We will all miss him and nobody can ever take his place as the Man with the CD's on his forehead. I know He is hanging out with the Legends at the big Jam Session in Heaven.
Funeral details and online guestbook can be found at Pumphrey Funeral Home
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Grammy award winning musician Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, 81, has died on September 10, after fleeing Hurricane Katrina.
Brown, a Louisiana-based musician who built a 50-year musical career playing blues, jazz, Cajun music and country, had been in poor health and was battling lung cancer and heart disease. Brown's home in Slidell, La., had been destroyed by the hurricane and the musician had evacuated to Texas. He was at his brother's home in Orange, Texas when he passed away.
Donations are being collected at his website www.gatemouth.com.
"Little" Milton Campbell 1955 - 2005
Little Milton Memorial Service
Flower donations may be sent to:
Monetary donations may be sent to:
Rick Serfas 1955 - 2005
I wanted to pass along to you that guitarist Rick Serfas passed on this past Sunday morning (07-31-05). He was leader of Rick Serfas and the Soul Providers featuring Jesse Yawn, winners of the 1994 DC Blues Competition. In 1994 Larry Benicewicz wrote cover story profile of Rick for the Baltimore Blues Society. You can read it by going to this link.
Rick was a very talented and well-known blues guitarist in the Mid-Atlantic area. It had become routine for a revolving group of musicians (any and all that could make it) to come to the house and jam in the basement. They were scheduled to play last evening, so Brian told the main contacts to spread the word about Rick but encouraged them to come and play anyway, just as Rick would have wanted it. And so they did, to heal as only musicians can heal. It was a wonderful tribute. Fred Hillyard, the bass player that filled in on drums for the evening, observed that their playing was just like fighter pilots flying in a broken formation to honor a lost comrade.
This week will continue to be a celebration of Rick's life instead of a deep mourning of his passing. The family gathered clothing for Rick to wear that represents his love of and dedication to music - the jacket he always wore at gigs with lapel pins of guitars, a bicycle, and a yellow Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Foundation jersey; the familiar black beret; a black Rick Serfas and the Soul Providers t-shirt; his classic Ray-Ban sunglasses; and a guitar pick for his hand. Many fun and memorable photos and items will be on display as well that represent his passions in this life from which he has passed.
Rick's Benefit Concert Nov. 7, 2004
Rick Serfas and the Soul Providers CD being considered by the family.
A CD memorial of "Rick Serfas and the Soul Providers" playing at Mick Fleetwood's nightclub in Alexandria, VA, in 1995 is being considered. The family understands that there is demand for Rick's music, but there are some legal questions regarding the recordings to work out before proceeding with any sort of ordering process. It is likely that in a future communication you will be asked if you'd like a CD and to provide payment up front before any sort of production copying takes place. Any proceeds after the cost of production will be donated to charity.
Donation in Lieu of Flowers
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making a contribution in support of Father Rick Frechette, CP, or Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong Foundation.
Father Rick Frechette, CP
Father Rick was very close to Rick while he was at St. Joseph's Monastery Parish. He began serving an orphanage in Haiti and knew he could serve the children better by also becoming a doctor. He obtained his medical degree in New York to better minister to the children both physically and spiritually in their poverty.
Make checks out to Father Rick. Mom Serfas also said that Father Rick was about the most handsome priest she's ever seen!
The Lance Armstrong Foundation
IMPORTANT: Note on your check that it is in memory of Rick Serfas.
Rick's obituary will be printed in the Baltimore Sun Tuesday, August 2nd.
Viewing, Funeral, and Interment Details
Viewing is on Wednesday, August 3rd, and Thursday, August 4th, from 3-5pm
On Thursday, August 4th, at 8pm there will be an informal prayer service. All are welcome to attend.
The family wants to pass along to Rick's musician friends that one of Rick's guitars and an amplifier will be at the viewing. You are invited to honor Rick and those in attendance with your gift of music either on the available instrument or by bringing your own setups. The jam continues
For driving directions, please see http://weberfuneralhomepa.com/directions-edmondson.php
A funeral mass will be held at 11am Friday, August 5th at
Rick's brothers, including Brian, will be in "Rick-style" casual clothing for the funeral. There will be bright shirts with guitars on them, for example. You are invited to follow "suit" (as it were) with this casual attire.
For driving directions, see http://www.stjosephsmonasteryparish.org/pages/15/index.htm
Interment follows at
This is very close to the church. Driving directions are on http://www.newcathedralcemetery.com/
After the burial, the family will be inviting everyone to a gathering at a yet-to-be-determined location. Musicians are once again asked and encouraged to bring their setups to this event. There will also be an opportunity to stand up and share your stories, memories, and remembrances about Rick during this time.
Messages of Condolences
If you would like to send cards or notes of condolence and don't know any addresses, Brian said to use the house address and he will get your messages to Mom Serfas and the family.
Bob Jackson 1956 - 2005
It is with great sadness that we report the sudden and unexpected death of member Bob Jackson on July 1, apparently of a heart attack at the age of 49. Jackson was a Bowie native and had been playing drums since he was in junior high school. Bob played with many local bands including Johnny Steele (an Elvis impersonator), American Made and the Kimball Swanson Project. Most recently, he was the drummer for the Badabing Blues Band, finalists in the 2004 D.C. Blues Society regional "battle of the bands." Bob was a retired P.G. County firefighter and had a daughter, Jessica, who is a student at Towson State University. He will be greatly missed.
Sandra Dabkowski 1956 - 2005
Sandra Dabkowski, wife of "Blu Lou" Rao, passed away Saturday, June 18, while sleeping. She was honored at a Celbration of Life July 3 at the Surf Club.
The following are condolences to Lou and family, left on the D.C. Blues Society Bulletin Board:
My best heart felt prayers go to Blu Lou in this trying time. I was going to announce our band dates but I just don't feel it's important to do that now. Instead I want to add to the COME OUT TO CHICK HALLS on July 3rd announcement, I will try to be there and bring friends as well.
I Owe Lou a lot, and hope he is doing OK.
Love ya Blues Brother!
Heartfelt condolences to Lou.
- KJ of The DangerTones
Sincerest condolences to my friend "Blue" Lou Rao on the tragic loss of his wife. My prayers and deepest sympathy go out to him. Lou, take care, and may the big blues brother up there give you all the strength to get through this challenging time, and enable you to continue pursuing your dreams and happiness, whatever they may be!
Lou, Our deepest sympathies to you and your family in this trying time.
Gene Monroe & Family
I don't know what else to say that hasn't already been said about Lou's loss here. My deepest sympathies, my friend.
- Steve Levine
Our deepest sympathies and condolences going out to Blu Lou and family. We are so sorry to hear this saddest of sad news....
Peace, love and most of wishes for brighter days to come in the near future.
Lou..my friend. I was shocked to read about this great loss. Having met your wife and knowing what a wonderful, friendly person she is makes it that much more shocking. Take Care Brother...see you soon.
- Howard Berns
Just finishing the DC Blues Calendar and was checking the website and stunned to hear the news about Blue Lou's wife. I am so sorry to hear this news Lou and will do my best to be at the Surf Club on July 3 for at least a period. Reading the bulletin board I marvel at teh warmth and love you are being shown but it is no surprise knowing the person you are. Again my deepest condolences.
- Ron Weinstock
Courtney Brooks 1923 - 2005
Courtney Brooks, leader and drummer of one of D.C.'s most popular rhythm and blues bands, community volunteer and long-time director of the D.C. Blues Society, passed away on March 9, 2005. Brooks was born in Alexandria, VA on November 17, 1923. After attending Parker Gray School in Alexandria, Brooks attended Shaw Junior High School and Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C. His father got Courtney started playing drums He played drums in the school band at Armstrong, a school that produced numerous D.C. musicians including Charlie Rouse, the Clovers and the late Nap Turner. After graduating high school, he served in the U.S. Army with tours in France and England.
After an honorable discharge, Courtney returned to playing the drums and for most of the next several decades led the Courtney Brooks All Stars, one of the top bands in the D.C. area which would back touring acts including Ruth Brown, The Clovers, Etta James, the Three Peaches, The Five Keys, The Orioles and the Moonglows. Ruth Brown remained a lifelong friend of Courtney.
For many shows, Courtney worked for promoter Julian Dove who would promote dances. In an oral history interview for the City of Alexandria Courtney remembered, "[A]t that time, a lot of the acts that came through, they didn't have their own band. They might have a guitar player, do in the late ‘50s or ‘50's. My band, the band that I had, we would always be their band, They would say ‘The Orioles and their Band.' We were always their Band. We were always the house band for Julian Dove." Courtney's time at the helm of the D.C. area's leading bands was interrupted in 1953 when guitarist Roy Gaines, leader of Chuck Willis' Band recruited Courtney to play drums for the band which had Courtney spending time on the legendary and infamous chitlin circuit. Courtney also served as the band's bookkeeper. Courtney recorded while with Willis, although he left Willis' Band before the success of "C.C. Rider," which his son Ronald told me was his one regret. Courtney also recorded with the Griffin Brothers Orchestra. Courtney came off the road in 1957. Courtney was a Government employee working for the Under-Secretary of War before serving in the Army. He worked for the Government with the exception of the years on the road, spending many years with the Records Section of the General Accounting Office.
Courtney served in so many community activities. In 1946 he helped start the Alexandria Rams, the first African-American football team in the area at a time when professional football was segregated. Courtney was the business manager of a team that integrated football in the area in 1950 and, as an integrated team, played a game in Charleston, South Carolina in 1954 that broke the color line there. Later he was involved in youth football and youth baseball. Courtney also wrote a sports column for the Virginia Arrow, an African-American newspaper available in Alexandria. He was actively involved with Anchor of Hope Ministry distributing food to needy families and other activities of a similar nature.
Courtney also was a member of the Departmental Progressive Club, one of several social clubs in Alexandria. With the Progressive Club he served in every capacity including President and head of the Entertainment Committee. In addition to its social functions. The Departmental Progressive Club also raised moneys used to award scholarships to local youth. Through Courtney and the late Wally Adams, the Blues Society partnered with the Progressive Club to hold several holiday parties there as well hold Board of Directors meetings there for several years.
Courtney served on the Board of Directors for a substantial period of time, resigning from the Board a couple years ago because of health issues. Bill Wax of XM radio noted at Courtney's funeral how he helped mediate disputes on the Board, but was also important in enabling the Society to conduct a variety of programs during this period including the Society's participation in various Black History Month programs and the annual African-American Festival in Alexandria. Courtney was always a presence at the Society's festivals back stage helping with all sorts of matters. Former Society President Bob Gray remembers, "The first year we did a drum workshop at the festival, we asked Courtney to get sets of drum sticks to give the kids. He took great pride in finding the best price, etc., and got his car towed in the process. What we did not realize (being new at this) was that after the workshop all the kids would be running around the festival using the drumsticks as weapons. Courtney thought that was pretty funny! But, we did not do that again."
And for several years, he and his wife Lois, graciously hosted our summer picnic which started early in the afternoon and went on very late at times. Courtney often spend a fair amount of times behind the drums at the picnic. Your editor remembers one picnic where the wonderful Laura Pettaway was singing and Courtney was on drums. It may have been St. Louis Blues she was singing, but it was in any case some blues heaven here on earth.
In the words of Bob Gray, "Courtney worked at sharing the joys of his life and he wanted us all to know each other. That's why he got the Society involved with the Progressive Club and wanted to have Society picnics in his backyard. Courtney had an unending enthusiasm for the music and ideas about shows the Blues Society could do at the Alexandria rec center or Cameron Run or adding gospel to the shows at Barry Farm. He loved the music!" "You might notice that in one of the pictures of Courtney drumming, he has his cap turned around. I was teasing Courtney and asked him if he was trying to emulate the teenagers. Courtney said he turned the hat around so he could see the other musicians--the brim blocked his view!"
One of Bob's favorite memories was " one Sunday Courtney called up and said with great enthusiasm "Guess who I just talked to? Ms. Rhythm!" Ruth Brown called him up to talk about old times. He couldn't have been more pleased." Bill Wax recalled at the funeral that he was scheduled to conduct with Ruth Brown and was a little nervous and after recalling Courtney talking about Ruth, he thought it might make things easier if he had Courtney and Ruth speak with each other at the beginning. So when he called Ruth and introduced himself he told her that he had someone on the phone to talk with her. It was Courtney, and Bill remembered it took a bit of time to be able to finally interview Ruth after Courtney and her chatted for quite awhile. This writer remembers how pleased Courtney was to see Roy Gaines back stage at the Festival several years ago as it had been the first time in over four decades they had seen each other.
Bob Gray remembers a favorite quote from Courtney. "Everybody wants to wear the uniform but nobody wants to step up to the plate." Courtney was always ready to stand up to the plate whether with respect to the Blues Society, the Departmental Progressive Club, the Anchor of Hope Ministry or the other activities and groups he was associated with.
I remember attending a celebration for Courtney several years ago at the Departmental Progressive Club. In a brief article on the event in the newsletter, then Blues Society President Bob Gray summed up about Courtney noting "Courtney is a special person." Indeed he was a very special person and so many of us will miss him. Courtney is survived by his wife Laura, son Ronald, a sister Dolores Jackson, two grandchildren, five grandchildren and countless friends he made over his well-lived life.
A special mention should be made about Chet Hines, Jackie Hairston and Whop Frazier who played at Courtney's repast. Courtney's family were greatly pleased.
REMEMBERING NAP TURNER
A fond farewell to one of the true pillars of the community, Napoleon Turner, who for almost two decades was a fixture on WPFW. Every Saturday at 11 a.m. you knew you could tune in for classic blues from on of the best hosts in the Washington metropolitan area. A celebrated blues host and artist. Nap garnered many awards which include two W.C. Handy Awards. He was honored with the first W.C. Handy award from a triumphant effort between him, the late Jerry "the Bama" Washington and Bill Barlow for Blues Radio in 1984 and the second for his own program called "The Bama Hour" in 1988. Both W.C. Handy awards are currently on display in the WPFW awards hall.
Nap Turner was a man of many parts. In addition to hosting a radio program, he was a singer, musician, poet and actor. Some of his acting accomplishments included participating in plays like "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom", and "Lady Day" at Emerson's Bar and Grill at the Studio Theatre. He played with the greats like Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons. And, he was a poet. His melodious voice recited the poetry of Langston Hughes over beautiful jazz and blues music; the recording was called Hughes Views of the Blues. His passion for music is what permeated throughout all of his achievements. Whether he was playing the bass and singing for fans in local clubs in Washington, D.C., acting, or being the poet extraordinaire, he was an all around entertainer.
Nap Turner was a humanitarian. He struggled with a drug addiction during a dark period of his life, however, he turned that experience into something positive for the community in which he lived. Turner worked for the District's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services Administration and he was able to assist those fighting addiction. During his life there were many trials the Nap had to face. He used those experiences not as obstacles but as stepping stones to fuel his desire to achieve his goals.
There are many stories that listeners, on-air programmers and staff can tell about our beloved Nap but if pressed for one definitive word, I would say cool. Whenever he came in to the station he always brought a positive energy with him. He was never without a smile or his signature hat. He was a man with a mission to stay true to the Blues. When in the midst of an on-air fund-raiser, if the phones were a little slow all it took was Nap saying "Come on Y'all call in and make your pledge" and of course "Don't Forget the Blues" and the phones would light up. Even towards the end of his life, the last time he came into the studios and told his listeners of his illness, he still had that cool composure.
Nap will be sorely missed and never forgotten.
Chris Kirsch, 1955 - 2004
Friend of the Blues and of the Blues Community
Christopher C. Kirsch died on August 26 after battling cancer for many months. Chris supported blues music in a great many ways, and his absence will be felt by all who knew him and many more who did not.
Thank you, Chris, and may you rest in your well deserved peace.
The following is Chris's death notice in the Washington Post:
KIRSCH, CHRISTOPHER C. (Age 48)
Of Rockville, MD, died August 26, 2004. He was beloved eldest brother of Nicholas, Quincy, Keats, Thomas and James; son of the late Dr. Patricia A. Kirsch. He is survived by his father, Gerald M. Weinberg; his grandmother, Gertrude A. Korney; his stepfather, Angelo Cicolani; numerous nieces, nephews and many, many devoted friends. He studied at the University of Nebraska and graduated from the Le Cordon Rougue Culinary Institute of California. He was the proprietor of a small recording company, Blue Elephant Music, Inc. He was a prominent fixture in the Washington and Baltimore Area Blue's Communities, serving on the DC Blue's Society Board and chairing the Annual DC Blues Festival for several years. Memorials Service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to his name Marcia's Kids Endowment Fund, Western Maryland College, Westminster, MD 21157, 410-857-2771.