think it was in 1987, I went to a show at The Palms in Davis, California. Robert
Nakashima & The Soul Prophets were opening a show for Joe Louis Walker.
Robert and his band had been playin' around Sacramento at Sam's Hof Brau and
had a regular Sunday gig at the On Broadway. When they took the stage it started
out with his usual blend of rapid fire guitar work evolving around a blues and
soul base with some jazz and fusion thrown in. Then about the fourth song, out
struts this tall young man in a blue waiter's jacket. It was like a scene from
a B movie or something. But as soon as he started singing, I was astonished.
With his hand held to his ear and him kneeling on one knee, he put on a performance
that included takes on Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, James Brown,
and my man, Otis Redding. His name was Marcel Smith. After the show, I went
and talked to him and told him I wanted him and the band to come play at my
house, at a barbecue for a few dozen friends. I think that he thought I was
just kidding, 'cause we never got around to it. Last year, I decided to repeat
that same show at a Valentine's dinner dance in San Francisco. The Soul Prophets
just tore it up. The place was in a dancin' frenzy. During the break, I had
to convince the people who were leaving that the main act was still to come.
Later in the year, they entered the Amatuer Blues Talent contest, where the
winner would appear
at the Long Beach Blues Festival. They made it to the West Coast semi-finals
in San Francisco. Joe Louis Walker was one of the judges, and the band competing
against them was the Spiritual Corinthians, a band Joe Louis had played with
for ten years. To make it short, the Soul Prophets won, and advanced to the
finals. Earlier this year during balloting for the SAMMIE award for the
best blues band in Sacramento, a position Little Charlie and the Nightcats has
held since its inception, an unusual thing happened. For the first time ever,
in any category, there was a tie. So, two awards were given for the best blues
band, the veteran Nightcats and the upcoming Soul Prophets.
- Big Mike
Check out the Prophets' Have Mercy! release, From The Old School