20070807

Redbone - Potlatch (1970)

Redbone was an American rock group that was most active in the 1970s. The band was formed initially in 1968 in Los Angeles, California by the brothers Pat Vasquez (bass and vocals) and Lolly Vasquez (guitar and vocals). The name Redbone itself is a joking reference to a Cajun term for a mixed-race person; the band's members being of mixed blood ancestry. The band referenced Cajun and New Orleans culture many times in their lyrics and performing style. Pat and Lolly adopted the stage surname Vegas prior to the formation of the Redbone band, in part to downplay the Latin association of their birth surname, Vasquez.

Redbone played primarily rock music with R&B, Cajun, Jazz, tribal, and Latin roots. Redbone had their first commercial success with the single "Maggie" from their second album, Potlatch, in 1970, and had two other single hits - "The Witch Queen of New Orleans" in 1971 and "Come and Get Your Love" in 1974. "Come and Get Your Love" was covered by the Real McCoy in 1995 and by René Dif & Chrystal Cherry in 2002. Its chorus was used by Cyndi Lauper in the 1994 remake of her earlier hit 'Girls just wanna have fun', which she cunningly retitled 'Hey now (Girls just wanna have fun)'.

Guitarist Lolly Vegas was one of the first guitarists to make extensive use of the distinctive Leslie rotating speaker effect in his electric guitar amplification setup. Vegas played distinctive, improvised, jazz-influenced guitar parts and solos, which are particularly identifiable due to the Leslie speaker effect that Vegas so often employed. Drummer Peter DePoe (born 1943 Neah Bay, Washington) is credited with pioneering the "King Kong" style of drumming, which features sharply accented polyrhythms involving the bass and snare drums. DePoe's "King Kong" signature style is similar to funk styles of drumming practiced by other contemporary drummers. The band referred to DePoe's "King Kong Beat" in their lyrics to the song "Prehistoric Rhythm" on their debut album.

In 1973 Redbone released the politically oriented "We were all wounded at Wounded Knee", recalling the massacre of Lakota Sioux Indians by the Seventh Cavalry in 1890. The song ends with the subtly altered sentence "We were all wounded by Wounded Knee". The song reached the number one chart position across Europe but didn't chart in the USA where it was initially withheld from release and then banned by several radio stations.
The lineup of Redbone was not constant. Original drummer Peter DePoe left to live with his aging family after making several albums and touring with the band. He was replaced on drums by Butch Rillera. Redbone went on to make several albums and tour extensively after DePoe left the band, and the band realized commercial success with the songs "Come and Get Your Love" and "We Were All Wounded At Wounded Knee."

Tony Bellamy (guitar, piano and vocals) was part of the band's core membership from its inception through to their heyday until he was forced to retire due to illness. The Vegas brothers were essentially the core of the band from its inception onwards.

The band's current remaining membership is led by Pat Vegas alone (Lolly left in 1995, Tony Bellamy sometime after that), Raven Hernandez (guitar, vocals and songwriter) joined Redbone in 1996 to replace Lolly Vegas after he suffered a stroke that left him unable to tour with the band. Although Redbone has had some limited activity in recent years, their songwriting and touring output is very minimal compared to the band's heyday in the early 1970s. An attempt by Pat Vegas and original drummer Pete 'Last Walking Bear' DePoe to organize a reunion tour in 2003 did not materialize.

Evidence suggests the existence of an "imposter band" illegally touring the United States and posing as Redbone under the name (or alias) "Denny Freeman." Freeman, who Pat Vegas confirmed to be unaffiliated with Redbone in an interview with the Montana Standard, most recently defrauded the county-fair board of the Butte Silver-Bow County Fair in Butte, Montana under pretenses of being a co-founding member of Redbone, yet he was never a band member.(News Article) Denny Freeman is a known smalltime con who has defrauded others in the past, also claiming to be a founding member of Seals and Crofts.

Tony Bellamy formed in the 80's a 13-piece band called Bimbam together with his cousin Butch Rillera. This band performed several times at Medley's in Fountain Valley, CA.

The Little Rock, Arkansas-based wireless telecommunications company Alltel uses "Come and Get Your Love" as the main jingle for its US television commercials. (via wikipedia) (BUY IT!)

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4 comments:

GRAVETOS & BERLOTAS said...

Greaaaat post! I've posted 'Message From A Drum' on my blog. Do you have the 'Wovoka' album? I hope so.
Thanks,
Edson d'Aquino

ionplayer said...

Ourstanding! I had this back when it came out... havent heard it since (hard to get here down under...)

Thanks.

H.Jackson said...

Seriously, one of the greatest albums I have ever heard.

This kind of hypnotic funkiness is sooo atypical for "rock" bands. They really nail it on ALL levels.

My head is fucking spinning...

drfeelgoed said...

One of my contacts requested Redbone's Witch Queen.. While searching for it I stumbled on your blog & downloaded this album. What a surprise, it's so good!!!! To imagine I only knew their few hitsingles in Holland many years ago... Great post, thanks!