Album:Get Your Kicks On Route 99
If you're a fan of instrumental R & B like Booker T & The MGs, you might want to check out the much more obscure The Merced Blue Notes. As the name hints, the band was from Merced, CA. They started out in 1957 led by guitarist Kenny Craig and harmonica player George Coolures. he was also Merced's fire chief. When they started out, Roddy Jackson was their lead singer. Specialty Records west coast A & R man Sonny Bono got them an audition. But Specialty only signed Jackson. One would think that would be the end of The Merced Blue Notes. But Coolures replaced Jackson and also became the band's manager. Other members included Bill Robertson on sax, Gilbert Fraire on bass, Bobby Hunt on keyboards and Carl Mays Jr. on drums. For the next decade, they played Northern California clubs and bounced around different labels with little success. In the early 60s, they signed with Harvey Fuqua's Tri-Phi label and were on Motown after Motown bought Tri-Phi. But Motown weren't interested in them and cut them after releasing a couple of singles. Then they signed with the Fantasy Records label Galaxy Records and The Merced Blue Notes had modest success with singles like Rufus, Rufus Jr. and Mama Rufus. Their music is instrumental R & B similar to Booker T & The MGs and the British reissue label Ace Records has released all their recordings on this CD. The Merced Blue Notes bounced around California clubs until splitting up in the early 70s. One guy who went through the band was future Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch who had solo success in the late 70s. The Merced Blue Notes were a very interesting but very obscure band. Here's a video for Rufus Jr. by The Merced Blue Notes.