R&B fifties flashback

Early R&B of the '50s is the impetus behind Duke Street, a new Rogue Valley band conceived by bassist Joe Cohoon and drummer Kent Clinkinbeard.

The two discovered their creative connection while playing in various incarnations of other local bands.

"I call it an uncommon compatibility," Cohoon says. "Kent and I have a good time interacting. It makes the music come easily."

Cohoon (Nowhere Men, Grooveyard Trio, Ed Dunsavage Trio) and Clinkinbeard (Bluesdusters, The Fabulous Savoys), along with vocalist and slide guitarist John Hauschild (Bluesdusters), guitarist Scott Rogers (The Fabulous Savoys, Muskadine Blues Band) and keyboard player Allen Crutcher (Karen Lovely, AnnieMac) aim for an authentic sound made popular by such artists as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Little Willie John, Willie Dixon, Junior Parker and others.

Duke Street will play from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent. Cover will be $5. Call 541-535-7957.

Another gig is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, at the Sambuca Martini Bar at Shenanigan's, 410 E. Main St., Medford.

Duke Street came about as Cohoon and Clinkinbeard mused over cups of brew at Noble Coffee in Ashland.

"We discussed the idea of forming a band that used upright bass to recreate the sounds that might have been heard in R&B clubs while the music was emerging in the late '40s and early '50s," Cohoon says. "It's music with a little less volume than a typical barroom blues band.

"We decided Johnny would be the perfect vocalist. As a singer and a musician from Chicago, he played with legends like Solomon Burke and Dixon. He's sings black music really well for a white guy," Cohoon says.

It's because Hauschild has firsthand experience with the genre.

"It's where most of my influences come from," Hauschild says. "I love gospel music and early soul music. I was a youngster back then, but I got to do some shows with Willie. Working with Willie and Soloman had a big impact on me."

After a few rehearsals, the group decided it wanted a keyboard player. Crutcher had just left the Karen Lovely Band and agreed to join.

The band decided to emerge after the holidays and played a debut gig in early January at the Avalon Bar and Grill in Talent.

Acoustic bass is Cohoon's instrument of choice. He's played electric bass since he was a teenager performing in rock and blues bands around Portland. He decided to become a jazz musician after he heard Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue."

"I bought a nearly unplayable upright that was about 100 years old from a banker in Ashland," Cohoon says. "I stared at it for six months before I had the courage to approach it. Then I shut myself in a room for three years while I learned to play jazz on the instrument, and I've been working as a professional jazz musician since."

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