Ohio Funk Invades France

Beau Dollar & The Dapps – according to Dave Thompson’s history simply entitled, Funk – were the resident band at Cincinnati’s Living Room night club “when they were discovered by James Brown” in 1965.  Cincinnati music writer and producer, Randy McNutt, on the other hand, asserts in his King Records of Cincinnati (as well as his Home of the Hits music blog) that the group was initially spotted at The Inner Circle — which makes sense, in light of Zero to 180’s feature piece on The Dapps from July 2020.  [The following year, Lonnie Mack would produce their stellar arrangement of “Soul Serenade” – as recently featured here.]

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  drums & vocals
Tim Drummond & Charles Summers:  bass
Eddie Setser & Troy Seals:  guitar
Tim Hedding:  keyboards
Les Asch & David Parkinson:  saxophone
Ron Geisman & Ken Tibbetts:  trumpet

In any event, due to a contractual dispute with Syd Nathan, Brown was unable to issue their two-part Dapps single “It’s a Gas” on King.  However, Brown did put the band in touch with Arthur ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, his musical director.  Ellis and The Dapps would then issue two singles – “Bringing Up the Guitar” & “There Was a Time” – in quick succession.

Thompson neglects to mention, however, “The Rabbit Got the Gun” – the B-side that manages to keep pace with its equally heavyweight A-side, “There Was a Time:

Billboard, in its June 29, 1968 edition, would put “The Rabbit Got the Gun” in its official “spotlight” and identify the song as one “predicted to reach the R&B Singles chart.”

Mustachioed rabbit with blunderbuss on picture sleeve for 1972 French 45

Dapps-FrenchFascinating to find that the French were in on the funk at the time it was all going down – as evidenced by these three French releases between the years 1968-1972 that all contain recordings by The Dapps – along with many other heavy funk and soul tracks that were laid down at Cincinnati’s King studios.

Dapps-French-aTrack listing for 1969 French compilation of King tracks, Nonstop Soul.

Dapps-French-bHip picture sleeve for 1968 French Hank Ballard 45 – with backing by The Dapps.

Dapps-French-cTrack listing for 1970 German (neighboring country) “James Brown & Friends” LP.

“Soul Serenade”: Beau Dollar + Coins

Seems like everyone’s covered “Soul Serenade” – so why does no one play it on the radio?  Don’t you think it’s about time for this tune to be rediscovered?

“Soul Serenade”     Beau Dollar & the Coins     1966

This irresistible instrumental was produced by Lonnie Mack, one-time musical compatriot of Roger TroyBeau Dollar – last celebrated in this offbeat & oddball historical highlight reel – once served as a session drummer for Syd Nathan’s King Records in Cincinnati.  Three of the Coins – Ed Setser, Tim Hedding & Les Asch – in fact, would join Roger Troy’s Jellyroll.

                      DJ copy                                        45 on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label

Beau Dollar - Prime 45Beau Dollar - Fraternity 45

Originally recorded by legendary session musician and bandleader, King Curtis, in 1964, this song would be covered by the likes of Quincy Jones, Gloria Lynne, Aretha Franklin,  Lou RawlsWillie Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Castor Bunch, Bill Black’s Combo & The Derek Trucks Band.

The song also spawned a slew of ska, rocksteady & reggae covers by such notable names as Prince Buster, The Soul Brothers, The Paragons, The Gaylads, Tommy McCook, Boris Gardiner, St. George & the Dragon Killers, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and don’t forget The Federalmen.

Beau Dollar’s Last King 45 as Artist – written by henry glover

Beau Dollar - King 45

Prior to becoming The Dapps, the group had already released two 45s under the name, Beau Dollar and the Coins.  The band’s second single features a classic arrangement of “Soul Serenade,” which is, in fact, a track recorded by Lonnie Mack for Fraternity Records.  According to Stuart Colman’s liner notes from the Ace UK anthology, Lonnie Mack — From Nashville to Memphis:

“Sax supremo King Curtis could hardly have imagined the kind of track record that his immortal ‘Soul Serenade’ would one day generate.  Not long after its public debut, this mellifluous instrumental became part of the Lonnie Mack repertoire where it sat alongside such well-loved favourites as Don and Juan’s ‘What’s Your Name‘ and Bobby Parker’s ‘Watch Your Step‘.  The personnel of Lonnie’s road band at this point included guitarists Troy Seals and Eddie Setser, who’d previously worked together backing Johnny Tillotson and Tommy Roe, along with a remarkably solid drummer named Bill Hargis ‘Beau’ Bowman Jnr.  However, with a line-up that was in a constant state of flux the trio departed for pastures new, leaving the Lonnie Mack legend to take a significant turn during 1965 towards a musical enterprise known as Soul Incorporated.”

Lonnie subsequently recorded “Soul Serenade” and two other songs with Wayne Young and Marvin Maxwell’s outfit, Soul Inc, although Harry Carlson of Fraternity Records made the curious decision to release the 45 under the name “Beau Dollar & the Coins.” Stuart Colman provides a postscript:

“Despite a lack of chart action, there was a further show of faith in ‘Soul Serenade’ when the master was leased to the Chess-distributed Prime label in October 1966.  Inspired by the fact that most local bands were now including the tune in their sets, the Casinos (who’d just been signed to Fraternity) cut a version for the flip of their debut single.  According to leader Gene Hughes, this track was used as theme for DJ Tom Kennington’s show on WSAI in Cincinnati.”

Danny Sandrik‘s excellent tribute piece – “Blue-Eyed Soul and the Cincinnati Sound” – notes that Lonnie Mack, along with Beau Dollar, “was” the Cincinnati Sound and reveals that it was Chuck Sullivan, not Mack (as indicated in this discography), who played the signature guitar lines on Beau’s classic version of “Soul Serenade.”  Sullivan would also relate the details of that famous recording session of 7 February 1966 to Brian Powers in a special radio program James Brown Productions, Part One that aired on Cincinnati’s WVXU during 2018’s King Records 75th Anniversary Celebration.