13 // Black Future Month // Chris Turner, Musician’s Musician

Posted on February 14, 2012

When I feel like existing on the short-sighted side of history, I joke that I was born 40 years too late. As much as I’m a Hip-Hop head, by virtue of timing, place and circumstance — I feel like I’da been a better fit as a twenty-something in the late 50s, early 60s. I picture, me, front row, pining after Frankie Lymon. Me, front row, watching Fingertips for the first time by Little Stevie Wonder. Me, front row, when Bob and The Wailers were still a doo-wop group. Funny, how in my imagination, I’m lucky enough to be front row in every scenario — and my 60’s machinations have little to do with bucking the social order of the day. Nope. In my head, it’s me, front row center, 1970s, getting Sly with his family Stone.

What can I say? I’m a Soul soul with a Funk heart. I’m an impossible (all day) sucker for a love song with live instrumentation, preferably with a horn section. Every December, my friends put together a list of the best emcees of the year, and invariably, I wind up with either Nina Simone or Marvin Gaye on my list. Shoot, if an all synth, auto tune album where every hook is sung is a Hip Hop album, then “Trouble Man” is certainly hot fire, Dylan style.

That’s probably why I respond so vehemently to Chris Turner’s sound. Yes, yes, haters, he’s from Oakland, too. But he lives in NY and only recently performed his first set in Oakland at Vitus. When I saw him perform I was instantly:

a) pissed that I hadn’t heard of him sooner.
b) jealous that the East Coast gets to count him as a resident.
c) moved by the quality of his voice.
d) transported to the premium seats of my minds wanderings.

I’m still new to his sound, perusing his Youtube videos like a 12 year old girl, but I’ve found a couple of gems that keep me coming back.

Here’s Chris doing a cover of a song by Sly Stone and ’em:

This one gives you a better sense of his personality, stage charisma, songwriting sensibilities and countenance.

Like I wrote when I was featuring Alice Smith, I’m wary of 1:1 musical comparisons, especially to the greats — but if I’m lying, I’m flying. Check this video of a young Al Green doing “Sha-la-la” on Soul Train. I’ll let the audio/visual do the work for me. Sort of uncanny, right?

Thickwit looks forward to future efforts by Chris Turner, and reflects on the base (line) established by The Reverend Al Green.


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