Velvety voices are the stock and trade of soul singers and Ritual Nightclub plays host two of the smoothest, most velvety Friday night.
Backed by The Expressions, Lee Fields, who put out his first single back in 1969, and has played with the likes of Kool & the Gang and Sammy Gordon & the Hip-Huggers, will headline the night.
“This guy is an icon,” said Slim Moore of Ottawa’s Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays. “It’s a real privilege for him to have heard our music and liked it enough to choose us to open the gig.”
“We absolutely adore Lee Fields,” said Mar-Kays band leader Pierre Chrétien, who goes by the stage name Thibeaux Toussaint. “I’ve got all his albums, but I’ve never got the chance to see him live.”
Playing cuts from their first album released last fall, Moore and Chrétien say that while their band is still new, soul music is deep in their hearts.
“One Christmas my Dad brought home the soul train album and I fell in love with the song ‘Me and Mr.Jones’,” said Moore. “I’ve played all kinds of music, but I realized then that I love soul music.”
“To me, it’s just classic, timeless music,” said Chrétien. “With all the computer music and synthesizers I think people want to hear something honest, real and fresh.”
Chrétien said that the band started up two years ago when he started writing songs that were too soulful for his regular band The Souljazz Orchestra.
“Slim and I go way back,” he said. “We played in a blues band together in the mid-90s and when we decided to start this new soul band I had him in mind.”
With other local soul bands like The Hornettes and Mackenzie Rhythm Section gaining followings, he said, Ottawa is now ground zero for Canada’s soul music scene.
“We’ve got some songs that we’re working on,” said Moore. “Last night at practice I sang a new one called Rice in the Pot. We’re very hungry for another album to our song list.”
Catch Lee Fields & The Expressions and Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays Friday at 9 pm, May 4 at Ritual Nightclub at 137 Besserer Street.