King Louie & LaRhonda Steele | Rock Me Baby

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LaRhonda Steele's website Louis Pain's website

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Blues: Classic Female Blues Jazz: Hammond Organ Moods: Mood: Party Music
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Rock Me Baby

by King Louie & LaRhonda Steele

Fun, funky, & spontaneous blues, soul, & jazz by a phenomenal vocalist and "Portland's boss of the B-3," featuring special guest saxophonist Renato Caranto of Merle Haggard's band.
Genre: Blues: Classic Female Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Twenty Nine Ways
3:49 $0.99
2. It's Your Thing
3:50 $0.99
3. Rock Me Baby
4:32 $0.99
4. Phenomenal Woman
4:47 $0.99
5. I Love You More Today Than Yesterday
5:14 $0.99
6. What a Difference a Day Makes
4:22 $0.99
7. For You My Love
4:21 $0.99
8. Walking the Dog
3:17 $0.99
9. You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman
6:23 $0.99
10. I Wish
4:48 $0.99
11. Blue Moon
2:57 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Neither predictable nor routine" --Downbeat Magazine, January 2016 (four stars out of a possible five)

"“Rock Me Baby, with its indomitable uprush of high-quality blues and jazz, is one of the few truly outstanding albums of 2016.” --Frank-John Hadley, long time GrovePress author and Downbeat contributor.

“Wonderfully authentic...The whole thing swings in the way that the very best soul-jazz always did…LaRhonda sings with pride and passion and belief and commitment.  Qualities that can’t be faked.  They’re spontaneous and that’s the way this whole album was crafted…LaRhonda says that, 'Music heals the player as well as the listener’; there’s plenty of healing here!”  —Bill Buckley, Soul and Jazz and Funk (UK), November 13, 2015

"What a wonderful band! …Louie need not shy away from a comparison with Jack McDuff or Jimmy Smith, and he has LaRhonda Steele at his side, a congenial vocalist who sings with masterful poise and a rich alto…Everyone involved shines, both as sensitive accompanists as well as imaginative soloists. Everything is right here…This album is essential for all fans of Hammond Sounds!" —Amy Zapf, BluesNews [Germany], March 2016

"Steele is a very impressive vocalist, blessed with a big, soulful voice…impressive sax work by Renato Caranto…and while I’m at it, big hand for King Louie, who comps and solos on the Hammond B-3 impressively throughout…a very nice set played and sung by a bunch of top quality pros."  —Phil Wight, Blues & Rhythm: the Gospel Truth (UK), December, 2015

“King Louis is the king of the Hammond B3…[LaRhonda Steele] excels in the jazz/blues/gospel register, her vocal tone sometimes evokes Aretha Frankin, Ella Fitzgerald or even Nina Simone.” —Manu “Blues Boom” Decker, Blues & Co [France]

“First recording together by this Portland, Oregon-based pair, featuring Louis Pain’s impressive Hammond B-3 organ playing and LaRhonda Steele’s big soulful voice…This is a superbly crafted album made by top class musicians who are prepared to give each enough space to create something special, and they have achieved that here.” —Blues Matters [UK]

“Louis "King Louie" Pain has a long career of R & B-gospel music behind him. Needed was a captivating voice: it's done.” —Andre Hobus, Soul Bag [France]

“The album is full of great soul, inspired gospel, but also unpredictable jazz…The album is dominated by fascinating LaRhonda vocals…you will not be able to resist her power, range, and beauty…everything you hear on this album is a true musical enjoyment and celebration of good music; that, that’s it!” —Malden Loncar, Blues Corner [Croatia]

“An extraordinarily talented duo…A disc to have and listen to endlessly.”
—Gianandrea Pasquinelli, Bluestime [Italy]

"Rock Me Baby pulls the delta through an urban cheesecloth, propelled from the B-3 of Louis "King Louie" Pain. Fronting Pain's band is vocalist LaRhonda Steele, who tears through Willie Dixon’s "Twenty Nine Ways" before turning the funk up in the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing." Pain's organ is at once tart and compact and huge and expansive. The title cut is the straight blues of B.B. King delivered with a big sound and a slow, sure momentum that grinds as it should. Steele steps up and belts a soulful, "Phenomenal Woman" (as she also does on "You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman”), while recalling the 60s with an energetic "I Love You More Today Than Yesterday." It is in these songs that Steele establishes herself. Pain proves the capable band leader, providing Steele all that she needed to make her point. --C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

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Louis "King Louie" Pain and LaRhonda Steele are popular Northwest USA artists whose debut CD,“Rock Me Baby,” is something very special.  The deeply funky and soulful CD--honored as one of the "Best Albums of 2016" by Downbeat Magazine, features a stripped down, spontaneous sound that sets it apart.  What makes the approach work is the talent & soul of these remarkable artists. 

Pain, who toured & recorded with the late Evidence Records bluesman Paul deLay for a decade, is Portland’s “first call” blues, jazz, & soul organist, playing with such legends as Solomon Burke, Howard Tate, Bo Diddley, Bernard Purdie, and Martha Reeves.  Pain performed innumerable times at Portland’s top music venue, Jimmy Mak’s, including for 20 years on Thursday evenings with legendary Motown drummer Mel Brown.

Steele, winner of the 2016 Cascade Blues Association award for “Best Vocalist," began her musical journey in Jones, Oklahoma, singing her first solo in church at age 13.  Since moving to Portland, she’s worked with most of the top Northwest musicians, including the late Obo Addy, with whom LaRhonda performed at New York’s Lincoln Center.  LaRhonda is a cancer survivor who has emerged from her successful battle with the disease a remarkably powerful and joyous performer. As she puts it, “I’ve been through the fire.”

Saxophonist Renato Caranto is considered the best in the Northwest.  Like Pain, he worked innumerable times at Jimmy Mak’s.  He also toured internationally in 2014 with Grammy-winning Esperanza Spalding and in 2015-2016 with the late country music legend Merle Haggard.

Original Blues Brothers singer/harmonica player Rob Paparozzi flipped when he heard "Rock Me Baby," leading to him joining King Louie & LaRhonda Steele at Italy' 2017 Porretta Soul Festival. (Legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty Purdie" was also a special guest.)

Also check out at cdbaby: the latest Shoug Records release, "King Louie's Blues Revue: Live at Riverhouse Jazz." Like "Rock Me Baby," this wonderful CD features Pain & Steele and has received a 4-star review from Downbeat Magazine!

You can learn more about Louis and LaRhonda by visiting their websites.  Below are the liner notes from the CD: 

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I first played with LaRhonda at a gospel set I was asked to put together for the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival in July, 1994.  Our mutual friend, the late, great Janice Scroggins, who was the obvious pick to play piano and direct the music for that set, recommended LaRhonda as one of the vocalists. LaRhonda’s singing was incredible.  But she said a grand total of two words to the audience: “Thank you” after she was done!  Since then, LaRhonda’s singing has only gotten better, while she’s become a remarkably warm & confident performer.   I feel she’s Portland’s best-kept secret, and I hope that, with the release of this CD, the secret will finally be out!

Re/ our recording process: once, when I was trying to nail down the form of a song at a rehearsal, trumpeter/educator Thara Memory said, "What--are you afraid something might HAPPEN?”  He was talking about the downside of planning music out in advance--a loss of spontaneity, of potential "magic."  LaRhonda and I believe that this under-appreciated tradeoff is the reason that most recordings nowadays sound so lifeless—that and the computerized way that they’re recorded.  They may please the ear, but they lack that “healin’ feelin'": the mysterious something that gives the listener goosebumps.  That’s a real shame since, as Janice Scroggins, used to say, “we’re in the healing business.” 

For this recording—our first together—LaRhonda and I were mindful of not falling into that trap.  We performed as we do at our live shows, leaving plenty of room for something to “happen"—and we think you’ll agree that it did!  We hope you enjoy listening to this CD as much as we enjoyed recording it.  That’s what it’s all about; as LaRhonda likes to say, "Music heals the player as well as the listener."

—Louis Pain



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