Teeny Tucker Article

Blue Stew mail@bluestew.com
Wed Oct 1 19:54:05 EDT 2003

Beautiful article!  I just saw a PBS special on a South Central L.A.
blues club that Teeny works/worked at.  She was a singing waitress who
gave her age as 78.  She is a solid entertainer that knows how to work
an audience.
She was walking through the crowd, singing without a mic...that's how
strong her voice is.
I heard that she never got very far in the biz because of her fear of
flying?  She's amazing.

-----Original Message-----
From: Blues Music List [mailto:BLUES-L@LISTS.NETSPACE.ORG] On Behalf Of
Sean Carney
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 11:39 AM
Subject: Teeny Tucker Article

>From yesterday's Columbus Dispatch:

She's Teeny; her voice isn't
Daughter of blues star Tommy Tucker follows in his footsteps
Monday, September 29, 2003
Aaron Beck

Her father, singer Tommy Tucker, showed up in a new black Cadillac at
her mother's house in Dayton.
He took Teeny for a ride, during which she sat on the armrest and
listened to his voice out of the speaker.

The year: 1964.

''I heard him singing Hi-Heel Sneakers on the radio," said Columbus
blues singer Teeny Tucker. ''I never forgot that moment. I was the only
one of my brothers and sister who ended up doing anything with music."

And, she said, she has plenty of siblings.

When asked how many, she simply sang ''Papa was a rollin' stone . . ."
and laughed.

On her first recording, Tommy's Girl (2000), Tucker played up the roots
of her family tree: The debut featured covers from the blues songbook,
including her father's 1964 hit.

For her second album, First Class Woman, she put her own pen to paper.

Sean Carney took the words and ran with them, creating a contemporary
blues collection that incorporates soul, R &B and rockabilly.

''Right after the first record, I decided I wasn't going to do another
record of covers," Tucker said. ''All the reviewers said, 'She sounds
great, but I wish she'd sing some original songs.'

''I've always written poetry and other things, so I thought, 'I can
write a song.' "

With guitarist Carney as well as bass player Bill Cory, keyboardist John
Popovich and drummer Dave West, she recorded the compact disc during an
intense week this year in Austin, Texas.

The ''raw demos," as Carney called them, were turned into tasteful
arrangements by Texas Horns leader Mark ''Kaz" Kazanoff.

The producer and tenor-sax player - who has recorded with Albert
Collins, James Cotton, Doug Sahm and a host of blues players - ''was a
harsh critic."

''We recorded the first record in a month," Carney said. ''Teeny and I
were the only ones in the control room. I'd ask her if something sounded
good; she'd say yes, and we'd be done with it. Kaz had Teeny in the
studio for eight and 10 hours a day."

In fact, Tucker recorded eight of the 11 tracks in one demanding

"I knew how I wanted to bring the songs to life," she said, "but Kaz is
a musical genius."

Her voice remains big, especially on the swinging Country Man. She
doesn't sledgehammer the listener, although she knows when to let the
huge gospel sound rain down.

"I've never taken a lesson in my life," she said. "I just listen to
people I like: Etta James, Mahalia Jackson. I probably ought to take
some music theory, but the guys are teaching me."

Carney, 29, helps her the most, said Tucker, who describes herself as
"over 40."

"He knows so much about the history of it, the players," she said.

In writing the songs on First Class Woman, Carney said, "She'd bring me
the lyrics, and I'd get a vibe and go from there."

She didn't always like his vibe, at least initially.

"When I wrote First Class Woman, I thought: 'Sean, this is so corny. I
don't want nothing from this.'

"He said, 'No, we can put a Chuck Berry thing in there.'

"I hated it. I was like 'It's not me.' But it grew on me."

Only three covers - interpretations of Big Maybelle's Country Man, the
often-reworked spiritual Wade in the Water and her father's Don't Want
Cha - are found amid the batch of tunes for which Tucker wrote the

"Teeny really surprised me," Carney said. "I think the whole thing was a
learning experience for her. I don't think she would have started the
record with a rockabilly song (the title track), but that's what we

First Class Woman also offers stylistic touches that give nods to the
smoky Texas shuffles of Bobby "Blue" Bland, the bluessoul hybrid of
Robert Cray and the 1960s stylings of Aretha Franklin.

"When I was supposed to be writing songs, it was at a time when I was
having kids and raising them, so I'm still stuck in the sound of that
time," Tucker said. "That's the time I really wanted to be there.
Lifestyle prevented it. Now it's my time. I'm catching up."

She had a busy summer with her band, Drivin' Wheel - playing the
Monterey Bay Blues Festival in California and the Fleet Blues Festival
in New York.

And, on Nov. 14, Tucker will leave for a five-week European tour as part
of a deal arranged by Alligator Records in Chicago.

Is she being primed for a label roster?

"Yes," Carney said. "Hopefully that means we'll be chucking the day
jobs, for better or worse."

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