Standing In The Shadows of Motown - Detroit Screeing FORUM: Archive - Beginning Feb 03: Standing In The Shadows of Motown - Detroit Screeing
Top of pageBottom of page   By kim culhan ( on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 02:59 pm:

Just returned from the first screening at the Paladium in Birmingham MI

What a great great show, very moving -a story told by those who were there and obviously produced by some folks who really care.

The live tracks recorded at the Royal Oak Theatre sound excellent as do the ones recorded at Studio A.

Picked up a couple copies of the CD at Tower Records next door to the theatre and listened it driving home ..sounds really fine in the car too.

Thank you all very much.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Ron ( on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 10:20 pm:

Agree a whole lot. We were there this morning and literally got chills with the experience. What a magnificanet tribute to an almost forgotten part of a defining musical style. Congratulations to the cast and crew, and a shout out to the memory of Johnny Griffith. Man, I just got to know you!
Keep on funkin', Funk Brothers!

Top of pageBottom of page   By SteveS ( on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 11:06 pm:

Saw the cast and crew screening this morning and the live performance tonight. Unbelievable night, I haven't really recovered yet and I'm sure there will be many reports from others who attended. Lots of family and friends of the Funks, some with stories to tell the audience (Pistol's daughter, Joe Hunter's son, Jamerson's wife, Uriel's son) while Allan worked through a sound system snafu. The backup singers from the film stepped to the forefront and put on a great show. James Jamerson Jr. on bass for Shotgun. Sue, Millie, Dennis Coffey and I'm sure many others from the forum in attendance. Horn section were Detroit musicians who were basically Funk brothers themselves (George Benson, Ernie Rogers, Ed Gooch). Some tunes added to the repertoire - I Was Made To Love Her, Uptight, My Girl, Ooh Baby Baby, Stop in the Name of Love. Despite the initial battles with the sound system and the shock of Johnny's passing, it was an incredible night.

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 12:36 am:

I'm not through crying yet. My heart is happy and heavy. I can't explain it. I just want to thank Allan, Paul, Paul, Harry, and all those who made this possible.


(PS: Thank you Sue and Craig. I went around asking numerous people, are you Livonia Ken.)

Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 09:06 am:

It was a sad and beautiful screening and subsequent performance. The passing of Johnny Griffith takes a movie who's need to be made and seen was already well established and adds even more heartbreaking poignance to it. As sad as the news was, it was also an unexpectedly life-affirming thing to see the rest of the band go on and make a joyful noise both on film and at the Roostertail.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 09:13 am:


I was in the second row of the theater on the left hand side (near where "the two Joe's" - Hunter and Messina - were standing during Paul and Alan's introductions). At the Roostertail, I was sitting in the seats behind the main floor on the right side behind the Babbit table.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Lynn Bruce ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 11:29 am:

First,may god put his white light of protection around Johnny Griffith.

Now,the movie was great! kleenexes, I don't think so. Maybe I could have used one for the tears of laughter at the funny stories(the funeral parlor,driving in the car on the road)the movie is a must see for everyone.For them it was at first just a job to augment their income from the gigs in the clubs.As the movie progresses you can see how it morphed into the monster thing it became. Who would have guessed?At the time they were probably just happy to be one of musicians that was called all the time.
When my wife and I pulled up to the valet parking in front,who should I see but Bob Babbitt standing there.I walked up and saw this blank look on his face till I said my name. The last time we saw each other was when we packed up after backing up Chuck Berry in 1966. We've both changed in thirty seven years. Man the memories came flooding back. If I knew it was going to be that many years before we saw each other again,I might have french kissed him goodbye,instead of "take it easy Bob,see you later".ANYWAY GO SEE THE MOVIE!!!
At the Roostertail the sound man was a no-show ,so they had to scramble to get one at the last minute.The guy they got couldn't speak very good english,so they had problems. My wife and I sat with Ed wolfrums wife in the first row behind Babbitt and his family. Ed was upset with the new sound man as he didn't even wear a head-set so how could he get a good balance. It all worked out fine though. Livonia Ken was that you next to my wife, myself,and Eds wife in the very first row at the club?
We talked with Dennis Coffey,Millie,Sue,and Babbitts wife Ann (who I haven't seen since the late fifties,shes still as nice as ever}
When the Funks started playing it was as if time had dropped away.The whole packed club just went nuts.When you've got a bunch of Detroiters getting down to the funk bros. you've got some serious boogie-ing going down.
Those guys haven't lost a lick.
Wait,just wait till you get a chance to see them live.I'd put them up against any rocking band around.

By the way ,Bob Babbitt told me that they're going to be on Cedric the comedians show this wed.,I believe it's on right after Bernie Macs show. He also mentioned that they would be putting their hands in cement in Hollywood on the walk of the stars while they are out there.Man, I'm happy for those guys!!!

All and all it was a wonderful night that will never be forgotten by my wife Sandy and myself.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 12:52 pm:

Hello Gang,

All of us were a bit brought down by the death of Johnny. I will later post some shots of him on the SISOM shoot and here at the studio a couple of summers ago.

The movie was WONDERFUL. Probably on of the best documentaries you will EVER SEE. Paul Justman is an wonderful film maker. The local crew, Kooster and his guys and the post people did a GREAT job. (Kooster, Presto and I were worried that the music mixer out on the coast may not have a handle on the "feel," but he sure did!!!) A wonderful experience in the morning, only to be brought down by the news of Johnny's death in the afternoon. (Johnny passed shortly before the time of the cast and crew showing in the morning, shortly after 10AM.) May God have mercy on his soul and the may Johnny and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

At the Roostertail, in the evening, the sound crew show up 1/2 hour before the show. But I understand they were on short notice as the original guy bailed out. Why? I don't know. He set up NEXT to the stage and had no way to get any sort of mix. He did not speak good english either. Communication with him was nil. Clay and I tried to talk to him and help him. We suggested he first turn the "threshold of pain" level down and then get a basic mix wih phones for both the monitors and the house. His monitor system, I was told by Pree and other singers did not work and so they sang "deaf".

I don't think he had any idea of who he was working with on the stage. Finally, I made one futile attempt to help and spent the rest of the evening in the entry hall trying to get away from the extreme levels. I am amazed that the Funks sounded as good as they did as it certainly was not due to the the work of the sound contractor. Only by God's good grace did it work at all.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:11 pm:

My wife & I were on the third row back just to the left side of the tiny little aisle. I was wearing a brown blazer with a blue shirt.


Top of pageBottom of page   By SteveS ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:38 pm:

Something happened at the Roostertail that I thought was pretty funny, but I may just be reading between the lines - I'm not sure. After the end of the Funk's set, of course the audience was clamoring for an encore. After some onstage discussion amongst themselves, the Funks repeated Uptight, which had been the first tune of the set. During the encore, the lead singer (I apologize for not knowing his name, but he did a fantastic job) seemed to want to give the Detroit audience something special, so he "broke it down", i.e. had everyone stop playing except the drums, and then wanted each player to play by themselves.


Joe Messina was sitting to the far right of the stage and was the first one the singer called out. Joe shook his head "no" and looked horrified (although smiling as always) and then basically played his backbeat part. Eddie Willis was next, and having had a few more seconds to think about it played something. And so it went, with each funk brother wanting to get back to playing his part as quickly as possible. I thought it was pretty funny, as these guys are all jazz players and improvisers, but it seemed that when they're being Funk Brothers, they're focused on getting the job done and doing it right.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Craig Weiland ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:39 pm:


Please go easy on the sound guys. If not for them showing up at the last minute there wouldn't have been a show.

Was it perfect? No. But it worked. And judging from the crowd reaction, everybody had great time.

Instead direct your displeasure at Thunder Audio which was supposed to be there at 10am. When I arrived at Noon to set up amps and one drum kit there was nobody there and Allan and I started to try and find a system. They were the only ones we could get on such short notice.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Craig Weiland ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:53 pm:

Johnny Ingram is the singer who "broke it down".

Top of pageBottom of page   By ErikT.O. ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:03 pm:

Sheet, sounds like a great time, I wish I'd known about the show following the movie, I'd have tried to cajole someone into driving... /Erik

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:09 pm:

Just remember Hitsville did not have all that hi-tech equipment when the Funk Brothers made those fabulous hits. None of the fans noticed those technical aspects of the sound system. We knew they were working on the system, but we were just happy to be there. The perfromance was late getting started, however, the families of the Funks came up and spoke, letting us know how proud they are of their relatives. We loved every second at the Roostertail, including the food. We have no complaints.

Seeing Craig Weiland constantly working with the system, up and down he went. As soon as he sat down, someone calls him back up to assist with the system. CRAIG WEILAND - THANKS FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE MY FRIEND.

As I think of yesterday, and as I type this post, I have tears rolling down, just as they did yesterday. I was the lady with the light two piece suit, hopping along with an ankle cast, short blond natural. I saw Joe Weaver, RJ Spangler, and other Cyber buddies. Even with the brace on my ankle, Sue wanted me to dance. When "What's Going On" was playing, I couldn't resist, I stood in front of the stage and rocked back and forth to the beat, shouting "Bob Babbitt, get down with your bad self."

They let James Jr sit in on "Shot Gun", that was a special treat. The fans were wild, excited, happy, and really enjoyed themselves, screaming, standing ovations, dancing, yelling "THE FUNK BROTHERS". Speaking as a long time "FAN", I will say, I have never been to any other performance (including a YANNI performance) which has satisfied me totally and completely. "THE UNTOUCHABLE FUNK BROTHERS, FOREVER."

Nuff said, Sis

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:17 pm:

Allan Slutsky - Do you ever get any rest? :o)
Take it easy. Take time out to rest.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Larry ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:32 pm:

All you guys...
I am raging GREEN with Envy!!! Keep those posts coming.

Top of pageBottom of page   By SteveS ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:48 pm:

Craig - thanks for filling in the blank on Johnny Ingram. It's probably worth mentioning that there were no "name" singers at the Roostertail, which was quite fitting as it truly put the spotlight on the Funks. On the other hand, the three singers were incredible (as they were in the movie) and it was good to see them step to the forefront.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Sue ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:51 pm:

Sis --
And I got you to dance! Allan, Craig and the guys pulled off an incredible show against all odds, including having to punt on a sound system. I too hope Allan gets some rest, although judging from past experience, he won't until every last song is played and every note of music is written down...

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:57 pm:

I know one of the singers who sung last night the hits of the Supremes was none other than Miss "PREE." That lady is going to surprise you when she comes out with her new cd.

Hopefully Clay will come on and post a review of the premiere. It was also great to see Paul Riser.

Yesterday and last night made Detroit live up to the name "Soulful Detroit."

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 03:14 pm:

Treaty Womack was on Congas/bongos. She also got up and participated in singing, I think it was "What's Goin On"

Carolyn Crawford was there, and she may have gotten up to assist in the Supremes' tunes.

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 03:18 pm:

Each of the Funk Brothers had a chance to do a solo. The crowd went crazy.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Craig Weiland ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 03:20 pm:


The other singers were Carla Benson and Detroit's own Delbert Nelson. All of them throughout the LA, NYC and Detroit shows have more than held their own against the featured singers and that includes the movie shoot also.

Top of pageBottom of page   By STUBASS ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 03:32 pm:


Top of pageBottom of page   By MusicManMelvin ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 03:35 pm:

"Treaty Womack"?

Trenita Womack was a member of the '70s funk band Brainstorm ("Loving is Really My Game"; "You Put a Charge in My Life," etc.). She was the was the other female in the predominantly male group, Belita Woods, another Detroiter, was Brainstorm's main female lead.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 04:46 pm:

Hello Craig,

The sound was poor at best and in no way up to the musicanship on the stage. After 40 years in this business I will not make excuses for poor sound! They had all the right gear but did not know how to use it. These guys are supposed to be professionals? and considering the time to the downbeat had time to put it together. The sound in our home town was no match for what was at the Apollo, I'm told. That is a sad comment!!!

Please contact me off forum and I will fill you in on what happened with Clay and myself.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Sue ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 06:21 pm:


Those guys were emergency fill-ins. Between Johnny dying, the sound crew not showing up and everything else, it's a miracle the show went on at all. We can cut some slack considering all that -- I know I would have been out of my mind if I was in Allan's shoes...

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 06:42 pm:

I can understand your frustration being an engineer of the highest order (and I say that with great respect). Although I wasn't there in the Motor City, I can sympathize with what Craig had to endure. The Apollo gig was indeed well produced but to compare the NYC gig to what occurred in Detroit is indeed unfair. Dealing with Johnny Griffith's death, the engineer bagging out and Allan trying to pull everything together is no easy task. I agree with Sue - we should go easy on those who at least tried to salvage what would've been a horrific evening. If I was there, I would've volunteered to engineer the affair myself. That's something maybe you should have considered.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Lynn Bruce ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 11:07 pm:

Haveing played more one-nighters than anyone should have to endure. Anything can happen and usually does at the wrong time.
The audio experts are right the sound could have been better.
But the Detroit people were so happy to have and hear the Funk Bros. home again after all this time that they didn't seem to notice anything, as they wanted to be swept up in the motown beat and songs. A lot of people had heavy hearts and weren,t about to let anything stop them from a good time.

You might call it the first wake for Johnny Griffith as he was on everyones mind!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By SteveS ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 11:33 pm:

After finally seeing the Funks live last night, one thing struck me that I totally hadn't anticipated. Al Slutsky has the highest stress tolerance imaginable. Up till last night I thought he had done a great thing by making SITSOM happen (and also the luckiest guy in the world for getting to be in the band). Last night gave me a different perspective. When I walked in to the Roostertail he was carrying equipment (the belated sound system) from the truck to the stage (at least I was able to give him a hand with that). But consider what else he's dealing with as the night goes on:

no sound system
no sound engineers
no sound check
no stage monitors
growing crowd in heavy anticipation
dead piano player
last minute piano sub
no lead horn player (Tom Scott)
backup singers => lead singers
last minute arangement changes to accomodate above
press and VIPs
scmoozing the audience with questions and answers to stall for time
conducting the band
oh yeah, and playing the guitar parts

I'm sure there was much more going on, but ...yikes! I saw his role in an entirely different light, as what he's doing is akin to a battlefield campaign. On top of that, he's an awfully nice guy. Amazing job Al! Thanks,


Top of pageBottom of page   By StingBeeLee ( on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 11:56 pm:

The party turned out great, sound system and all. I was only a little impatient when they tried to up the piano's mike for about 20 minutes. But we did not care, we wanted to hear the Funk Brothers play. I had to stand during the whole performance, but so what! I thought I saw the Velvelettes there? At the end, during the encore of "Uptight", the Roostertails dance floor looked like a mosh pit, you've never saw so many people dancing and having a great time. It is my full belief that the Funk Brothers enrolled in Maxine Powell's charm school (!!!) at Motown, as each and every one of them were very cordial and took the time to sign all autographs and to take pictures. At times, it seemed that they were mobbed like rock stars. Uriel Jones told me he could not believe this was happening, and he never thought in a million years it would happen to them. Sis Detroit, since you described yourself, I did see you. Thanks again Sue and Craig for the tickets, wanted to thank you personally Craig, but you were too busy with the sound system (Sue, I didn't see you, I'm sure you were there somewhere).

Top of pageBottom of page   By Paul Elliott ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 01:20 am:

Re: Sound, Allan

I had a long tirade composed about the sound system, the difficulties of getting good sound under the best of times, etc, etc. Then my connection was dropped -- probably a good thing.

From what I heard from Allan and others, the sound situation sucked, but live sound usually does. Help running the board from folks in the audience usually makes the situation worse, even if the engineer has a tin ear and the helper is a real pro. Truly a too many cooks situation, and I've been caught on both sides on several occasions. Just chalk it up to "Act of God" and live to fight another day. I hope that when the Funk Brothers go on tour in earnest, there will be a good engineer going along who knows how things are supposed to sound, and can spec or carry the appropriate gear. That will help a whole lot, but things still can go horribly wrong.

More importantly, Allan Slutsky is a true pro, and he has so many balls in the air that I get dizzy just watching. He probably wouldn't know what to do in a no-stress situation. Just the same, we should give him a hand when we can, and be understanding when things don't go quite to plan. It is really frustrating when stuff goes wrong, but that one of the things that make *live*music* such a wonderful experience.

Finally, thank you all for your kind thoughts about Johnny. We will pass them along to his family.

Paul Elliott

Top of pageBottom of page   By Clay McMurray ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 03:38 am:

First and foremost:
My heart goes out to Johnny Griffth and his family. I had known Johnny for a lot of years and as one of the Motown Producer,engineers who was practicly raised and taught how to make the song and the music work by the greatest and nicest bunch of human beings on the planet(The Funk Brothers)and I will forever cherish the way they all embrace me and shared their knowledge and talents when I joined them at MOTOWN.

Even though I was present for the filming of the Movie I must say I was impressed with the final cut and would like to congradulate Allan, Paul, and the entire crew and staff, both audio and sound people for a FANTASTIC piece of work. There are very few words and ways to express the worth and credits of a one of a kind group like the Funk Bros, but a film like "Standing In The Shadows" will stand, show, and explain for years to come just what the
FUNK BROS really meant to MOTOWN and the WORLD. There were moments during the film that struck quite a few nerves with me, because a lot of it I shared with the "Funks" and that just proves that
reality and art often cross path in ones lifetime.
Pree,Sue,Wolfie and I enjoyed the film immensely.

As for the Live Show at the Roostertail, it was great!!!!!!!!for a few reasons.
1. It was a celebration of The Funk Bros and their
fallen brothers.
2. It brought out the people and fans of Motown
to shared their love and appreciation for the
musicians who helped make Motown a Legend.
3. The Funk Bros played and replicated songs and
sounds that could never be performed any better
anywhere, by anybody. Show me a group of 60/70's
year old musicians that got it going on like the
"Funks" I don't think so.
4. Pree, who was also in the film as one of the
backup singers said; My biggest thrill as a
singer,performer was my opportunity to work with
living legends like " The Funk Bros" and have
them call me a part of their "Unique Family".
5. As for the audio engineer who tried to set
up at the last minute and produce sound for the
show!!!!!Let's say he was'nt top of the line,but
he showed up!!!!!!He was'nt very good at setting
up his equipment,but maybe he was in a slight
case of Shock realizing he was trying to set up
for the Now famous "Funk Bros"!!!!!!! He refused
assistance from myself,Ed Wolfrom,Tee Turner and
a few other more than qualified engineers simply
because he was New and somewhat intimidated by
people who knew more about his equipment than he
did.!!!!!!!! After I relayed the fact to Allan
that the sound was not going to be set up
properly, he and I moved a few working floor
monitors where the players could here themselves
and adjusted the few working microphones so the
singers could be heard and it was ON. The Funk
Bros played with same love and excellence that
earned them this NIGHT and a Film that will
preserve their PRESENTS in music history!!!!!!!

I hope the rest of the world will learn to love
and appreciate the legacy of "THE FUNK BROS" as

Top of pageBottom of page   By HW ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 11:29 am:

Photos of Premiere and after-party in Detroit

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 01:10 pm:

In the Photos, the other keyboardist, standing behind Joe Hunter at the Roostertail is Gary Schunk (Acoustic Electric Synthesizer). I will post the names of those in the horn section later. Of course you know Ernie Rodgers was one of them.

Top of pageBottom of page   By STUBASS ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 01:26 pm:


Top of pageBottom of page   By SteveS ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 01:36 pm:


I posted the names of the horn section yesterday. They were George Benson (sax), Rayce Biggs (tpt), Ed Gooch (trbn), and Ernie Rogers (sax).


Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 01:47 pm:

Thanks SteveS - I will have my little pics ready soon to email to DMiekle.

Top of pageBottom of page   By SteveS ( on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 01:54 pm:


I made the unfortunate mistake of thinking that I knew how to use a digital camera, which I didn't. I'd love to see what you took.


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