Friday, October 17, 2008

2Truthy's Happy Friday with Jo Baker & Elvin Bishop: Turn Up the Volume

Rock My Soul

In memory of Jo Baker, who died 11-11-96 at the age of 48.

I first saw Elvin Bishop and his band perform in Champaign, IL, home to my Alma Mater, the University of Illinois. They pulled into this little bar on a hot, Saturday night during a late spring thunderstorm. When they broke out into "Rock My Soul" the place went wild. Literally. Bishop also dragged along his horn section, and between the thunder outside and the incredible music shaking the tables and walls, nobody seemed to care if the roof blew off -- for no want of Jo Baker trying. It was Jo Baker's incredibly fierce, pure gospel wailing voice that led Elvin Bishop's R&B sound --- as if he and his hellaciously great band were all the backup singers.

Jo Baker was a strong, beautiful, amazing percussionist and vocalist who worked with Elvin Bishop (Did,"Do Nobody Wrong" and "Juke Point Jump"), Eddie Money, Stoneground (They did,"Prove It") and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

On that stormy Saturday night when the band came back onstage for a second encore, Jo Baker blew away the clouds with "Rock Bottom." We left, soaking our feet in the gravel parking lot puddles left by the storm. The rain and wind stopped.

Happy Friday, Loserettes!



Citizen Carrie said...

That's an amazing song! I've heard of Jo Baker before but never heard him sing, to the best of my knowledge.

I clicked on the actual YouTube link and was shocked to see that this appearance was from 1981. I thought it was from the early to mid 1970's! I'm amazed that anyone was still playing like that in the Duran Duran era. Thanks for posting the video.

2Truthy said...

Hey CC, isn't Elvin Bishop great? But I say it was the woman, Jo Baker, who made the man.

If you can get your hands on the Elivn Bishop Band's CD "Rock Bottom", you'll really get a blast of the amazing Jo Baker who graces the album title's song. Well worth the download.

JB said...

Thanks for posting this video even though Jo was not in it.
My son sent it to me and I was really taken back. Jo Baker is my sister and I lived with her in San Francisco during her HeyDay with Elvin. We had some really good times.
They played in the city alot as well as the Keystone in Berkeley. Great times. I miss her very much. If you come across any videos with Jo in them I would appreciate them.

2Truthy said...

Hi JB,

It is an honor to meet you! I LOVED your sister, and she was one of my major vocal inspirations during my college days, although I could never, ever sing like her in a million years!

Yes, I know she isn't one of the singers in the video but it was the only one I could find with a good recording of Rock My Soul. Damn, she made that song!

She was just an amazing singer, and that smile of hers lit up the whole room. I only saw Elvin Bishop and Jo this one time live, and that night during intermission I ran into her in the bathroom where I was like, all star struck, telling her how much I thought she was the best singer on this earth. We were dancing right up in front of the stage, and she just had so much warmth and goodness as she smiled and sang her beautiful heart out. God, I wish she was still with us.

I will make sure to keep you posted if I come across any of her music. Actually, I came across a Stoneground video a few months ago that wasn't as good a visual/vocal quality as this one that I'll look for.

My brother used to see them play at the Keystone, and I'll check with him to see if he or anyone he knows had made any recordings.

Love and good vibes always,

2Truthy said...

Hi JB,

Do you have any pics of Jo that I can put on my blog? I couldn't find one - not one of her.

I also came across the link I bookmarked, a Fillmore East performance with Elvin and Jo here

(You are Jaye, in the comments, so you have seen this one before?)

rojo said...

Oh My!

I was just going through old toones on You Tube and looked up Elvin Bishop and then googled Jo Baker. I had no idea she dies. It was her voice that drove that band for some time, before it became the guitar driven machine with Johnny V and Pigboy Crabshaw dueling leads.

I was sorry to hear that.


Norman Metcalf said...

Hey 2Truthy. I worked for Stoeground in the 70's and knew Jo Baker well. I've got a few pix of her layin around somewhere. I'm wondering how Jaye is and if she would remember me. I'm on FB as Norman Metcalf.