Monday, March 30, 2009

barbara porter & little rock- little rock

George Bryan wrote:

LITTLE ROCK: The band was David Bates on drums, Doug Duffey as keys, arranger, and vocals, bass was some child who was green as a pool table and twice as square, and me on guitar. Singer for the shows was Barbara Porter, wife of Jim Porter the manager (and jazz aficionado…one of the best record collections I had ever seen and a genuinely nice and decent human being). Eventually we had Sterling R McBee added to play bass. We worked the Sheraton in Little Rock a lot, and saw a lady who would become Bill Clinton’s mistress….she was in a band that played before us and was the singer. Met and played for Mr. Tyson at his lake house for private parties. We worked the Tracks Inn, and followed people like Tanya Tucker when they came through. We did a trip back east, hit NYC (Doug and I got busted standing on the roof of the Holiday Inn in Jersey). We did the country club circuit in the south and Vegas at the LandMark, and a month in LA at the Ramada Inn at the foot of Beverly Hills, just off Rodeo Drive. Great wilted spinach salads with hot bacon dressing. Lorna and Barbara worked downtown for an Iranian named Tom Massoud. Eventually the band went back to Little Rock, broke up, Doug went to LA, and I quit the music business and went to Florida to live on a beach.

Doug Duffey wrote: years before, when i was back home in monroe- between bands- i played Hammond B3 and sang/opened the show in the 'earl duke 'revue'; which played the local black "chitlin circuit". much later, the horn section [vaughn quimby- sax; gene newman- trumpet] moved to colorado where they hooked up with the band "cotton" [george bryan [guitar], cid cidlick [B3/vocals], and dave trupp [drums]. they called me and asked me to come out and work with i went. it was a serious blues band. we played a lot of funky bars in colorado and nebraska- the high point being when we opened for 'muddy waters' in lincoln, nebraska at the university; which was way cool! the main point of this is that i met my life long friend, guitarist george bryan, in "cotton". [he did the louisiana folklife festival and new orleans jazz festival with me in 2003- we hadn't seen each other in 20 years!].

while in colorado i got a call to go back to little rock and work with an act called "barbara porter and little rock" - i had worked with her before when she was working with tommy riggs- [jim porter- barbara's husband- had been the booking agent for "merging traffic"] -barabara had split from tommy- was forming a new band and this time, also needed a guitarist, so george went back with me. we did more upscale type gigs: country clubs, hotel lounges, the hunt & polo club, the peabody, in memphis -did some east coast shows, the joe franklin show in nyc, and eventually several stints in las vegas.

when barbara wasnt working with us, we played band gigs. we were pretty funky. [we did some great demos at 'soul brothers' studios in little rock!]

we were playing at "tracks inn" in little rock when one of the managers [cholly bassoline] of rare earth, george clinton, parliament funakdelic, bootsy collins [backstage management] came in and caught us. after the gig he said to me "if you ever get to hollywood, look me up"* ... the old "son, i'm gonna make you a star" line.
we wound up working vegas with barbara for a few months, two different times. as fate would have it, after the last period, we went to los angeles, where we played the lounge in the beverly hills ramada inn for a month or so. i made the call* to cholly as soon as i got there; he came to see me with the legendary kathi mcdonald [backing vocalist for leon russell, the stones, etc. who introduced me to 'stingers']- we became fast friends.
i went and met ron strasner and robert mittleman- cholly's partners in backstage management- and coming out of the door of the office as i was going in was bernie worrell, george clinton and some of pfunk! they'd just heard MY demo tapes, and bernie said when we were introduced, "there's the star!"
when we got back to little rock i quit the band, packed my van and moved to hollywood!

[c]2009 doug duffey


  1. Hi, I was married to Sterling McBee for 18 years and we had one daughter. I remember him talking about these days and how much he enjoyed it. So funny to accidentally stumble across this! He still lives in Warren and is remarried. His oldest daughter and grandchildren live there as well.