Do the Flo Show
The Carter Brothers Southern Country Boy b/w Do the Flo Show 45 (Jewel, 1965)
When I find a record I dig, I like to know as much about it as possible. I want to know the history of the band, where the record was recorded, things that make the record unique, etc. I go through books, do web searches, and talk to whomever I can. Most of the time I find something. But every once in a while I draw a blank.
On the surface, it seems strange that R&B is the one genre that stumps me the most. I pick up some really obscure records - including weird foreign pressings - and I am able to find out stuff about them, so why can’t I get info on a lot of homegrown R&B?
Consider this, from 1955 to 1975, nearly every town in America with a Black population had at least one R&B band. This is especially true in the South, where even towns with a population of 500, had two or three bands.
Many of these bands made records. Most of these records came out in small pressings on regional labels and remain obscure. There are plenty of great songs that are known only by the people who first heard them and a small group of collectors. When we do get to hear some of this obscure stuff it is usually because a record freak put out a bootleg comp of prime singles cuts. And even these collectors have little knowledge about the records they are booting, other than they are damn good records.
I am faced with the same dilemma when it comes to the Carter Brothers. Though the Carter Brothers (Roman, Albert and Jerry), as a group or individually, put out 7 singles on the Jewel label from 1965 to 1968, the most I know about them is that their label was from Shreveport, LA and they were from Garland, Alabama. There was a 78 put out on Okeh by Carter Brothers and Son ("Old Joe Bone" b/w "Give the Fiddler a Dram.") that is pretty rare, but I am unsure if it is the same group.
I also know that the Carter Brothers reformed in the late 1990s, toured Japan in 1997, had a gospel CD produced by Geza X (!) and released in Japan in 2000, and broke up shortly after.
The Carter Brothers play very bluesy R&B. Their sound is somewhere between Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters. The songs are pretty raw and feature a loud guitar. Other than it is played well, the Carter Brothers’ Jewel material - Southern Country Boy included - isn’t very unique. Ahem...there is one exception, Do the Flo Show, which is the song that I really want to write about.
Set against their blues rockers, Do the Flo Show is whacked. A snare cracks and the band, with horn section, start up with a hypnotic, garage, R&B riff that doesn't vary throughout the song. The riff is an ascending 9 note scale. The rhythm is Louie, Louie-esque, however the horns and a very odd slide guitar makes the band sound drunk or the record warped.
After a couple bars, with backing vocals chanting “Do the Flo Show,” the lead vocals come in. “Ladies ‘n gentlemen/here’s a new dance called the Flo Show/everyone can do it/from junior to granpa/now everybody get together and have some fee-u-n/fun//Now when I say clap hands I want everybody to clap hands/clap hands/that’s what I’m talkin about//When I say ‘Get in’/ I want one person to get in the circle and do your flo show/one person at time/ladies first/then one of you cats can join in too//Now the girl and the boy who get the most applause are the King and the Queen and get free drinks from the crowd/now when you dancin you must stay under the spot light so your costume may show/now the way you wear your hair is important too baby//Now you can do any dance that you want to do/but when you start the Mashed Potato/uhh owww/be careful/don’t slip in the gravy//Hit it/that’s what i’m talkin about//Hey egghead/stop jivin that little teen queen and pay attention to what you doin/cuz if you don’t stop droolin/you gonna get yourself a real cool schoolin/and I’m not foolin//Say little girl/you send me too/but I’m too slick to go/so do yo flo show “
Do the Flo Show is a superior, if somewhat odd, dance song. Now, whether today’s uptight teens would dance to it is a different story. I do know that while I’m sitting in this seat, listening to the song, and typing this stuff up, I’m movin’ and I’m not foolin.
i have a lp from charly records from the carter brothers. it has some liner notes on the back. if you want i can scan you the liners... they haven't included "do the flo show" on that comp, because they considered it to be shit. he he. so now i have to get me that 7" too...
i got the crash normal lp now in strasbourg at the festival. thanx for the emailadress...
I'm from Shreveport, which was home to the Jewel/Paula/Ronn labels run by Stan Lewis. About a year ago, I found out Stan's office was down the street from where I worked. One day I dropped in to chat and was greeted with an long depressing, pathetic story about how his labels and half dozen record stores fell apart in the 80s.
Vida Blue? Well, he grew up in Mansfield, about 30 minutes South of here.
blues festivals mostly suck, but every know and then you find a jewel.
they told me they play frequently at b.b. kings place in california. so if you are around, check check