September 6, 2017

Experiencing The Soul Of Otis Redding


By Dennis Loren

“There is something very special and intimate about seeing and hearing an exceptional solo artist or great band performs in a small venue. When I lived in San Francisco in the late-‘60s, I was a regular at the larger venues, such as the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore, the Straight Theater and Winterland, but I also frequented smaller places. The North Beach area had a profusion of small clubs and coffeehouses. From the Committee and the Hungry I to the Coffee Gallery and Basin Street West.

“In August of 1967, I attended an Otis Redding concert at Basin Street West. This was another venerable jazz club where artists such as Miles Davis performed, yet by 1967 also featured the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, Little Richard and even Jefferson Airplane. The times were indeed changing to be more eclectic and inclusive.

“I hadn’t gone to the Monterey International Pop Festival and so I missed seeing Otis Redding. That summer I heard Otis’ song ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ on the radio, sandwiched between Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’ and Procol Harum’s ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ and other hits of the day. This was my first and – as it turned out – only opportunity to see and hear Otis Redding in concert.

“He appeared on stage to a fanfare of horns and immediately launched into ‘Respect.’ From that moment until the end of the set, he completely captured the audience. Although Otis Redding was only an inch and a quarter taller than I, he seemed like a giant to me because of the energy he put into his music. Although he performed many of his own songs, I found it ironic that he also covered the Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Satisfaction.’

“Otis closed with a moving rendition of ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ and left the stage as the band played on. To me he seemed completely spent and dripped with sweat, but the audience would not let him go. Otis did three encores to standing ovations.

“Another great memory among so many from that incredible year
of 1967.”


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