R.I.P., Godfather of Soul

James Brown stood his ground against Cianci
By PHILLIPE & JORGE  |  December 27, 2006

Regular readers of the Cool, Cool World obviously recognize the musical genius of James Brown. Old Vo Dilun hands remember how Brown, who toured tirelessly from the mid-’50s on, stopped in the Biggest Little quite frequently in the early-to-mid ’60s, putting on a series of incendiary shows that palefaces like us mostly missed. This is because the posters in those days advised how the tix, about $2.50 each, were available at “the usual places.” Most of us didn’t have a clue where “the usual places” were (although we might have found out if we had asked the usual suspects).

A little more than 25 years ago, Rich Lupo had an opportunity to book the hardest-working man in show business into his original Westminster Street club. This was a big deal, so a welcoming celebration was scheduled for the afternoon of the gig at (the original) Wes’s Rib House on Broad Street.

The Bud-I was expected to materialize with the famous “Key to the City” for James. (Of course, everybody knew how Buddy had a couple of closets at City Hall stocked with hundreds of these keys. If you hadn’t yet received one, it was rumored you were not an actual Providence resident or not currently on the voter rolls.)

Anyway, a welcoming party of about 50 waited for JB and the mayor at Wes’s, and they waited some more. One of Cianci’s advance men acknowledged that the mayor was sitting in his limo, about five blocks away, waiting for Mr. Please, Please to arrive. Meanwhile, in a limo a few blocks away in a different direction, James Brown was waiting for the mayor to make the first move.

Maybe it’s just us, but your superior correspondents found something particularly untoward about two men with such ridiculous hairdos staging a Mexican standoff on Broad Street, merely to assuage their massive egos.

Eventually, the Godfather of Soul and the Godfather of Dorrance Street arrived, just in time for JB to open a gash in his own hand with one of his giant diamond rings. The moral: never attempt to shake hands with a soul legend. God bless you, James Brown. We break out in a cold sweat just thinking of you.

Happy Festivus
Upon the verge of beginning
our 28th year of writing this odious column, we must recognize that we began at age 10 — which may explain the continuing infantile humor, honed at Phillipe & Jorge’s alma mater, the Benny Woods Production Elementary School, housed above the Foxy Lady on Chalkstone Avenue. It was there that we honed our chops, literally, over Legs and Eggs.

But we need to acknowledge a host of people who have dealt with more BS from P&J than a ring full of rodeo clowns. First, in a flagrant example of ass-kissing at the highest level, we thank Phoenix head ramrod Stephen Mindich who, among other important tasks, signs the checks. The horrendous task of questionable oversight goes to old pal Peter Kadzis, who has the distinction of once having roomed with P&J on the fashionable East Side of Providence. We believe the building has since been condemned.

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Related: It’s not brain surgery, The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 1, I Got the Feelin': James Brown in the '60s, More more >
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