Wright's Loss is Curtis' Gain(es)

By Earl Meyers

Louisville's first Derby Rhythm and Blues Party on April 24 came off with a hitch.

The atmosphere was great at the Galt House East Grand Ballroom for the audience of some 250-plus, dressed in their best outfits for the first-class gala affair. The chicken fingers, prime rib and baby back ribs choices on the buffet were good if you sprang for the extra ten bucks.

Local R&B specialist Curtis Gaines was excellent once he got the sound engineered to his liking during his first two numbers.

His dynamic voice was cooking on numbers like "Whatever It Takes to Make You Happy?' and "Down Home Blues," but possibly his best effort was an audience-pleasing rendition of "The Lord's Prayer."

Prior to Gaines, Pamela Rainkins was also excellent on "I'm Every Woman," but unfortunately I missed the first half of her performance. Rainkins' and Gaines' backup vocals and bands accentuated their outstanding performances.

Mr. J.B., a comedian from Chicago, was also on the program prior to my arrival. I was told he was excellent.

The Electric Slide was a hit on the dance floor during the break, along with five other dance numbers, but too many were geared for the 18-year-old and got no action on the floor for the basically 25-and-older crowd. This must have been about the time event organizer Curtis Wiggins was pleading on bent knee to the featured Betty Wright, but Betty said, "No money, no show."

The Wright no-show caused the last break to be too long and would have gone over much better with one or two fill-in singers.

Wiggins ' dream of the first annual Derby R&B party in a major Louisville hotel came up a little short at this point due to the expenses out weighing the paid admissions, but I'll give him high marks for a good try.

With a little luck and possibly a place on the Derby event schedule, who knows, maybe next year the Second Annual Derby Rhythm & Blues party may go off without a hitch.