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SXSW: Motown Vet's "Scorpio" Rises On The SXSW Scene

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2007

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Dennis Coffey seems a somewhat unlikely candidate to play at a South By Southwest Music + Media Conference.

The latter-day Motown Funk Brother, also known for his 1972 instrumental hit, "Scorpio," is not a young buck looking for a record deal, promoting a new release or stirring up controversy. The guitarist could be the father to almost all the musicians who played at the Spin magazine party on Friday afternoon (March 16th).

But did indeed come to Austin to play -- as part of a showcase promoting the Ponderosa Stomp, a festival featuring "the unsung heroes of the blues, soul, rockabilly, swamp pop and New Orleans R&B" that takes place May 2 at the Crescent City's House of Blues. Supported by a rhythm section that featured Stanley "Buckwheat Zydeco" Dural on keyboardist, Coffey burned through a set that included "Scorpio," "It's Your Thing," the Crusaders' "Way Back Home" and an instrumental rendition of the Temptations' "Just My Imagination" that had the crowd at Opal Divine's singing the choruses.

And while he was sharing the stage with fellow veterans such as Archie Bell and Barbara Linn, Coffey, who was attending his first SXSW, didn't buy into the idea that this music had limited appeal to younger listeners.

"What's been happening when we play at Baker's (Keyboard Lounge) is it's packed all night -- and with lots of contemporary, young people there," noted Coffey who resides these days in Farmington. "They like the music."

One of those was Matthew Smith from the Detroit bands Outrageous Cherry and the Volebeats. Smith turned out for the Ponderosa Stomp show and even got to meet Coffey, who he said was one of his idols, after his performance.

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