rhythm and blues

Ohio Players frontman Sugarfoot dead at 70

Sugarfoot - Click for more images

Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner – Click for more images

I am extremely sad to report that Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, the colorful and flamboyant lead singer for the Ohio Players, died yesterday at the age of 70.

UPDATE: In an official family statement released by Scott Hanover the family said, “Yesterday, Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner passed away quietly in his hometown of Trotwood-Dayton, OH. While his family, friends, colleagues, and fans mourn his passing they celebrate fondly his memory, music, and legacy.”

The statement continued, “Humble yet charismatic, soft spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics, and music has influenced countless other artists, songs, and trends.  He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on.  More details and an official historical perspective of his career will soon be forthcoming.

His Facebook page is available to all to post comments, reflections, and testimonials of this wonderful and gifted man: https://www.facebook.com/sugarfootsohioplayers.”

The Ohio Players were originally formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1959, and were known as the Ohio Untouchables. After a brief breakup the band regrouped in 1963 adding Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner on lead guitar and eventually he went on to front the band.

The band’s first big hit single was “Funky Worm”, reaching #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1973, selling over one million copies.

The band had seven Top 40 hits between 1973 and 1976 including, “Fire,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “Who’d She Coo?”

Recently the master of funk brought the Ohio Players to Thunder Valley Casino Resort (read review). Sugarfoot was helped onstage and appeared frail. However, backstage he was jovial and very friendly to the staff and fans as they lined up to meet the ‘70s icon.

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Earth+Wind+Fire = Wow!

Earth Wind and Fire

Earth Wind and Fire – Click for more images

Six-time Grammy winner Earth Wind and Fire (aka EWF) took over Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s outdoor amphitheater Saturday, transforming it into one big funkalicious delight of disco, R&B, soul, and a whole lotta lights!

As original members Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and Ralph Johnson, made their way on stage it was obvious the standing room only crowd was in for a treat, as lights started gearing up for an evening of dazzling displays, blazing colors, and an overpowering sense of deja vu.

Joining them onstage was an array of talent, as some members were jumping from one instrument to another. They were Myron McKinley (keyboards), Philip Bailey Jr. (background vocals), B. David Whitworth (vocals, percussion), Greg Moore (guitar, vocals), Morris O’Conner (guitar), John Paris (drums, vocals), Gary Bias (saxophone), Bobby Burns Jr. (trumpet), and Reggie Young (trombone).

Verdine White

Verdine White – Click for more images

Kicking off the show with “Boogie Wonderland,” EWF had 4,500 plus fans on their feet from the first beat to the last, as the crowd waved their hands in the air and grooved with the music.

As EWF danced their way through “Sing A Song” and “Shining Star,” the crowd remained on their feet, singing and dancing.

Towards the middle of the show, as EWF played a handful of love songs like “Love’s Holiday,” “Can’t Hide Love,” and “After the Love,” some audience members took a breather and sat down, while the majority of the crowd remained standing. Some made their way to the nearest aisle to slow dance, only to find the aisle already jammed with people swaying to the music.

As night began to take hold, the stage became a steady stream of eye-candy, as psychedelic patterns were displayed on three different backdrops, along with flashing lights and neon painted instruments.

Ralph Johnson and Phillip Baily

Ralph Johnson and Phillip Baily

EWF finished strong with “Let’s Groove,” “Mighty Mighty,” and “In the Stone.” As they finished their last song, fans reluctantly made their way to the exits. Some fans kept looking back at the stage hoping EWF would pop back up and give up one last song.

This was an awesome show, with great music, talent and lights!

Randy’s Rant (continued from last review): Now this is how an aging band puts on a performance. All their songs were hits from their heyday. While they have a few newer songs out, they stuck to the originals that made them popular back in the day, and they didn’t bother trying to introduce newer material. Every time I walked by the merchant booth, there was a line of people.

Next Friday Power Balance Pavilion and 107.9 The End brings you EndFest with Demi Lovato, Adam Lambert, and more. On Saturday, again at Power Balance, watch your favorite American Idol from last season’s show as they bring you some new and not-so-new material.

Don’t forget to check out the remaining shows out at Thunder Valley Casino Resorts Summer Concert Series, as they bring you the likes of Creed, Jeff Dunham, ZZ Top and more!



Dyno-Mite Blast Takes Thunder Valley Old School

Jimmy JJ Walker - Click for more images

I was heading out to the Super 70’s Soul Jam out at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort Friday night, so I dawned my rose colored glasses, bell bottoms and platform shoes. Luckily I packed a Big Hunk, Bottle Caps and Screaming Yellow Zongers before leaving. I knew I’d get the munchies since I’m such a burn out and can’t leave home without a joint or three (hey I have a prescription). I was just hoping I could maintain with all that groovy music playing. The last thing I needed was for some narc to rat me out. As for the concert it was far out man and I should add Dyno-mite!

Right on. Not everyone can be as hip as the hipsters from the 70’s, but Friday everyone was hip and just hanging out with the likes of The Emotions, The Chi-Lites, The Stylistics, The Temptations, and the MC for the evening Jimmy JJ Walker.

To start the night off Jimmy JJ Walker took the stage. Most people remember Walker from his role on Good Times as James Evans Junior, or JJ. In fact, Walker coined the term dyno-mite which became slang for great or fantastic.

The Emotions

The Emotions

Walker provided a bit of comic relief in between sets. At one point he was joking around about the price of gas, saying that he pulled into a full service gas station and the attendant asked him if he wanted him to fill it up, to which Walker responded – No, just give me $200 worth – Ba-da-bing.

First up were the The Emotions singing hits like “Best of My Love,” “Don’t Ask My Neighbors,” and “Boogie Wonderland.” Founding members and sisters Pamela Hutchinson and Wanda Vaughn were joined by Wanda’s daughter Wyann Vaughn.

Wyann did a great job filling in for her aunt and founding member Sheila Hutchinson, who was unable to make the concert. The trio did a fantastic job, sounded great, and were styling in their matching black and white dresses.

The Chi-Lites

The Chi-Lites - Click for more images


Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, The Chi-Lites, slowly made their way onto the stage as one by one they came out to the tune of “Have You Seen Her.” Decked out in bright yellow suits they sang a number of hits including “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl.” Joining founding member Marshall Thompson were Frank Reed, Fred Simon, and Thompson’s wife Tara Thompson.

Marshall is in the R&B Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and has been performing for over 52 years.

Up next were The Stylistics with original band members Herbert Murrell and Airrioin Love. They were joined by Eban Brown and Jason Sharp. Performing their hits including “Betcha by Golly Wow,” “I’m Stone in Love with You,” and “Break Up To Make Up,” the group stayed in perfect synch with each other as they danced throughout their set.

The Stylistics

The Stylistics - Click for more images


Headlining the evening was The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards. Edwards was lead singer for the original Temptations for a number of years, replacing David Ruffin.

Joining Edwards were Paul Williams Jr., David Sea, Mike Patillo, and Chris Arnold. Paul Williams Jr. is the son of original Temptation Paul Williams.

Dressed in matching suits the group sang hit after hit including “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me),” “Papa was a Rolling Stone,” and “My Girl.”

It only took a couple of notes at the beginning of each song for the audience to start cheering as they recognized the tune. Dancing in the aisles, as well as at their seats, people were enjoying a trip down memory lane, with most people singing along.

The Temptations Review

The Temptations Review


It was a fantastic night of some good old fashion soul music and a little bit of humor thrown in to boot.

The Summer Concert Series out at Thunder Valley Casino Resort continues to heat up with Bret Michaels, Night Ranger, and Slaughter appearing next Friday June 15th.

Legends of Soul – Playing it Old School

The Dramatics - Played by James Hill, Stan Lockwood, Rodney James, Douglas Stepney, and Chase Ruffin

The Legends of Soul Tribute Show is a group of individuals who impersonate ““ well ““ legends of soul.

This very talented group of guys and gals, put on nothing short of a true Las Vegas style show, with each impersonator in full character during their entire set, and many performers playing multiple characters.

As droves of young and old crowded into Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s Pano Hall on Saturday, radio personality, and the evenings emcee Nick Harper thanked everyone for coming out to the show, as well as Thunder Valley Casino for providing such a great venue.

The Legends of Soul kicked off their 2+ hour extravaganza with the legendary Sam Cooke played by Elijah Sterling (Get it? Legends of Soul ““ legendary Sam Cooke. I know, it cracked me up too.) Cooke dressed in a powder blue suit with matching hat, sang “Cupid” and “Twist the Night Away,” easily two of Cooke’s greatest hits from the early “’60s.

Marvin Gaye - Played by Chase Ruffin - Click for more images

Following Cooke was Jackie Wilson, played by John Hampton. Wilson was known as Mr. Excitement due to his dynamic dance moves while onstage. Hampton didn’t disappoint as he took the stage by storm, dancing much like Wilson. Singing “You Keep Lifting Me Higher” and “Baby Workout,” Hampton delivered a high energy performance.

Wilson Pickett, played by Dwayne Thompson, delivered a soulful performance of “Mustang Sally,” followed by “In the Midnight Hour,” two of Pickett’s biggest hits.

The Legends of Soul wouldn’t be complete without the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, played by Samantha Richardson. A gentleman, accompanying Franklin on stage, removed a white fur she had draped around her neck and left the stage as she belted out “Chains of Fools” and “Rock Steady.” Franklin finished off her set with an extremely well done rendition of “Respect.”

The O’Jays arrived on stage singing “Love Train” and “Back Stabbers.” The trio was in perfect synchronization their entire set and sounded eerily familiar to the original O’Jays.

The Stylistics and The Dramatics also performed later in the show. Both groups performed flawlessly while they danced in-step with each other, lending to their credible performance.

Needing no introduction due to the silky tone and song choice, Lou Rawls, played by Russell Branch, came out singing “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” followed by “Lady Love.” I believe I saw a woman or two faint, he was that good.

Al Green - Played by Lionel Burns - Click for more images

So the show continued with one legend after another.  Some audience members were lost in the moment, as I’m sure they were thinking back to those long forgotten memories, or maybe they were just dosing ,as some folks in the crowd were just a tad on the old side.

Other stars that shared the stage were Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Patti Labelle, and Stevie Wonder.

Most notable was John Hampton coming out as Stevie Wonder. Lending to the credible performance was Producer Rudolph Peter’s as he guided Wonder to his keyboard, taking Wonder’s hand and guiding it to the keyboard and microphone to ensure Wonder knew where they were. Complete with the sound of Wonder, Hampton’s performance included all the mannerisms of the legend.

Every performer did an excellent job staying in character and singing just like the real thing. The real standouts of the show, and mostly forgotten in the background, was the band, as they played a wide variety of hits throughout the night.

Stevie Wonder - Played by John Hampton - Click for more images

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this group of talented individuals performing in Las Vegas at some point in the future. They pack in the people, they love what they do, and they do it well.

Complete Cast in order of Appearance:

Master of Ceremony:  Nicholas Harper
Sam Cooke: Elijah Sterling
Jackie Wilson ““ John Hampton
Wilson Pickett: Dwayne Thompson
Aretha Franklin: Samantha Richardson. Background Dee Johnson and Dewanna Slaughter
The O’Jays:  Charles Boomer, David Lige, and Lionel Burns
Lou Rawls:  Russell Branch
Curtis Mayfield:  Elijah Sterling
Marvin Gaye: Chase Ruffin
Al Green:  Lionel Burns
The Dramatics: James Hill, Stan Lockwood, Rodney James, Douglas Stepney, and Chase Ruffin
Patti Labelle: Dee Johnson ,background – Samantha Richardson, and Dewanna Slaughter
Stevie Wonder: John Hampton
The Stylistics: Ralph Greene (lead vocals), background- Elijah Sterling, Rodney James, and David Lige
Michael Jackson: Thurman Conners
Band:   (Lead Guitar) Richard Cravalho, (Drummer) Rich Aguon, (Bass Guitar) Darrel Broadnax, (Keyboard Left) Archie White, (Keyoard Right) Earnest Nation, and (Congo) Glen Austin
Producer: Rudolph Peters



Thunder Valley Casino catches fire with Ohio Players

Sugarfoot - Click for more images

Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players took it old school Saturday night at Thunder Valley Casino Resort and turned Pano Hall into party central, or should I say funk central.

The 69 year old master of funk Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, along with eight of his friends, brought the house down as they played hit after hit from their massive collection of songs from the 70’s and 80’s.

Looking frail and using a cane from time to time, Sugarfoot started out with “Who’d She Coo,” and “Skin Tight.” The mixed crowd, of both young and old, were on their feet for most of the performance.

Joining Sugarfoot onstage was Grammy Award winning and longtime band member Trae Pierce (Musical Director/Bass), Derwin Daniels (Sax), Courtney “Big Luv” Girlie (Drummer), Emmanuel Cook (Keyboards), and Earl Fleming (Keyboards). I know that’s only five, but I didn’t catch all their names ““ so if anyone knows who they were, I would love to hear from you.

This was funk at its finest with a tight three horn section, a phenomenal drummer, keyboards, and of course one of the greatest bass players. The band weaved their way from one song to another, making for some wonderful transitions between songs.

Sugarfoot’s voice was no worse for wear. Granted he doesn’t sound the same as he did in his younger years, but he can still bring it. His signature sound came through as he continued with “Fopp,” “Jive Turkey,” and “Honey.”

The crowd erupted into cheers, and anyone not standing was soon on their feet, when the band started playing “Love Rollercoaster,” leading into a superbly performed bass interlude.

As the band left the stage, you could feel the tension in the room as everyone cheered for Sugarfoot and his team to come back out onstage and play just one more. Of course they came back out and finished with everyone’s all-time favorite “Fire.”

The funk doesn’t stop here!!

Catch George Clinton at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on March 25th.

Who’d She Coo
Skin Tight
Jive Turkey
Let’s Love
Sweet Sticky Thing
I Wanna Be Free
Love Rollercoaster

Free counters!