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Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders
"Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders was the best school of life and music that anyone could ask for." - Allyn Robinson 2012  

Wayne's Roots
In 1971, as an up and coming 20 year-old drummer from New Orleans, Allyn landed the drum gig with the Cochran band and school was officially in session.  The rich legacy of this R&B institution starts first and foremost with its legendary namesake, Wayne Cochran.  Born in 1939 in Thomaston Georgia, Wayne was raised in the musically fertile region that produced the likes of James Brown, Otis Redding and Little Richard.  Some say there must have been something in the water, but truth be told, the soul that emanated from this part of the country was born of hard work, family and the fabric of music than was ever present in their lives.  Wayne tapped a deep vein of soul with his band and Allyn was an integral part of bringing that to the stage every night.
One needs to go no farther than R&B pioneer Otis Redding for Wayne's pedigree.  Wayne moved to Macon Georgia in the late '50s and achieved success as a band leader, writer, vocalist and bassist.  In addition to recording several songs for local labels Scottie, Gala, Confederate and Aire, he played bass in a band called The Pinetoppers, led by his good friend, Redding.  Wayne recorded bass on the classic frat song Shout Bamalama with The Pinetoppers and also had rights on another Redding classic, These Arms of Mine.  Even surprising to Wayne, Redding noted that it was Cochran's original ten piece C.C. Riders that were the inspiration for Otis' own high-energy live show.
The Birth of the C.C. Riders
As Wayne continued to form the vision for the C.C. Riders (i.e. Cochran Circuit Riders), he was greatly influenced by James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.  In fact, it was a song called The Coo, recorded by Wayne on Scottie Records, that got the attention of Brown's label, King Records, and resulted in Wayne cutting several records on the King label, including a re-release of his greatest commercial success, Last Kiss. Inspired by his labelmate and also Johnny and Edgar Winter, Wayne started to assemble a larger band and the C.C. Riders were on their way. 
Formed in 1963, Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders had a 20+ year run of high-energy performances that both evolved with and influenced the music of the time.  Wayne rose through the 60s and earned his place alongside some of music greatest acts, playing venues ranging from The Apollo to The Troubadour and all points in between.  Wayne influenced thousands of musicians, including the likes of Elvis Presley and his TCB Band as well as newcomers, Chicago, Tower of Power and Blood, Sweat & Tears. 
The Cochran Album
Having mastered and outgrown the Vegas scene of the late-60s, Wayne signed with EPIC Records in 1971 and recorded the seminal album Cochran, a transitional tour de force which saw the band evolving from a large-than-life show band to a harder edged R&B big band.  In Allyn's own words, "Wayne and Charlie (Brent) were looking to form an R&B Big Band with more sophisticated arrangements and voicings combined with that greasy New Orleans groove."  Allyn's high-energy rhythm intensity was the perfect match for this ground breaking soul band as is clearly evident on the cut, "Somebodys' Been Cutting On My Groove" from Cochran album, a quintessential R&B Funk groove.  The Riders were a key piece in the evolutionary chain of jazz, big band, R&B, funk and rock n roll, and Allyn was fueling the charge to their new horizon.
Robinson On Board
Allyn joined Cochran at a highly transitional time.  Only with the band for a few weeks, Allyn found himself in the drum chair for a classic concert at the Fillmore West in April 1971.  Not long after, Allyn was in Columbia Studios in San Francisco recording the Cochran album.  Life was flying and Allyn was soaking it in.  Anyone who witnessed the C.C. Riders in the '70s had a permanent imprint placed on their soul, with Allyn's stamp at the bottom.  As Allyn often states, "It was sink or swim and NO excuses, that was it, period.  Get it right or go home with your tail between your legs."
During his tenure with Wayne Cochran (1971-1974), Allyn played with many great players, including Charles Brent, Red Rodney, Lee Thornburg, Al Silvestri and the legendary electric bassist, Jaco Pastorius.  It was the gig of a lifetime and set the stage for Allyn's stellar career as a rhythm ace.
Click here to read more about Allyn's relationship with Jaco.
Luther Kent (with Trick Bag and The Forever Fabulous Chickenhawks)
"Big Luther Kent is the Prince of Bourbon Street and an undisputed Louisiana legend."
- Chickenhawks Website
Trick Bag
In 1978, Luther Kent teamed up with Charlie Brent, former musical director for Wayne Cochran. They formed a large New Orleans horn band which became known as "Luther Kent & Trick Bag."  Allyn, David Lee Watson and several Cochran alums rounded out the line-up which took up residency at the Old Absinthe House Bar on Bourbon Street.  In addition to their house gig at the Absinthe, they also played The Blues Saloon, Crazy Shirley's and The Risin' Sun (Luther's Club).  Trick Bag has released three CDs over the years and is a regular at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival where they have played 36 years in a row.
Trick Bag became "the" after-hours band for many named artists to sit in with, whenever they were visiting New Orleans.  Some of these artists included big names such as Boz Scaggs, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Slim Harpo, Jimmy Page, Bonnie Bramlett, Greg Allman, Etta James, Joe Cocker, Stevie Winwood, Bo Diddley, Dr. John, Rita Coolidge, Righteous Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner, Wilson Pickett, ZZ Top, Rickie Lee Jones, Mick Fleetwood, Billy Preston, Ernie K-Doe, Mike Post, Average White Band, Al Hirt, Billy Eckstein and Pete Fountain.
In 2012, Trick Bag is going strong with an outstanding performance at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  The standing-room-only crowd was electrified as Luther and the big band worked their way through a high-energy set, topped off with a guest appearance from Allen Toussaint on "Let The Good Times Roll."  When it comes to genuine New Orleans music, it does not get any better!

The Forever Fabulous Chickenhawks
Founded in 1980, The Forever Fabulous Chickenhawks Showband and All-Star Review is perhaps the last and the best of an endangered breed, a 16-piece soul-blues-R&B powerhouse band plus horn-section.  Just like those that used to back up the stars on the classic soul revue shows of the '60s and '70s. The Hawks features Luther and a staggering lineup of musicians, including saxophone player Blue Lou Marini, of the original Blues Brothers Band, Jon Smith and Steve Howard of the White Trash Horns (made famous by their stint with Edgar Winter's White Trash), and guitarist "Cadillac" Jack Calmes and Rich "Soul Man" Kinney.
Two releases with the multitalented Texas/Louisiana based band know as "The Chicken Hawks" under the leadership of Jack Calmes featuring such greats as Al "TNT" Braggs and the "White Trash" horn section.  The latest CD just released on Red Hot Records is titled, "Luther Kent "Down In New Orleans".
Luther Kent - The Artist
In 1948, Luther Kent was born Kent Rowell in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a vocalist, he was influenced by artists such as Bobby Bland, Etta James, and Ray Charles.  Kent began to sing professionally when he was 14, and his first record was released by Montel Records.  In 1970, he became the lead singer for a group named Cold Grits and joined the legendary Blood Sweat & Tears in 1974.  Kent is known for a big soulful voice and his big horn-based bands that mix swinging blues with New Orleans R&B.  He is the Prince of Bourbon Street and an undisputed Louisiana legend.  His voice is like no other and musicians of every discipline from jazz to heavy metal go to great lengths to see him perform. His big band has headlined the Jazz Festival from its inception and when he plays New Orleans, the shows are always sold out.
Dr. Hook, featuring Ray Sawyer
"Dr. Hook had 10 Top 40 Hits.  The music was great and the musicianship was first class."
- Allyn Robinson
House Gigs Have Their Advantages
Luther Kent & Trick Bag were the house band at The Old Absinthe House Bar and several other legendary venues where they were one of the most popular acts in New Orleans, especially for musicians who were passing through town.  One such late-night hang was with Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook, who used several Trick Bag members for some studio work and took a strong liking to Allyn's playing.  As a result, in 1990, Ray offered Allyn the drum chair for several European and Australian tours with the Dr. Hook band.  Since Allyn had stayed local for most of the 1980s to focus on raising his family, this was a nice chance get back on the big stage with an international pop touring act.  It was a great choice as the tours produced some great music and several long-lasting friendships for Allyn.  As Allyn notes, "Dr. Hook had 10 Top 40 Hits.  The music was great and the musicianship was first class."
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show's sardonic, country-flavored pop/rock made them one of the most fondly remembered acts of AM pop radio's heyday in the '70s.  The band was formed in Union City, NJ, in 1968, when a young singer/songwriter named Dennis Locorriere teamed up with Alabama-born country-rocker Ray Sawyer.  Sawyer's distinctive stage presence stemmed from his enormous cowboy hat and an eye patch that hid injuries from a serious car accident in 1967.  Sawyer'ss eye patch inspired the nickname Dr. Hook, after the Captain Hook character in Peter Pan; with the rest of the band christened the Medicine Show.
Their self-titled debut album, Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show was released in 1971. The single "Sylvia's Mother, became the band's first million-seller and hit the Top Five in the summer of 1972.  Perhaps their most famous hit, The Cover of Rolling Stone, became another Top Ten smash in early 1973, and Rolling Stone soon granted the band's wish.  After declaring bankruptcy to get out of their contract with CBS records, they reemerged as Dr. Hook and signed with Capitol in 1975.  A cover of Sam Cooke's "Only Sixteen" returned them to the Top Ten in 1976 and revitalized their career.  Further hits followed over the next few years in "A Little Bit More," "Sharing the Night Together," "When You're in Love With a Woman," and "Sexy Eyes."
Tab Benoit
"Allyn Robinson was a previous drummer in my band. He's one of the rare New Orleans drummers who knows how to play a blues shuffle. In fact B.B. King told him so and loved his groove. That's why he's a perfect fit for big bands like the ones Luther Kent has. It's a perfect match.  Allyn learned a lot from when he was with Wayne Cochran too. He also had a deep relationship with Jaco Pastorius.  Jaco's replacement in Cochran's band was the bassist David Lee Watson. Allyn and David Lee were with me for a long time."
- Tab Benoit, Interview by Bob Putignano in AlternateRoot Magazine April 2012
In 1994, Allyn was looking to get back on tour when a young blues guitarist and vocalist named Tab Benoit stopped by his house gig for a jam session.  Together with bassist Doug Therrien, the chemistry with Tab was immediate.  Allyn and Doug soon joined Tab's band which led to a very productive six-year stint, from 1994-2000 (with David Lee Watson joining on bass in 1998).  The partnership proved fruitful as they recorded three CDs along the way, Standing on the Bank (1995), Live: Swampland Jam (1997), and These Blues Are All Mine (1999).  The combination of Allyn's greasy blues shuffles and R&B funk grooves was the perfect foundation for Tab and his brand of Cajun-influenced blues.
Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Tab Benoit makes his home near New Orleans in Houma, Louisiana. Born November 17, 1967, he's one of a handful of bright rising stars on the modern blues scene. For most of the 1990s and into the 2000s, he's worked each of his records the old-fashioned way, by playing anywhere and everywhere he and his band can play. Unlike so many others before him, Benoit understands that blues is not a medium in favor with 50,000-watt commercial rock radio stations, so as a consequence, he's combined each of his releases with as many shows as he can possibly play. 
Tab has been compared to the likes of Albert King, Albert Collins, and Jimi Hendrix.  Although the hard-working, modest guitarist scoffs at those comparisons, and doesn't think he sounds like them (and doesn't try to sound like them, either), Benoit doesn't appear to be one who's easily led into playing rock & roll instead of his down-home blend of swamp blues and East Texas guitar-driven blues.  Tab has been the standard bearer for a new generation of Cajun blues musicians - a traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, grafting elements of rock and soul to the indigenous sounds of the bayou.

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Wayne Cochran
Live at the Filmore West 1971

Luther Kent
Jazz Excursions
(You Put Me in a Trick Bag)

Tab Benoit
Live in Sarasota