Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Chessmen, Joe Meriweather & Riot-Chous Records (Decatur)

Back row: Casey Green, Mike Milo, Larry Songer, Terry Hudson, Hosea Williams; Kneeling in front: Rick Grammer, Mike Ritchie
The Chessmen were an R&B / soul group from Decatur, Illinois that was active from 1962 to 1966.  During this time the group performed regularly throughout the state and released two singles on their own Riot-Chous Records:
  • "Bird Train" / "She's Mine"  [1963]
  • "Lucille" / "I Just Lost The Girl I Love" [1964]
Band members of the group included Hosea Williams (vocals), Mike Ritchie (guitar), Rick Grammer (bass), Mike Milo (sax), Terry Hudson (sax), Paul McNalley (sax) and Larry Songer (drums).  Additional vocalists in the group were Casey Green, Ernie Jennings and Joe Meriweather.

The only other known release on the Riot-Chous label was a single by Joe Meriweather:
  • "There's Nothin' I Wouldn't Do" / "Sweet Lorraine"

Prior to this release Meriweather sang and recorded with Preston Jackson & the Rhythm Aces. 

Here is a rare TV performance circa 1966 of Joe Meriweather and the Chessmen on Marty's Dance Party (a live teen dance show hosted by Marty Roberts which aired on WTVP - Decatur and WICS - Springfield):

In 1966, Meriweather along with several of the Chessmen joined members of the Casuals
(another group from Decatur) to form the Reel Blues.

Music by the Chessmen and Joe Meriweather will be featured on the January 10th episode of the Downstate Sounds radio show.

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