Soul man Mel Waiters brings real talk to Victoria
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BLUES CHRISTMAS WITH MEL WAITERS
• WHERE: Victoria Community Center Annex, 2905 E. North St.
• WHEN: 7 p.m.-midnight Friday
• COST: $20 per person available at the door.
• CONTACT: 361-655-3509.
One of the biggest names in Southern Soul will bring his signature R&B to Victoria this weekend.
Mel Waiters, a 56-year-old singer/songwriter/producer from San Antonio, has been in the business since the 1970s. His soulful ballads about life, love and hard times have steadily brought him national attention and a spot on the Billboard Top 100 R&B charts.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FOR FRIDAY'S SHOW?
I'll be doing my new project which is coming out in January. One of the new singles is "Who's Got The Whiskey Up In Here?"
I start major touring February, March and April. I'm excited about it. I have most of the music recorded already. It's still R&B/blues, but the production is crispier and more current.
ARE YOU A WHISKEY GUY?
I don't drink at all, but I've worked night clubs all my life as a musician, and I've been around it all my life. I know what it does and doesn't do. I know the conversation that goes with whiskey.
That's been one of my subject matters throughout my career. I've never drank, never smoked. That's kind of strange for a guy who worked night clubs all his life. I don't drink, and I don't smoke, but I like drinking and smoking records.
YOU SING "EVERYTHING'S GOING UP (BUT MY PAYCHECK)." DID THE RECESSION HIT YOUR CAREER?
It really didn't drop off very much because the music that I write about is so relatable to those who are depressed. They gravitate to it. They can relate to it.
My million-seller song is "Hole In The Wall." ... Shady-O in Victoria, that's a hole in the wall. Those are the kind of venues and joints my career began in, and they're the ones I wrote about.
I basically got that from a club here in San Antonio where I'm born and raised. It was called Chilly Willie's Night Club. That's where everybody goes after the main club closes.
I recorded "Hole In The Wall" in 1998, and in 1997 I recorded "Got My Whiskey." It made the half-million mark. Those were huge records for me.
WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?
It's to become more of a producer, tour periodically and not have to do the load as much as I do right now.
I tour year round, but I want to slow down a little bit and get more in the studio. My foundation is sound and production - I came from radio. I do my own production and have my own recording studio. It's like a big pot of soup what I do.
WHAT'S KEPT YOU INVOLVED WITH MUSIC?
I have a couple of songs that were released over the past few years that increased my workload and my fan base continues to grow.
For a period, I was in a contract with Malaco Records. I didn't have a record for four years. I was working, but I was low-key.
I'm independent now and I have my own label, Brittney Records, which I named for my daughter. I'm just enjoying the latter part of my career right now. Everybody's beginning to call me a legend. A lot of the guys before me are deceased - I'm one of the pioneers who was in the pack who's still left around.
WHY GO INDEPENDENT?
I was with Malaco for 13 years. I felt we had all peaked - our relationship and the places I wanted to go. We maxed-out and reached a plateau of how far we could go.
I'm 56 years old. I just kept feeling I could grow, and I didn't think they wanted what I wanted. It wasn't a creative artist company. They were more interested in selling records.
Right now, I'm able to smell the flowers. I was so uptight, I wasn't enjoying my fans and reaping the benefits of all the hard labor I put in over the years because I was so stressed. I'm free to do me.
You just have to be real. You have to be true to what you're recording and what you write about. It's just like anything - you just have to believe in what you're doing, and I believe in my music and my profession.