Dan Alfano (Baby Huey)

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Dan Alfano, Baby Huey and the Babysitters, by Joe Gagliardo

In the late 60’s one of the bands that was shaking stages in Chicago, and wherever they played, including the Merv Griffin Show, was Baby Huey and the Babysitters.  The 10-piece band was thunderous, and Baby Huey, aka James Ramey, fronted the band.  From 1968 until weeks before Ramey’s untimely death in 1970, Dan Alfano worked the pocket for that powerful band, with his trusty Fender Jazz bass.

Influenced by James Brown, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and anything Soul, Dan’s playing was precise and to the point.  Curtis Mayfield signed the band to his Curtom record label, and one posthumous LP was released in 1971, The Baby Huey Story.  Helping to direct the studio work was Donny Hathaway.

Two examples of Dan’s handily working the pocket are “Mighty Mighty Children Part 1” https://youtu.be/jtpFtlzjJ5s  and “Hard Times” https://youtu.be/zMIzTh0Lafg

While the LP did not have an impact when released, it has gone on to achieve legendary status as a funk n’ soul masterpiece.  The song “Hard Times” has been heavily sampled, and it was covered by John Legend and The Roots on the Wake Up album, and was featured, almost in full, in the movie Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken.

Today, you can catch Dan working his fluid bass lines with the Bluz Brothers.

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