Thank you Georgia Music Foundation for your generous $1,000 donation to the Prater Music Fest.
The money will be used to encourage the next generation of musicians pursue their dream of careers in music. Named after Ocilla native Dave Prater of the 1960's R&B singing duo Sam and Dave, the Dave Prater Music scholarship is for graduating seniors of Irwin County High School.
The first of the scholarship money will be awarded during a Dave Prater tribute dinner at 6 p.m. May 11 at Irwin County High School, 149 Chieftain Cir., Ocilla. Tickets are $15 if purchased before May 5 and $25 at the door.
For more information, call City Hall at 229-468-5141 or the Ocilla-Irwin Chamber of Commerce at 229-468-9114.
If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund, see information about how to become a Prater Music Fest sponsor.
Checks should be made payable to “Prater Music Fest” and can be dropped off at Ocilla City Hall or mailed to: City of Ocilla, P.O. Box 626, Ocilla, Ga. 31774.
Foundation Director Lisa Love said: "We are happy to support a program that will provide opportunities for a student studying music and perpetuate the legacies created by Georgians like Dave Prater."
See her complete letter here:
Listen to the Irwin County High School Jazz Band give a short Sam & Dave tribute. They are warming up for the May 11, 2017, Dave Prater Tribute dinner. It starts at 6 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
The first ever Dave Prater Music Scholarship will be awarded at the event. And the Jazz Band will perform.
Tickets are $15 if purchased before May 5. For tickets, call 229-468-4114 for credit card purchases or go to Ocilla City Hall: 229-468-5141.
All proceeds go to the Prater Music Scholarship fund to encourage future musicians to pursue careers in music.
Bring the family and kids and don’t forget your dancing shoes. That’s the message organizers of the 2016 Prater Music Fest want to send local and regional visitors planning to attend Friday’s street party in downtown Ocilla.
“We want everyone to come out and have a wonderful time dancing and enjoying the live music,” Mayor Matt Seale said about the celebration honoring Ocilla native Dave Prater of the Grammy Award-winning 60s singing group Sam and Dave.
Prater, an Ocilla native, traveled the world entertaining and was killed in a car crash in Sycamore in 1988 while driving from Atlanta to visit his mother in Ocilla. Nearly 30 years after his death, fans still love the Sam and Dave music.
“Based on the publicity we’ve gotten from throughout the south and central Georgia region, we’re expecting a lot of out-of-town visitors to join the festivities – and that doesn’t include the many Prater family relatives expected to attend,” said Connie Prater, a member of the 2016 event planning committee.
This is the second year Ocilla is honoring Dave Prater and his family. Seale said he hopes to make it an annual event that features multiples over two or three days.
This year’s festival features three events: Thursday’s tribute dinner, Friday’s street party and Saturday’s worship service (see the At a glance box for details on each event).
Proceeds from the dinner will go toward a scholarship fund for Irwin County High School students interested in pursuing musical careers.
Seale thanked all of the planning committee and community members who volunteered to organize the event and the sponsors supporting the festival.
The 2016 sponsors are: Albert and Helen Deberry, Connie Prater, Dave Prater’s Children, Davis Tyson Funeral Home, Dill Farms, Forest River Inc., Horace and Kim Hudgins, McWhorter Driscoll, LLC, Operation Save Our Youth (OSOY)/Reginald Miller, Planters First Bank, South Central Primary Care, and United Home & Lawn Service/Reginald Miller. Additional sponsors include: Mr. and Mrs. Albert Williams, Fitzgerald Ford and Fitzgerald Chrysler.
For more information about the event, go to the official website at www.PraterMusicFest.com or call City Hall at 229-468-5141.
At a glance: Prater Music Fest events
Thursday: A Prater tribute dinner starts at 6 p.m. at the Community House, 711 S. Irwin Ave. Former Sam and Dave band trumpet player Newton Collier is the guest speaker. Tickets are $15 at the door.
Friday: A free block party with live music and fun from 6 to 9 p.m. on North Cherry Street in downtown Ocilla.
Saturday: A community worship service at 12 noon at Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church, 207 E. Seventh St.
If you go to the street party
Members of the Prater festival planning committee pass on the following tips for those planning to attend Friday’s street party on North Cherry Street.
Seating: Bring chairs. There will be limited seating on bleachers. An umbrella to block the sun may also come in handy.
Family fun: Bring the kids. A bounce house and costumed characters will be on hand for the little ones.
Food and drinks: The Irwin County High School band boosters will be selling food, snacks and soft drinks. In addition, area restaurants will be open for business and welcome your patronage.
Parking: Parking is available on surrounding streets and in the Ocilla Baptist Church parking lot on Cherry at 5th Street.
Assistance: Golf carts will be available to transport seniors or disabled visitors who want a lift to and from their vehicles. Anyone with golf carts who want to volunteer their services is asked to call City Hall to sign up. Please observe any no-parking zones and respect private property.
T-shirts: The 2016 Prater t-shirts will be available for $10 at the tribute dinner, street fest or Ocilla-Irwin Chamber of Commerce. Each year the festival will feature a different shirt, so start collecting them.
Fans: Did you get a commemorative fan last year? Just like the t-shirts, the fans will be different every year. The 2016 design focuses on Prater’s years growing up in Ocilla. Since the event was moved to May from February, those fans will definitely come in handy this year.
Hotel discounts: Out-of-town guests can get discounted rates at the following local hotels if they tell them they are booking for the Prater Music Fest: The Regents Inn (229-468-3350) in Ocilla and the Western Motel (229-424-9500) in Fitzgerald.
Honor "Soul Man" Dave Prater today with a Tweet or Facebook post
Today, May 9, 2016, would have been Dave Prater’s 79th birthday.
Those of you who loved the music he made with the Sam and Dave band please join us in honoring his memory.
Let’s send some social media love. Please post the following on Twitter or Facebook:
"Happy Birthday, #DavePrater from #Your City. http://bit.ly/1qNnJW9"
Put your home city in for “Your City” so that we know how far and wide the love for this man stretches. Be sure to put hashtag (#) DavePrater in your post.
We will randomly select a winner from the posts to receive a 2016 Prater Music Fest t-shirt. The winner will be contacted via his or her Facebook or Twitter account.
We want this to go viral, so please share it with your friends throughout social media.
This week Prater's hometown city of Ocilla, Ga., is honoring his memory with three days of events May 12-14, 2016. It's the second year of a celebration they hope to expand over the years into a regional music staple that draws thousands for dancing and music.
More About Dave:
Dave Prater was born May 9, 1937, in Ocilla, Ga., a rural south Central Georgia community located about three hours south of Atlanta.
He was the eighth of 11 children born to farmers Dave and Mary Prater. This week Ocilla residents and visitors will honor this local talent with a dinner, street festival and community worship service.
Prater and Sam Moore gained the most fame from their 1967 smash hit “Soul Man.” It earned them the Grammy Award for Best R&B Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental, in 1968. Nominated in the same category were Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell for “Aint No Mountain High Enough” and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles for “I Second that Emotion.”
Tragically, Dave Prater died not far from his boyhood home in April 1988 after the car he was driving veered off the road on a sharp curve and careened into a tree. He was on his way from Atlanta to visit his mother, Mary Prater, in Ocilla.
See his full bio here: Dave Prater, the man, the music.
For the 2016 Prater Fest events schedule, go to: Prater Music Festival Events.
Ocilla, Ga. – Macon musician Newton Collier, an original member of the Sam and Dave band, will be the guest speaker at the 2016 Prater Music Festival in May.
Collier, 71, will share his “Reflections on the road with Ocilla’s own Dave Prater.”
Ocilla is located in Irwin County, about two hours south of Macon just east of I-75. It is the birthplace of the late R&B singer who shot up the record charts in the mid-1960s as half of the Sam and Dave singing duo. They are best known for hits “Soul Man,” “Hold on, I’m Coming,” and “When Something is Wrong with My Baby.”
With the help of Stax Records, Macon booking agent Phillip Walden and Macon soul singer Otis Redding, Sam & Dave toured the country and the world entertaining audiences with their high-energy singing and dance performance. Those electrifying shows helped the duo – billed as Double Dynamite – win the Grammy Award for best performance by a group or duo for “Soul Man” in 1968.
Collier was a young trumpet player when he met Sam Moore and Dave Prater in Augusta in 1965. He recounts his time spent with Dave during the early years as the group toured the country entertaining audiences. Collier recalls traveling in cramped cars and old tour buses during those early years. Prater had long legs and the two shared the space on the back seat – which faced backward – in an old Comet station wagon.
“He knew I was from Macon and he and I had a closeness about Georgia,” Collier said.
Collier describes the first time he met Sam and Dave. It was in Augusta in 1965. Collier was only 20 years old and had been asked to play a set for a new group. The duo was actually auditioning him and afterward, Moore asked him to join their band. From that meeting, Collier went on ‘Chitlin Circuit’ and played such venues as the Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Ed Sullivan Show on national television. They also played throughout Europe and in Japan during the late 1960s.
The Prater Music Festival will be held May 12-14 in Ocilla. This is the festival’s second year. Organizers have expanded the celebration from two to three days.
“We’re excited and happy that the Prater festival is returning to Ocilla for a second year,” said Ocilla Mayor Matt Seale. “There are very few adults who haven’t heard a Sam and Dave song over the years. Their music went global. We are extremely proud to be the birthplace of such a musical legend as Dave Prater.”
Seale added: “In future years, we hope to add more events and musical groups on multiple stages. We want to attract visitors from far across the state and the region to Ocilla and Irwin County.”
The 2016 Prater fest schedule includes:
More information about the event can be found at www.PraterMusicFest.com or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/PraterMusicFest) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/PraterMusicFest).
During the 2015 celebraiton, the city erected signs on both ends of the two major state highways (129 and 32) declaring Ocilla the “Home of Dave Prater, Sam and Dave ‘Soul Man,’ 1997 Georgia Music Hall of Fame Inductee.”
That event drew hundreds to downtown Ocilla and attracted positive media coverage for the region. This year, planning committee organizers moved the event to May to correspond with Prater’s May 9th birthday and warmer weather for the street fest.
“We’re excited about all the plans,” said Prater’s sister, Helen Deberry of Berrien County, in south Georgia. “It will be a treat for us to hear Newton Collier talk about what it was like being on the road with Sam & Dave during the height of their careers.”
Prater was born in Ocilla on May 9, 1937. He was one of 11 children born to Dave and Mary Prater and grew up picking cotton, tobacco and other crops on the farmlands in and around Ocilla. His siblings remember him singing as he worked in the fields and every Sunday in the choir at Mt. Olive A.M.E. He graduated from Ocilla High and Industrial School in 1957 and moved to Miami shortly afterward.
He began singing in a gospel group called the Sensational Hummingbirds with older brother James “J.T.” He got his big break in about 1962 when he met fellow Georgia native Sam Moore in Miami. Moore was hosting a talent night competition at the King of Hearts Club in the Liberty City section of Miami. Prater chose a Jackie Wilson song and by the end of the song, Moore, who was a Jackie Wilson fan, joined him on the stage sharing the microphone. The “Sam and Dave” duo was born.
Prater died at age 50 on April 9, 1988, in a car crash on Highway 32 in Sycamore (Turner County) while in route to his mother’s house from Atlanta. Collier recalls seeing Prater a few days before his death after playing a Stax reunion show in Atlanta. The last words he recalls Prater saying after the show were: “I’ll see y’ll later, man…. I’m going to see my mother.”
Collier said he was back home in Boston, where he lived at that time, when he heard the news of Prater’s death. He thought it was a hoax at first, until he started to hear the news from other musicians. “I took it sort of hard. I thought about a lot of things we had done together.”
In 1992, Dave Prater was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1997, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame inducted him and in 2015 the Memphis Music Hall of Fame inducted him into their annals of music legends.
The Prater tribute dinner tickets are $10 if purchased before May 10 and $15 at the door. Tickets are available for purchase at City Hall, 111 N. Irwin Ave., the Ocilla Irwin Chamber of Commerce, 620 S. Irwin Ave., and from Prater music festival planning committee members.
For out-of-town visitors, advance tickets can be purchased with a major credit card by calling Ocilla City Hall at 229-468-5141.
Several local businesses and individuals have already signed on as sponsors of the event. Those that give at least $300 will be listed on banners and marketing materials, including the event website.
For more information about becoming a sponsor or participating in the 2016 Prater Music Festival, contact Kayla Wilson at 229-468-5141.
Good work but you might get paid with ‘chitlins’ and other fixings
African American entertainers know well the string of juke joints, auditoriums, social halls, clubs and theaters where almost all-black audiences flocked to hear them perform.
Singers, musicians and comedians made the rounds to the venues where they could be booked for shows. Back then, that meant segregated audiences because nearly all white-owned and operated establishments refused to hire black talent or admit black patrons.
The backbone of the circuit system was bar and night club owners, booking agents and the talent, who rolled in to a town, played a set or two, ate, drank, then moved on to the next town.
What do ‘chitlins’ have to do with it, you ask?
Well, sometimes at the end of the night there wasn’t enough cash to pay the artist. Sometimes a nefarious booking agent absconded with the night’s take or shorted the artist on his or her cut.
When that happened, the entertainers got a room for the night in someone’s home and food: chitlins (formally known as chitterlings), collard greens, potato salad, fried chicken, pig feet, corn bread and black-eyed peas. Chitlins – instead of cash money – was the payment method so often that making the rounds at these black-owned establishments became known as the “Chitlin Circuit.”
From the early 1900s till the late 1960s, artists such as Etta James, Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Mahalia Jackson, Moms Mabley, Flip Wilson, The Temptations, The Supremes, Richard Pryor, Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown and many, many others played the circuit during the outset of their careers.
The Apollo Theater in Harlem was the most famous venue. Others included the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Fox Theater in Detroit, the Regal Theatre in Chicago and the Royal Peacock Theater in Atlanta.
Sam and Dave met in about 1962 on “chitlin circuit” in Miami at a place called the King of Hearts Club. They began singing as a duo shortly afterward. They, too, traveled the circuit up and down the East Coast and throughout the South.
Newton Collier, a Macon trumpet player, met Sam and Dave in 1965 in Augusta and they asked him to join the Sam and Dave band at the young age of 20.
Collier, now 71, talks about what it was like on the circuit in the mid- to late-60s with Sam and Dave.
While playing at the Apollo Theater, Sam and Dave caught the eye of famed television show host Ed Sullivan, who did his own scouting for acts. Collier says Sullivan was so impressed that he invited the Sam and Dave band to perform live on national television in 1969.
Anyone who has ever been to Sam and Dave performance knows that the stage was alive with dancing and movement. From the bouncing, skipping, swinging, stepping gyrations of Dave and Sam to the coordinated moves of the band members, it was exhilarating to witness.
“They were just two dancing fools. Man, they could dance,” former Sam and Dave band member Newton Collier recalls about the hundreds of shows in which he played trumpet or trombone with the Sam and Dave band.
“Our whole strategy started out as ‘If we can’t out play you, we’re gonna out dance you,’ said Collier, now 71, who lives in Macon, Ga.
Collier describes the amount of work involved in carefully choreographing the band’s signature dances. They spent hours learning dance steps for each song, led by fellow trumpet player Pete Carter.
HBCU band members were ideal
Collier says the Sam and Dave band used historically black colleges and universities such as Morris Brown College in Atlanta and Florida A & M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee as training grounds for future band members. Both schools are well known for producing the best marching band talent in the nation. In these bands, it’s not enough to play a musical instrument well. Musicians must be able to play and execute the latest dance moves at the same time. That was the case with anyone who hoped to join the Sam and Dave band, Collier said.
“You need musicians that can memorize the song and dance and play,” Collier said, adding, “We had great musicians come through the band, but they couldn’t dance.”
He added: “They could play the music all right, that’s good. But we were not a sit down band."
Collier recalled their 1968 performance at Madison Square Gardens in New York. They had an 18-piece band doing steps similar to what Collier describes as synchronized swimming. Each band member started a move, which was then followed with the next step performed by the next musician in the line. This was repeated on down the line and eventually went back around to the first player.
“That’s something to see,” Collier said.
Just like Madison Square Gardens, the live shows were electric. Sam and Dave danced and sang and the band played and danced as well. For the audience, their attention shifted back and forth from the singers to the musicians, watching to see what moves came next.
Added Collier: “The crowd was going wild because they couldn’t figure out who to look at first.”
“Hold on, I’m coming” released 50 years ago this month
It was March 1966 and two young singers were slowly making their mark on music history.
Isaac Hayes and Dave Porter, the song-writing Stax Records duo, collaborated on the lyrics that made Sam and Dave the sensations that they were. As the story goes, Porter was in the bathroom and Hayes yelled to him to hurry up so that they could get back to writing.
Porter yelled back: “Hold on, I’m Coming.”
He immediately latched on to the phrase and the two writers penned Sam and Dave’s first big hit.
It was followed a year later by an even bigger hit: “Soul Man.”
While Hayes and Porter provided masterful lyrics, everyone agrees it was Sam and Dave’s call and response gospel style performance and stage presence that made their songs so popular to audiences.
Today, tracks from Sam and Dave hits can be heard in the backdrop of scores of movies, especially those about the Viet Nam war.
Here’s to 50 years of “holding on.”
Here’s a treat.
Newton Collier, now 71, was 20 years old in 1965 when he met a young singing duo in Augusta, Ga.
Collier had started playing the trumpet in Macon at the tender age of 14. He learned by listening to other musicians and then recreating their tunes on his aunt’s piano.
Prater family members had a chance to sit down with Collier in Macon March 21, 2016, and talk about meeting the singers the world would soon know as “Soul Men” Sam and Dave.
After that first meeting in 1965, Sam and Dave asked Collier to join the band and he went on the road with them on the “Chitlin” circuit. They played in clubs and dance halls from the Apollo Theater in New York to the Carolinas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. They drove a series of used station wagons, vans and buses across the Jim Crow South in the turbulent Civil Rights era of the 1960s.
When they played to all-white audiences in Alabama, they had police escorts. Their van passed Freedom Riders who were protesting segregation throughout the South and often preceded them or joined them in towns where they performed. Collier said those were tense days, but they let their music speak for them and put it all on stage. It was common to have five-hour high-energy performances.
Stay tuned to www.PraterMusicFest.com for more memories of life on the road with Sam and Dave.
Dave Prater’s hometown of Ocilla, Ga., is celebrating the man and his music during Prater Music Fest May 12-14, 2016.
In this clip, Collier talks about how he learned to play music in Macon, Ga.
Thanks to Stax Records Facebook page for posting this jewel and reminder about Dave Prater's world travels. Dave is on the far right at the airport in London in March 1967.
And thanks to Jean Paul Pecreaux for his photo at Orly Airport as Sam and Dave arrive with Otis Redding in 1967.
Sadly, Redding died less than nine months later when his private jet plunged into a lake while on the way to Madison, Wisc., for a nightclub show.
Prater's sister Lillie remembers that after that crash Dave was extremely nervous about flying. He would call her to let her know he arrived safely after every airline flight.