Michael Skinner’s Final Touch Band at the Sausalito Cruising Club

The Final Touch Band comes to the Sausalito Cruising Club as part of the legacy from the Blue Monday jam sessions that were led by Billy Dunn and Michael Skinner here some years back. Although The Final Touch Band predated the jam sessions, it was some time before FTB would be playing their spectacular brand of rhythm and blues at the  Sausalito Cruising Club. Joining FTB tonight are guitarist Steve Gannon and bassist Larry James, both members of the old SCC jam band. Although The first Sessions featured Pat Wilder on guitar, Gannon became the regular for several years.

The Final Touch Band; L-R Steve Gannon, Michael Skinner, Larry James and Richard Younger

The Final Touch Band is the brainchild of Michael Skinner, a talented drummer/singer who grew up in Richmond, CA where  as a youngster he played and sang with the Spiritual Corinthians. He learned music from his late brother Melvin and his uncle both of whom were members of the Spiritual Corinthians. He graduated from Harry Ells High School in 1984. “Charisma” was his first band.

Michael Skinner at work

Soon he would be playing with Beverly Stovall at the Serenader Club in Oakland, CA where he met up with Billy Dunn and later Curtis Lawson.  This was his core group leading up to the formation of the FTB, which at first was with Leonard Hawkins, Dale Whitmore and Larry James on guitar. Tonight, Richard Younger is subbing for Hawkins on keyboards. He’s a funny guy all laughing and joking. The way he moves around the keyboard, he looks like Ray Charles.

Michael Skinner’s rendition of Mustang Sally is something to behold. With his powerful gospel trained voice, he lends incredible power to this Wilson Pickett classic. The ending, which Michael arranged, is like no other and is an apt demonstration of this band’s power. All their songs have great endings.

Larry James wails with Steve Gannon L and Richard Younger R

Bassist Larry  James, who doubles on guitar, can really belt out some oldies but goodies too. His version of Shake rattle and Roll segues into shout, the Isley Brother smash from yesteryear.

Steve Gannon sings the blues

Steve Gannon delivers up some good blues with Howlin’ Wolf’s, Baby, How Long. This man can play some guitar too, and in a most pleasing way. His playing can be searing and laid back at the same time. Sort of like sweet and sour, it’s delicious.

Gannon, who grew up in London, came to Oakland in 1985 after the end of a ten year marriage. When he was invited to Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland, he played with Beverly Stovall and Sonny Rhodes who took him on tour of Canada with his band.

Steve wound up playing in the house band at Eli’s three nights a week. There was an after-hours club called Deluxe Inn where he finally met Michael Skinner sometime in the 80s. Later he hooked up with Billy Dunn in Curtis Lawson’s band where he shared guitar duties with the late Drake Levin.

Joe Tate medleys with Michael Skinner

There was one other little surprise for the night; Joe Tate showed up and sang a couple of old favorites like Blueberry Hill and High Heeled Sneakers, which is done in a medley of songs traded back and forth between Tate and Skinner. It went sort of like this; Tate sang a verse of High Heeled Sneakers then Skinner sang a verse of Big Boss Man. Bits of several songs were strung together with alternating singers in a sort of faux competition. Amusing.

The Final Touch Band will return to the Sausalito Cruising Club on Friday July 1 at 8:00 PM

To contact the Final Touch Band go to

http://www.gigleader.com/band/michael-skinner-and-final-touch

To learn more about the Sausalito Cruising Club go to

http://www.sausalitocruisingclub.org/

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