Jazz Monthly: As I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, you’ve really showcased some great talent and now you have an opportunity to get them out there for audiences around the world to see them.
SP: It’s such a blessing because I think that there are so many artists out there and I don’t think the music industry as it is should put as many restraints on what exactly is good music or who should be classified as….“This person’s too old, this person’s too fat.” But music is music and it doesn’t have anything to do with a style or color or anything—what these people sometimes try to do is say “Well, we don’t think they’re ready for the bigtime. They’re too old.” So those are some things that we try to dispel, those references, and I have no limitations on the person. If an artist has a good quality of music then it speaks for itself.
Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed. I like that, man. That’s a great vibe and it’s a great approach. And I just want to talk a little bit about some of the music that has come through Red Cat Jazz Café.
SP: Well, I will be remiss if I didn’t say the first person signed to the Red Cat Music Group is Althea Rene, which happens to be someone that I heard about through you, yourself. (Both laugh.)
Jazz Monthly: Yeah.
SP: Five years ago.
Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed, and I thank you for listening. Once again, it goes back to you having an open mind and having a feel for listening to people’s recommendations because you could’ve easily blown me off and said “Oh, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before.”
SP: Right. Well, I’ve always learned that since my background is in law that you have to look at all the evidence (both laugh). You don’t make a decision until you’ve checked out all the evidence, literally.
Jazz Monthly: True.
SP: So there was no way I was not gonna listen to anything. When I did listen to it, it was a done deal the first note, the first bar. So Althea’s a wonderful talent. She’s the first. A lot of people are wondering why, but she plays the flute like no one’s business, she has a great showmanship, we’re doing big things with her. She just left Washington, D.C., where she performed for the congresswoman from California, Maxine Waters’ gala, and we’re just really enjoying the fruits of her labor over this long stretch of time, having people tell her, no, she couldn’t do it. I understood she had approached about five or six labels to take a look at her and no one could see the obvious, that she was phenomenal, so maybe it’s just something waiting for us to do.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and I agree with you. She’s a fantastic talent and I really want to congratulate you and thank you for all that you’ve done to let people know what a great talent she is. You have showcased her on all levels, you have produced her music, you have taken her on the label to get her music out there. As a result, you’ve had some great producers working with her.
Jazz Monthly: Like Michael Broening, Rex Rideout, Chance Howard you know, great talent on her project, her latest project, which was just released, what, last month? Or this month.
SP: It was released two days before Hurricane Ike.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, that’s right.
SP: The 9th of September I think it was.
Jazz Monthly: That’s right.
SP: So he hit us right when we released, so that gave us a little setback but it also brought attention to what we’re doing here in Houston, so it all worked out in the end. So we’re back on tract, but more importantly, she’s hit the stage with great people and some here in the restaurant. Joe Sample came in one night and sat in with her on her show, actually, and was blown away by her. Hubert Laws, another one who came to the show, Ronnie Laws, Bobby Lyle. You know, Kyle Turner, he sets up our house band in-house, Kyle Turner, is a mellow music director for us.
Jazz Monthly: And a great talent too.
SP: And I mean just all around. He’s actually on the label as well.
Jazz Monthly: Yes.
SP: One of the other guys that I’m signing is—the music is diverse—is Robert Wilson, who’s Charlie Wilson’s brother from The Gap Band.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah.
SP: We had a conversation with George Duke, who’s agreed to work with us on producing one song for him at least, which is really phenomenal, and we were glad to hear about that. Some other guest artists are gonna be a part of it and, of course, Charlie’s gonna be there, I’m pretty sure, so it’s really an exciting time. I can’t let the cat out of the bag too much, but there’s a lotta stuff coming down the pike, some of the music. The music is one side of it, now we’ve also evolved into—you’ll hear it down the road—something called the PBC, which is the Pink Broadcasting Corporation. We’re about to start airing a TV show called Red Cat Live, which will be hosted by Marion Meadows, and the first show will be shot here in October, October 24th and 25th, so we’re really looking forward to that. Of course, we’re gonna debut my number one artist, which is Althea, and the house band will be directed by Kyle Turner and Marion Meadows is gonna host it and we’re gonna have, I think, Miki Howard’s gonna be involved, Ronnie Laws, Bobby Lyle, and a host of other guys. That same weekend we’re doing a hurricane relief fundraiser at the Church Community of Faith with Bishop Dixon and we’re having Forrest Whittaker, Angela Bassett, you know, all those guys, come in to help rally support for this cause to help people who have lost so much due to Hurricane Ike.
Jazz Monthly: Okay. All right, well, that’s very cool, man. And once again, I want to applaud you for your efforts to rally around Houston, not only with great talent but also your humanitarian efforts. And it goes back to these great musicians giving of themselves once again to help others and I think that’s a cool thing about the people that you have surrounded yourself with, which is a very cool thing.
SP: Right, and I cannot have the interview without saying that we have a wonderful host here who introduced me to you, actually, Donna Franklin. She’s still here, she’s our hostess and she just makes this thing work for us. I mean, she makes it worth me coming to work when she starts talking.
Jazz Monthly: She’s great, no one can do it like Donna.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, she’s the best. Once again, man, you’ve got such great people around you that have just made this a great success along with your talents, and it’s always a comfortable thing to know that we still have live music and we have good quality live music in Houston, because I’ll tell ya, everywhere I go, when I mention Houston, people will always say “Red Cat. Yeah, the Red Cat, right? It’s in Houston. Yeah, I’ve been there,” or “I was there last week” or “I was there last month.” So people automatically associate Houston and the Red Cat. It’s synonymous, it really is.
Jazz Monthly: A lot of us just call it “The Cat”.
SP: Well, I don’t take it for granted. I know it’s all just a blessing from God and He just happened to let me have this portion to control down here, but He lets us all have our certain day in the sunshine, I guess. Now it’s really shining on us.
Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed. So tell me now, you’ve got a second club in the works, right?
SP: Yeah, we have a location that’s in the new development being brought to downtown. It’s more of a mix—it’s an urban mixed use type of facility. It covers about—it’s a $200 million project I think it is—and they have Lucky Strike in there, a bunch of different places that have done well in other cities like in L.A. and Chicago and places like that, I’m pretty sure. The whole new concept of entertainment is changing, so this whole mixed use—we have retail and entertainment, restaurants all in the same three, four-block span is where we are. That location will probably be called Red Cat Live and Red Cat Live will be distinctly different from the Red Cat Jazz Café itself so that we don’t saturate the market brand. I’m actually leaving to get on a flight on Wednesday to go to Baltimore, then leave Baltimore to go to Kansas City to look at locations in those two cities, so we’re looking forward to that.