As teenagers in South Bend Indiana, Tom Moore, Neil Raabe, Thomas McGlinn and companions became immersed in recorded and live American blues and related roots music. Tom has always been a rambler, and his early travels lead him through hotbeds of music such as LaFayette Louisiana, Dallas, Austin, Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Jackson Mississippi, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, West Helena Arkansas, Phoenix, and California. Neil accompanied him on some of these “cultural fields trips”. Along the way, they met many of America’s finest musicians and were able to form great relationships which will be shared on Mambo Sauce in the form of music and interviews. Tom excels at providing handpicked musical gems of the highest quality for each episode. Tom has also served on Blues Society Commitees in San Diego and South Bend, where he helped to arrange numerous honorariums for aging Blues Artists like Carey Bell, Yank Rachell, Pinetop Perkins, S.P Leary, and John Brim! He and Neil Raabe spent countless hours listening and discussing the records in his collection and the legends that made them!
Justin has been writing and creating podcasts and other works since 2005 under the name Red Chuck Productions. He found his voice in writing, working on his own projects and as a freelance writer in magazines, newspapers, and online. He’s had conversations with artists, musicians, and other wondrous folks, telling their stories on the podcast Anywhere The Needle Drops. A lifelong music fan, he's hoping to bring American Roots music to a wide audience through Mambo Sauce.
Photo by Valerie MOODY Photography
Tom Moore & Anson Funderburgh
-The Midway Tavern
Neil Otto Raabe
“He looked like a little version of Freddie Prinze. He had this long mop of hair flying. He was all over the court. He was constantly yakking to his teammates, to the referees, to everybody. I was just like, what a character. Who is this guy?”
-Tom Moore on his first Neil sighting
Tom would have second encounter with Neil, riding his bike along the road on a hot summer day on a trip to a neighborhood where another friend lived, seeing him standing on the street corner.
“He's got this immaculate white leisure suit. He's got a white beret on, sun glasses. He's got these white gloves on and a cane and he's standing there on a street corner with a girl on each arm. That's the guy! I've gotta meet this guy!”
He soon would, meeting as Freshmen at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend. The two became fast friends, bonding over their shared interest in music. At the time, rock blues bands such as Led Zeppelin and Canned Heat were common in their playlists, but Neil was already exploring outside of the style, listening to the acoustic blues of Muddy Waters and Lightning Hopkins.
The pair, along with their peers, would find influences throughout their environment. Both their high school and the Town & Country Theater would bring in concert films featuring Woodstock, Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, and The Rolling Stones. They would meet Perry Aberli, who started the Midwest Blues Festival and had connections to Chicago blues labels, going over to his house to hear records from Johnny Shines and Doctor Ross The Harmonica Boss.
Neil especially had a habit of picking up the record for the musicians who would be coming to town. When the two went off to Ball State together, Neil's collection really started to expand. They met another music aficionado, Jeff Harell, and the three would share a house together.
“We'd fall asleep listening to records and wake up listening to records,” Tom said. “He would spin records until three in the morning.”
Both Tom and Jeff refer to Neil's impact on their musical tastes as significant. Jeff described Neil's collection as “a big education” and explained how it increased his awareness of the wide spectrum of blues music.
“It’s a spectacular collection. It's kind of like this blues museum," Tom said. “There’s a story behind every one of these records.”
Neil never stopped collecting. In addition to vinyl, he had sets of concert posters and other memorabilia. He would move into the world of CDs and boxed sets, but as Tom said, “he always played his vinyl.”
-excerpts from Off The Water article, written by Justin Flagel
Written by Thomas Moore
Neil Otto Raabe was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1957. His family moved to South Bend, Indiana, and, at age fourteen, Neil began collecting blues, jazz, and rock records. He became initially immersed in blues, soul, and gospel through the radios, hi-fis, and jukeboxes of his African American friends' parents. Things got kicked into a higher gear when Neil and high school friends Tom Moore, Mike Murphy, Dan Serban, Jeff Craft, Paul DeCelles, and Peter DeCelles met promotor and collector Perry Aberli.
Perri masterminded the incredible Midwest Blues Festivals in the 1970s at the University of Notre Dame . The teens got to see the greatest blues men of all time in person...Muddy Waters, Walter Horton, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Little Brother Montgomery, Robert Junior Lockwood, Johnny Shines, Professor Longhair, Carey Bell, Roosevelt Sykes, Mighty Joe Young, and many others.
Neil attended Ball State University, roomed with Tom Moore from 1975-79, and at this point he really began to collect seriously. He and pals began to sneak into the Chicago blues clubs. When Andy Panelli opened the legendary Vegetable Buddies Nite Club in South Bend, they were able to see greats like hometown hero Junior Walker, Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Big Walter Horton, Johnny Nicholas, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Steve Nardella, George Bedard, Mark Lincoln Braun (aka Mr B), Fenton Robinson, Jimmy Johnson, Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows, Canned Heat (with Ronnie Barron and Hollywood Fats), Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, JB Hutto, and others.
At Ball State University, Neil and Tom met Governor Davis, Jeff Harrell, CC Clements, James Groves, John Hedges, Billy Seward and Steve Nall, all who joined in the escapades. As adults, the crew continued to attend major festivals in Chicago, New Orleans, California, and West Helena Arkansas. Along the way, they met and befriended many of the great musicians featured in Neil's collection, often encountering them under Forest Gump-ian circumstances.
Neil never played an instrument, but he could discuss music like a musician, and he had a photographic memory for the players, their attributes, and the interesting stories behind each recording. Tom Moore lovingly described Neil as "an amalgamation of a college English professor, a used car salesman, a wise cracking detective from some 60's TV show, a stand up comedian, and a big city pimp!".
He and his wife Sharon loved to host gatherings at their home. Neil loved to turn friends and relatives onto obscure, yet high-quality music from yesteryear or onto younger generations who performed in that idiom and were raised musically alongside the old masters.
Mambo Sauce shares Neil's love for American roots music, his fabulous collection, and entertaining stories related to each album! It also features interviews with a truly eclectic cast of characters who associated with a generation of stellar musicians who are now long gone.