In the 1970s and early 1980s, Gary Bailey, MSW ’84, was a member of a popular regional R&B group called “Brief Encounter.” A few years ago, he discovered that Brief Encounter has become one of the leading cult R&B groups among record collectors. He was shocked when he saw that copies of their first album were selling for over $2,000 on eBay.
The group was started by Bailey brothers Tony, Montie, Velmar and Gary, and included friends Maurice Whittington and Rufus Wilborn along with a few others who joined the group occasionally. They released two albums and eight singles, including a couple on Capitol Records. Brief Encounter was the opening act for some well-known performers such as James Brown, KC and the Sunshine Band and Tavares.
Tired of being on the cusp of success but not quite getting there, the group disbanded in 1983 and went their separate ways. Gary went into social work and education. Today he has a private practice as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, along with providing counseling at Elon University. He is also working on a Ph.D. in Psychology.
Montie has been with United Parcel Service for his entire career and continues to produce spiritual music through Stand Ministries in Wilkesboro. Tony is retired from the banking industry, and Velmar passed away from complications of diabetes about four years ago.
Brief Encounter has been the subject of magazine articles (Wax Poetics) and collectors’ interest from Italy, Spain, France, Sweden, as well as the U.S. Their music has been sampled, downloaded and pirated, but they have been on the outside looking in – until now.
Recently, some of the original members decided to embark on a program to regain control of some of the group’s music and perhaps relive some of the excitement they used to get from performing.
Gary and his brother Montie hatched an idea to release some previously unreleased old material and record some new tunes. They are also in the process of trying to protect the product from illegal use. They have additional unreleased material including a live performance, and are back in the studio creating new music in the “Southern Soul” genre, that space between R&B, soul, and disco. Where the Spinners were a slick and fastidiously produced group, and the Ohio Players were groove and dance oriented, Brief Encounter adds earthiness and dense arrangements to the mix.
They are releasing the first new recording of Brief Encounter in 27 years. Proceeds from this recording will go towards the Haitian Earthquake Relief, a cause that has receded from view the past few months but still requires major resources.
This unique effort — targeted toward the collectors’ market — will be released as a 45 rpm vinyl record. Copies will be numbered and signed. The first edition was auctioned on E-bay Sept. 11. The remaining 475 copies will soon be for sale through various outlets. Sonic Records of Winston-Salem has agreed to host their renewed commercial efforts.
The A-side is a tune (“Shake and Move”) that was recorded nearly 30 years ago but was never released. The B-side is a new studio recording of an original older tune (“I Want You So Much”) with Elon business professor Dr. Barth Strempek adding a little jazz flavor on the organ.
Gary encourages his fellow alums to keep the Haiti earthquake relief efforts in their hearts and minds.