NKU's Music 108 class 'rocks'
"Rock 'n 'roll counts as credit at Northern Kentucky University -- if not the backbeat, then at least the history. If successfully completed, it satisfies NKU's graduation requirement of three hours of academic credit in fine arts. As Gail Wells, vice president of academic affairs and provost at Northern Kentucky University, puts it, 'You can rock 'n' roll your way right through the fine arts requirements.' ...
" 'Many universities offer such courses,' she said. 'They engage the students and involve them in critical thinking, writing, communication and turn out to be a very rich learning experience. The music reflects the history, culture and aesthetics of the time. Issues of psychology and the structure of music work together to make this a very valid academic study.'
"This semester is the fourth time NKU music professor Scott Lang has taught Music 108, The History of Rock and Roll, and he said he instructs the 30 or so students in the class about the musical, sociological and political impact of the topic. ...
"Lang said he felt no need to defend the value of a college course on rock 'n' roll. 'The history of rock'n'roll is really about a lot of other history besides music.' "
This is November, 2004. A good month to have the blues, if you've been following the news. I just passed up the Dr. John, Chas Musselwhite, Shemekia Copeland tour. The weather was really bad, cold and wet, a big penetrating chilly blanket of air from a week overcast. The rain was pouring from buckets for days. That night in particular was arctic, overwhelmingly funky and everywhere outside seemed even darker than usual. So I stayed home, suspecting full well I would miss what would be the event of the year in these parts. I played "Six O'Clock Blues" too many times because that's the most recent one I have with Musselwhite on harp "The fire's getting closer, and the devil's turning up the heat." (At least somebody's warm)
Then I killed some more time and sorted though a pile of some silly old notes. My silly old notes are like a personalized shorthand made in poor penmanship. Nearly indeciperable even to me. Chickenscratches. Not only do I have a bunch of Musselwhite shows that I can remember clearly, I sometimes have a half page scrawl from dimly lit venues to help prompt my memory of a particular show. Like this concert a few years back.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co
Tuesday night, June 24, 2003
It's true that California is the current center of the blues harmonica universe. That might help explain this evening. But what is it about some artists' ongoing appeal, like Charlie Musselwhite, who can sell out all the seats in a world class venue on a weeknight stopover in two shakes of a lamb's tail?
All, as in every single one. Man, you couldn't get a ticket for love nor money. "All sold out." Even marked in bold letters on the print ads that ran. There was not a single ticket to be had anywhere, not for love nor money. That means you, fool, are out of luck. Not only can you not beg, borrow, or steal a ticket, nobody can. That was me. A poor ticketless fool. Well, thanks to abundant grace, my anguished prayers were answered with a small miracle, a present from the benign side of the universe, and my name appeared on the list. And it was not just my name on the list, but the handsome doorman even smiled and said (loudly so many people behind me could easily hear), "Young lady, your name is at the very top of the list." Can you believe it? It happened!
Eavesdropping in line and elsewhere in the club: Some of the ticket holders had commuted hundreds of miles through the treacherous mountain passes coming down from old sawmill towns for this show. Others had traveled small two-lane roads, the battered and ignored by-ways that have the center line worn off. Others used the single laned ones, the kind that hardly appear on a map except as faint dotted lines, following the wind-y rivers up from distant dells and valleys -- They came from near and far, all to catch this show.
Yet however upscale the venue (and the Sierra Nevada is a bona fide class act), despite the anticipation of an evening's entertainment and for all the new and unknown faces in the crowd, there's an intimate, respect-your-neighbor feel about the place. Even in an upscale surrounding (think rich velvet, expansive granite stairs and mezzanines, golden oak banisters, and gleaming brass accents), an oasis of civility in a rather remote rural area, some blues gatherings always manage to come across like old home week. Where as a ticket holder, you're almost assured of running into neighbors you might not have seen for awhile, or encounter people you suspect are in some way kindred spirits, or fellow travelers on life's roads, and those are among the best experiences.
This hard traveling seemed fitting because people should make an effort to hear Charlie Musselwhite. He's a bona fide bluesman and a living link to those he learned from, the bluesmen of the past. He can tell you, if he chooses, some of the details that make the past momentarily come to life, right down to how Robert Nighthawk had his hair combed or how he sat at a table when holding an evening's informal court in a Chicago blues club. Or what John Lee Hooker would cook up for his friends who stopped by to visit. And, of course, some anecdotes about Mae Thornton.
In my life, I've had a few of the so-called blues concerts for tourists, the ones that are marked by "Mustang Sally", and a few of the other kind. The ones where guys wave bottles in their hands and shout "Boogie!" at inappropriate moments. This wasn't going to be like that, I could tell. Still, it was like going to any other blues club, I only carried the money I could afford to spend or lose.
Opening song. Now this was an interesting approach, not the usual at all. Charlie changing harps in the first song.
Now harp players always like imitating different sounds on their instruments -- we've all been surprised to hear the galloping horses, the baying hounds, and the locomotives chugging or wailing. All to my ear country sounds. In my life, I'd never heard this next one before and I wasn't hearing things. Musselwhite moved into some mysterious technique enhanced by a very special effect amped in a peculiar way that made his harp sound like country fiddle.
Then he switched into chromatic harp for a jazzy break.
He's got a bit more salt than pepper around the temples. He is easy going, soft spoken, confident in who he is and what he does.
"Got a million dollar dance floor waiting on you. Come on down."
new blues lyrics: "drinking cold coffee from paper cups"
For this show, the music was a little country tinged (this is the farm belt, after all)
The drummer: an energetic time keeper.
The guitarist: gifted
The bassplayer: lean and lanky, shaved pate and a goatee.
The band: a stripped down economic version of a Chicago electric blues band -- frontman, keyboardist, bass player, guitarist, drummer.
They played slinky shuffles
Charles' case of harps sat at the ready
You guessed it, the dance floor was full right away
The band illuminated under red stage lights
Charles introduced a song steeped in blues history: "Years ago, I heard Sonny Boy Williamson blowin the blues away at a place called Curly's Twist City. He was playing 'Help Me' and I thought that was a good song so I recorded it. And it's still a good tune."
long many bar instrumental lead-ins
pianist dropped away from his keyboards and picked up his red Gretsch to provide a rockabilly-tinged guitar break mid-tune
more than a little bit of rockabilly tinge to his playing, then sinister whispers of Link Wray and Wray's rapid strum style
the regular guitarist was not just energetic, but inspired and everything he touched sent a good jolt that evening.
charlie threw his shoulder back slightly to unkink like his back was bothering him, and the drummer launched into rolling toms.
"I said I love you once
I love you twice
I love you more
than red beans and rice"
"ashes to ashes and dust to dust …"
and then he mixed up a bunch of favorite blues clinchers between instrumental flights:
"I love you to the tip
I love you to the top
I love you more
Than a hog loves slop"
piano player went into rockabilly mode, a Jerry Lee (or Preacher Jack) pounding on the top end of the keyboard
"little red rooster
little brown hen
I ain't had none
in god knows when"
guitarist beautiful tone
this band played like a band
drummer perfect straight backed posture
once the blues juices began steepin, every song had a vivid line that painted a story picture
easy going good hearted Charlie Musselwhite
call and response between harp and guitar exchanging not just lines, but note for note
nice cheerful bounce to the tunes
musselwhite playing it straight up, played straight into the vocal mic just like Sonny Boy used to do
rolling and tumbling sound like a call to the Fillmore dance floor in the old days
"Lanky girl, man, she's long and tall
sleeps in the kitchen with her feet out in the hall"
lots of flowered batik and tropical shirts moving on the dance floor
"I haven't been drinking
it's the blues makes me drunk"
Charlie was selling and signing CDs throughout his entire break -- taking time with well wishers. Man, I hope he lists his sales through sound scan, because more than half the club went home with one.
I met the local dj
I met the dj who'd commuted down from redding (doing folk music show there for 20 years)
I met a station manager
I met a chatty fella who saw Charlie perform at a VFW hall in Nebraska 20 years ago. "Nebraska isn't anywhere," he explained. "Nebraska", he said again to emphasize back then. Back then, he said, you could drive eighty miles on a road and never even see another car. The dance hall was down in the basement. He worked as a gandy dancer on the railroad (the first I ever met). He said Charlie drove a big ol' black Cadillac that sounded like it had a glasspack.
I met the guy who married Janis Joplin's sister.
All the chickens have come home to roost.
Call for the second set
June had a cherry red drum kit
Charlie muted his harp and Junebug closed his eyes a bit for a slinky tom driven bounce
Then "Charlie's Old Highway 51 blues": "me and my baby take the highway side by side"
That pianist has crazy upswept hair and a muscular wide hand style of playing
lots of material, but lots of room of improvisation
limber loose jointed bass player
slinky swaying segmented rhythms
"Foro" a blues from Brazil "There is such a thing" Charlie pronounced
then a slow blues
showpiece harmonica echoing with vibrato
cozy cole showpiece
Show's over. That's all. It's a week night. The professionals in the audience left a bit early to hit the rack before starting up another day in the 80-100 hour work week. Soon the band were leaving the stage. The audience erupted for a good long time.
encore -- and then some more. they wouldn't let him go.
"that girl lives in the city
with the country way down in her heart"
guitarist big and heavy in a muscular way, his gold watch shining under the lights
when he curled over his guitar like Freddy King used to do and powered it out, that guitar suddenly looked so small then.
musical props to the central valley:
"she can't be a farmer's daughter
because she only does things half way
she hugged me and kissed me
til my fever reached a peak
then said hold on Charlie
I'll be back next week"
Charlie had an aluminum attache case full of harmonicas.
Did I notice? Did I miss it? Did he soak a harp in a glass of beer?
Charles Musselwhite harmonica (and guitar)
June Core drums
Kirk Fletcher guitar
Bob Welsh keyboards
Randy Bermudes bass
the band, the group, the groupies, and friends have been clued by the show's end. This damn small one-horse town. They know I am purporting to be a writer and might write about anything I even imagine I hear, and so they don't talk to me no more.
The drummer is polite and kind and says to me "Yes, I do a lot of tapping".
I don't care. When I read about Charlie getting another award (like I just did yesterday, the latest -- an honorarium in Spain), I sometimes laugh out loud it makes me so happy. And if I knew how to publish pictures on blogger, I'd show you a piece of paper with the set list.
From a post titled "Music and Neurobiology
(Pamela Hurley's Shrink Wrap)
"Music is like the smell of madelaine ... it's used to reconnect to old moods, specifically moods of bonding. Bonding to a lover with "our song." Bonding to a social group that expressed its identity through its taste in music. Moments in which we found our own identitiy through a bond with the musicians ... people we never or seldom had the chance to meet but who entered our interior pantheon, our internal adopted family of significant others. ...
"Identity, self, is a mesh of the bonds we've made, flavored with the spice of our variation on our internal tribe's themes. It's a matter of the moments in which those bonds formed. Music helps us revisit those moments and, in some cases, to reinvent them, using our past to build our future."
China frets over Mongolian metal band
"BANNED IN HOHHOT":
"With Beijing authorities growing nervous about ethnic minorities' agitation, a rampaging "Mongolian Pride" rock band has drawn official attention."
(from Taipai Times via NY Times)
"Desperate Man Blues
is the name of a brilliant (award winning) Australian documentary about legendary collector Joe Bussard Jnr and his relentless hunt for the missing jewels of American music."
(posted by Arel in Australia on a music journalist bulletin board)
The Swing Kids (excerpted from America's Next Four Years
"A somewhat different form of protest developed among the youth of the upper middle class: the Swing movement. These young people took every opportunity to avoid the Nazi approved music, preferring to listen to jazz and swing numbers, either on records or with live bands. One internal Nazi report tells us:
The dance music was all English and American. Only swing dancing and jitterbugging took place. At the entrance to the hall stood a notice on which the words "Swing prohibited" had been altered to "Swing requested." Without exception the participants accompanied the dances and songs by singing the English lyrics. Indeed, throughout the evening they attempted to speak only English; and some tables even French.
The dancers made an appalling sight. None of the couples danced normally; there was only swing of the worst sort. Sometimes two boys danced with one girl; sometimes several couples formed a circle, linking arms and jumping, slapping hands, even rubbing the backs of their heads together; and then, bent double, with the top half of the body hanging loosely down, long hair flopping into the face, they dragged themselves round practically on their knees. When the band played a rumba, the dancers went into wild ecstasy. They all leaped around and mumbled the chorus in English. The band played wilder and wilder numbers; none of the players was sitting any longer, they all "jitterbugged" on the stage like wild animals. Frequently boys could be observed dancing together, without exception with two cigarettes in the mouth, one in each corner... [Life in the Third Reich]
"The Swing movement was not antifascist in any political sense - they were just simply anti-political. The problem for the Nazis was that the Swing Kids found all Nazi slogans and nationalism to be of absolutely no interest to them. They found identity with the cultures of the enemies of the Nazis: England, America, France. They accepted Jews and "half-Jews" into their groups. The disgust evidenced by the author of the above report shows that Nazi officials felt attacked in its basic concepts of itself. Heinrich Himmler wanted to put the "ringleaders" of the Swing Movement into concentration camps for "at least two or three years of beatings, punitive drills, and forced labor."
"These two examples demonstrate that even after years in power, the Nazis did not have complete control over the heart of German society."
When music inspires a story
From Christmas Island, Tissue Seller vs Harmonica Player
A person's three-dimensional memories about his early relationship with a musical instrument, the banjo (once called the least musical of all of the instruments).
"My understanding of how annoying this must have sounded led me to park my car on the street after dinner, close all the windows -- even in the baking Southern California summer -- and practice into the night. By the time I had closed myself in my '57 Chevy, however, I was getting somewhere, and I was entranced with the sounds I could make. One tone from one string could send me into ecstasy, and here I was, making thousands of notes in thousands of combinations. The songs that I worked on in the Chevy were "Doug's Tune," "Fireball Mail," "Earl's Breakdown," "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," and "Old Joe Clark." I'm sure if that car were unearthed today, my little tunes could be found trapped in the cellulose of its seat cushions."
by Steve Martin
Steve Martin, who reminisces on how Disneyland, the Dillards, and David Lindley combined to lead him to the banjo. You knew I'd try to work 3-D into this somehow, didn't you?)
(via Hints of Georgia
Latino Music in Review
By Chuy Varela
Happy to find this older piece, with links to learning aids for the budding music critic.
The Dark Side of Township
(Whether going to a concert, or going to a cricket match)
"I once watched Abdullah Ibrahim play at the Civic Theatre and then gave Sowetan newspaper's music critic a lift home to the township. I dropped him off and at the first intersection en route back home realised I wasn't sure how to retrace my path."
What Is Rock Music?
(No credits for the writer, but this piece "Slang, Youth Subcultures, and Rock Music
" just found posted at a site originating in USSR).
Back to basics of writing about music.
"We hear and perform music in many different places each day. We listen and respond to music at home, in our classrooms and music rooms, on the playground, and at concerts and special events. We even hear music in movies, on television and radio, and in stores and shopping malls. In short, music is all around us.
"While few people will pursue careers as musicians, composers, music teachers, or conductors, we all are appreciators and consumers of music.
"One way we can understand this art form better is to learn how to listen thoughtfully to the music we hear. Let your ears be the guide; what do you hear?"
Music from faraway alert
RS Murthi (whose remembrance of John Peel can be found below) also makes music, and he is offering his entire album for download online.
"As the titles pointedly suggests, Home Of The Knave, Land Of The Flea is a reaction to the dangerous times we live in.
“Many of the tunes atmospherically address such fraught themes as the rise of megalomaniacs and mercilessly monopolistic business enterprises, the extermination of endangered species, the silence of the lambs, and the end of grace."
Gone, But Not Forgotten
"They are the brands we used to love, but they have since disappeared to the great media maker in the sky. Take a trip down memory lane with us, as we reveal the 10 brands that we miss the most
"When great mediabrands die, they don’t tend to get much of a sendoff. No ceremony. No flowers. ...
"But they always leave a legacy behind ... "
Like Melody Maker, "the guv'nor pop music paper".
Breathing life from 1926-2000, Melody Maker was the world's oldest pop magazine and something like a monolith. Yet, it began as a jazz title, almost a musicians' trade paper. In the 1930s, the magazine put up money to help Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong to travel to Britain.
"You want educated critics," Herron said. "I think criticism should be handled with care. Certainly on the Web and certainly in print, (there are) a lot of off-the-cuff remarks, a lot of (people) who can out-shout somebody and draw attention to themselves, instead of approaching it with a little more humility, a little more eagerness to learn."
Criticism: A Welcome Commodity
Just found, an amusing tear-it-up of music magazines at Something Awful
Using a special assessment criteria as a basis for observations on the music press (including Cultural Importance and Their Opinion of Themselves), the researcher was unnerved by one magazine's Review System: "Goddamn, they don’t even give them stars or anything. They expect us to actually read that shit. What is this, the Nineteenth Century?"
A view of here from another place, way off and far away: Dixie Lullaby
The Road to Surfdom
shares a moment of recognition and perception about the similarity of experience from across the great divide:
"This similarity was brought home to me when I read Mark Kemp's book, Dixie Lullaby
Kemp is a music journalist who has worked for Rolling Stone and MTV. He was born in North Carolina and the book tells about becoming conscious and verbal at exactly the time the schools were becoming desegregated and the other momentous changes happening at the instigation and in the wake of the Civil Rights' movement.
"Kemp is very good at capturing the sense of confusion he felt as a child, especially as attitudes hardened within various branches of his family. He explains the infuriating feeling of internalising a sense of "white Southern guilt" while at the same time resenting deeply the sneering superiority of those Northerners who now felt licensed to look down on all things Southern. Most interestingly, he tells of moving North himself once he left school in pursuit of work and becoming one of those sneering, superior Northerners that he'd hated and resented.
"The type will be instantly recognisable to any Australian who has encountered one of those more-British-than-the-British types you always seem to run into in London, the sort with the affected Oxbridge accent and the ready story about his/her love of all things Aboriginal, anything to distance themselves from what they imagine to be the backwardness of the land they've "escaped" and to ingratiate themselves to the Londoners up whose arses they were eager to crawl. The Brits who bad-mouthed Australia were painful enough, but you could learn to laugh them off after a while realsing their attitudes were based on pig ignorance. The self-hating Australians were an altogether different type of creature.
"Kemp's story in Dixie Lullaby
is ultimately about his attempts to make peace with "his" South and the way he did this through the discovery of bands like The Allman Brothers and Lynard Skynyrd. For a music fan, this part of the story is fascinating purely from a musical point of view, but the story goes a lot deeper than the mere recounting of a fan's obsessions:
At first, we turned to music. Hippie music. Music that embraced alternative lifestyles. Then we discovered marijuana. The combination of music and drugs took us far away from our dreary mill town lives. My favorite band was British —the Rolling Stones. I had no idea at the time that the Stones had been influenced by such southern American artists as black blues and rock & roll pioneers Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, and Chuck Berry, and the white rockabilly and country musicians Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, and George Jones. Those artists had made their careers in the very region that my friends and I found so suffocating. I completely missed the connection. Mick Jagger came from a land so far away that it didn't seem real. Jagger himself didn't seem real. He wore eyeliner and sequined jumpsuits, and strutted about the stage with effeminate gestures. In Asheboro, North Carolina, boys played football, chewed tobacco, graduated from high school to enter college or go into business, or quit school at sixteen to work for one of the local textile mills or furniture factories. I adored Mick Jagger, but to emulate him was to expose myself to ridicule. Besides, I couldn't really relate to him. He was so much larger than life.
Then I discovered the Allman Brothers Band, a mixed-race, blues-influenced rock group based in Macon, Georgia. The Allmans dressed in flannels and jeans, like I did. The singer, Gregg Allman, crooned with a melancholy I'd never before heard from someone who shared my reality. It was as though he were speaking directly to me. In the band's 1969 psychedelic-gospel dirge "Dreams," Allman moaned the words "I went up on the mountain / To see what I could see / The whole world was falling / Right down in front of me." I was only eleven years old the first time I heard that song, but I felt I knew what Gregg Allman was talking about. In the years following desegregation, the mood of the South was chaotic. Times were changing. Wrong seemed right and right seemed wrong. The Allmans embraced that chaos, combining country, blues, jazz, and gospel into an otherworldly musical stew that allowed me to feel conflicting emotions: sadness, joy, sorrow, pride. Between 1969 and 1973, the Allmans sang of what it felt like to be saddled with pain ("Dreams," "It's Not My Cross to Bear"); they sang of redemption ("Revival"); and they sang of falling in love with (and within) the awesome beauty of the rural South ("Blue Sky," "Southbound").
"The book is the story of his life, but it also follows him and his father and he travels back through the South, meeting up with old friends and visiting old hang-outs, and eventually everyone, more or less, coming to terms with everybody else. There is a somewhat surprising and nicely poignant end, as it turns out.
"As I say, one of the things I found enjoyable about the book was the shock of recognition, that someone seemingly so distant from my life had had some experiences that were actually pretty similar. To realise how common such prejudices are is to go at least part of the way to overcoming them. In short, it's a book I highly recommend.
Tune your dial to the wayback and far away machine
From Radio Praha [17-11-2004], A brief look at 'protest' music plus the underground scene in Czechoslovakia from 1968 - 1989
By Jan Velinger
, Pavla Horakova
, Ian Willoughby
"Now, music of course played not only a crucial role at the crisis points in Czech history, such as the 1968 Soviet-led invasion and the fall of communism in 1989, but in the long years in between: the stifling period of renewed repression known as 'Normalisation', which saw opponents of the regime thrown out of work, persecuted and jailed. Despite repressions a dedicated, highly versatile, and underground movement continued on from the 60s, staging illegal events including rock concerts and artistic happenings that challenged the status quo."
"Bandar Seri Begawan - A British professor in music will be arriving in Brunei Darussalam
on Dec 2 to conduct seminars to fine tune the population's interest in music, usually regarded an antidote to contemporary shortcomings such as stress and life pressure."
Review of new book on Django Reinhardt
, the man who virtually invented French jazz.
"With his long-overdue biography, "Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend," author Michael Dregni has given us Reinhardt the man -- rascal, scoundrel, transcendent improviser, failed human being."
The Life and Music of
a Gypsy Legend
By Michael Dregni
OXFORD UNIVERSITY; 326 PAGES; $35
Margaret Cho writes about the wonder that is a David Bowie concert. Actually, a multitude of wonders, as she managed to make it to three of his concerts on this last tour. Not wanting the fun to end, she shares the joy on her blog:
Bowie III, part 1
Bowie III, part 2
Bowie III, part 3
Suavecito rides again
Book party reunites alums of Latin rock
by Joel Selvin
"Richard Bean was still primping his hair in the men's room off the lobby at Bimbo's 365 Club when it came time to sing. The diminutive vocalist, looking flawless with his long dark curls, black leather jacket, burgundy shirt and silver crucifix around his neck, hurried onstage and began talking about writing a song in algebra class at Balboa High. "
Bad Subject's Boogie! issue led me to Micah Holmquist's article The Limits of Politics in Avant Garde Jazz,
which helped shed some light on Free Jazz
, a piece I have been trying to digest for more than a few days.
With the oceans of recent print focusing on the unwashed phenomenon, the original vagabond, this offering of disjointed links are merely the first three articles that caught my eye this early morning and made me want to read:
Bob Dylan Slept Here (Really!).
The early Woodstock days.
Bob Dylan: The Most Dangerous Man in America?
High School Talent Show rehearsal gets funky.
EMP Exhibit Tunes in First 10 Years of Bob Dylan's Career.
This just found, Bad Subject's Boogie!
The pin ball effect
Another by Alan Mansbach, this on Elvin Jones, Drum Therapy
The Next New Thing Alert
Are You Ready for the Coming Asian Music Invasion?
"Asian pop music is crossing international boundries within Asia but has yet to make a ripple on the US music scene. That's about to change. Internet radio station, PopGoesAsia.com
offers a preview of sounds to come.
"Forget your preconceptions of Asian pop music. Today’s artists are blending western styles with Asian sensibilities and spawning whole new genres. A few have forged inroads into the US market but some of the biggest stars in Asia are poised for a full-on attack to win American Ears . Will this be an Asian Invasion rivaling the British Invasion of the ‘60s? 'It will be more like a foothold than an invasion,' according to Rhys Ludlow, founder of Pop Goes Asia, a pan-Asian internet radio station. 'But it is only a matter of time before an Asian pop star strikes gold here in the US.'
Music store hides Eminem's 'world view'
"A New Zealand music retailer is not displaying singer Eminem's new album in any of its 25 outlets and will sell it only to customers who request it.
"Roger Harper, managing director of Auckland-based chain the CD and DVD Store, says the lyrics of Encore, are "violent and pornographic".
"The retailer will donate $A5.40 from each album sold to the Women's Refuge Charity and a suicide prevention organisation, because Mr Harper says it will 'help the victims that suffer from Eminem's world view'. "
Advance Notice: If any writer or publisher of the articles below object to being linked, just write me at bflaska at yahoo dot com
The Poor Person's Half-Baked Internet Version of
Da Capo Best Music Writing 2004
Mickey Hart, Paul Bresnick (editor)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction : for the love of music
The last hustle
Five nights, five karaoke bars
Beat at their own game
I think I'm going to hell
Keepin' it unreal
The soul of blind Willie Johnson
Remains of the day-O
Johnny Cash, 1932-2003 : The man in black - and other colors
Sex, heartbreak and blue suede
Let us now kill white elephants
Emo : where the girls aren't
The mechanical muse
Following the valley road to the homeplace of American music
Hip-hop's holy trinity
Wild is the wind
6,557 miles to nowhere
69 (years of) love songs
Same shabby dress : the legacy of little Miss Cornshucks
The tortured soul of Marvin Gaye and R. Kelly
Eminem : the new white Negro
Willie Nelson at 70
Dungeon family tree
The party at Pou Corner
Fate and a jukebox
The mystery of Lauryn Hill
A must daily read for anyone at all enthusiastic about music is Rock and Roll Report
, who in the strange synchronicity of the innanet, provides some visuals (and visualizations) for that earlier free association on musician autobiography which segued into a series of small recollections about some of those folks who moved through my neighborhood:
"In the late ‘60s, the legendary Tom Donohue envisioned a type of radio that was as far a cry from the top 40 AM radio at the time as anything could ever be. Together with his funky crew of rock and roll radio visionaries he set up KPMX and then KSAN in the San Francisco Bay area as one of the first and arguably best free form rock radio stations ever. You can explore this history in words, pictures and yes audio at the wonderful Jive 95 site
School of rock. Sting turned his fans on to Nabokov and the Special AKA alerted a generation to apartheid.
Dave Eggers on how music makes you smart.
(via arts journal daily
Ghost in the Machine shares a few thoughts (and paragraphs) on Bob Dylan's autobiography:
"For the historians and Dylanologists out there (or for those wondering why Dylan would contribute a new song
to a flat-out stinker like Gods and Generals
), here's another intriguing passage from Bob Dylan's Chronicles
, on his early days in the archives as a Civil War enthusiast. (Besides Clausewitz
, he also professes an admiration for Reconstruction-era Republican Thaddeus Stevens
, who 'championed the weak' and 'made a big impression on me,' in a separate passage. (Chronicles, p. 40)"
Elsewhere in the world of music in print, a new book propels the reviewer into rapture.
Audio Culture: Readings In Modern Music
Christoph Cox & Daniel Warner, editors
Older news section
Writer says blues clubs faked for tourists
"The 'con'' game has all the players: So-called 'operators,'' 'ropers,' 'insiders' and 'shills' act in cahoots to fleece unsuspecting 'marks' of their hard-earned money. This is what's become of Chicago's blues scene, argues a University of Pennsylvania assistant sociology professor.
" 'The production of Chicago blues music is like a confidence game,' said David Grazian at a forum Friday at the University of Chicago's Cultural Policy Center. Those involved in the production of the scheme are guilty of 'deception and guile.'
"Grazian, a New York native, recently released a paper on the topic in an academic journal. He is also author of the book, Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs
And now, looking through the pages darkly, more dust-ups in the music press:
Alerted by this post by wabisabi (11/15)
need a reason to hate self-righteous music journalists? really? okay, here's Constellation Records reaction
to an article attacking label mainstay godspeed you! black emperor's 'unwillingness' to do an interview and send the article's writer a free copy of their last cd before it came out. the correspondence between him and the guy at the label are especially sad. after reading the whole thing and looking at his article again, you can see what an oxymoron music journalism can be. his entire article was just about his burned sense of ""privilege"", and it's only real content was rumors that he probably found on the internet [which constellation shows to be complete crap]. his article ends up being more of a bitchy blog entry than anything related to real journalism. i say that as someone who knows a lot about bitchy blog entries first-handedly, and as someone who really enjoys good, analytical music writing, and sorely doesn't get enough of it.
A heart warming reminiscence from a listener in far away Malaysia.
Radio's one and only John Peel dies
R.S. MURTHI remembers those static-filled nights tuning in to the man’s offbeat programmes.
"Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese"
Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai
(Algora Publishing, $33 paperback),
"Music to their ears"
"In the Republic of China, 38 million boys and girls are studying the piano, learning their Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven. Shanghai and Beijing boast at least a dozen symphony orchestras, and concert halls are filled with young yuppie couples, because classical music is not only much-loved, but trendy.
"Why is all this happening? How did European art music -- in danger of withering on the vine in this hemisphere -- grow such deep roots in China, which is now exporting superstar soloists and a fresh crop of composers to the West in one of the great cultural bounce-backs of our time?
"Sheila Melvin, a writer, and Jindong Cai, Stanford University's new director of orchestral studies, have some answers. Their new book, "Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese"
(Algora Publishing, $33 paperback), tells the unlikely story of European music's 400-year journey into the Chinese heart. It's filled with tales of missionaries, emperors and idealistic musicians, some driven to suicide during the Cultural Revolution, some hanging on as heroes in the service of art."
Ah, sweet mystery of life dept.
Review of new movie about a musician who nobody knows anything about:
Musical mystery man plans to stay that way
"I worked at college radio, and any college radio station in the country has a huge stack of Jandek stuff," Fehler says. "But I don't remember hearing anyone ever play it."
Love is red, death is blue
by Charles Taylor
(Greil Marcus and Sean Wilentz discuss their amazing new anthology of writing about the American ballad)
"Open up the new collection of essays "The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad,"
begin reading the real and imagined stories that make up its investigation of American ballads, and you will believe that the air itself has become a radio. Songs are all around you, with their inevitable tales of lost love, or love turned to murder or other forms of death, swirling through the air, not so much raising the dead as reminding you that those people and places you thought of as dead were always with us, waiting for their moment to reclaim their hold on you. "
"The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad"
Edited by Sean Wilentz and Greil Marcus
("Do Americans still believe the past is a real place?")
I started thinking about autobiography written by musicians themselves. They were there, after all, inhabiting their own bodies as the music surged around them and through them, powered along by the rhythms of their own minds and bones, and they likely have a close personal relationship with their own unique perspective. A point of view which, when taken with others, might combine to give a wider field of view of a particular time and place. If you're at all interested in such things, that is.
I started thinking about this quite some time ago, but over the past few days, especially with reference to Genya Ravan's book of her life in music, "The Lollipop Lounge
." Genya, you might not know, spent her earliest years in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland, where her parents were assigned to work as slave labor in munitions. Can you imagine living in a reality that twisted and cruel, where you are forced to work each day making the ammunition to kill the very people who are likeliest to try to come rescue you?
Then just yesterday, thanks to an email list-serve, I was pointed to Country Joe's autobiographical notes
online. A constant work in progress, this section shares some of his thoughts and memories about Janis Joplin. (And this relates if only because of time period and the process of autobiography by musicians aspect). Also, as they were both females who sang, Genya and Janis were compared to each other and often. As if one would somehow describe the other. Genya was way across the country -- East Coast, so that was like being across the world, you know. Janis was sometimes geographically a bit closer at hand and so more familiar.)
I was around there then, too, and I can share some of the history. For instance, I remember Larry Miller, KMPX, and Joe's first EP. I was so grateful for KMPX, the free-form radio station, I wrote thank you notes to both Larry Miller and Tom Donahue. And that first EP of Joe's ... I even have a small personal connection with that release, placed in a mercantile setting of course.
Back in the mid-60's and last gasps of FSM, I ran into a fellow in his new incarnation as Country Joe's manager at Moe's book store on Telegraph when he was dropping off another small box of Country Joe and the Fish's first EP -- the one with the original great keyboard work on "Section 43." There it was -- a record! An EP with swirly black and white artwork, a few photos of the band on the cover (one of whom if I remember was standing at a tilt), and a handful of songs -- All for one thin dollar (plus tax.)
I guess everybody in the Fish school felt it was time to make a record, and they wanted to do it on their own. They even called up Samuel B. Charters who I've heard acted as producer for that one and had his name on the notes.
The EP (extended play) was a strange new European format, and one a friend of mine had tried out several years previous. It sort of fell between a single 45 and what I called a big record, an album. I used to joke and say that EP meant European Product, meaning something was foreign and strange.
Moe could barely keep the Fish disc in stock, and their manager/record distributor was standing at the counter wondering how much he should up the next pressing. As Joe and his fish continued their swim, the current was suddenly in their favor. I later saw their manager strolling down Telegraph looking a little more prosperous in his navy blue wool jacket and long woolen scarf about the neck, trying to control two salukis he had on leashes. I would see his wife riding a green motorcycle down University Avenue wearing a short yellow dress, Japanese flip flops, and one of those new rare and expensive prototypes, a headphone radio.
I ducked in to Robbie's Chinese Hof Brau one time during one of the many melees of the period, when I was caught in between cops and demonstrators ready to charge at each other again on Telegraph Avenue, the cook unlocked the door for me to help me escape the crossfire, and I sat sipping a big glass of coca cola across the room from Country Joe's manager, and he ordered a glass of coca cola, too, to drink while the teargas billowed outside.
A few years ago, as I was packing nearly my entire vinyl record collection to ship off for a charity radio auction, I ran across my copy of that Country Joe & the Fish EP. It might have fetched the proverbial pretty penny at the auction if the right collector showed up, but even so, I couldn't let a stranger have that. So I mailed it off to the woman who rode the green motorcycle all those many years ago. I figured she should have that for posterity.
Or have I told you this story before?
Anyway, Joe seems to take more of a tell-it-like-it-was beatnik approach to writing his personal history.
Genya's is a little different as autobiography, the parts I remember -- it's not a tell-all, no name dropping (which would have made the sales go up, I think). She just picks herself up and goes.
I usually keep my own reflections to myself, and edit them out because I don't think anyone would really be interested. For instance, if I were to write about Genya's, I could never work in a fact I recently learned -- that 25% of the concentration camp guards held PhD's.
And even with the Frank Zappa bio that Camille Paglia wrote about that I linked to earlier this week. Her article said Frank pulled his own kids out of school at age 15. That made me wonder. I remember when his brother Bobby was new to the school in my precious village. Frank likely was alarmed hearing about the Walter Knotts lectures at obligatory school assemblies. So Frank took on the role of a concerned elder and his younger brother ended up transferring to a Catholic academy, if I remember correctly, where there was also promise of a good education.
Anyway, musicians and autobiography. Here's another musician who is doing just that online
Thanksgiving starts early this year.
Thanks be to girlgroups, a gathering place hosted by Jason Gross. Several of the always savvy and energetic participants are generously sharing a bona fide cornucopia with all of us who have connection to the innanet and the desire to pursue readings about music and criticism:
Live from New York, it's More in the Monitor
(which covers not only the waterfront, but live shows all over NYC). They have a mission.
And a link to a phenomenal treasure trove at NAJP Research & Publications
, currently offering a splendid section known as: Reporting the Arts II (Readers, please take the time to check out Critical Perspectives
to see what Robert Christgau has to say about "A History of Rock Criticism". And, yes, Robert, having some footing myself in both eras, I agree with you -- it still seems it was much cooler back then. But it's also much colder now. )
Movie Alert: Lightning in a Bottle
From a place where the blues was powered by "juice and pain" and Solomon Burke was booked to perform at a KKK picnic.
Alex Ross looks at "The 'same concert' myth"
addresses the syndrome of 'critical paranoia' -- the persecution complex that overtook B. H. Haggin when he found that other critics did not always share his view of musical reality. 'Critics need constant reminding,' Terry says, 'that criticism is not an exact science -- or, indeed, any kind of science at all.' It is so. Every critic has heard numberless variations on the phrase, 'I don't think you and I were at the same concert.'
"It's an extreme but commonplace exaggeration that dramatizes the sort of communication breakdown that Terry describes. Rather than accept the possibility of simple human disagreement, a certain type of irate single-space-typing listener prefers to deny that the offending critic was there at all.
"Which, in fact, is perfectly true. No two listeners are ever at the same concert. Each inhabits his or her own richly differentiated world. Two equally informed listeners may come away with a disparate set of sensuous facts, even if they generally agree on whether the concert was a thrill or a spill."
(More here at "The Rest Is Noise", better known as the Alex Ross website
Sam Smith on the current nature of blogs: Thinkworld vs Shoutworld
"Therein lies the Great Lesson of 2004: Technologies can mostly be counted on not to change us or improve us, but to serve that which we already are. America is instinctively given to black/white, either/or constructions.
"We're reflexively attracted to simple answers for complex questions. We're more prone to feeling than thinking. And while we like the idea that we're among the world's most intelligent cultures, our entertainers and athletes can earn twice as much in a day as our teachers earn in a year. In the world of politics, the unattractive and charisma-challenged need not apply for anything more glamorous than school board.
"The Jeffersonian ideal is Thinkworld: educated, thoughtful, dispassionate. But we live in Shoutworld, where "debates" are carried by the witty put-down, which trumps the insightful policy observation every time. Given this, there was probably never a reason to expect the blogosphere to be more or less than precisely what it turned out to be: a revved-up techno-manifestation of the culture that created it."
Music Publicity Class
coming up soon (offered by UCLA Extension).
The Journalism, Public Relations and Fund Raising Department of UCLA Extension will offer for the 18th year its comprehensive "Publicity in the Music Industry" class to be taught by veteran music PR executive Cary Baker. Baker will instruct an all-day "introduction" to music publicity on Saturday, January 22, 2005, from 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., followed by six consecutive close-up sessions on subsequent Tuesday nights from January 25 until March 1 (7 - 10 p.m.) The course will be held at the UCLA Extension building, 10995 Le Conte, Room G33, Westwood. Additional information is available at (310) 825-0641.
Once an ancillary function of the music industry, publicity now plays an aggressive front-line role, as creating and maintaining the right image and point-of-view have become central to a recording artist’s career development.
Finally, a few articles directed to begin discussions about music.
"If you're making a trashy art-house movie, an easy way to signal which sultry damsel will become the obscure object of desire is always to strike up a little bossa nova when she saunters into frame -- ideally Astrud Gilberto singing 'Girl from Ipanema.'
"Sure, it reduces Brazil's vast musical vocabulary to one suggestive swish, but that's the kind of shorthand Western pop loves to make out of 'world music' -- an African choir for pious Third World suffering, the twang of a sitar for going into the mystic, whole cultures ground down to grains of spice.
[From Getting Back at Phony Braziliana
(A fascinating piece in yesterday's Globe and Mail) that gives an indepth reference to the mental gymnastics of the internet's own Woebot
* * * *
"There has never been a period when the rivers flowed with honey and chardonnay, bluebirds brought platters of pears and cheese and the music was all good. ... But I noticed something, somewhere in the deep funk of the 1980s. It was the exact moment -- call it a sea change, a tipping point -- when rock music turned rancid. That moment was called 'Addicted to Love.'
When Rock Went Rancid
["To mark the 50th anniversary of the rock revolution, the Sentinel is re-assessing the popular songs of the last half-century. "]
You Can't Get a Bad Rap Here
"Hip-hop has caught on in China, but censorship has cleaned it up. The watered-down ditties are even used in public service announcements. ...
"China has accomplished what millions of disapproving American parents could not: tamed hip-hop music. Instead of often obscene and violent tales from the inner city, Wang and other leading rappers here are taking to the stage with lyrics that glorify national pride, celebrate tourist attractions and preach against the dangers of adolescent impulsiveness."
After at least four drafts, Mark Kemp kept asking himself, "Who in the hell is going to read this?"
Southerners find solace in "Dixie Lullaby"
From breaking science news in Nature: Music Mirrors Tone Patterns in Our Speech
"People internalize language patterns and express them in their music. "
(Which may explain why DeBussy's compositions "sound" different from, let's say, Elgar's, and how it is that 90% of some native language speakers have perfect pitch)
On the Road Again
Dale Keiger (teacher, journalist, essayist, and advocatus diaboli) sends a few good natured postcards describing his recent tour with a rock band and a bunch of critics.
Road Notes I : Chicago
Road Notes II: Chicago House of Blues
Road Notes III: Cleveland
Road Notes IV: Baltimore
Book Alert from JamBase: Da Capo Best Music Writing 2004
"Da Capo Press recently released the fifth edition of their yearly collection of music literature. Da Capo Best Music Writing 2004 is enhanced by the talent of guest editor Mickey Hart and features a number of enthralling essays from a wide range of publications. As an acclaimed musician (best known for the three decades he spent drumming with the Grateful Dead), best-selling author, and groundbreaking world music scholar, Hart brings careful consideration and passionate intensity to this collection.
"Hart celebrates the year in music writing by discussing just how difficult the process was, and says this of his final selections: 'They speak of the struggles, the hardships, the ups and downs, the love, and the magic music evokes. Describing invisible feelings is hard enough, but doing so in a way that grabs readers by the throat and shakes them is another thing entirely. That is what the writers whose tales you'll read in this book have in common.' "
(Proud to say PopMatters writers were included not once, but twice
, with articles from Mark Anthony Neal and Lynne D. Johnson).
"Are we wrong if we hear Sibelius's orchestral music on occasion as an unforgettable metaphor in sound for the Finnish landscape: the huge, dark forests of conifers and birches, the thick drifts of snow on flat or slightly rolling terrain, the endlessly multiplied freshwater lakes, cold and reed-fringed?
"Surely there can be no doubt about the affinity of music and place in Tapiola, his last major composition - to be heard in the festival's final program - which has the domain of the old forest god as its title and lets us hear the swirl and howl of violent weather in its masterly instrumental writing.
It's true that there is nothing in Sibelius's creative persona of the vague, pastel-tinted school of musical nature worship. His tightly structured and tune-haunted music can be listened to wholly for its shape and development, without the slightest reference to real or imaginary scenery."
Artistic Insistence on National Soul
Rare Ray Charles Records Alert
One mention yesterday at yahoo news
, which was also picked up today by West Coast Music
(A French music news portal), gives a glimpse into the rare orchid series:
'St. Pete Florida Blues' -- Rare Early Recordings By Ray Charles to Be Digitally Released for the First TimeMonday November 8, 11:14 am ET
Four Tracks to Be Distributed Through The Orchard's Exclusive Partnership with The Legendary Henry Stone Presents Label
-- An Early Glimpse of a Master at Work --
NEW YORK, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The Orchard, the world's leading distributor and marketer of independent music, along with label partner The Legendary Henry Stone Presents, announced today the digital release of four rare, early tracks by the incomparable Ray Charles. This marks the first legitimate distribution of these four tracks, in their original form. These tracks will be exclusive to iTunes for a period of four weeks. The tracks will then become available to all other legal digital music services supplied by The Orchard including eMusic, Napster, Musicmatch, Rhapsody and Buymusic -- over 90 services in all.
The four tracks are, "Why Did You Go?" "Walkin' and Talkin' To Myself," "I'm Wonderin' and Wonderin'," and "St. Pete Florida Blues" (also known as "I Found My Baby There"), were recorded in Miami in 1951. Then known as Ray Charles Robinson, Charles recorded the songs while attending a school for the blind in St. Augustine, Florida. Legendary producer and talent scout Henry Stone saw Charles performing the songs at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel. Stone recognized his genius immediately, and the tracks were recorded the next day at Stone's Flagler Street studio and released on vinyl on the Rockin' Records label. They went out of print before the end of the 50s.
The new digital release of these rare recordings was organized by Joe Stone, the son and business partner of Henry Stone, and by Orchard label manager Craig Finn.
The release of these rare recordings comes at a time of great interest in the late Ray Charles. Universal Pictures released Ray starring Jamie Foxx, on October 29 and "Genius: A Night for Ray Charles" aired on CBS October 22, with performances from Stevie Wonder, Usher and Elton John to honor the work of the master. Ray Charles' most recent recording, "Genius Loves Company", debuted on the Billboard charts at #2 and was certified platinum on October 20, the first platinum record of Charles' career.
"These four tracks manifest the promise of digital distribution -- access to great music that was previously not available to music fans. Even in the off chance someone knew about these obscure sessions, tracking down old vinyl records remains in the realm of the elite collector, not the average music customer," said Greg Scholl, chief executive of The Orchard and managing director of Dimensional Associates, the company which owns both The Orchard and eMusic. "Ray Charles is one of America's cultural treasures, and we're grateful that Henry Stone has chosen The Orchard to represent these songs, and all of the other great artists in The Legendary Henry Stone catalogue."
"Ray recorded these songs in one afternoon. Most of them on one take. It was magic," said Henry Stone. "He's one of the great artists of all time and this release of his earliest recordings is a tribute to his genius."
About The Orchard
The Orchard (http://www.theorchard.com
) is the leading distributor of independent music in the world, representing over 2,500 labels and thousands of artists spanning over 50 countries and every music genre. The Orchard supplies their catalog of over 200,000 tracks to all of the leading legal digital music services throughout the world, and also offers traditional retail CD distribution to both brick-and-mortar and online outlets in the United States. The Orchard is headquartered in New York, with operations in London, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Melbourne.
About Dimensional Associates, Inc.
Dimensional Associates, Inc., is the New York-based private equity arm of JDS Capital Management, Inc. Its portfolio companies include eMusic and The Orchard.
About The Legendary Henry Stone Presents
Henry Stone is a legend in the recording industry. As a producer, he was one of the first to record Ray Charles and James Brown and launched several successful record labels before spending the balance of his career as a pioneering distributor, distributing Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll before any major labels had taken an interest. The company has spent the past few years meticulously archiving and digitizing its rare, out-of-print catalogue. Media
Andy Morris / Alexandra Meitner
Andy Morris & Company
212-561-7465 / 212-561-7454
Source: The Orchard
Don't Touch That Dial Dept.
(beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep) News Flash!
"Rock's Backpages on BBC Radio 2! This Wednesday, at 10pm GMT, BBC Radio 2 is transmitting the first of a series of 6 programmes which have been prepared with our help.
The programmes, entitled Rock's Back Pages (!), feature examples of musicjournalism at its finest, with the first programme dealing with the Rolling Stones. Later programmes will feature the Clash, the Beach Boys and others. We hope that our UK subscribers will tune in as will our subscribers overseas, who can access the programme over the internet by going tohttp://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/
and following the link to Radio 2."
Joel Selvin looks at a new book on the history of Philly Soul
A House on Fire
The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul
By John A. Jackson
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS; 338 PAGES; $35
Introducing the new link for the ever evolving Perfect Sound Forever
Why is music -- universally beloved and uniquely powerful in its ability to wring emotions -- so pervasive and important to us?
(Music and the Brain
, via Arts and Letters Daily
NY Times music critic ponders whether more is less in
"Music at a Wheel's Click -- But Do We Really Hear?"
I've got to share one I just found that made me laugh today: "Ike Turner, Private Dancer."
has an intriguing post up Oct 26 on how music connects people, Matthew Collin's excellent book This Is Serbia Calling
(an account of the role Radio B92
played in the years when "Serbia was under the control of all-round nasty bastard Slobodan Milosevic"), and thoughts about what happened next.
In separate interviews at AMP, David Crosby and Ry Cooder
both reveal why there is no rock and roll fun.
(Also, there are current writing opportunities for freelance music journalists at AMP, Alternate Music Press)
Coventry ... maybe not the center of the music universe, but likely the center of Coventry's music universe, as a new book on the scene there will explain
According to the Project Phoenix findings, "[UK] Consumers are calling the tunes in the new golden era of music.")
Across the great waters, others suggest that you "just listen to those long-playing records like you used to listen to music before you put your albums away and shifted, like everyone else did, to "those sterile little disks."
"People who used to love music, used to listen for hours to their records, don't understand why they don't listen to their CDs that way ... "
More on the continuing debate how "something" about recorded music has changed