Saturday, July 30, 2005
The things I don't know can completely fill the universe dept.

Rockin' the Casbah (with Greg Kot)

Taha remakes 'Rock the Casbah'

"On his latest album, 'Tekitoi,' the French-Algerian dance-punk maestro Rachid Taha doesn't just cover the Clash's "Rock the Casbah," he plays it with such dash and daring he might as well have written it. It's only fitting, Taha said. After all, the Clash wrote the song a year after briefly meeting the singer in 1981.

"'It was a very quick encounter, I ran into them backstage after a concert,' he said through a translator. 'I wanted them to produce my first album and handed them a demo tape. I never heard back from them, but I know they were influenced by what I gave them, just as I was influenced by them. Good spirits met that night.'

"At the time, Taha was in the band Carte de Sejour ('green card' or 'residence permit' - signifying Taha's status as an Algerian who had immigrated to France with his family when he was 10 years old, seeking a better life). To him it's no coincidence that the Clash song sounds very much like his old band, with its ululating vocals, strident guitars and snaky Eastern rhythms. In his remake, 'Rock El Casbah,' Taha punctuates each line with lusty Eastern strings. It's even more audacious and danceable than the Clash original, and Taha rolls consonants, shouts and growls with relish; he not only understands the song's wicked sarcasm, but also unearths its underlying anger.

"He was inspired to revisit it because of Clash singer Joe Strummer's death, and it anchors his sixth and best solo album, a furious fusion of electronic dance music, punk brio and Algerian groove. It's the culmination of a sound Taha has been refining all his life, ever since he was a deejay in Paris who specialized in mixing genres with impunity, as if the cultural barriers erected around rock, funk, Algerian rai music, Bollywood movie soundtracks and reggae didn't exist."
Synchronicity ...

It's a synchronchristy day, for some reason I can't explain or spell.
Just found that one of my favoritas Christy McWilson has at long last moved into the 21st century, and yes I'm directing you to the newly founded and unfolding Christy McWilson website.
Via Kristi Singer

"So you want to be a music journalist? These links are a great place to start learning about the business."
Saturday Reading Room is Open
(with thanks to Bob Sarles for the article, or the reading room would be closed today, or if not closed exactly, then at least pretty empty)

Sittin' In With Otis Taylor

By Art Tipaldi/BluesWax Magazing

With nine of every ten songs on the radio today lamenting the loss of "my baby," Otis Taylor comes as a breath of fresh air. His songwriting eye is like no other. In 1998 he turned on the spotlight with his first record, When Negroes Walked The Earth, and he's not stopped through five recordings.

Check out this sampling of his songs through his five records: "Rosa, Rosa," a tribute to Rosa Parks; "3 Days and 3 Nights," about a man who cannot pay for medical care for his dying child; "My Soul's In Louisiana," the story of a black hobo in the 1930s who is accused of a murder he did not commit; "Ten Million Slaves," about looking back on the horrors of living through Middle Passage; "Plastic Spoon," about an elderly couple who must eat dog food to afford prescription medicines; "Took Their Land," about the interment of Native Americans and Japanese Americans; "505 Train" about a child witnessing domestic violence; and "Saint Martha Blues," a song written about the lynching of Taylor's own great grandfather.

"I'm not afraid to talk about certain things. That's all it is," says Taylor. "Everybody else knows about these topics. We see them on TV. We read it in books. People make movies about them, but no one writes songs about them. I'm really a singer-songwriter who is a storyteller. Some people argue that I'm alternative Blues. Think of my music as contemporary traditional. My stories are traditional, but the way I record them is very contemporary."

Lyrically, Taylor's canvas is framed in social responsibility; musically, his groove is a darkly swirling, dense sound. Together, Taylor's message and music is a double shot of the real world. "My newest CD comes out in May here [August 23 in the U.S. on the Telarc label], it's called Below the Fold. Some people are saying the Below the Fold is one of the greatest albums I've ever recorded. I'm doing combinations of instruments that are totally outrageous. I've got trumpet and mandolin mixing with fiddles and cellos. It's out there, like Trans-Appalachian music."

"A lot of songs about historical things like the Ludlow Massacre. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about that massacre once. There's also a song about 'my mother's got a best friend and we tell people she's our sister.' I do some songs about people aging from my family."

These last two Telarc CDs have Taylor as producer. "On my older CDs, Kenny Passarelli had to work in the style of my eccentricities and stubbornness. The cello was my idea. He had some great ideas on individual songs like the train on 'Soul's In Louisiana,' but it went back and forth. On my new album, you'll see exactly what my ideas were. Double V had some trippy stuff, the new CD is even more bizarre and out there. There's a whole different feeling than what Kenny would do.

"I've always been into the minimalist thing of no chord changes. I like space. Space leaves room for the emotion of the note and tonation to grow. If you have one note, there is a lot of air around that note so you can feel it more. A note becomes moodier or darker. That's my philosophy on how I approach a picture. I don't use a lot of drums, but when you hear them, you don't think of them as drums in the traditional sense. I try and keep an African reference to drums."

When he played at the Blues Foundation W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards in Memphis in April, Taylor's hypnotic rhythms on his banjo stood out from the glut of guitar and piano driven Blues of the night. I remember how attentive the audience became as each came under Taylor's musical trance.

Though he always captures the ears of Blues audiences wherever he plays, Taylor is quick to speak his mind about his current lack of festival bookings in America and failure to score W.C. Handy Award nominations for his records and songs and wonders why. "I don't know why everyone wants to put everything in this little box, old-time Blues or honky-tonk Blues. I don't know what happened to everybody. I'm a little upset about it and I can feel that there is a small backlash going. My newest CD, Double V, is great, but I didn't get any Handy nominations. Out of all the albums I've written, I've only been Handy nominated for one song, 'My Soul's In Louisiana.' So they don't think I write Blues songs. 'Rosa' is a fantastic song, but never nominated. I feel like I got a wakeup call in the last Handy nominations. I got one for the banjo. I'm getting the picture. But that ain't gonna stop me."

What gives birth to a musician like Taylor with a social conscience and deep sense of history? Though he was born in Chicago in 1948, his family moved to Denver after his uncle was shot to death. It was in Denver that the teenaged Taylor walked into the Denver Folklore Center and found his voice.

"It was the most important place for me. It was the place I'd go after school every day just hang out. I'd go there on weekends to hear music. It was during a certain period in time in 1963 to 1966, just before the psychedelic thing got really heavy. Everybody was into Civil Rights and so, because I was black, I was really welcomed into that environment by the folkies. Because they were writing songs about social issues, it seemed natural for me to also write about social issues."

The Center was also where Taylor first picked up a banjo. He tells that it was the drone, the sadness of it that first appealed to him. He also learned the guitar. And he learned the Blues from first generation Bluesmen like Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, and Mississippi Fred McDowell, who all played at the Center.

"I saw Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Fred McDowell play at the Folklore Center. They were just old black people to me because I lived in an all black neighborhood. All these people tell about what they learned from these men. I was raised black, I didn't have to learn about being black. Sometimes I couldn't even understand what Son House or Mississippi John Hurt was saying. I may not be the best Blues musician, but I'm really good at being black. I didn't have to study under anybody. Being black, the Blues was a natural thing. It was your language, your accent."

After years of fronting and supporting various bands in and around the Denver area like the 4-Nikators, the Zephyrs, Butterscotch, and T&O Shortline with singer guitarist Tommy Bolin before Bolin joined Deep Purple, Taylor decided to quit his musical career in 1977.Â

He became a successful art and antiques dealer, and he began coaching the Buccaneer Bicycle Racing Team, a professional bicycling team. Taylor continued playing with friends at jams and, finally, in 1995, succumbed to their urgings and followed music full time.

"I was always into art and antiques. The antiques and art work I did got me more into history. I have a major photography collection of blacks in the West like the Buffalo Soldiers and black cowboys. I collected Indian art, art deco, and things. I have some knowledge about those topics, but I'm not a historian. I think my collecting gave me a little sense of the people and topics I wanted to write about."

Taylor understands that his songwriting mission is nothing newly discovered. "I've always been writing songs. I was just playing a tape from a concert I did at the Denver Folklore Center in 1967 and I was listening to what I was writing then and I realized that I was always dark. Though I didn't write as well as I do now, I was always writing the same kind of songs. I think about social subjects more because I started getting a response to that. They seem to come really easy to me. I can read the newspaper and write a song. That's my way and I never run outta ideas."

Because Taylor's songs are provocative, they open people's eyes to injustices both today and throughout history. But Taylor doesn't see this as a mission or responsibility. "I don't think of it as a responsibility. It's just what I do. I'm just doin' what I do and people picked up on it. I was writin' about subjects like that on Negroes Walked the Earth in 1995. I just felt like writing songs that were interesting."

Like the Quaker principle of bearing witness, once you hear songs like "Resurrection Blues" or "My Soul's In Louisiana," you cannot turn away from the truth. But Taylor continues to deflect the responsibility and defers to the art. "That's nice when people think that about my songs, but I don't tell them what to think. I'm just writing interesting stories. I never know who my songs touch or when. Or what they do with it. I'm not trying to be flippant about it. Everybody likes to be acknowledged for what they do, but I'm just a storyteller. That's what I liked about Folk music, people were storytellers."

Does Taylor feel he channels these songs from the spiritual past of African-Americans? "It's not channeling. I'm black. My parents came from the Deep South and they hated the South. They never said a good word about the South. Sometimes they didn't even like people who came from the country. They weren't happy with the way the South controlled the people. They left and wondered why everybody else didn't leave.

"I don't know if what I'm saying makes any sense. I wasn't raised around Southern Blacks. I was never allowed to speak in a black accent. My father went to college and was like a beatnik. I grew up bilingual; I could talk in the black slang or more proper talk the way my dad wanted. He knew that if I talked right I could progress in the world faster. He was a beatnik and a bohemian, but he always made sure he looked straight to the world. He told me to do my thing, but keep it internal, don't let them find out who you are.

"Black singers were conditioned to sing about certain things because if they didn't they were beat up or their family could be killed or they were terrorized. Pretty soon it became this program and then it's been hard for people to break out of that restraint. So people today want to play like their heroes and write songs like their heroes, but since those are heroes of the past, today's music is still conditioned to leave out certain subjects. If those older heroes could have talked about it, they would have. That's what they should have been singing about. But they couldn't say what they really wanted to say."

Today, Taylor also spends his time involved in teaching Blues in the schools. "What I do is go into schools with a program called 'I Get The Blues When...' I give students a piece of paper that says 'I get the Blues when...' and the students write in what makes them sad. Things like my father died or I broke my leg over the summer. Whatever. Than I have them come up and sing it with me. I do it in schools and colleges, so I reach from six-year-olds to 25-year-olds.

"What do you remember most about school? It might be when you got on stage for the first time. First, they learn that they can perform onstage. That gives them confidence. Second, they learn that anyone can write something. Then they find out that they can be original, which is my whole thing anyway. Then they find out that other people have the same kind of problems that they do.

"I was in Ottawa doing this and a kid was writing about his uncle dying in Somalia. And then other kids were writing about relatives dying in Eastern Europe or Africa. Another time a girl used this to talk about being raped in college. That the teachers learn about whether the kids are having any problems outside the school."

©2005 BluesWax Magazing
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving the included information for research and
educational purposes. If you do not wish to receive these emailings
send a note to bsarlesWire@aol.com
Bob Sarles/Ravin' Films
Ravin' Films
Saturday afternoon meditation
or it can happen to you

Rolling Stone: The Times They Have A Changed

"Memory and time do play tricks on you. Movies that you once thought great turn out to be a bore twenty years latter. We all grow old and change. Maybe it’s not fair to judge a magazine that’s geared towards youth culture by one’s memories of years gone by. But every time I pick up a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine and glance through it, I shake my head and sigh.

"There’s something missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s something missing from society too. But they used to be the ones who pointed out what it was that was absent. Now they blend in with the rest. Selling the brand without questioning the content."
One man's mission to preserve Iraqi music.
Seems there are plans for a free tribute to Chet Helms at Stern Grove in October.
Stay tuned.
Friday, July 29, 2005
OK, tonight's ChetFest concert has sold out (and I sure hope Bob Sarles got the ticket he was asking the benign side of the universe for, because he deserves one).

The good news is, the auction is still going strong and donations are still pouring in! Check out this loot!

You can still participate and carry the goodness on and on into the future as all proceeds will benefit the Chet Helms Memorial Fund (with a little bit to H.E.A.R., a non-profit managing the auction).
Reminder, Saturday Matinee Coming Up Tomorrow 7/30/05
(They're filming, so maybe you'll be featured
in a future Saturday matinee and
see your name up in lights)

Chaffey College to "Freak Out" for Zappa

By David Allen

Frank Zappa was a Chaffey College student for only one semester, circa 1960. On Saturday, though, the late musician will be feted at his alma mater with an unusual concert: "Freak Out in Cucamonga."

The 7 p.m. concert in the Chaffey Theatre will pay tribute to Zappa, who died in 1993, and to his roots in Rancho Cucamonga, where he got his start as a musician.

Not an official Chaffey production, the show will be staged by Derek Miley and Adam Fiorenza, two Rancho Cucamonga High alums now finishing a documentary on Zappa's early years.

Zappa owned a recording studio on Archibald Avenue from 1964-65, formed the Mothers of Invention in Pomona and left for L.A. to make such albums as "Freak Out" and "Hot Rats."

Full details are at palstudioz, but Saturday's performers include a chamber music septet, a jazz fusion band and a surf rock group, a suitably eclectic lineup.

Zappa mentor Paul Buff is expected from Nashville, and footage from the documentary will be screened, too. There's even audience participation, of a sort.

"We definitely plan on filming, so people who are there may end up in the documentary," Miley told me.

Freaking out may help your chances.

Thursday, July 28, 2005
(Last week's find posted today (or better late than never, I mean I sometimes misplace things).

"Rock as Real Estate: Is Alan Greenspan the Father of Electro-Clash"
by Ian Svenonious
Coming Sept 9-11 from New Jersey, "Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium"!

More than 150 presenters (Dave Marsh and Caryn Rose among them) will meld the output of their brainpower in a startling array of topics dealing with the Bruce.
Beethoven (1.4m) beats Bono (20,000) in battle of the internet downloads

"Music industry forced to take note as composer's complete symphonies outshine rock acts in online chart"

(via Arts & Letters Daily)
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Book Alert

(No, it's a CD alert. Actually, both alert flags are hoisted)

Classical music history is music to the ears

"Classical music is a great pleasure, and there could not be a finer introduction to the subject than The Story of Classical Music, written by Darren Henley and read by Marin Alsop. The latter has been in the news recently because she has been named the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She is the first woman to head a major U.S. orchestra."

{update 7/28/05
The Marin Moment
An interview with Ms Alsop about the furore surrounding her appointment, wherein she's more excited talking about music than herself and Frank Zappa's "Be-Bop Tango" and an anonymous cab driver combine to reveal something of her approach to music.)
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Book Alert

Go Ask Ogre
Jolene Siana

Process Media

"A happy ending to life's dark chapter. Jolene Siana's 'Go Ask Ogre' documents a time when she mutilated herself. She hopes the book can help others.

"Siana’s book is a collection of letters -- some with her blood -- she wrote to Nivek Ogre of the band Skinny Puppy in the late '80s.

"Between 1987 and 1989, Siana wrote Ogre hundreds of pages of letters, but she never expected them back. When she saw Ogre at subsequent Skinny Puppy shows over the years, "He always told me that he still had my letters, but I didn't think that he would hold on to them," Siana said.

"He had. Three years ago, he sent them back to her in a single box. Looking through them, she said, 'was sort of a sense of closing a chapter on my life and dealing with it and being OK with the dark things that happened.'"
Sunday, July 24, 2005
How friends and music eased a folk legend's pain
(Bob and Sid Gleason are remembered for the oasis they provided for an ailing Woody Guthrie)
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Good News Update on Jessie Mae Hemphill

Friends lend a hand after she was told to leave her home.

July 22, 2005

by Bill Ellis

"Every day I call her," says Barbara Blue about Jessie Mae Hemphill. "I say, 'Hello, Sunshine.' She says, 'Hello, Morning-Glory.' "

Hill country blues legend Hemphill has reason to feel chipper these days. After getting notice to vacate her Senatobia, Miss., trailer, friends have helped the Handy-winning blues matriarch, in her 70s, find a new home in Clarksdale (it's nice to know that, for some folks at least, blues musicians surpass in value the branding of blues as tourism).

"She's still in her trailer, but we have put earnest money on a house. We just have to finish up the papers and the closing," says singer and Beale Street draw Blue, who has stepped up to the plate along with Senatobia home builder David Tollison, Memphis music attorney Bruce Newman and others.

Blue and Tollison both hope Hemphill will be in her $25,000 home within the next month. Tollison adds that some $6,000 has been raised so far to take care of the down payment and necessary renovations.

Guitarist/percussionist/singer Hemphill, the granddaughter of fife master Sid Hemphill, was recently featured in American Legacy magazine and is the author of such milestone blues records as She-Wolf, Feelin' Good and Get Right Blues, all produced by University of Memphis blues scholar/musician David Evans.

Word of her situation has spread fast in the blues community, thanks to blog and Web site postings by folks such as Catfish Keith, Ted Drozdowski and Richard Johnston, who lured Hemphill out of retirement for his 2002 album, Foot Hill Stomp, (she has rarely performed since suffering a stroke more than a decade ago). Johnston says he has raised an additional $4,880 through his mailing list.

"We had another benefit this past Monday (in Hudson, Wis.), and you can add to the total $1,500," he said from the road.

According to Newman, a New York-based nonprofit, Energie For Artist Support Group, bought Hemphill her 16 x 80 trailer in 2001 for $41,903.83. About a year and half ago, payments stopped and a Senatobia lawyer, David Adams, was retained. An eviction notice was served on May 24, giving Hemphill 10 days to vacate (she has since been given a grace period). Adams did not return a phone call.

The nonprofit's New York lawyer, Juliette Levin, gave no reason why payments on Hemphill's behalf ceased. She did say, however, that the group she represents was happy to negotiate with Hemphill and all concerned parties, extending to purchase of the trailer. "We cannot fund Ms. Hemphill," she said. "There are obligations that need to be met here."

But buying a mobile home, which can depreciate, is not an option, according to Tollison. Rather, the plan is to set up an escrow account in Clarksdale for Hemphill and organize her Social Security benefits so as to take care of the house note.

"When the government found out she was getting help from a foundation, they cut her Social Security in half," Tollison said.

Johnston, for one, thinks Hemphill will be better off after she moves.

"She is going to a place where people will appreciate her more. As far as the (blues) industry and people who will reach out, Clarksdale has a bigger awareness of who she is."

For information, contact David Tollison at 337-0368.

Copyright 2005 - commercialappeal.com is an E.W. Scripps Company website
Saturday Reading Room is Open

Book Sighting

Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and the Secret History of Maximalism
Michel Delville & Andrew Norris

Due out in September, this is "Not another critical biography." But you can read an excerpt now from "That Blues Thing: Enter Captain Beefheart". Then go back and ponder the main description of the book.
Friday, July 22, 2005
JoBeth Briton 101

"JoBeth Briton is a cultural journalist, activist, and teacher with a passionate devotion to the vitality of America's blues and jazz music and culture, as well as to the African-rooted values that have always informed and driven the culture.

Currently: JoBeth is putting together a multi-part workshop series, The Meaning of the Blues, which will combine informal lectures with old-school "listening parties" to survey aspects of blues music and culture that often go unremarked or unexplored in the national media. The workshop series will debut in Little Rock sometime early this fall. (Edited recordings of the workshop series will be available at a later date.) Be sure to visit the website again for upcoming news about The Meaning of the Blues, including a synopsis of individual workshops and more information about time, place, and date, etc. Also, check in again to find out about JoBeth's other activities and projects."

"The Meaning of the Blues" series includes the following eight individual workshops or "parties":

1. "Signifying Blues: How and Why the Blues Got to Be"
2. "In the Beginning Was the Women's Blues -- Classic and Country"
3. "Well, Well, Well -- The Anti-Bourgeois, Low-Down, Gut-bucket Blues"
4. "White Negroes, Black Minstrels, and Other Ancestral Mutants: Or, Can White People Really Play the Blues?"
5. "Who's Who in Arkansas Blues: Innovators, Syndicators, & History-Makers"
6. "All Blues: The Heart of Jazz Belongs to You Know Who"
7. "On the Page, On the Stage: The Blues in Literature, Poetry, and Drama"
8. "Blues Had a Baby...and a Baby...and a Baby: The Eternal and Ever-Changing Nature of the Blues"
Raise your arm (not too far) and extend five fingers: A cool high five to We Five
Mark Anthony Neal's final episode in "The Slow Decline of R&B, Epilogue"
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Disco is the thing today

Lots of reviews popping up on
TURN THE BEAT AROUND: The Secret History of Disco
by Peter Shapiro

(or critics give Shapiro the once-over; maybe the twice-over)

"Disco was very much a child of the 1970s, the decade whose mood of disillusion was most vividly expressed in the collapsing infrastructure of cities such as London, New York and San Francisco. According to Shapiro, disco might never have happened if New York in particular hadn’t descended into near chaos, with a $3 billion budget deficit that in 1975 the federal government refused to underwrite. As sensible folk fled Manhattan, taking their sensible businesses with them, downtown New York saw a dramatic increase in the availability of large, cheap spaces, often former churches or dilapidated hotels. These supplied the venues where, in one of Shapiro’s most extravagant flights, 'this glittering beast . . . eventually rose on sateen wings from the burrows of the Big Apple’s worm-eaten core'."

(--- Reviewed by ROBERT SANDALL, Sunday Times Online)

"Music critic Peter Shapiro's Turn the Beat Around opens with a graphic depiction of New York in the '70s that could make even the most hardened city dweller cower behind the nearest gentrified storefront...

"Shapiro bypasses most of this for another kind of audiophilia -- rapturous passages describing the way songs feel, including a dazzling reading of "I Feel Love." That particular tidbit, which takes up almost an entire chapter, is worth the asking price alone."

(Disco inferno: From unifying safe haven to creepy dystopia
Village Voice}

"Shapiro's Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco (Faber & Faber, $26) bombards you with detailed social context until you nod assent to his thesis: The ripe, hedonistic generalizations we lump under the phrase 'disco' were birthed from a specific kind of urban decay at a specific moment in history, when the continued viability of New York City didn't seem inevitable -- or, for some Americans, even desirable. And he's just getting started, folks."

(That Real '70s Show
Seattle Weekly

"What if the popular wisdom about disco -- namely, that it sucks -- were rooted not in glitter-ball music but in an intolerant society that won't let minorities take center-stage? That's the sort of provocative notion at the core of "Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco," music journalist Peter Shapiro's effort to revise glam culture's place in American history...."

Book Alert: Behind the Music

The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany
by Martin Goldsmith

"Martin Goldsmith's parents met while playing in a Jewish orchestra that was briefly encouraged by the Nazis for propaganda purposes.

"Gunther Goldschmidt played flute and Rosemarie Gumpert was a violist in the orchestra, which was sponsored by the Judische Kulturbund, the Jewish culture association. Composed of Jewish musicians, the orchestra played for Jewish audiences only from 1933-1941.

"Responding to criticism about how Jews were being treated in Germany, Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels pointed to the existence of the culture association and to the orchestra as proof of the tolerant treatment of the Jews. The organization provided an artistic haven after more than 8,000 Jews were excluded from German orchestras, operas and theater companies in 1933.

"The little-known story of the Judische Kulturbund and the stories of Goldsmith's relatives are the subjects of his book, The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany."
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Excerpts from John Gilmore's "L.A. Despair: A Landscape of Crimes and Bad Times ".

Introduction: Portraits of the Undredeemed

"Spade Cooley: Shame on You".

(Another version which should chill your blood: "Wages of Sin: Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine")
Can it be? First Rolling Stones album in eight years, due out in September, to be titled "Neo-Con".

(via No Rock n Roll Fun)
Book Alert

Excerpt from Global Beat Fusion: The History of the Future of Music
by Derek Beres

(If you want to jump into the vibrant scene, read Afropop (and subscribe to their newsletter), visit World Music Central, and subscribe to the World Music Discussion List by sending an email with the word subscribe to globe-l@nevada.edu.)
Concert at the Great American Music HALL:eBay Auction Benefits Chet
Helms Memorial Fund

Chet Helms Auction

The Chet Helms Memorial Auction begins July 28th on eBay, one day prior
to the sold-out ChetFest, A Tribute to the life of Chet Helms concert at
Great American Music Hall.

Auction proceeds benefit The CHET HELMS MEMORIAL FUND and a small
portion to the hearing health programs of San Francisco nonprofit
organization Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.)
who will also be managing the auction. To donate music memorabilia
or other items for the auction,please contact Kathy Peck at 415-409-3277
or (hear@hearnet.com)
The webpage for the auction is hear

The auction will run July 28 - Aug 7.
Auction items will include:

20 Poster Paks from the ChetFest, A Tribute to the life of Chet Helms Concert

One Week at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp
Electric Guitar, to be signed by performers at ChetFest
Herb Greene photos of Janis and rare Dyan and The Grateful Dead
Jim Marshall Photo of Chet Helms
Jim Marshall Photo of Janis Joplin
Grace Slick Original Painting
Janis Joplin Original Painting
Janis Joplin Poster donated by Wolfgang's Vault
Joel Selvin first edition autographed hard copy The Summer of Love with
extensive interview with Chet Helms.
Wavy Gravy Artwork donated by Wavy and Vin Glo Arts
as well as guitars and other instruments, music memorabilia,
photographic art, hotel and spa packages and special gift items.

Previews of the items will be posted on the auction homepage
as they become available.

Chet Helms Memorial Auction organizers are currently accepting
donations of music, musical equipment, music memorabilia and
other items, as well as cash gifts. For donation information,
and information about H.E.A.R. 415-409-3277, info@hearrecords.com
or visit the auction homepage:

Auction Organizers
Auction manager:
Kathy Peck
1405 Lyon St.
San Francisco, CA 94115

Webmaster for auction contact: Dav@fuzzmonster.com

Auction coordinator: Mike Somavilla: howdyman@rcn.com

Auction Homepage: http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/hear

(via Punmaster)

(Please pass on free subscriptions to the MusicWire to friends,
associates, and colleagues by sending an email including a
first & last name to musicwire@punmaster.com with the word
"subscribe" in the subject. Stay informed and stay in tune!)
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Blogs keep music conversations afloat

Andrew Adler jumps into the internet's stream of consciousness:

"Talking about music, it seems, can be just as satisfying as listening. Certainly it's become a diversion that's hard to ignore, representing points of view ranging from unfailingly logical to downright wacky. Lots of music blogs, like blogs in general, are barely worth a glance. Yet more and more people -- musicians, patrons, critics, whoever -- have something worthwhile to say."

His personal list of must-read classical music blogs.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Blog Alert

Mark Anthony Neal, NewBlackMan.
Summer Special

Think you're going it alone in the cold cruel world of music criticism? OK, you are, and so is everyone else. Here's your chance to get together and see what might happen.

The Association of Music Writers and Photographers EXPANDS and LOWERS DUES.

Although you won't notice it from the outside, AMWP.org is undergoing
major upgrades that will increase effiency and give members more control
over their benefits. Due to the new effeciency and a summer membership
drive, you can join the AMWP for only $35!
Saturday, July 16, 2005
J.D. Considine takes a look at the current commentary about and potshots at literati who write about music. What's best, in pondering the critical condition, he makes his own statement about intent, information, and insight. Plus, he reveals just how it is music critics are regarded in "Who Likes Short Shorts".
Don't Miss the ChetFest, July 29, San Francisco!

(via David Gross, Bob Sarles, and others)

This message is from Ted Drozdowski (of the "Scissormen" band). It's a
legitimate request. Plenty of folks have been talking about it. His
message (edited slightly for space):

"The 501C3 which provided a trailer for stroke-handicapped Mississippi
blueswoman Jessie Mae Hemphill, has decided to evict her from it. I've
been embroiled in a series of phone calls with lawyers representing the
501C3, Jessie's friends, and many other people for the past several weeks,
since receiving a panicked call from Jessie that she was being evicted. It's
not clear why this action is being taken against her, although it seems
cruel and highly unusual. A concensus has been reached by all of Jessie's
advocates that she needs to be relocated from Senatobia to Clarksdale,
so she can be near people who can help take care of her.

To that end there is an immediate need for as much as $1500 to move Jessie, her possessions and her storage shed to Clarksdale. She's already 12 days past her
eviction date (which was given to her with an outrageous 10 days notice). If
you would like to contribute to this effort, please send a check for whatever amount you're comfortable with to: David Tollison, 2166 Stage Road, Senatobia, MS 38668.

The check should be made out to David Tollison. I have checked with several parties active in the effort to relocate Jessie, and they say David is trustworthy. I have also spoken with David and Jessie about this. He is a friend of Jessie's and built the wheelchair ramp to her trailer as well as the chair-accessible back porch. He is a Senatobia-based contractor. If any funds are left after the move, they will be put in an account for Jessie. The consensus is that Jessie also has difficulty
managing her health and hygiene and her finances, and it seems that David,
Joni Mayberry from the Delta Blues Museum or her friend Blue Mike from Clarkdale may end up with power of attorney on Jessie's behalf, with her blessing.

As long as she can keep her things, have a place to live and keep her dog she seems happy with whatever the results of this episode may be. Thanks for your attention, Ted." (Ted Drozdowski, P.O. Box 531, East Boston, MA 02128; 617-568-9789)

(via the Punmaster)
Review of a new book by Chuck Klosterman "Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story".
Saturday Reading Room Open

Book Alert

The newly revised Oxford Companion to Jazz is now available in paperback.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Trend Alert: Writers other than music journalists write about music.

Editor's Note: Published on page E4 of the July 11, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Lit Riffs"
Edited by Matthew Miele
MTV Books/PocketBooks
2004, 420 pages

FIRST, it was the cassette tape, then the CD and now the iPod, which may change the way we absorb our music, the way we experience lyric and arrangement, even the way we arrange our music. Yet somehow, amid the restless evolving of what we listen to and how, it is possible to find yet another way of going about it.

Good songs always inspire stories, in our heads, in our ears buzzing like something alive. If the song's narrative is straightforward, then the imagining is easier, but if the song's mysterious, then the dreaming is more mysterious with more possibility.

"Lit Riffs" is a concrete product of that process, that crossing over. This is not the first book to combine the purveyors of the written word and songs. Nick Hornby wrote about why he loved the selections included in 2003's "Songbook," his personal mixtape. But "Lit Riffs" is a little different.

by Matthew Miele, "Lit Riffs" is a collection of short stories inspired in turn by specific songs, with the pieces of short fiction as diverse and powerful as the pieces of music that inspired them. Leading of, for example, is "Maggie May," a story by the late, venerable rock writer Lester Bangs based on the Rod Stewart song of the same title, a mournful yet enthralling tale of a woman and her faded affection.

Eclectic, fascinating

The roster of contributors is eclectic and fascinating, mostly novelists, but also poets, journalists and even documentarians. Aside from Bangs, there's Jonathan Lethem, Amanda Davis, JT LeRoy, Tom Perotta, Tanker Dane, Lisa Tucker, Aimee Bender, Anthony DeCurtis, Hannah Tinti, Neal
Pollack, Toure, Victor LaValle, Heidi Julavits, Arthur Bradford, Jennifer Belle, Ernesto Quinonez, Darin Strauss, Judy Budnitz, David Ebershoff, Elissa Shappell, Zev Borow, Nelson George and Julliana Baggott.

And how about the singers and musicians who inspired "Lit Riffs"? It's Stewart, Daniel Johnston via Yo La Tengo, the Cowboy Junkies, the Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen chanelled by Jeff Buckley, Pearl Jam, Jane Siberry, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Merle Haggard, Bob Marley, the White Stripes, Velvet Underground through Cat Power, AC/DC, Paul Simon, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Black Crowes, Tom Waits, Herman Strauss and Richard Strauss, John Cale, Duran Duran, James Brown and Bruce Springsteen. It's hip and reverent, unusual and standard all at once.

"There are some songwriters who don't like to discuss the meanings of their lyrics or the intention behind them. They don't want to interfere with the interpretations their fans have imposed on the music, they say. When I heard this answer in interviews, I used to think that it was a cop-out. But the beauty of music is that it is, as Marshall McLuhan would say, a hot medium. It occupies hearing, leaving the imagination free to wander (unlike films or the Internet). The closest equivalent is literature, which occupies only the eyes. The intent may belong to the artist but the significance is the property of the beholder," writes Neil Strauss in his introduction. "'Lit Riffs' then
are the synesthetic experience that occurs when the sense cross, when sound becomes text."

From the singsong fable that is Toure's interpretation of Marley's "I Shot The Sherrif" to LaVelle's eerie vision of the White Stripes' "Aluminum," from the street rhythm that is both Tinti's and Davis's evocation of "Milestones," the way Eddie Vedder's growl is echoed in Tucker's "Why Go," this book has something for mostly everybody-as long as you are adventurous as listener and reader. It's jazz and country after all, weird and new all at once, the way a deposed dictator's stroll through a New York street rose from, of all things, Duran Duran's "Rio," and yet it's also the ruminations of an old drug dealer born from James Brown's "King Heroin."


It's in the breathtaking lushness of the best piece in the collection, novelist Jonathan Lethem's "The National Anthem," based on a Yo La Tengo song: "You wonder whether you can stand never to know the touch of a fresh hand, the trembling flavor of a new kiss, and I'm desperately trying to keep from telling you the little I know: it's sweeter than anything, for a moment. For just a moment, there's nothing else. As to all you're weighing it against, your wife and child, I know less than nothing. The wisdom of your ambivalence, the whimsical, faux-jaded wit you share in your letter, as you contemplate the beauties around you, all that poise will be shattered if you act-I can promise you that much. You're more innocent than you know."

And when you listen to the songs that inspired these stories along as the stories themselves, well, it's just sublime, one mixtape lifting the other to creative nirvana. It's also a most sonic lure, to imagine your own stories behind our favorite songs. What secret life lies behind the
lush exoticism of Seal's "Kiss From The Rose," or what sad, young epiphany is waiting to be found in Coldplay's irresistible "Clocks?" What signals do you pick up from a Wagner crescendo, 50-Cent track, a Karen Carpenter ode, or-to go even further-the Eraserheads' "Wishing Well?" It is the easy and the hard, the quick and the quicker.

Like the songs it holds to its chest, "Lit Riffs" is different things to different people, but it's the chance to experience all this music, this dreaming, this pain and hope this way or that which makes this book special. Press play indeed, and then read, dream and on.

Available at Fully Booked.
One last post on the virtual conferencing of the
EMP Pop Music Conference 2005

Just a reminder, the vast aggregate of links (well, 60 or so) from EMP participants at the 2005 gathering are to be found in the archives for April 27, 2005, right here.

Saturday, July 09, 2005
Book Alert

"L.A. Despair"

by John Gilmore
(Amok Books)

" ... a collection of dark stories, à la "Hollywood Babylon," that includes a section on the King of Western Swing."

The "L.A." in the title is Los Angeles (as in "Anyone that wanted to be a groovy hillbilly came to Los Angeles"). And the "Despair", at least in the Spade Cooley section is likely about his music and a savage murder. No need to tell you that the story of some portion of his life has been tapped to become a major motion picture.
Friday, July 08, 2005
"Novelty Rock: Why good writers are the worst thing that’s ever happened to pop-music criticism"

(via Sara Sherr at The Girl Group)
Gettin nothin but static
Gettin nothin but static

"Forty Miles East of L.A.: A Freak Out in Cucamonga"

This is a fitting tribute to zany neighbor and once upon a time novice yet aspiring composer/conductor Frank Zappa. As the venue holds only 250 people, tickets are sure to go fast.

I remember hearing about Frank's first attempt at performance conducting there in his early years. ("There" was located in Upland, either Chaffey H.S. or Chaffey college. I associate this memory with Chaffey in any event.) He wasn't at all happy with the results when he heard the tape and in fact he refused to mention the evening's concert himself.

(via kill ugly radio)

I have a much funnier memory of my grandmother watching "The World's Greatest Sinner", a showing my sister dragged us all to at a Pomona movie theatre -- the one across the street and in the same block as the telephone company and the corner drugstore that had a fountain. This was not one of the newer big glitzy theatres, but the old one that had Saturday science fiction matinees and where I had taken my grandparents to see the first Elvis movie. And they'd got to like Elvis.

In the movie house, you'd always have to crunch through a swath of spilled popcorn making your way into your seat, and the seats smelled old and musty,

"The World's Greatest Sinner" -- I have no recollections whatsoever at all about that movie, none. All these years later, I barely remembered it even existed. But I recall my grandmother was in attendance. She was wearing her favorite necklace, a strand of pearl-like beads. I don't remember anything about the movie, but suddenly my grandmother burst out in chuckles at a certain point in the film when the rest of the theatre was dumbstruck quiet. Frank was pretty quiet after the movie, too. As he seemed a little anxious or upset to me, later at home, I thanked him for the invitation to attend. I told him that my grandmother seemed to enjoy the film -- she laughed all the way through it.

(yes, it's an old corny joke, and it was even then, but it was the only one I had at the moment).
Thursday, July 07, 2005
To London, with hope

by Chantal Foster

Though some of us may not know you, London, our thoughts are with you so far away. Your families, your friends, may they be safe. And may your wounds, body and soul, heal quickly and with hope for peace.

Albuquerque, New Mexico sends its love.


(Me, too. barbara)
Book Review

(A look at what might have been going on at the EMP 2004)

by Eric Weisbard

Harvard University PressMay 2004, 400 pages, $19.95 (US)


(I've been reading a bit about pop culture lately. Please also take a look at "100 Culture Reporters Can't Be Wrong -- Can They?" in which the writer states pop culture is important and we ignore it at our own peril.)
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Let's all get up and ... if not exactly dance, then read an article about a song that was a hit before your mother was born.

Monterey Pop Festival: "Goodbye Top 40, Hello Underground Rock"

Joel Selvin dips his brush in to recreate some of the color of the time ... complete with a few memories of Larry Miller and underground radio ... and a veritable if small goodie bag of cultural minutiae. The reading pleasure is all yours for the asking just by clicking the link.
"Let's all take the music-snob pledge offered by Chris Weingarten on his blog. Perhaps even print it out and bring it with you to Other Music or Reckless next time yr in there browsing for Rough Guide to Turkish Prison Songs Played On Combs."

(via tinyluckygenius)
Monday, July 04, 2005
That was "now" and "this" was then, when Frank went out to play one day ...

Here are a few concert reviews of some performances from faraway yesteryear that held quite some significance for the people who remember them. It's about that Frank Zappa again.

(kill ugly radio via technorati)
Sunday, July 03, 2005
PBS in the private glade or Everywhere I Go, There I Am Dept.

Benefit concerts: Camp Winnarainbow, Jackson Browne, distraught neighbors, and A private amphitheatre in the Berkeley Hills. I remember going to what had to have been the same location in the late sixties, but that evening's performance was a dress rehearsal of Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound". As I recall, this presentation was developed by one of the actors in the Living Theater. I'm not certain if the piece was performed ever again anywhere after that.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Saturday Reading Room Open

Some books about music you might not have heard exist. Read all about it in the paper of record. "Music Chronicle" By DAVE ITZKOFF and ALAN LIGHT
Compiling the best online articles about music so there will be more of both in the future. In periods of drought, the reader will be innundated by my own blogs on the matters.

07/01/2002 - 08/01/2002 / 08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002 / 09/01/2002 - 10/01/2002 / 10/01/2002 - 11/01/2002 / 11/01/2002 - 12/01/2002 / 12/01/2002 - 01/01/2003 / 01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 / 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 / 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 / 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 / 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 / 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 / 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 / 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 / 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 / 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 / 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 / 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 / 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 / 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 / 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 / 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 / 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 / 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 / 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 / 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 / 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 / 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 / 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 / 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 / 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 / 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 / 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 / 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 /

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