Stevenson Palfi, 53, noted filmmaker
From staff reports
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Stevenson J. Palfi, a nationally recognized film and video
documentarian, died Dec. 14 at his home in New Orleans. He was 53.
His family said Mr. Palfi died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. They
said he was suffering severe depression in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina. Virtually all his property and possessions, both personal and
professional, were destroyed or severely damaged by the storm and the
flooding that followed.
He had been living with his former wife and co-producer, Polly Waring,
whose home was one of the few still habitable in the Mid-City area where both
Mr. Palfi, a longtime resident of New Orleans, grew up in Chicago, where
he graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School. He received
a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Clark University in Worcester,
He was a familiar figure in the local music and filmmaking communities.
He is best known for his award-winning 1982 documentary "Piano Players
Rarely Ever Play Together." Still in distribution, the film features three
generations of New Orleans pianists: Isidore "Tuts" Washington, Henry
Roeland "Professor Longhair" Byrd and Allen Toussaint, composer of such hits as
"Workin' in a Coal Mine," "Mother-in-Law" and "Southern Nights."
At the time of his death, Mr. Palfi was in the final stages of production on
a feature-length program about Toussaint titled "Songwriter, Unknown."
He had been working on the film for more than 15 years.
Toussaint said, "My friend Stevenson Palfi's life's work was immortalizing
others, and in so doing, he has immortalized himself. His work will
outlast all of us."
Other New Orleans musicians who were subjects of Mr. Palfi's works
included singer Ernie K-Doe and Preservation Hall banjoist Emmanuel "Manny"
Mr. Palfi received grants, fellowships and awards from, among others,
the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller
Foundation, the Channel Four Network of Great Britain, the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.
His work also included a 13-week series of documentaries and short films
produced for The Learning Channel and hosted by actor Martin Sheen, a
Included in that series of works was "Setting the Record Straight," which
revealed the musical versatility of violinist Papa John Creach, former
fiddler for the rock band Jefferson Starship.
Survivors include a daughter, Nell Palfi; his father, Alfred M. Palfi
of Michiana Shores, Ind.; and a sister, Cynthia Penfold of Avon, Ind.
A tribute to Mr. Palfi is planned at Offbeat Magazine's "Best of the
Beat" Awards ceremony Jan. 21 at the New Orleans House of Blues. Plans for a
further musical celebration of his life and work will be announced later. His
body will be cremated.
(via world music list)
2006 Da Capo Best Music Writing Call for Submissions
It's Daphne C. Sorry that this might be the 3rd time you've seen this,
but I just realized that I hadn't posted the news and/or call to you
all, and it is my heart's desire to have you all send me work, so:
I am pleased to introduce myself as the new series editor for the 2006
edition of the Da Capo Best Music Writing anthology. My task is to
compile and select the best writing on popular music written during the
calendar year 2005 for final selection by the 2006 guest editor, Mary
Gaitskill. Please consider this email an invitation to submit works
starting now. I will take work up until early February but ask that
submissions be made at your earliest convenience. Feel free to email
batches of submissions as you think of them -- don't hold off to
send in your whole list of nominations until February. You can also
send multiple sets of works.
As in years past, the series collects the best writing in the
'non-classical' genres including but not limited to rock, hip hop,
pop, jazz, and country music. I am looking for pieces across all
popular music genres, in a variety of written forms, and in a wide
variety of publications (magazines, newspapers, journals, zines,
websites, blogs, etc).
Please feel free to send your own work, works you have edited or helped
to publish, those of your colleagues and friends -- even your most
worthy adversaries if you are feeling noble -- and any pieces that
struck you throughout the year as especially brilliant or important.
I would prefer to receive pieces you consider noteworthy via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org . Send as links, word or PDF files and please
make sure that the author and name of the publication are obvious for
You can also mail me print outs/clips or whole publications (if you do
this, please put a post-it with the article(s) you recommend). Please
mail only via media mail or first class -- special deliveries make for
My address is:
PO Box 250811
New York, NY 10025
REMEMBERING SANDY BULL
A group of old friends and others gathered at Montgomery Bell Academy
in Nashville on Sunday. December i8th to eulogize the late Sandy Bull who
passed away five years ago. Among those who performed were Kevin Welch,
Kieren Kane, Jeff Hanna, Matreca Berg and John Hiatt ..Sandy was
considered one of the premier guitar heroes of an era, when Johnny Winter, Jimi
Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Earl Gaines, Terry Kath and Duane Allman were
being dubbed the new Gods of Stratocaster. He recorded for Vanguard, in one
of the first multitrack studios in Manhattan. The label was considered a haven
for folkies with artists like Joan Baez, Jerry Jeff Walker, Garland
Jeffries, Eric Anderson and John Hammond in the stable, but before there was folk
music, Maynard Solomon, the label head was concentrating on jazz and
improve. Vanguard most notably was the home base for Miles Davis.
Sandy Bull was laying down electric music that forever shaped the world
of sound that would evolve. He, along with Gil Evans and Eric Gale were
setting standards that set up the groundwork for every guitar player who would
come afterwards would follow. In that seemingly futuristic (by late sixties
standards) studio, he was able to create a new standard of sound and
playback.. He was revered like an icon of the guitar by a devoted group
of followers. Critics from the most prestigious publications including
Downbeat, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and the New York Times
lauded his talent.
Sadly however, he spent many years living the musician¹s life, and in
the mid-seventies, drifted into obscurity. Yet, by the early eighties,
Sandy Bull was back, living in Los Angeles, clean and sober and playing to a
still-adoring audience in intimate jazz and listening rooms. The major
labels were not interested in this guitar virtuoso, and he was putting
out albums on his own. By the late 1980¹s. he had moved to Nashville with
the encouragement of people like Kevin and Dylan/Band road manager Bob
John Conlon, then the program director for super-hip WRLT had no idea
who he was, and would not program Sandy¹s independent records. He was another
obscure musician from the past who had surfaced in Music City. Yet on
his occasional performances, the major studio and road pickers would pack
the room to watch the master of the fret board .at work They knew that they
were watching greatness in their midst. Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler were
among those who lauded him. Still, he fell through the cracks of the
commercial structure, but Sandy had found a home.
Bull mixed jazz, blues and folk into his own sound, throwing in some
Django and Segovia stylings, just to make things interesting. Even in
sobriety, he shied away from the spotlight. He always felt that the artistry would
carry him, and during live performances, his intensity was what caught the
audience attention. Welch was perhaps his biggest supporter, and Kevin
rarely did an interview without mentioning Sandy¹s name. So, he
assembled a group of friends and admires, who gathered together to celebrate the
life and music of an unsung hero. Remembering how the guitarist would shy
away from the limelight, he would probably tell Kevin not to do the tribute
concert, So, it was fitting that the place made world famous by The
Last Poet¹s Society should hold a tribute for one of the greatest guitarists
of the last century.
(Source: 2005 Punmaster's MusicWire
Jazz Supreme from the Vault
"How is it that the freshest jazz being released these days is made by the same artists who were leading the pack 40 years ago?
'The legacy of the music is undeniable, and when something like this is unearthed it gets attention, especially when the artists are no longer with us,' says Jon Hammond of Mansfield, a jazz DJ on WRIU-FM (90.3) who is in the Boston jazz clubs at least once a week. 'When you think you've exhausted their entire output and something new comes out, it's a real treat. People of our generation who weren't around when this stuff was going on feel like we can participate in it when new stuff is unearthed.'
Get ready to rumba
Nice retrospective on Carmen Miranda, whose biography is being rushed into 2nd printing just one month after publication.
(From Crazed by the Music at PopMatters
Exploitation and Theft | By Jason Gross
December 15, 2005Best music scribing of 2005
Tis the season to reflect back on the year, make resolutions and remember all the good and bad things that happened in the last 300 or so days. As part of that, I’m doing my annual round-up for rockcritics.com
, covering the best music writing of the year. I have a pretty good list so far but I thought I’d poll the blogsphere (great word) to find out if there’s any that I need to know about. If you want to nominate yourself, don’t be bashful or modest. Feel free to post your favorites here to share with the online world or you can give me a shout directly at email@example.com
I’m also gathering thoughts about the state of music journalism in this age of declining print readership, circulation scandals, lay-off’s, etc.. Not a pretty picture, needless to say. One thing’s for sure- media is changing rapidly now because of online innovations and it’s impossible to turn back from that now. A lot of hand wringing is going on as well as fretting and guessing about the future. There are definitely going to be more hard times to come but there will also be opportunities that spring up.
What I’m still wondering about is where the media itself is heading and what’s driving it there. Music journalism isn’t disconnected from the rest of the scribing world by any means so this is something important that’s gonna shape the future of the field. To be continued ...
This is what the Association of Music Writers and Photographers
is about, per a MusicDish interview with founding member and gran fromage C.J. Chilvers.
If you don't already support AMWP, yes, kiddos, you should.
What I've Learned: B. B. King
December 16, 2005
(Bluesman, 80, Las Vegas)
Some people say that blues singers are always cryin' in their beer. But you know what? I don't drink.
I don't think it's meant for man to know everything at once.
This year, I will do something like 180, 190 concerts. But that's a little less than usual. I had been averaging 230 or 240. In 1956, I did 342 one-nighters. But I was young then, and I was doing something I love to do. I didn't pay any attention until my agents told me at the end of the year: "B. B., do you know how many dates you did?" Even I was surprised at that.
I've been married twice. Most women would rather not be married to a traveling blues singer.
My last divorce was in '68. What made it come to a head was a promise. See, I had promised her that the next year I wouldn't work as much. But then I got in trouble with the IRS and I had to continue working just as much to pay the government. So she said I lied, which is something I never did. I tried to explain it to her, that I was forced to do what I had to do by circumstances. But of course she's tellin' me, "You promised!"
A while back, a teacher brought me some book reports from some kids who'd read my book. Most all of them got A's. Some of them were saying, "Well, he loved women," and that's no lie; I do. But one young lady, she wrote, "He's a woman freak. I think I would be scared to be in a room with him by myself." I want that girl to know that I'm not that bad; I do have control. But it's no lie. I love women most of all.
It's not that I want to sleep with all of them. I'd like to clarify that. It's like seeing a rose. A rose is a rose. It's pretty. But that doesn't mean you want to snap it off and put it on your lapel. I have an excellent medical team. There's Dr. Viagra, Dr. Cialis, and nurse Levitra. They keep me, er, straight.
The guitar I'm playin' is Lucille number sixteen. There's actually a seventeen; they made it for my seventieth birthday. But I never take it out on the road, 'cause it's got my picture on it. I like to sit it up at my house and just look at it.
The younger players, my hat goes off to them. Because they are always coming up with ideas that I never thought of. I sometimes used to kind of hate myself for that: Why didn't I think of it?
I used to have a jones for gambling. But thirty years ago I moved to Las Vegas, and it cured my habit. My former manager taught me something: He said when you go to a casino and you want to gamble, write a check. It's one of the smartest things I've ever been told. Because when you get back that canceled check and you see how much money you have screwed up - you could've given it to your family, you could've given it to your girlfriend. You could've just walked over to the Mississippi River and thrown it in there. That's what cured me, realizing how much I was throwing away.
Water from the white fountain didn't taste any better than from the black fountain.
Back when we was in school in Mississippi, we had Little Black Sambo. That's what you learned: Anytime something was not good, or anytime something was bad in some kinda way, it had to be called black. Like, you had Black Monday, Black Friday, black sheep. . . . Of course, everything else, all the good stuff, is white. White Christmas and such. You got to pay attention to the language, hear what it's really saying.
Growing up, I was taught that a man has to defend his family. When the wolf is trying to get in, you gotta stand in the doorway. He has to get through you first before he gets into the house to get your family. I'm one of those guys who wants to be in that door.
I'm a country boy. I love nature. I don't need all the fancy things, the fancy automobiles, the fancy this and that. I have a nice car, a Mercedes. And then I have an old El Camino truck that I'm crazy about. I like to get in that truck and go up in the hills near where I live, in Vegas, and take my camera. That to me is heaven, being out in nature, taking pictures of the wildlife.
With the U. S. government, I don't know. I don't know what they see. When I say they, I mean the president and his people, the Senate and everybody. I don't know what they see. They're not going to tell you everything. So many things we read, we just don't know the whole truth about. What's really going on? Who knows?
America might be a little eager to go to war. We don't consider the cost of what this is going to do to us in the long run.
I don't have a favorite song that I've written. But I do have a favorite song: "Always on My Mind," the Willie Nelson version. If I could sing it like he do, I would sing it every night. I like the story it tells. It go, I may not have written you - he's talking about a lady - when maybe I should have. Or maybe I didn't take you to dinner, didn't call you when I should have, or didn't love you as I should have. But you was always on my mind. I felt that way a lot in my life. I think every person feels it. That's one of the things about being an entertainer. What we do - it's just sharing the thoughts that many people have. You go to see a movie, and you sit up and cry - it's because something is happening in there that just done happen to you or somebody you know. It's the same thing with what I do. Don't matter if you're gay or straight, black or white, you still have the same problem. It's love. It's universal.
I don't like anybody to be angry with me. I'd rather have friends. If there's any static or whatever that causes somebody to be mad at me about something or to think I'm at fault about something, I'll get on my knees to apologize. I just believe that life is good like that.
Interviewed by Mike Sager
(via dave & the fine folks at rockandrap confidential
"It Can't Happen Here .... (Minna minna minna minna minna minna sota)"
The Pop Music Critic as Cultural Critic
A Workshop for Journalists
February 16-17, 2006
University of Minnesota
Featuring Guest Speakers
Mark Anthony Neal
About the Workshop
This workshop for music journalists and arts critics will explore the
cultural contexts in which they work and will provide helpful models
for their writing.
Best Practices for Reviewing Pop, Rock and Hip-Hop
Ethical Traps and How to Avoid Them
Censorship/Restrictions in Popular Music
$100 conference fee*
For additional information and to read speaker bios, visit
www.mjc.umn.edu/popmusic or e-mail mnjrnctr@... for an
informational flyer as a pdf.
Minnesota Journalism Center
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
College of Liberal Arts
University of Minnesota
*A limited number of scholarships covering the conference fee will be
available to journalists who would like to attend but would not be
reimbursed by their employer for attendance. The conference fee does
not include housing, travel or additional meal expenses, which are the
responsibility of the attendee.
Steven W. Terrell's Weblog
"To filmmaker Robert Mugge, music is a metaphor for the human spirit.
'It's beneath the surface in every film I've made,'? he said in a recent telephone interview. 'Music is a leaping-off place for discussions of social issues, cultural issues, political issues, even religious issues.'
Mugge, who will be in town to present three of his music documentaries at the Santa Fe Film Festival, is enmeshed in a project to document the effects of Hurricane Katrina on a city that is a major wellspring of American music. Mugge is making the Katrina movie for the cable network Starz."
(via Bob Sarles, Ravin' Films
this from Jason Gross:
- Best Music Scribing of the Year- I'm compiling a listing of best music journalism of the year for rockcritics.com again. If you'd like to nominate anyone (including yourself!), please let me know.
- NYC Music Commission- I've been in touch with a number of New York clubs, writers, artists and fans to brainstorm the possibility of a local commission which promotes the music scene as it does in other major U.S. cities. If you're interested in this, see this site for more information:
- World Journalism Project- I'm working to put together an anthology of the best music writers/criticism around the world, specifically outside America and England as these two places are over-represented. I've already been in touch with a number of writers from South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. I'm still in the early research phase of this project but if you'd like to recommend any writer (including yourself) or have any ideas about this, please let me know.
See you online,
Perfect Sound Forever - online music magazine since 1993- now new and semi-improved!
Yei Wei Blog aka Wild Taste
Crazed by the Music blog
"Violence in music needs critical analysis
"The former radio discjock said the dancehall deejays are story-tellers who are documenting the modern history of the country and he challenged the society to examine dancehall lyrics more carefully.
'The key thing that we're missing (media and academia included), is in not really analysing the stories that these deejays are telling... I'm challenging people to find some of these lyrics and look at the stories reflected there, because in another 20 years, that will be the history book of Jamaica, in terms of the violence, political patronage, and the corruption.'
'And to some extent that is not a glorification of violence. The thing is to critically look at and deal with the issues these story-tellers raise.'