Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rock Hall picks its sweet sixteen (Daily News)

The 16 finalists for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2006 are a diverse group with no breakout star.

Whatever you thought of earlier inductees like U2, Bruce Springsteen or Prince, they were automatics. Without demeaning any of this year's nominees, there's no automatic on a ballot that comprises, in alphabetical order, Black Sabbath, Blondie, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, the Dave Clark Five, Miles Davis, the J. Geils Band, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mellencamp, the Sex Pistols, the Sir Douglas Quintet, the Patti Smith Group, Cat Stevens, the Stooges and Joe Tex. - complete article

Your thoughts? I'm thinking only Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Blondie and Cat Stevens.

Article about Rock 'N Roll Hall selection process by Ed Levy in the Buffalo News

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bob Dylan, No Direction Home - A Martin Scorsese film to be aired in two parts on Monday/Tuesday, September26/27

Forever-Young Dylan
Scorsese’s PBS Documentary Chronicles Early Years Of Folk Icon
By ROGER CATLIN, Hartford Courant TV Critic

A crashing, apocalyptic version of "Like a Rolling Stone" begins Martin Scorsese's epic documentary on Bob Dylan's early career. Dylan saved his biggest hit single for the end of his bracing, divisive live shows in 1966, turning it into a declaration of independence from purists who preferred he forever remain the topical folk troubadour.

As such, the song frames and gives a name to Scorsese's "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan," a documentary that will be broadcast Monday and Tuesday on public television. Released last Tuesday on a double-DVD package with extras, it will be PBS's season highlight. It's not only the longest biography ever presented on "American Masters," it also covers the shortest period - from the singer's early years until his June 1966 motorcycle crash. - complete review

PBS American Masters

Soundtrack to Scorsese documentary packed with unreleased cuts (Billboard, July 14, 2005)

NEW YORK - More than two-dozen previously unreleased Bob Dylan tracks will be found on “No Direction Home: The Soundtrack,” due in stores Aug. 30. The double-disc set, the seventh volume in Columbia/Legacy’s “Bootleg Series,” is the companion to Martin Scorsese’s Dylan documentary of the same name, which premieres Sept. 26 on PBS.

Sequenced in chronological order, “No Direction Home” boasts 26 rarities, beginning with what is believed to be the first original song Dylan ever recorded (“When I Got Troubles,” taped by a high school friend in Minnesota in 1959). Complete article...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Johnnyk (the younger) takes in The White Stripes in Beantown

He will take in the second of the three shows at the Opera House. I will try to squeeze a report out of him when he returns.

AMG biography - Detroit minimalist rock duo (specifically, southwest Detroit minimalist rock duo) the White Stripes — Jack White, guitar and vocals, Meg White, drums — formed in 1997 (Bastille Day, to be precise) with the idea of making simple rock & roll music. From the red and white peppermint candy motif of their debut singles, self-titled album, and stage show to their on-the-surface rudimentary style, they succeeded wildly and immediately with that mission. Their first recordings were a mix of garage rock, blues, and the occasional show tune. In frontman Jack (a former drummer for Detroit country outfit Goober & the Peas), the White Stripes have a formidable songwriter, guitar player, and vocalist capable of both morphing between styles and changing the musical styles themselves; ranging from the folk blues of Blind Willie McTell to soaring Kinks-esque pop and narrative pop tunes worthy of Cole Porter and into deepest Captain Beefheart territory within the span of 15 minutes is not an uncommon listening experience with either the White Stripes live show or on record. In drummer Meg, the White Stripes have a minimalist percussionist who seems to sense intuitively exactly when to not play. The White Stripes are grounded in punk and blues, but the undercurrent to all of their work has been the aforementioned striving for simplicity, a love of American folk music, and a careful approach to intriguing, emotional, and evocative lyrics not found anywhere else in the modern punk, or garage rock (or amongst post-modern "blues" practitioners such as Jon Spencer, for that matter). - complete biography

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Music of New Orleans reminds of what's lost

By Chris Morris

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In the drowned city of New Orleans, Preservation Hall is still standing. A story in Monday's Los Angeles Times said the fate of the historic jazz venue on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter was still unknown. But -- in the uncertainty of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and because of the dicey nature of communications out of the city -- information about New Orleans is being passed hand to hand, from one soul to the other.

Ben Jaffe -- whose family has operated Preservation Hall since 1961 as a temple devoted to the city's traditional jazz music -- survived Katrina's blow, according to Andy Hurwitz of Ropeadope Records in New York, who is working on a remix project with the Preservation Hall label. "He decided that he and his family had been through worse," Hurwitz wrote in an e-mail last week, "so he rode out the actual storm, and both he and the hall made it relatively unscathed. But just yesterday (August 31), he felt the need to finally flee -- not because of the hurricane but because of the wild looting and lawlessness. He said he was scared, and he's the baddest cat I know."

Shots of Preservation Hall are among the first and last things one sees in Michael Murphy's new documentary "Make It Funky!" In an unsettling coincidence of timing, the Triumph Films release opens Friday at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood and the Quad Cinemas in Manhattan. Murphy's film, like the all-star April 2004 concert that serves as its center, was meant to be a celebration of New Orleans' fount of musical genius. Most of the Crescent City's best-known and best-loved stars -- Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, the Neville Brothers, Snooks Eaglin -- are seen in live performance.

It's a jubilant movie, but, in Katrina's aftermath, it jarringly serves to show us all the more what's been lost in the destruction of New Orleans. Murphy's walk through musical history makes the point that New Orleans music is very much a form of street music. The town's sound was born on the pavement -- in the singing of slaves on Congo Square, in the playing of funeral parade bands, in the rhythmic contests of Mardi Gras Indians. And now one must wonder if that joyous noise will ever rise again out of those now-inundated streets.

For the time being, at least, the only way we can honor the city's tradition is to revisit it by dipping into the jazz of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet; the R&B of Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and Dave Bartholomew; the funk of the Meters and Dr. John.

Although closed indefinitely, the indomitable Preservation Hall has established a fund devoted to the relief of the city's musicians. (Consult The fund will be sustained by the sale of T-shirts emblazoned with a famed Armstrong song title, "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?"

Now, sadly, we will likely all know what it means.

Dixie Cups Singers Lose Homes in Hurricane (AP)
TAMPA, Fla. - Two original members of the 1960s girl group The Dixie Cups are looking for somewhere sing, along with a new place to live. Rosa and Barbara Hawkins both lost homes in New Orleans' Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina.

They're living temporarily in a motel room in Tampa, where Rosa's son lives. "Even with all this devastation, we know that we are blessed because we got out with our lives," Rosa Hawkins said. "Even though we lost everything else, we still have our voices." - complete article

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New Orleans - the ideal place to get shot

by Ray Davies (yeah, The Kinks guy) writing for the Times of London online

Away from the partying it was obvious to a dedicated follower of the city that disaster was around the corner. I SPENT the early part of last year in New Orleans recovering from gunshot wounds received as I was being robbed. It happened in the early evening as I walked down a quiet street with my girlfriend. There was a football game in town and the streets near the French Quarter were empty. The police presence was elsewhere. The incident itself was over in a flash but it plays over and over in my head and perhaps one day it will make sense to me. I found out later that there were fewer than 2,000 police in New Orleans at that time and it reached such a point that there was talk of the city was importing officers from Cleveland. Anyway, thanks to someone’s mobile phone, the police eventually got to the scene.

Later, as I was carried into the emergency room at Charity hospital, a doctor reassured me that “New Orleans really is the best place to get shot”. They had, he explained, had plenty of practice. The same week I was shot, I read that three other tourists were killed near to where I was attacked. Tourists were urged not to fight back after being mugged (I was continually reminded of this by the district attorney’s officials, who were critical of the way I chased the man who robbed my girlfriend).

There were additional complications to my injuries and my gunshot wounds were not as clean as first thought. Before I was taken in for my first operation, a priest came and gave me a little spiritual assistance. Later I was even serenaded by a nurse who whispered slow, mournful gospel songs in the style of Mahalia Jackson. - complete article

Saturday, September 03, 2005

johnnyk and johnny gumbo at Rhythm & Roots Festival, Charleston, RI

Fantastic weather, great music, good food/drink! Great day at the Rhody shore, Gumbo resplendent in his JazzFest piano shirt and Johnnyk in my red Louisiana Music Factory shirt. This year we changed our arrival time to mid-afternoon to conserve energy, hoping that the strategy will allow us to stay for the last artist, Keb Mo (a favorite of Marcia V). Our late arrival means that our seating is in the back of the park, closer to the beer/food than to the Mohegan Sun main stage, but not to worry, we stake our spot (a cold Red Hook IPA in hand) and listen to the end of Paul Cebar & the Milwaukeeans' set of R&B/soul/funk while perusing the festival program.

As Donna the Buffalo starts their set, it's time for some food. The line for the cajun shrimp, jambalaya, etc. is quite long, so we opt for the offerings on either side, Gumbo getting some chicken/rice while I grab us a half-rack of ribs. We share a picnic table with a couple from Connecticut who, noting our spiffy shirts, tell us they have done JazzFest and also have come to Rhythm & Roots for years dating back to when it was held somewhere in MA. We all agree that it will be some time before we attend another festival in New Orleans.

We are not limited to hearing the music from the outer reaches. We have options. So we make our way over to the dance tent, located to the right of the main stage, where we find a pole to lean against, where the stage is in clear sight, to enjoy the music and various other activities. Zydeco dancing at these things is a whole separate cultural experience. Johnny Gumbo now fancies himself an accomplished dancer and he suavely offers his services to one of the many lasses lining the edge of the dance floor - and she accepts. The floor is tightly packed with all age combinations imaginable because the dancing is the deal, so if you can, you're a hot commodity. I'm content (not that I have a choice) to observe the novices, the timid, the prim and the peacocks revolve sweatily around the floor to the infectious beats of Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys.

Beers refreshed, we take in Marcia Ball's set. "Her Tallness" conveys her sadness and concern about the events in New Orleans, but is resolved to be upbeat and optimistic about the future. Her rendition of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927 (they're tryin' to wash us away)" is touching. Love Marcia.

It's getting late. Keb Mo remains, but we're fading a little, so we walk around to stay focused. Keb starts his set and we listen to a few tasty offerings from the back. I make a mental note to revisit his CD as we call it a day and pack up our stuff. We tried to get a group together this year, but it didn't work out; going to try again next year. Later.

This is a three-day event, held at Ninigret Park, which Gumbo and I attended last year and loved it. We discovered Rosie Flores there and I got to see her again at Cafe Nine in July (review); this year highly anticipating the performances of Donna the Buffalo, Marcia Ball and Keb Mo. Unfortunately, we must miss the Labor Day Weekend extravaganza at the Walden/Gorecki compound, but they will probably survive without us. See youse later!

7:45-9:00 MARCIA BALL
9:15-10:45 KEB’ MO’
1:00-1:45 HONKY TONK & OLD TIME: The Wilders
2:00-2:45 MUSIC OF CANRAY FONTENOT: Poullard, Watson & Adams
3:00-3:45 FIDDLE & BOW: Greeley, Nevins, Ellis, Gellert
4:00-4:45 CAJUN & ZYDECO ACCORDION: Riley, Delafose, Legé
5:00-5:45 MEET THE G’EARLS: Uncle Earl