Saturday, February 28, 2009

Weekend update....

Browns continue their slide into the insignificant by trading malcontent tight end Kellen Winslow for draft picks. And the beat goes on, drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain.

Very cool free concert Sunday (3:00pm) at Hartford's Immanuel Congregational Church - Gene Bozzi, Hartford Symphony timpanist, will head a talented group of classical/jazz musicians in a tribute to jazz legend Charlie "Bird" Parker.

One of these Sundays, if the opportunities continue to exist, I am going to drag The Reet down to NYC for a brunch/concert with Allen Toussaint at Joe's Pub. Here is a funky Allen Toussaint song Give It Up sung by Lee Dorsey, backed by the Meters.

Pianist Taino Pacheco performs a free concert Sunday at 3pm at the Hartford Public Library for the Baby Grand Series.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him!...

Guess who Johnny Gumbo has in his sights....

Spokane's rapping mayor:

Such a night!...

The Pool Hall Studs and their sinuses were playing golf in Pheonix, Johnny Gumbo was up to no good in Spokane, Marybeth was working it at Target, Suzi was sick, but the party went on! The food was spicy and Dr Ya Ya's Gumbo Party Band was even spicier at the 5th annual Southington Rotary Mardi Gras Night at Anthony Jack's.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Jazz Fest poster...

Two Saints:
Allen Toussaint & the French Quarter

by James Michalopoulos

Saturday, February 21, 2009

White Stripes help Conan O'Brien say goodbye...

John Legend: Open Letter to the New York Post...

Dear Editor:

I’m trying to understand what possible motivation you may have had for publishing that vile cartoon depicting the shooting of the chimpanzee that went crazy. I guess you thought it would be funny to suggest that whomever was responsible for writing the Economic Recovery legislation must have the intelligence and judgment of a deranged, violent chimpanzee, and should be shot to protect the larger community. Really? Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our President has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?

If that’s not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots. If it is what you intended, then you obviously wanted to be grossly provocative, racist and offensive to the sensibilities of most reasonable Americans. Either way, you should not have printed this cartoon, and the fact that you did is truly reprehensible. I can’t imagine what possible justification you have for this. I’ve read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Rev. Sharpton. It’s about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive. complete letter

Friday, February 20, 2009

Positively Pennsylvania Avenue

The New Yorker (1/29/09)

(Left: Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo, photographed in 1963 by Don Hunstein/CBS; right: Barack and Michelle Obama, photographed in 2009 by Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We talkin' 'bout practice?.....

Word on the street is that the Pool Hall Studs are hunkering down in Arizona for some corporate golf, but really, are they there for some serious 8-ball practice?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One week to go. Do NOT miss this really fun event!...

Tell all your friends. If you have no friends, tell anyone else you know. The 5th annual Southington Rotary Mardi Gras Night will be held on Fat Tuesday, February 24th at Anthony Jack's Wood-fired Grill. In addition to fine food and interesting people (if YOU come, of course), you will be thoroughly entertained by Dr. Ya Ya's Gumbo Party. To quote New Orleans' own Dr. John - "SUCH A NIGHT!" Just imagine, all this and support for the Southington Rotary Club's community programs, too!

Just the facts, Ma'am:
  • Date/time: Fat Tuesday, February 24, 2009 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm
  • Where: Anthony Jack's Wood-fired Grill, 30 Center Street, Southington, CT 06489 - directions
  • Cost: $65/person, includes food stations, beer, wine, entertainment
  • Why: To support the programs/scholarships of the Southington Rotary Club
  • Reservations: Co-chair John Kennedy @860.276.8025, Co-chair Trish Walden @860.378.1226, Anthony Jack's @860.426.1487

    Dr YaYa's Gumbo Party
    Who's Dr. Ya Ya? The original Dr. Ya Ya was a voodoo root doctor in 19th century New Orleans, a successor to Marie Laveau and Doctor John. How'd a band from the Nutmeg State come to be named after him? Dr. Ya Ya's Louisiana specialty was a jimson weed elixir, not the fake nutmegs carved from wood and sold by Connecticut peddlers of old. One hundred & fifty years or so later, drummer Tom Smith got tired of missing Mardi Gras every year because of gigs in New England and asked friends to join together in a party band to celebrate Fat Tuesday. At their 1992 debut, this masked ensemble of popular Connecticut musicians had so much fun that they continued performing sporadically as Dr. Ya Ya's Dirty Rice Revue. The current Dr. Ya Ya's Gumbo Party grew from this mysterious krewe. What's a gumbo party? When a group of friends get together for a gumbo party, everyone brings a different ingredient to toss into the cooking pot. For example . . Bassist Andy "Uncle Chickenbone" Karlok got his start with Greasy Fred & The New Haven Stompers, alongside Dr. Ya Ya singer Rob Jockel. Over the years, Andy has toured America with blues guitarist Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, backed the incomparable New Orleans singer Johnny Adams and blues legend Hubert Sumlin, could once be found playing bass and theremin with acclaimed Boston lounge lizards The Electric Logs, and is often heard with River City Slim & The Zydeco Hogs. Drummer Tom Smith did his New Orleans rock'n'roll studies loafing on a Coca Cola cooler in the back of Tipitina's - digging Professor Longhair, The Meters, Earl King, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers & other greats - and playing a few gigs on Bourbon Street. Now back his native CT, Tom juggles gigs with a ridiculously long list of bands, including The Hickups, Mercy Meadows, The Bandidos, The Alex Butter Field, Eugene Chrysler & the Hillbilly Shakespeares,and whoever else will feed him. Guitarist James Montez met singer Rob Jockel and drummer Tom Smith in New England bar band Dance Committee in the 1980s. James and Tom continue to play and record together in a variety of roots rock acts, including bluesy twang trio The Bandidos, hardcore honky tonkers The Hickups, and rockabillies Eugene Chrysler & the Hillbilly Shakespeares. Keyboardist extraordinaire Scott "Scooter" Van Dyke toured the U.S. with New Orleans-based jam band Brides of Jesus, whose history includes a six-month stint as Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli's backup group. After heading north, Scooter played with New England faves Gus Factor, the Michael Cleary Band, and Hot Skillet Papas. These days he keeps the funk alive with Lava and Catfish Jam. Vocalist Rob Jockel was one of the founders of Eight To the Bar, helping instigate its 1970s incarnation as a rocking Texas swing band devoted to Bob Wills and Asleep At the Wheel. When 8ttB's sound headed for Motown and jitterbugging, Rob departed in his own direction, singing with Dance Committee and later joining Scooter and Tom in blues quintet Hot Skillet Papas. He also currently fronts the seven-piece Memphis Soul Spectacular, which includes a few Dr YY members. When in New Orleans, he is partial to Uglesiche's etouffée (r.i.p.) and Liuzza's onion rings. Booking: Cutting Edge Entertainment (203) 693-9116
  • Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Florence and the Machine...

    Singer Florence has "Hold" on British music fans (Reuters)
    LONDON (Billboard) – She was discovered when her manager overheard her singing the soul classic "Something's Got a Hold on Me" in a dingy London club restroom. Now, British singer-songwriter Florence, of Florence and the Machine, is reaching a wider audience as the winner of the second BRIT Awards Critics' Choice prize. The honor was announced January 20 at the televised nominations ceremony for the BRITs, the British music industry's annual pop music awards, where the quirky 22-year-old singer, born Florence Welch, performed live. - complete article

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    My funny valentine
    Sweet comic valentine
    You make me smile with my heart
    Your looks are laughable
    Yet you're my favourite work of art

    Is your figure less than greek
    Is your mouth a little weak
    When you open it to speak
    Are you smart?

    But don't change a hair for me
    Not if you care for me
    Stay little valentine stay
    Each day is valentines day

    Ohio woman pleads guilty in over-exercising death
    CHARDON, Ohio – A woman has pleaded guilty to reckless homicide for exercising her 73-year-old husband to death in a swimming pool, repeatedly refusing to let him leave the water. Surveillance video showed Christine Newton-John, 41, pulling James Mason around the pool by his arms and legs, said Middlefield police Chief Joseph Stehlik. The chief said he counted 43 times in which Newton-John prevented her husband from leaving the water, and Mason rested his head on the side of the pool several times while gasping for breath.

    "The video is bone-chilling," Stehlik said. "The whole case is very sinister." Mason had a heart attack on June 2 after the extended swim session. An officer who had investigated previous complaints that Mason was being abused pursued the case because he suspected there was more to the death, Stehlik said. Newton-John pleaded guilty Thursday and faces up to five years in prison. No sentencing date was set. Police did not immediately respond to a call Saturday seeking comment on a motive. The video would have had a profound effect on a jury, Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce said. But that wouldn't have been enough for a conviction if Newton-John had been charged with murder. "You can see the man struggling for his life on the tape, but there is no audio, so we couldn't hear what he was saying," he said. Geauga County Chief Public Defender Robert Umholtz, who represented Newton-John, declined to comment.
    (Best part)
    Mason was a longtime friend of his wife's family. He knew her as John Vallandingham before she had gender reassignment surgery in 1993 and changed her name in honor of the singer and star of the hit movie version of the musical "Grease." The couple were wed in 2006 in Kentucky, where people can change their gender on their birth certificate.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Phil didn't do it, he's still in jail...

    Estelle Bennett, member of The Ronettes, dies
    NEW YORK – Estelle Bennett, one of the Ronettes, the singing trio whose 1963 hit "Be My Baby" epitomized the famed "wall of sound" technique of its producer, Phil Spector, has died at her home in Englewood, N.J. She was 67. Bennett's brother-in-law, Jonathan Greenfield, said police found her dead in her apartment on Wednesday after relatives had been unable to contact her. The time and cause of death have not yet been determined. Greenfield is the manager and husband of Bennett's sister, Ronettes lead singer Ronnie Spector.

    The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007; its Web site hails the group as "the premier act of the girl group era." Among their admirers were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones; their exotic hairstyles and makeup are aped by Amy Winehouse. The Ronettes — sisters Veronica "Ronnie" and Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley — signed with Spector's Philles Records in 1963. Their recording of "Be My Baby" hit No. 2 on Billboard magazine's pop music chart that year. Among their other hits were "Walkin' in the Rain" and "Baby I Love You." - complete article

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Good news...Neil Young added to Sunday, May 3rd lineup at Jazz Fest...

    Neil Young added to Jazz Fest, but Aretha cancels by Chevel Johnson (AP)

    NEW ORLEANS – Neil Young will join a slew of other first-time performers at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a bittersweet announcement given that the "Queen of Soul" canceled her coveted appearance. Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis said Aretha Franklin's activities surrounding President Barack Obama's inauguration, scheduling and travel issues led to the cancellation. "She decided not to do any more work for a while and we honor that," Davis said. "But, we definitely told her we want her next year. She's made it clear that New Orleans and the festival are important and that she would like to be a part of this and raising the spirit of New Orleans." - complete article

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Well, she was awalkin' down the street, lookin' fine as she could be (hey, hey)....

    One of my favorites, his music appears frequently on my set lists. (per Wikipedia) - Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999), was a musician from Texas. Born in San Antonio, Texas, he was a child prodigy in country music, but became a significant figure in blues, rock and other genres. Today Sahm is considered one of the most important figures in what is identified as Tex-Mex. He was the founder and leader of the 1960s rock and roll band The Sir Douglas Quintet, and later with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez - The Texas Tornados. Sahm was proficient on dozens of musical instruments and was a lifelong baseball fan.

    Now, there is a tribute album featuring the likes of Los Lobos, Dave Alvin, Delbert McClinton and Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles!

    Track Listing:
    1. She's About a Mover - Little Willie G.
    2. It Didn't Even Bring Me Down - Los Lobos
    3. Too Little Too Late - Alejandro Escovedo
    4. You Was For Real - Greg Dulli
    5. Dynamite Woman - Dave Alvin
    6. Ta Bueno Compadre (It's OK Friend) - Flaco Jimenez with the West Side Horns
    7. Texas Me - Delbert McClinton
    8. I'm Not That Kat Anymore - Terry Allen
    9. Why, Why, Why - Jimmie Vaughan
    10. You're Doin' It Too Hard - Charlie Sexton & the Mystic Knights of the Sea
    11. Nuevo Laredo - The Gourds
    12. Be Real - Freda & the Firedogs
    13. Adios Mexico - Joe "King" Carrasco & Texas Tornados
    14. Mendocino - Shawn Sahm
    15. Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles - I Wanna Be Your Mama Again [AMAZON EXCLUSIVE track]
    A little flashback to Doug and the Texas Tornados (introduced by Kinky Friedman):

    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    The Grammys or hey, can I have Chris Brown's seat?...

  • The ever-pompous U2 opens with Bono doing his Bob Dylan/Jack Kerouac/Martin Luther King routine singing a new song "Get on Your Boots" that has some Beatles overtones. Actually, not bad.
  • Liked Justin Timberlake's duet with Rev. Al Green on I'm So In Love With You. Boyz II Men and Keith Urban got the short straws on this hastily assembled substitute for Battlin' Chris Brown.
  • Whitney Houston looked a bit healthier, but weird.
  • Jay-Z popped in out of nowhere to interrupt Coldplay's Chris Martin before Chris joined his band. Just okay.
  • Carrie Underwood is completely forgettable.
  • Jonathan and Garrett will kill me, but I really liked Kid Rock's set of gospel, rap, redneck rock.
  • I actually think taylor Swift has some game. She performs a duet with Miley Cyrus, who does not have game.
  • Robert Plant/Allison Krauss win Best Collaboration (or something). Raising Sand is a GREAT album.
  • Heard the Jonas Brothers for the first time. Wow. They were paired with Stevie Wonder. Lucky Stevie, getting to sing Superstition with such a funky bunch. They (the Grammys) owe you, Stevie. I'm still speechless.
  • Coldplay wins another. Chris Martin walks back down the stairs instead of going backstage. I like this guy.
  • Katie Perry sings I Kissed a Girl. The audience seems underwhelmed.
  • I can live without Kanye West.
  • OMG! Coming up, an historic hip-hop summit. I'm getting sleepy. Why did I decide to this.
  • We discover that Kenny Chesney, who is the country music Jimmy Buffett, is a friend of Morgan Freeman. Who knew.
  • Robert Plant/Allison Krauss/T-Bone Burnett win for Please Read the Letter, a song written by Plant and Jimmy Page post-Led Zep. "We gave it a Nashville touch and it sounds pretty good!"

    I'm going to bed. Let me know what happens with the hip-hop summit. Night! Summary article -
  • What's a Jeb Loy Nichols?...

    Trish happened upon Mr. Nichols via NPR and liked him enough to suggest that I try him out. He has a new album out, Parish Bar, that "includes some covers, some jazz, some country, some soul - all the stuff that matters. It's an in-between time record - this is what it sounds like at my house.” Can we come over?

    Searched his website to find that he is also an artist/writer. A review of his novel posted on alcemi:

    The Untogether gets Morning Star Review
    Jeb Loy Nichols' new novel The Untogether has just had a great review in this left-wing paper which seems to enjoy the Alcemi list - on the whole! A "delightful novel... the writing is spare and quite funny... charming... with an easy, gentle pace... nice touches of conversational fantasy and wit... convincing and enjoyable." Just back from a gruelling tour as musician of the US, UK and Ireland, Jeb has been rather busy lately. And his October London launch of the novel at Shoreditch's Ryanstown gallery hosted around 100 people: the word in spreading...

    Friday, February 06, 2009

    Major bummed...

    The good news: The daily schedules are out for the 2009 Jazz Fest here.

    The shitty news - Thursday, April 30:
    Ben Harper & Relentless7, Emmylou Harris, Solomon Burke, Jakob Dylan, Meter Men: Zig, George, and Leo, Mississippi Mass Choir, the subdudes, Theresa Andersson, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Marva Wright & the BMWs, Nicholas Payton, Eddie Bo, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, Anders Osborne, Ronnie Kole, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots, George Wein & the Newport Allstars feat. Howard Alden, Anat Cohen, Randy Brecker, Lew Tabakin, Jimmy Cobb, and Esperanza Spalding, Banu Gibson’s Hot Jazz with special guest Bucky Pizzarelli, and more.

    Why? Because we arrive late afternoon Thursday and will miss them!

    A Friday shot of Gil Scott-Heron...

    Followed by a killer 1975 Fleetwood Mac Rhiannon:

    And, finally, a Lowell George-led Little Feat strutting their stuff at Winterland in 1976:

    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    Go funk yourself this weekend...

    MCLA readies for 4th Annual Blues and Funk Festival
    NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will banish the winter blues with its Fourth Annual MCLA Blues and Funk Festival on Friday, Feb. 6, and Saturday, Feb.7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Church Street Center. This two-night festival will feature Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentleman, Maya Azucena, Unfulfilled Desires, Robin O'Herin and MCLA students. Cleary, originally from "the other side of the pond," but adopted as one of New Orleans' own, will kick off the festival on Friday night. Cleary, originally from "the other side of the pond," but adopted as one of New Orleans' own, will kick off the festival on Friday night. According to the Washington Post, "Cleary plays the piano as if he is revving up an engine and sings as if a line drawing his behatted self were next to 'Soul' in Webster's."

    Opening for Cleary will be Unfulfilled Desires, an international indie jazz-funk-rock collective with a diverse line-up of players on both sides of the Atlantic. Well known in the clubs of Europe, they also are beginning to come into their own in the states. Unfulfilled Desires produce a fresh and eclectic sound that is the combined expression of their jazz, classical, rock, funk, and avant-garde backgrounds. Getting the evening going on Friday night will be the Whiskey Barrel Brothers, a MCLA student band that was a favorite last year, and the MCLA Jazz Band, under the tutelage of local musician and studio owner Jamie Choquette.

    Saturday night features Brooklyn native and up-and-coming superstar Maya Azucena, hailed by the New York Post as "the new Chaka Khan." Billboard Magazine said that Azucena has "...storytelling lyrics and soulful, soaring vocals." Stephen Marley said, "Maya has a very beautiful, soul voice... and she's very convincing with what she is singing about." Secor originally looked into her for last year's Women of the Funk and Blues, after she was highly recommended by the programmer for Lincoln Center's public programming. He saw her in New York City last January and knew that she would be great for this festival, in particular paired with Cleary. Like Cleary, she brings new life and her own sensibilities to classic funk and R &B, in her case adding hip hop and a touch of righteous indignation.

    Saturday gets started with the student band Intercourse, a return of the MCLA Jazz Band, and local favorite blues-woman, Robin O'Herin. Tickets for general admission are $12, $5 for MCLA faculty and staff and members and MCLA students are free. To reserve tickets, call (413) 662-5204. For more information, go to or call 413-664-8718.

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    Covering the day the music died....

    Before we put The Day the Music Died away for yet another year, here is a pretty cool playlist of live covers of Buddy Holly, Big Bopper Richardson, Richie Valens, Dion DiMucci and Wayon Jennings. Although it is common knowledge that Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the flight, I never knew that Dion & the Belmonts were in the mix that fateful snowy night. The following is from Wolfgang's Concert Vault:

    On February 2nd, 1959, the Winter Dance Party Tour, featuring Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and Dion and the Belmonts pulled into Clear Lake, Iowa for a show at the Surf Ballroom. The gig was a late addition to the tour schedule, filling in what would have otherwise been a night off. By the time they arrived, their bus had had a number of problems including a broken heating system that caused Holly's drummer, Carl Bunch, to develop frostbite in his feet. Holly, also in need of some extra time to do some laundry, decided to charter a small plane to their next stop in Minnesota.

    The plane, piloted by Roger Peterson, sat 3 people. Dion DiMucci was offered a seat, but he refused to pay the outrageous sum of $36. Waylon Jennings, Holly's bassist at the time, gave his seat to Richardson, who was suffering from the flu. Valens won the last remaining seat through a coin toss from Holly's guitarist, Tommy Allsup.

    At 1 am on February 3rd, the plane took off. It was found the following morning about 5 miles away from the airport. Holly was 22, Richardson was 28, and Valens was 17. The tragedy has since become ingrained in the national consciousness, helped, in part, by Don McLean's "American Pie." In this playlist, created on the 50th anniversary of the crash, we offer a tribute to the musicians through their music and their story.

    The playlist begins with 11 songs either written or made famous by Holly (1-6), Valens (7-9), and Richardson (10-11). Dion (track 12) and Waylon Jennings (track 13) went on to have long, successful careers. Marshall Crenshaw (track 14), who plays Buddy Holly in the Valens biopic "La Bamba," and Don McLean (track 15) have helped immortalize the story.

    1. The Beach Boys | Peggy Sue
    2. Link Wray and Robert Gordon | (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care
    3. Don McLean | It Doesn't Matter Anymore
    4. Linda Ronstadt | That'll Be The Day
    5. The Neville Brothers | Oh Boy!
    6. Grateful Dead | Not Fade Away (Reprise)
    7. Los Lobos | Come On, Let's Go
    8. Los Lobos | La Bamba
    9. Burton Cummings | Framed
    10. Jerry Lee Lewis | Chantilly Lace
    11. George Jones | White Lightning
    12. Dave Edmunds' All Star Rock 'N Roll Revue | The Wanderer
    13. Waylon Jennings | Clyde
    14. Marshall Crenshaw | Someday, Someway
    15. Don McLean | American Pie

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    If Johnny Gumbo sees his shadow, do we have six more weeks of crappy weather?...

    Found a copy of the new Springsteen in my office this morning, along with the return of my Bettye LaVette CD. Thanks, Keith. Sorry to hear you are not a fan of Ms. LaVette. Da Pres, Barack Hussein Obama, apparently is, as she performed Sam Cooke’s revered anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come” at his Inaugural Celebration, "WE ARE ONE" at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, January 18.

    Given only twelve-minutes, the Boss put on a pretty good show yesterday at the Cleveland Brown-less Super Bowl, despite his voice going the way of Dylan's. Solid song selection: Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (my favorite Bruce song), Born to Run, Working On a Dream, Glory Days. Nice move to ram his crotch dead into the camera on his slide. Tickets go on sale tomorrow for his date at the Civic Center. This cowboy will pass on it. updateThe Reet and I are indeed going to see the Boss at HCC as guests of Keith n Sharie. Thanks, guys!

    Oh yeah, we used to go to that each Spring...

    Fiddle Contest Organizer Paul LeMay Dies by William Weir (Htfd Courant)

    With little more than charisma and force of will, Paul LeMay managed to turn an improbable idea into a Hartford phenomenon, bringing tens of thousands to the city for an annual fiddle contest. LeMay died Friday of heart failure from complications of other illnesses. He was 65.

    He started the New England Fiddle Contest in 1974, the same year he founded the grassroots arts organization, Peace Train Foundation. The first year featured a few dozen amateur fiddlers at Bushnell Park and an audience of about 1,000. Within a few years, the event would attract tens of thousands to the city; at the height of its popularity, 70,000 came for the fiddle contest. - complete article

    And they were singing, bye-bye Miss American Pie...

    But February made me shiver, with every paper I'd deliver.
    Bad news on the doorstep; I couldnt take one more step.
    I cant remember if I cried, when I read about his widowed bride,
    But something touched me deep inside, the day the music died.

    Rock fans head to Iowa to recall day music died (AP)
    CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – It's been 50 years since a single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field, instantly killing three men whose names would become enshrined in the history of rock 'n' roll. The passing decades haven't diminished fascination with that night on Feb. 2, 1959, when 22-year-old Buddy Holly, 28-year-old J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens performed in Clear Lake and then boarded the plane for a planned 300-mile flight that lasted only minutes.

    "It was really like the first rock 'n' roll landmark; the first death," said rock historian Jim Dawson, who has written several books about music of that era. "They say these things come in threes. Well, all three happened at the same time." Starting Wednesday, thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. They'll come to the Surf Ballroom for symposiums with the three musicians' relatives, sold-out concerts and a ceremony as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame designates the building as its ninth national landmark. - complete article

    Sunday, February 01, 2009

    Perfect antidote to Super Bowl analysis...

    Screw the hype, I'm off to the Hartford Public Library for their Baby Grand Jazz Series, held in the Library's Atrium. Today's concert features pianist/composer/vocalist Warren Byrd, a Hartford native with an international touring schedule after many fruitful years playing jazz throughout Connecticut, Southern New England, and New York. I finally locate the library after first wandering into the Wadsworth Atheneum.

    According to his website, Byrd was born in 1965 the youngest in a family of sixteen. He grew up in a musically fecund world. His experiences with performing began with singing in the church choir with his older siblings and lead to rich performing adventures in during his teen years, exposing him also to the vast treasures past and present of musical ideas. By the time he’d been awarded a full scholarship for Classical Vocal Studies at Hartt College of Music, he’d decided he wanted to be a Jazz artist. Through the listening, absorbing, practicing, and synthesizing of legacies of not only Jazz, but also Classical, Folk, and Popular music past and present, he formulated his approach to improvisation and composition.

    In the last, twenty years, he has lended his musicianship to many groups and performers in Jazz, R&B, World, Latin, Pop, etc., as well as Dance and Theatre. A short list of performers would include Archie Shepp, Eddie Henderson, Frank Lacy, Saskia Laroo, Steve Davis, David Chevan, Mixashawn, Kenny Hamber, Alvin Carter, Nita Zarif, and many more. In 2000, he released Truth Raised Twice, his only album as a leader with many of his own compositions as well as standards from the Jazz repetorie.

    Byrd starts off his solo piano performance with two Duke Ellington standards, Caravan and Sophisticated Lady before reading Langston Hughes' The Negro Speaks Of Rivers. The poet was born on this day in 1902:
    I've known rivers:
    I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
    flow of human blood in human veins.
    My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
    I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
    I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
    I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
    I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
    went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
    bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
    I've known rivers:
    Ancient, dusky rivers.
    My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
    The second half of the program was devoted to the music of Fats Waller, starting with Honeysuckle Rose. What a great, relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon! And I was saved to boot, because Jesus left some literature on my windshield. So, I'm cool.

    Upcoming concerts (held Sundays from 3-4pm at the Hartford Public Library Atrium:
  • Feb 8- Kim Myers is a well-accomplished pianist, keyboard artist and singer with a repertoire that includes but is not limited to jazz, rock, soul, rhythm and blues and gospel. He has performed in Japan, Canada and most recently in Dubai.
  • Feb 15- Carol R. Daggs, a fourth generation Saratogian, has been enjoying making and sharing music since her childhood. An accomplished vocalist and pianist, she attended the 1999 International FAME Festival Center for Jazz Studies.
  • Feb 22- Mike McGrath has enjoyed a long and varied career as a jazz pianist, performing as a soloist, in small ensembles, and in big bands. He has
    also written several one-act musicals, and has created music and produced audio for a wide variety of multimedia projects.
  • The big matchup - who ya got?...

    Did you get your Springsteen greatest hits CD at Wal*Mart yet? Nice move, Bruce, maybe you can give the workers a concert during their breaks to make up for the lapse in judgement. Oh yeah, I forgot, they DON'T GET ANY BREAKS!

    ANYWAY. A duel for the ages, or at least this Sunday, pitting a gritty, old American city against a whole state (even if it was the very last of the 48 contiguous to be admitted). Here are the facts, painstakingly assembled by the johnnykmusic staff to present a fair and balanced picture. Post your thoughts in the comments section below:

  • The Steel City- pop. 2,462,571
  • Three rivers- the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, where the Ohio River forms
  • Steelers- ruff, tuff beer-belly guys
  • Iron City beer
  • Arnold Palmer, golf legend
  • Christina Aguilera, George Benson, Perry Como, Stephen Foster, the Marcells, Dean Martin, Bobby Vinton, the Vogues
  • Dennis Miller, Rush Limbaugh, Andy Warhol
  • Larry Fitzgerald, former wide receiver from the University of Pittsburgh
  • The prestigious Carnegie-Mellon University, peer of Caltech, Cornell, Duke, MIT, etc.

  • Arizona
  • The Grand Canyon State- pop. 6,500,180
  • The Grand Canyon- really, really big canyon

  • Cardinals- pretty red birds from St. Louis
  • Arizona Iced Tea
  • Phil Mickelson, needing a man-zeer
  • Alice Cooper, Linda Ronstadt, Charles Mingus, Wayne Newton, Stevie Nicks, Marty Robbins, Jordan Sparks
  • Steve Allen, Erma Bombeck, Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Larry Fitzgerald, current wide receiver of the Arizona Cardinals
  • University of Phoenix on-line correspondence school

  • For your Super Bowl Sunday, recalling when Bruce was really Bruce - From Wolfgang's Concert Vault..

    Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at Winterland in San Francisco 12/15/78
    To play the entire concert, you must register (free). Here's the LINK.
    Concert Summary:
    Get comfortable, ‘cuz all the stories are true - the E Street Band came to play, and they’re not gonna stop until the roof caves in! This is powerful rock ‘n' roll revivalism and Springsteen makes the heat rain down upon the assembled Winterland parishioners. Years before punk deconstructed popular music as a violent protest against the bloated rock ‘n' roll dinosaurs staggering from stadium to stadium, Bruce Springsteen was earnestly providing his own alternative to bone-headed riffing and cowbell solos, putting out albums that echoed a simpler time while thoughtfully chronicling the plight of the workin’ man on his eternal quest for Saturday Night.

    Concentrating on material from their recent release, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Springsteen and his crew lay into the first half of this set with reckless abandon, reserving the early hits and holiday cheer for the second half. As soon as they take the stage, it’s all lost love and drag races and full-throttle rock ‘n' roll; then factory walls and plaintive piano with dusty, wheezing harmonica. This is the whole history of 20th century America set to music, geared up and rolling down the highway ‘till everyone, audience included, is ready to pass out. Then, about an hour after they should be taking their bows, the band launches into "Born to Run" with an emotional fury that would kill a group of weaker constitution. It’s like Phil Spector meets Jack Kerouac, hooked up to about a dozen car batteries. Then they play an encore!

    In two short weeks the Winterland would shut its doors for good. Fittingly, Bill Graham brought in the Grateful Dead for the official last concert, but for many present at Springsteen’s show, the Winterland really closed on December 15th.
    Roy Bittan - piano
    Clarence Clemons - saxophone
    Danny Federici - organ
    Bruce Springsteen - vocals, guitar
    Garry Tallent - bass
    Steven Van Zandt - guitar
    Max Weinberg - drums