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Jon runs the voodoo down

Pianist Jon Cleary is not a native New Orleanian (he hails from Cranbrook in Kent, England) but when it comes to the history and practice of New Orleans music, and piano music in particular, hell, you'd think he'd grown up on Basin Street or maybe next door to Tipitina's. You'll see what I mean when you watch this little clip, Jon Cleary - History of New Orleans Piano, and hear this masterful player roll through an exhaustive (and very entertaining) demonstration of the musical styles that the city is renowned and revered for.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 20, 2014 - 6 comments

aaaaand... CHASER!

Sam Ulano appears to have been drumming, non-stop, since he arrived on the planet in 1920. Sam Ulano is a drumming MACHINE. He's drummed on more gigs than anybody. Anybody. He's also a celebrated educator, who, throughout his long career, has taught and inspired thousands of drummers. But those aren't the reasons Sam Ulano is appearing today at Metafilter. No, Sam is here because of this: Little Red Rhumbahood. That's right. And this: Santa And The Doodle-Li-Boop. Because you've never heard anyone tell a nutty story while accompanying himself on the drum set, and doing it this, um... well, with this kind of verve, spontaneity and deliciously crazed energy. Sam Ulano is a law unto himself, a category of one. Ah, but the pièce de résistance, friends, the crowning achievement of this mad genius, the epic masterpiece which simply must be heard to be believed, is HOW TO PLAY A SHOW. Thank you, Sam Ulano, you joyously inspired lunatic!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 29, 2013 - 5 comments

Go, Eddie, go!

See string svengali Eddie Peabody drive three count 'em THREE ladies crazy with his smooth-as-silk strumming on three count 'em THREE exotic instruments: Strum Fun, for sure! And not only was ol' Eddie a suave lady's man, he was surely one of the best violinists (when it comes to bird calls, anyway) of his day! And what say we drop in and watch the wild and crazy guy strutting his stuff, doing a bit of crooning, banjo picking, toy-violin sawing and who knows what else, with His College Chums. We'll close it out with Eddie and the Beachcombers, as the irrepressible picker and grinner demonstrates some newfangled *electrified* instruments! Thanks, Eddie, and keep on plucking, baby!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 15, 2013 - 13 comments

Lookee here woman, what's the matter now?

Let yourself be carried along, floating nice and easy down that slow, lazy river of American collective unconscious, when you hear Jack Owens singing Jack Ain't Had No Water.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 29, 2013 - 10 comments

Keep it simple, keep it real.

If you're a fan of deeply grooving and righteously soulful music that's stripped down to its barest essentials, then you'll love Brushy One String's Chicken In The Corn, not to mention No Man Can Stop Me, They Are Going Down and Boom Bang Deng. A voice and a one string guitar. All you need, really.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 23, 2013 - 25 comments

She took us there.

When Staple Singers hits like I’ll Take You There and If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me) came on the radio, it was easy to get lost in Mavis Staples’ raspy, soulful lead vocals. But if you listened closer, a key element in the Chicago gospel-soul group’s warmly distinctive sound was the deft soprano harmony of Mavis’ sister Cleotha Staples, who died on Feb. 21 at age 78 in Chicago. RIP Cleotha Staples.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 25, 2013 - 17 comments

Farewell to a visionary musician and musical thinker

Sadly, it's time to say farewell to a unique and visionary musician and musical thinker who developed and articulated an extraordinary method of directing large-ensemble improvisation with a method that he dubbed "conduction". Mr. Butch Morris has left us, but his ideas will surely reverberate in the hearts and minds of creative musicians and lovers of creative music everywhere.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jan 29, 2013 - 10 comments

Djivan Gasparyan, master of the Armenian duduk

Have you experienced the sublimely calm and gorgeously unfolding melodic beauty of Djivan Gasparyan's music? Here's Shepherd's Song, A Cool Wind Is Blowing, I Will Not Be Sad In This World, Ojakhum and Eshkhemed. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 6, 2012 - 13 comments

Bluesman Tommy Johnson gets some respect

Legendary Mississippi Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson is finally getting a headstone on his grave, more than a half century after his death. Recommended celebratory listening, then, is this 9-song YouTube playlist, which starts out with "Cool Drink of Water Blues" (a shining example of Johnson's quavering falsetto - "looooooord, lordy looooord") and continuing with pre-war blues classics like his "Big Road Blues", "Big Fat Mama Blues", "Canned Heat Blues" and more.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 25, 2012 - 9 comments

Thinking of Nico

On this day in 1988, just three months shy of what would have been her 50th birthday, Christa Päffgen, better known as Nico, died. Her stark, no-frills delivery conveyed a kind of guilelessness and honesty that many listeners continue to find refreshing. These Days. I'll Keep It With Mine. Chelsea Girls. Femme Fatale. All Tomorrow's Parties. My Funny Valentine. The Fairest of the Seasons.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 18, 2012 - 31 comments

RIP mister bassman, Donald "Duck" Dunn

Millions may know him best from one of the only lines he delivered in the Blues Brothers movie: "We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline". Others who notice these things will remember him as the guy who also played the bass in the Blues Brothers band. And those for whom Stax records and the Memphis sound are important will know him as the four-string foundation of the great Booker T and the MGs, and the man who lent his solid, no-frills bass lines to many a tune by soul luminaries Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and lots of other greats. Memphis-born bassman Donald "Duck" Dunn has died while on tour (along with fellow legend and bandmate Steve Cropper) in Tokyo. RIP, Duck Dunn, and if there's any goat piss in heaven, I know you're gonna turn it into gasoline up there, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 13, 2012 - 112 comments

RIP Mr. Dupree

He's responsible for the deliciously relaxed and understated guitar work you remember from Rainy Night in Georgia and the driving chukka chukka whipsnap that propelled Aretha Franklin's Rock Steady, as well as her version of Spanish Harlem. And he's lent his masterful musical sense to many, many other tunes from artists as diverse as Ringo Starr, Archie Shepp, Joe Cocker, Miles Davis and Paul Simon. Guitarist Cornell Dupree has died at age 68. Primarily a studio musician, Dupree was more often heard than seen, but you can catch some glimpses of his Southern-fried six-string artistry on this live version of King Curtis' Memphis Soul Stew.
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 9, 2012 - 23 comments

it rocks

If you want to hear the rock solidest, rock steadiest, rock of Gibralterist rock drumming that's ever been rocked in the history of rock, then you want to hear this.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 24, 2012 - 57 comments

one of the greats will be leaving the stage

The Band singer and drummer Levon Helm is in the final stages of cancer, according to a note posted on his website Tuesday by his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Amy. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 17, 2012 - 137 comments

Etta Baker, American musician

Guitarist Etta Baker worked in a textile mill, raised nine children, and didn’t take her music to the stage until she was 60 years old. Fortunately for all of us, she continued to play and record right up until her death in 2006 at the age of 93.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 12, 2012 - 11 comments

RIP Johnny Otis

Chances are that sometime, somewhere, out of the corner of one ear, at least, you've heard the iconic (yet all-but-forgotten) "Willie and the Hand Jive". Set to a Bo Diddley beat, it was an infectious little number that made quite a splash back in its day. Here's a fun live version of the bouncy tune, complete with the three largest dancing girls you're ever likely to see, and here's the original 1958 recording. The composer of the tune, the son of Greek immigrants who decided that the world of black music was where he wanted to be, was one Johnny Otis, who has just died at the grand old age of 90. Shortly after its release, "Willie and the Hand Jive" was covered by early rock icons like Bo Diddley and, across the pond in England, Cliff Richard. But apart from his most famous tune, Johnny did a LOT of recording and performing throughout his lengthy career, so there's... [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jan 19, 2012 - 42 comments

Tommy Ardolino, NRBQ drummer, RIP

If you ever caught NRBQ live, you were most likely treated to some raucous, pounding and undeniably joyful roadhouse revelry that made you wanna drink another beer (at least) and bask in the divine glory of Rock. And. Roll. But it is with a sad heart that I relay the news to you today that the hard-hitting, deeply grooving powerhouse behind the drums, the man who drove America's Best Bar Band to ever more delirious heights of cathartic oneness with the Universe, has left us. RIP, Tommy Ardolino. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jan 7, 2012 - 27 comments

multitasking

In 1993 in Dharamsala I met for the first time that amazing music performer, perhaps he was a Rajhastan gypsy. Usually he sat on road side from McLeod Ganch to Dhalai Lama residence. This man-orchestra created great atmosphere, sometimes he sang from eternity even didn't notice listeners. In 2004 I came to Dharamsala and people told me that he passed away. This video is dedicated to him and to people who knew him.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 29, 2011 - 7 comments

Buddy Merrill, string wizard from the Lawrence Welk show

Never had a whole lotta use for the Lawrence Welk show, but man, when it came time for steel guitar wizard Buddy Merrill and his dazzlingly snazzy stringery to take center stage, the broadcast got a hella lot better, fast!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 19, 2011 - 24 comments

Howard Tate, soul man, 1939-2011

The man who lent his wonderfully warm and soaring voice to the rolling soul ballad Get It While You Can, the limber southern funk of Eight Days on the Road, the coolly driving How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark, the mellow soul lilt (with breathtaking falsetto interjections!) of I Learned It All the Hard Way and so many other delightful soul numbers has died. Farewell Howard Tate. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 4, 2011 - 17 comments

The multi-talented Hans Reichel, 1949-2011

Hans Reichel, of Wuppertal, Germany, maker of exquisitely beautiful guitars, on which he made exquisitely beautiful and idiosyncratic music, inventor of the delightfully expressive daxophone, on which he made delightfully expressive and often humorous music, creator of elegant fonts and architect of one of the most endearingly creative flash websites you'll ever see, has died at the age of 62. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 23, 2011 - 25 comments

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hooker!

Happy birthday John Lee Hooker! Let's celebrate by listening to some of your older tunes! "Gonna take you down by the riverside, gonna tie your hands, gonna tie your feet, got the mad man blues" ... "Now the war is over, and I'm broke and I ain't got a dime" ... "You know I'm a crawling king snake, baby, and I rule my nest" ... "Gonna get up in the mornin', goin' down highway 51" ... "Well I rolled and I tumbled, babe, I cried the whole night long" ... "I feel so good, let me do the boogaloo"
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 22, 2011 - 19 comments

Eugene McDaniels, RIP

Somewhere along the line, you might've heard one of the biggest hits to ever come out of the world of jazz: it was a song originally made famous by Les McCann and Eddie Harris back in 1969, called Compared To What. If you were in the right place at the right time, you might've even caught them doing it live. Or, if you were born a little too late for all that, you might've heard the song performed by John Legend and the Roots. Well, the man who wrote the song, Gene McDaniels, has just left us at age 76. RIP Gene McDaniels.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 2, 2011 - 25 comments

Better than Mick

One is never too old to rock.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 26, 2011 - 49 comments

Haiti's new prez

One of his groovingest tracks was called I Don't Care, but apparently Michel Martelly, aka Sweet Micky, decided he did care enough about Haiti to run for president of the country. And now he's president of the country. Unlike Bill Clinton, however, Sweet Micky definitely inhaled, and, hey... he's on a horse. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 4, 2011 - 17 comments

you've heard him a million times, but he ain't no millionaire

Give the drummer some? Nuh-uh. PAY the drummer some! Living Legend Tries to Make a Living. I'm talking about the man who gave us the drum solo (at 5:35) that launched a thousand hip hop ships, James Brown's funky heartbeat, Clyde Stubblefield. [previously].
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 29, 2011 - 36 comments

Not just SOME things. Nuh-uh. EVERYthing.

Everything I do gonh be funky from now on. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 23, 2011 - 23 comments

farewell, Totico

Eugenio Arango, better known as Totico, a Cuban-born percussionist and singer who was one of the most celebrated figures in the drumming, dancing and singing culture of New York rumba, died on Jan. 21 in the Bronx, where he lived. He was 76.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 8, 2011 - 4 comments

Sol K. Bright, Hawaiian musician

Let's head down to the sunny Hawaii of the 1930s and pay Sol K. Bright a visit, shall we? His charming vocal work and masterfully playful guitar wizardry are sure to please! Hawaiian Cowboy - Honolulu How Do You Do? - Tomi Tomi - La Rosita. Aloha!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 4, 2011 - 11 comments

a towering, glittering icon from an era now past mumbles a barely heard farewell as he slips out the back door...

Perhaps it's best my grandmother didn't live to see this day: the Liberace Museum, located in the besequined showman's old stomping grounds of Las Vegas, is closing, and that would have saddened her. Maybe it's time for all of us to brush up on our early Liberace history. And let's hear the sparkling man, resplendent in gold, take Mack the Knife through some changes. Farewell, Liberace.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 18, 2010 - 66 comments

Thanks for the music, Mr. Starkey

One of the most rhythmically solid, tastefully understated and (all too often) criminally underrated drummers in the history of rock music turned 70 today, and you'll forgive me if I couldn't let the day pass without a nod in his direction. You've probably heard of him. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 7, 2010 - 98 comments

Fiona and Emily: your new favorite band

With their no-frills, earnestly deadpan delivery, excellent pitch and diction, crisp guitar work, impeccable rhythm and sweet harmonies, Fiona and Emily are sure to become your favorite classic rock cover band. Honky Tonk Woman, Pinball Wizard, Ticket To Ride, Surfin' USA, House of the Rising Sun, Help, Johnny B. Goode, and last but certainly not least, I Am the Walrus. Woooooooooo!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 5, 2010 - 55 comments

RIP funkmaster Garry Shider

Garry Shider, singer, guitarist and musical director of George Clinton's P-Funk All-Stars for much of their history, has passed on at age 56. Shider (the man in the diaper for so many P-Funk performances) was co-author of One Nation Under a Groove and many other masterpieces of the funk. RIP, Garry Shider.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 16, 2010 - 37 comments

the amazing Washington Phillips, gospel singer

Have you heard of Washington Phillips? He was possessed of a wonderful voice, and delivered his simple but gorgeous gospel tunes in an easy and utterly unprepossessing style. He accompanied himself not on guitar or piano, as might be expected, but rather on a chiming, delicately ethereal zither, lending a curiously timeless air to his recordings from the 1920s. An altogether unique performer, his music is a real treat for the soul: Take Your Burden To the Lord, What Are They Doing in Heaven Today, Denomination Blues, I Had a Good Father and Mother, Lift Him Up, Paul and Silas in Jail, Mother's Last Word To Her Son and Train Your Children. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 14, 2010 - 23 comments

the drum talks

My name is Bisi Adeleke, I am from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, where this talking drum is originated.
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 14, 2010 - 13 comments

Old-time songster, Henry Thomas

Born in Big Sandy, Texas in 1874, Henry Thomas was one of the oldest black musician who ever recorded for the phonograph companies of the 1920′s and his music represents a rare opportunity to hear what American black folk music must have sounded like in the last decade of the 19th century. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 11, 2010 - 21 comments

Truth to power.

Gil Scott-Heron, Godfather of Rap. Parts 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 and 6.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 16, 2010 - 19 comments

Bambino, rocking the guitar, Tuareg style

The other day someone asked me "who's the most deeply grooving and truly exciting electric guitar player you've heard lately?" and I said "this guy".
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 10, 2010 - 82 comments

Warren "Baby" Dodds, father of American drumming

Back in the 1920s, when Warren "Baby" Dodds was busy inventing jazz drumming in the company of pioneers like King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, to "give the drummer some" usually never meant more than a couple of bars fill every now and again. Fortunately, though, come 1946, when Dodds was already an older man but still in fine playing form, someone had the wherewithal to record this seminal percussion stylist in a series of extended drum solos, displaying his exuberant rhythmic stylings as well as his lending of superbly playful swing to the the rudiments. But let's jump back to the 20's again, and hear drummer Dodds, with the aforementioned King Oliver, take what's gotta be the killingest slide whistle solo in all of jazz history. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 22, 2010 - 11 comments

Ronnie of Botswana, on guitar

OK. Alright. That's it. Ronnie of Botswana is my new favorite guitarist.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 19, 2010 - 67 comments

Willie Mitchell, RIP

The man behind the classic sound of Al Green, Memphis producer and soulmeister supreme Willie Mitchell has passed on. Many of the Al Green sides are legendary, of course, and very well known (as is the fantastic "I Can't Stand the Rain, by Ann Peebles), but be sure and head over to the excellent Funky 16 Corners where you can hear three of his lesser-known but deeply grooving productions. Fat stuff. So long, Willie Mitchell, and thanks for the wonderful music.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jan 6, 2010 - 24 comments

Debashish Bhattacharya, slide guitarist from India

Have you heard the Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya? He's really very very very very good. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 7, 2009 - 27 comments

You can almost hear 'em...

There's the fascinating autistic musical savant Blind Tom Wiggins. There are musical clowns and minstrels, and poignant images of child musicians. There are tantalizing and truly exotic images of musicians from far-flung corners of the world: India, Persia, China, Japan... all this and more at the Vintage Musicians Flickr group. Oh, and who's that critter with the banjo? Why, that may just be the ORIGINAL LOL CAT.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 26, 2009 - 11 comments

Music Is the Weapon: Fela documentary from 1982

Fela: Music is the Weapon is a documentary film from 1982 featuring a wealth of live concert footage (from his club in Lagos, "The Shrine") as well as interviews with the legendary Nigerian singer, bandleader and social critic. Here's part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 5, 2008 - 22 comments

Jimmy Carl Black, RIP

Drummer and vocalist Jimmy Carl Black, "the Indian of the group", who appeared on more Mothers of Invention records than you could shake a stick at, has passed away. Here's Jimmy drumming with The Mothers of Invention live on French TV 1968, live on BBC TV 1968, singing with The Muffin Men, 2002, and on one of his last gigs, singing Capt. Beefheart's Dropout Boogie in June 2008, in his duo with mad banjo wizard Eugene Chadbourne which they called The Jack and Jim Show. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 3, 2008 - 49 comments

Dock Boggs, 1966

As a young man in the 1920s, Dock Boggs [previously] recorded some songs that were released as 78s, and they are wonderful treasures of southern Americana, but I was always even more fond of his recordings from the 1960s, when, as an old man, he was rediscovered during the folk boom. So I was delighted to find that three of his 60s-period performances have recently shown up on YouTube. Here's Pretty Polly, Country Blues and I Hope I Live, all from 1966. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 2, 2008 - 15 comments

Kazuhira Takeshita and his songs from Amami

In case you've never heard him, I'd like to introduce you to the sublimely soulful music of Kazuhira Takeshita, from Amami. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 29, 2008 - 10 comments

Martha Copeland, 20s-era blues singer

Though Bessie Smith is regarded as the queen of the early blues singers, Martha Copeland was singing the blues and its variants (and doing a fine job of it) back in the 20s as well. Head over to Internet Archive to hear Martha sing her versions of two of the tunes that made Bessie so famous: I Ain't Got Nobody and St. Louis Blues, the latter with backing vocal chorus from the Hall Johnson Choir. Check out her Dying Crap Shooter's Blues and Sorrow Valley Blues. And there's plenty of Martha Copeland goodness for your ears (RealPlayer) here and here. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 26, 2008 - 9 comments

Dee Dee Warwick, RIP

Dee Dee Warwick, sister of Dionne and a fine soul singer in her own right, recently passed on to that other shore. This blog entry on Dee Dee features mp3 links to her wonderful cover of the Elvis Presley hit Suspicious Minds and the heartrending She Didn't Know. More: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, Monday Monday and Foolish Fool.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 25, 2008 - 14 comments

Don Helms, steel guitar master, passes on.

Don Helms, the steel guitarist in Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys band, died on August 11. He was 81. Don provided the smooth-as-silk string stylings for over 100 of Hank's tunes, including Hey Good Lookin' and I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. See Don demonstrate some of that steel guitar goodness in a snazzy version of Blues Stay Away From Me, or this instrumental rendition of Hank's Cold Cold Heart, or this sprightly little number, Fireball Mail. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 7, 2008 - 9 comments

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