Ustad Ali Akbar Khan passed into his next incarnation on June 18. He was unquestionably the greatest sarod player in the world. A sample of his artistry is on display here and here..
Wafa Younis is an Arab Israeli musician who organised a youth orchestra in the Jenin refugee camp. She recently brought her orchestra to play for Holocaust survivors at an Israeli old age home. The performance was strongly criticised by Palestinians as a hostile political act. Now the orchestra has been disbanded, its performance space sealed, and Ms Younis has been expelled from the West Bank. [more inside]
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.
"A wildly flamboyant funk diva with few equals even three decades after her debut, Betty Davis combined the gritty emotional realism of Tina Turner, the futurist fashion sense of David Bowie, and the trendsetting flair of Miles Davis, her husband for a year. ... she turned Miles on to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone (providing the spark that led to his musical reinvention on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew), then proved her own talents with a trio of sizzling mid-'70s solo LPs." - All Music Guide (many links nsfw-ish)
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.
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]
A musician passed away just the other day. In all likelihood you never knew his name. But you've probably heard him, no exaggeration, on thousands of occasions. He was drummer Earl Palmer, and some of the thousands of songs he propelled with his versatile grooves and masterful sense of time include Tutti Frutti and Lucille, La Bamba, Let's Go Get Stoned, I Don't Need No Doctor, Unchained Melody, You've Lost That Loving Feeling... the list goes on and on. Oh, and there's the TV themes he drummed on, like say, Mission Impossible. And here you can see New Orleans native Earl demonstrating how he put the beat under Professor Longhair's classic Tipitina and on Fats Domino's I'm Walkin'. He was one superb rhythmist. Au revoir, Earl Palmer. [more inside]
So, there was this little rock band from England, and they got pretty famous and all, so famous that they initiated the era of stadium concerts, back in '65, at a little place in Queens called Shea. But there was an opening act that night, led by a sax-blowin' fellow name of King Curtis, and he kicked total muhfukkin ass, and it wasn't even with his baddest band! You can hear them here. Jump Back! [more inside]
Brazil's Gilberto Gil, now 66 years of age, is stepping down from his position as Minister of Culture to concentrate, once again, on his music career. That's good news for his fans, and here's some more good news: a huge chunk of his recorded work is available as streaming audio for your listening pleasure. [more inside]
Wait, this Nicol guy played with the SPOTNICKS? Oh, and that other little outfit from Liverpool, who were they again?
These Beatles clips from a 1965 NME show are straight off the mixing desk, so the voices are way up front. Man, those vocals are so loud you can hardly hear Ringo! But let's back it up just a year, to Holland in 1964, and catch one of the rare performances without Ringo. Aside from his brief stint as a Beatle, session drummer Jimmy Nicol also played with zany Swedish instrumental surf rock band The Spotnicks. So, there you have it: Jimmy Nicol, a lucky fella who got to play with two of the greatest bands in the world! [NOTE: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
Those familiar with the plaintive falsetto of Delta blues great Skip James will surely hear Skip's influence in the much lesser-known Johnny Temple's Evil Devil Blues, recorded in 1935, which features some delightfully unexpected melodic twists. And though Johnny Temple "never achieved stardom", he does have a Wikipedia page. [more inside]
Sammy Davis Jr—entertainer , photographer... camwhore... SATANIST!!!??? Did hanging out with this guy make Sammy bad? Or was he just selling his soul to be groovy? [more inside]
Erkin Koray's long career as a major rock star in his native Turkey has seen him cover all sorts of musical territory. His songs are often a curious (some might say bizarre) hodgepodge of musical influences, and one thing's for sure: you couldn't call the man unadventurous! Here's a sampling of some of his psych-Turk-rock from decades past: Krallar - Gel Bak Ne Söylicem - Cemalim - Allahaşkına - Aşka Inanmıyorum - Yanlizlar rihtimi - Gönül Salıncağı - Anma Arkadaş - Aşk Oyunu - Gün Doğmuyor - [more inside]
One fine old day in old LA, in the year of nineteen and sixty, one Frederick Usher met Eddie "One String" Jones, heard him lay down some deep blues on his diddley bow, and was so taken with Jones' monochord masterpieces that he ran home, grabbed his tape recorder and recorded Jones in the alley. One other recording session ensued soon thereafter, which was released as an LP in 1964. By that time, however, the mysterious Eddie Jones (if that was even his real name) was long gone, and was never heard from again. [NOTE: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
Alexander "Eck" Robertson (1886 - 1975) was one hell of a fine fiddler, friend. He made, in 1922, what many country music historians consider the first commercial recording of country music. And now some kind soul has made ol' Eck a MySpace page where you can get a taste (five tastes, actually) of some of that bodacious bowing. Then head over to Ragtime Annie's place. What? She's Done Gone? She must've run off with the Arkansaw Traveler. Guess you'll have to make do with that Turkey In The Straw. [more inside]
Gram Parsons fans take note - there's a recent new biography and a release of 90 minutes of vintage Flying Burrito Brothers. Some rare footage has also recently surfaced online: performing with FBB and duets with Emmylou Harris 1, 2, 3. Other items of note: Emmylou talks about Gram in 2000; British biographical sketch; Keith Richards on Gram in Rolling Stone; an interview with Manuel, the designer of the famous Nudie suit. [more inside]
Whether on fretless electric guitar or fretless Turkish banjo, mister Salih Korkut Peker sounds mighty fine. And here he is again on banjo, getting down on some Turkish grooves with percussionist Gencer Savaş. Sweet! [note: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
Master of the 'didge' - after veins burst in his throat some years ago while he was playing the didgeridoo, doctors warned that continued playing would threaten his life. Admitted to hospital last week with bleeding on the brain, he died on Sunday from a brain haemorrhage. He was 40. [more inside]
I tell you what, buddy, that ol' Joe Maphis fellow outta Bakersfield, he was one fast picker. Yup, fast as greased lightning and smooth as gaht-damn silk on that double-neck Mosrite guitar. He and the missus have a little advice for you, too: Don't Make Love In a Buggy. And though Joe was mainly a picker, he did pen one memorable little country ditty which you might've heard in some honky tonk along the line: Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music). [note: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
Doc Watson: his warm and unprepossessing voice and rolling guitar stylings (both flatpicking and fingerpicking) are treasures of American music. The following video clips will be a treat for any Watson fan, but especially for guitar players: they feature closeup shots of Doc's left hand fretwork as well as insets of his right hand picking. So, without further ado: Deep River Blues, Blue Railroad Train, Black Mountain Rag and Bluebell. [more inside]
CASH is the Coalition of Artists & Stake Holders, a project conceived and initiated by musician Kristin Hersh. CASH is "read-write" — more than consumption; a collaborative online effort — helping make music ownership more of an interactive affair facilitated through Creative Commons licensing.
This is just too charming and endearingly goofy to miss: Renato Carosone's Tu Vuo' Fa' L'Americano (You're Acting All American). See also: O Sarracino, Torero and Maruzella.
Singer/songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Richard Thompson: songs of bittersweet longing, sublime eloquence, dark exuberance and ominous allusion. [more inside]
Well, someone's gone and made a feature-length biopic on Bob Dylan. It was bound to happen, right? Didn't necessarily expect Cate Blanchett (along with 5 others) to be cast in the role of Bob, but, hey, she looks great with the flyaway hair and the cigarette. Here's a clip, wherein Cate as Bob meets Ginsberg in a golfcart. Here's a trailer and an IMDB page. Here director Todd Haynes talks about the film. He discusses his casting of Blanchett, and offers observations on other aspects of the movie here and here. And if you want to read reviews, there's plenty of 'em.
Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha.
The Delmore Brothers, hailing from north Alabama and active from 1926 to 1952, were an early country and western duo that married effortlessly relaxed (but very polished) harmonies with soulful country-boogie blues. Bob Dylan said of them: "The Delmore Brothers, God, I really loved them! I think they've influenced every harmony I've ever tried to sing." They're sure worth some listens, y'all.
Ever heard of Barbara Lynn? She was a rarity in the world of R&B in the early 60's: a black female songwriter, guitarist and singer. After a couple of decades out of the spotlight, she returned in 1999 with a new album. [more inside]
In 1956, Time Magazine wrote, "He is the summit of sex—the pinnacle of Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. Everything that He, She or It can ever want." (Wait. Seriously???) Behold the evolution of The Liberace Show: from dapper virtuoso to sequined, wacky showman. [more inside]
From 50's doo-wop crooner (and hairstylist extraordinaire) to 60's soul stepper to 70's psychedelic funk overlord and beyond, Parliament Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove takes a loving, informative and very entertaining look at the career of the legendary George Clinton and his unstoppable, hydra-headed funk machine. [more inside]
Lucky Dube Shot Dead - Lucky Dube, the South African Reggae musician, has been shot dead by car hijackers in Johannesburg. In front of his son. [more inside]
For lovers of old-time, mountain banjo styles and songs, Roscoe Holcomb and Dock Boggs are revered figures. To many, however, plucker and singer David Akeman remains uncelebrated or unknown, even by his stage name of Stringbean. Is it because he was for a time actually famous as a country music showbiz staple, and therefore lacks folk cred? Or maybe the purists just can't get with those low-hanging pants the man was known for, his original hillbilly homeboy styling? Or was it cause on any given tune his left hand would likely be off the neck of the banjo more than on it? Whatever the reason, it's time folks took a new look at Stringbean. After all, the lines between folk and commercial styles have always been blurry in American music. Let's hear it for Stringbeeeeeeeaaan! [more inside]
More fun from the Daily Mail. Apparently Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones has decided to post bits from his upcoming autobiography. 1| 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 [more inside]
A little over 30 years ago singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell had her limo driver conduct her to the humble home of bluesman Furry Lewis. Joni was out to cop a little inspiration, which she apparently did, as she subsequently named a song after him. At that point, the name of Furry Lewis was suddenly made known to millions of people who'd never heard of him before. Perhaps a few of those folks even sought out Lewis' recordings. Course, back then there were no CD reissues, no YouTube, no mp3s floating around in the ether. But you can check out Mister Furry Lewis now: no need to have your limousine take you to the ghetto! Oh, but as far as Joni's tune, well, Furry wasn't all that pleased about it.
It's hard to think of any music that's any more fun than The Ventures, and here they are, live in Japan, 1965, at the top of their game. This footage is really good: Walk Don't Run. Wipe Out. Apache. House of the Rising Sun. Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Flight of the Bumblebee. The Cruel Sea . . . But WAIT! Opening for the Ventures on that steamy summer night was homegrown Ventures cover band The M-Ventures! Straight outta Tokyo! Check out their versions of The Pink Panther Theme, Surf Rider and Yellowjacket. And in case you were wondering if the Ventures' influence is still being felt in Japan, well, check out 9-year-old guitarist Chicchi's versions of The Cruel Sea, Penetration, Walk Don't Run and Pipeline.
Legendary tremolo guitar king Link Wray discovered him singing gospel with the Mighty Clouds of Joy, and figured he might be the kind of rock'n'roll screamer he was looking for. If he was gonna sing the devil's music, though, he'd need another name, so they came up with a rather unlikely moniker: Bunker Hill. Just listen. [more inside]
Let's pay a visit to Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi, or Tuku, as he's affectionately known to his fans. His voice has a touch of that sweet soul gravel reminiscent of Georgia's Otis Redding, or Jamaica's Toots Hibberts, but his mellow fingerpicking guitar style and relaxed, loping grooves are African all the way. His earlier stuff is certainly worth going back to as well! And, hey, it's unlikely you'll hear too many other pop stars who sing lines like "Call the mother of my childfren. I am hurt. I was injured while training the ox." [more inside]
Somewhere along your musical journeys you might've heard something by Mr. Josh White (1914-1969). He was a bluesman, but one with the kind of smooth and polished delivery (and some charming novelty tunes) that made him a favorite on the wider, national pop/folk scene. He was pretty sexy, too. He didn't shy away from political/racial themes, either. Unsurprisingly, he ran afoul of the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare years, and his name was placed on their Commie blacklist. Some few decades later his image graced a US postage stamp. Thanks for the music, Josh White.
There's a whole lotta Mefiers interested in the upcoming Led Zeppelin reunion, and it got me to thinking, let's pay a little visit to the Poet Laureate of the blues, Mr. Willie Dixon. After all, without him, there wouldn't have been a Whole Lotta Love, or a Bring It On Home, or... hell, there might not have been any Zep at all... His music has been interpreted and reinterpreted by an astonishing number of musicians. The man wrote a whole lotta songs. Oh, and, he played a little bit of bass, too. He was a whole lotta great.
Arguments have ended in the murder trial of Phil Spector, renowned record producer and mastermind of the Wall of Sound. [more inside]
The Muse's Muse Songwriting Resource is the place for songwriting tips, tools, interactivities and connecting with other songwriters around the world. See the section about musical instruments or get into the guitar player's guide. Start communicating with other musicians and songwriters in the forums and check out the music reviews. Lots to do, see, hear, learn, and most of all, enjoy.