Africa. Some women drumming
. Some women dancing
. [courtesy of the YouTubes]
Fifty years ago today Elvis Presley
recorded what would prove to be one of the iconic standards of the rock'n'roll canon, Leiber and Stoller
's Jailhouse Rock
. The song's sly allusions ("number 47 said to number three, you're the cutest jailbird I ever did see")
to same-sex prison liaisons went unnoticed (or at least uncommented on) at the time, and it stayed a US #1 radio hit for 7 weeks straight. The unisex production number [youtube]
from the movie
of the same name has come to be recognized as one of the grandfathers of the pop/rock video. A black-leather-clad, still-svelte Presley performed the song on his 1968 [youtube]
"comeback" TV special, and was singing it (slurred delivery, sequins and all) right up into 1977 [youtube]
, the year of his death. In 1980 John Belushi and company turned in a fine version [youtube]
as the closer to the Blues Brothers movie, and the song was a regular feature of their live [youtube]
shows as well. Happy 50th birthday, Jailhouse Rock!
From 1970 to 2004 Michael P. Smith
photographed musicians in performance at every New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
. With an excellent sense of timing, Smith was adept at capturing the exultant
, transcendant musical moment
. Whether they be of the very famous
or the relatively unknown
, his are photographs you can practically hear
You really shouldn't miss the snazzy ukulele stylings of the great Roy Smeck
, strummer and showman extraordinaire, who was not only fast as greased lightning, but for whom the ukulele also occasionally functioned as a wind
instrument. The man was indeed a wizard of the strings
: just give him a slide and watch him lay down that Hawaiian
sound. And as you'll see here
, he was still going strong in his later years. [most links to YouTube]
Spend a blissful 59 minutes and 7 seconds traversing the continent of Africa through her traditional music. This excellent stream (featuring just the right amount of background info)
from the folks at Afropop Worldwide [previously]
features plenty of the kind of effortlessly rolling, lilting rhythmic vibes that make African traditional music some of the most sublime in the world. "So don't expect over-the-top ethnography, just relax and enjoy acoustic Africa."
San Francisco, 1967. CBS news is there: "This is the house of a popular local band that plays hard rock music. They call themselves the Grateful Dead
." In between some seriously
heavy-handed editorializing from grand old man of the news Harry Reasoner, you can catch an interview with Garcia and company plus footage of a Golden Gate Park concert. Jump ahead 38 years, and another CBS newsman, a rather more respectful Ed Bradley, pays a friendly visit to grand old man of the 60's, Mr. Zimmerman
. [links to Google video]
) is a man of many talents. His own site
(flash/sound) is fun (often funny) and chock full of agreeably wacky sounds, but can take some time to navigate. Reichel hasn't made it easy for you if you happen to be in a hurry. You may well get stuck somewhere and just give up. That'd be a shame, though, cause you'd miss getting acquainted with the guitars
he makes and plays. Or how he designs fonts
. The mixing board
shenanigans are not to be missed (once you get past those curious little fellows in the brown hats), plus you can sorta kinda play his daxophone
yourself. And of course conduct your own little ensemble of meercats
when one of them finally comes out of hiding and says "Hallo! Play with me".
Meet Bill Clements
, bass player. Mr. Clements lost his right hand in an industrial accident in 1989 and had to find a new way to make his music. (embedded video)
Luther Vandross is gone.
The great R&B balladeer
died today, apparently due to complications from a stroke he suffered two years ago. Believers in an afterlife can hope he's enjoying a dance with his father
. After all, he
did believe in the "Power of Love". RIP.
San Carlo of the Symphony.
Il Maestro Carlo Maria Giulini
, orchestra conductor who passed away Tuesday at 91 "had an almost uncanny ability to transform the sound of an orchestra, any orchestra, into a dark and intense glow, which became his trademark over the years". "We have lost one of the greatest musicians of our time," says Esa-Pekka Salonen (.pdf)
, music director of the LA Philharmonic. Giulini has been called "the last humanist", a gentle man beloved by his orchestras, so humble in his approach to music that, always feeling the necessity to "fathom" each new work, it wasn't until the 1960s that he finally felt ready to conduct Bach, or the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven. This from a man who, at the beginning of his career (as a viola player) had played under Richard Strauss. "I had the great privilege to be a member of an orchestra," Giulini said in 1982. "I still belong to the body of the orchestra
. When I hear the phrase, 'The orchestra is an instrument,' I get mad. It's a group of human beings who play instruments." More inside.
) passed away last night. [ mi ]
Korean entertainer Yu Zhen Huan aka "Hair Child" - child actor
, popular singer
even in the face of adversity
Son of a Bluesman
The legend was that if you touched Robert Johnson
you could feel the talent
running through him
, like heat, put there by the devil
on a dark Delta crossroad
in exchange for his soul. It is why Claud Johnson
's grandparents would not let him out of the house that day in 1937 when Robert Johnson, his father, strolled into the yard. "They told my daddy they didn't want no part of him. They said he was working for the devil. I stood in the door, and he stood on the ground, and that is as close as I ever got to him. He wandered off, and I never saw him again."
Today, in the working-class neighborhood where he raised his children, Claud Johnson, a rich man, lives in a grand house on 47 acres of property. (After Claud won his court battle in 1998 and was recognized as the son of the blues legend, his lawyer handed him a six-figure cashier's check and begged him to quit hauling gravel. Claud kept hauling gravel for five months. "After 29 years, it just gets in your blood").
His victory stands out in the annals of Mississippi probate law. It took 10 years, two trips to the State Supreme Court and two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not to mention, most of the first two or three generations of blues musicians died without securing rights to their composition. Explains Thomas Freeland, a Mississippi attorney and blues historian: when the San Francisco-based band the Grateful Dead recorded
songs by the North Carolina blues
musician Elizabeth Cotten
, Freeland said, "the story is, [she] bought a dishwasher
with the royalties." (more inside)
The Day the Music Died. Charles Hardin Holley
. Rest in peace. A remarkably influential songwriter
who left us so much in such a short time.
Plus, this guy
and that other guy
The definitive Ray Davies interview by Candy Darling, Tinkerbelle and Glenn O'Brien
Tinkerbelle: You've probably made a lot of money. Do you ever get carried away with the material side?
Ray: I'm not wealthy. I never made that much. You probably don't want to talk to me now.
Candy: People really are more interesting when they're rich sometimes. You just can't help but like them better. Do you feel that way?
- one of the last surviving soul greats from the Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding generation. A beautiful site with a deep jukebox of stirring soul classics. (Via zootoon. A flash site)
Musician on the Moon
Lucia Pamela passed away
this June at the age of 98, but not without
garnering several moving tributes
from her fans. Ms. Pamela not only believed that she had a pink Cadillac that could fly to the moon, but released a concept album about it
. She also sponsored a coloring book contest
to promote a surrealistic space-age coloring book
that later inspired a song by Stereolab
. A true American original.
I speak other languages real good.
Contemporary Jack-of-All-Trades Jothanan "J.D." Feinberg has been involved in a variety of projects. As a musician, he was the original touring drummer for They Might Be Giants
, and as a software programmer, he's employed by the brains behind the Netomat
project, and has currently updated
a couple projects which play around with AltaVista's Babelfish
George Harrison is gone.
It's not totally unforseen
, but is still a little sad. Here comes the sun
has always been one of my favorites. It has a gentle way of making me smile. That's a nice legacy to leave people .
Clarence Baxter, musical revolutionary
found this pretty funny-- kind of a Maoist music purist with a giant boom box. The back episodes are atually better, especially the pictures of his 'comrades'. Sounds like some good music on there as well.
Positive, by Ian Stephens.
Not, perhaps, in the tradition of Day Without Art. But...
Ian Stephens was a poet, musician, and performer from my neighbourhood in Montreal who died in 1996.
It's not political.
But it's rather useful. Free (accurate!) tuning software for the guitarists out there.
Here's an interesting interview with Robert Smith, full of contradictions as usual. The most interesting part is the supposed trilogy of Pornography
, and their newest album, Bloodflowers
Here's the homepage
of the guy that wrote the song "Bill Gates Must Die
" which prompted Microsoft's legal team to send him a cease-and-desist letter