Saturday, March 29, 2008

From the streets to the stage

Violinist Geoffrey Castle used to play violin, albeit amplified, on the streets of New York. I don't know if he had a permit, because police generally are quick to shut down anyone playing with an amp.
Anyway, he's now made the leap to the stage. I've never heard him, but according to this advance article, he uses a loop sampler, which is used to record a short line of music and then repeats. The musician uses the loops to build layers. Sometimes, loops can result in self-indulgent, self-absorbed ventures for musicians. I hope Geoffrey avoids that; it appears that he actually plays melodies, which helps.

Saving a piece of history

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey built a house for her mother in Columbus, Ga., and she herself lived in it until her death in 1939. Over time, the house began to crumble, and the city, in a split vote put up the funds to stabilize and to to restore it using matching federal funds.
The New York Times, in a notes from Columbus feature, notes: Mr. (Frank) Martin, a white trial lawyer elected with a large part of the city’s black vote, said he was motivated in part by a sense of racial equity. “You could always promote white tourism,” he said, “but when it came to something black, people were, like, ‘Why would you do that?’ ”
The house has been restored and is now open to the public.

T for torture, T for Tennessee

The ever-expanding list of cruel and unusual punishment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh, Savannah

How I'd love to be in Savannah, Ga., on April 3.
Jerry Douglas, Bob Brozman, Derek Trucks and Debashish Bhattacharya will be presenting "The World of Slide Guitar" as part of the Savannah Music Festival currently under way.
All are certainly masters in their field. Perhaps other promoters will book the quartet for a unique presentation.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blues Zealand

A review of the first Coromandel Blues and Roots Festival, featuring Keb' Mo, Xavier Rudd, Wilco, Buddy Guy and more. The reference to "a late summer day" was enough for me.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hank lives on

Hank Williams died 54 years ago, but a lot of folks are working to make sure that he is not forgotten.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch interviewed Hank's steel player Don Helms and looked at some of the other activities this year.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville has installed a special exhibit: "Few families have had such a major impact on country music as the Williamses. This 5,000 square foot major exhibition examines the personal lives of Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr. and explores the dynamics that inspired some of the most influential country music ever recorded."
I hope that the display, which opens March 28 and runs through the year, doesn't waste too much time on Hank Jr. or Jett Williams.
The Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel is promoting the Hank Williams Trail, from Andalusia, where he married Audrey, to Birmingham, where he spent his last night alive.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Don't these guys know that studio time is expensive?

The new ad for Viagra. It's better than the Free Credit ads, which I mute or turn down the radio whenever one airs.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Recording King offerings

Recording King, a respected name in instruments, has assumed the Johnson (decent Chinese-made budget level) line of tricones. The company has posted information on the reso-nation bulletin board that R&D is under way in the full resonator field, including woods, shapes and sound wells.
RK has announced development of metal-bodied resonators with "champagne matte" finishes. The price point will be the entry-lower mid-range market.

Best wishes to Wayne Taylor

Wayne, a member of the U.S. Navy band Country Current, is retiring after 21 years as guitarist and lead singer for the group. He'll be replaced by Kenny Ray Horton.
Wayne will join Bill Emerson, who started Country Current in 1971.
Country Current is bluegrass-country hybrid; the band adds a pedal steel when playing gigs more suited for country music gatherings.
I've seen the bluegrass band at Winterhawk and Thomas Point Beach festivals. One of fondest memories is having the privilige of jamming with the band on top of the hill at Winterhawk. The guys were open and accommodating, and could have been jamming with any of the world-class performers at the festival. They enjoyed kicking back at the James campsite next to the big blue bus.
Also retiring later this year is bassist Joe Wheatley, to be replaced by Joe Coats.
Wayne is a great singer and songwriter. Appaloosa is one my favorite songs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Billy McLaughlin and focal dystonia

I had never heard of Billy McLaughlin until someone on a guitar board posted a video of him. His story is inspiring to anyone who wants to learn an instrument, get better on an instrument or just do anything.
Billy developed focal dystonia, a neurological condition not uncommon to musicians. It affects the hand's ability to play with control. Banjo players Tom Adams and Steve Dilling of IIIrd Tyme Out are among those who've been working to overcome the condition.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A joke, courtesy of Prairie Home Companion

Prairie Home Companion held its annual joke show this past weekend. I didn't hear the entire program, but here's a musician joke: What's the difference between a pop musician and a jazz musician?
A pop musician plays three chords in front of thousands of people and a jazz musician plays thousands of chords in front of three people.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Guitar Woman

The great dobro player Cindy Cashdollar (shown here); Robert Johnson - channeler Rory Block and a slew of other great muscians are profiled in interivews by guitarst Sue Foley -- certainly no slouch herself -- in Guitar Woman.
However, I can't find if the book is completed and available yet. Has anyone heard?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Robin and Linda travel north

If I still lived in upstate New York, I'd try to catch one of the three shows Robin and Linda Williams have scheduled this weekend. According to one press release I saw, the great dobro player Kevin Maul, a former member of Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group, would be joining them. That will be a special treat.
Kevin's in the Saratoga Springs area, so the shows tonight at the Golding Park Cafe in Cobleskill, Saturday for the Cornell Folk Song Society in Ithaca and Sunday at the Kirkland Art Center in Clinton are relatively close.
I haven't seen Robin and Linda live since Winterhawk, 1998, maybe? It's great to see them live as the venture north from their home in the Shenandoah Valley. Catch 'em if you can.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Jeff Healey

He played his guitar on his lap, but instead of slide or steel, he fretted with his fingers. Jeff died at the age of 41. You can read about him here, and see several videos on YouTube.
Jeff was featured in Roadhouse, the 1989 Patrick Swayze movie. The movie is lightweight, but it's fun to watch on Saturday afternoon before taking a nap.
I didn't know it until today, but Jeff also gave his name Jeff Healey's Roadhouse, a rock, blues and jazz club in Toronto.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I love New London...

...Or I'd better get to love it.
I'll be playing there 4 times in the next month; today, March 1, at the Fiddleheads Coop Farmers Market (indoors, thankfully) with a solo show; tonight at the UU Church, sitting in with Shoregrass in a double bill with Second Circle; solo March 15 at the Bean and Leaf on Washington Street (I'll try to persuade Jon to play bass) and then on March 28 with Jon on upright bass for the fantastic, not-to-be-missed and not-just-because-we're-playing-there Blue Collar Happy Hour at the Bank Street cafe.
I do like New London. Everytime I go there I find that people are working to create communities of like-minded folks; especially in arts and music.