5 Things: Wednesday 18th December

I’d never heard of Diana Davies, but came across her by chance
…and found these really interesting collections at the Smithsonian. Great early Newport Folk Fest, and lovely NYC folk scene. Here’s a few favourites, Butterfield, Mother Maybelle, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Phil Ochs & Eric Andersen, Bob n’ Don…


From photographer George Lange’s Blog, Last Ten Minutes
“I photographed BB King a couple of weeks ago in Baltimore. At the end of the shooting, he called me over, and as I kneeled next to his chair, he said, “That was the most enjoyable photo shoot I have ever done.” He then said, “When you go home, kiss Jackson for me.” I had talked about my boys a lot during the shooting, and told BB that he could kiss Jackson (my 5-year-old) himself when he played Red Rocks in two weeks.

This past week, Stephie and I took Jackson and his grandmother Janet to Red Rocks. First up was a visit in the fancy touring bus. Jackson went right back to BB holding court in the back and gave him five. “BB”, Jackson asked. “Call him Mr. King” Stephie corrected. “We are musicians,” BB said. “There are no formalities.” Then Jackson stood right in front of BB and said, “KING! I have some jokes for you.” Jackson then told the one about what do you call a woman in the middle of a tennis court? Annette! A couple of knock knock jokes. We were all hysterical. When I tried to politely slip out, BB asked us to stay longer. He then whispered to me, “Do you see the way Jackson is standing there, poised and talking to me directly? My mother died when I was 9½ and I never learned that.”

We then headed over to the stage. This was Jackson’s first real concert. We walked up the ramps through the great backstage at Red Rocks where everyone from the Beatles to Sinatra to our friend Mac Miller walked the halls. Got into our seats up front. I had a pass to shoot after they cleared the other photographers out, and thought Jackson might like being so close, so he joined me. BB’s second song, “You Are My Sunshine” seemed like a very strange choice, but was so much fun, since Jackson knew the lyrics. On “The Thrill is Gone”, BB spotted Jackson in the audience. From the stage he said, “There is my friend Jackson, we hung together before the show.” He then reached in his pocket and tossed a pendant from the stage through the air, which Jackson caught (thanks to a lot of Little League practice this summer). Later, after the set, Jackson was showing his pendant to everyone and said, “I will never forget this night.”

At the 100 Club
With Hugh to the last lunchtime gig put on by Tony Leppard, one of the redoubtable mainstays of the Ken Colyer Trust. Live New Orleans Jazz sounds great, especially at lunchtime in a dark basement. Hand-hewn, there’s something so emotionally warm about the entwining horns and the grainy, sifty rhythms that within seconds you’re caught up, and May-to-September couples start jiving behind you… Mike Pointon drolly mc’s, adds great trombone, and picks a fine set of songs – “The Glory Of Love”, “Lady Be Good”, some Bunk Johnson blues – and everything swings beautifully. Favourite moments: when drummer Emile Martyn plays the fire extinguisher, on the wall behind him, to punctuate a chorus. And when Adrian Cox on clarinet goes up a gear near the end of his solo on “Lady Be Good” and raises the roof.


For my birthday, Dotter gives me Shaun Usher’s wonderful “Letters Of Note”
An excerpt from a proposal by Steve Albini [recorder extraordinaire] to Nirvana. This is not in the book, but is one of my favorites on the site.

#5: Dough. I explained this to Kurt but I thought I’d better reiterate it here. I do not want and will not take a royalty on any record I record. No points. Period. I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. The band write the songs. The band play the music. It’s the band’s fans who buy the records. The band is responsible for whether it’s a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band. I would like to be paid like a plumber: I do the job and you pay me what it’s worth. The record company will expect me to ask for a point or a point and a half. If we assume three million sales, that works out to 400,000 dollars or so. There’s no fucking way I would ever take that much money. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

I have to be comfortable with the amount of money you pay me, but it’s your money, and I insist that you be comfortable with it as well. Kurt suggested paying me a chunk which I would consider full payment, and then if you really thought I deserved more, paying me another chunk after you’d had a chance to live with the album for a while. That would be fine, but probably more organizational trouble than it’s worth.

Whatever. I trust you guys to be fair to me and I know you must be familiar with what a regular industry goon would want. I will let you make the final decision about what I’m going to be paid. How much you choose to pay me will not affect my enthusiasm for the record. Some people in my position would expect an increase in business after being associated with your band. I, however, already have more work than I can handle, and frankly, the kind of people such superficialities will attract are not people I want to work with. Please don’t consider that an issue.

And on another Shaun Usher site, some fine examples of musician’s letterheads


Five Things: Wednesday 25th September

I Liked This Painting


Glanced through the window of the Riflemaker’s Gallery – once the Indica Gallery where Yoko Ono’s show in November 1966 had one J.Lennon as a visitor – a rather lovely painting with stylistic echoes of John Currin. Take the Night off (Laura Marling) by Stuart Pearson Wright [oil on canvas, 2013, 60 x 40 cm].

I Liked This Email
From Our Woodstock Correspondent, John Cuneo:
“I thought of you after reading that lovely Springsteen/burger story on your blog, and then 20 minutes later when I went out for a walk and said hello to a passing David Sancious  (he of the early E Street Band, and, I gather, just back from the road touring with Sting). We were about  mile out from downtown, across the street from the Bear Cafe  (the restaurant that Albert Grossman opened) and right at the bottom of Striebel Rd (where Dylan had his bike spill). I’ve never spoken a word to the guy before, but there was no one else around and it would have been awkward to not acknowledge each other, so I smiled and blurted out a “Hello David”, as if we see each other every day. Being from Jersey, I feel it’s my inherited geographical privilege to refer to all the E St. members by their first name ( I plan to go with just “Steve”, not Little Steven, if the opportunity presents itself).

I Liked This Poem
Bob Johnson, at the end of the Another Self Portrait Short Documentary.
“Down the kerb and around the bend he came and
It’ll never end now because he’s been on this rollercoaster ride ever since he left Minnesota.
He’s been brutalised, sunrised, baptised in the waters of the Village.
Still it goes on, from Soho to Moscow to Oslo.
They speak of this trip, this battleship, who sailed in the harbour of Tin Pan Alley and sank it with his Subterranean Homesick Blues.
There isn’t but one Bob Dylan.”

BobAnd now Bob,
metalwork artist,
is Cold Irons Bound
(or, as the Guardian
would have it,
singing “Ballad of
a Tin Man“).

I Liked Seeing Jimmy Nail On ’Later’
Just after the Kings Of Leon had vied for the title of World’s Most Unexciting Rock Band (they looked to be boring themselves to death with the sludge coming out of their amps), it was excellent to spy Jimmy Nail (Spender!) singing backing vox for Sting, looking in great shape. I remember our friend Sarah doing the costumes on Spender, and saying that she was off to work with Jimmy again on a “Country-singing-Newcastle-Boy-goes-to-Nashville“ story and that they were searching for an American actress who could sing. I remembered “Too Close”, sung beautifully by Amy Madigan on Ry Cooder’s Alamo Bay soundtrack and gave Sarah the record to play to the director and producer. Lo, they hired her! I hadn’t realised (’til a quick search told me) that Amy had form: throughout the late 1970s she played keyboard, percussion, and vocals behind Steve Goodman on tour. Sting’s luxury brand of Steely Dan Light™ came dripping with expensive guitar playing, like so many Swarovsky crystals flung over a bolt of minor ninths and flattened fifths. It was the aural equivalent of a Gucci Ad. For songs about the shipworkers of Newcastle, that’s sort of weird.

I Liked Zigaboo Modeliste At The 100 Club
A party in the summer of ’75 in Kennington. My friend Mick Gardner commandeers the deck and puts on the newly released album by the Meters, Fire On The Bayou. The evening had been a whirl of great funk records but this topped them all, and I recall thinking I would never in my life hear something funkier than this. I thought of that night on Sunday, listening, or rather feeling, the viscerally thrilling drumming of Joseph Modeliste, the Meters drummer. It was a terrific show, presented with avuncular charm (should that be afunkular?) by a master. Mark pointed out that the band were obviously inspired by the girls joyfully dancing at the foot of the stage, rather than the less-well coordinated gaggle of middle-aged white men behind, offering a variety of dance styles that covered the waterfront. To be fair, it was impossible not to dance, such was the floor-shaking power of Zig’s snare and hi-hat. Most things that you wanted to hear were played (“Africa”, “Just Kissed My Baby”, “People Say”, “Hey Pocky Way”), each better than the last.

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 15th August

Emusic Find Of The Week
“My name is Dale Hawkins, and I wanna dedicate this song… to the three cities… that I, uh… had the pleasure of recording this tune in! Give a listen and you’ll hear ’em.”—DALE HAWKINS, cousin to Ronnie, creator of the fabulous Susie Q (if you haven’t heard it in years download it now! James Burton’s guitar—out-of-this-world!). This is from L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas, title song of his obscure late sixties release, with Burton, Cooder, Mahal, Penn & Oldham all playing. It’s on the great compilation Country Funk 1969-1975. “Ain’t no bum trip, man,” he drawls over a particularly out-of-place flute solo. “It just goes to show ya, man, you can take the soul pickers out of the soul country, but you can’t take the soul out of the pickers…” As Pitchfork says “Weird, in a totally wonderful way,” and it’s hard to disagree.

From Dakar to Kampala!
We started two weeks ago at the football with Senegal’s lovely anthem and, in some excellent circularity, ended with hymne Uganda—“a musical treat” according to The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw—at the final medal ceremony, in honour of Stephen Kiprotich’s stunning gold-medal run in the marathon. A musical treat it is—I’d pay good money to hear either Randy Newman or Garth Hudson do an arrangement…

Best Coast, 100 Club, London
I hadn’t been to the 100 since it was saved by Converse’s sponsorship. Very happy to see that nothing much had changed—remarkably branding-free and still sweaty, loud and rocking. Brett was playing bass and guitar with Best Coast, and I took his picture by the plaque that’s there for my uncle, his great grandfather, Ken.

Fifty Shades Of Tortoiseshell

Jazz-themed sunglasses from St Albans. Nice.

Take A Load Off RP
Robert Pattinson in French culture mag Les InRockuptibles: “I’m going to do a movie about The Band, the one that played with Dylan: a beautiful script about the nature of songwriting.” Mmmmmmm… I may be lost for words {although, to be fair, he comes over well in the interview}.

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