Friday, December 1st

Five or so people from the last couple of weeks…


5-bradncarrieFor their introduction to the 2017 CMA’s. We have to acknowledge a Dixie Chicks level of bravery here, in the heart of the heartland. “Right now, he’s prob’ly in his PJs, watching cable news, reachin’ for his cellphone…”

For this piece of beautiful and honest writing, in the Oxford American’s Kentucky Issue. An excerpt: “Into the five blue spot lights, into the thin Midwestern crowd and a smattering of cabaret tables, I take the stage alone. The neck of the guitar settles its weight into my hands. I move the tuning pegs with the ease I move parts of my own body. Maybe this is my last Shank Hall. Maybe the night before was my last Chicago headline. Whatever my failures, the music comes easily on that little stage. The sound carries itself, my voice on its back. For a long time, I thought I’d one day get a bus, eat right on the road, show up rested to a good crowd with a hot band. Now, as usual, I am on the road tired and sweaty. My mind wanders, but the rhythm keeps itself constant in my body as I play. I recognize myself in the dimly lit eyes of the audience – trying to align myself with beauty, mid-prayer for meaning. I give what I have to give without expectation that it will come to anything but the good feeling of giving. I do not promise myself that with one more record, one more tour, everything will make sense at last.”

For his piano playing behind Gregory Porter on the Graham Norton Show. Where did that come from? Maybe I dreamt it. Porter could sing the song acapella for all the backing he needs, but that seems to be what gives Jeff G permission to play with the minimalism that he does…


For sneaking a smokin’ blues (“Rock Me Baby”) into the Top Forty – if you look beyond the slightly gauche lead vocal, there’s much to enjoy as Larry Carlton and Dean Parks have fun doubling up and duelling.

5-dellaFor her inspiration. Marc Myers, JazzWax: “Born in Detroit, Reese was a role model to many of Motown’s female singers, who were being groomed to become supper-club soul vocalists. When I interviewed Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas, she told me that Reese held a special place in her heart: “While I sang “Dancing in the Street”, I thought about Riopelle St., where I grew up on Detroit’s East Side. We had street-dance parties there all the time. I loved the East Side. When I came up with the Vandellas’ name, it combined Van – for Van Dyke St., the East Side’s main boulevard – and the first name of singer Della Reese, whose voice I admired.”

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Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 12th December

Dave Brubeck, talking to Marian McPartland
…on her wonderful series, Piano Jazz, for NPR, about his great collaborator, Paul Desmond. “I loved listening to him, every night, and the humour—if he wanted to say something funny through the horn—would just break me up… If I did something wrong, that he didn’t like, he’d usually play I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande) because I was raised on a cattle ranch and he’d bring that up, musically. Or Don’t Fence Me In—anything that he didn’t like, that was going on, he’d play a quote to get you back in line. It was something that was always so funny, you’d laugh—you’d never take it too badly. He could tell a complete story in quotes of what just happened, his mind was so quick… [One night they had been] arrested for speeding on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he did the whole story; of the arrest, where they went, all in tune titles. It was amazing…

[On playing a Country Fair and Horse Show] “A guy came up on the stand with spurs on and he drug them across the stage and he walked up to me and he said, “Tell the guy playing the traps [drums] that he’s spookin’ the horses…” and Paul was in hysterics, and when he started playing, he hit some high notes and all the chickens went crazy and started cackling…Paul was going to write a book [about all these tours] called How Many Of You Are There In The Quartet?”

What? What? What Am I Not Getting Here?
Mumford and Sons, Babel
@Big Boi (of Outkast) responds to a fan enquiring after his favourite non-hip hop album of the year.

Richard Thompson, New Album, Great Quote
Electric is produced by Buddy Miller at his home studio in Nashville, TN. “We did it ridiculously quickly. It was just stupid. But it sounds great. It turned out surprisingly funky, sort of a new genre—folk-funk. It’s quite snappy, somewhere between Judy Collins and Bootsy Collins.”

Tom Waits letter to The Nation, 2002, from Letters Of Note:
“Thank you for your eloquent “rant” by John Densmore of The Doors on the subject of artists allowing their songs to be used in commercials. I spoke out whenever possible on the topic even before the Frito Lay case (Waits v. Frito Lay), where they used a sound-alike version of my song Step Right Up so convincingly that I thought it was me. Ultimately, after much trial and tribulation, we prevailed and the court determined that my voice is my property.

Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. It’s no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you’re in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become. Remember, when you sell your songs for commercials, you are selling your audience as well…

Eventually, artists will be going onstage like race-car drivers covered in hundreds of logos. John, stay pure. Your credibility, your integrity and your honor are things no company should be able to buy.”

Tift Merritt’s Red Guitar, Later
Ooooooooh, that is one great guitar, a cherry red Gibson J-45, sweetly played and with a wonderfully soft & rounded tone…


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