What's this stuff below??? I will not be tweeting, tooting...
Saw a funny quote from singer-songwriter Susan Werner, who was the emcee at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival over this past weekend. Werner said, "I look at Ann Arbor as a collection of 100,000 people who stay inside and read too much."
What's this stuff below??? I will not be tweeting, tooting...
Time flies! Got tickets for Shawn Colvin/Loudon Wainwright III in September, and last
Friday night was the show. Gina and I don't get out enough, so we had a great time--and we had to drive less than five miles to get there (the Washington Center, downtown Oly).
It was a loose and terrific gig, starting with Wainwright playing several songs from his new 10 Songs for the New Depression (Proper Records) on guitar before switching to piano and performing a couple of older ones, including his classic "Red Guitar." Somewhere in the middle of his set, he spaced on some lyrics, blaming the goof on "not getting to take a nap" or missing one of his dietary supplements.
Yet Wainwright is a masterful communicator, and not only via his remarkable humor. There's a lot of sadness between the lines of his narratives about his family, and a sense of wonderment about living longer than his father (who died at 63; Wainwright is 64). Even as the audience was cracking up at "Unfriendly Skies," the story of LWIII watching his Martin D28 guitar falling off the luggage cart and breaking at the Durango Airport, they could sense his pain.
Obviously proud of winning his first Grammy for his 2009 tribute to Charlie Poole,
High, Wide and Lonesome (2nd Story Sound), he told the amusing story of being nominated in 1985--the year the late Steve Goodman won the award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. The following year, LWIII was nominated again--this time losing out to a Steve Goodman tribute album.
Wainwright brought out Colvin to duet with him on two songs. A wobbly start gave way to an otherwise lovely rendition of Richard Thompson's "A Heart Needs a Home," which they had recorded in 1992 on the RT covers album Beat the Retreat. Here, they connected, and the good feeling carried over to Colvin's set, although she had a noisy guitar pickup or something that caused a few interruptions.
Colvin's singing is as distinctive as ever, and she represented most of her recorded work with beautiful guitar tunings and playing--I've loved her voice for so long that I had forgotten that she does a lot more than mere strumming. There were several tunes from her last studio album, 2006's These Four Walls (Nonesuch), including Paul Westerberg's "Even Here We Are" and the superb title track, but she went all the way back to "Shotgun Down the Avalanche" and "Polaroids," too.
She talked about some of her best musical friends, the informal group Three Girls and Their Buddy (SC, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller). Griffin and Miller are currently touring with Robert Plant.
If Colvin's set included several first rate songs and covers, her encore was the best of all. She started with her eerie solo version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" from her 2009 Live album, and then "Killing the Blues." And to finish, Lefty Frizzell's gorgeous "That's the Way Love Goes," which Colvin has been playing live for nearly twenty years, but you'd never detect a lack of enthusiasm there.
A wonderful show, and neither LWIII nor Colvin bothered to perform their lone hit
single--Colvin left out "Sunny Came Home." Wainwright got a cry, early on, for
" 'Dead Skunk'!" (we were embarrassed, because the guy may just as well have yelled,
" 'Free Bird'!"; guess Olympia is no longer the hippest small town in the U.S.). LWIII's
response: "I need extra money to do that one." Gina and I are in complete agreement on this idea: performers should play what they want to play at their shows.
This gig was a bit raggedy, but so right.
My favorite people in the world are the ones who don't need anything--they don't require new toys to keep themselves happy.
I have to admit it: I need a new toy! But it's really not a fun item I need--it's a vacuum cleaner. Am I the only one who thinks that your average vacuum cleaner is a ripoff and starts de-evolving the minute you cut the tags and new packaging off it?
At present, we use the vacuum cleaner my late mom-in-law gave us. Why? Well, she was selfless, for one thing. The other is that we kept borrowing hers because ours seemed to be running out of suction or power or whatever it is. Now it's become a piece of junk--another in a long line of stiffs. Am I only one who has had an endless succession of those things that never cease to suddenly hit a slowdown point? Yes, I have changed the bag recently, if you're wondering. Good advice, though; keep trying.
Have you ever had a machine that wouldn't suck up the smallest piece of debris on the carpet? "Okay, I'll just vacuum from another angle," you think. Nothing. "Okay, so I'll just loosen the cat hair with my hand and then vacuum it up." Nothing. It's a mystery.
The biggest mystery of all is why I buy one every ten years on sale in a lame box store.
Whether you're talking American history horror stories in other centuries or now (the Tucson shootings), Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message of love and equality looms large as a much needed contrast to humankind's lowest forms of behavior.
I am moved whenever I hear that voice, but I have to admit that I hear it in January more than any other month. And I share some of the blame with the media at large for this, because it's the first month of the year when I go through some of his classic speeches in order to use pieces of them for my annual MLK-related radio show.
But what an amazing man and catalyst for change MLK was. I think of a scene from the segregated south in the '50s and '60s, where a rock'n'roll package tour brought Chuck Berry and others to a whites-only restaurant. Either a waiter or the manager told Berry, "We don't serve n*****s here." "That's all right," Berry answered. "I don't eat 'em."
Compare that to a verbal interchange from Howard Zinn's autobiography, reflecting how the tide was turning, thanks to so many who, like MLK, worked to level the playing field: Woman to a law officer: "Get that n***** out of here--he's sitting at the front of the bus!" Police officer: "Ma'am...don't you read the papers?"
I was really proud over the weekend of the folks who do shows on KAOS radio. The world music program "Spin the Globe" mixed a King speech with African drumming and it sounded tremendous; same for "Chantdown Babylon," which paired reggae and a powerful 1967 King speech against the Vietnam war.
One more plug: Fred Kellogg's "Free Jazz with Fred" will have an MLK special on Thursday, Feb. 3, from 9 to 11pm (Pacific time/U.S.). It's a terrific show anyway, but this edition promises to be extra special. Get the audio stream from the KAOS website:
Thank you, Dr. King.
"Rock'n'Roll was around a long time before me--it was really Rhythm & Blues. I just got on the bandwagon with it."
--Elvis Presley, 1957
Wasn't there some kind of joke going around that went, "I like both kinds of music...country and western"? Rhythm and blues, too (see comments).
The violence and hatred that goes on in my beloved country deeply saddens me.
It's here...Happy New Year.
One resolution I can make and probably not break is to increase my awareness about germs and stuff--I need to stay healthy. Gina's fantastic about dodging colds and worse; when we're in a grocery store and someone in the same aisle we're in starts coughing,
That's something that's easy to remember: avoid sickies. The things that I continue to overlook are the more mundune chores like cleaning the coffee mug (a nice tall
stainless steel thermos) I use almost every day. "If you're planning on kissing me tonight," Gina says, "you'd better wash out that yucky mug."