Friday MOLD Columnist Larry Carlin
Friday, November 21, 2014
Giving thanks. A much needed four-day weekend is on its way – that is, for those of us lucky to have jobs – and the staff here are Carltone World Headquarters will soon be scattering hither and yon to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with friends and family near and far. As usual at this time of year, my partner Claudia and I will be getting together with some friends on the Big Day for a sumptuous feast, where everyone contributes to the meal, and then afterwards instruments magically appear. The sounds of guitars, fiddles, mandolins and a bass will be heard playing bluegrass and country songs after the meal, and we feel very fortunate and thankful to have friends such as these. Thanksgiving Day is always too long in coming, and then it passes by in an instant. But I can think of no better way than this to kick off the holiday season. Here’s hoping your holiday will be spent in similar fashion, and that it will be as enjoyable as mine will be…
Other things that I am thankful for… That I don’t live in Buffalo; that I don’t have Alzheimer’s like Glen Campbell; that I am not Bill Cosby; that I don’t have to write this column three times a week; that, even though I turned 60 this year, I still have all of my original parts; that I started playing music when I was 14-years-old; that my last name is not Kardashian; that I have Nashville MOLD correspondent Randog sending me CD reviews and commentaries that help make this column more entertaining; that I didn't bet on the Oakland Raiders to make it to the Super Bowl; that I have a longtime partner that not only puts up with me, but that also has a singing voice like Emmylou Harris, thereby making me sound better; that I live in the Bay Area, where there is nothing to shovel in the winter months; and that it has rained a couple of days this week!
Will pick for food. Here is a heartwarming story from Leah Garchik’s gossip column in yesterday’s SF Chronicle: “And a yee-haw to Dinah and Noah Stroe, who, every other Tuesday night since January, have hosted an old-time music jam in the coffee shop near the exit of Andronico’s Market on Irving Street. They collect money from shoppers, usually as they pass the cafe on their way back to the parking lot, to be donated to the San Francisco Food Bank. On Tuesday, the Food Bank came by to collect this year’s take, $665.42. It’s a generous idea, a lovely contribution, and, writes Dinah, ‘Shoppers seem to really like our fiddles, banjos, mandolins and guitars as the sound wafts through the aisles!’ But let’s think about the money: I’m a terrible arithmetician, but since the first of the year, I think, the take boils down to something like $30 an evening, for six to 12 musicians. Dinah estimates the grand totals as ‘$30 to $50 an evening,’ with ‘lots of $1 bills, but a few fives, and two or three 20s.’ One of those 20s, she says, came ‘from a guy there to clean the floors. We played Jesusita en Chihuahua, a great Mexican tune, and he was delighted.’ Next time you see a food bank basket, toss in some of that green.”
’Tis the season. The holidays are just around the corner, and if haven’t purchased your holiday greeting cards yet, you can find no finer than Karen Cannon’s collection of bluegrass Christmas cards. Check them out here. Santa playing the doghouse bass and banjo? Simply the best.
Del and Woody. Del McCoury has a very unique project coming out next year that sounds like a winner before even one note has been heard. It will be an entire CD of songs where the lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie and the melodies were written by Del. And he does all of the singing. There is a long, albeit great, story about this in No Depression magazine.
He did find it a bit odd that she never went on tour. " Peggy Sue Evers, who admitted she impersonated singer Alison Krauss to swindle money from a 75-year-old Fayetteville man, has been returned to Arkansas after being arrested in New Mexico. Evers pleaded not guilty to a failure to appear charge. Prosecutors say an arrest warrant was issued for Evers after she missed a court date. She was later arrested in Albuquerque, N.M. Evers pleaded guilty earlier this year to impersonating the singer and marrying the man after convincing him she was Krauss. Evers was sentenced to eight years of probation, ordered to pay restitution, return four cars to the man and sign his home back to him.” At the least, you’d think the guy would have asked her to sing a song to hear what she sounded like…
Gift idea. As 2014 comes to a close, it is time to be thinking about next year’s calendar already, and you can’t go wrong by getting a copy of your very own Banjo Babes Calendar and CD. For complete info, go here.
This ain’t no MUNI bus. Who knew that riding a transit bus could ever be so much fun? Check out this Austrian band Cobario as they give passengers a ride that they will never forget.
Life’s railway to heaven. Soul singer Jimmy Ruffin, who had a big hit in 1966 with the song “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted,” died from unknown causes in Las Vegas on the 17th. He was 78. Renowned movie and stage director Mike Nichols, whose films include The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Silkwood, and Working Girl, died in New York City at age 83 on the 20th. He was one of a handful of artists that won an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy.
At the movies. From time to time, your Friday MOLD columnist writes movie reviews for a show called Movie Magazine International, something I have been doing for 23 years. My most recent review is now up, and it is of the new film called Foxcatcher. Last week I wrote about Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me. Also on the site is my recent review of This Ain’t No Mouse Music, which Randog mentions in one of his CD reviews below. You can read these and more here.
The Beatles singing Bill Monroe? You bet. Though the betting here is that not many people have ever seen this video of Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr singing “Blue Moon of Kentucky” before…
McCartney tribute. Speaking of Paul McCartney, a tribute album was released this week titled The Art of McCartney, which is a compilation featuring all-star musicians covering songs Paul McCartney wrote with the Beatles and Wings. The recording features Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Billy Joel, and many more. Read about it in Rolling Stone.
Joni in the Journal. Were you ever a Joni Mitchell fan back in the day? If so, did you ever wonder who her song “Carey” was about? Well, wonder no more, and read a story about it in that noted music publication The Wall Street Journal.
Hot Rize also in the Journal. They have a new CD out, their first in 24 years, and they are headed this way. They will be in Los Angeles on December 9th, at Sweetwater in Mill Valley on the 12th, at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico on the 13th, and at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley on the 14th. Read about them in the WSJ.
Just for the heck of it. Bob Paisley and the Southern Grass singing “Darling Nelly Across the Sea.” What a sound!
Kids are a singing wonder. Check out this video of the Capitol Children’s Choir singing the Stevie Wonder song “For Once in My Life.” There is a wealth of young talent here.
Out and about. The big news in the country music world yesterday was that singer Ty Herndon has become the first established country singer to come out of the closet. At this point, you – like the staff here at Carltone World Headquarters – may be asking “Who is Ty Herndon?” No one around here had ever heard of him before. Nor had we heard of Billy Gilman, who came out today. But this is not surprising, as we never listen to any country music beyond 1975 here on the office hi-fi…
Scene and heard. Watch the Seldom Scene singing the late Paul Craft classic “Through the Bottom of the Glass” here. It is a laid back, living room version, with John Starling singing the first verse.
T Sisters in Folsom. John Hettinger holds house concerts from time to time, and he has a great one on the 21st. “Bluegrassers, there are still seats available for the T Sisters' house concert at the Folsom Opry House (a.k.a. home of John & Loretta Hettinger) on Friday, November 21, at 7:30 p.m. They feature absolutely beautiful sister vocal harmony that you won't forget. Check them out in this video. $15 advance for CBA members, $20 for all others. Don't forget Loretta's pies for dessert. Call (916) 990-0719 or email email@example.com for reservations.
Americana Music Fest on PBS on November 22nd. Taped on September 17th at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the show includes performances from Loretta Lynn, Robert Plant, Jackson Browne, Roseanne Cash, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Patty Griffin and Taj Mahal. The show will be broadcast on some public television stations. Alas, KQED in San Francisco does not have the show on their schedule.
Playing both kinds of music – country and western. The weekend brunch at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley is accompanied by live music with no cover. On Sunday the 23rd, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., see Blithedale Canyon, a melodious new country band from Marin County whose members are longtime friends with decades of experience playing various kinds of music. Imagine old-school country songs, bluegrass, and Western swing with a bit of old-time rock and roll, with three lead singers and mellifluous three-part harmonies, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from this exciting new quartet. The members are Carl Tone on bass, Claudia Hampe on rhythm guitar, Gary Kaye on pedal steel, and Gary Bauman on electric guitar. Sweetwater offers fine food and drink at reasonable prices in a family-friendly atmosphere, and children are welcome.
Coming attractions. Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gulley will play a house concert in Folsom on December 5th, the Redwood Bluegrass show in Los Altos on the 6th, at Trinity Methodist Church in Chico on the 7th, and at Don Quixote’s in Felton on the 8th. See Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley in Little River, CA, on December 7th, on the 8th in Cloverdale, in Upper Lake on the 9th, in Felton on the 11th, Culver City on the 12th, Del Mar on the 13th, and Sonora on the 14th. The Costanoa Winterfest will be happening in Pescadero (north of Santa Cruz) on December 13th, with bands such as the Naked Bootleggers, Bluegrass Roundup, the Brookdale Bluegrass Band, and the Rainy Day Ramblers. The CBA’s Great 48 jam in Bakersfield is set for January 8-11th in 2015. The 14th Annual Sonoma Folk and Bluegrass Festival in Sebastopol is scheduled for March 15th. WinterWonderGrass in Squaw Valley on March 20th-22nd will have The Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, Brothers Comatose, Front Country, The T Sisters, and more. Go to all of the links for complete info.
Turn your radio on. If you are looking for some bluegrass or many other kinds of acoustic music this weekend, just go to KALW (91.7 FM) bluegrass radio show host Peter Thompson’s Bluegrass Signal web site and you will have no trouble filling your social calendar. Be sure to tune in on Saturday the 22nd from 6:30-8 p.m. This show is titled Eat at the Welcome Table, and it will feature bluegrass food songs to get us ready for Thanksgiving.
Music calendars. There are a handful of shows listed in this column today, but if you want to find out what kind of music is going on in your area, as stated above, look at Peter Thompson’s calendar or also check out the CBA or the Northern California Bluegrass Society event listings. Also, buy a Sunday SF Chronicle and hold on to the Pink Section all week.
The view from Nashvegas. On Fridays a popular regular feature in this column are the CD reviews and commentaries by Randy Pitts, the man in the know in Music City USA, a.k.a. Nashville. Here are three commentaries and three CD reviews to get you through the weekend.
11/14 /14: “My wife Chris and I just returned from a wonderful concert by The Kathy Kallick Band at The Station Inn; it's always great to see old friends from the West Coast playing cool new music. Kathy has always played with great musicians, but none better than this current bunch. Tom Bekeny has been among my favorite mandolin players since the early ‘80s, when I first met him, and he remains endlessly inventive and innovative. Cary Black is an expressive and sensitive bassist, Greg Booth is a cool dobro player, banjoist, and vocalist, and Annie Staninec is my favorite young fiddler, bar none. And Kathy herself continues to write great songs, sing them in her unique style, and choose the best songs from past traditions to interpret as only she and this hot band can. They are REALLY good.”
11/15/14: “Just returned home from attending – at The Country Music Hall Of Fame – the presentation of my friend Barry Mazor's new biography (the first ever) of the monumentally important pioneering publisher of vernacular music of all kinds, Mr. Ralph Peer , entitled Ralph Peer and The Making of Popular Roots Music. Barry's explication of the facts were characteristically thorough, lucid, and informative, and the whole thing was helped along by musical illustration via the singing and playing of Shawn Camp, accompanied by Laura Weber Cash, Mike Bub, and Larry Atamanuik. Shawn was an inspired choice for the assignment, and acquitted himself brilliantly in styles ranging from The Carter Family ('The Storms Are On The Ocean'), to Floyd Tillman, to Bob Wills, to George Jones ('White Lightnin''), to Buddy Holly ('Not Fade Away'). No better man for the job, as an Irish buyer of mine was fond of saying. Now I'm gonna read the book.”
11/17/14 “In suddenly frigid Music City USA, I'm warming myself this morning in the rosy afterglow of Mike Bub's 50th birthday party yesterday at The Station Inn. Mentioning everybody who was there could only lead to charges of name dropping and people accusing me of forgetting them to get even with them for not recording my songs...that's a joke, folks. Suffice it to say that people who Mike Bub doesn't know here in Nashville ain't worth knowin'...and I HAVE to mention the epic jam that took place pretty much throughout the party. A few people dropped out from time to time, but Mike Armistead was a constant presence on guitar, and a sixteen-year-old banjo player who I don't know but is a friend of Chris'...didn't catch his name, but he was wearin' it out...and my longtime friend Tom Bekeny, in town with Kathy Kallick's band, played mandolin from the time we got there 'til we left. Jeff White played both guitar and bass. But my favorite image of the event, and the one that will stay with me, was watching Buck White watch Michael Cleveland, Annie Staninec (also of Kathy Kallick's band and a phenomenal fiddler), and Mr. Bekeny while they were tearing into some classic Monroe numbers. Then Buck played some boogie-woogie and honky-tonk piano, abetted first by Jeff White, then Shawn Camp on guitar and vocals. Buck did 'Pipeliner Blues,' several others, and Shawn Camp sang some classic country and 'White Lightnin'' while Buck tickled the ivories. He was singing with his daughters Cheryl and Sharon when regrettably, we had to leave. do it again when you're 75, Mike, to give me something to look forward to...”
Randog's Daily Pick 11/19/2014
Sylvia Herold and the Rhythm Bugs The Spider and the Fly
TUX CD 929
I extorted this from bassist Cary Black when he was in Nashville recently. When people ask me to name my favorite singers, Sylvia Herold has always been high on my list. She has a gorgeous voice and exquisite taste in music, vocal role models, and vintage clothing –especially hats. Cats & Jammers, the trio she was in with Tony Marcus and Piper Heisig, remains one of my all time favorites, and I have missed hearing her – live and on recordings – these past years, since I moved to Music City USA. This album, released in 2012, helps a little. If you like tight three-part harmonies, movie music from the ‘30s and ‘40s, The Boswell Sisters, Manhattan Transfer, or the Mills Brothers, or just exciting, evocative music from the past, done in refreshing new ways, this album is THE ONE. I'm not familiar enough with the originals of most of these songs to even venture a guess as to where they came from. I'm on pretty firm ground with Charlie Rich’s "Mohair Sam," and I know I've heard "The Continental" in a Fred Astaire movie, but otherwise, I'm pretty much adrift. Which adds to the enjoyment of listening. Harmony vocals by Ed Johnson and Jennifer Scott, bass by the aforementioned Cary Black, some killer vibes by Christian Tamburr, and a bunch of other people contribute from time to time, including a brief cameo of Tony Marcus' sonorous bass/baritone voice and Orville Johnson's dobro. I mention you because I know you, guys. The package becomes an instant collectible because of the cover art by sometime Cheap Suit Serenader Bob Armstrong. Songs include "All the Cats Join In," "Barrelhouse Bessie From Bourbon Street," "The Fella Who Couldn't Be Kissed," "The Spider and the Fly," "San Fernando Valley," and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes." Fourteen in all.
Randog’s Daily Pick 11/20/14
Johnny Jenkins & The Pinetoppers Ton-Ton Macoute!
Atco Stereo SD-33-331
Listening to an old favorite album this morning; forgot how good it is. Primarily remembered as the left-handed guitar playing bandleader who brought Otis Redding to Stax Records, which made it possible for Otis, employed as Johnny Jenkins & The Pinetoppers vocalist and Jenkins' personal driver, to begin his legendary career. Jenkins had 40 minutes of unused studio time coming when his session ended, and it was used to record Otis singing "These Arms of Mine," and the rest is history, as they say. Johnny's next shot at the big time came after Otis's death, in the form of this album, which is very good indeed – in part because of the participation of such as Duane Allman, and other member of The Allman Brothers Band, and Eddie Hinton on congas (!) and other top notch musicians. It didn't sell well, but has become a sort of underground classic. If you see a copy in good shape, grab hold tight!
Randog's Daily Pick 11/21/2014
This Ain't No Mouse Music: The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records
Arhoolie CD 545 A & B
For those who haven't seen the film from which all this music was taken, this is the next best thing. In fact, in a couple of ways, it is an improvement on the music in the film; in many cases, snippets of the music heard in the film is heard in order to push the narrative along; here, every track is available in its entirety. AND...there are extensive notes on every single song included in the booklet which accompanies the CD, reminiscences by the man himself, featuring his own unforgettably unique syntax...and it is fascinating stuff, tales of how he came to discover such artists as Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton, Rose Maddox, Big Joe Williams, and many more. Chris also goes into how he ended up with valuable copyrights from such as Country Joe & The Fish – the original version of "Fixin' To Die Rag", recorded by Chris in his living room –is here, as are KC Douglas’s "Mercury Blues," which as "Mercury Boogie," has been a hit for Steve Miller, Alan Jackson, and sold a lot of Ford trucks. There's lots more – black storefront gospel by the Rev. Overstreet, blues by Mance Lipscomb, Big Mama Thornton, Fred McDowell, Mercy Dee, and more; there is a live duet between Ry Cooder and Flaco Jimenez, new bluegrass by The Whitetop Mountain Band and the youthful No Speed Limit, lots of Cajun from Marc and Ann Savoy and their sons Wilson and Joel, Zydeco by the Godfather of the genre, the incomparable Clifton Chenier, and New Orleans street jazz by the Treme Brass Band. Since the DVD of the movie won't be available for Christmas, this two-CD set is the perfect stocking stuffer and primer on the Arhoolie label and the life's work of the man many of us have come to know as Mr. Chris, (after the notorious Mr. Tom Moore), which, if memory serves, comes from the fertile mind of my old friend Paul Hallaman, when we were both 'hoolie coolies in the ‘80s. 38 musical selections from This Ain't No Mouse Music, each in its entirety...
Comments, questions, quips and tips? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info than you need to know about Friday MOLD columnist Larry Carlin, go to his Carltone web site. Missed a Friday MOLD? Don’t fret, just click here to read past columns.