Don Ross and Jimmy Wahlsteen are, separately, extraordinary solo acoustic guitarists. Since both record for CandyRat Records, it’s not particularly surprising that they recorded this duet of Ross’s “Klimbim” back in 2010 to publicize an upcoming tour. What is amazing, however, is how tight the performance is, considering that they’re recording live on a sidewalk in Nova Scotia. At one point a fire engine comes blazing by, siren wailing; it hardly fazes them.
Really, except perhaps for the location, this is at least one way steel-string acoustic guitars were always meant to be played.
My trip to New Orleans last month inspired me to put together this rendition of Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” to accompany some of the photos I took of the French Quarter and a cemetery in the Garden District.
On this synchrodipitous [adj. derived from 'synchronic' and 'serendipitous'] confluence of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President Obama’s second inauguration, let us not forget how recently the events recorded below occurred, nor how history tends to repeat itself when forgotten…
Featuring a super-funky-bluesy-gospelly version of “Eyes On The Prize” by Ms. Mavis Staples. Take it, Mavis-
Dedicated to everyone I know – and anyone I don’t know – who has recently dealt with a serious health issue.
Cohen’s song and unique voice speaks for itself. In the video accompaniment, I just embedded his lyrics into photos of some of the nicest flowers I’ve ever met.
If you have the bandwidth, view this fullscreen in HD if that setting is available on your system, or else here on YouTube. (Sorry for any pop up ad you might see, on which I make no money but which Cohen’s publisher apparently requires of all videos featuring his songs.)
For Obama fans it’s been a long two years since the disastrous 2010 election, and now that the unpleasantness of the 2012 campaign is finally over, I’d say that an adrenaline rush is just what the doctor ordered… this one courtesy of Gareth Pearson, surely one of the “young guns” of finger-pickin’-to-the-max:
While I’m in the mood to post some of the music I’ve been working on lately, here’s my rendition of Wayne Shorter’s “Ana Maria”. I played the electric guitars on it, and programmed all the rest. The video is a capture of my iTunes Visualizer.
Here’s my rendition of Denny Zeitlin’s jazz ballad, “Quiet Now”. I played electric and acoustic guitars on it, and programmed the bass. The video is just a slideshow of some quiet places I’ve been lucky enough to visit. (This is the SD version; see the HD version – if your internet connection can handle the bitrate – here).
Last week in Portland Oregon I took a few photos in the Japanese Gardens and Rose Gardens. Here are the three best, followed (fittingly) by Esperanza Spalding’s song “City of Roses”, off her latest album, “Radio Music Society“-
Actually, there’s not much of a story in Jan Kounen’s (2009) hypnotic romance/drama, but you hardly care as Stravinsky’s lush music and the unapologetically sumptuous images wash over you like a tidal wave of Chanel No. 5. Oh… and don’t miss the kaleidoscopic opening credit sequence, which sets the film’s impressively consistent tone and pacing from the get-go. Warning: not for those allergic to self-consciously “high art”.
I haven’t been posting lately; just been too damn busy. I’ll probably remain so for a while. But to begin to make amends, here’s a delightful little ditty from Don Ross’s new album, aptly titled “Upright And Locked Position”.
I had the pleasure of meeting Stew (AKA Mark Stewart) on his recent visit to UW Oshkosh, where several departments (including, I’m happy to say, the Philosophy department) had invited him to talk to students and faculty about his unique approach to art, music, and life. I’ve met a lot of “artists” in my time, mostly during my years as a musician in Los Angeles, but Stew is one of the few that I think deserves the title without the scare-quotes. He’s one of a rare breed that’s becoming rarer as the musical eclecticism of the 1970s fades into the ever-thickening fog of baby-boomer memory: a pop-rock-singer-songwriter with a unique voice and style. Here’s a song (entitled “The Curse”) off the new album, which he wrote with his ex-partner, bassist/vocalist Heidi Rodewald, about the breakup of their relationship during the Broadway production of their award-winning musical “Passing Strange” a few years ago. The photos of famous L.A. locales – with fleeting images of Frank Zappa and the two Captains (Kangaroo and Beefheart) tossed in for good measure – don’t seem related to the clever lyrics, but they probably have biographical significance for Stew, who grew up in the City of Angels during the 60s and 70s. And since I lived there for 25 years myself, they certainly tickle my nostalgia-bone a bit.
By the way, Stew talks about the new album in an interview with Terry Gross (on Fresh Air) here.
In 2012, may we inch away from becoming an endangered species (and, whatever we do, may we inch closer to gaining as much raw talent as Esperanza Spalding, shown below playing and singing Wayne Shorter’s “Endangered Species” on a recent Austin City Limits)-
I’ve never been a big fan of musicals; they always seem to cheapen either the music or the narrative of what might otherwise be a perfectly good album or play. But this collaboration by Stew (of The Negro Problem) and his partner/bassist Heidi Rodewald really won me over, big time. Running just over two hours, I do recommend experiencing it in halves; the intermission is there for a reason. And the sophisticated lyrics, punctuated by Stew’s often ironic narration and the inventive choreography and staging, might require more than one sitting to fully absorb. But it all packs quite a punch the first time around.
Really, there are several decades worth of reflections and ruminations about art, music, politics, culture, race – and, of course, motherly love – crammed into and between the lines of this piece. But even if much of it goes over your head on first view, you can’t help but be impressed by the rock-solid songwriting and some absolutely jaw-dropping performances by the cast, which includes De’Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis and Colman Domingo.
Oh, and did I mention that it was filmed by Spike Lee?
Here’s the trailer (which doesn’t really do it justice)-