Bon Jovi to Waters: Drop Dead!

Featured image Some years ago, I was in the office of a straitlaced, middle-aged lady who was in charge of my law firm’s support staff. I noticed a photograph on her desk of herself with a long-haired guy who looked like a rock musician. It seemed incongruous, so I asked about the picture, and she told me this story. She and her husband had a boat in a marina on the St. »

Thoughts from the ammo line

Featured image Ammo Grrrll explains: WHY I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC. She writes: There is a biopic about the eccentric jazz genius Thelonius Monk called “Straight, No Chaser.” I saw it years ago. In one scene that made a vivid impression on me, some snotty, self-absorbed “journalist” whose name I didn’t catch – who cares? — is interviewing Mr. Monk and asks him what kind of music he likes. Monk says, “I like »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image And now for something completely different, we turn to Italian luthier and musician Galeazzo Frudua. Mr. Frudua has produced a series of entertaining instructional videos breaking down the vocal harmonies on several of the Beatles’ best songs. His enthusiasm is contagious and his accent is endearing. If you have a Beatles song that you love because of the melody and the harmony parts, Frudua probably has posted a video to »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay occupies what is at the least a narrow journalistic niche. He’s a humorist writing a sports column or vice versa. His most recent column — “The NFL begins: Is your TV big enough” — is a good example, in a question-and-answer format. So, for example, we have this: Who will play the Super Bowl L halftime show? The head says Taylor Swift, but the »

Evingson’s Fresh Frish

Featured image We are crazy about jazz singer Connie Evingson. Yesterday we attended the second of her two sold-out productions of Fresh Frish at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis. Following up on Connie’s album Little Did I Dream, the show featured songs from the extensive catalog of St. Paul’s own Dave Frishberg. Frishberg didn’t make the show last night but he accompanied Connie on the recording. Last night Connie called on Jon »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image The End of the Tour is a film that depicts the late writer David Foster Wallace making his way to the Twin Cities for a reading from his novel Infinite Jest at the Hungry Mind Bookstore (also deceased) in St. Paul. The movie is based on David Lipsky’s book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. I went to see the movie »

Fact vs. Theory: A special case

Featured image The ceiling collapsed during a performance at the famous Minneapolis rock venue First Avenue on Wednesday evening. Star Tribune rock critic Jon Bream and two other reporters covered the story of the ceiling collapse here. The story is no joke; the ceiling collapse sent three people to the hospital. Bream and his colleagues reported: A 30-foot-by-30-foot section gave way during a concert about 10 p.m., the Minneapolis Fire Department said. »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image We’ve been taking an appreciative look back at songwriter Jimmy Webb, who celebrates his birthday this week. Webb is a winner of numerous Grammy awards and a member of the National Songwriters Hall of Fame. He first achieved fame as an incredibly precocious songwriter in the ’60s — the composer of the shlock epic “MacArthur Park” as well as of several hits for the Fifth Dimension and, perhaps most notably, »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I wrote briefly here this past Sunday about songwriter Jimmy Webb and posted a video of his song “All I Know” with Linda Ronstadt contributing the harmony vocal. I want to stick with Webb for another week or two. Next week I’m thinking we’ll turn to his relationship with Glen Campbell. This week I want to take a look at Shawn Colvin’s performance of one of Webb’s buried gems. Shawn »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Jimmy Webb seems to me a songwriting genius. He has certainly made some permanent contributions to the Cosmic American Music. In 2010 Webb called on several of his friends and admirers to revisit a few of those contributions with him on the disc Just Across the River, recorded in Nashville. (He did it again, incidentally, for the 2013 disc Still Within the Sound of My Voice.) The friends who turned »

Eyes of the World (with Comment by Steve)

Featured image Chatting at a Claremont Institute event ten years ago, Steve Hayward blessed my love of the Grateful Dead. Steve is an expert consumer not only of prog rock, but also of jam bands. He even sent me his own compilation of favorite numbers by the jam band String Theory stringing it out. Essential Dead member Jerry Garcia died in rehab in 1995. The surviving members of the group have reunited »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image After much thought and deliberation, I’m moving Hall & Oates out of the category of guilty pleasures. Among other things, their best work honestly draws on their background in Philly soul. Moreover, in the spirit of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage diktat, I ask (facetiously) who’s to judge? As Justice Kennedy might put it, all music seeks to comfort the lonely heart; all music must be accorded equal respect. (Not.) »

My Traveling Star

Featured image Sirius XM has turned over one of its channels to James Taylor 24/7 in connection with the release of his new compact disc. I first saw him perform in a basement dive with Joni Mitchell in Boston in the fall of 1968, a week or two before his first album was released on the Beatles’ label. I’ve been a fan ever since, though I have not kept up with all »

A rumor of the Rumour

Featured image Graham Parker & the Rumour kicked off their current American tour in Minneapolis last night. My usual excuse for posting these notes on local concerts is to alert you to worthy shows that may be appearing soon at a venue somewhere near you. My excuse applies here; Parker and band’s brief tour continues with performances in Chicago, Cleveland, New York, DC (at the Birchmere in Alexandria) and elsewhere. The schedule »

Sanders the Socialist Crooner

Featured image I decided to take a pass on the story that Bernie Sanders misfired with some kind of rape fantasy essay way back in his college years (though since it was fair game to jump on Mitt Romney for giving some kid an atomic wedgie 50 years ago in prep school was fair game, then Sanders deserves the full proctology treatment), but his attempt at a folk song ambum is truly »

Not dark yet, part 2

Featured image WUMB’s Saturday morning radio show Highway 61 Revisited devoted its four hours yesterday to a celebration of Mr. Bob’s birthday today. Host Albert O played songs written by Dylan nonstop. Given the limits imposed by applicable law, he filled out the show with cover versions. It was an illuminating exercise. The variety of artists to have covered Dylan is wide. The Band, Solomon Burke, the Byrds, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, »

Not dark yet

Featured image Today is the birthday of Minnesota native son Bob Dylan; he turns 74. He is a remarkable artist, self-invented, deep in the American grain. A few years back I visited Dylan’s old home at 2425 7th Avenue East in Hibbing. The house is a small two-story residence with a one-car attached garage on the side. The house is exactly two blocks from Hibbing High School, Dylan’s alma mater. A Dylan »