Music

Add some music to your day

Featured image I had not heard of Ann Hampton Callaway before her audacious 1999 recording To Ella With Love, but I’m glad I took a chance on that disc. Ella led me eventually to Ann’s superb show at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York when I stopped over on my way to Israel in June 2007, and then to the rest of her recordings. There is no arguing about taste, »

Verboten in Tehran

Featured image The Telegraph reports that six Iranian singers who were arrested for appearing in a viral video dancing to the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” have been sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes. The video appears to have received well over a million views at this point. Oliver Duggan writes: The group became famous in May when their music video for the hit song circulated on YouTube, racking up »

Do you know the way to Mel Tormé?

Featured image Today is the anniversary of the birth of Mel Tormé on September 13, 1925. I think Tormé is simply one of the all-time great American artists, too little known and vastly underappreciated. Permit me this salute in the hope that I might interest you in deepening your familiarity with his work. Tormé died at age 73 in 1999 in Los Angeles at the end of an incredibly fruitful career. The »

Dweller on the threshold

Featured image Van Morrison celebrates his sixty-ninth birthday today. Singer, songwriter and musician, Morrison is an artist who has absorbed all the strains of American popular music and recapitulated them in his own unique voice. Born in Belfast, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the greats in the pantheon of the Cosmic American Music. Beginning with Astral Weeks in 1968, Morrison experienced a tremendous burst of creative energy that is also reflected »

Add some music to your day

Featured image I first heard the late Kenny Rankin back in the day on Minneapolis’s KQRS when it was a freeform FM radio station, in the late ’60 or early ’70s. I liked what I heard (probably his “Peaceful” or one of his many covers of Beatles songs), but forgot about him for a long time until I heard John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey talking him up and playing his music on »

Woodstock Redux

Featured image There seems to be a flourish of 45th anniversary observations of Woodstock going on this weekend, as though it was a slow news period right now.  (Perhaps too many editors and beat reporters are on vacation up in Martha’s and the Hamptons right now.)  Why the 45th anniversary?  Perhaps because of the typical baby boomer fear that a lot of folks won’t make it to the 50th anniversary?  Then, too, »

Add some music to your day

Featured image I’ve been thinking about starting an occasional series of posts to feature artists or songs or cover versions of songs you are unlikely to have heard before but likely to enjoy if you give them a listen. Musical themes have been running through my mind all day via Power Line posts. Paul Mirengoff gives us Chuck Hagel, who is channeling songwriter P.F. Sloane’s “Eve of Destruction” (“The Eastern world,” you »

To Finish Off the Evening, the World’s Best Three-Year-Old Drummer

Featured image I have written nothing today, having spent my *free* time lining up guests and otherwise preparing to host the Laura Ingraham radio show tomorrow and Thursday. (To listen online between 9 and 12 Eastern, go here.) So, just to brighten your day, this is something I came across while searching for something more serious: the world’s best three-year-old drummer, Lyonya Shilovsky, a Russian, performing with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra. It »

Hot Tuna returns

Featured image Hot Tuna is/was Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the lead guitarist and bass player who broke off from the Jefferson Airplane in 1970 to pursue other interests, originally in acoustic blues. Their first album, recorded live in Berkeley, has been reissued in a deluxe two-disc format and sounds better than ever. The heart of the album consists of traditional blues songs with updated arrangements of numbers by Rev. Gary Davis, »

Feels like rain

Featured image John Hiatt is the talented singer/songwriter who is a native of Indianapolis. In his frankly autobiographical song “Real Fine Love,” Hiatt captures some of the blue-collar bitterness he felt as he headed out to Memphis Nashville at age 18 to make a living as a professional songwriter: Well I never went to college, I did not have the luck. Stole out of Indiana In the back of a pickup truck. »

When he’s 72

Featured image It was of course the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney — as singers, songwriters, and instinctive harmonists — that constituted the organic entity at the heart of the Beatles. McCartney was the yang to Lennon’s yin. Today McCartney turns 72. One of McCartney’s earliest songwriting motifs was the projection of himself into the future looking back. It was a device he used to great effect in songs such »

For Memorial Day, The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Featured image Mark Steyn wrote yesterday (actually, it’s an excerpt from his book A Song For the Season) about “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” its history and its unique connection with Memorial Day. Which reminded me of a post I did in 2007. My youngest daughter, eleven years old at the time, participated in a little kids’ choir drawn from all of the elementary schools in our school district, which performed »

Chris and Herb: Way Out Midwest

Featured image Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen return to town this coming Sunday for a 7:00 p.m. show at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. The Dakota has posted this page to preview the show. The chance to see these guys play is a rare privilege. I’m going to be there. If you are in the vicinity, I hope you will join me. Who are Chris Hillman and Herb »

How high the moon?

Featured image Today is the anniversary of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song. The lady was a remarkable artist. Each period of her long career is rewarding, though she deepened her art as she got older. She excelled in a wide variety of material and in every musical setting. There is an emotional reserve or detachment in her singing, but there is also joy and an irrepressible sense »

Wave bye bye

Featured image I saw singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester perform on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota more than 20 years ago and he bowled me over. There couldn’t have been more than a hundred people in the audience. Accompanying himself on guitar, he turned in a beautiful performance concluding with “Yankee Lady.” Although Winchester had famously evaded the draft by decamping to Canada in 1967, returning only after the Carter »

Jonatha Brooke gets it down

Featured image Jonatha Brooke is a gifted singer-songwriter. On our last night in New York yesterday, we took a family group to see Jonatha’s one-woman musical My Mother Has Four Noses, now playing at the Duke Theater on 42nd Street. It is an intensely personal and intimate show, ripped from the past few years of Brooke’s life. Brooke wrote the show’s book, the words and the music. You want to connect with »

A tour de megaforce

Featured image Terry Teachout traces his interest in Louis Armstrong to the time his mother called him in from outdoors to see Armstrong sing (probably “Hello, Dolly”) on the Ed Sullivan Show. His mother beckoned him with the sage admonition, “He won’t be around forever.” By the same token, if you are in the vicinity of New York City, or visiting some time soon, I urge you to come in and see »