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 »

Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most

Featured image There are a few torch songs that lament the coming of Spring. This time of year, if you’re tuned to one of the right stations, you may well find yourself listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s unforgettable rendition of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” The song is a buried treasure on Ella’s 1961 quartet-backed jazz set Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! (I love the Amazon review that rates it »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image We went to see the second set of Manhattan Transfer at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis this past Monday and the first set on Tuesday. The two sets provided a rounded picture of their musical interests and inspirations. From their first fame in pop, they seem to have moved in the direction of jazz. I found their music to be something like an unadulterated expression of »

Manhattan Transfer at the Dakota

Featured image Three weeks ago Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant proprietor Lowell Pickett jumped at the opportunity to book the Manhattan Transfer to perform at the club on Monday and Tuesday nights this week. Jazz is Lowell’s first love and the MT are world-class artists. The Dakota has set up this page to tout their appearance. I didn’t know about the shows until we picked up an email from the Dakota yesterday »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Tony Rice might be the best guitarist you’ve never heard of. He’s made a name for himself with his wildly inventive and beautiful playing in the bluegrass/newgrass/folk world. The audience for the music is small, but the music and its players are up there with the best in the world. This past September, Rice was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame. The New York Times Magazine »

The Circle Game

Featured image Tom Rush is a giant of the sixties folk revival; today he turns 73. As a stalwart of the sixties folk revival he is a peer of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Eric Andersen, and Judy Collins. Performing at the legendary Club 47 coffeehouse, Rush emerged from the vibrant Cambridge folk scene around Harvard. Having recorded two folk albums on Prestige in the early sixties, he moved on to establish himself »