Music

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Looking for an excuse to offer one more extended lockdown edition of this series, I thought it might be fitting to compile a set with an American theme in honor of Independence Day. As always, the compilation reflects the limits of my taste and knowledge, but I hope some readers may take pleasure in discovering something new, in rediscovering something old in a new context, or in returning to a »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Listening to a show on the SiriusXM Grateful Dead channel last week, I heard one of the announcers mention that Nicky Hopkins played with the Jerry Garcia Band. Hopkins was a fantastic English pianist whose session work is virtually ubiquitous on great rock recordings of the ’60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Take a look, for example, at this Nicky Hopkins discography. If he wasn’t quite everywhere, everyone wanted his services. His »

Color Him Father

Featured image I wrote this on Father’s Day several years ago. It is a post that struck a chord with at least a few readers. I have amplified it this year and am taking the liberty of reposting these reflections in honor of the day. My father was a thoughtful man in his own way. In the last years of his life he recited for me the things for which he was »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Dion — Dion DiMucci — turns 81 next month. This month he released a new set of recordings titled Blues With Friends. The friends range from Jeff Beck and Joe Bonamassa to Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. I don’t think Dion sounds like he’s older than 45. He sounds like an artist in his prime. When I saw that the new disc was going to be released on June 5, »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I bought tickets for each of Shawn Colvin’s four nights at the Dakota in June 2018 as soon as the shows were announced. I must have been the first in line because we had seats right in front of Shawn every night. I snapped the photo of Shawn at the right from our table. Seeing her up so close added greatly to the experience. When Shawn came out onstage to »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Minneapolis’s Steele family is a local Twin Cities institution. The Star Tribune provided brief profiles in this 2019 update on the family. Our friends at the Dakota sponsored a livestream performance of the Steeles’ “concert for community healing” yesterday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Jearlyn, Jevetta, Fred, Billy and JD Steele are joined by Spencer Christianson on guitar, Chris Smith on upright bass, Yonathan Berkure on electric bass, and Kenyari Jackson »

Not dark yet, cont’d

Featured image Bob Dylan is first and foremost a songwriter. He somehow absorbed the folk, rock, country and blues traditions as a precocious young man and then recapitulated them in his own voice many times over while adding a twist of modernist poetry to the mix. On his birthday, I want to take the liberty of reposting some notable cover versions of great songs you may not have heard before, at least »

Not dark yet

Featured image Today is the birthday of Minnesota native son Bob Dylan; he turns the ripe old age of 79. It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there. We’re going to celebrate him as long we’re both still around to enjoy the occasion. 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 »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I saw singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester perform on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota more than 25 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 »

Little Richard, RIP

Featured image Little Richard died today. According to Rolling Stone, the cause of death was cancer. He was 87. Rolling Stone describes Little Richard as a “founding father of rock and roll.” He certainly was that, with mid 1950s hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” and “Long Tall Sally.” However, some of my Little Richard favorites are from the early 1970s. In particular, I like the country rock song “Greenwood, »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I became a Suzy Bogguss fanatic the first time I saw her perform at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis. I was unfamiliar with her work at the time, but I knew she’d been a country star for a while back in the ’90s. When Lowell Pickett sent out an email urging his A Train customers to check out her show at the club that night, I thought it couldn’t be »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Yesterday we celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song. As a diversion during the great hunkering down, I seek to press the case that her birthday should be a national holiday, and I don’t mean on the nearest Monday. I mean on April 25. The lady was an inspirational artist. Each period of her long career is rewarding, though she deepened her art »

The rise of Al Jarreau

Featured image Al Jarreau died a few years ago in Los Angeles at the age of 76. Matt Schudel did a good job of paying tribute to Al in the Washington Post obituary. Margalit Fox provided a more ambivalent take in the New York Times obituary. The Star Tribune zoomed in on the local angle here. Now my friend Scott Sansby writes to alert me to the new documentary “UNSUNG: Al Jarreau.” »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Passover overlaps with Easter this year and the celebration of both has been disrupted by the plague. The plague having passed us over so far, we held our family Seder via Zoom. I wish our Christian readers a happy Easter in whatever fashion you observe it this year. As usual, I offer this installment of Sunday Morning Coming Down as a pleasing diversion. Though it has both a Saturday night »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Emmylou Harris celebrated her birthday last week. In the world of the Cosmic American Music, attention must be paid. Skipping over great swaths of her career, I thought I might take the occasion as an excuse to revisit her story along with a few of the videos that reflect her artistry. She is, to say the least, still going strong. In the time of the great hunkering down, this may »

Bill Withers dies at 81

Featured image I am sorry to pass on the news that Bill Withers died on Monday at the age of 81. The cause, according to his family, was heart complications. The news will break the hearts of anyone who leaned on his music to get through sad times or celebrate happy occasions. Where were you the first time you heard “Ain’t No Sunshine” in 1971? If you were around at the time, »

Joe Diffie, RIP [Updated]

Featured image COVID-19 has claimed one of its more prominent victims in country singer Joe Diffie, age 61. I remember Diffie fondly because he was on the radio in the early 1990s, when I first started listening to country music. I liked “Third Rock From the Sun” the only popular song, to my knowledge, whose theme is the nature of causation. Aristotle would approve, I think. Cause and effect, chain of events »