Newsletter Archive

Music for the Dog Days

Music for the Dog Days

It's been a while since you've gotten my newsletter, and I apologize for being out of touch.  Everything's fine--I've been doing lots of gigs, selling the new CD and even relaxing a bit---and I've got some new things cooking, which I'll reveal in good time.  I'm also working to put these newsletters out monthly, and I will reach that goal this fall, dagnabit!  :-)

Meanwhile, it's August, and, so I'd like to recommend some songs with a little bit of sweat in them:

Curtis Mayfield, "Move On Up."  This is Mayfield at his best:  funky, sweet-voiced, socially aware, and inspirational.   Delicious.

Robert Johnson, "Love In Vain."  One of Johnson's most laid-back performances, with great ringing guitar licks.  He sounds almost introspective:  "It's hard to tell, hard to tell, when all your love's in vain."  

Jack Williams, "Natural Man."  Jack plays his guitar like an orchestra, and writes and sings marvelously, with a lifetime of musical knowledge apparent in every note.  This song is an affectionate tribute to the late Josh White, filled with string-bending guitar licks and soaring images.

Bob Dylan, "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar."  One of the most ferocious of Dylan's blues, stomping, cryptic, and apocalyptic:  "West of the Jordan, East of the Rock of Gibraltar / See the turning of the page, curtain rising of the new age / The groom's still waiting at the altar."  A lesser-known gem on "Shot of Love," an uneven record from Dylan's Christian period.

Fela Kuti, "Sorrow Tears and Blood."  Fela was a unique figure, Nigerian but musically influenced by James Brown and Curtis Mayfield, and poltically by Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon.  His concerts were legendary, lasting for hours, a giant celebration of rhythm and dancing mixed with sharp political commentary.  Last night I saw an off-Broadway production based on Fela's life, and it was magical, like seeing a Fela concert with some special theatrical effects and narrative.  I highly recommend it!

Drop me a note and let me know what music is getting you through the summer--I'd love to know.  


Curtis Mayfield singing "Move on Up" live in The Hague (Holland), 1987:
 YouTube clip

Robert Johnson, "Love in Vain":
  Listen here

Jack Williams singing "Natural Man" live:
 YouTube clip

Bob Dylan, "Groom's Still Waiting"--it's really about the audio:
 Listen here

Fela Kuti, "Sorrow Tears and Blood" (w/ great photo montage):
 YouTube clip
 (It's a 10-minute track--the vocal enters about 3 minutes in.  Gotta hear the whole thing, to get the ebb and flow of the piece. :-)

Ears and Eyes:  What I'm Listening to and Reading:
    Jon Hendricks and Friends, "Freddie Freeloader."
    Bill Morrissey, "Come Running."  
    Richard Russo, "Empire Falls."
    Jon Meacham, "American Gospel:  God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation."