Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bonnie Bramlett on Delaney's death

NASHVILLE, TN – Singer/songwriter Bonnie Bramlett has issued the following statement about the passing of her former husband and musical partner, Delaney Bramlett, who died at age 69 on December 27 in Los Angeles as a result of complications from gall-bladder surgery:

“I’m so going to miss him; as Delaney wrote in his song: ‘It’s hard to say good-bye.’
All I can hope is that I’ll see him in the light.”

Bonnie met Delaney after moving to Los Angeles in 1967, and they married seven days later. They formed Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, the first real rock ‘n’ roll traveling road show, whose players at one time or another included George Harrison, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Gram Parsons, Leon Russell, Dave Mason and Rita Coolidge, among many others. The duo released five critically-acclaimed albums, beginning with Home on Stax Records, before recording for other labels. Hit singles such as “Soul Shake,” “Never Ending Song of Love” and “Only You Know & I Know” kept them on the charts. During this time, Bonnie also co-wrote with Leon Russell the Grammy-nominated song, “Superstar,” which was released as a Delaney and Bonnie single by Atlantic Records in 1969 and later a major hit for The Carpenters. The duo broke up personally and professionally in 1973.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Katrina broke Bush

Even as we all witnessed the horror of the human tragedy that accompanied the destruction of New Orleans and the government's abandonment of the people who lived in that doomed city there was a sense that this terrible week was the moment when the evil that George Bush brought on the world reached a saturation point. Now an article scheduled for the next issue of Vanity Fair offers admissions from top Republican advisors that that was indeed the case.

"Katrina to me was the tipping point," said Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster
and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign. "The president
broke his bond with the public. Once that bond was broken, he no longer had
the capacity to talk to the American public. State of the Union addresses?
It didn't matter. Legislative initiatives? It didn't matter. P.R.? It didn't
matter. Travel? It didn't matter."

Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director and later counselor
to the president, said: "Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin."

In this sense the thousands who perished in New Orleans did not die in vain. Their lives were a sacrifice that purified the world of the lies of George Bush and made people draw a connection between the billions being wasted in a war of vanity in Iraq while a major American city was left for dead.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Freddie Hubbard dies at 70

Jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard passed away December 29 in Sherman Oaks Hospital in California at the age of 70. The cause of death was complications from a heart attack he suffered on November 26.

Hubbard was a great player and composer who moved in a lot of different directions. As a "Night of the Cookers" hard bop player few could touch him, but he was also part of the outstanding lineup that made Ornette Coleman's classic Free Jazz. He wrote the gorgeous ballad "Little Sunflower" and made one of the most popular records of the fusion era, the CTI touchstone Red Clay.

Hubbard played with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Bobby Hutcherson, Oliver Nelson, Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and McCoy Tyner among others and made over 300 albums as a leader and sideman on Impulse!, Blue Note, Atlantic, CTI, Columbia, Elektra, MPS, Music Masters, Telarc, Enja and Hip Bop Records, which released his final album, On the Real Side, earlier this year.

Like so many of his peers, Hubbard is gone but his music will never die.

"Freddie Hubbard had the most incandescent spirit of almost any musician I ever had the opportunity to play with," said bassist Christian McBride. "He struck serious fear in those of us who thought we were ready to play with him. All of us who played with Freddie, like Billy Childs, Kenny Garrett, Carl Allen and Benny Green, among many, many others, we were taught to play hard, with fire, with intelligence, to leave NO question as to who you were as a musician. I will carry his memory with me for the rest of my life."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Warren Haynes' 20th Christmas Jam

Warren Haynes, the great guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who splits his time between Gov't Mule, the Allman Brothers and a host of side projects, pulled out all the stops for his annual Christmas Jam, held last weekend in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. The event has become one of the most important ongoing sessions in rock history. Last year's edition has just come out on DVD. Here's an account of this year's proceedings:

(Asheville, NC) -- The Concert for Bangladesh brought world famous musicians together for a cause. The Band's Last Waltz film honored wonderful musicians. These events could be considered precursors to the legacy established by Warren Haynes and his annual Christmas Jam

Over the past twenty years Warren Haynes has brought the world's most influential musicians together for rare moments - and this year is no exception. Who else but Haynes would have the Allman Brothers Band performing "Dazed and Confused" with Led Zeppelin's legendary multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones? Ben Harper chose the Christmas Jam to debut his new band Ben Harper and Relentless7. Country Legend Travis Tritt joined Haynes' Gov't Mule on the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic "Simple Man."

"For the 20th Anniversary it was our hope to make this the best Christmas Jam ever and I think we attained our goal. I feel very fortunate and incredibly honored that my friends and heroes found time
in their hectic schedules to come to my hometown of Asheville a few days of for spirited music and to support a wonderful cause in Habitat for Humanity," said Haynes.

In true "Christmas Jam Spirit," Michael Franti, who was scheduled to perform as an acoustic duo with guitarist Jay Bowman, decided moments before his set, after seeing the immense talent pool backstage, to expand his band to include John Paul Jones on mandolin, Robben Ford on guitar, longtime Willie Nelson sideman Mickey Raphael on harmonica, and Fred Eltringham (Jakob Dylan & The Gold Mountain Rebels) on percussion. Spontaneous collaborations like this and many more exemplify the Christmas Jam spirit.

While the Christmas Jam certainly is Haynes' event, the most anticipated guest musician would certainly be John Paul Jones. One of the weekend's most intimate moments was a short two song acoustic set by Haynes (guitar) and Jones (mandolin) performing the Haynes fan favorite "Soulshine" and the Led Zeppelin classic "Going to California."

Gov't Mule closed the second night with Jones joining the band on the Led Zeppelin classics "Livin' Lovin' Maid", "Since I've Been Lovin' You" and "No Quarter." Ben Harper then added vocals on "The Ocean" and "When The Levee Breaks".

Warren Haynes' 20th Annual Christmas Jam was held this past weekend December 12 and 13 at the Civic Center Arena in Asheville, NC. To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Christmas Jam, Haynes decided to make this year's event a two night affair.

Both concerts reached capacity crowds and went well past the 2AM self-imposed curfew. Friday's concert ran from 7PM until 4:20AM. Saturday's show began at 7PM and ended at 3:30AM. All proceeds from the Christmas Jam will be donated to Habitat For Humanity. Complete set
lists for each act can be found at The following musicians performed at this years event:

Friday's acts included Allman Brothers Band, The Derek Trucks Band, The Del McCoury Band, Gov't Mule, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Joan Osborne and Travis Tritt.

Saturday's acts included Ben Harper & Relentless7, Coheed & Cambria, Steve Earle, Michael Franti with Jay Bowman, Gov't Mule, and Johnny Winter also performed their own sets. Haynes gave a heartfelt introduction for Winter whom Haynes credits among his earliest musical

Musical guests included Mike Barnes, Buddy Cage, Roosevelt Collier, Karl Denson, Robben Ford, Ruthie Foster, Audley Freed, Ron Holloway, Patterson Hood, JJ Grey, Col. Bruce Hampton, Robert Kearns, Kevn Kinney, Eric Krasno, Edwin McCain, Mickey Raphael and Tal Wilkenfeld.

Although the main shows were at the Civic Center, that's not where the Christmas Jam ended, as events took place all around town over the course of the weekend. The Christmas Jam By Day featured live music by The Lee Boys, Year Long Disaster, U-Melt and many more during Friday and
Saturday afternoon at local Asheville clubs Stella Blue, The Emerald Lounge and fans lined up around the block for the Kevn Kinney hosted sets at Jack of the Wood.

Film screenings took place throughout the weekend at The Fine Arts Theatre including "Christmas On Mars" a fantastical film freakout featuring the Flaming Lips, a glorious science fiction film that marks the directorial debut of the Lips' visionary frontman Wayne Coyne; "Electric Purgatory: The Fate of The Black Rocker" a documentary that examines the struggles of black rock musicians and the industry's ambivalence towards them; and many more.

The Satellite Gallery hosted an art show which included Art & Photos by Danny Clinch, Jay Blakesberg, Jeff Wood, Steve Johannsen, Dino Perrucci, Allison Murphy, Stuart O'Sheilds and many more. The art display will be up for the rest of the year and items are still available for purchase.

Fans were invited "Before The Jam, To Lend A Hand" and volunteer to help build a house funded by a portion of last year's proceeds.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

30th annual Blues Music Awards



For a complete list of the 30th Blues Music Awards Nominees, click here:

WHAT: The Blues Music Awards
WHEN: Thursday, May 7, 2009
WHERE: Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main, Memphis, TN
TICKETS: $125, available December 16, 2008 via or 901.527.2583 x10. (Tables of 10 are $1200.)

The Blues Foundation has confirmed the thirtieth annual Blues Music Awards, a seven-plus hour throw-down featuring dozens of incredible musicians and honoring the best of the blues world. Blues Foundation members will be able to vote starting today, through March 1, with the results determining the winners.

West coast-based group The Mannish Boys lead the pack this year with six nominations, including band, traditional album and album of the year in addition to individual nominations for band members Richard Innes (drums), Kid Ramos (guitar), and Larry Taylor (bass). Tied with four nominations each are slide guitar legend Elvin Bishop, pianist Eden Brent, songstress Janiva Magness, soul man Curtis Salgado, and former truck driver Watermelon Slim. Buddy Guy is nominated for three awards and B.B. King for two.
The Mississippi-based Homemade Jamz Blues Band are the youngest nominees at 9, 14, and 16 years of age. Sadly, Sean Costello received two posthumous nominations while Jeff Healey received one. Chicago elder statesman and torch bearer Magic Slim earned three nods. Lurrie Bell earned two nominations for an album he made while grieving the loss of his wife and his father, harp man Carrie Bell.

The Blues Foundation has added a Rock Blues category for the first time in
2009, with nominations going to Gary Moore, Jeff Healey, Michael Burks,
Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King, Sonny Landreth, and Walter Trout.

Performers have not yet been confirmed for the 2009 show but all nominees are invited to take the stage, showing a broad range of blues styles from solo resonator fingerpicking to soul-blues shouters. For the blues fan, it's the only way to see a lineup like this and it annually threatens to rage well into the night.

The awards ceremony and concert will be broadcast live by Sirius XM Satellite Radio's B.B. King's Bluesville channel. The Blues Music Awards will be shot in HD for a DVD to be released in by October, 2009.

The Blues Foundation has 3,000 individual dues-paying members around the world and 160 affiliated grassroots, member-based local blues societies in a dozen countries.

The Blues Music Awards are produced by The Blues Foundation, a non-profit organization established to preserve Blues history, celebrate Blues excellence, support Blues education and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. In addition to the Blues Music Awards, the Foundation also produces the Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the International Blues Challenge and the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards. It fosters education through its Blues in the Schools programming and supports the medical needs of Blues musicians with its HART Fund. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the worldwide Blues community with answers, contact information and news. For more information or to join The Blues Foundation, log onto

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jazz Fest announces lineup

New Orleans may be sinking into the Gulf, but not before next year's Jazz and Heritage Festival, the world's greatest music gathering. Here's the announcement for next year's fest, just released today:

Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor, Sugarland, Joe Cocker, Ben Harper, Tony Bennett,
Earth, Wind & Fire, Kings of Leon,
Neville Brothers, Wilco, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint,
The O’Jays, Erykah Badu, Dr. John
Among hundreds scheduled to appear at historic edition of Festival

Tickets On Sale Now, Special Hotel Rooms & Rates Available
New Orleans, LA (December 16, 2008)—The 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Presented by Shell (April 24-26 & April 30-May 3) will celebrate 40 years of musical and cultural history at next year’s star-studded event. Started in 1970, the Jazz & Heritage Festival continues to showcase the most important names in music history alongside many of Louisiana’s favorite entertainers. A true heritage festival, Jazz Fest stands alone in presenting the highest caliber artists in such varied genres as gospel, blues, traditional and contemporary jazz, rock, pop, R&B, Cajun, zydeco and much more.

Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor, Sugarland, Joe Cocker, Ben Harper, Tony Bennett, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Kings of Leon, The Neville Brothers, Wilco, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint, The O’Jays, Erykah Badu, Etta James, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Robert Cray, Toots and the Maytals, Dr. John, Spoon, Third World, Common, Orishas, Emmylou Harris, Irma Thomas, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Mavis Staples, The Whispers, Hugh Masekela, Doc Watson, Pete Seeger, John Mayall, Solomon Burke, Jakob Dylan, Rance Allen, Chuck Brown, Meter Men; Zig, George, & Leo, Kinky, Drive-By, Truckers feat. Booker T. Jones, Better Than Ezra, Avett Brothers, Pete Fountain, Galactic, Marcia Ball, Roy Haynes, Patty Griffin, Kurt Elling, Poncho Sanchez, John Scofield & the Piety Street Band, Marc Broussard, Rebirth Brass Band, Esperanza Spalding, Kind of Blue @ 50 Tribute to Miles Davis, Del McCoury Band, Aaron Neville, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Odadaa of Ghana, The Genius of Sydney Bechet: A Tribute feat. Bob Wilber, Guy Clark, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Roy Rogers, Chris Owens, VaShawn Mitchell, Dew Drop Inn Revisited hosted by Deacon John, George Wein and Friends w/ Randy Brecker, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, Terence Blanchard, Ivan Neville & Dumpstaphunk, Tab Benoit and the Wetland Allstars, Anointed Jackson Sisters, Ellis Marsalis, Dirty Dozen, Robert Mirabal, Trombone Shorty, The Vettes, Cedric Burnside, Lil’ Ed & the Imperials, Stephanie Jordan, Radiators, Buckwheat Zydeco, Amanda Shaw, The Ebony Hillbillies, Cowboy Mouth, Trout Fishing in America, Harlem Blues & Jazz Band, Tribute to Danny Barker, Amameresso Agofomma of Ghana, Crocodile Gumboot Dancers of South Africa, Ori Danse Club of Benin, Ladysmith Redlions of South Africa, Cheick Hamala Diabate of Mali and hundreds more are scheduled to appear at the 40th anniversary celebration. (The complete weekend by weekend schedule is available at

“From day one in 1970, the goal of the Festival has remained unchanged as Jazz Fest continues to celebrate the living breathing culture of New Orleans and Louisiana,” said Quint Davis, producer/director of Jazz Fest. “While the size and impact of the Festival have dramatically increased, we have never lost sight of the original goal of presenting this unique culture to the world through music, the finest in local cuisine, and the sheer celebration of life.”

Jazz & Heritage Festival Founder and Executive Producer, George Wein, proudly stated, “It is wonderful to see the Festival continue the joyous legacy that began almost four decades ago in Congo Square. There can only be one festival this grand, entertaining and important, because there is only one New Orleans.”

Randy Philips, president & CEO, AEG Live, which co-produces the Festival said, "The 40th Anniversary Jazz Fest is one of the most highly anticipated events of 2009. AEG Live is proud to play a part in taking this legendary annual celebration to new heights."

Wynton Marsalis, the preeminent jazz artist and ambassador of his generation and one of New Orleans’ favorite sons, will headline the first day of the Festival, Friday, April 24, performing the epic composition Congo Square, featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Yacub Addy and Odadaa!.

"It’s an honor to be part of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s 40th anniversary, thanks to the ongoing leadership of our friend George Wein,” stated Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center. “Yacub Addy and I wrote and dedicated Congo Square to the great city of New Orleans and in April 2006, with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Yacub’s group, Odadaa!, we debuted the music on the actual site of Congo Square. We look forward to bringing the music back, celebrating New Orleans and this momentous anniversary for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.”

Tickets for the Festival, which takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course, went on sale today. For the first time ever, a limited number of discount ticket packages including tickets to each day of a particular weekend of the Festival will be offered. Ticket packages purchased for all three days of the first weekend (April 24, 25 & 26) will be $105, while second weekend packages purchased for all four festival days (April 30, May 1, 2 & 3) will be $140. (Tickets included in each package are day-specific.) Advance single day Jazz Fest tickets are still only $40 with the gate price of $50. Children’s tickets (ages 2 - 11) are only $5 in advance or at the gate. Single day tickets to Jazz Fest are on sale by specific weekend, with each ticket valid for a single day’s attendance.

The Festival’s popular Big Chief VIP Experience ticket package and the Grand Marshal VIP Pass return for the 40th anniversary celebration, as well as the newly unveiled Krewe of Jazz Fest VIP Pass that allows for special covered seating at the Acura Stage audience area plus other amenities. All the hugely popular VIP packages are on sale now while very limited supplies last. (See for details.)

Tickets are available at and, at all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Jazz Fest ticket office located at the Louisiana Superdome Box Office (Gate A, Ground Level) or the New Orleans Arena Box Office. All Jazz Fest tickets are subject to additional service fees and handling charges.

A listing of hotels offering special Jazz Fest rates is posted at, where patrons can effortlessly reserve their hotel rooms for the event. Festivalgoers can peruse room availability and book their accommodations early taking advantage of some of the best prices offered at participating hotels.

Shell is the Presenting Sponsor of the Festival. Acura is proudly celebrating its 10th year as sponsor of the Festival’s main stage. People’s Health, Miller Lite, Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, AT&T, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (A Churchill Downs Company), Capital One Bank, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Pepsi, Rajen Kilachand and St. Charles Vision are all also official Jazz Fest sponsors.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. is the nonprofit organization that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, and uses the proceeds from that festival for year-round activities in the areas of education, economic development and cultural programming. Programs and assets of the foundation include: radio station WWOZ 90.7-FM, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive, the Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music, the Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series, the Jazz Journey concert series, the Community Partnership Grants program and the Raisin’ the Roof housing initiative. The foundation also produces community events such as the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, Fiesta Latina, the Congo Square Rhythms Festival, the Down by the Riverside concerts and others. For more information, please call the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation at (504) 558-6100 or visit

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell is a co-production of Festival Productions, L.L.C.(a wholly owned subsidiary of Festival Productions, Inc.-New Orleans) and AEG Louisiana Production, L.L.C.(a subsidiary of AEG Live).

Disappearing Louisiana

The New Orleans Times-Picayune just published a three-part story documenting the near-certainty of southeast Louisiana's disappearance in the next 50 years. The current path of the Mississippi river may well resemble the Florida Keys at that point as the fabled Isle of Orleans becomes surrounded by water. As a half-time resident of the city I realize that my 150 year old house, which has survived numerous hurricanes and at least one serious fire, probably won't survive me by very much time. Nevertheless it's still worth living in this magic place for as long as it exists. Here's Part 1 of the TP's story. You can read the whole thing at:

Part 1: Because of subsidence and global warming, Louisiana is slowly disappearing
by Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune
Saturday December 13, 2008, 8:36 PM
Seventy miles south of New Orleans, on the eastern end of Grand Isle, a small tide gauge records the Gulf of Mexico rising against the surrounding land. The monthly increases are microscopic, narrower than a single strand of hair.

Climate scientists recording those results think they add up to something huge. The gauge, they say, may be quietly writing one of the first big stories in the age of global warming: the obituary for much of southeast Louisiana.

View interactive graphic

In 50 to 100 years, the numbers tell them, rising seas caused by global warming, combined with the steady subsidence of Louisiana's coast, will lift the Gulf of Mexico two to six feet higher in many areas surrounding New Orleans.

Such a rise would overwhelm the most ambitious coastal restoration plans now under way and submerge almost everything in southeast Louisiana outside hurricane levees. And that means the areas inside the levees essentially would become coastline, far more vulnerable to hurricanes and continuing coastal erosion, and in need of a far more drastic and expensive flood protection apparatus.

Read related story: Sea levels have been rising globally for ages.

"The delta of the Mississippi River is the most vulnerable location in the nation to global warming, because it is sinking at the same time sea level is rising, " said Virginia Burkett, a senior researcher at the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette and one of the nation's foremost experts on climate change. "And it's only going to get worse.

"This area is facing big trouble from climate change. I think there's consensus on that point."

A lot at stake

As the scientific forecasts of global warming gain popular acceptance, many Americans now ponder how their lives might change.

Changing coastline: Download file

Longer, hotter summers. Shorter, warmer winters. Less rain, or more. Lifestyle adjustments ranging from different light bulbs to hybrid-powered cars.

But climate scientists now say residents in low-lying, fast-sinking southeast Louisiana will have a more serious concern: survival.

"People who live here have a lot more at stake in what happens in the Antarctic and Greenland than any people in this country, " Tulane researcher Torbjorn Tornqvist said. "We know we're sinking, and we know sea level is rising. . . . If either gets much worse, we'll be among the first to experience disaster."

These predictions come on top of already dire warnings that the traditional forces of coastal erosion -- sediment deprivation and canal dredging -- have left the state with less than a decade to fix that problem or face permanent land loss.

We are not alone: Download file

The additional threat from global warming not only reinforces the need to speed coastal restoration efforts, scientists say, it also raises critical questions about many vital hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects in the planning stages or already under way.

Are the projects being designed to meet the increased threats from sea-level rise, including higher storm surges and expanding areas of open water? Can the planned structures be adapted to meet increased threats, as the Gulf rises and the land sinks? Will pumping stations that battle rainwater flooding have enough power to lift water two to four feet higher? Are the causeways and bridges that link the region's communities high enough to survive the gradually rising tides -- not to mention stronger storm surges?

Evidence behind sea rise: Download file

Are the state and city even planning for the changes the world's scientific community says are heading our way?

Not if, but when

Scientists involved in global warming research speak with confidence about the threats to coastal Louisiana, because they are based on three factors that generate little debate:

-- Subsidence in Louisiana, documented for decades, will continue at alarming rates for the foreseeable future.

-- Sea-level rise is one of the most widely accepted, easily measurable effects of the warming climate.

-- Even if the world moves aggressively to reduce suspected causes of global warming, sea levels would continue to rise for centuries as the oceans slowly respond to temperatures that have been rising since the 1800s.

"The debate within the scientific community is no longer 'if' this will happen. It's now 'when and how quickly, ' " Burkett said.

University of New Orleans researcher Shea Penland, in one of his last interviews before he died this year, summed up the scenario: "Without some really huge and immediate steps to meet this new challenge, we're just S.O.L."

Yet scientists are concerned that a threat growing by only fractions of an inch each year will be underestimated by decision-makers. In contrast to an instant and overwhelming disaster like Katrina, sea-level rise will proceed slowly, almost imperceptibly -- until it's too late to address.

"We're like that frog in the pot of water on the stove -- if we wait until it starts boiling, we won't be able to jump out, " said Burkett, echoing a sentiment common in the scientific community.

Scientific agreement

Worldwide, the scientific community speaks through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations. Consisting of scientists and government agencies from dozens of nations including the United States, the panel sought to determine whether the planet was warming, the causes and potential impacts, and how governments might adapt.

In 1990, the panel began releasing a series of reports confirming global warming, and outlining the primary cause: Greenhouse gases, the carbon-based pollutants released in the burning of fossil fuels, are trapping heat inside the atmosphere. The panel has recommended immediate dramatic reductions in these pollutants to begin curbing the problem. However, the panel admits the process is so advanced that many changes already under way will continue through this century even in the face of an aggressive cleanup.

One of those changes is accelerating sea-level rise.

Because the forecasts from the climate change panel rely on complicated computer modeling, researchers can't predict impacts with certainty. But as the panel moves toward its third decade, members' confidence has increased. More sophisticated models have been supported by real-world events, such as the recent rapid melting of glaciers and polar ice fields. Predictions that once were termed "possible" are now made with "high confidence."

Although serious scientific debate remains about some of those projections, the predictions for sea-level rise, which could slowly drown coastal communities worldwide, has drawn wider agreement.

That consensus rests on two indisputable events that will occur as oceans continue to warm:

-- Sea-water will expand as it warms, encroaching into land masses worldwide.

-- The runoff from melting glaciers and ice fields will increase the total volume of the oceans.

The latter impact has recently become a grave concern because ice fields and glaciers have started melting more rapidly than the climate panel's models predicted just two years ago. Climate scientists, alarmed by the increase, are struggling to understand the causes.

"If these rates continue in Greenland and the Antarctic, then all bets are off, " Burkett said. "Then we're not talking about two to four to six feet of rise, we're talking about something much greater and even more rapid."

Worldwide, the midrange estimate predicts oceans will rise 18 inches by 2100.

Louisiana faces a far more alarming forecast. Here, those same models predict that, relative to land, water levels will rise 2 to 6 feet, with the highest rates in the southeastern coast surrounding New Orleans.

The subsidence problem

The difference owes to subsidence.

Louisiana falls victim to what scientists term "relative" sea-level rise: the net result when water rises at the same time land sinks. And the southeast portion of the state's coast, the vast delta of the Mississippi River, is subsiding at one of the fastest rates in the world.

Healthy coastal wetlands could probably handle a rise of 18 inches over 100 years, scientists say, because they have a natural ability to gain elevation through the regular arrival of new building material from three sources: sediment from spring river floods, storm surges that carry offshore sediments onshore, and the steady deposit of new soil created from decaying plants in healthy wetlands. This is the process called "accretion."

Wetlands can also adjust to rising sea level by migrating northward in their basins and colonizing higher ground.

"And, in fact, there are wetlands in this region that have been doing quite well against current levels of relative sea-level rise, " said Denise Reed, a wetlands researcher at UNO. "So, by itself, the projections of sea-level rise we're seeing published are no reason to think healthy wetland ecosystems can't keep pace."

An example of such a healthy wetland is the delta of the Atchafalaya River on the central Louisiana coast. Unrestrained by levees, the Atchafalaya has built more than 27 square miles of new land in the past 40 years.

But the health of southeast Louisiana's wetlands began to fail in the early 1900s when federal and state levees shut off river sediment from flowing into the wetlands. Erosion accelerated in the mid-1900s with extensive canal dredging for oil, gas, shipping and housing development, cutting through healthy wetlands and ultimately creating vast expanses of open water.

Those problems alone make it difficult for much of the region to keep pace with the 18-inch rise in sea level expected by the end of the century just from rising surface temperatures. When subsidence is added to the equation, natural adaptation becomes impossible, coastal experts think.

Fate of the region

The numbers are grim. Southeast Louisiana is expected to sink between two and five feet by the end of the century -- one of the fastest subsidence rates on the planet. Those estimates are supported by real-life measurements that show sea level has been rising one inch every 30 months in some sections of the southeast coast. That rate would result in a 16-inch rise by 2050.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asked its computers how high the Gulf of Mexico would rise along the Louisiana coast. Researchers calculated varying scenarios of subsidence and rates of sea-level rise, determined by how quickly the world moved to reduce greenhouse gases.

The best-case scenario, which includes a rapid atmospheric cleanup and slower subsidence, shows rises of 12 inches in 50 years and 24 inches in 100 years.

The worst-case scenario, using little change in greenhouse gas build-up, shows a 38-inch rise in 50 years and more than 6 feet in 100 years, a rate that could drown many areas surrounding New Orleans and make the city all but an island.

And studies completed since those 2007 projections trend away from any best-case endings, indicating greenhouse gasses are accumulating much faster than predicted just 12 months ago. This latest research, Burkett said, showed the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by the end of this century could be double the pre-industrial levels of the late 1800s.

"The elephant in the room remains the rate of ice sheet declines, either in Greenland or western Antarctica, " Burkett said. "If they were to disintegrate, we could see a sea level rise" of 16 to 19 feet.

Researchers familiar with southeast Louisiana's rapidly deteriorating coastal wetlands agree that even the best-case scenarios threaten to inundate all areas outside of hurricane levees during the next century -- unless rapid and aggressive coastal restoration starts within a few years.

"Most of that area (outside the Atchafalaya) is struggling to stay even with the old rates of sea-level rise, so I don't think they stand much chance of surviving what the models are forecasting, " said Don Cahoon, a U.S. Geological Survey researcher who wrote some of the most detailed studies of accretion in Louisiana marshes. "They just can't gain enough elevation under the present conditions to adjust."

UNO's Penland laughed off hopes that healthy marshes in the region could survive even the low-range sea-level rise predictions.

"When you add subsidence to rates of sea-level rise we know are coming due to global warming, " he said, "the scenario goes from threatening to disastrous."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Odetta dies at 77

The great blues and folk singer Odetta died Tuesday. She lived long enough to see her dream of a Black President fulfilled, but didn't last long enough to sing at Obama's inauguration, which was her hope. The New York Times obit follows.

Odetta, Voice of Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 77

New York Times
December 3, 2008

Odetta, the singer whose deep voice wove together the strongest songs of
American folk music and the civil rights movement, died Tuesday. She was 77.

The cause was heart disease, said her manager, Doug Yeager.

He added that she had been hoping to sing at Barack Obama's inauguration.

Odetta - she was born Odetta Holmes - sang at coffeehouses and Carnegie Hall
and released several albums, becoming one of the most widely known and
influential folk-music artists of the 1950s and 60s.

Her voice was an accompaniment to the black-and-white images of the freedom
marchers who walked the roads of Alabama and Mississippi and the boulevards
of Washington in quest of an end to racial discrimination.

Rosa Parks, the woman who started the boycott of segregated buses in
Montgomery, Ala., was once asked which songs meant the most to her. She
replied, "All of the songs Odetta sings."

Odetta sang at the August 1963 march on Washington, a pivotal event in the
civil rights movement. Her song that day was "O Freedom," dating back to
slavery days.

Born in Birmingham on Dec. 31, 1930, Odetta Holmes spent her first six years
in the depths of the Depression. The music of that time and place - in
particular prison song and work songs recorded in the fields of the deep
South - shaped her life.

"They were liberation songs," she said in a videotaped interview with The
New York Times in 2007, for its online feature "The Last Word." "You're
walking down life's road, society's foot is on your throat, every which way
you turn you can't get from under that foot. And you reach a fork in the
road and you can either lie down and die, or insist upon your life."

Her father, Reuben Holmes, died when she was young; she and her mother,
Flora Sanders, who later remarried, moved to Los Angeles in 1937. Three
years later, Odetta discovered she could sing.

"A teacher told my mother that I had a voice, that maybe I should study,"
she recalled. "But I myself didn't have anything to measure it by."

She found her own voice by listening to blues, jazz and folk music from the
African-American and Anglo-American traditions. She earned a music degree
from Los Angeles City College. Her training in classical music and musical
theater was "a nice exercise, but it had nothing to do with my life," she

"The folk songs were - the anger," she emphasized.

In a 2005 National Public Radio interview, she said: "School taught me how
to count and taught me how to put a sentence together. But as far as the
human spirit goes, I learned through folk music."

In 1950, Odetta began singing professionally in a West Coast production of
the musical "Finian's Rainbow," but she found a stronger calling in the
bohemian coffeehouses of San Francisco. "We would finish our play, we'd go
to the joint, and people would sit around playing guitars and singing songs
and it felt like home," she said in the 2007 interview with The Times.

She began singing in nightclubs, cutting a striking figure with her guitar
and her close-cropped hair. (She noted late in life that she was one of the
first black performers in the United States to wear an "Afro" hairstyle -
"they used to call it 'the Odetta,' " she said.)

Her voice plunged deep and soared high, and her songs blended the personal
and the political, the theatrical and the spiritual. Her first solo album,
"Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues," resonated with an audience hearing old
songs made new.

"The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta," Bob Dylan
said, referring to that record, in a 1978 interview with Playboy . He said
he heard "something vital and personal. I learned all the songs on that
record." It was her first, and the songs were "Mule Skinner," "Jack of
Diamonds," "Water Boy," " 'Buked and Scorned."

Her blues and spirituals led directly to her work for the civil-rights
movement. They were two rivers running together, she said in her interview
with The Times. The words and music captured "the fury and frustration that
I had growing up." They were heard by the people who were present at the
creation of the civil rights movement, people who "heard on the grapevine
about this lady who was singing these songs." She played countless benefits;
the money she raised underwrote the work of keeping the movement alive.

Her fame hit a peak in 1963, when she marched with Martin Luther King in
Selma and performed for President John F. Kennedy. But after King was
assassinated in 1968, the wind went out of the sails of the civil-rights
movement and the songs of protest and resistance that had been the
movement's soundtrack. Odetta's fame flagged for years thereafter. She
recorded fewer records, although she performed on stage as a singer and an
actor, during the 1970s and 1980s. She revived her career in the 1990s, and
thereafter appeared regularly on "A Prairie Home Companion," the popular
public-radio show. In 1999 she recorded her first album in 14 years, and
that year President Bill Clinton awarded her the National Endowment for the
Arts Medal of the Arts and Humanities from. In 2003 she received a "Living
Legend" tribute from the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center
Visionary Award.

Odetta was married three times: to Don Gordon, to Gary Shead, and, in 1977,
to the blues musician Iverson Minter, known professionally as Louisiana Red.
The first marriages ended in divorce; Mr. Minter moved to Germany in 1983 to
pursue his performing career.

She was singing and performing well into the 21st century, and her influence
stayed strong through the decades.

In April 2007, half a century after Mr. Dylan heard her, she was onstage at
a Carnegie Hall tribute to Bruce Springsteen. She turned one of his songs,
"57 Channels," into a chanted poem, and Mr. Springsteen came out from the
wings to call it "the greatest version" of the song he had ever heard.

Reviewing a December 2006 performance, James Reed of the Boston Globe wrote:
"Odetta's voice is still a force of nature - something commented upon
endlessly as folks exited the auditorium - and her phrasing and sensibility
for a song have grown more complex and shaded."

The critic called her "a majestic figure in American music, a direct gateway
to bygone generations that feel so foreign today."

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Friday, November 14, 2008

Neil Young on the auto industry

November 14, 2008 -

How To Save A Major Automobile Company

Auto manufacturers taking advantage of a government bailout must only sell clean and green vehicles that do not contribute to global warming.

by Neil Young

Find a new ownership group. The culture must change. It is time to turn the page. In the high technology sector there are several candidates for ownership of a major car and truck manufacturer. We need forward looking people who are not restricted by the existing culture in Detroit. We need visionary people now with business sense to create automobiles that do not contribute to global warming.

It is time to change and our problems can facilitate our solutions. We can no longer afford to continue down Detroit’s old road. The people have spoken. They do not want gas guzzlers (although they still like big cars and trucks). It is possible to build large long-range vehicles that are very efficient. People WILL buy those vehicles because they represent REAL change and a solution that we can live with.

The government must take advantage of the powerful position that exists today. The Big 3 are looking for a bailout. They should only get it if they agree to stop building autos that contribute to global warming now. The stress on the auto manufacturers today is gigantic. In order to keep people working in their jobs and keep factories open, this plan is suggested:

The big three must reduce models to basics. a truck, an SUV, a large family sedan, an economy sedan, and a sports car. Use existing tooling.

Keep building these models to keep the workforce employed but build them WITHOUT engines and transmissions. These new vehicles, called Transition Rollers, are ready for a re-power. NO NEW TOOLING is required at this stage. The adapters are part of the kits described next.

At the same time as the new Transition Rollers are being built, keeping the work force working, utilize existing technology now, create re-power kits to retrofit the Transition Rollers to SCEVs (self charging electric vehicles) for long range capability up to and over 100mpg. If you don’t think this technology is realistic or available, check out the Progressive Insurance Automotive X prize. Alternatively, check out or other examples.

A bailed out Auto manufacturer must open or re-purpose one or more factories and dedicate them to do the re-power/retrofit assembly. These factories would focus on re-powering the Transition Rollers into SCEVs but could also retrofit and re-power many existing vehicles to SCEVs. These existing vehicles are currently sitting unsold at dealerships across America.

Auto manufacturers taking advantage of a government bailout must only sell clean and green vehicles that do not contribute to global warming. No more internal combustion engines that run exclusively on fossil fuels can be sold period.

No Big Three excuses like “new tooling takes time”. New tooling is not a requirement for SCEV transition rollers.

Build only new vehicles that attain the goal of reversing global warming and enhancing National Security.

Government legislation going with the bailout should include tax breaks for purchasers of these cars with the new green SCEV technology. The legislation accompanying the bailout of major auto manufacturers must include directives to build only vehicles that attain the goal of reversing global warming while enhancing National security, and provide the financial assistance to make manufacturing these cars affordable in the short term while the industry re-stabilizes.

Eventually the SCEV technology could be built into every new car and truck as it is being assembled and the stop gap plan described above would have completed its job of keeping America building and working through this turbulent time.

Detroit has had a long time to adapt to the new world and now the failure of Detroit’s actions is costing us all. We pay the bailout. Let’s make a good deal for the future of America and the Planet. Companies like UQM (Colorado) and others build great electric motors right here in the USA. Use these domestic electric motors. Put these people to work now. This plan reverses the flow from negative to positive because people need and will buy clean and green cars to be part of World Change. Unique wheel covers will identify these cars on the road so that others can see the great example a new car owner is making. People want America to in!

This plan addresses the issue of Global warming from our automobiles while enhancing our National Security and keeping Detroit working.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Orchestral works of Frank Zappa

The Zappa Family Trust has announced that Schott Music is now the worldwide representative of Munchkin Music-for the orchestral and ensemble works of Frank Zappa, American composer. Zappa was a fierce defender of the First Amendment of The U.S. Constitution and proponent of his own freedom of artistic expression in the face of public scrutiny, sitting on trial for obscenity both in America and the UK, and winning every time. Commissions most important to Zappa include those from Pierre Boulez (Ensemble InterContemporain) and the Ensemble Modern.
To view the complete list of Frank Zappa works now available through Schott Music, please visit [].

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Zappa family trust to release "Lumpy Money"

Zappa Records has announced the November 25 release of the three-CD Frank Zappa Audio-documentary set 'Lumpy Money' continuing the Zappa Family Trust's mission to celebrate and protect the legacy of Frank Zappa. The release spotlights the fortieth anniversary of these albums, which Zappa considered to be his solo debuts both as artist and as record producer. Both are celebrated for Zappa's mastery of razor blade editing, techniques not normally exhibited in such a manner in either of the worlds of classical music or rock.
Also known to quite a few as Phase One and Phase Two, the two featured albums in Lumpy Money are represented here in two separate Frank Zappa mixes each. The project is devoted to various mixes, outtakes & materials dating from the original sessions & time period for both recordings.
The Audio-documentary adds the first official release of the Frank Zappa-edited, wholly instrumental, orchestral master of 'Lumpy Gravy' recorded at Capitol Studios in 1967 and originally slated for release on Capitol Records. (Zappa subsequently completely reworked the album, concurrent with 'We're Only In It For The Money,' editing it into the version recognized as an historic classic, released on MGM/Verve in 1968.)
Called "quite probably his greatest achievement" by All Music Guide, 'We're Only In It For The Money' was named among the top 100 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone and was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
Liner notes will be written by Rolling Stone veteran and rock historian David Fricke.
Gail Zappa says, "Lumpy Gravy remains my personal favorite album and I know it was certainly right up there on Frank's list."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Snooks Eaglin needs blood donations

Keith Spera, Music writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, posted this story about Snooks Eaglin on October 10:

Legendary rhythm & blues guitarist and vocalist Snooks Eaglin is a faithful WWOZ -FM listener who makes regular on-air appearances during the station's semi-annual fund drives. The fall fund drive is underway now. But instead of asking listeners to send money to the station, Eaglin is asking for donations of blood for himself.

Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n Bowl owner John Blancher, a longtime friend, fan and confidant of Eaglin's, appeared on WWOZ Friday afternoon to relay the news that Eaglin is hospitalized with an unspecified ailment, and in need of blood.

Blancher said that interested donors should report to the first floor of the main Ochsner Medical Center complex at 1514 Jefferson Highway and give blood in the name of Fird Eaglin -- Snooks' given name.

Expressing the views of many, Blancher said it would be hard to imagine Rock 'n Bowl, and New Orleans, without Snooks Eaglin. Dubbed the Human Jukebox for his ability to conjure most any song from the R&B, blues and New Orleans repertoires, Eaglin's distinct style of dexterous finger-picking has won him legions of fans around the world. Former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant famously loaded up on Eaglin's music during a shopping spree at the Louisiana Music Factory.

Eaglin has been a Rock 'n Bowl regular since the venue opened more than 18 years ago. Health problems have curtailed his performances as of late, but Blancher is optimistic that Eaglin will recover and return to the stage.

"Snooks, if you're listening," Blancher said on the air, "we're pulling for you."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dr. John heads HOB Benefit

A New Orleans Film Festival Closing Night Celebration

A concert and live music presentation featuring Dr. John & The Lower 911,
Chris Thomas King and performers and songwriters of the feature film DARK
STREETS - the Closing Night film of the New Orleans Film Festival on October
16th: Toledo, Bijou Phillips, James Compton, Tim Brown and Tony DeMeur. The
Blues Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to
local musicians, will receive a generous amount of all profits from this
benefit concert, as well as substantial profits from the upcoming DARK
STREETS theatrical release.

The New Orleans Film Society will also be a beneficiary of the DARK STREETS

"New Orleans musicians have given so much of themselves to the people of the
world, and have asked for nothing in return. It is my honor to be a part of
this project that will give hope and life back to those that have lost so
much," states Dr. John, homegrown musical legend who performs a song on the
DARK STREETS soundtrack.

Featured in the concert: Dr. John & The Lower 911; Toledo "the coolest cat
in Hollywood"; lead actress and singer Bijou Phillips (daughter of John
Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas). Executive music producer and composer
extraordinaire George Acogny (BLOOD DIAMOND) will attend the benefit concert
to take place at the House of Blues on the closing night of the annual New
Orleans Film Festival.

DARK STREETS is a unique, music-driven feast for the eyes and ears and will
be released in theatres by Samuel Goldwyn Films this fall. The 30's-era
blues musical features the first-ever score from BB King, as well as
original songs written by James Compton, Tim Brown and Tony Demeur,
performed by Solomon Burke, Aaron Neville, Etta James, Natalie Cole, Dr.
John, Richie Sambora, Marc Broussard and Chaka Khan. This film is dedicated
to the blues musicians of New Orleans affected by Hurricane Katrina, and
more recent storms.

Thursday, October 16th, 2008
Doors open at 9:30pm immediately following the Closing Night screening of
DARK STREETS Concert begins at 10:30pm

House of Blues - 225 Decatur Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Blues Initiative is a non-profit organization with the singular focus of
providing relief to blues musicians displaced by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita
and Gustav. The Blues Initiative is embraced by the Louisiana Cultural
Economy Foundation, whose main goal is to forge public/private partnerships
that provide critical relief and recovery funds for artists and cultural

New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) was founded in 1989 to engage, educate and
inspire through the art of film. It has grown into a major showcase of
local, regional, national and international films. In addition to the annual
Film Festival each fall, NOFS hosts special events throughout the year.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Nappy Brown, highly influential singer and R&B pioneer, passed away peacefully in his sleep at 10:30 pm this past Saturday at Mercy Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 78 year old performer had been hospitalized for several months.

Although Brown was a well-known star in the mid 1950s with a string of hits on the Savoy label, he had largely disappeared from public view a decade later. Few knew that he was such a great, ground-breaking vocalist back then who had an enormous influence on a lot of R&B singers, including a young Elvis Presley, who used to come out to see Nappy whenever he performed in Memphis.

Brown's career and legendary status were redeemed from obscurity with the release of Long Time Coming on Blind Pig Records in&nb sp;September of 2007. Critically acclaimed as a brilliant comeback album, the CD led to Brown's being re-discovered and heralded for his role as the forefather of rhythm & blues. He was invited to perform on Garrison Keillor's popular "Prairie Home Companion," was featured on the cover of Living Blues magazine, was honored by the State of South Carolina with a "Nappy Brown Day," and received two Blues Music Award nominations from the Blues Foundation. In one of his final performances, he brought down the house at the Blues Music Awards show in Mississippi in May.

Nappy reveled in the new found attention, both touched and thrilled to have his talent and place in history recognized. As he told his producer, Scott Cable, "I feel like I'm back on top!" Said Cable, "It was a blessing for Nappy that he was able to experience that adulation. He was at first incredulous about it and always felt very lucky to have a second chance in the spotlight. And he was always very demonstrative about how appreciative he was of all the media attention, the fan interest, and the help of the record label in reviving his career."

Blind Pig President Edward Chmelewski said, "It was so gratifying to be able to bring attention to such a deserving but unrecognized legend in American music and to see how happy it made him. We feel honored and grateful to have worked with and documented the art of one of the most outstanding and important musicians of the past fifty years."

Brown's performing career ended in June when he was hospitalized with a series of ailments. In his last conversation with his wife Ann, Nappy said that this last year was the best of his life and was brought to tears by reading all of the cards and letters from fans. He told her he never realized who he was and how many people cared.

Funeral services are being arranged for this Saturday, September 27, at St. Paul's Baptist Church in Charlotte. Both the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and MusicCares have announced that they will help defray funeral expenses.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bingo! show at Spiegelworld

Clint Maedgen's Bingo! show landed at lower Manhattan's Spiegelworld as if the revue had been tailor made for the tony cabaret that caters to well heeled New Yorkers. The crowd for this show was unusual for the place, peppered as it was with hardcore fans of Louisiana music who hooted knowingly at the references to the Ninth Ward and Mid City and howled in delight when Clint name checked the Hi Ho Lounge and a series of Bourbon Street strip clubs. The fans knew when to get up and dance, how to clap along in time and especially how to interact with the guerilla theater moves of Bingo's players. The music was as well choreographed as the players and the program, using an array of kitchen utensils and garage junk for percussion instruments and working bull horns, sirens and electronics expertly into a sonic mix based around a two keyboard acoustic quartet with Maedgen's saxophone as the main solo voice. Preservation Hall's Ben Jaffe was along for the ride, playing sousaphone at several points in the show. The video of "Complicated Life" and of course the Bingo game itself, which ended with the "winner" being knocked to the ground and beaten with a bouquet of flowers, worked seamlessly into the theatrical mix. In the evening's most moving moment, the crowd recognized John Brunious in the video and offered up a spontaneous ovation to the late Preservation Hall mainstay. What amazes me most about Maedgen's presentation is how it can transmit so much love for and understanding of traditional New Orleans music without ever pandering to the audience or resorting to the usual cliches that most New Orleans performers use to translate content. When asked, of course, they will provide the hokum. Expect much umbrella twirling and faux second lining when the Bingo! troupe joins the Preservation Hall band at Lincoln Center next week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bongo Johnny to get free shirt

Bongo Johnny is heading for Monmouth Park to see his favorite horse, Big Brown, this Saturday, but this time he's not buying any souvenier tickets.
"They're giving away shirts!" Johnny exclaimed over a mug of Palookajuice at Smith's bar in Brooklyn. "Big Brown long sleeve shirts."
Monmouth Park landed a coup this summer by getting Big Brown to run there in the Haskell. Saturday's race was put together specifically for Big Brown, whose owners wanted him to run on the grass as his final prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he may not (or maybe may) meet up with the reigning Breeders' Cup Classic champion, Curlin.
The inaugural running of the Monmouth Stakes at 1-1/8 miles on the turf should be easy picking for the Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner.
But go for the shirt, not the win bet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bruce Daigrepont's parents killed in Gustav evac

I know I'm not alone in saying some of my favorite musical moments over the last 20 years took place on Sunday early evenings at Tips hanging out at Bruce's weekly gigs. His parents were always visible in the audience at these events (especially his dad, who kept an eye on the door). They died in a car accident while evacuating Gustav. Read the Times Picayune story.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jimmy Herring solo debut

The long-awaited solo debut album from guitarist Jimmy Herring, Lifeboat, is scheduled out this month on Abstract Logix Records. On the album Herring reunites with his monster partner from the great Aquarium Rescue Unit, bassist Oteil Burbridge. Oteil's brother Kofi is on keys along with Matt Slocum, with Jeff Sipe on drums and the outstanding Greg Osby on saxophones. Guitarist Derek Trucks sits in on two cuts. My friend Mark Berner, an excellent horse racing handicapper, has a future book bet that some version of this lineup might be hitting the boards after Jimmy takes time off from his current gig when Widespread Panic goes on hiatus in the new year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Mother of all storms"

So C. Ray Nagin, borrowing a phrase from Saddam Hussein, calls Gustav "the mother of all storms" and claims it has a 900 mile footprint in order to get everybody out of town. All evacuees were entered into the government database and issued free yellow plastic bracelets, which will undoubtedly be a fashion must for some time in the future. Can't wait for the New York Times piece in the Styles section. Everybody is practicing heading off to camp, something which is likely to happen far more often in the futureworld of terror, disaster and instant news cycles, when interment camp will be FUN and people will want to go for all the cool bennies. Just like the 9/2 Zippy the Pinhead strip about the newest technological innovation, earring implants that connect you to the blogosphere, MSNBC and Fox News. Nice to see the self congratulatory reactions from everybody from C. Ray to the Army Corps after Gus passed a time. The levee system withstood the hurricane, they say gleefully. The hurricane that came in as a cat 2 rather than predicted cat 4 and basically missed New Orleans altogether. Yet everyone watched that water pour over the west wall of the industrial canal for hours. Will the west wall of the industrial canal last another week? Year? How long before the parts of New Orleans that didn't get flooded last time are added to the destruction? The pattern almost appears deliberate, even down to he incredible repetition of loose ships rolling free in the industrial canal. Turns out nobody is responsible for telling Southern Scrap to get their massive hulls out of there, hurricane or not. Crazy Eddie decided to skip the evacuation and spent his non curfew hours rescuing lost dogs and checking out the action at Johnny White's. "People are complaining about not being allowed back into town," he notes, "but there are trees and power lines down all over the place. It's not safe to come back yet." Listening to Coco Robicheaux's new disc and it's the perfect soundtrack for this ongoing disaster movie.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The greatest band in New Orleans rock history

The Radiators are the greatest rock band in the history of New Orleans music, hands down! There may be some strange backlash in New Orleans itself against this observable fact. As someone who has actively written about New Orleans music since the late 1960s I have to say I have been frustrated in a number of attempts to write about the Rads over the years. The current piece in OffBeat came out well, but an awful lot of the interview didn't make it in. I was told there would be an online version at but no extended online version is in fact offered.
My only recourse is to offer an expanded version on my blog. I will be following this up with more material about an American band whose importance will certainly make it into the annals of history even though it is shunned in the elitist passageways of fashion.

Radiators look back on a 30-year run
By John Swenson
On a hot summer night the Radiators rolled back the clock at the House of Blues with an album release party for Wild and Free, a collection of previously unreleased songs and alternate takes that mixes live and studio material covering the entire 30 years of the band's existence. The two sets were particularly eccentric, filled with quirky Radiators trademarks, like Dave Malone's decision to play one of the rare tracks from the album, "Hard Core," twice during the performance, and Ed Volker springing a new song on the group without warning, "Something Fishy Going On."
A crowd of sojourners who've hopped on the Rads train at some point along the way turned out, even some who were on hand for the band's early days at Luigi's and the Dream Palace.
"It was like old home week," said drummer Frank Bua after the show. "I saw faces in the crowd I haven't seen in a decade."
Many of those fans who frequent the "official" Radiators email list and its offshoots are greeting Wild and Free as the recovered Grail, filled as it is with long-requested pieces like the title track, "All Meat From the Same Bone" and the suite "Songs From the Ancient Furnace."
But Ed Volker's liner notes wonder without sentimentality about the fans who didn't live to see this moment. The title track is a companion piece to the 1998 studio recording "The Wrong Road," which could have easily been the title track on an album simply titled The Radiators.
Songwriter/keyboardist/vocalist Volker began the process of curating this album when he started listening to tapes of performances dating back to the pre-Radiators days. Volker and Radiators guitarist Camile Baudoin, friends since grade school, played in local bands since high school and first worked with Rads drummer Frank Bua in The Dogs. The trio reconvened as part of the legendary Rhapsodizers, which played several songs now associated with the Radiators. Bassist Reggie Scanlan subbed with the Rhapsodizers while playing in Dave Malone's band Roadapple and with Professor Longhair (the Rads would go on to back up Fess as well as Earl King). In 1978 the five of them assembled in Volker's garage rehearsal studio and when they played "Red Dress" the way Volker wanted to hear it three Rhapsodizers and two Roadapples became one Radiators.
The prolific Volker, who had already written a number of songs that would become Radiators standards before the group existed, put this set together with help from Malone, whose songwriting is also represented on the album, and input from the rest of the band. Two new songs were recorded specifically for the project earlier in the year, and Bruce Barielle did an impressive job mastering the collection so that its many different sonic sources created an efficient mosaic.

Red Dress
R.S.: I always thought Ed was a good songwriter and when the Rhapsodizers asked me to play with them I was excited because it was a chance to play with Frank. Frank just has this really cool groove. I was on a gig with Johnny Vidocavich recently and he just spontaneously went into talking about Frank’s drumming and how good he thought he was. It’s very subtle, Frank’s style is kind of rock, straight in-the-pocket playing, but he also has a kind of funk thing going on. Frank has a kind of implied second-line beat, you can hear the syncopation deep in his playing.
When Ed asked us to jam Dave and I both thought it would be fun. When Dave came up with the cool guitar part on “Red Dress,” shit, that was it. We’re a band. I think the Rhapsodizers had one gig left, they were playing the Mom’s Ball.

E.V.: Luigi's was approximately six or seven blocks from 6204 Waldo Drive, which is where the garage was where we rehearsed. We'd take our time with a tune and focus on different sections and repeatedly go back to particular turns or twists that one of us might need to fix on to get clearer comprehension. DM and CB would spend a lot of time coming up with contrasting or complementary voicings for their parts to a particular song. The very first song we ever rehearsed was "Red Dress," a song I wrote during the waning days of the Rhapsodizers and that I was excited about, but thought the Rhapsodizers wouldn't be able to pull it off. DM came up with the repeated descending guitar figure that begins the song at that first rehearsal and not only did the Rads nail the "tune" part that I had written, but the guitar figure set the song and the groove up perfectly. When we had that first rehearsal I hadn't yet officially bowed out of the Rhapsodizers. All of us in the Rads were delirious with how great and high our first jam together felt (about two or three days prior to this first rehearsal), but there was some question as to our chemistry lending itself to the kind of working together and studying that a good rehearsal demands and I thought “Red Dress” would provide an excellent test and opportunity to check all that out and, goddam, we aced it!

C.B.: I had never met Dave before the Waldo Drive rehearsal but there was something that happened between we three and those two. I dug the way Reggie held down the groove. Dave made me laugh and I liked the way he played, soulful and solid. It just all fit in the beginning and it’s been like that ever since. But most of all it was a people thing, not even so much what we played as what we liked to work out on our own or listen to, like Beatles tunes.

D.M.: Everyone lived in the city and we seemed to have a lot more time to get together and just try things out. Pre Rads I was already very aware of Ed's songwriting from the Palace Guards 45 and the band The Dogs and then the Rhapsodizers. I wasn't really a big Rhapsodizers fan although I loved the feel they had. I still always wondered what another set of musicians could do with Ed's songs and then when The Rads had that first official rehearsal and we did such an amazing thing with "Red Dress," it was so damn creative and also didn't sound like anything else that I was aware of.

Last Getaway
D. M.: "Last Getaway" was already a song written by my brother John which we did in Dustwoofie and Roadapple, but I really did not care for the chord changes, feel or bridge, so I re-wrote it, added a verse, changed the chords and feel, and dropped the bridge. This is an early performance of the re-re-written "Last Getaway," in the early stages of what is now the final-final. It's more about "getting away" from some something that you really don't want in your life than any other kind of other thing, and the elation you experience when you realize that you've gotten away. Then the last verse reminds you that things that piss you off or shatter your dreams keep happening and then you have to get away again... but you can.

Suck the Head
RS: “Suck the Head” is one of my favorite tracks. It’s kind of raw. I was taking liberties with how I played the song. I’ll go back and play it like that from now on so in that sense the album is showing me something about how we used to play that is instructive. It was recorded at Luigi’s. Since I’ve heard that track, I’ve been actually approaching it more like that when we do the song now. When we first started listening to it, Ed made the comment to me that it’s a different bass line than what it ended up being.

C.B.: We felt like the rehearsals were so good, let’s try this in front of people and see what happens. Luigi’s was a good launching pad. I remember the pole in the middle of the dance floor that was used by both males and females on occasion. Ray Schultz, he was one of the bartenders, he could get into some trouble, but he could dance, he was just smooth as silk. He danced wherever he damn well pleased. He'd take a couple of swings on the dancefloor then go back and do the bartending. Willie Dunkel was another character, he was Willie-burn-your-shirt. I don't know how it came about, he just got into a frenzy one night and he burned his shirt right on the dance floor. So he became known as Willie-burn-your-shirt, and every night by the end of the night somebody would start the chant “Willie burn your shirt.” It was like the burning of the shirt ceremony. One night he didn't get so far and he set his polyester shirt on fire. It stunk up the place and it started sticking to him. They had to douse him. The smoke from the polyester set off the fire alarm. The firemen came in and that’s when we got fired for a while. We could get away with most anything but you can't have the fire marshal coming in.

R.S.: We had this guy Ramon, our first roadie. He was a bartender at Luigi’s. After one gig he said “I’m gonna make you guys all a special drink,” and he’s splashing alcohol all over the place, and so at the very end we find out that these are drinks you’ve got to light on fire. So he starts to light them on fire and he’s got so much alcohol on him that his arms went up on flames, the guys’ all on fire and the glasses are on fire and the bar is on fire. He’s yelling “I’m on fire, I’m on fire!” This other bartender, Too-tall Tim, comes running with a rag and a glass of water, splashing it all over his face and his arms and everything. He wasn’t hurt or anything, but that’s the kind of stuff that happened every week. It was always some kind of bizarre shit. It was just nuts.

Hard Rock Kid
E V: A title that saw at least two incarnations before becoming what fans are familiar with. It was a slow Sunday morning back in 1973 and I walked from my pad on Waldo Drive out by the lakefront, along Robert E. Lee Blvd., to Ferara's, a grocery store, where I picked up a Times-Picayune, and on the cover (the "lead" news!) was the picture of a wizened fellow wearing a kind of civil war era cap and a grin of sorts who had just been appointed KING OF THE HOBOS, and he went by the name of the Hard Rock Kid.

Like Dreamers Do
D.M.: Wow... the Dream Palace. The thing I most recall is how "right" it seemed. It never felt like we were performing, rather like we were providing the musical landscape for that night's expedition. And the weirdest weird never seemed weird. Even the guy who used to just stare up at the mural of the universe on the ceiling, or the girl with the bullwhip-dildo and the Willie-burn-your-shirt guy. Not too long before we got there the second floor was a brothel. Before it was opened up into the big clubhouse it became, there was a center hall with 10 or 12 six foot by 10 foot little "bedrooms."

E.V: How 'bout the Toga party? I've still got the cassettes and talk about "just like music but only different"!!! Every couple of years, around the second bottle of wine, I put a cassette of the occasion in my machine and I can't make heads nor tails out of any of it. It sure is "only different."

D.M: Jeez, the Toga party. That was where Walter Beck was outside in his Toga and nothing else dancing on top of cars as they stopped in front of the DP. Lady Luck must have lived there (and all her cousins and aunts and uncles, as well) because he couldn't even manage to get arrested. In fact, none of us ever were. On top of that, one night I was loading my gear in the trunk of my car and drove all the way back to my apartment at Jefferson and Prytania and realized that I had left my 1956 Fender Telecaster by the curb where I was parked. Drove all the way back and there it was waiting for me. Lady Luck loves a drunk.

R.S.: I loved the Dream Palace because it was always an intense gig. The audience was totally there to go down whatever road we were going to go. The wildest thing I ever saw in my life was at the Dream Palace, when we played the toga party.
It was right after Animal House came out. Halloween was coming up and they wanted to have a dry run party before Halloween and decided on a toga party based on Animal House. Well, no matter what happened at Halloween, it was pale in comparison to what happened that night at the Dream Palace. Most of the people had on togas which only lasted for about half an hour so basically after half an hour, half of the people were naked running around. The pool table had kind of a little buffet setup on it, but eventually that was just a table where some girl kept on getting screwed by about 10 different guys. There were people fucking on the bar. And when you go upstairs to the dress room of the Dream Palace, there were naked people lying all over the stairs, drunk, passed out, everybody’s on acid. It started spilling out into the street, and it was so hard to get up and down the stairs that people started climbing up those poles to the balcony to get up and down so they didn’t have to fight the stairs. Half of these people there didn’t have any clothes on, and then it got to where somebody is in middle of the street with no clothes on and the traffic’s jamming up because everybody’s in the street. The police said they had reports as far as six blocks away, complaints of people wandering around with no clothes on, screaming and yelling, you can’t imagine how insane this thing was that night. I remember we played “Morgus the Magnificent.” It basically kind of encapsulated what the Dream Palace was all about.

C.B.: There was a lot of carryover from Luigi’s to the Dream Palace. Frenchmen Street didn’t have the number of clubs it has now. There were a whole lot of Tulane students. Barney Kilpatrick was on the Tulane radio station and I think he was instrumental in getting us to play on the Tulane quad. We won a lot of fans there and through the years those fans have followed us. A lot of those people ended up in different states and cities and when we would come there they’d phone everybody they knew. That eventually developed into the various krewes of Rads fans around the country.

Have A Little Mercy
D.M. It’s a harder sounding guitar only song, which there are only five or six of (Zeke plays percussion, no keyboards) and I really like it when the vocal harmonies sound so right and easy. We're not very strong in the vocal harmony department. That was always a main thing with my music before the Radiators (country rock and soul music and Brit Invasion type stuff) and I really like it when the Rads can pull it off.
Camile and I used to really work out guitar stuff but mostly do it instinctively now, we've been doing this so long that we just sorta fall in to complementary parts, voicings and chord shapes, on stage, and sometimes it doesn't become readily apparent that we should try other voicings until we're in the fine-tuning setting of a recording studio. Licks and guitar harmonies have to be worked out, sometimes in advance, sometimes right before the show.
I don't think we lost our whimsy on stage during the Epic years so much as tried a half-assed attempt at playing the "Music Biz Game." There were only certain gigs and cities where we tried to be more of a showbiz band and less of the "spirit of the Dream Palace" entity. Truthfully, I think at least some of us subconsciously realized that we were not gonna be very good at playing by the rules. Ed and I realized when listening back to this older, no-longer-played-live stuff, that we were more ambitious in songs taking left hand turns and with more complicated parts, probably because we were on the road much less and rehearsed a lot more and didn't have so many hotels and airports eating our lives.

R.S.: Signing with Epic put us on the road big time. They had a hard time pigeon-holing us because, with something like 2000 original songs, it was hard for them to figure out an angle to put us in. We didn’t really even get pigeon-holed as a southern band as much as a roots rock band because at that time, that was the thing. That was the catch word, roots rock, Springsteen, Petty. That whole genre was getting ready to make it big.
By the time of our second Epic album Zigzagging Through Ghostland bands were being dropped and tour support had dried up. We ended up begging to be cut. Most bands would have broken up ever before that point, but through all of that stuff there was always this feeling of “this is the band; what are we going to do if we break up? Then what? There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever be in a band this good again. How are you going to find a songwriter this good?”
The Allman Brothers asked me to audition, but we all had this kind of feeling, like this is it. This is the band. And, the idea of breaking up, I don’t think was even anything that was a consideration. That just wasn’t even an option. The same thing happened with the Neville Brothers a year after the band got together; they asked me to audition for them.

Songs From the Ancient Furnace
E.V.: Some things just have their time and then that's it. We did re-learn it briefly within about three years of its original run (circa 92-94). Later, when "Soul On Fire" became this beautifully grooving song on its own, that somehow lent a sense of scrapheap to "Songs..."
R. S.: I’m really sorry that Ed doesn’t write this kind of stuff anymore because I thought those are some of the more interesting things that we did, like “Songs From the Ancient Furnace” and “# 2 Pencil,” which is basically in a concerto form where you have a lot of pieces that you never to back to, but they’re all connected. To me, “Songs…” didn’t work because I don’t think we ever really tweaked it enough so that when we changed from one part to another it was never really smooth like in “# 2 Pencil.” I thought that if we had really analyzed it we could have gotten it. So we kind of dropped it, and the only really official version I know is on the CD right now. Ed’s kind of moved away from that, but I thought it was a chance with the band to really shine doing those kind of complex arrangements. Now, we do a lot of jamming and stuff like that, and that’s great and we’re good at doing it, but I do kind of miss doing the big gigantic orchestrated thing because I think it shows up well against the kind of jamming that we do.

Wild and Free
E.V.: "Wild and Free," I wrote not long after I had moved to Minneapolis, in early '91. The song, musically, was written with more harmonic twists and turns, but, like so much of what eventually becomes emblematic of the Rads ("Raindancer," "Doctor Doctor," "Seven Devils"), I simplified the tune to fit well within the repeating piano motif that intros the song, and it didn't take long, once I'd injected the tune into a gig, for it to become a likable staple. W&F says it all in the lyrics. It's a song of thanksgiving. The band sings it to the audience and the audience sings it to the band.... the graceful and grateful conviviality of community.

D.M.: The sessions at Nothing Studios, although financed and overseen by outsiders with a ringer producer on board, were not micro-managed like the Epic stuff. We were pretty much left to our own devices. For instance: the middle "psychedelic" section of Crazy Mona. I actually took an ADAT rough mix copy home and put that whole section together in my home studio and then brought it back, got Camile to play a guitar harmony on the end piece of that middle section and then we re-inserted it into the two inch multi-track. The producer Jim Gaines was encouraged to share his opinions, which were quite often very helpful, but we really called the shots.

Girl with the Golden Eyes
E.V.: Like a certain number of titles, this appears throughout my books and tapes several times ("Nail Your Heart To Mine" is another example). There's actually another version of “Eyes” on Lost Radio Hour, my trio CD from Minneapolis '92, with pretty much the lyrics I sing now, but with a feel something like a slower, slanted Tangle. Often, for me, a title will call forth a song, but it's got to be the right one, the song the title most needs...and fortunately I've given myself the slack to pursue this sometimes elusive puzzle; sometimes I've been lucky and sometimes I just didn't have the wit to give up and just kept hanging on like a dang fool....

D. M.: “Girl With the Golden Eyes,” that's one of the songs that we learned on stage. I've always stressed that nothing is more important than the song itself and sometimes the song tells you what to write/play. I seem to have some knack for coming up with signature guitar parts that sound like they belong to the song. It's been that way since the first original we ever learned, "Red Dress." My fingers started playing that lick. Usually the song dictates what I write/play with not a whole lot of scientific type thought put into it, but the time frame where we learned Girl With the Golden Eyes and Wild and Free and Seven Devils and Lovely You was also the time frame where we were doing a lot of gigs with Mark Mullins as the sixth Rad, and for those songs I was thinking not only of what suited the song but also what might sound cool with Mark doubling the parts I play on trombone.

R. S.: It’s kind of funny because sometimes you think “If we only had done this, or if we only would have done that,” kind of hindsight second-guessing. But, when you get to it, the bottom line is, here we are 30 years later, and we’re still together and we’re still playing gigs, maybe all those bad decisions ended up cumulatively being good decisions because bands that made the right decisions are history. You don’t even remember who they are anymore. Especially at CBS, an album will come out, this guy’s going to be the next Michael Jackson, he’s going to be the next whatever; I can’t even think of the guy’s name now because you haven’t hear of him in 20 years, and there’re tons of bands like that. They made all the right decisions, and say for a year or two, they might have been flying real high, but then they all get in a fight, they break up. And, also one of the things, I think too, that made it easy for the band to negotiate a lot of the stuff is Ed cutting the band in on his publishing. That, I think, went a long way with the band, subconsciously, at least, making a go at it because with a lot of songwriters, they’re going to keep all of their royalties. Ed’s attitude was I’m writing the songs, but these guys are coming up with ideas and changing the songs sometimes radically. So he kind of felt like everybody’s contributing to the songs, everybody ought to get something, and I think in that kind of generous spirit, everybody felt included and nobody felt left out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How about those wetlands?

While channel surfing to watch the media's seamless transition from Olympics coverage to sports reporting about politics I witnessed a truly astonishing moment. There, on Hanninny (lol) and Colmes, was Attila the Hun's apologist Mary Matalin tossing a toy football with the purple and gold colors of sweet old Louisiana. Matalin was in a giddy mood at the prospect of having dodged "the bitch" in the general election thanks to a Shakesperian turn by our doomed political Hamlet Barack Obama. "I know you're an LSU fan" Hanninny joked, then Matalin delivered a priceless pitch for our friends at the Save Our Wetlands project, mentioning the rate of erosion of Louisiana's coastline -- on FOX news! -- and playfully tossing the ball in the air. Hanninny eyed the missle like it was red kryptonite and changed the subject. But Matalin injected some realpolitik into the dizzying spin of election coverage and its presence was bloody raw. Neither side has given anything more than lip service to the systemic destruction of south Louisiana that is taking place right now. SAVE OUR WETLANDS!!! REBUILD NEW ORLEANS!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thriller at Saratoga

Colonel John's Travers victory Saturday was an object lesson in what makes horse racing such a great sport. Even the jockeys didn't know who won as they crossed the wire -- Robbie Albarado was so sure that his horse Mambo in Seattle was the winner he raised his whip in triumph. But close plays aren't decided by umpires in horseracing and the photo finish showed that Garret Gomez had Colonel John's nose down at the right moment in the head-bobbing finish to the Travers, which lived up to its reputation as one of America's great races.

By the way, can we please stick a fork in Pyro once and for all? This perennial moneyburner finished third as the once again overbet favorite. His reputation was made by running past a herd of goats in the Louisiana Derby in a finishing time that was a second slower than the filly stake on the same day. He tanked in the Derby, skipped the Preakness and Belmont, and came into the Travers favored off a second-place finish in the Jim Dandy. Trainer Steve Asmussen has tried to link this horse to Horse of the Year Curlin ever since he paired them in workouts this past winter at Fair Grounds. Curlin is special, although he's burned a lot of money in big races too (last year's Belmont, for instance), but Pyro is just another one run horse who needs to have inferior runners falling apart in front of him to make the finish line in time.

Here's a suggestion for a real Triple Crown. Toss the Preakness, which is run too close to the Kentucky Derby and has lost most of its historic luster, and replace it with the Travers, a true test of champions. The Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes would stretch the series out to give horses enough time to run a true effort. Right now the crown rewards a horse that can be at peak form over a five week period. By making the Travers the third leg the saga would play out over three and a half months and the Midsummer Derby, already a great race, would crown the champion. British racing stretches its Triple Crown across the breadth of the racing season. There's no reason why it can't be done here. As for tradition, if you look back to the early days of the Triple Crown the races were juggled around a number of times.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lee Boys smoke Sullivan Hall

The Lee Boys – guitarist Alvin Lee, steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier, bassist Alvin Cordy Jr. and drummer Earl Walker -- brought their version of "sacred steel" to Sullivan Hall Thursday for a blistering two-hour set of guitar stringbending and rhythmic undulation.

The first half of the set consisted of a fierce jam on two Stevie Wonder tunes -- "Sir Duke" and "Superstition." The vocal mikes were not working properly so the band just wailed away, playing chorus and after chorus of mindblowing guitar licks. Collier was filthy good, and Alvin played hellacious rhythm patterns and accents behind him as the bass and drums slammed out a doubletime backbeat.

Midway through the set a posse of young women right out of a Sex In the City casting call rolled into the club and began dancing madly to the obvious delight of the band. Eric Krasno joined in on lead guitar, playing fiery lines over the band's seemingly endless vamps. The crowd danced on ecstatically. After a rousing jam on "I Can't Turn You Loose" Krasno split and the band finished up with "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Though their music was born in the House of God church in Perrine, Florida, the Lee Boys sound has become a sensation with a secular audience that responds to its happy foot groove and virtuoso guitar technique.

The style was a well-kept secret until only ten years ago, when Arhoolie Records released live recordings from church services made by folklorist Robert Stone. Stone introduced several outstanding players, including Lee Boys co-founder Glenn Lee. The church soon produced its first star, Robert Randolph, who shot to the top of the jam band circuit. The Campbell Brothers emerged in Randolph's wake with a fully-realized funk rock sound that could take the paint off walls.

Much has been made of the church attempting to force the sacred steel players to choose between keeping the music in church and playing for secular audiences, but the Lee Boys were encouraged by their father, Rev. Robert E. Lee, to broaden their horizons.

“He let us take music lessons and learn other music,” says Alvin. “We were always the rebels when we first started out, playing Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire songs during the church services.”

When both Robert E. and Glenn Lee died in 2000 Alvin made the decision to bring the
Lee Boys to the outside world.

“After my father and brother died I went to the Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph and asked them for advice,” Alvin explains. “They said ‘You got to take it outside the four walls’.”

In 2002 the Lee Boys began touring and quickly translated the excitement of their church performances to the concert stage.

“We’re not preachers,” Alvin reasons. “Our job is to touch people through the music. It’s about the music, it’s not about the religion part of it.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dr. John, Wardell Quezergue, Hugh Masakela at Joel Dorn tribute

Tribute concerts can be messy affairs but somehow anything Hal Willner touches moves with an ease and grace that seems as if it were guided by angels. Celestial spirits are certainly appropriate for the surprisingly moving Willner-hosted tribute to producer/raconteur Joel Dorn, who passed away last December.

The event at Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park moved briskly through a series of performances and rememberences from a number of Dorn's family members, friends and musicians that he worked with. It struck an often humorous tone, especially during a videotape of Dorn explaining how a secretary at a New Orleans radio station told him how to edit Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw His Face" for radio play. But the music was the key, an unpredictable mix of funk, pop and blues that reflected Dorn's eclecticism and willingness to experiment.

Flack herself opened the show in one of the night's surprises -- she had an overseas commitment but altered her plans to attend. The 70s funk band Black Heat played together for the first time in 35 years and sounded so tight I wouldn't be surprised if the experience made them give it another try. Kevin Calabro, who worked with Dorn on his latest productions for the 32 Jazz label, offered a particularly moving tribute to his boss. The Persuasions made an unannounced appearance to sing "The 10 Commandments of Love" and longtime Dorn buddy Stewart Levine introduced another surprise guest, Hugh Masakela, who provided one of the musical highlights of the night with a beautiful solo trumpet piece dedicated to Dorn.

New Orleans arranger Wardell Quezergue was supposed to accompany Aaron Neville for a performance of "Mona Lisa," but Neville canceled, the only blemish on the night's lineup. Quezergue showed up anyway, though, and made it onstage in a wheelchair to conduct a recorded version of the song. It was a sweet moment that said plenty about Quezergue's regard for the music.

The performance of the night came from another New Orleans native, Mac Rebennack aka Dr. John, a friend of Dorn's who had turned over an archive of his unreleased recordings for Dorn to release as a special project on his label. Unfortunately only two of those releases made it out before Dorn passed and the series is now on hold.

"Jo-el wanted me to record this song," said Mac, before playing a soulful solo interpretation of "April Showers" completely stripped of the maudlin overtones the song has been draped with over the years. Mac was then joined by guitarist Cornell Dupree, who Dr. John introduced with typical linguistic playfulness: "He's played on so many sessions somebody didn't even know he played on their session." The duo went on to play "Thing's Won't Be the Same," an appropriate commentary on the passing of an American musical legend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

John Swenson wins Press Club of New Orleans Awards

John Swenson has been awarded first place in the Entertainment category by the Press Club of New Orleans for the article "Every Accordionist A King" published in OffBeat magazine in 2007.

The Press Club of New Orleans celebrated its 50th anniversary with a dinner at Harrah's Hotel. At the event, hosted by NBC News anchor Hoda Kotb, Greg Shepperd of WDSU-TV was introduced as president of the Press Club for 2008-09. Terry Westerfield of the United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area served as awards chairwoman.
Three Louisiana college students received journalism scholarships at the ceremony: Lauren LaBorde and Briana Prevost of Loyola University and Kevin Sims, a student at Louisiana Tech University

Swenson also received an award for third place in the Critical Review category for "Songs of Innocence and Experience"; and an honorable mention in the Feature category for the article "The Blue Room Blues."

Here are links to the stories:

Every Accordionist A King

Songs of Innocence and Experience

Blue Room Blues

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nappy Brown Needs Your Support

Last month we described the heroic performance of blues legend Nappy Brown, who collapsed onstage during his show at Michael Arnone's Crawfish Festival on June 1.

Brown was helped offstage by paramedics and taken to the hospital. He made it home to Charlotte, North Carolina, but has been hospitalized ever since.

The rhythm and blues pioneer had been enjoying a heady career resurgence since the release of his universally acclaimed CD, Long Time Coming, on Blind Pig Records. Brown received two Blues Music Award nominations and turned in a show-stopping performance at the recent BMA awards ceremony.

Brown's summer tour, including a number of festival dates, has been canceled due to his illness. In the meantime, Chuck Jackson and other board members of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation have been very supportive during this difficult time.

It is uncertain when he will be released, and doctors view his condition as serious. This extended stay in the hospital is a lonely and trying time for Nappy. If you would like to send get-well cards or pass on your appreciation you may send to:
Napolean Culp
c/o Carolinas Medical Center
1000 Blythe Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28203