Friday, May 29, 2009

Assembly of Dust offers downloads of new songs

In a forward thinking move that upends the standard album release formula, Assembly Of Dust has created an innovative fan program that lives up to the album title 'Some Assembly Required.' In advance of the release of their new album, out July 21 on Missing Piece/Rock Ridge Music, the band will give their fans a chance to have their very own a part of the album, giving away 7 of the albums 13 tracks as free downloads at the bands website:

Beginning June 2, a new track will be available for free download every Tuesday leading up to release. Each download will be available for a limited time.

The schedule is:
June 2: "High Brow" - Featuring Al Schnier (moe)
June 9: "Leadbelly" - Featuring Jerry Douglas
June 16: "Arc of the Sun" - Featuring Mike Gordon (Phish)
June 23: "All That I am Now" - Featuring Richie Havens
June 30: "Borrowed Feet" - Featuring John Scofield
July 7: "Straight" - Featuring Theresa Andersson
July 14: "Pedal Down" - Featuring The Gabbard Brothers (Buffalo Killers)

Koko Taylor recovering from surgery


Koko Taylor, 80, Grammy Award-winning "Queen of the Blues," is recovering from
surgery to correct a gastrointestinal bleed. The surgery was performed on May 19
at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Her doctors anticipate a full
recovery. Taylor is not accepting visitors or phone calls at this time.

Taylor's most recent live performance was at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis,
TN, on May 7, 2009. She performed her signature song, "Wang Dang Doodle," after
receiving the award for Traditional Blues Female Blues Artist Of The Year. This
was Taylor's 29th Blues Music Award, making her the recipient of more Blues
Music Awards than any other artist. In addition, she has received the NEA
National Heritage Fellowship Award, which is among the highest honors given to
an American artist. Her most recent CD, 2007’s Old School, was nominated for a
Grammy (eight of her nine Alligator Records albums were Grammy-nominated). She
won a Grammy in 1984 for her guest appearance on the compilation album Blues
Explosion on Atlantic Records.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another Bugsy sighting

Brian "Bugsy" Watson was one of my favorite hockey players in the old days and I'm lucky enough to be friends with his son Steve Watson, co-owner of the Kingpin and a member of $1000 Car. The New York Rangers' Sean Avery prompted New York Post columnist Larry Brooks to recall Bugsy in a column last month, and today's New York Times has a piece on the Red Wings-Blackhawks series that also references Bugsy:

Always good for a laugh

One thing you've got to say for New Orleans: with all the political corruption, broken promises and partisan bickering it's a comedy gold mine. The local comedy magazine The Levee has been scoring hit after hit attacking giant pinatas like David Vitter and Ray Nagin, plus it had the best Jazz Fest coverage in the city, with a front page headline about Quint Davis hiring the deceased Clarence Gatemouth Brown to headline Jazz Fest and a lengthy testimonal piece from New Orleans musicians about the validity of Bon Jovi (Kermit Ruffins describing Richie Sambora's influence on his trumpet playing is one of the best pieces of music writing I've read since Lester Bangs passed away).
Even more impressive is the online newsletter nola.fugees, which mixes satire with relevant political reporting you won't see in Gambit or the Times Picayune and profiles of local Ninth Ward homesteaders. The current issue has a terrific piece on my neighbor Tanya Solomon's home on St. Claude Avenue, a real story about life in New Orleans that explains why she had to destroy her own stoop in her ongoing fight with crack dealers. Solomon's Wonder Farm Cabaret puts on its last performance today (Sunday 5/24 at the Hi-Ho Lounge).
The site also has a pictoral essay on the messy Piety Street wharf fire.
By all means check out:

Friday, May 22, 2009

To hell with critics

When it comes to critical observations, I think it's important to point out that no one's personal choices are any better than anyone else's. Everyone has their own reasons for aesthetic response to the world around them. Those who insist on being gatekeepers are liars. They are no better than politicians. I have spent my life reviewing musical performances and I know for sure that my opinions are worthless. At least I'm willing to admit it. If my words can illuminate something I've heard to the point where someone else understands why I was so moved then I have done a good job.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Twitting aimlessly

Following the twit progress I can definitely see its value for quick info exchanges but it's disastrous as a thought exchange. The 140 character limit does not lead to pithy epithets, it leads to incomplete thoughts masquerading as meaningful messages. This is very dangerous in a communications world already so imperiled by short attention spans. Now people can't even follow their own train of thought.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

JS Thursday nite on Rutgers radio

Check out my guest shot on "The Low Budget Blues Show" Thursday night on WRSU-FM, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 88.7FM, 9-11 EDT.
You can hear the live stream of the show here:

Digital downloads from

Zappa Records has begun selling official digital downloads (ODDs) directly from with the 41st anniversary release of 'MOTHERMANIA,' which also marks the 45th anniversary of Frank Zappa & The Mothers:
The album is available in 256kbps MP3 or lossless FLAC format.
On May 10, 1964, Frank Zappa named his band the Muthers, ie The Mothers, making May 10 the official Mothers Day for his fans. His record company insisted on the change of name to Mothers of Invention.
May 15, 2009 is Ahmet Zappa's 35th birthday.
'MOTHERMANIA' Track Listing:
1. Brown Shoes Don't Make It 2. Mother People 3. Duke Of Prunes 4. Call Any Vegetable 5. The Idiot Bastard Son 6. It Can't Happen Here 7. You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here 8. Who Are The Brain Police? 9. Plastic People 10. Hungry Freaks, Daddy 11. America Drinks & Goes Home

Monday, May 11, 2009

Festival season in New Orleans ends, for now

And so another festival season in New Orleans comes to an end, with the grace notes of Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher playing duets on a Sunday afternoon at Snug Harbor, then the New Orleans Leviathan Foxtrot Orchestra performing in the sultry evening for a languid but fully absorbed group of picnicers and dancers. d.b.a. had a good crowd for Coco Robicheaux but you could still move around in the club and order a drink. The tourist-gorged streets of the french quarter have returned to their thoughtful sleepy ways and this ancient city once again starts its unhurried pace. Political infighting over power and money resumes its sordid hold on a city that can express outrage yet returns scoundrels like Ray Nagin to office. Nagin, who will thankfully be unceremoniously dumped before he can do any more damage as mayor (don't give him Michael Bloomberg's phone number) thanks to the term limit law, was once known for the scurrilous race baiting of his second mayoral campaign in which he vowed that New Orleans would be returned to "Chocolate City." The African Americans who voted for this ruse have been the most cruelly served by a mayor whose interest in governing has been markedly devoid of a plan to resurrect any part of the city beyond the tourist and business enclaves. It seems likely that Nagin's ultimate defining statement is that he doesn't remember taking an unethical first class trip to Jamaica with his family in the awful days after Katrina, when the city
hadn't even fully accounted for its dead. It was all "a blur" lied this former CEO, who knows how to manipulate the levers of power to serve his own ends. Clancy Dubos wrote a great editorial about Nagin's character in the current Gambit Weekly, a powerful piece of oratory that will follow Nagin around like a ghost of Christmas past over his last miserable months in office.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was a great success and a credit to the city. Quint Davis and his expert organization has done an amazing job of shepherding some of the city's most vulnerable musical resources in the wake of the flood of 2005. Even if the neighborhoods that nurtured the Mardi Gras Indians and brass band second lines don't survive, they will always be represented in force at the festival. Many of the organizations were so thinned out after the storm that they had share members to help each other out in live performance, just as many of the city's musicians played in numerous local bands during Jazz Fest. An army of reporters descended on New Orleans to document the 40th anniversary of this crucial piece of American history, using every resource at their disposal, from pen and ink to Twitter, to spread the news. At a time when they are fighting what appears to be a losing battle of their own, these reporters deserve credit for the selfless zeal in which they ply their vocation to keep a curious public informed. Be sure to check the future pages of OffBeat for some of the most salient observations on New Orleans culture by a staff that includes yours truly and the inestimable Alex Rawls.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Theresa Andersson on Assembly of Dust album

Assembly of Dust's new album is a showcase for the exceptional songwriting talents of band leader Reid Genauer. Out July 21, on Missing Piece/Rock Ridge Music, 'Some Assembly Required' highlights his most accomplished and engaging songs to date, with a knock-out cast of collaborators lending a hand.

The latest (and final) addition is recent breakout success Theresa Andersson, who's just wrapped recording with the band for the song "Straight," newly reworked and confirmed for inclusion on the upcoming release.

Twits not wits

Gotta say since I joined twitter and started reading the posts it seems like an awful lot of mental energy is being sucked down the drain. Plus people are wrecking trains and getting into car accidents while being twits. I really don't want to know what all my friends are doing every minute of the day, either. It kind of reminds me of those three hour teenage phone calls. I'm going to keep at it meanwhile just to see if I have any conceptual breakthrough on its worth. Meanwhile I'm totally committed to blogging as a communications exercise, like an instant pamphlet. Here's a link to a great piece of video outside what used to be the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bon Jovi fans suck

So it was going to come to this. Jazz Fest was eventually going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by insisting on expanding its audience past the point where the people care anything about New Orleans or the city's musical heritage. The fans who came out to see Bon Jovi on Saturday finally proved the point. Their were only interested in seeing their boy and watched Dr. John's warmup set with glazed animosity. One guy in the front spent much of the set vigorously giving the thumbs down to Dr. John: "Get off the stage!" Make way for Bon Jovi, right? What a joke! I guess we ought to be thankful that Mac wasn't showered with a steady chorus of boos or pelted with garbage. So I guess we'll move on to Ozzy or perhaps Metallica next year.