Speaking of Reggie Watts (“Bob Dylan in the 80s”), he recently put out a new song titled “Get Ready.” From someone who comes up with a lot of highly-charged improvised music in his comedy performances, this track plays it straight, and to these ears it’s just an extremely listenable and groovy piece of old-school pop and soul. Continue reading Reggie Watts – “Get Ready”
An album to be released on March 25th will feature a curious plethora of artistes performing versions of various Bob Dylan songs which Dylan originally released between 1980 and 1990. It may seem an odd decade to be celebrated in this fashion, but I believe that’s also kind of the idea.
Personally, I’ve always had a special affection for Dylan’s work during the 1980s, quirks and all, but it is difficult for me to objectively discern whether this is due more to the music itself or to the timing: I came of age as a Bob Dylan fan during that decade. I was about 16 when Infidels was out, and I was becoming a fan with help from my friend Brendan and his older brothers’ stash of records. Empire Burlesque in 1985 was therefore the first Dylan album whose release I anticipated with spine-tingly excitement, rushing to the record store to buy. (Note to younger readers: “record stores” were box-like structures, just sitting on the street, with people inside them, where we would walk, barefoot at times, to obtain recorded music that had been scratched onto black vinyl discs or magnetically applied to ferrous tapes, in exchange for pieces of paper and coins that the people in the record store—and ultimately also the musicians—could then use to purchase food for themselves. This system worked quite well until Al Gore invented the MP3.) Continue reading Coming Soon: Bob Dylan in the 80s
Perhaps the first cover version Bob Dylan ever seriously took on was the Johnny Mercer / Harold Arlen tune, “Accentuate the Positive.” He sang it for relatives, at the age of four, after first insisting that everyone must keep very quiet. It became a part of Zimmerman family lore: it was the moment when people first said, “That kid’s a genius!” Continue reading Accentuate the Positive
Oh, indeed, we are still very much on our Welsh kick, and with St. David’s Day fast approaching, who knows what may be in store?
This, however, is something very special which recently came to our attention. In 1957, some coal miners from the Welsh village of Rhosllannerchrugog—Welsh is such delightful language!—made a one-off recording, which has now been restored and remastered and re-released by “Moochin About” records. From the official write-up:
When the singing miners of Rhos Male Voice Choir came to London to make this record in St. Mark’s Church, St. John’s Wood, some of them wore bandages. The previous night there had been an accident—fortunately a minor one—in the colliery where they work. Others carried the scars of a more distant date. All of them carried tragic memories of the Gresford pit disaster which shocked the nation in 1934 and resulted in the loss of 266 lives.
There are many great Welsh male voice choir recordings, of-course, if one seeks them out. Continue reading Music from the Welsh Mines – Rhos Male Voice Choir
[Editor’s note: It’s a privilege to here publish this kind, wise and unflinching remembrance of the recently-passed-on Pete Seeger from Bob Cohen (aka Cantor Bob), who knew him, sang with him, and for a time traveled with him.]
I am writing about my mentor and one-time hero of beloved memory, Pete Seeger, or as young women called him back in the day: “Pete’s eager!” I learned so much about the rich, humorous, plaintive, and energetic repertoire of the folks of the U.S.A. and also all over the world from Pete. And I learned from him how to get people to sing sitting under his Adam’s apple at Carnegie Hall or at a hootenanny on the Upper West Side of NYC.
Pete always used humor. He would say: “If you sing a wrong note call it harmony!” His banjo was like a magic wand that got even the grouchy to exhale a rousing chorus, be it: “We Shall Overcome” or “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes”—both based on Black Gospel songs.
I first heard Pete as I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s and the folk revival was starting on its way. Charity Bailey, our music teacher at the Little Red School House, had filled us for years with the songs of railroad workers, sailors, farmers, and prisoners—from “Drill Ye Terriers, Drill” to “The Midnight Special.” It was quite a distance away from the old school songs such as “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” and “Home Sweet Home” tho I still love those old-fashioned passionate love songs. Pete was on the radio and on records (78 rpm discs) and sang at our school at many an assembly. Continue reading Memories of Pete Seeger
Time was that the average human being would go for a brisk walk pretty regularly, for the purpose of fetching water, or firewood, or pursuing a comely potential consort, or escaping from aggressive neighbors wielding spears, or retrieving the newspaper from the lawn. But the internet has changed all that. Now we can achieve all of those things by merely tapping our fingers. And our fingers have never been in finer shape. Continue reading Brisk Walks “Boost Your Memory”
Eilen Jewell is a singing gem from Boise, Idaho, and around 2005 she struck gold by combining her talents with guitarist Jerry G. Miller, bassist Johnny Sciascia and drummer Jason Beek in Massachusetts, and they’ve since been supplying the world with a well-poised balance of country and swing music with jazzy-torchy stylings, and a little bit of whatever else feels right mixed in. With Jewell writing the songs and providing the onstage patter in a trademark little black dress, they make for a sure-footed combo (one which has been around the world at this point) and they played to a sold-out crowd at the City Winery in New York City last night.
The set ranged from the title track of their first album, “Boundary County,” to new and as yet unreleased songs like “Rio Grande.” Eilen Jewell had the crowd fairly transfixed and charmed, and guitarist Jerry G. Miller had a sizeable fan section of his own in the house. Indeed, seeing the group live made it clear to what degree Eilen the singer and Jerry, her guitarist, are a symbiotic double-act: Jewell’s singing voice evokes words like smoky, languid, even laconic, and benefits greatly from the counterpoint of Miller’s rockabilly-esque colorings on the guitar, keeping the music chugging down the track and occasionally spitting fire. None of the tunes are overly-long, and knowing the value of brevity is just one of the many elements of good taste that Jewell and her band bring to their work. Continue reading Eilen Jewell at the City Winery in New York City
There hasn’t been a winter like this in New York City since … well, since there were wolves in Wales.
And yet at once one has to apologize, because what New York City has been experiencing is nothing compared to what others have been going through, in places like Minnesota and the Dakotas, and indeed in Georgia and North Carolina where they were just plainly unprepared for a bizarre onslaught of cold white material falling right out of the sky. Although my experience is limited, I doubt that there is any city in the world better able to deal with winter storms than New York, where the very worst blizzards only seem to succeed in slowing the city down for a couple of hours. It’s one of what seem lately to be a decreasing number of advantages to living in this city. Continue reading New York City Winter
“We will build your car.” It’s weird-ass, funny, and ultimately-even-if-inexplicably cool. In other words, it’s typical Bob Dylan, and it’s his TV commercial for the Chrysler automobile manufacturing corporation which aired during the Super Bowl today. Video embedded below via YouTube. Continue reading Bob Dylan Chrysler Commercial (w/ video)