While I can’t claim to be a great devotee of jazz I have been aware of it since being a teen in the 1950s. I remember people like Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and that’s probably where my limited knowledge of jazz began. I also need to mention Mad Magazine since they often featured cool characterizations of players like Dizzy Gillespie and Charley Parker. I mean, if jazz was good enough for Mad, it must be something I needed to be aware of.
I was an early convert to folk music back in the 1950s and one of the first songs I learned to play on my cheap Harmony guitar was Freight Train. Like so many folk songs I just assumed the author was long gone and long forgotten.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I discovered Elizabeth Cotton, the very old and very talented lady who on her cheap Sears & Roebuck guitar, wrote the folk classic, Freight Train.
My son introduced me to a very young Taiwanese ukelele player named Feng E. It was a video of him sitting in the back of his mom’s car doing unworldly things with a uke.
The next day I did a search on YouTube and came across this kid playing a 6-string guitar and performing a very complicated number he’d written. I remarked to my son that the boy’s style reminded me of Tommy Emmanuel and my son told me that this kid has appeared on stage with Emmanuel doing the old Mason Williams number, Classical Gas.
First of all, we’re not talking Austin Power’s shag here, we’re talking about popular dances! As a kid growing up in Greenfield, OH in the 1950s being able to jitterbug earned you just a little higher step on the socially desirable ladder. We waltzed, we foxtrotted, we twisted, we strolled, but those who were really cool jitterbugged and we jitterbugged differently than what we thought anyone else did.
You could, as we did, run home after school and catch American Bandstand and those Philadelphia kids just weren’t cool because they didn’t jitterbug as we did. Their steps just weren’t as smooth and crisp as ours and there wasn’t the refined coordination between partners like there was with us.
There seems to be a movement afoot throughout America. A manic movement to decorate old brick walls with colorful, artistic, and/or historical murals. Possibly the earliest I noticed were huge murals along Cincinnati’s Central Ave. More recently we have visited the historical flood wall artworks of Portsmouth which have become a major visitor draw. The most common visit I’m aware of is to tour the flood walls and then have supper at the Scioto Ribber.
Wilmington has a growing crop of excellent murals in its business district and several years ago Greenfield’s Community Market adorned its east wall with a trio of mostly historical murals. Not sure it’s a mural but I like what the Zint’s do with the Corner Pharmacy wall. The first murals I recall in Greenfield were those painted by Eddie Tipton back in the 1970s. I remember those being more folk art like and I believe most of have faded into the pages of time.
I’ve written about Sister Rosetta Tharpe at least one other time. She is arguably one of the most important persons in the history and development of Rock and Roll music. All one has to do is listen to here guitar rifts and you’ll hear what the Chuck Berry’s of rock built their sound on. Tharpe showed them the path.
Anyway, I came across an article about the Sister that I wanted to share with you rock historians. It was written by James Jordan for The Writing Cooperative and contains a couple of examples of her music. Click the photo below to read James Jordan’s article. Enjoy.
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I don’t speak Italian and have no formal education regarding opera. I just enjoy hearing the wonderful voices of people like Pavoratti. I came across this video of him singing in a quartet of great voices. Now I have to deal with a personal question. Did I enjoy this clip because of the music or the abundance of full-frontal cleavage? Kind of like why you enjoyed Playboy. The truth was you enjoyed the nudity and the monthly centerfold. Some tried to claim, however, that they bought it just for the articles.
Back in the ’50s, it was quite common to see bent willow furniture sitting on people’s porches and patios. A childhood friend had two chairs on their porch and I always loved sitting in them. They were handmade by an older man who lived in a small shack along a nearby creek. The creek and surrounding wetlands gave him all the raw materials he needed.
He would build single chairs as well as couches and side tables. The fellow didn’t have a car or truck so he pushed a large two-wheeled cart loaded with his furniture up and down the village streets peddling his wares. On days he didn’t have furniture to sell he would push his cart around town hauling away people’s scrap metals and newspapers.
I believe the only piece of willow furniture we ever had was a small child’s rocking chair that one of our daughters used for her children.
Several years ago I was driving through the Florida Panhandle and came upon a large pickup truck with a cab-over rack. The vehicle was heavily loaded with beautiful bent willow furniture. I don’t know where they were from or where they were going but I sure wish I’d chased them down and brought a couple of chairs home.
It’s been a long time since I gave the subject any thought but today I came across a video of a young man in Kentucky who’s keeping the craft alive. If I wasn’t so damned old now I’d look the guy up and place an order. I’ll post the video below and hopefully, this will bring back some pleasant memories for you.
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I was digging around the Internet and came across an article from Rolling Stone Magazine about some of the various collaborations Chuck Berry performed with other personalities. I found them historically interesting and thought some of you might also enjoy them. Click on the button to be linked to the RS story and videos.
Justin Johnson has been in Nashville for several months working at Cash Cabin on a new double album, Drivin’ it Down. This one is different in that he’s using a whole band along with vocalists. Among the songs recorded was Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode but they had no plans to video and release it until Chuck Berry suddenly passed away.
Drivin’ it Down will be released on April 1, 2017 and may be ordered from Justin’s website.
Album credits include:
•Filmed and Recorded at Cash Cabin Studio, Nashville TN
•3x GRAMMY Award Winning Artist Bill Miller on Vocals
•Justin Johnson on Lead Guitar
•Executive Producer of “Drivin’ It Down,” Ian McDonald, on Rhythm Guitar
I don’t know when I first heard Bolero but my best guess would be in the late 1960s while in college. I just remember being smitten by it, totally consumed. In the late 70s I bought a high-end stereo system and a new vinyl of Bolero. I was between marriages and building a new house. Living alone I would put Bolero on the turntable, turn on the repeat button, and listen to this magnificent crescendo while working on the home. I remember stopping occasionally and pretending like I was conducting the LA Philharmonic using my hammer as a baton.
The only other musical piece that had such an effect on me was the musical score from Les Miserable. I’m soon to be seventy-five years old and my hearing is shot to hell. Some great degree of the loss is probably a result of traveling with Bolero and Les Mis’ blasting from my car’s stereo system. At least I can say I lost my ear hairs to a class act!
Many of you know I’m a huge fan of Playing for Change. The effort to bring the world’s people together through the universal language of music. I cut my liberal teeth on the protest music of the 1950s and 60s and PforP just today released a new video containing a y. If ever the need for continued protest was appropriate, this is it.
Enjoy, pat your feet, clap your hands, and then somehow join the resistance movement. We have a long way to go!
We have a very accomplished niece, Erin Michael, who is a silversmith and gemologists in Huntsville, AL. One of her creations was recently featured in the TV series, Vampire Warrior. The item was a set of earrings called Warrior Flames and worn by the character Caroline.
Erin Michael – Historic Lowe Mill, 2211 Seminole Drive, #128, Huntsville, AL 35805
Many of you are familiar with the music and talent of Micah Kesselring, the young Bloomingville, Ohio blues musician who has twice appeared at Greenfield events.
Micah has several CD collections on the market and has started an Indiegogo project to help fund another one. Indiegogo is a major crowd sourcing company and is often used by musicians to make themselves known and help fund their creations. I’ve participated in several and always gotten a sense of satisfaction, along with a copy of the CD, for my contribution. I’ll never be a Renaissance Medici type patron of the arts but for a couple of bucks I can feel a little warm and fuzzy.
To make a contribution to Micah’s project you can give as little as a buck and get back a thank you. For a little more you can get a thank you and the right to download his new CD when available. For a lot of money he’ll come to your home, prepare you a great vegetarian meal, and sing you a few ballads. Want to help out a starving artist? Click on the Indiegogo logo or the album cover below.