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Category Archives: Music, From Way Back When to Now

Great finds around the WWW – with videos where possible

Fats Domino – February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017

One of the true pioneers of R&R. Fats was New Orleans, lived there, and was symbolic of the emergence of Southern R&B. Remember seeing him perform after Katrina, as he lived in the same house in NOLA. He was heartbroken. He was an institution in the City, and I hope they give him a real NOLA Homecoming!

Fats Domino, Architect Of Rock And Roll, Dead At 89

Fats in 1967

Fats Domino, one of the architects of rock ‘n’ roll, died yesterday at 89 years old at his daughter’s suburban New Orleans home. Haydee Ellis, a family friend, confirmed the news to NPR. Mark Bone, chief investigator for the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s office, tells NPR Domino died of natural causes.

In the 1940s, Antoine Domino, Jr. was working at a mattress factory in New Orleans and playing piano at night. Both his waistline and his fanbase were expanding. That’s when a bandleader began calling him “Fats.” From there, it was a cakewalk to his first million-selling record — “The Fat Man.” It was Domino’s first release for Imperial Records, which signed him right off the bandstand.

Producer, songwriter, arranger and bandleader Dave Bartholomew was there. He described the scene in a 1981 interview now housed at the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University. “Fats was rocking the joint,” Bartholomew said. “And he was sweating and playing, he’d put his whole heart and soul in what he was going, and the people was crazy about him — so that was it. We made our first record, ‘The Fat Man,’ and we never turned around.”

Between 1950 and 1963, Fats Domino hit the R&B charts a reported 59 times, and the pop charts a rollicking 63 times. He outsold Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly — combined. Only Elvis Presley moved more records during that stretch, but Presley cited Domino as the early master.

So how did a black man with a fourth-grade education in the Jim-Crow South, the child of Haitian Creole plantation workers and the grandson of a slave, sell more than 65 million records?

Domino could “wah-wah-waaaaah” and “woo-hooo!” like nobody else in the whole wide world — and he made piano triplets ubiquitous in rock ‘n’ roll. “Blueberry Hill,” for example, was not Domino’s own song — it was first published in 1940 and had already been recorded by the likes Glenn Miller, Gene Autry and Louis Armstrong — but Domino’s version in 1956, complete with those right-hand triplets, was unforgettable.

Jon Cleary is a piano player who has devoted most of his life to the New Orleans sound. “The triplets thing,” he says, “that was one of the building blocks of New Orleans R&B. And that’s really the famous Fats Domino groove. Everybody knows that.”

And then there was Dave Bartholomew. He and engineer Cosimo Matassa perfected a rhythm-heavy sound in Matassa’s studio that was the envy of rock ‘n’ roll. “Blueberry Hill” may have been Domino’s biggest hit, but Bartholomew wrote Domino’s favorite: “Blue Monday.”

“Blue Monday” had other levels of meaning in Domino’s career. In the 1950s, the birth of rock ‘n’ roll was hard labor. Social critics called the music vulgar. Jim Crow laws segregated Domino’s audiences, sometimes with only a rope. And the combination of racial tension and teenage hormones at concerts proved violent: bottle throwing, tear gas, stabbings and arrests.

Fats Domino’s biographer, Rick Coleman, says that there was a real disjunction between that era and the work that Domino was producing. “It was not an easy time period, even though the music was beautiful and joyful,” he observes. “It was a hard birth.”

By 1960, Domino’s audience was overwhelmingly white. In South Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan gave his band directions — by the light of a burning cross. The late saxophone player Herbert Hardesty was driving the Domino bus on that occasion.

“So I had to make it tight,” Hardesty recounted. “In about five minutes, I came to Ku Klux Klan. They said, ‘Well, where’s Fats Domino?’ I said, ‘He’s not here.’ They said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ I said, ‘I’m lost, I’m trying to get back to the highway.’ And they were very nice — the Ku Klux Klan treated us very nice!”

The British Invasion sent nearly every American performer tumbling down the charts. And yet longtime confidante Haydee Ellis says that Domino wouldn’t change a note. “He said, ‘When I play,” she explains, “‘I want the people to hear exactly what they’re used to hearing on the record.’ And eventually, that was one of the things that made him reluctant to play, let’s say. He was afraid that he would, you know, mess up a word or whatever.”

Domino toured for many years, but eventually settled into life at his compound in the Lower Ninth Ward, cooking loads of hog’s headcheese for his many friends. Then came Hurricane Katrina — and everybody thought Fats was dead.

“When Katrina came,” Ellis gasps, “Oh, Lord! Fats would say he wanted to leave, but he said, ‘What kind of man would I be if I left my family? They don’t want to leave.'”

The family survived. Domino lived out the post-Katrina years in a suburb of New Orleans with one of his eight children. But his house still stands on Caffin Avenue, in the Lower Ninth Ward, and has been restored in recent years. It’s a reminder of the greatness that the neighborhood once produced, of the golden age of New Orleans music — and of what a fat man can do.

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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Cardinal Shehan School Choir – “Rise Up”

Some beautiful singing by the Baltimore Cardinal Shehan School Choir. Inspiring work young folks!

Baltimore middle-schoolers’ viral rendition of ‘Rise Up’ helps soothe a troubled nation

 

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary for 11-year-old Kai Young as he arrived for a morning choir rehearsal at Cardinal Shehan School in Baltimore late last month.

He mingled with friends, suppressed any nerves he had about singing his solo and let out a voice that would eventually be heard by millions — although he had no idea of that at the time. Kai was simply singing because that’s what he loves to do.

Over the course of just a few weeks, Kai and his school’s choir have appeared on television stations, courted countless media requests and gone viral for their uplifting performance of “Rise Up” by American singer and songwriter Andra Day.

It all started when Kenyatta Hardison, the choir director, decided to record her students’ progress on a Facebook Live video for the kids’ parents.

[The ‘ironic’ friendship that convinced a former neo-Nazi to give up his swastika tattoos]

“I thought I was just singing and when she took that video I thought it was just going to be a simple video,” Kai said recently, “but it really wasn’t.”

Practice that morning was only the second time Kai and nearly 30 of his classmates in the choir had met up this school year, and they were rehearsing “Rise Up” for an upcoming gala.

As her kids got ready to sing, Hardison took out her phone and began recording live on Facebook, figuring parents would tune in to watch their children.

Hardison’s prediction was slightly off.

Since posting the video on her personal Facebook account, the original nine-minute clip has amassed nearly 3.5 million views as of Friday morning. The video quickly spread and was eventually picked up by ChoirBuzz, a choral-focused Facebook group, whose video of the Cardinal Shehan School Choir has been viewed more than 5.3 million times.

The powerful lyrics and the children’s talented voices have resonated deeply with viewers, even bringing some to tears. Several commenters shared stories of personal struggles and how the video has inspired them.

“This touched my heart so much! Keep reaching kids through music!!” a Facebook user who said she was diagnosed with breast cancer last month wrote in one of the most liked comments on the ChoirBuzz video.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Eminem Freestyle Chumph Takedown

Eminen evicerates the Chumphshit at the BET Awards…

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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And You Thought Michael Jackson Had Moves

His real name was James Isaac Moore but he adopted the stage name Slim Harpo. Just a shade behind Lightnin’ Slim in local popularity, Harpo played both guitar and neck-rack harmonica in a more down-home approximation of Jimmy Reed, with a few discernible, and distinctive, differences. Harpo‘s music was certainly more laid-back than Reed‘s, if such a notion was possible. But the rhythm was insistent and, overall, Harpo was more adaptable than Reed or most other bluesmen. His material not only made the national charts, but also proved to be quite adaptable for white artists on both sides of the Atlantic, Moore never really dedicated his life full-time to music, he owned and operated a successful trucking business in the 60’s, even while several of his songs took off and made the charts. His style was called the electric swamp blues and included elements of Delta Blues, swamp rock, and Country and Western.

Elmore James was born Elmore Brooks in Richland, Holmes County, Mississippi, the illegitimate son of 15-year-old Leola Brooks, a field hand. His father was probably Joe Willie “Frost” James, who moved in with Leola, and Elmore took his surname. He began making music at the age of 12, using a simple one-string instrument (diddley bow, or jitterbug) strung on a shack wall. As a teen he performed at dances under the names Cleanhead and Joe Willie James.During World War II, James joined the United States Navy, was promoted to coxswain and took part in the invasion of Guam. Upon his discharge, he returned to central Mississippi and settled in the town of Canton with his adopted brother Robert Holston. Working in Holston’s electrical shop, he devised his unique electric sound, using parts from the shop and an unusual placement of two DeArmond pickups

He is known as the King of the Slide Guitar.

And last but not least – Sonny Boy Williamson -He first recorded with Elmore James on “Dust My Broom“. Some of his popular songs include “Don’t Start Me Talkin’“, “Help Me“, “Checkin’ Up on My Baby“, and “Bring It On Home“. He toured Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival and recorded with English rock musicians, including the Yardbirds, the Animals, and Jimmy Page. “Help Me” became a blues standard.

 

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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I’ll Play the Blues For You

Just because it’s Thursday – The Blues in different generations

Ain’t no Love in the Heart of the City –

Little Milton – Make Me Cry

Albert Collins – If Trouble Was Money-

Otis Rush –

Non-electric blues – Lightnin Hopkins for the early 60’s –

From the early 50’s – Son House –

And Mississippi John Hurt – “Cocaine Blues”

And lastly at the edge of R&B – Howling Wolf

 
 

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Vinyl Records are Back – Sony to Make Vinyl Records in Japan

Digital music sucks. Lets face it, your Apple/Microsoft digital music is pretty bad if played on anything other than your phone or iPod equivalent. If you listen to anything that is not synthesized music, you are missing a healthy percentage of what is there. Don’t believe me? Listen to a digitally downloaded version of a Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, or Thelonious Monk compared to a Vinyl version on any decent system. Gosh! Half the music got lost in the translation.

Vinyl is the fastest growing segment (and only growing segment) of the Music distribution industry Which is why the Millennial Generation is making a fast track to buy up Turntables, old amplifiers (especially vacuum tube) and speakers capable of producing. Look at the prices of what used to be relegated to the Yard Sale table! Even modest quality turntables made by the venerable BSR are selling into the hundreds of dollars. Vacuum Tubes? Yeah, those 1930’s generation technology devices long ago replaced by the transistor in the 60’s are making a comeback because of the sound they are capable of producing. The price of a modest tube amp versus its original outperforms Uber stock. We won’t even discuss high end.

Maybe I’m an old timer – but I enjoyed record stores…except for the usual teen staff who thought somehow that playing music at ear shattering volume would somehow induce you to enjoy it.

There is a business lesson here. Not everything new is good, or an improvement. I see this in the technology markets. The rush to adopt the newest shiny technological bauble often overlooks the key rationale of why the previous technology did what it did. Technology alone doesn’t solve problems – what it does is just fail faster because of the same human problems the previous iteration did. The Internet of today is obviously a vast improvement over the technologies which came before it. However it brings with it a number of issues, such as poor security which the old networks didn’t have much of an issue with. Lot of focus on making it faster, or more far reaching – not much thinking on how do we construct a system which by its design solves the major issues. Lot of thinking inside the very small box.

Gosh…I’m going to need a “new” tube amp to replace the one I sold 10 years ago. Lucky for me I kept the old Turntable!

If you enjoy Jazz Music from the 50’s through the 70’s this is very important. Th Japanese bought up all the original Analog tapes they could of Jazz Musicians, to feed their local market of Jazz aficionados. This could well mean some of that may be available in the original Vinyl format again.

Sony Will Start Making Vinyl Records Again In Japan, After Nearly 30-Year Hiatus

Sony Music is preparing to make its own vinyl records again in Japan, in another sign that albums are back from the brink of being obsolete. The company says it’s installing record-cutting equipment and enlisting the help of older engineers who know how to reproduce the best sound.

Vinyl sales have seen a resurgence since around 2008. And while records are still a small part of the market, the fact that in 2016 “a format nearly a century old generated 3.6 percent of total global revenues is remarkable,” as NPR’s Andrew Flanagan has reported.

Years of double-digit growth in record sales have left vinyl press plants in the U.S., Japan, and elsewhere struggling to meet demand. Sony’s plan reportedly includes the possibility that it will press records on contract.

As the creator of the Walkman and a co-developer of the CD format, Sony helped to end the era of vinyl albums. And while sales of digital music have been hit in recent years by the popularity of streaming audio on Spotify, Pandora and other outlets, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper quotes Sony Music Japan’s CEO Michinori Mizuno saying that when it comes to vinyl, “A lot of young people buy songs that they hear and love on streaming services.”

Fans of vinyl cite the rich sound it provides; they also say album art and liner notes gives them a more tangible sense of connection to the music they love.

Here’s what a 28-year-old record store customer told NPR about the format’s appeal, back in 2014:

“The way I consumed music has been so instant and so immediate, especially with Spotify and online streaming services,” Veronica Martinez said. “I kind of just want to go back to the way I used to listen to it as a kid.”

Sony has already installed record-cutting equipment at a Tokyo studio; it will start pressing records again in the spring of 2018 — nearly three decades after it made its last in-house vinyl back in 1989.

“Cutting is a delicate process, with the quality of sound affected by the depth and angle of the grooves,” Nikkei reports, “and Sony is scrambling to bring in old record engineers to pass on their knowledge.”

With the move, Sony will make records that could be played on the new turntable it sent to market last year — although we’ll note that the player includes an audio converter and a USB outlet for converting songs into digital files.

At the end of 2016, sales of vinyl records outpaced digital music sales for the first time in the U.K., as The Guardian reported.

 

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Release of New Thelonious Monk Album!

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Been a century since Jazz Great Thelonious Monk was born. Jazz fans are about to be in for a treat, the release of some Monk material previously thought lost.

Jazz Wizard Thelonious Monk’s Lost Masterpiece

To mark his centennial, the jazz legend’s lost album, ‘Les liaisons dangereuses 160,’ has finally been made available. And boy, is it special.

Ask any group of even token jazz fans who the best composer is in the history of the medium, and a series of hearty cries will go up for Duke Ellington. But are we being wayward if we suggest that Thelonious Monk might be in the runner-up spot?

There is good reason to kick around that notion: this is Monk’s centennial year, with a zesty little Monk treat for Record Store Day on April 22 coming courtesy of the release of the 2LP set, Les liaisons dangereuses 1960—a discovery in one part, a wonder in another….

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2017 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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