In compiling an intermission playlist for my show The Double, I leaned heavily on Eddie Condon & The Dixieland All-Stars, whose album Midnight In Moscow does well to treat swarthy continental melodieslike Dark Eyes and Meadowlands in a wash of uproarious New Orleans-inspired jazz. The liner notes tell of a casual day in the studio under the laid-back leadership of Condon, whose recording philosophy is described in two words: “Be there.” The buoyancy of the performance coupled with the playfulness of the arrangements is balanced against the elegance and regality of the melodies with less effort than a breeze through wild flowers. Presented here for your consideration is Theme From Swan Lake, as cheerfully interpreted by one of America’s great bygone jazz masters.
He’s missing a few fingers and he’s shot a man in the face. Here’s a nugget for chicken enthusiasts everywhere.
Keeping somewhat in step with the charming story of Charles Bradley- and everyone’s penchant for a rags-to-riches tale- I’d like to share a tune from Texas mainstay-turned-country star James Hand.
In 2006, after 40+ years of spirited devotion to songwriting and the stage, James Hand released his first nationally distributed album to roaring applause and critical acclaim. Co-produced by heavyweights Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel) and Lloyd Maines, The Truth Will Set You Free is a an effortless balancing act of honky-tonk, Western swing, rockabilly, outlaw, and other sub-genres of country music often neglected by the mainstream.
His deeply emotive and tremulous voice proves an appropriate vessel for delivering stark- often witty, often heartbreaking- lyrics and an inescapable reminder that James Hand is, as Willie Nelson describes him, “the real deal.”
Here for your enjoyment is the opening track from his aforementioned breakthrough album.
A post mutually dedicated to Pete Seeger on his belated 94th birthday and all my unemployed friends with smoking habits & English degrees.
NOW Magazine recently compiled a list of the top 50 Toronto albums ever. Over the course of the year, 50 contemporary Canadian bands will cover a track from each album, in a charming display of new blood paying homage to old.
Kayla Howran’s band, which includes yours truly, selected “One Way Ticket” from seminal blues-rock trio McKenna Mendelson Mainline, featured on their 1969 album Stink.
Please enjoy our take on a classic!
In my leisure time I browse record shops and thrift stores in search of rare, obscure, or otherwise interesting Canadian records of a roots/folk/country bend. Typically I digitize a few songs and upload the results to YouTube, where the view count rarely hits three-digits. Still, I consider it a cavalry charge to document musical history in the hopes of preserving people’s talents for future generations to enjoy.
One such record is Vic Virgili & The Laurentian Valley Boys who, according the liner notes of their album The Great Ontario Northland, received some notoriety to the tune of live touring and several television performances. Recently I was surprised and delighted to receive an email from the grandson of Rene Mathieu, singer/fiddler for The Laurentian Valley Boys. He explained that his family had several copies of the album in question but most of them were too scratched to be digitized. I was happy to learn that Mr. Mathieu is still alive, at 93 years, and I was gifted an opportunity to convert these songs to mp3 and- with any luck- put a smile on an old man’s face.
Maybe it’s wise to remember that, with all the impersonal drawbacks of the technological age, we are occasionally faced with splendorous moments of great personal contact. Time and space fold into the present and the cables of history are wired to the circuitry of the future!