Archive for May, 2008

Beer Hunter Shame

May 20, 2008

I am so ashamed, so guilt-ridden, so painfully without a clue: it appears that last week was National American Craft Beer week and I didn’t raise a single toast to the fine brewers around the country. How had I not known? It actually took Stephen Colbert to let me know. True, I did drink plenty of homebrew (hey–it’s American crafted isn’t it?) and I did fortunately have some Lagunitas still in reserve from California which we opened on Saturday, but nothing intentional. By god, I’m giving Joey at South Bay a call right now and ordering me some Russian River and some Bear Republic and some Alesmith and some Stone and some….

Sorry honey but we don’t really need to pay the mortgage this month, do we?

New Orleans Music

May 15, 2008

So this post from the Yellow Dog, and this New Yorker piece on essential jazz albums he was responding to made me realize that my last post promised my 10-best list of New Orleans albums. Yes, that’s been awhile now as I guess teaching took precedence over blogging. Go figure. Anyway, here it is:

10. Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Funeral For a Friend. I love brass band music and generally go toward Mama Digdown’s or the Rebirth over Dirty Dozen, but this album has the heart and soul of a New Orleans second line funeral at its core–it’s funky and downright spiritual at the same time. Recorded after the death of New Orleans street musician Tuba Fats, it’s Soulful and fabulous. (thinking Brass Bands, I’ll digress and throw out a word for New York’s Slavic Soul Party, a brass band mixing New Orleans, Klezmer, Eastern European folk tunes, Latin, and a bit of psychedelia into a truly strange and wonderful music–if you ever have a chance to see them, it’s amazing. For the New Orleans connection, listen to their cover of Lee Dorsey’s “Ya-Ya.” Great fun).

9. Daniel Lanois, Acadie. Lanois is a ubiquitous enigma, producing his own haunting sound into the likes of the Nevilles, Willie Nelson, U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, and Emmylou Harris among many others. This album captures his own eerie beauty at its peak.

8. Louis Armstrong. The Complete Hot Fives and Sevens. Need I say any more here?

7. Kid Simmons’ International All Stars. Live at the Louisiana Music Factory. Hmmm, really, I’d put this higher than Louis Armstrong? Well, I suppose it’s sentimental. The LMF is one of my regular music stores–especially if I’m hunting New Orleans music or jazz. Besides, I saw Kid Simmons in the store years back in what really was one of my musical highlights. This album puts you right in the steamy river city.

6. Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In the Sweet Bye & Bye. Another one of my all time favorite bands (oh where are the days when a band like this would actually be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live–gone, gone, gone I suppose). This taps their gospel side really nicely in a haunting collection.

5. Earl King. Come On: The Complete Imperial Recordings. Yes, mr. street parade himself, namesake of this blog. His early, classic material here. Solid R&B.

4. Eddie Bo. Check Out Mr. Popeye. Also a solid R&B sound here, but it’s the fabulous piano work of Eddie that makes this classic. The man call roll the keyboard with the best of ’em–see the next album for his peer, though.

3. James Booker. Junco Partner. Yes, mentioned in my last entry, this is some stunning piano work with Booker’s own inimitable humor and vocals. One of the true characters–out of the many–that this town has produced. From classical to truly funky, he covers the gamut.

2. Dave Bartholomew. The Best Of. Yes, I think the best of is really a cop-out, but in this case it really captures his range. Songwriter, producer, bandleader, Bartholomew helped develop and define the New Orleans sound of the 1950s. He was key in the transition from jump blues and big-band swing to R&B and rock and roll. His music is often known more through other musicians (and his collaboration with Fats Domino was instrumental in shaping a sound) but I think no one does it like Dave. You gotta love “The Monkey Speaks His Mind.”

1. The Wild Tchoupitoulas. The Wild Tchoupitoulas. The first hybrid coming out of the Meters, which really was the first incarnation of the Neville Brothers. This album still has that good, solid New Orleans funk to it without Aaron Neville overtaking things yet. Give it a nice loud listen.

Okay, I know, I know. What the heck do I mean by the best? Well, I suppose it just means the albums that get the most air time in my world (and it’s all about my world isn’t it?) Another month and I might shift the list around. Besides, now I can cheat by including albums by pointing out what a shame it is that my list wasn’t big enough to include them (I mean we are tied to the “top 10” format aren’t we? A list of the top 15? How the heck could I do that?): No Fats Domino? (well, try Rue Bourbon); No Allen Toussaint? (well, this one does seem a crime–try The Complete Toussan Sessions); No Iguanas? (Plastic Silver 9-Volt Heart). OK, the list could go on. This town is really my musical heart.

And of course I haven’t included anything from greater Louisiana, no real cajun or zydeco. And, yes, I’d say that such music is really from out state, but what I love about New Orleans music is the way that influences stream together to make, pardon the cliche, a musical gumbo. Fats Domino? Well, he’s R & B, but he’s also heavily cajun. Daniel Lanois? Well, he’s actually French-Canadian, so if anything he’s tied more to his Cajun roots than New Orleans, but if anyone mixes it all together it’s Lanois. The Nevilles of course have drawn from an incredible range of influences over the years to make their own singular sound. So, perhaps I can cheat even more and add just a few more albums to the mix:

Clifton Chenier. Bogalusa Boogie.

CJ Cenier. The Desperate Kingdom of Love.

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Bon Reve.

Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-chas. Hang it High, Hang it Low.

Beausoleil. La Amour Ou La Folie (although Cajunization is also worth a solid listen, if for no other reason than to hear their mix of surf guitar and cajun fiddle in tunes like “Atchafalaya Pipeline”)

Of course any of the oldies you can get your hands on: Dennis McGee, Canray Fontenot, the Balfa Brothers, Bois Sec Ardoin. A little hard to come by, but it’s all fun.

If I stretch it out just a little more, so I add a little Mississippi too, I’ll thrown in Otha Turner and his Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, Everybody Hollerin’ Goat.

And though I’ve discussed it before, I’ll add an album that really no list of mine is complete without, Bobby Charles’s Stony Plain.

OK, I could just keep going I suppose, but I’ll stop now. Give ’em a listen. Enjoy.

Today’s musical tidbits

May 4, 2008

Saw Steve Earle last night at the Englert.  A fabulous show, mostly acoustic with a little bit of techno, hip-hop mix behind him on occasion.  The acoustic great; the dance mix behind him not so much.  Fortunately it was much more of the former.  His new wife Alison Moorer opened the show.  She has a great voice, but the music didn’t do a whole lot for me.  Her harmonies with Steve, though, were amazing.  He may be looking like a not-so-gracefully aging cowboy, but he can still rock with the best of them.  So, today’s listening suggestion is The Revolution Starts Now.  I mean how can you beat an album with a love song to Condi Rice or a declaration to fuck the FCC?

For secondary listening pleasure, I recommend Steve’s Transcendental Blues.  Perhaps an all around better album, but his show last night put me in the mood for a bit of revolution.

Also on my day’s playlist is in honor of the end of New Orleans’ Jazz Fest.  Wish I could be there.  The Nevilles closing the show like the old days.  It would be easy of course to suggest some Nevilles or perhaps some Professor Longhair-both appropriate and worth a good listen to today, but I’m reaching a bit further and putting a little James Booker on the playlist.  I highly recommend his Junco Partner. An all-around great eclectic New Orleans piano album.

OK, so a smaller picture of Booker’s album but no less important than Earle’s.  Give ’em both a listen.  I could of course go on with new orleans music.  In fact, maybe I will: upcoming, my top ten new orleans albums.  Stay tuned…

Spring Brewing: Russian River cloning

May 1, 2008

Happy May Day All!

In honor, I have cleaned out my garage and am brewing a big, strong IPA. I had not intended to brew an IPA right now (but it’s always on my slate of beers to brew, as it’s my favorite when all the chips are down), but my recent visit to Russian River and my taste of Pliny the Elder and my many tastes of Lagunitas Maximus really inspired me for a big beer. I’m not really trying to clone it, as it seems beyond the pale, but I am trying to go big and hoppy.

Here’s today’s recipe:

1 lb Briess Victory Malt, steeped in 150 degree walter, sparged with a gallon 170 degree
9.5 lbs. Northern Brewer Pale Malt
1 oz Target Hops, 13.9 % boiled for 90 minutes
1/2 oz Target Hops, 13.9% boiled for 45 minutes
1 oz Challenger Hops, 7.0% boiled for 15 minutes
1/2 oz Cascade Hops for final 2 minutes of boil
1/2 oz Cascade Hops, dry-hopped
1 c. malto-dextrine for final 15 minutes of boil
1 Tbsp Irish Moss final 2 minutes
One pint starter of Wyeast 1332, Northwest Yeast, pitched at 75 degrees. O.G. = 1.064

I name this one the Albert Hofmann Memorial IPA. Big, bold, and darn near psychedelic:

1906-2008

Rest in Peace