Archive for October, 2008

Join the Pain

October 30, 2008

I have always been blessed with ridiculously good health.  I don’t get sick.  When I get hurt I heal incredibly fast.  On the other side of the scale, MB who takes really good care of herself has been burdened with many unfortunate health circumstances that have given her an unfair share of pain and turmoil over the years.  It has been difficult to watch at times, but both of us have been thankful for my health.  Well, the wheel turns I suppose.  This summer I had some shoulder pain and spasms that a therapist worked through with me.  I had felt really good with no pain for about two months. Then suddenly about two weeks ago the left side of my body went into excruciating, crippling pain, migrating across my back then down my arm and eventually leaving my left hand immobilized, numb and with no motor control (I’m slowly learning to type one-handed again).  Just went to see a neurosurgeon who said the pain was unfortunate but not dangerous; the hand, however, meant I have nerve damage from a ruptured disc in my neck.  He said don’t fuck with it.  Without surgery it could be permanent, an idea that scares me more than the surgery itself.  So, Monday, I’ll go and get my neck operated on.  I’m scared, yes, but I trust it will be worth it.  As is, I can barely function these days, so here I go.  I’m sorry my wife has gone through this kind of pain for so many years, but on the other hand I’m glad to have someone who knows what it’s like by my side.  Now, my big question is can I function enough to bottle my Russian Imperial Stout and my maple winter warmer that need to be bottled.  If I can’t get them done this weekend, they won’t get bottled for at least two more months.  Hey, nobody can tell me I haven’t at least kept my priorities!

And a New Friend!

October 28, 2008

The Street Parade is pleased to welcome Amelia Lindley to the world! We’re thrilled for CBD and Erin and Madelyn–who now shares her birthday with her new sister.  Welcome to the world Amelia! Now it’s time for me to get brewing and brew a celebratory beer.  Hmmm, what style seems appropriate?


October 27, 2008

I had no intention of writing a blog about the weather.  Then, last winter was so intense that I couldn’t help writing about the snow piled up against our door. And it kept coming and I kept commenting on it, seeing that our life was pretty consumed with ice and snow and twenty below for several months straight.  But I figured it was just one of those years and I deserved to dwell on it a bit, but I’d get past it.  Then we had the floods that rose up in large part from all the snow we had, and well I had to talk about the floods.  But that too was an anomaly, worth talking about but I’d move on from the weather.  Well, I’m here to say that today the weather went from a beautiful sunny late October sunday morning to an ominous gray windy late novemberish afternoon to, you guessed it, snow this evening.  No accumulation or anything, but it definitely took me by surprise.  We’ve barely gotten the roads straightened out from the abyssal potholes from last year and the snow is knocking on our door.  Hmmm, am I ready?  Let me put that Bear Republic stout that I’ve been saving into the fridge and I’ll get back to ya.

Newton Collier

October 24, 2008

After my last post on the great Steve Cropper, I was pleased and surprised to get a comment from another great musician: Newton Collier.  Collier was the quintessential Stax horn man, playing trumpet and trombone with many of the Stax stars in the 60s and 70s, but he was most well-known for his work with Sam & Dave. In April, “The Sideman to the Stars” was honored at the BBQ & Blues festival in Barnesville, Georgia as Geogia Music Legend!  Sadly, Collier’s career was senselessly cut short in ’76 when he was shot by an unknown assailant.  He survived, but the damage left him unable to play the trumpet. He lives in Macon Georgia and the Street Parade wishes him well.

In his honor, here’s some vintage Sam & Dave from the 1966 Stax-Volt European tour (with Steve Cropper on guitar as well).  Enjoy:

Happy Birthday Steve

October 21, 2008

I have a pretty extensive music collection and am listening to something almost non-stop. I often wonder, then, who actually gets the most airtime over the years. I have tended to think it’s the big, noticeable names that would qualify, say the honorable mr. FZ for instance.  I think, though, that it’s actually a lesser-known name who has only two albums of his own, but is almost ubiquitous in the recording industry: Mr. Steve Cropper who turns 67 years young today.

Cropper was born Oct. 21, 1941 in Dora, Missouri.  He started out in a band called the Mar-Keys, but went on to become the indispensable guitar player for Stax records, most importantly as the unmistakable guitar sound of Booker T and the MGs but also playing with Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett and many others.  Booker and Otis in particular get so much air time, that this alone almost qualifies him as most-listened to.  But he also has two great solo albums: 1969’s With a Little Help From My Friends and the collaboration Jammed Together: Albert King, Steve Cropper, and Pops Staples. He also co-wrote classics such as Knock on Wood, In the Midnight Hour, and The Dock of the Bay.  After the decline of Stax, he went on to play with Ringo Starr, Levon Helm, and the Blues Brothers.  He  produced and played with Jeff Beck, Tower of Power, and John Prine.  Especially with the omnipresence of the Stax label on three of my favorite radio shows, The Sugar Shop, The Rockhouse, and Bop Street, I give him the nod as my most-listened to figure and without a doubt one of the most easily recognizable guitar sounds out there.  in 1996, he was named the greatest living guitar player (second all-time behind jimi Hendrix) by Britain’s Mojo Magazine, a label I wouldn’t argue with.

For listening tribute, I suggest his solo With a Little Help From My Friends.

image: stax records

Happy Birthday Steve Cropper!!


October 17, 2008

In my last post I mentioned my favorite radio station, and put a plug in for listening/supporting KFAI. I thought I should mention my other listening staple, WWOZ from New Orleans.  OZ is, like KFAI, a community run and supported station.  I do not listen to it as consistently as I do KFAI so I can’t give a run-down of best shows like I did with KFAI, but I’ll mention that Sunday afternoons are particularly good.  Give a listen to Cousin Demetri in particular.  I was in New Orleans a few years back and we were flying out on Easter Sunday morning.  I woke up to the alarm playing OZ and in honor of Easter, the DJ slipped on A Love Supreme in its entirety.  Now, I’m not a religious person, but I thought if you’re going to do some Easter listening, that’s the way to go.  That same weekend was the weekend that the great Earl King (source of this blog’s name) died.  I remember listening to hours of people giving personal accounts of Earl in New Orleans.  I may have mentioned this before, but apparently Earl wrote all his great songs in the corner donut shop on Rampart–not some beignet place, but the local version of dunkin’ donuts.  People would stop by and buy  him a coffee or a donut and he’d write songs.  Not really pertinent to anything I guess, but I just love the memory of spending a weekend listening to great music and hearing people tell fun local stories about one of their most beloved.  Good station.  Worth listening.  Worth supporting.

The Best of KFAI

October 5, 2008

It’s the season of fundraising across the land.  As annoying as the process can be, I want to put in a plug for my favorite radio station, KFAI.  KFAI is publicly funded, but it is not a part of national public radio.  As such, it runs on a much smaller budget and does not follow the same boring fundraising scheme as NPR.  In fact, fundraising on KFAI is pretty fun, they still play plenty of good music and continue to joke around throughout.  I have supported public radio and tv for a long time as well as local stations such as KFAI.  I remember at one point, though, when I called Minnesota Public Radio to pledge of hundred bucks to which they said “So is that weekly or monthly.”  I tend to give a hundred bucks here or there to a variety of places, not $1,200 bucks to one place–and I like to give to places where they don’t have an audience they assume would be giving so much.  $100 to KFAI, I realized, means a lot more so I support them with more money, spending less on NPR.  In fact, I pledge religiously in both their fall and spring pledge drives.  So, I think in honor of this fall’s drive, I’d let those of you from other parts of the country know that you can listen to them any time now, live on the computer or on their archives for two weeks.  I haven’t lived in Minneapolis for a long time, but it’s still the radio station that feels like home to me.  Here they are, my top ten KFAI radio shows and suggested listening:

11. Ha! You thought I’d actually follow my own top-ten format. Radio Rumpus Room with Ron and Jean, Friday evenings from 9 to 10:30 is a garage-sale high-speed mixmaster missing its top, slinging a messy slop of surf, hot rod, ’60s garage, primal pop, primitive rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, psych and traditional twang since 1994. Classic.

10. Sonic Pleasure with Georgia. Early Monday mornings from 2 to 5 AM, some choice listening of old psychedelia with many tribute shows such as the Frank Zappa tribute or the recent monthlong Jerry Garcia festival.

9. The International Jazz Conspiracy. From 10:30 to 12 on Thursday evenings, this show will bring you just about anything, from Stockhausen to Beefheart to John Zorn. As host Emel Sherzad says, “Put ‘conspiracy’ in the title and you can play anything.”

8. Louisiana Rhythms. Friday mornings, 9 to 11, hosted by 4 alternating hosts: Karl Smelker, Eric Mohring, Maurine McCort & Mick Novak. They feature music from Louisiana, especially southwest Louisiana. That means lots of Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop, old and new. They’ll also sneak in some second line from New Orleans or some blues from Baton Rouge, or who knows what.

7. Dig Up the Roots. Tuesday mornings, 9 to 11, Dig Up the Roots explores the nether regions of roots music. This program showcases a wide variety of musical genres and styles from the earlier years of recorded music with tangents and threads spinning out in every direction. Host Greg Carr shows how the past doesn’t go away and how the ancient consumes the future.

6. The “Shake & Bake” show. Monday afternoons, 3 to 6 PM, the finest in world music, but as host Tony Paul says, “Isn’t all music world music?” Now on the air for 19 years, Paul says, “The idea is simple: no rules, no topics. If it’s good, we play it!”

5. The Dakota Dave Hull show. Thursday mornings, 9 to 11. Dakota Dave – an acoustic guitarist, recording artist and producer of national reputation – plows the soil, plumbs the roots, and trims the branches of a variety of traditions: Anglo-Celtic, Appalachian, Brazilian, Caribbean, jazz, blues, and more. One more show on which you’re likely to hear just about anything.

4. The Fubar Omniverse. Every Friday morning, 6 to 9 AM, Blanche presents an overwhelmingly appealing blend of funk, jazz and modern and ancient music with spiritual roots from around the world. And let’s not forget her weekly Brian Eno corner at 8 AM. Have I yet mentioned shows in which just about anything might fit in?

3. The Sugar Shop with Miss Lolly Obeda. Every Friday afternoon, drive time, 3 to 6 pm, Miss Lolly spins a fabulous blend of blues, rhythm & blues and sweet soul. No better way to start the weekend.

And now it gets really tough. We’re beyond really making meaningful distinctions about shows that are the best. But I’ve set myself up for it by making a top ten list haven’t I? Anyway, the following two shows are really tops, and if you’ve never heard them you should give them both a listen:

2. The Rockhouse, Thursday mornings from 6 to 9 with Brother Tad and Miss Sara, an audio amalgam of blues, rhythm & blues, and soul: spinning three hours of the good stuff for over 20 years now, this show never fails to surprise and entertain and enlighten and make the morning seem worthwhile. Encyclopedias of musical knowledge, it’s educational and danceable all at the same time.

1. And the number one show in my book goes to Bop Street with Pete Lee and a cast of pomaded thousands (and an ever-vigilant “research staff” of god knows how many) from the land of the round haircut. Mainly Rhythm & Blues, along with other sometimes only distantly related stuff, from the 1940s and 1950s: big voice blues shouters, honking tenor saxophones, fine – fine – superfine vocal group harmony, and powerful women of rhythm and blues. Another show that never fails to open up new musical worlds and idioms for me. Radio without Pete Lee would be like life without Tiny Bradshaw.

Any of these shows are always worth turning in to, along with such other honorable mentions as Freewheelin, Rhythm & Grooves, the Rocketship Ska Trip, Radio Antilles, Sabados Alegres, Good ‘N Country, and on and on. As they say, they’re the only station that changes the channel for you every hour. Give it a listen; maybe you’ll want to join the KFAI community too!

RIP Hayden

October 2, 2008

I admit to feeling old when the birthdays I acknowledge in spaces like this start to get dwarfed by deaths. Yet Hayden Carruth, another of my literary heroes, passed away on Monday. Carruth’s brilliance was the fusing of jazz rhythms of New York with the plain speech idioms of northern Vermont into linguistically rich portraits of the people in his world, from the farmer down the road to the avant-garde artist. With a syncopated poetic line that echoed the innovations of William Carlos Williams and Robert Creeley, Carruth pushed at the boundaries of American language, keeping it fresh, vibrant, and filled with music. Besides poetry, he wrote jazz criticism, philosophy, personal essays, and fiction. Through it all ran a passionate engagement with the social problems of the world. As his friend Bill Haxton said, “he’s always been remarkable for his passionate expressiveness about matters of the deepest emotional concern, from his own personal experience, to his empathy for strangers, particularly the victims of social injustice and historical mayhem of various kinds. Violence, warfare, the depredations of the powerful at the expense of the poor.”
Carruth died at 87 in his home in Munnsville New York after a series of strokes. For your reading pleasure, I recommend 1996’s Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey.

Hayden Carruth
Rest in Peace