Archive for January, 2009

Super Bowl Shmuper Bowl

January 30, 2009

I have always been a football fan, but I just can’t handle the super bowl (although I’d love to see the lowly Cardinals actually win one!).  It’s too much hype.  It’s just too much everything.  Yea, the commercials can be cool, but I just don’t really care.  I watch up through the conference championships and then I find I just don’t care.  on the other hand, I’ve never really been a big tennis fan, until last summer’s Wimbledon final that is.  Now, I find I’m much more invested in the Nadal-Federer matchup in Australia than the Super Bowl.  But the truth is, I’m most invested in The Puppy Bowl.  Indeed, give me some guacamole, some double dog ale, a fire in the woodstove, and a few mindless hours watching puppies play with some good music as a soundtrack and I’m a pretty happy man.  What can I say?


New Music

January 28, 2009

OK, it’s actually a post about old music, but new to me.  MB got me a copy of Badfoot Brown and the Bunions Bradford Funeral Marching Band for Christmas and it’s becoming a regular in the playlist.  Badfoot Brown is actually Bill Cosby and this is an instrumental album originally released in 1971.  The album consists of two long instrumental fusion tracks in the vein of Bitches Brew.  At times fusion, at times pure funk groove, at times dissonant jazz, at times psychedelic weirdness, and at times all of the above at the same time.   It’s clearly got strains of Bitches Brew and some of the insistent repetition of In A Silent Way in it, and a bit of Sun Ra to boot, but this isn’t just to say it’s just derivative avant-jazz; it has its own wonderful funky sound altogether.  Personnel are not listed and there are different reports of who plays on this album but the Village voice among other point to Charles Wright’s Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band (of “Express Yourself” fame) as the most likely band members beyond Cosby himself on piano.  I have long enjoyed the Bill Cosby/Quincy Jones “Original Jam Sessions 1969” with the likes of Eddie Harris, Les McCann, Jimmy Smith, and Milt Jackson. It’s an album that shows the range of jazz that Cosby truly loved; but the Badfoot Brown opens a whole new dimension, Cosby at the helm of some true funk genius. The Jam Sessions album was clearly a compilation of diverse music; this is one solid groove. Yes, the Cosby of today may not appreciate the attention this album is receiving with its re-release (I think he’d rather forget that era in light of his current mindset and politics), but it’s one of my new favorite things and worth a good listen.


KFAI Profile

January 24, 2009

Sometimes this blog has felt like an advertisement for our favorite radio station KFAI.  Well I’ll put another big plug in for the station here through a profile of MB that they recently did for their newsletter.  MB is even more of a KFAI fanatic than I am.  Read the profile then listen to KFAI! (Well, and feel free to support them while you”re at it).

Meet Mary Beth Freeman: KFAI Listener-Member

KFAI Network reporter Rebecca Lane had this email conversation with Listener-Member Mary Beth Freeman:

Mary Beth with Glenn

Rebecca Lane: How long have you been listening to KFAI?
Mary Beth Freeman: Since 1990. We had just moved to Minneapolis from Vermont. One of the first shows I remember is the Rockhouse, which remains a favorite. We lived in a basement apartment at the time, so I had to really fiddle with the antennae.

RL: What is your preferred format for listening – traditional radio, online, iPhone, Podcasts?
MBF: Online! After we lived in Minneapolis for 11 years, we moved to Gainesville, FL. It was imperative once we got there to set up high-speed cable internet in order to maintain the KFAI vibe. Even before we had the house set-up, we had KFAI ready to go. We had about a three-day delay once we moved to Cedar Rapids, IA—and that was rough.

RL: What keeps you listening to the station and continuing your support?
MBF: I love the community spirit and diversity of programming. I have learned so much about music and culture. KFAI brings the world to me. The staff and programmers are fantastic and generous in time, knowledge, and spirit.

RL: Favorite show?
MBF: Can it be a five-way tie? The Rockhouse, Bop Street, Sugar Shop, Fubar Omniverse, and Radio Rumpus Room.

RL: I think supporting KFAI is a strong form of community activism, do you agree? Why do you think it is important to support public airwaves?
MBF: Again, the community exhibits so much diversity and that’s captured in the programming at KFAI. Commercial airwaves are sterile and pre-programmed. There is no individuality and ownership back to the community. KFAI is steeped in the community.

RL: Can you share some examples of how you are able to apply what you hear on KFAI to your neighborhood, work, politics, lifestyle, worldview?
MBF: Right off the bat, I can tell you I have become well-versed in “birthdays in blue”-that helps me decide what CDs to select for the car. That’s important. Some days, the options are too plentiful. I enjoy that I have a learned a lot about world music, mostly thanks to Blanche. Down here in Iowa, we don’t get to see as much live music as we did in the cities, but we still get exposed to some international artists via our local Czech Social Club (aka CSPS). KFAI has taught me to explore the world. Music is a common thread.

RL: Has KFAI ever prompted you to participate or attend an event, concert, rally, etc. Tell us about it.
MBF: Heck yea! OK, I have to admit that I won quite a few free tickets while we lived in Minneapolis, and that helped. It’s great that programmers will spotlight upcoming artists. The Cedar brings in some great acts, some of which trickle down to us her in CR. Because of the oh-so-wonderful ARCHIVES—I am able to listen to that-much-more KFAI, and we often think of how much we would do/see this and that—if only we still lived in the cities. SIGH.

RL: What would you tell non-listeners about KFAI to encourage them to listen?
MBF: You can’t go wrong! There are programs for every taste—music, news, culture. I even enjoy pledge drive! How weird is that? You-all make it fun. We enjoy it so much that we pledge two times a year. We can’t help but get caught up in the euphoria.

RL: Our records show you listen all the way from Iowa! Why do you think the programming is still relevant to you in another state?
MBF: We just can’t find any comparable programming. We miss the cities so much, it’s like tuning in to hear our friends. Plus, we can still stay apprised of local events and issues. We may live in Cedar Rapids, IA, but our hearts are still in Minnesota.

RL: Other thoughts?
MBF: Glenn and I proudly wear our KFAI t-shirts and display our bumper stickers on each car—wherever we go. I am thrilled to be a part of this organization. Keep up the good work, and congratulations on the upgrade! And THANKS!

If you would like to tell your story in the KFAI Network, contact Pam Hill Kroyer by email, or by calling 612-341-3144 × 22.

RIP Fathead Newman

January 23, 2009

Well, I’m a bit behind the times on this, but I just learned that the great saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman passed away on the 20th.  Fathead’s career was long and varied, but he was best known for his work with the Ray Charles band in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  In 1959 he also started his own band which continued making music in multiple variations throughout the rest of his life.  As a studio musician he worked with Herbie Mann, Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin, Lee Morgan, and Stanely Turrentine among many others.  He also played in Robert Altmann’s Kansas City and toured with the Kansas City Orchestra.  The jazz world has lost a great one; in tribute I recommend 1959’s Fathead: Ray Charles Presents Fathead Newman on Atlantic.


David Fathead Newman
Feb. 24, 1933-Jan. 20, 2009


January 21, 2009

Sam Cooke sang it long ago: “It’s been a long time comin’, but I know a change gonna come.”

It’s a big burden for our new president, but I have faith he’s the start of the change we need.  The hoopla’s over. Today, the work starts toward a new world.

(thanks to CBD for correcting the date here!!)

Why Birding Helps

January 17, 2009

Well, winter hit us with a vengeance this week.  Several clippers came through, dropping about 16 inches of snow on us and then a serious deep freeze settled in.  Wednesday and Thursday night both got down to -29 (that’s actual, not wind chill).  I do love weather like this at least for short bursts (I’m not sure, for instance, if I could actually live in Alaska even though the romantic winter-lover in me pretends he could).  Everything is so crisp and the snows whip into marvelous sculptures.  On the other hand, it does take it’s toll.  And that’s where birding comes in.  The more you learn bird songs, the more you can hear the shift in seasons before they actually arrive.  Thursday morning I was walking in to work, bundled up in layer after layer of clothing, walking across the creaking snow in the deep quiet of our small town.  The sun was brilliant but ineffectual.  It was a crystalline cold world.  And there, ringing sharp and brilliant through the cold, were the clear tones of a cardinal’s spring song.  It’s the first spring song I’ve heard, and it seemed so out of place in that context, but the birds don’t lie: no matter how deep the winter, spring is in fact just around the corner.

’08’s for the Dogs

January 3, 2009

So, give the dog his beer!