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Category Archives: music legends

“Let ‘er goooo, boys”…

The King of Blue Grass, Bill Monroe, would be 100 years old today. Probably no other artist in the 20th century impacted Country and Blue Grass than mandolinist supreme, William Smith Monroe. His love of music was evident in his performances and in his impact on other artists. Consider “Blue Moon of Kentucky“, likely his most recognizable hit.

And, renditions by some folks you may be more familiar with:

The King of Rock & Roll

The Queen of Country Music

A Few Lads

While they all went up tempo, I still prefer Bill’s original version. Bluegrass is such a guttural genre. It is hurtful, introspective and joyous, all at the same time. Bill Monroe almost single-handedly brought Bluegrass out of the mountain hamlets to the masses. Other “disciples”, like Barbara Mandrell, would continue the message through the years but perhaps the best known is a young boy who first got to play with Monroe on stage at age six:


While this performance is with Flatt & Scruggs (part of Monroe’s original “Bluegrass Boys”), Ricky talks about his first experience of playing with “the man” hisself here:

Likely my favorite, Bill Monroe tune in Uncle Pen, a song, that ironically, became a #1 hit for Ricky Skaggs many years later:

Bill Monroe. A true American icon, lover of music and consemate mentor. Happy Birthday, old boy.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in birthdays, Country, Influences, music legends

 

A Moment of Silence

9/11.

Synonymous with tragedy, evil, sacrifice, loss, love and hope.

10 years ago, I was working at a large bank in Memphis and driving into the parking lot when I first “heard”. Never thought that we’d have that Pearl Harbor “moment” in my lifetime, but here it was and of course, I remember.

I actually spent my Sunday on the water in the boat with my husband and it was a glorious day. I just couldn’t watch the whole funeral again. However, this morning I saw this…

For me, THIS was the PERFECT tribute. Funny how a song written nearly 50 years ago in the wake of a different tragedy could so amply provide comfort all these years later and be so relevant. That’s what music is, no? A talisman that provides clarity of the emotion that allows people from all walks of life to experience the intention of the writer at the moment of hearing it.

Extrememly fitting that New Yorker Paul Simon delivered the most inspiring moment of “The Rememberance.” Carrie Fisher must be proud.

 
 

Otis at 70!

The great “Love Man”, Otis Redding would have been 70 yesterday. Killed in a plane crash in December of 1967 at the age of 26, Otis left a relatively small but extremely powerful portfolio of work. His mercuric, yet oh so abbreviated three year run shaped music for the next 40 years. Just recently, Kanye West and Jay-Z collaborated on Otis:

As for me, I’ll stick with the REAL Otis…

Just goes to show that extreme talent and passion endures…

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in birthdays, music legends, Otis Redding

 

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Jazz Fest 2011 - Jimmy Buffett by Gordon Robinette

So, this week the came the official and announcement of the 2011 Jazz Fest poster. The poster is a highly sought after commodity for many music consessieurs and collectors. Both the subjects and the artists vary through the years since the poster advertising the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1975. The great Louis Prima was immortalized by the great Tony Bennett last year — a true collectors’ item on several levels.

Louis Prima 2010 - Tony Bennett

Probably the most identifiable and beloved Jazz Fest posters were done by James Michalopoulos. He uses the splendid French Quarter architecture as a backdrop for several New Orleans legends who have been mainstays of Jazz Fest and of New Orleans music. The series of Dr. John, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint all convey exactly what Jazz Fest is about and the greats that have made IT great.

Dr. John, Louis "Satchemo" Armstrong, Fats Domino, Allen Touissaint

And then there’s the great Cajun artist, George Rodrigue, of Blue Dog fame — and recent savior of the Youngsville Heritage Oak. Rodrigue combines his iconical dark oak tree and ever-popular blue dog to immortalize Louis Armstrong (once again), Pete Fountain and the great Al Hirt.

Satchemo, Pete Fountain & Al Hirt

Again, these images capture the essence of these great talents and their impact on Jazz music and making New Orleans its “Mecca”.

So, imagine my surprise at this year’s poster. First, the artist is Gordon Robinette. Robinette IS well known in New Orleans, but not as an artist. He is best known as a talking head/talk show host at WJBO radio station. I must say that as an artist, he is quite accomplished. I do like how he borrowed from the much beloved concept of Michalopoulos’ use of French Quarter architecture and I am impressed that he includes a future Jimmy Buffett looking over his shoulder at the young, broke street performer behind a Falcon, no less. (Which reminds me…I have a long, lost story about a Falcon. But I digress…that’s for another day.)

However, I am perplexed at just why Jimmy Buffett is featured on a JAZZ FEST poster? Now, don’t get me wrong. My Jimmy love is strong. See here, here & here. But this choice seems a bit indulgent. Is it a payback for Jimmy’s fantastic support during last year’s oil spill crisis and his wonderful free concert that many homies considered his “homecoming” to the Gulf Coast?

Or, perhaps it was meant to bolster Jimmy’s spirits after his recent dive off the stage in Australia? A pat on the back for investing in the coast by expanding his Magaritaville franchise in Pensacola, FL and Biloxi, MS? Dunno. But one thing I DO know is that Jimmy Buffett is not the impactful son of the South that the other icons that graced Jazz Fest posters before him.

I DO love Jimmy…but I’m conflicted. He is from Mobile, AL…where I live. He has played here ZERO times since he graduated from McGill Institute back in 1966 (He was a cheerleader, for Christ’s sake). His concert at the Gulf was the first time he’s played there in forever, even though his sister, Lulu, has a VERY popular bar/restaurant on the Intercoastal Canal in Gulf Shores. Jimmy is more a child of Key West and the Carribean. A few years ago, he started playing Jazz Fest, but he has NEVER been a staple there. While Robinette’s portrait refers to Jimmy’s street performing in the late ’60s, the fact is that Jimmy Buffett spent a relatively short period of time on the gummy, stinky streets of the French Quarter before heading out to Californina and ultimately, grounding himself in South Florida.

So, to wrap this all up…I am pumped up about the Jimmy poster because of the awesomeness that is Jimmy Buffett and all he stands for. But in true Libra fashion, I am disappointed that something that has generally been pure and true to its’ core concerning subjects chosen to promote one of the most fantastic musical experiences on Earth has chosen a subject that is, well, not exactly true to itself.

And, just to quench that burning question of MY favorite Jazz Fest poster EVAH?

Because, IT’S IRMA, baby!!

 

Charlie Louvin – Harmonizing in Heaven

1927 - 2011

Country Music Hall of Famer, Charlie Louvin, passed away yesterday at the age of 83 of pancreatic cancer.

While you may not recognize his name or that of his brother, Ira, as the Louvin Brothers, they brought close harmony into the mainstream in 1950s, subsequently influencing groups like The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys and Gram Parsons/The Byrds. These groups, of course, have been sited influences to modern harmonic groups like Boyz 2 Men, The Backstreet Boys, Brandi Carlile and The Secret Sisters (one of my new favorites — but that’s another post). As a pioneer of harmony, Charlie Louvin stands as one of those who quietly make a lasting impact on music. While he and his brother may have been largely forgotten by the larger music industry, their impact is deep and lasting.

My professed love of harmony is well documented here, and I still love it so. So, thank you Charlie Louvin. Thank you for your talent and your influence on generations of musicians and singers. The thread of harmony through generations…

If I Could Only Win Your Love, The Louvin Brothers

All I Have to Do is Dream/Cathy’s Clown, The Everly Brothers

Don’t Worry Baby, The Beach Boys

Turn, Turn, Turn, The Byrds (Gram Parsons)

I Want it That Way, The BackStreet Boys

Have You Ever, Brandi Carlile

Tennessee Me, The Secret Sisters

 

Happy 80th Birthday, Sam Cooke!

Mold-breaker. Extreme talent. Pioneer. Soul Stirrer.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2011 in birthdays, dudes, inspiration, music legends, Soul

 

2010 Kennedy Center Honors

Aw, yeah!  Last week, CBS aired the Kennedy Center Honors that featured two of my all time favorite musical artists — Sir Paul McCartney and the fantabulous Merle Haggard.

Broadway composer Jerry Herman and dancer-choreographer Bill T. Jones were also honored, in addition to Oprah Winfrey. 

Side rant:  Can I just say that I am SO sick of Oprah?  When will we be freed from her excessive exposure and self-promotion?  I find her so insincere and disengenuous.  She sucks people in like she’s the “every woman” and “just like you” when she’s a kabillionaire who certainly doesn’t have to worry about college tuition or paying the mortgage.  Besides, anyone who needs a TV show, radio network, magazine and now a TV network, has got to be filling some kind of hole in self-agrandizement.  And people just continue to fawn all over her….blech!

For the Kennedy Honors, you’d swear that it was the Oprah Honors and “the others” were just there to bask in her glory.  She cannot help but to usurp everyone else’s attention….but I digress.

I’ve chronicled my Beatles love many times on this blog (see Beatles tags), but don’t know if I’ve ever delved into my Merle-adoration.  Merle Haggard is one of the legends of music — not just Country music — and is one of the good guys who has made things better for those around him.  And, his music is just, well…good.

Vince Gill gives a great retrospective of Merle’s career at the Kennedy Honors ceremony:

and performances of Merle tunes by Kris Kristoffersen, Sherly Crow, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill and pal, Willie Nelson.  Note:  it’s a little long, but well worth it.  Also, notice Oprah trying to sing along.  Really?!?  You think she’s got a bunch of Merle CDs at home?

It’s no coincidence that Merle Haggard is such a friend of new artists and is so loved by his fellow performers since he decided to pursue music after hearing Johnny Cash at San Quentin when Cash was trying to bring a little joy to those less fortunate.  Just goes to show that paying it forward has ever-implacating rewards.  Personally, I’m torn between these two as my favorite Merle tunes:

That’s The Way Love Goes

My Favorite Memory

….Merle.  A TRUEadour.

Finally, I can’t overlook Sir Paul.  Perhaps the greatest tribute to Paul is this medley featuring Apple Records recording artist, James Taylor, the irrepresible Mavis Staples and rock legend, Steven Tyler.

Note:  Check out Oprah (AGAIN) trying to hog the limelight.  GAH!

I couldn’t help but think that Paul was thinking about John Lennon with this program being so close to the 30th anniversary of John’s death.  Must have been surreal….and lonely.

 
 
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