Archive for August, 2008

Baldry Documentary Nominated For TWO Gemini Awards, including one for yours truly…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2008 by pulmyears

Nick Orchard’s music documentary, which I was a writer on, has been nominated for two GEMINI AWARDS, the prestigious honour bestowed upon “The Best of Canadian Television” and the national equivalent of the U.S. Emmy Awards.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLUES, artists rendering symbolizing TWO GEMINI AWARD NOMINATIONS

Soapbox Productions LONG JOHN BALDRY: IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLUES, artists rendering symbolizing TWO GEMINI AWARD NOMINATIONS

It was announced yesterday that Long John Baldry: In the Shadow of the Blues, (the Soapbox Productions documentary which airs recurrently on Bravo! in Canada and on BBC in the UK), had been nominated for Best Biography Documentary Program (Nick Orchard and Corby Coffin ) and that Paul Myers (me) had been nominated for Best Writing In A  Documentary Series.
I’m thrilled to be associated with Nick and Corby’s documentary and I can tell you that it was a real labour of love for all of us to get to tell Long John Baldry’s amazing true story. It’s all part of this incredible journey that I’ve been on with my book It Ain’t Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues, as we seem to be getting more and more late, but welcome and appreciated, notice from reviewers and peers.

Congratulations to Nick and Corby, and to Eva Gobalek who left Soapbox last June but was very important to the success of the film.

The Awards ceremony will be held in Toronto on October 20th.

I’m sure that Long John’s ghost is looking down from wherever blues men go and smiling on us all before going back to jamming with Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.

Baldry, Willie Dixon and Chris Barber, circa late 50's

Baldry, Willie Dixon and Chris Barber, circa late 50's

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3 Items: The Paul And John live, Jerry Wexler dead, and another great review for It Ain’t Easy

Posted in Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 by pulmyears

FIRST LET ME SAY THANK YOU to all the people who showed up for International Pop Overthrow at the Rockit Room in San Francisco on Saturday night to witness the debut of The Paul And John, the band I am in with ace guitarist and songwriter John Moremen, backed for the evening by the also ace rhythm section of Mike Levy (bass) and Daniel Swan (drums). Here’s a candid backstage photo taken by my friend Suzie.

THE PAUL AND JOHN (left to right, Mike, Daniel, John and Paul) (photo: © Suzie Racho)

As promised, we played our five songs and got off the stage. No one got hurt. Now it’s back to the studio to finish our debut recording, now with a working title of INNER SUNSET. As Matt Drudge would say, file under “developing…”

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next: GIVING SOME “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” TO JERRY WEXLER – A REAL “RECORDS MAN”

As I seem to be doing a lot lately, here on the blog, I have to take a moment to note the passing of another music business giant.
Jerry Wexler, one of those prescient white men who understood the beauty of so-called “Race Records” died over the weekend at the age of 91. I note his passing not just because was a seminal producer and A&R man at the mighty Atlantic Records working alongside the Ertegun brothers, Ahmet and Nesuhi. Not just because he brought us Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Drifters and the wicked Wilson Pickett. Not just because he had a hand in iconic soul workouts like “Mustang Sally”, “Respect” “Land of 1,000 Dances” and produced real artistes like Willie Nelson, The Staple Singers, Dire Straits and Bob Dylan.

I celebrate Jerry Wexler because he and I had but one thing in common: we both love music, real music, deeply and passionately.
You can read scholarly and in depth obituaries all over the web, try this one, but what I want to say – here on the Pulmyears Music Blog – is simply this:

Thank You Mr. Wexler. Thank you for having “great ears”, for being not only colour-blind but for actually seeing that music has no race. For being one of the good ones, the music business professionals who follow their ears and heart and never forget that without MUSIC there’d be no BUSINESS. People like you are, quite literally, a dying breed.
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And finally, I’m blown away by the great critical response to my most recent book, IT AIN’T EASY: LONG JOHN BALDRY AND THE BIRTH OF THE BRITISH BLUES. We’ve gotten solid praise from Canada’s Globe And Mail and from Blues Revue, Downbeat and Record Collector and now comes Dave Thompson’s great review in the July issue of Goldmine:

GOLDMINE, JULY 08

BOOK REVIEW: “It Ain’t Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of British Blues”

Long John Baldry is one of the legends of British blues and rock… unsung, if you measure success via hit records and profiles on Overhypedwhore.com-style Web sites, but an unquestioned Godhead to anybody who actually cares about the music that preceded our rush into mass-consumerism.

Briefly, Baldry was one of the instigators of the early ’60s British blues scene, as much a midwife as Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies, and as vital to what it all turned into as the Stones or the Yardbirds. Both Rod Stewart and Elton John passed through his band (albeit at different times), and later thanked him for their good fortune by producing a couple of Baldry’s early ’70s albums. Even more tellingly, however, they also contribute their memories to this book, the first ever biography of this giant of a man (literally — his nickname was not a joke), and one of the finest ever excursions into the roots of the music that conquered the world.

Baldry himself died in July 2005, before author Paul Myers began work on this book, and the absence of his voice is naturally felt. But a cast of characters that draws from throughout his 64 years, friends and family alike (Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Andrew Loog Oldham and Mick Fleetwood also participate) includes more than enough testimony for us to know that this is as close to the truth as such a legend could — or, indeed, should — ever allow us. (Paperback, 270 pages, $18.95. Greystone Books

— Dave Thompson
•••••

Conjunction Junction Vol. 3

Posted in Uncategorized on August 16, 2008 by pulmyears

LATE BREAKING: I’ll have a whole blog, next time, about the death this week of Atlantic Records genius producer and A&R guy JERRY WEXLER, but since I have to go get ready for my gig TONIGHT at IPO San Francisco (click on this to read) I thought I’d leave you with Volume 3 of my fun game, Conjunction Junction.

New to the game? Here’s the rule, take two or more existing band names (or artists) and conjoin them. Then describe how they might sound. I usually do a couple of illustrations too. And as always, I ask you, dear reader, to play along at home and send me your own Conjunction Junctions in the COMMENT area.

Here’s a few I just came up with….

RILO KILEY MINOGUE: L.A. alternative rockers with penchant for Aussie-fied German disco workouts

Aimee Mannheim Steamroller: Introspective Female songwriter backed by bloated and pompous symphonic arrangements.

Apples In Stereolab: Moody droning Belgian soundsculptors with nasal voiced but catchy melodic songs.

SUN RA-MONES: New York based rawkers back Saturn based atonal jazz in noise off.

Huey Lewis and The New Kids on the Bloc Party: Veteran San Francisco singer fronts a much matured boy band accompanied by English alt-rock guitar band.

B.T.O.-zomat-Lee “Scratch” Perry Farrell: 70’s Canadian guitar rock set to multi-ethnic world music groove, with extremely harmonized vocal wails from former Jane’s Addiction frontman, Farrell. Whole is then mixed with tons of reverb and by the Jamaican Dub pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Southside Johnny Marr-tha Wainwright: Former Smiths guitarist, backs duets by veteran New Jersey soul man and provocative confessional female songwriter. Not to be double booked with…

Van Morrissey: Ex Smiths singer tackles the celebrated songbook of the immortal Belfast poet.

A Tribe Called Question Mark and The Mysterians – one extremely long, yet funky, cover of “96 Tears”.

And finally, for now,

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARKNESS

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a grand of verbiage in visual form…

Lennon Killer Denied Bail Again – Yay!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2008 by pulmyears

Note the fitting byline for this AP story, Attica State Prison, N.Y.

Aug 12th, 2008 | ATTICA, N.Y. — John Lennon’s Killer denied parole for a fifth time.

The jerk who killed John Lennon, who is currently housed at New York’s Attica Correctional Facility, will stay there for at least two more years in connection with his tragic act of assassinating one of my all-time heroes in cold blood outside New York’s Dakota Apartments in the long, cold winter of 1980. According to the AP story, he’d become “eligible for parole” after serving the first 20 years of his life sentence.

But on Tuesday, Attica parole board members said that it “would not be in the best interest of the community” to release (you know his name, look up his prison number) despite his, “clean disciplinary record since 1994”

But forget about that jerk, let’s just celebrate Lennon.

And getting back to Attica for a minute, here’s a clip of John performing “Imagine”on acoustic guitar at the Attica State Benefit Concert, at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in 1971.

Isaac Hayes – from Shaft to Chef, remembering the Soul Man.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2008 by pulmyears

Forget that he was the voice of Chef on South Park, push aside that he was a devoted member of the Church of Scientology. I think I’ll always chose to remember Isaac Hayes, who died yesterday at 65, as the bad ass black dude who composed and sang the iconic and marvelous theme from the 1971 “blaxploitation” film Shaft.

When I first heard that transcendent wah-wah guitar, I wanted to learn how to do that. The symphonic arrangement and build was equal parts film music (flutes, strings, horn blasts) but informed with an urban soul underpinning from The Bar-Kays Willie Hall on drums (hi-hats especially) and the lean repetitive bass line by James Alexander. He even won an Oscar that year for Best Original Song. Then I saw Isaac himself, a big, bald black man, often shirtless, with a big confident smile and impenetrable wraparound shades over his eyes. Who was this brother from another planet, standing up there conducting this groovy orchestral throwdown?

Well, I later discovered that Isaac Hayes had sprung from relative squalor in rural Tennessee and taught himself how to play a few instruments before joining the Stax stable, in Memphis, as a session musician in 1964, working with greats like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and had a hand in most of the great, post-racial, soul music that emanated from that little brick building on McLemore Avenue. He and his buddy David Porter wrote those hits like “Hold On I’m Coming” and the song that even fuelled the success of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s Blues Brothers, “Soul Man”.

Then there was the album, Hot Buttered Soul.

On that classic, he reinterpreted Burt Bacharach’s “Walk On By” (the best non-Dionne Warwick version ever although I also dug the Stranglers punky version which comes a close third) and transformed Jimmy Webb’s song, “By The Time I Get to Phoenix” – an 18 minute opus that kicks Glen Campbell’s still awesome version to the curb.

A few years ago, I rediscovered Black Moses, an album that I had been too young, and perhaps too white and Canadian, to understand when it was originally released.

The album sits nicely with the civil rights minded funk and symphony of contemporaries like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield and even Stevie Wonder during his “Living For The City” period.

I think one of the best ways to remember Isaac Hayes is to go out and rent, buy, or (whatever you have to do), the concert film , Wattstax, Mel Stuart’s Golden Globe nominated 1973 documentary feature about the 1972 Wattstax music festival and it’s positive impact on the troubled L.A. neighborhood of Watts.

I love it not only because it features live concert performances by the Bar Kays and Isaac Hayes, seen here on a YouTube excerpt performing Shaft with an introduction by the Afro sporting Reverend Jesse Jackson…

… but because it really studies one urban community and their own attempts at positive rebirth after struggles and the nightmares of the riots. And because they cut away to Richard Pryor, in his prime, actin’ the fool (in the court jester sense of the word) at a local barbershop.

Isaac Hayes redefined not just black music, but all music. UK fans might do well to remember that he was more than the guy who had a novelty No. 1 in the UK charts with his South Park single, “Chocolate Salty Balls”.

To get a full perspective on Isaac Hayes, and the whole Stax Volt scene, I leave you with a second documentary recommendation. Have a look at Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s excellent PBS aired film, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Here’s the trailer from YouTube:

There’s plenty of clips of Isaac Hayes, along with the greats like Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Sam & Dave, the Staple Singers, Albert King, Eddie “Knock On Wood” Floyd, and of course, Carla and Rufus Thomas,

Heaven just a got a little more soulful, rest in peace soul brother, rest in peace.

Strangely Magical Overtones From Two of My Musical Heroes

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2008 by pulmyears

THIS WEEK I’ve been pretty excited about the upcoming David Byrne & Brian Eno collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, which will be available on their web site on August 18th, streaming (for free) and also “available for purchase as both a download and in physical formats.”

As Byrne says on the website, it’s their first collaboration “in about 30 years.” He claims that “for the most part” Eno did the music, while Byrne wrote some tunes, words and sang.

I agree with him when he says “It’s familiar but completely new as well.”

The “single” that’s been capturing my heart and mind (and feet) of late is called “Strange Overtones” and you can get an mp3 sent to you when you register your email address with the site.

Good news also, that Byrne will do a major tour this fall, and promises to perform material from the new album as well as music from his previous collaborations with Eno, including, he says, “3 Talking Heads albums, Bush of Ghosts, etc.”

There’s more info on the website.

The Paul And John Debut at SF, IPO, Aug 16th!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2008 by pulmyears

I recently joined forces with my friend John Moremen (formerly of the Neighbors)
in a new project that we have called The Paul And John.

We have co-written a bunch of songs that sound just like both of us. Of course, you are welcome to play “spot the influence” when you hear the stuff.

Over the last months we’ve been “in the studio” (as they say) producing an “album” (as they used to say) with the working title of Heavy Blue. We are about halfway to finishing it, but we’ve already got some great results over at John’s studio in the Inner Sunset and at Allen Clapp’s place in Sunnyvale. Allen, of course, is visionary leader of the Orange Peels and he has been and will continue to be involved in this recording, also. We are very excited about it. Look for it whenever we get it finished and “released” (as they often say).

Of more pressing news, we will be playing a brief sneak peek set at this year’s San Francisco edition of the International Pop Overthrow festival, which this year runs from August 12 through the 16th.

Here’s their website for general information.

We will play a four or five song set, kicking off the show at the crazy early hour of 7:30 pm on the final Saturday night, August 16th, at the Rockit Room (see below for address, or click on the link) .

Joining us for the inuaugural live lineup of The Paul and John will be our very good
friends Mike Levy on bass and Daniel Swan on drums. Both are from The Sneetches and both are way too talented to be thought of as mere “sidemen”.
We are also excited to notice that Walter Clevenger and the Dairy Kings, our pals The Bobbleheads and our newest friends, The Corner Laughers (who recently recorded with Allen Clapp) will be on the same bill with us!

Here’s the line up and address for our IPO night,

Saturday, August 16th
Rockit

406 Clement St.
415-387-6343
$10

7:30 The Paul and John
8:00 Sentinel
8:30 Pleasure Trip
9:00 Eric Friedmann and The Lucky Rubes
9:30 Walter Clevenger & The Dairy Kings
10:00 The Corner Laughers
10:30 The Bobbleheads
11:00 The Brink
11:30 Preoccupied Pipers

Please come out and see us if you “feel so inclined” (as they say).

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