Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End Dance Party

The Hood Internet- Doe Boys and Girls In America (MP3)

You don't want to be me. Constant echoes in my head are the price of being a music obsessive. Only with intense concentration can I turn it off.

While there are more artful mash-up crews, it's the Hood Internet that most faithfully recreates the sounds I hear even when no music is playing. In this case, they replace Craig Finn's caterwauling in "Stuck Between Stations" with the surreal lyrics of Three 6 Mafia's "Doe Boy Fresh".

There are literally over a hundred additional mash-ups by the Hood Internet available here. The best of them is probably the Ghostface overlay on Spoon in "The Ghost of You Lingers."

In my case, however, the culture clash doesn't stop at the intersection of indie rock and hip hop. I often hear Ronnie Milsap singing over Oscar Peterson. And in my world, Peter Tosh and Los Tigres del Norte are musical partners.

I'd like to think that many of the "crazy little women" of Kansas City- pictured here on stage with Robert Randolph- dig those sounds too.

Below is a list of music-related passings that I compiled in 2007. I realize that reducing an artist's life's work to a couple words is woefully inadequate, but that's the nature of this morbid roll call.

Music Deaths in 2007
1/01/07 Del Reeves, country singer, "The Girl On the Billboard"

1/06/07 Sneaky Pete Kleinow, pedal steel player, member of the Byrds

1/12/07 Alice Coltrane, jazz musician

1/13/07 Michael Brecker, jazz saxophonist

1/16/07 Thornton James "Pookie" Hudson, 76, lead singer of the Spaniels

1/19/07 Denny Doherty, 66, Mamas & the Papas

1/23/07 David Shayman, aka, Disco D, hip hop producer

1/31/07 Ronald Muldrow, 57, guitarist for Staple Singers, Eddie Harris

2/01/07 Whitney Balliett, 80, jazz critic

2/02/07 Eric Von Schmidt, 75, folk musician

2/02/07 Billy Henderson, 67, Spinners

2/04/07 Barbara McNair, 72, vocalist and actress

2/06/07 Frankie Laine, 93, vocalist and TV personality

2/15/07 Ray Evans, songwriter of "Mona Lisa," "Que Sera, Sera"

2/21/07 Al Viola, 87, jazz guitarist, Sinatra sideman

2/24/07 Leroy Jenkins- 74, jazz violinist

2/25/07 Mark Spoelstra, 67, folk artist for Elektra

2/27/07 Billy Thorpe, 60, Australian rock artist, "Children of the Sun"

3/01/07 Joel Brodsky, 67, rock photographer

3/07/07 Paul deLay, 55, Portland bluesman

3/09/07 Brad Delp, 55, Boston vocalist

3/16/07 Tupper Saussy, 70, songwriter

3/19/07 Luther Ingram, 69, soul singer and songwriter

3/20/07 G.E. Patterson, 67, "prince of preachers"; TV personality

3/29/07 Tony Scott, 85, jazz clarinetist

4/05/07 Mark St. John, 51, former Kiss guitarist

4/10/07 Dakota Staton, 76, jazz vocalist

4/12/07 Bill Guffey, original keyboard player for Shooting Star

4/13/07 Don Ho, 76, Hawaiian legend

4/17/07 James B. Davis, 90, Dixie Hummingbirds founder

4/19/07 Dick Allen, 80, Dixieland jazz historian

4/20/07 Andrew Hill, 75, jazz pianist

4/21/07 Lobby Loyd, 64, Australian rock guitarist of X

4/28/07 Tommy Newsom, 78, of the Tonight Show band

4/30/07 Zola Taylor, 69, the Platters

5/03/07 J. Robert Bradley, 87, black gospel singer

5/06/07 Carey Bell, 70, Chicago bluesman

5/20/07 Ben Weisman, 85, wrote movie songs for Elvis

5/20/07 Rod Poole, 45, experimental jazz musician

6/04/07 Freddie Scott, 74, "Hey Girl"

7/02/07 Beverly Sills, 78, opera singer and advocate

7/03/07 Boots Randolph, 80, popular saxophonist

7/05/07 Regine Crespin, 80, opera singer

7/05/07 George Melly, 80, trad jazz vocalist

7/09/07 Eddie Fisher, 64, St. Louis blues guitarist

7/10/07 Jerry Hadley, 55, opera singer

7/15/07 Kelly Johnson, 49, Girlschool guitarist

7/17/07 Teresa Stich-Randall, 79, opera singer

7/17/07 Bill Perry, 49, blues guitarist

7/26/07 Art Davis, 73, jazz bassist

7/28/07 Sal Mosca, 80, jazz saxophonist

8/04/07 Lee Hazlewood, 78, songwriter

8/06/07 Paul Rutherford, 67, jazz trombonist

8/10 Tony Wilson, 57, founder of Factory Records

8/11/07 Herb Pomeroy, 77, jazz trumpeter

8/13/07 Jerome "Jah Jerry" Haynes, 86, Jamaican guitarist

8/15/07 John Wallowitch, 81, cabaret artist

8/16/07 Max Roach, 83, drummer

8/18/07 Jon Lucien, 65, jazz vocalist

9/03/07 Janis Martin, 67, the female Elvis

9/05/07 Luciano Pavarotti, 71, opera star

9/09/07 Hughie Thomasson, 55, Outlaws guitarist

9/11/07 Joe Zawinul, 75, jazz innovator

9/11/07 Wilson "Willie Tee" Turbington, 63, New Orleans musician and producer

9/12/07 Bobby Byrd, 73, James Brown arranger

9/15/07 Generoso Jimenez, 90, Cuban trombonist

9/28/07 Lamine Koite, , Senegalese kora player and vocalist

10/05/07 Jack Wilson, 71, jazz pianist

10/11/07 Mike Stewart, 64, acoustic blues revivalist and historian

10/16/07 Deborah Kerr, 86, actress

10/17/07 Teresa Brewer, 76, jazz and pop vocalist

10/19/07 Lucky Dube, 43, reggae star

10/20/07 Paul Raven, 46, bassist for Killing Joke, Ministry, Prong

10/21/07 Donald Ayler, 65, jazz trumpeter, younger brother of Albert

10/22/07 Paul Fox, 56, guitarist for the Ruts

10/22/07 Lance Hahn, 40, founder of Austin punk band J Church

10/27/07 Ricky Parent, age?, Enuff Z'Nuff drummer

10/28/07 Porter Wagoner, 80, country star

10/30/07 Robert Goulet, 73, Broadway star

10/30/07 Marchel Ivery, 69, Texas tenor jazz musician

11/02/07 Dan Billings, 51, drummer for Missouri

11/06/07 Hank Thompson, 82, country star

11/20/07 Ernest "Doc" Paulin, 100, New Orleans trad jazz musician

11/2307 Gary Deal, 52. KKFI radio DJ

11/23/07 Casey Calvert, , rhythm guitarist for Hawthorne Heights

11/25/07 Kevin DuBrow, 52, vocalist for Quiet Riot

12/01/07 Zayda Pena, 28, front person in Zayda & Los Culpables

12/02/07 Sergio Gomez, , vocalist for K-Paz de la Sierra

12/04/07 Pimp C, 33, UGK

12/05/07 Carlos "Patato" Valdes, 81, Cuban percussionist

12/05/07 Karlheinz Stockhausen, 79, composer

12/13/07 Ike Turner, 76, rock architect

12/14/07 Frank Morgan, 73, jazz saxophonist

12/16/07 Dan Fogelberg, 56, pop folk star

12/17/07 Joel Dorn, 65, jazz and pop producer

12/23/07 Oscar Peterson, 82, jazz pianist

12/25/07 Cotton Candy, 76, Kansas City blues singer

12/26/07 Joe Dolan, 68, Irish vocalist

Friday, December 28, 2007

Oscar Peterson, 1925-2007

Farewell, Mr. Peterson.

It took about twenty years of listening intently to jazz before I began to appreciate Oscar Peterson. I initially felt that the unapologetic beauty he offered, along with his overwhelming technical prowess, just wasn't for me. I was more of a Monk man. Peterson died Sunday. This original composition, recorded in 1986 with Joe Pass, David Young and Martin Drew, was originally released on Live!. It's also available on a fine collection titled The Composer. While I may still prefer Monk, my tastes have developed enough to allow me to revel in Peterson's artistry.

Locals will want to know that the Streetside on Delmar in St. Louis is closing. It's the sister store to the retail location in Westport.

I contributed a few Kansas City-oriented music lists to Present magazine.

Kansas City Click: Organic Proof is featured tonight at Mike's Tavern.

Trent Tomlinson provides the music at Saturday's rodeo. (Wouldn't Kemper Arena be a better venue than the Sprint Center for this event?) Anyway, I've never switched the station when this song came on.

The Record Bar offers an all-ages early show Sunday. Mi Corazon Negro and Black Oxygen are among the local noisemakers on tap.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Julian Waterfall Pollack: Exclusive Interview

Julian Waterfall Pollack- I'll Remember April (MP3)
Grace and Julian- Couldn't You Try To Care (MP3)
Purchase Grace and Julian's debut at iTunes here.

With the recent passing of Oscar Peterson, many jazz fans might feel that the music they love is fading into oblivion. It's just not true. A startlingly young generation of jazz musicians is bringing fresh insights and new energy to the music.

One of the most promising prodigies is Julian Waterfall Pollack. The teenager is already attracting significant attention. While Marian McPartland called Peterson "the finest technician that I have ever seen," she's also a Pollack patron.

Both as a straight-ahead jazz pianist (his MySpace) and in a jazz-informed pop setting as Grace and Julian, Waterfall's accomplished playing and forward-thinking sensibility are already very rewarding.

I'm delighted to present an unedited email interview I recently conducted with Pollack. (I added bold text for emphasis.)

There Stands The Glass: I suspect that you discovered me and my blogs because I occasionally write about Eldar, another remarkably young jazz pianist.  Do you know him?  Do you sense a musical kinship with him?

Julian Waterfall Pollack: I actually have not met Eldar. I admire what he has done, especially with his new record. His technique is scary! I sense a certain musical kinship with him in that we are both young pianists in the jazz scene trying to develop new ideas, but I feel that our approach to music is very different.

TSTG: Have you heard Jaymay, Blue Note Record's latest signing?  She combines pop and jazz in a fashion not unlike Grace and Julian.  It seems like that style might represent what's considered jazz in 2007. Any thoughts on the semantics of jazz?

JWP: It was not until recently that I checked out Jaymay. Her music is very unique and I like it. However, I feel that her music lends itself more to a pop audience. To me, jazz means improvisation, and her music does not contain much improvisation. Jazz does not have to be swing 4/4 time (for all I care it could be a techno beat) but there has to be improvisation; otherwise, it's not "jazz."

TSTG: I'm enthralled with Robert Glasper's new release.  You list him as an influence at your MySpace account. He seems to have discovered the secret to successfully bringing a hip hop sensibility to jazz piano. Glasper doesn't play it- he implies it.   Since I lack your technical expertise, can you explain to me why it's so hard to do what Glasper does without sounding obvious or cheesy?

JWP: Glasper's really doing something new right now. You are totally right, he implies hip-hop in his music. The reason he can do it so organically is because he can play so well in the individual genres. He can play great be-bop as well as playing the most sensual chords you'll ever hear on the Rhodes in a hip-hop group. It doesn't sound cheesy when he does it because it's just natural for him to cross over when playing each style. When other people try to do it, it's just not natural.

TSTG: I have an uninformed bias against formal jazz education.  It seems that jazz education is a bigger and more promising industry than jazz performance.  Do you care to defend it?  Or can it be a disadvantage?

JWP: I completely agree with you. After a certain amount of jazz lessons, there's nothing left to teach. Jazz education at the University level is the biggest part of the jazz industry. It's depressing, but that's just how it is. Jazz has become too sophisticated for the average person to understand and really, I mean REALLY, dig. I just hope that the jazz community and fans stays alive. Honestly, I think it will. There will always be a select group of people who really love substantial art forms.

TSTG: You seem to be developing parallel careers- a straight jazz profile and a pop one.  Or is all just one thing to you?  If they are separate entities, how do they help and/or hinder your development?

JWP: It's hard to juggle the two careers, that I can't deny. I would like to treat them as one thing, but I can't. I think that a lot of musicians are dealing with this issue these days. You can't be just a "jazz" musician and expect to make a living unless you are one of the chosen few, and I really mean it when I say "few." Lots of jazz musicians have to do pop projects--and they don't like it, it just pays well. Fortunately, I really do love pop music and I like writing pop tunes. I bring improvisation to the table with the "Grace and Julian" project and it is extremely satisfying. I think above all, pop music helps the development of my jazz career rather than hinder it.

TSTG: You're still a teenager.  Have you even decided what kind of career do you hope to have?

JWP: Right now I am 19-and-a-half, a sophomore at NYU. I just want to be able to play the most beautiful music in the world for the rest of my life. I want music to be the way I make a living because music is my life. I hope to have great success, and I hope to work in all genres: jazz, pop, hip-hop, and even classical. Right now, I'm studying classical composition at NYU.

TSTG: How did you manage to appear on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz?

JWP: I was playing at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Last Generation Festival (which is the high school competition) in 2006 and Marian had sent a friend of hers out to the festival to find a young musician to interview. Her friend saw me and asked the judges about me. One thing led to another and I got an e-mail from her asking me to send her my CD, Goin' For It. She said she had a friend who had an international radio show. I had no idea she was talking about Piano Jazz! Anyhow, a few weeks later, she e-mailed me saying she had given the CD to Marian and that Marian wanted me on her show. A few months later, we recorded the show in New York.

TSTG: What's your performance schedule for 2008?  Where can people go see you?

JWP: I'm starting off 2008 playing in my hometown, Berkeley CA, at the Jazzschool with my trio. We play there every six months and it's always really fun. It's a great place to play. Then I head to Miami FL to play with Grace at this Gala for the NFAA (the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz All Stars belong to this organization). January 26th I play with the trio at Smalls in New York City. Not a lot is planned for the winter because of school. A tour is being set up for the summer. I will for sure be making appearances in places such as Northern California, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Louisiana. This will all be updated on the website and MySpace page.

TSTG: At the end of 2008- twelve months from now- what do you hope to have accomplished?

JWP: Well, I have this project that I'm working on right now called "Sea of Stories". I've been writing pieces that are based on great literature. These pieces have titles such as Death of Hamlet, Invisibility, Odyssey, On the Road, and more. I played some of these pieces when I toured over the summer of 2007 and the audiences really loved these pieces. I am planning to record the album in 2008. I feel this is going to be my first real personal statement recording. This is going to be "my" sound.

TSTG: Do you intend to continue self-releasing your music?  Or would signing with a record label be advantageous?

JWP: I will continue self-releasing my music unless I get a deal I like from a good record label. Today it seems like it's almost better to be independent because you have more control.

TSTG: In a blindfold test of Ellington's "Solitude," a listener would never guess that you're just a kid.  You sound like a wizened old pro.   Do you feel experienced, or are you faking it?

JWP: When I play, I try to play tastefully, and that's what the pros do, so I guess I am succeeding if you think I sound like a wizened old pro! Although I am young, I do feel that I have had quite a bit of experience playing the standard repertoire. It's a very important part of improvisation because it is base one. You have to be able to improvise over standards before you can move on to more complex material.

TSTG: My favorite song is "The Golden Key."  Maybe it's your use of pedals; I can't quite pin down what I like about it.  Were you invoking a specific feeling or artist?

JWP: The Golden Key is actually the name of a children's book by George MacDonald. I remember listening to it on Books-On-Tape when I was a kid and it completely mesmerized me. It was so magical. I saw that book on my bookshelf over the Summer and took it out and read it. Then I went the piano and I thought of that magic feeling. Within ten minutes I wrote the tune, "The Golden Key." The Delay Pedal adds to the magical feeling by setting up a whirlwind of repeats and perfect time.

TSTG: "The Death of Hamlet" is resembles an art song.  Do you have words in mind for that piece?  What's the story behind it?

JWP: After seeing Derek Jacobi's performance of Hamlet, I wrote this piece. There are no words. Hamlet is such a powerful play. The language is beautiful and the story is heartbreaking. I tried to write the piece "Death of Hamlet" in the same manner: a beautiful melody and heartbreaking harmony.

TSTG: Grace's voice is so big- almost overwhelmingly big.  (Live performance video.) Do you compose with that in mind?  How does it affect your sound?

JWP: When I write music with Grace, it's fifty-fifty. She writes the lyrics, I write the harmony and structure: we work on the melodies together. She has a huge voice and I try to write music that will support her. I think it has been working out. I really dig our new record.

TSTG: I like your organ work on the pop record.  Do you think you'll ever make an organ jazz album?

JWP: You know, I don't think I'll ever make an organ jazz album for the same reason that most saxophone players wouldn't try to make a trumpet album. The organ is so different from the piano. I have learned how to play a lot of funky stuff on the organ, enough to do it on my pop projects (and occasional overdubs on jazz records), but when it comes to playing "jazz," I have to stick with the piano. I'd have to go back to school if I want to learn how to play jazz organ!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Frank Morgan, 1933-2007

Farewell, Mr. Morgan

Charlie Parker protege Frank Morgan died a week ago today. With the possible exceptions of Sonny Stitt and Phil Woods, Morgan was the altoist most dedicated to keeping Parker's sound alive. Unfortunately, Morgan also emulated unsavory aspects of Parker's lifestyle. He spent much of his life in prison. While the interplay between Morgan and Bud Shank is astounding throughout the out-of-print Quiet Fire, I've selected Morgan's deeply affecting solo work on "Emily" to serve as a fitting summation of the man's art and life. Song With Orange has more on Morgan.

I get a kick out of seeing artists including Lupe Fiasco and the dudes from Gym Class Heroes and Spoon discussing their 2007 Top Ten lists at MySpace. Pouring through Largehearted Boy's compilation of best-of lists is also a dangerously addictive pastime.

Kansas City Click: Just like thousands of other indie-rock obsessives in the Midwest seventeen-or-so years ago, I really liked the Pedaljets. They're playing a reunion gig at the Brick tonight in support of the reissue of their second album.

Mike Moellman makes noises inside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art late Saturday afternoon.

In an odd combination of venue and artist, the Wild Women of Kansas City will be at George Brett's on Sunday night.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Favorite 25 Albums of 2007

1. Kanye West- Graduation
I can't disagree with the man- he's "doing pretty good as far as geniuses go."

2. The Frames- The Cost
The stunning video for "People Get Ready" exemplifies the album's exposed Irish nerves.

3. Robert Glasper- In My Element
How do you successfully combine hip hop and jazz? You don't play it. You imply it.

4. White Stripes- Icky Thump
The Houses of the Holy have been relocated to Michigan.

5. UGK- Underground Kingz
Like Houston in July, it's sprawling, steamy and imbued with a nasty funk. Farewell, Pimp C.

6. Jay-Z- American Gangster
Hova touches down in the holy era of classic soul.

7. Wynton Marsalis- From the Plantation To the Penitentiary
An angry Wynton is an entertaining Wynton.

8. Alison Krauss- A Hundred Miles Or More
She's never more convincing than when she's selling out.

9. OK Jones- Elephantoms
I disagree with almost all of fellow music scribe Richard Gintowt's opinions, but I'm in complete accord with every nuance of his music.

10. Kenny Wayne Shepherd- 10 Days Out: Blues From the Backroads
Don't mock this pick before you've viewed the video of the project's opening song. The kid stays out of the way of Cootie Stark, Neal "Big Daddy" Pattman, Etta Baker, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, David "Honeyboy" Edwards and several other elder statesman. 10 Days Out is a completely unexpected treasure.

11. Spanish Harlem Orchestra- United We Swing
The definition of joy.

12. Mac Lethal- 11:11
"I hate your boyfriend!"

13. Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner- Ojos Negros
It comes across far better in ECM's studios, but here's a taste of the duet's sublime art.

14. The Bad Plus- Prog
The future of jazz? Fine by me.

15. Caetano Veloso- Ce
Veloso "Rocks"?

16. The Nels Cline Singers- Draw Breath
Bring the noise.

17. Tinariwen- Aman Iman
You want soul music? Start here.

18. Autumn Defense- Autumn Defense
The modest throwback to '70s country-rock is charming.

19. Lil Flip- I Need Mine
I vividly recall the exact moment I fully embraced the music of today's thugs. Darn right, I was scared. Still am.

20. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky
I'm shocked that this doesn't resonate more deeply with me. (I think it's somehow connected to my loathing of Bruce's Magic.)

21. David Witham- Spinning the Circle
Jazz was once surprising, funny and compelling. With Witham, it still is. Try "The Neon" (MP3).

22. Mark Olson- The Salvation Blues
The roots icon is battered, bruised and humbled, as detailed in this stark video.

23. Alicia Keys- As I Am
It might not happen until Joe Henry produces her in 2031, but Keys will eventually make my favorite album of all time. Until then, I'll consider As I Am's best moments a preview.

24. Pendergast- Between the Bottle and the Pulpit
Their roots-rock sound may be out of favor, but the Kansas City band's true grit will sustain.

25. Angelique Kidjo- Djin Djin
The most commercially calculated album on my list was made by a diminutive 47-year-old Beninese woman. I loved 2007!

Can't get enough? My favorite 25 songs of 2007 are here. My favorite 25 shows of 2007 are here. And the Top 10 lists of dozens of Kansas City residents are posted at the Star's music blog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Joel Dorn, 1942-2007

Farewell, Mr. Dorn.

"Keep a light in the window." That's how Joel Dorn would conclude his liner notes for each title in his 32 Jazz reissue label. Dorn, a DJ, producer and music industry raconteur, died Monday. The most wonderful thing about Dorn's eclectic career was his belief- one I obviously share- that jazz, pop, rock and R&B are the same thing. Yusef Lateef's "Stay With Me" is a typical Dorn production. It seems as light as air and is catchy enough to serve as a theme song for a television program. But it's also intricate enough to reward deep listening. The ballad is contained on this themed compilation and on this box set. Both are out-of-print. Dorn's spirit is captured in this video as he discusses his relationship to jazz bagpiper Rufus Harley.

Kansas City Click: I'd go to the Peanut's The Jumpoff party tonight, but I'm not sure that the young ladies prominently featured at Dutch Newman's MySpace page are ready to share a table with me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Don Carlos- Ababajoni


Everybody loves Black Uhuru, and rightfully so. Often overlooked, however, is the solo career of two-time Uhuru vocalist Don Carlos. The out-of-print Time Is the Master compilation is one of my favorite reggae albums. While he worked in a variety of settings in the '70s and '80s, the Rastafarian's pure voice and off-kilter sensibility are always entertaining. Much of Carlos' work is deliberately odd, from the implied violence of "Lazer Beam", to the righteous "Ababajoni," which threatens to break into full dub mode an any moment.

A major upset in the making? The new Jaheim outsold Mary J. Blige at my retail job this morning.

Kansas City Click: Clint Ashlock leads New Jazz Order at Harling's.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas In Missouri

Anthony Ladesich- Christmas Eve
Howard Iceberg- Christmas In Missouri

I can scarcely abide Christmas music. I'd rather decorate a Christmas tree in October than hear "Jingle Bells" before Christmas Eve. Enough already! That said, I've discovered two extraordinary new holiday songs by local songwriters. I think so highly of them that in a There Stands the Glass first, I'm posting MP3s that aren't represented by a CD in my collection.

Tony Ladesich is a true believer in the redemptive power of rock'n'roll. His band Pendergast operates squarely in the No Depression camp. Uncle Tupelo and Steve Earle are obvious touchstones. As I suggested last week, the imaginative "Christmas Eve" is the equal of seminal seasonal songs by the Pogues and John Prine.

In addition to being a gifted songwriter, Howard Iceberg is one of the coolest people I've ever met. Rather than going into his intriguing back story, I'll simply note that on any given day I'd just as soon listen to Iceberg instead of James McMurtry or Prine. The wry "Christmas In Missouri" is pure Howard.

I was puzzled when James Blunt's "Beautiful" was received with such vehement loathing. It didn't bug me at all. When I heard the sad news about Dan Fogelberg's passing, I think I finally figured it out. I grew up hearing ultra-lite hits like Fogelberg's "Longer Than" and John Denver's "Annie's Song". Blunt's ballad comes across like Aerosmith by comparison.

Did you happen to see the crazy Mary J. Blige solicitation in Best Buy's Sunday circular? They offer four purchase options. They'll sell you a physical CD or a digital download of the album at Each is $9.99. Then there's the CD plus five bonus downloads ("choose from over 4 million songs"). That's $11.99. The final $13.99 option throws in a Blige ringtone with the CD and five bonus downloads. Growing Pains indeed.

Kansas City Click: The Jazz Disciples host a jam session tonight at the Blue Room.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Spike Jones- The Vamp

Playtime is over.

I stood ten feet from J Mascis for much of last night's Dinosaur Jr concert. I loved it, but I need a respite. My remedy is Spike Jones. His lunacy is just what the (ear) doctor ordered. The four-disc Strictly For Music Lovers might be considered overkill, but really, you can't have too much of this mayhem. "The Vamp," a live recording from 1943, is just one of the box's 93 treasures.

Hark! The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" and John Prine's "Christmas In Prison" have a new companion. Pendergast has recorded a Christmas classic. Download "Christmas Eve" immediately.

My Dinosaur Jr review is here.

Kansas City Click: Almost Kiss rocks the Brooksider tonight. The hosts' patter when the tribute band appeared on a local morning television show is excruciatingly awkward. Check it out here.

Miles Bonny DJs at the Embassy on Saturday.

Lee McBee's Sunday night gig at BB's Lawnside BBQ is one of my favorite Kansas City traditions.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ike Turner, 1931-2007

Farewell, Ike.

Chris Isaak and his band happened to be in my tour group at Sun Studios a few years ago. A spirited debate broke out between the Isaak camp, the scripted tour guide and myself about the identification of "first rock'n'roll record." The Sun representative argued for "Rocket 88" as he pointed to an exhibit with the dusty amp Ike Turner used on the 1951 session. Isaak's guitarist lobbied for Chuck Berry's first hit. I made a case for Turner's "Box Top" (featured here on 10/06/06). In each instance, Turner was physically or spiritually present.

If you don't believe my assertion that Turner influenced fellow St. Louis resident Berry, check out 1952's "Prancin'" from the Ike's Instrumentals compilation. It's a virtual blueprint for Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," recorded four years later. Turner, who died yesterday, was the man.

I last saw Turner perform three or four years ago at the Kansas City Blues & Jazz Festival. He wore leather pants and a loose-fitting vest that showed off his sculpted torso. Even in his 70s he cut an imposing figure. And when a blonde in his band wasn't singing lead, his set consisted of tough R&B.

An unfortunate controversy about Turner's legacy in St. Louis continued right up to his death. If you still insist on seeing Ike with Annie Mae, I recommend this incendiary footage.

Kansas City Click: Dinosaur Jr is at the VooDoo Lounge tonight. Awesome Color and Dead Girls Ruin Everything open.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Malajube- Montreal


Trompe L'Oeil came into my possession in anticipation of Malajube's March performance at the Record Bar. I ended up working a show at the Uptown the same night. Better late than never, I suppose... The Canadian band reminds me of early Super Furry Animals. Not only does Malajube expertly fuse pop and psych, they don't sing in English either. While "Montreal" (video) is typical, Malajube is not all Day-Glo sunshine. "Casse-cou is a convincing proggy freak-out.

I wimped out on Saturday's Mac Lethal show. As if that wasn't bad enough, reports are trickling in that opening act Grieves was a revelation. Please don't think less of me for enjoying the beer commercial-style joke video of "My Girlfriend Beats Me".

Kansas City Click: Barbaric Merits spin at the downtown Peanut.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Clara Ward- Out On a Hill


College basketball's finals week hiatus allowed me to catch a rerun of the final broadcast of BET's gospel competition Sunday Best. The winner, announced last week, is an old-fashioned belter out of Takoma named Crystal Aikin. As seen here, she's the real deal. She may even develop into a modern version of Clara Ward. I could happily listen to Ward all day. Her catalog is a bit of a mess, but "Out on a Hill" can be found on this compilation.

Until I watched the Knebworth '79 portion of the Led Zeppelin DVD last night, I didn't really feel badly about missing the band's reunion in London. Even over 25 years later, seeing them storm through new material like "In the Evening" is exhilarating. It's kind of an embarrassing confession, but I suppose I'll pony up if they tour North American in 2008.

Kansas City Click: Ozzy! Zombie! Sprint Center! Tonight!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Carlos "Patato" Valdes, 1926-2007

Farewell, Patato.

Carlos "Patato" Valdes went out in style. According to this obituary, he invoked his Santeria faith the moment before he died Wednesday in Cleveland. He was 81. Valdes is credited for inventing the tuned conga drum and was a manic showman while in his prime. This is a more recent video of Valdes in action. "Comelon," a 1993 recording from the out-of-print Masterpiece, features Valdes on congas and Ronnie Cuber on soprano, Michel Camilo on piano, Joe Santiago on bass, Ignacio Berroa on drums and Charlie Santiago on guiro.

I've seen Etta James, Latimore, Prince and Bobby Rush. R. Kelly's performance Friday night wasn't the most shocking I've witnessed- everyone knew what to expect- but it was the dirtiest. Tim Finn's review is here. I agree with everything Tim wrote, but he didn't mention Kelly's thrilling boxer-style entrance through the crowd.

Kansas City Click: It's Over plays a "free, family-friendly" gig at the Record Bar. The 7 p.m. start time might beat this evening's ice storm.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Burl Ives- Mr. Rabbit

The rabbit died.

I suspect that most people only know Burl Ives today through his role as the voice of the friendly snowman in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It's a nice way to be remembered, but long before the advent of Raffi and Sesame Street, Ives recorded a great deal of popular children's classics. And he didn't sugarcoat it. "Mr. Rabbit" sounds sweet enough, but the ditty ends with the revelation that the subject is "almost dead." Sleep tight, kids! Find it on the excellently subtitled collection Lavender Blue: Songs of Charm, Humour and Sincerity. This thirty-second television commercial is very revealing on several different levels.

The terror continues for Mexican musicians. Jose Luis Aquino of Los Condes is the most recent victim.

Like most YouTube addicts, I'm a connoisseur of homemade tribute videos. Since the Streets didn't provide one, a fan filled the void with a clever video of "It Was Supposed To Be So Easy".

Kansas City Click: I plan to limp into the Sprint Center for tonight's R. Kelly, Keisha Cole and J. Holiday concert.

Here's the deal: I'll pay someone's $25 entrance fee for Mac Lethal's show on Saturday if they're willing to pick me up and safely return me to my home 13 miles away. The cover charge includes the show and unlimited beer at the Flying Monkey Brewery in Olathe. Email or call me.

The Lemonheads and Racoon are at the Record Bar on Sunday night. (Oh, how I love this song.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Favorite 25 Songs of 2007

"I want to say, 'Damn, it's too good to be my song,'" the late Gerald Levert cries on "In My Song," my eleventh favorite single of 2007. Although I had absolutely nothing to do with it or any of the other 24 songs on the following list, I feel the same shock of delight at how much I love each of them.

The requirement for consideration on my list is that each entry must have received rotation on commerical American radio and video outlets. I cheated on my top two selections. Public Enemy's song reduces me to tears of joy that are only partly flavored with nostalgia. I also made an exception for Dizzee Rascal's brilliantly harrowing "Sirens." As with PE's effort, I guess it's just too confrontational for public airwaves.

Without my self-imposed rules, this list would contain several regional favorites, including the all-too apt "Mental Condition" (MP3) by Lawrence kids Coat Party. Hey, K Records- sign 'em up!

1. Dizzee Rascal- "Sirens"
2. Public Enemy- "Harder Than You Think"
3. Playaz Circle with Lil' Wayne- Duffle Bag Boy"
4. Amy Winehouse- "Rehab"
5. Lil Mama- "Lip Gloss"
6. UGK featuring Outkast- "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)"
7. Rich Boy- "Throw Some D's"
8. Jake Owen- "Startin' With Me"
9. Kanye West- "Can't Tell Me Nothing"
10. Bucky Covington- "A Different World"
11. Gerald Levert- "In My Songs"
12. White Stripes- "Icky Thump"
13. Spoon- "The Underdog"
14. Anthony Hamilton- "Struggle No More"
15. James Morrison- "You Give Me Something"
16, Modest Mouse- "Missed the Boat"
17. Common- "The People"
18. Jay-Z- "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)..."
19. Lil' Flip feat. Lyfe Jennings- "Ghetto Mindstate"
20. Graciela Beltran- "No Me Pregunten Por El"
21. Jason Aldean- "Johnny Cash"
22. Alicia Keys- "Like You'll Never See Me Again"
23. Baby Boy Da Prince- "The Way I Live"
24. Blake Shelton- "The More I Drink"
25. Chamillionaire- "Evening News"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My 25 Favorite Shows of 2007

Charlie Louvin looked into my eyes as he addressed me from the stage. I was thrilled, even if I was one of only a couple dozen people in the audience at an under-promoted show at the Grand Emporium.

It was a clear personal highlight in a great year for live music in Kansas City. I'm very fortunate to have gone out to see music over 100 nights in 2007. Counting opening acts and festival bills, I attended over 400 individual performances. These are my favorite 25.

As I review this list, I'm struck by two themes. First, what's up with all the ancient musicians? Louvin (80) is joined by Ray Price (81), Etta James (69), Bob Dylan (66), Ronnie Milsap (64) and John McEuen (61). Well, at least Pinetop Perkins (94), Hubert Sumlin (76), Bill Gaither (71) and Isaac Hayes (65) didn't make the cut.

It's also worth noting that I don't particularly care for the music of every artist listed below. For example, I far prefer the Arctic Monkeys and Camera Obscura to Bowling For Soup and Kellie Pickler. The latter pair, however, gave outstanding performances, while desultory efforts by the two U.K. acts disappointed me.

I've posted links to same-concert fan footage where it's available.

1. Ray Price- Knuckleheads
2. Roy Hargrove- Folly Theater
3. Rufus Wainwright- VooDoo Lounge same show footage
4. Charlie Louvin- Grand Emporium
5. Art Brut- Granada Theater
6. Arturo Sandoval- Jazz In the Woods festival same show footage
7. Drowning Pool- Rockfest same show footage
8. Ronnie Milsap- Kemper Arena same show footage
9. Etta James- VooDoo Lounge
10. Bowling For Soup- Grand Emporium same show footage
11. Christina Aguilera- Kemper Arena same show footage
12. Rodney Crowell- Knuckleheads
13. Sean Lennon- Grand Emporium same show footage
14. John McEuen- Mountain Music Shoppe
15. Dee Dee Bridgewater- Gem Theater
16. Bob Dylan- Starlight Theater
17. OK Jones- house party
18. Albert Hammond, Jr.- Uptown Theater same show footage
19. Ziggy Marley- Crossroads same show footage
20. Kellie Pickler- Verizon Amphitheater same show footage
21. Megan Birdsall with the Gary Sivils Quartet- Jardine's
22. Lori McKenna- in-store at Borders
23. Burden Brothers- Rockfest same show footage
24. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals- VooDoo footage of GP with Gov't Mule later same night
25.Tater & the Gravy Train- Harry's Country Club footage from weekly show

Just for good measure, here's an MP3 of Tater & the Gravy Train performing "Wreck of the Old 97" at Harry's.

Zayda Pena and Sergio Gomez Murdered

Terror in Mexico: Two Mexican musicians have been murdered in the past week. The tortured body of Sergio Gomez, the front man for the very popular K-Paz de la Sierra was found Sunday. He's seen singing the excellent "Mi Credo" here. Zayda Pena, featured with her group Los Culpables in the embedded video, was shot and killed in a hospital bed December 3, where she was recovering from a previous assassination attempt. She was 28.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pimp C, 1973-2007

I'm deeply saddened by the passing of Pimp C earlier today. Underground Kingz is among my favorite albums of 2007. "Like Houston in July, it's sprawling, steamy and imbued with a nasty funk," I wrote in my year-end recap. Rather than posting an MP3, as I ordinarily would, I'm embedding this YouTube version of "Living This Life." The curious may also want to view this set of promotional videos. Pimp C makes refreshingly candid statements at the 3:53 and the 9:10 marks. I suspect he lived his life with the same candor.

Willie Dixon- Don't Let That Music Die


Oh, how I'll be mocked! I submitted my Top Ten Albums of 2007 list to the Star yesterday. It includes a blues release that is certain to cause guffaws of disbelief from hipsters and purists. But it's actually an exceptional document that serves as the last hurrah of several elder statesman. Against all odds, it doesn't contain a single Blues Hammer moment (relevant footage from :20-1:05). It's immensely encouraging that- even at this late date- the blues can still surprise. Before the blues was ossified into predictable formula, Willie Dixon's band recorded a couple dozen free-ranging sides that might seem totally foreign to contemporary fans of "the blooze." They include the delightfully hokey "Don't Let That Music Die" from 1949. It's found only on this exemplary out-of-print compilation, but Dixon's Poet of the Blues looks like it's almost as good.

This set of Darkness On the Edge of Town songs by Patterson Hood significantly improves the quality of my life. The Drive-By Trucker gets deep inside Bruce's anthems. I imagine the jerks ignoring this brilliance as they blab at the bar were waiting for the Sonic Youth tribute act on the same bill. (Found via Aquarium Drunkard.)

I wax nostalgic over one of my old haunts at Plastic Sax.

Kansas City Click: Dead Rock West and The Knitters are at Davey's tonight. The last time I saw Exene perform in a venue this small was at a poetry reading.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Exclusive Interview with Frank Lee Drennen of Dead Rock West

There Stands the Glass conducted an email interview with Frank Lee Drennen of Dead Rock West last week. The California-based band's Honey and Salt is arguably the best roots-oriented rock album of 2007.

The band is currently on tour with John Doe, Exene and the rest of the The Knitters. (The tour stops at Davey's in Kansas City on Tuesday.) Dead Rock West travels to Great Britain in January.

Drennen seems annoyed by the tone of a couple of my questions. But what's the fun of an interview without a little tension? I put Drennen's best quotes in bold.

There Stands The Glass: I listened to the new release before I knew anything about your band. I was initially put off. It seemed too polished... Is there something to be said for young-and-dumb primitive rock'n'roll, or is
the music always better when performed by knowledgeable and experienced professionals?

Frank Lee Drennen: Rock and Roll to me means doing what the fuck you want to do when the fuck you want to do it.  If it's from the heart and honest in the moment you're in, it's rock and roll to me.  Some folks would disagree and want to discuss production values or the age of the performers, what they wear, how they move, if it sounds "raw" or "polished."  I don't make music to please others.  Mind you, I want to connect with people, but if I second guess myself and write or record something that is not actually coming from me but out of need for approval, I'm fucked and might as well get a job with health insurance and a pension.
This record was made with love.  We labored hard to make a record that
would be timeless, not flavor of the week.  Honey and Salt is not a
Pro Tools-manipuated, beat-detected, auto pitch-corrected Frankenstein
creation made "in the box."  These recordings were made by our own hands
and mouths.   We recorded it on analogue  2"  24-track-tape and mixed it
to half-inch tape using all mechanical effects. The songs came from
heartache and doubt and a determined hope for a better day
.  This is
the very best we could do in the moment.  This record is meant to come
on slowly (if you give it a chance) and stay with you, in the mind and

TSTG: Out of the hundreds of live performances I saw this year, a few of the best came from veteran musicians. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think those artists are still on the road because it's in their blood, not because they need to pick up a check. I sense that Dead Rock West shares that sensibility.

FLD: Listen, we all gotta eat, but for me if the fire is gone.... I'm out; I'll
go be a carpenter.  Music is just another form of artistic expression.  If
passion and determination to express an ever changing personal view of the
world is non-existent, why do it?

TSTG: Cindy Wasserman's duet with John Doe on "The Golden State" is incredible...

FLD: Cindy has recorded on records for Rickie Lee Jones, Grant Lee Phillips and Mark Olson among others and I constantly get this question.  She is the best harmony singer I have ever met.  She has a born ability to meld exactly with who she's singing with, yet sound like herself.  She is amazing to me.

TSTG: What's your goal for Dead Rock West? What level of popularity to
you hope to achieve?

FLD: World domination, of course. :)   We write songs to connect with people
and want to do that with as many people as possible.  That said, we are
committed to being ourselves and not making apologies.

TSTG: My favorite Dead Rock West song is "Pretty Disaster." I love... the way it recalls other great bands while simultaneously sounding brand new...

FLD: Thank you.  That is what I want to do, honor the past while making a mark uniquely our own.  We are all music fans and listen to many types of music. We never sat down and wrote a mission statement for the band, except for maybe two singers singing great songs.

TSTG: What's it like touring with X and the Knitters? Do their audiences automatically take to you?

FLD: Our first gig with them is tomorrow night, but I can tell you that touring
this summer with John Doe was a wonderful experience.  I was impressed
with how generous and open minded his fans are.  They are the best, loyal
and willing to go along for the ride as the artist changes.

TSTG: I find your decision to include a cover of X's "Burning House of Love" surprising. It seems like you're making the comparison to X too easy for guys like me.

FLD: The X comparison is obvious as we are a guy/girl duo like them, but we are decidedly more folk and country.  Know that I am a huge Byrds, R.E.M., U2 and Waterboys fan.  In my mind covering "Burning House Of Love" is not obvious.  But that is just my perspective.

TSTG: It seems like honest, no-frills roots rock bands like Dead Rock
West are out of style. Do you expect that to change?

FLD: don't understand.  Do you mean out of style with the charts?  I am a
music fan first and I can tell you the popularity of a style or band has
never never never influenced me to listen or to not listen.  Good music,
that is want I want.  It is what the world is screaming for.  I think
there are way too many bands that sound like a Pepsi comercial. That's bullshit.

There Stands the Glass thanks Drennen, Alex Steininger and this photographer.