Dread Zeppelin: Rock & Roll RePast

Posted: February 28th, 2024 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

At its most astute, satire not only makes fun of the subject it is skewing, but it does so with a reverence and acknowledgment.

In rock & roll, the prime example of exacting, may I say perfect satire is Spinal Tap.

Not only do David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls and whatever drummer has been able to make it through the day alive make iconic music, resonant of the Brit 70s rock scene, but they are oh so deftly managed by Sir Denis Eton-Hogg.

Director Marti DiBergi’s telling documentary of the band’s decline stands as the best ever about the music scene.

What rock fan of any worth has not referenced “Eleven. Exactly. One Louder” at some moment or another to make a point.

The flip side, for me anyway, of satire not working is Sha Na Na. Whom I always thought just made fun, did not show true respect for the early days of rock & roll.

All of which brings me to a very real, very good and oh so satirical group.

Dread Zeppelin. Read the rest of this entry »

Ellen McIlwaine: Rock & Roll Repast

Posted: February 15th, 2024 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a Rock & Roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

As is my tendency before I hit the hay, I was culling the interweb the other night, searching for some tuneage that would allow my head to rest more gently on the pillow.

When I came across Lake Street Dive vocalist Rachael Price’s sublime rendering of Steve Winwood’’s “Can’t Find My Way Home.” The original appeared on the only album of one and done “supergroup” Blind Faith.

Listening to Ms. Price I couldn’t help but think of the first time I heard that melancholy take of a cover of the tune. By the egregiously ignored Ellen McIlwaine. Read the rest of this entry »

Bluegrass on the Belvedere: R&R RePast

Posted: January 26th, 2024 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

Bluegrass music is not rock & roll. Though it’s certainly a part of it.

Elvis Presley’s first release had Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on one side, and blues master Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All Right, Mama” on the flip.

There was plenty of cross-pollination through the years.

Byron Berline, once of member of The Cumberlands, played fiddle on the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman.” Jerry Garcia hooked up with Vassar Clements and former Bluegrass Boy Peter Rowan in Old and In The Way. Rowan ventured into rock in Seatrain. Banjo savant Earl Scruggs joined his sons in forming a rock band.

Sam Bush and Newgrass Revival covered Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes.”

So let’s venture back to the halcyon days when the only urban bluegrass festival settled in on Louisville’s Belvedere. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll RePast: Solomon Burke @ the Zoo

Posted: January 11th, 2024 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | No Comments »

Let’s consider Solomon Burke.

Though never as famous, the charismatic soul singer sits rightfully in the conversation of his more noted contemporaries. Otis Redding. James Brown. Sam Cooke. Wilson Pickett.

Always a man of considerable girth, even before the morbid obesity of his later years, he was ever entrepreneurial. On those extended Parade of Stars tours in the 50s and 60s, when performers would often get to towns where they couldn’t find eateries that would serve them, Burke cooked. Burke supplied sandwiches. For which eats legend has it, he would up the prices as the tour ground on.

He was banned from appearing at the Apollo for insisting that he control concession stands on the nights he performed.

His career never really waned, though he was never a big time headliner.

But he was thrust back into the mainstream spotlight in 2002 upon the acclaimed Fat Possum release of his Joe Henry-produced “Don’t Give Up on Me.” He won a Grammy.

I probably saw him on one of those tours in the 60s. Though, frankly, I have no specific remembrance.

I did hear him thrice in the 90s. I can’t give exact dates. Or the order.

Two were marvelous. He was always on, workin’ to make it work. Read the rest of this entry »

Astral Weeks Live at Hollywood Bowl: A Moment

Posted: December 30th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I’ve got lots of stories. Here’s another.

Sometimes the stars and planets just align.

Like November 7, 2008.

The tale begins a few months earlier. Before a David Byrne show at the Palace.

Newly betrothed, the Film Babe and I ran into some old pals, who are as musically obsessed as we.

To learn that Van Morrison would be performing the entirety of “Astral Weeks” live, for the first time ever. At the Hollywood Bowl a few months later.

My recent bride and I looked at each other and had the same thoughts.

Favorite singer. Favorite album. Bucket List venue.

Plus, we hadn’t yet had a chance to do any sort of honeymooning thing.

The cherry on the sundae came when we went online immediately upon getting home, to discover tickets were still available. In the 3d row. Read the rest of this entry »

Bands I Didn’t Hear Live: The Big Mea Culpa

Posted: December 18th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here are more.

Given my annoying propensity to play rock & roll oneupsmanship at every opportunity, I’m often asked a question.

Are there any bands from back in the day you didn’t see live?

Of course there are. As loathe as I am to admit it.

My résumé has holes, some of my own making.

The one that stands out above the rest actually isn’t a concert but a lecture.

One night when I was at U of L, during Little Richard’s first exile from performing, he was giving a lecture at school. I had heard him perform previously, but this was an opportunity to experience one of the Founding Fathers up close and personal.

For some reason, dunderheaded in retrospect, I blew it off. To discover later, there weren’t but about a dozen people there, that he was very engaging and he spoke mostly about his religion, handed out bibles, but answered questions.

So that’s a major hole in my curriculum vitae. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Repast: Dance Crazes

Posted: December 7th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

When it comes to 50s and 60s dance crazes — a cultural phenomenon long ago far away — I have a singular personal if somewhat fuzzy memory.

At an Atherton High School sock hop — that’s what we used to call dance parties, kids — Jenni Lehman and I were doing the Twist.

Russell Garth, an old school principal if ever there was one, came up to us, wagging his finger, ordering us to cease and desist immediately. Actually, given my memory lapses, it might have been his right hand man, Mr. Tague, JMA’s Guidance Counselor, who neither guided nor counseled.

“We don’t dance like that at our school.”

So much for our act of “rebellion.” Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll RePast: Lyrics of Leonard Cohen

Posted: November 16th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I am a lifelong rock & roller. I’ve got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

It’s a game college hoops fans play while sitting around musing about their favorite sport.

If you need one play to be drawn up in a huddle to win a big game, what coach would you choose to do it?

Which rather specious analogy brings me to the subject or rock & roll lyrics.

Who is the best? Who is in the conversation?

Dylan (No first name necessary). Duh.

Joni (No last name necessary).

Paul Simon. Lucinda. John Prine.

Chuck Berry. (Surprise entry I know, but go listen to his wordcraft, brilliantly tapping into teen zeitgeist.)

Rock the coin into the slot/ Gotta hear somethin’ that’s really hot

There are others, of course.

Most of all, the enigmatic fellow who is the subject today.

Leonard Cohen. Whose universal fame came later in life. When his persona and craggy voice had softened.

His was a life of contradictions. Trysts. Chelsea Hotel. Rebecca DeMornay. Joni Mitchell. The spiritual. Jewish. Buddhist. A half decade of seclusion in a Zen monastery.

Late in life, he needed to tour incessantly to make up for the money a manager pilfered.

Cohen’s stature had been magnified by the popularity of his most famous tune, “Hallelujah.”

Which attention ironically only manifested itself, after John Cale crafted a stirring version on the tribute album “I’m Your Fan.” Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Not Rock & Roll, But I Like It

Posted: October 29th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

And now for something completely different,

How a love for gut bucket rock & roll, the back beat, but a willingness to move beyond, can lead down rabbit holes resonant and satisfying.

My fascination started with the Founding Fathers. The architect Little Richard. The Killer Jerry Lee Lewis. The Fat Man Fats Domino. Johnny B. Goode. And the most primal Bo Diddley.

Top 40 Radio — rock, rock, rock & roll radio — was actually more inclusive than we sensed in those early days of the 50s and early 60s. A typical list of weekly hits would include not only US Bonds “Quarter To Three” but Lawrence Welk’s “Yellow Bird.”

Not only crooner Al Martino’s “Here In My Heart” but also country keyboard legend Floyd Cramer’s “San Antonio Rose.” Not only Slim Harpo’s “Rainin’ In My Heart” but the Chordettes “Never on Sunday.”

Then led by Dylan and the Beatles, after suffering through an era of Fabian, the genre expanded beyond all boundaries, becoming Rock. The classical underpinnings of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Electric Light Orchestra, and the truly operatic Queen.

Ian Anderson’s flute. John Luc Ponty’’s violin. The madrigal-ish stylings of Fotheringay. Ravi Shankar. Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

And so I moved beyond Chuck Berry. Read the rest of this entry »

King Crimson, Alexis Korner (+ Humble Pie): R & R Repast

Posted: October 16th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another. 

Starting in ’70, the year I finished law school, somehow passed the bar, and got a real adult job, ventured into psychedelics, I also attended my first rock festival.

Where I heard the whole panoply of music being made in rock’s most experimental era. Bands I didn’t know that intrigued me.

So, having the means, I started going to every concert in town whether I knew the music of the groups on the bill or not. Most of the time I heard something that resonated.

If not, there was always the scene.

King Crimson topped the bill at one of those at the Convention Center in the early 70s.*

At least that’s how I initially remembered the show and submitted this remembrance. Until my knowing and alert editor at the FPL — thank you, Mel Fisher — wondered if it wasn’t the show where the headliner was actually Humble Pie?  She sent me a photo of the concert poster. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Repast: My First Song

Posted: September 27th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 2 Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

I’ve always been fascinated with how passions germinate, evolve. Still have no clue.

I’ve got a couple, and despite all the contemplation do not understand where the depth of the obsessions came from. Though I’m grateful for them.

I do however know exactly when they started.

For U of L basketball, the date is December 8, 1952, at age 7 when my parents took me to an 89-85 Cardinal win at the Jefferson County Armory.

As for my rock & roll affliction, the moment came early summer of ’57 in Bernie and Bobby Rosenthal’s den.

I was 12 years old, and anxious to start junior high school in the fall. They were a few years older than me. Our mothers were best friends, so I spent a bunch of time at their house.

Though my memory is dim, I don’t recall being too conscious of the music scene then. WAKY 790, Louisville’s first real rock & roll station didn’t debut until the following year.

Bernie was a big music fan. Loved R&B. (I lost touch with him through the years, but ran into him sometime in 70s at an Albert King show at the Water Tower. Figures.)

He’d just received one of those seven record specials from Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee. The mail order store had become nationally known by advertising on clear channel WLAC out of nearby Nashville.

The records were 78 rpm. 45s were just becoming the new standard, given their smaller size and greater fidelity. The Rosenthals, like my parents, only had a system that played 78s,

( A year or two later, I bought my first 45 player for $19.95, with earned money, after lusting for it for weeks as it sat in Ben Snyder’s Department store window.)

Bernie started playing his new wax. Read the rest of this entry »

Allman Brothers Band at Atlanta Pop ’70

Posted: September 13th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | 2 Comments »

Merrily, Don, the Mailman and I arrived in Byron, Ga. on the 2d of July in 1970.

The Atlanta Pop Festival would start the next day.

Little did I know it would change my life.

Arriving ahead of time allowed us to avoid the heavy traffic which backed up the interstate for miles. We set up camp on the grounds by a grove of trees, just a short walk to the festival stage area.

That Thursday night I meandered over to a small stage back in the woods across the road. I listened to a couple of bands, the name of only one of which I recall.

Chakra. How very 70s.

The other remembrance of that evening — the weekend was generally a blur for reasons that needn’t be explained — was a guy at the mic kept saying, “Stick around, Sky Dog is gonna come and jam.”

I had no idea Sky Dog was Duane Allman. I’d never heard him play — that I was aware of at the time — or even of him.

Then, oh my, did I. Read the rest of this entry »