Meditation: In Memory of Gregg Allman

Posted: May 29th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Personalities | 9 Comments »

‘Cause time goes by like hurricanes/ And faster things.

Pop up thunder showers this Memorial Day Saturday.

It’s not unusual in my neck of the woods.

So I chose a movie over one or another of a couple minor music fests.

Part of the way through the flick, my phone buzzes with a text, then another, a flurry. Unusual. So I step outside to find out why the commotion?

Gregg Allman. Gone.

He’s now the fourth of the original, iconic, innovative and transcendent Allman Brothers Band to pass, joining his brother Duane, drummer Butch Trucks and bass player Berry Oakley in the rock & roll beyond.

Memories insist. Though I stay the movie becomes an afterthought. I recall there was such a pop up shower that intercepted the first set of Allmans’ music I ever heard, which was, what, wow, just short of a half century ago.

Atlanta Pop. 1970.

The rain interrupted “Mountain Jam,” the loosey goosey but ever euphonious noodling around the band ended sets with back in the day, hooked on the end of “Whipping Post.”

There’s no reason to cite the details, but that interlude allowed for a significant turning point in my life.

In fact, that whole Independence Day weekend was transitional. I had finished law school and taken the bar exam the week before. Not having properly prepped, I figured there was no way I’d pass.

On the threshold of adulthood, I hadn’t the slightest idea what came next in my life. I was without rudder.

Yet there I was reveling about in a musical wonderland at a raceway in deep Georgia. Skinny dipping. Eating nickel peaches. Savoring in their fullest the sounds — Jimi, Col. Bruce, Chambers Bros., Procol Harum, et al — and sensory enhancements of the day.

And at the first evening’s sunset, hearing the band that caused the plates to shift, that was to provide unrequited joy, ballast and succor in the decades to come. Read the rest of this entry »


The Monday After The First Saturday In May

Posted: May 8th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations, Today's Lesson Learned | 1 Comment »

Some days are traditionally and annually more difficult than others.

Perspective: I used to get really depressed at halftime of the Orange Bowl, when it was always played on New Year’s night. For decades I’d always had the last week of the year off, and it would hit me hard that the next morning’s wake up meant: Back To Real Life.

So has become the Monday after the First Saturday in May.

Even on a sunny, crisp day like today, when I’m blessed with few responsibilities.

There’s the fact that Derby is over. I don’t go to the track. Or the parade. Or the boat race. Or even to hear Drive By Truckers, though I was well intentioned to do so. But I love the energy around town, and know it is the most glorious time of the year for many in our burg.

We even had the sun shine through late Derby afternoon. Thanks to the spirit specters of Matt Winn and Irvin S. Cobb. Which beauteous weather lasted through Sunday for the brunchers and party hearty crowd that was still full tilt one more day.

And, for others like me, this Monday marks the end of my year’s gravtitational pull, the New Orleans JazzFest. I only went first weekend, ceding to the inevitable Old Folks Boogie, from which I naturally suffer thanks to the ever accelerating “maturation process.” Even though I wasn’t present in New Orleans this weekend as I was last, I still kept watching the clock, finally finding some relief at 8:00 Sunday, when I knew the last notes had been played, that the bon temps roulez had expired.

Thus, we come to today, in the Printemps of some disconsolation.

It really matters not that it’s glorious outside, that honeysuckle aromisizes the air, that the warmth and recreation of summer is just ahead. Today there is the let down that comes about when too much anticipation is focused on a singular event, and it passes.

Fortunately it is fleeting, not terminal.

(I am reminded of 1976. That was the year of my first JazzFest. I went down for a weekend. Then called work and advised I was slipping off to the beach for a week. Then called again and advised I’d be staying for the second weekend of JazzFest. Then returned for Derby week. All of which was fueled — in copious quantities — by the inebriants of the day. Even attended a big bash on the Sunday after Derby. Dealing with that Monday let down turned out not to be a problem. I went to sleep Sunday evening. Didn’t wake up until Tuesday morning.) Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’17: A Soggy Sayonara

Posted: May 2nd, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

So my pal Marc — He’s the frat brother who introduced me to JazzFest in ’76 — and his bride Jill — Recall she’s a Louisville gal who hooked up with her groom at a Little Feat concert during Derby in the 70s — host what’s become an annual JazzFest/ Derby Crawfish Boil on the last Sunday in April.

It celebrates the end of the first weekend of JF, and the beginning of Derby Week. Which they return to every year. Marc’s actually been coming to Derby longer than I’ve been doing JazzFest.

At the Crawfish Boil, I got into a conversation with some friends of a NO friend. They seem to show up in NO during fest time every year. It’s addictive for many, as if you hadn’t already surmised that.

We were chatting about the acts we’d seen, who we liked, etc, etc, etc.

He wanted to know what I thought of Jon Batiste and Stay Human. I advised I was at another stage. (Economy Hall for the Pete Fountain Tribute.) Which choice I explained by saying I’d seen Batiste before, and was saddened how he’d become a Stephen Colbert sycophant, what Doc Severinsen became for Johnny Carson, the music guy at a great regular gig, forced to laugh at all of comedian’s jokes, funny or no. Said I loved Batiste, from one of the city’s first musical families, but was simply drawn elsewhere.

Then the fellow went on and on about Maroon 5, and what a great band leader Adam Levine is. I told him I hadn’t the slightest desire to hear that band with zero connection to New Orleans musical tradition.

Perhaps frustrated by my failure to veil my imperiously expounded upon musical tastes, he asked, “Well, what bands would you pay to see?”

I mentioned Van Morrison and Tedeschi Trucks immediately off the top of my head, then realized this . . .

. . . “Oh yeah, Richard Thompson, whom I have tickets to hear tonight in the Parrish Hall at the House of Blues.” Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’17, Day I: Souled Out & Sated

Posted: April 28th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

There’s a fundamental miscalculation that plagues just about all of the spate of contemporary retro-style R & B singers.

It’s a disturbing tendency for them to oversell their songs, an apparent belief that if they don’t go full James Brown or Otis Redding, their soulfulness might be questioned.

Two of the guiltiest are among the most popular.

Charles Bradley would be but an afterthought back in the heyday. Maybe an opening act on an extended bill featuring Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson and others far better. If he’s even worthy of that?

St. Paul and Broken Bones singer, bespeckled Paul Janeway also tries way way way too hard. That he looks like a pledge chairman of the KAs at Alabama and sings like the winner of a Fraternity Song Festival Otis Redding Sing Alike contest has carried him a long way.

Those two aren’t alone in their lack of subtlety.

Too many singers don’t comprehend that soul can be easy and still ring true to the bone.

Sam Cooke was smooth and easy. Sam Cooke was gold standard.

Which brings me to Leon Bridges, who mesmerized on the Gentilly stage this afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’17: Let’s Get the Real Party Started

Posted: April 28th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | No Comments »

One last check in from the periphery. When I finish this I’m off to Day I.

But first I need to forgive.

Some folks, even if wearing garb proving their attendance at previous fests, don’t know what they don’t know.

I was on my way back to the hotel which is at the foot of Iberville from a hook up at the Louisiana Music Factory during the Jazz Vipers set.

LMF’s on Frenchmen Street at the other end of the Quarter. So I stopped at this little courtyard in the French Market by the Gazebo Café to rest my yelping dogs. (To bore you with woes about how my new walking shoes aren’t all they are cracked up to be would be over self indulgent even for a narcissist like myself.)

Anyway, the earnest but not really not very good band of old farts regaling the turistas with New Orleans standards broke into “Southern Nights.” One of my favorite tunes.

The guy sitting next to me on the bench turned to his wife/ GF/ inamorata for the weekend and pontificated too impress, “Wow, they’re playing that old Glen Campbell classic.” Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’17: The Day Before My 30th

Posted: April 27th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

God, how I love this place.

New Orleans is, as New Orleans has always been, it’s own kind of spirit force.

May it never change.

The Professor — my pal not Longhair — who attended many Fests with his bride, will be happy to know that the Quarter, bless its historic nature and sybaritic presence, remains fetid.

Especially early in the morning when it’s waking up, and the guys are out in front of the titty bars along Bourbon, hosing away the excess of the night before.

When the baristas in their long skirts are speeding along on their one speed bikes to work.

When the school buses are lined up on Royal near the Esplanade end, unloading kids at school.

When turistas like me, most in much better shape, are jogging away last evening’s gustatory or alcohol overload, wearing their school colors. Sparty. Roll Tide. I’m in Cardinal gear.

It’s an odd affectation, running the Vieux Carré during these transitional early AM moments, but’s it what I love to do, confirming another year, another JazzFest, my 30th, on the morrow.

Of course, I also enjoy jogging Audubon Park, which I do in those years when I’ve stayed with my old college pal, who introduced me to this incredible sensory potpurri that is JazzFest, incredible food and too much — OK I’ll bring in the ever overused cliché — bon temps roulez. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest #30: It’s Too Late To Stop Now

Posted: April 24th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music | No Comments »

The winter of ’05-’06 was not easy.

Every day or two I’d have a sad sad moment. I would suddenly abandon whatever was present and break down with uncontrolled sobbing.

It was not that my beloved Louisville Cardinal hoopsters were suffering through a mediocre at best campaign. The season ended with thirteen losses, the last one ignominious in the NIT. Though that was bad enough.

The real catalyst for my despair was that New Orleans, my beloved New Orleans, was vacant and drowning.

Six feet of water on the streets of Evangeline had come to truth again.

Would she survive? What would become of this, the most unique city in America, a town with as much personality as any around the globe?

A town where the holy trinity of cajun cuisine — onions, bell peppers and celery — is as revered as father, son and Holy Ghost.

A town where the quirky lingua franca pronounces the word calliope, cal-eee-ope not kah-lie-oh-pee.

A town that fostered musical icons, Satchmo Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Professor Longhair and Fats Domino.

The town that time left alone to proceed at its own out of sync with the rest of the land pace.

The town that hosted the event that had become the gravitational pull of my year, the epicenter of my musical being, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Katrina had laid her low with a furious sideswipe. Read the rest of this entry »


Film Review Podcast: “The Fate of the Furious”

Posted: April 16th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

The question you are surely asking yourself when considering this 8th ideation of the our cars are faster and badder than your cars franchise is this: Is it any different than any of the previous seven?

Legit query.

Yes.

And no.

You’ve seen a lot of this before. But, of course, there are some absurd car scenarios that you — and the filmmakers — hadn’t previously conceptualized. I’ll just drop this phrase, and let it sit so you can wonder, “Let it rain.”

Plus we get Charlize Theron.

Who proves beyond peradventure — as if we didn’t learn it when she crafted the character Imperator Furiosa — she can play B.A.D..

And oh so quietly and eerily evil.

For more on this escapist flick, listen up:

Audio MP3

The Spyglass Chronicles: 9/01

Posted: September 1st, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Music, Ruminations | 2 Comments »

chron“The Night Of” HBO. For many viewers the denouement of this addictive mini-series was as dissatisfying as that moment from yesteryear as the screen went black with Tony Soprano and his family sitting in the diner, with some mysterious dude lurking near the Men’s Room door.

Because Naz’s guilt or innocence remains hanging in the air, along with the fate of Freddy, Chandra, Jack and Naz’s dad’s life as a cabbie, many of the locked in audience feel cheated.

I frankly love the curiously satisfying ambiguity of it all.

Sure, I’ve got theories about the cat, the raison d’être of Jack’s eczema, why Chandra would fall for her client and turn into a drug mule and whether Andrea’s financial guy was really, you know, the guy whodunit. And, as a former barrister, the courtroom scenes, if effective as TV drama, were laughably out of sync with what really happens in front of a jury. But that’s been going for decades.

For one thing, lawyers and prosecutors don’t get to comment to the jury after a witness’s answer. Just sayin’.

I’m taking a macro view of the compelling drama. This was not a “Who killed Laura Palmer?” situation. The murder and its solution were but a means to tell a greater tale.

Matters of consequence in life don’t always end wrapped up in a bow. Chance circumstance can shift one’s whole life path. Initial impressions of people aren’t always correct. Values often are corrupted on emotional whim. Earnest people with flaws fail sometime, and succeed sometime.

This well but not perfectly crafted tale touched all that. Read the rest of this entry »


The Spyglass Chronicles: 8/16/16

Posted: August 16th, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Dining, Food, Music | No Comments »

chron

“Affordable Shotguns Planned at Broadway, Baxter” Courier-Journal Headline. Geez, just what we need another gun shop. A discount one at that. Or, so I thought when reading that not so clear — to me, anyway — headline in the C-J. I thought it was referring to the next biz in the long vacant gas station/ convenience store there at that corner. Turns out it referred to “shotgun houses,” that were being turned over to Preservation Louisville Inc. by the developers of the new housing project. Guess the NRA and its acolytes have made me a little gun shy.

Margherita Pizza, Birracibo. Artisanal, my ass. Crafted by a hack is more like it. No subtlety whatsoever. Wimpy dough. (Would be a travesty to call it crust.) “Pomodoro” sauce that tasted like Chef Boyardee himself was in the kitchen. Overwhelmed with glops upon glops of tasteless cheese. So wet I almost asked our very attentive waitress for a mop during one of her many visits to the table. It’s what I get for suggesting to my pals we try out the new “Italian” place in Fourth Street Live. Never again.

“Bo Diddley” Bo Diddley. It reverberates through the speakers as mysterious and messianic as it did more than a half century ago. Read the rest of this entry »


The Spyglass Chronicles: 08/08/16

Posted: August 8th, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Music, Ruminations, Spyglass Chronicles, TV | 3 Comments »

chronVittorio Storaro, Santo Loquasto “Café Society” Steve Carrell plays a namedropping super agent in 30s Hollywoodland. His deco wood-paneled office is, as my favorite movie critic Libby Gelman-Waxner would say, “to die for.” Kudos Santo Loquasto, head of production design.

The Los Angeles scenes are sun-splashed amber glorious. You can visualize Gloria Swanson lolling by her pool. Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro has again worked his visual magic.

Despite its thin veneer of a plotline — boy falls for girl who is involved with older man, confusion ensues — Woody Allen’s latest is not without its visual charms. The octogenarian is to be forgiven if he doesn’t hit a vein of gold every time out these days. He’s at an advanced age, when most directors have long since given up the chair. But Allen’s keeping a full workload. He’s released a film a year since 1966.

He’s tired. His plot’s a might mundane.

But the flick looks mahvelous.

Lake Street Dive. Iroquois Amphitheater. Rachel Price lorded over the stage like Kathleen Turner’s Matty Walker chewing up and spitting out William Hurt’s Ned Racine in “Body Heat.”

This marvelous quartet is tight, no simple singer and back up, but . . . Read the rest of this entry »


The Spyglass Chronicles: 7/25/16

Posted: July 25th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Spyglass Chronicles, TV | No Comments »

chronThe eagle-eyed returnees among you have probably noticed a change in the title of this periodic endeavor to “The Spyglass Chronicles.”  Upon which discovery, you are surely wondering, given the branding image I’ve been using of a pathfinder in buckskin, looking through a spyglass, why hasn’t it been called that all along? To which the answer is, “Duh, I dunno.”

Michael Kenneth Williams, “The Night Of.” Omar — Williams shall forever and always be Omar from “The Wire” to me — is back. As Freddy, the guy at Rikers with the private cell up in the corner at the end of the block. He shtups the women guards, takes care of the guys in uni on the outside, thereby currying favors and ruling the roost. In Episode 3, he offers to protect Naz from the others inside who want to take him down. Looks like the kid is going to need it.

“She’s About A Mover” Sir Douglas Quintet. When the British Invasion hit in the early 60s, the gang from Merrie Ol’ left the redcoats at home and took over pop culture with terrible swift sword. Dominated Top 40, News, Weather & Sports Radio. Even cotton candy music by such as Freddy & the Dreamers and Herman’s Hermits charted. The invaders dominated dress thanks to Carnaby Street. Because of Twiggy, anorexic became the new look.

All some needed to become a deejay radio star was an accent. Happened in Louisville with a guy named Ken Douglas, an English fellow, even though he really didn’t know much about music. He’d had been selling clothes at a local haberdashery, when somebody with a WKLO connection heard his accent. Read the rest of this entry »