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 »


The Snapshot Chronicles: 7/18/16

Posted: July 18th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations, Snapshot Chronicles | 2 Comments »

chron“The Night Of” HBO. Good guy, son of immigrants, hooks up with mysterious beauty, gets laid, wakes up in the middle of the night at her place to discover she’s been slashed to death.

This exemplary, nuanced, intense crime drama mini series proves yet again what we’ve know for a long, long time: HBO on Sunday nights is Must See TV.

Duke’s vs. Hellman’s? Where do you stand on the critical question of which mayonnaise is the best?

It was a Facebook colloquy last week, among a group of intelligent, critical thinking adults. All of us apparently so tired of contemplating the state of our country in turmoil, our attention was thus diverted.

Having just bought my first jar of Duke’s ever, I have switched my allegiance, such as it was, to that lesser known brand. Eggier. Tastier. Providing a new resonance to that summer classic, the heirloom tomato BLT.

“All Down The Line” Rolling Stones. Anybody who’s seen the self-caricature that is the Stones in, say, the last couple decades, and has marveled how the once greatest rock & roll band ever still has it, needs to listen to this: Read the rest of this entry »


The Snapshot Chronicles: 7/05/16

Posted: July 5th, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Ruminations, Snapshot Chronicles | No Comments »

chron“If You Ask Me” Libby Gelman Waxner. Those of you who have been coming here for awhile know that I’m an aficionado of cinema, and podcast my film reviews, forty or so already this year. Given that stature as a card carrying film critic, I’m often asked, “c d, who is your favorite film critic?”

The simple answer is Libby Gelman-Waxner, whose reviews for Premier magazine, may it rest in peace, set the gold standard. Also an assistant buyer in juniors activewear, daughter of the very wise Sondra Krell-Gelman, married to Josh Waxner D.D.S., an orthodontist on the upper east side, many of whose patients are the children of lawyers of famous people, with two lovely children and a dearest friend, Stacy Schiff, “a gifted marketing analyst still unattached,” she set a standard in the 80s and 90s that not only surpassed Pauline Kael, but became an exemplar no critic has come close to matching since.

Here’s just one example of Gelman-Waxner’s incisive and knowing film criticism: “I must confess: I know I’m not supposed to, but I enjoy the Rambo pictures, and for a simple reason — I like to watch people getting blown to bits. It’s silly, but when Sylvester Stallone hangs a hand grenade around someone’s neck and pull the pin out, I always think, Why can’t Sly do that to my dry cleaner, who always loses a button or a matching belt? In Rambo III, Sly is fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, but in my mind, he’s taking on my husband’s entire family. Josh, my husband, says his mother has allergies, and that’s why she spit out my lemon quiches — Sly, get the flamethrower, and while you’re at it, use the crossbow with the detonating arrows on Cousin Leslie, with the adorable two-year old who chews my slipcovers.” Read the rest of this entry »


Rock & Roll RePast: Vanilla Fudge “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”

Posted: June 28th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 7 Comments »

rock3imagesCorrected 6/30 7:50 am

Once, when asked by a local rag to name his favorite guitar players, Wink O’Bannon, a guy who knows his way around that ax, put Neil Young on the list.

Because, he offered, “Every solo Young plays sounds like the first one.”

Which I think of when I hear Mark Stein’s simplistic organ intro to his group Vanilla Fudge’s cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On’,” a hit out of Motown for The Supremes.

He keeps hitting and holding a high F Sharp (Maybe it’s G Minor, I’m not that astute.) as punctuation for the group’s bombastic version of the tune.

It’s like he keeps saying to himself, “This sounds so cool.” And, in the back of his mind, “Besides I’m not facile enough to play anything more complicated.”

It’s a garage band thing. It’s a white boy thing. And I’m thinking of VF and this unique, resonant cover because . . .

. . . in my most recent version of Snapshot Chronicles — You can read it here — I referenced a viable definition of “rock & roll” by Memphis provocateur Robert Gordon.

Which is essentially that it’s “white boys playing black music.”

Not all inclusive obviously, but clever, reasonably astute and cuts to the heart of the matter, even if more than a bit narrow as such complicated definitions go.

And it got me thinking, which is dangerous enough an exercise, but every once in awhile serves a legitimate purpose. Like now, when I tried to conjure up a good example for you that would fit Gordon’s definition.

Vanilla Fudge came soon enough to mind. Read the rest of this entry »