The Spyglass Chronicles: 8/21/16

Posted: August 22nd, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Music, Spyglass Chronicles | No Comments »

chron“Night Moves” Full Contact Karaoke. St. Joe’s Picnic. A run of the mill version of the Bob Seger’s most astute classic by an earnest but mediocre garage contingent. (Great band name though.) Only a smattering of the large crowd at the beloved annual charity event were even around the stage at the time. Probably so they could set their beers down, while downing an uninspiring fried fish sandwich, sold from a booth nearby.

But the song took on meaning as the evening unfolded. The facility’s grounds were overrun by gaggles of recently teenaged girls and hordes of pubescent boys. They circled each other in droves, looking up from their phones, nervously laughing, pointing, whispering in their BFF’s ears.

They were workin’ on mysteries without any clues, tryin’ to lose the awkward teenage blues, waiting on the thunder in the summertime.

Sweet summertime summertime.

“Dust My Broom” Elmore James. I’m not much into musician’s bios. Friends have been gifting me them for years. They’re stacked in my book cases, most just partially read, some never opened. But an old college pal, as addled with the music as I, sent me Rich Cohen’s latest, “The Sun, The Moon and the Rolling Stones. 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: 08/01/16

Posted: August 1st, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Community, Music, Spyglass Chronicles | 3 Comments »

chron“Wild Night” Van Morrison (It’s Too Late To Stop Now, Vol. III)  The kid scores a fake ID, borrows a disco shirt from his older brother, heads into his first Saturday night out and about, and walks into the hot new bar in town. Morrison’s voice cracks,

“Ooooewuoooo Oooooooooooh Weee!!!!! Wild night is callin’.

VM’s Spring/Summer ’73 tour with the very hot Caledonia Soul Orchestra is Van Morrison at his loosest and best, scatting, soaring and swooping through melodies as only he can. 300 new minutes worth of live tuneage from that tour have just been released as “. . . It’s Too Late To Stop Now . . . Volumes II. III. IV & DVD.” Easy to understand why these versions weren’t included in the original volume. A burp here, a clank there, Morrison consumed by the music like a celestial mass sucked into a black hole, but so damn what?

Which is obviously what Morrison finally thought when he authorized this release forty years later. This is not some ersatz money grab, full of outtakes. The music is righteous.

Holly Houston Interview. Louisville Magazine. The local attorney/ activist/ Woman About Town dropped the F Bomb in one of her As to the zine’s Q & A. (Spelled as most mainstream mags are won’t to do, “f***ed.”) A reader, someone obviously on the sphincter transplant list, wrote a letter to Ed complaining. At the end of the reader’s screed, she asked, “My grandchild asked me what “f***ed” meant. What should I tell him? Please share this with her.”

Ever feisty, Ms. Houston answered for print. 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: 7/12/16

Posted: July 12th, 2016 | Filed under: Music, Ruminations, Snapshot Chronicles | 1 Comment »

chron

Another Mule (Triangle Park). Kim’s back in town. So he and Monk and Barry and Don and Nick and Michael, whose jokes are corny as ever, but a smidge less blue, got it together for another reunion gig we’ve never expected.

The boys practiced and it showed, kicking it in from the first note. The tuneage rang as true as the perfectly delightful summer night.

Two hours of familiar faces, reminders of forgotten moments from back in the day, and old folks boogie.

We’d a stayed all night if they’d a let us.

Send in the lawyers, guns and money/ the shit’s still hittin’ the fan.

“Hurt” Timi Yuro. The car’s been sitting on a black asphalt parking lot for several hours in the middle of sunny, hot in the 90s day. I forgot to crack the windows open.

The V Dub’s interior is hot at Blue Dog’s baking ovens.

I crank the AC to 11. Just then, Ms. Timi comes on the box, with so much chilling ache in her voice, the Fahrenheit drops immediately. An ache so shivering, her singing gives up. She’s suffering so, her voice quivers, she halting says to her lover with a cracking in her throat, “much more than you’ll ever know/ Yes, Darlin’, I’m so hurt. 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 »


The Snapshot Chronicles: 6/27/16

Posted: June 27th, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Music, Personalities, Ruminations, Snapshot Chronicles | 4 Comments »

chron“Step On Up” Billy Joe Shaver (Sirius XM Outlaw Country). If Muddy Waters was the most masculine of the electric blues singers — and you know, really, he sang “I’m a Man,” and felt compelled to spell it out, in case his point wasn’t indelible enough — swamp blues master Slim Harpo was the most sensual.

Don’t move your hands/ Don’t move your lips/ Just shake your hips/ And do the hip shake thang

And if author/rock & roll historian Robert Gordon, an inveterate Memphian, came as close to a legit definition of that genre as anybody, when he declared “Rock and roll is white rednecks trying to play black music,” then a sure enough classic example blew through the box in my car the other day.

On the Outlaw Country channel no less. It’s all mixed together now, folks.

Corsicana, Texas’s Billy Joe Shaver was singin’ — no “g” at the end of that verb — “Step On Up.”

The lead is a boogie shuffle — thanks John Lee Hooker — with its back strokes on the guitar. Then a little six string vibrato tag that oozes from the swamp primordial. All Slim. All bayou slinky.

Redneck white boy playing black music. Bingo, RG. Rock & roll.

As an exclamation point, the lyrics assure the listener Billy Joe knows Muddy too.

Step on up here baby/ I’ll show you what’s it about/ You know I’m packin’ something/ Something you can’t live without

“Thunder Road” (2016 Sundance Festival Short Film Tour). The finale of this fascinating eight film potpourri, the pick of the litter of thousands submitted this year for Robert Redford’s annual fete in Utah, was written, directed and stars a guy named Jim Cummings.

Remember the name. Read the rest of this entry »


The Snapshot Chronicles: 6/20/16

Posted: June 20th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

chron

Fox News Interview with Dalai Lama. Listen I deplore Fox News as much as the next Leftie, but when they get it right, you gotta give ’em credit.

Bret Baier recently interviewed the Lama, the flowing robes, grace, bald, and asked him the single most burning, and theretofore unanswered pop culture question of import.

He asked the Twelfth Son of the Lama if he’d ever seen “Caddyshack?”

Turns out the Lama’s not quite the big hitter Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) claimed to have caddied for. He advised Baier, he plays badminton, not golf.

Gunga galunga…gunga — gunga galunga.

Marshall Chapman (Facebook 6/14). Vandy grad Chapman’s always been pretty damn hip. No less an authority than Waylon Jennings said in the 70s, “Marshall’s a good ole boy. She can come on the bus.” She showed up and played Tim Krekel’s wake at Vernon Lanes. And did a great cameo as lounge singer in “Mississippi Grind.”

Then she recently passed on this great suggestion on Facebook,

“This just in – don’t know who wrote it:
“How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, and an ultrasound wand up the ass (for good measure). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off from work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.”

“Junko Partner” Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and Anders Osborne. (Sirius XM, The Loft) Big Chief of the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indians Monk Boudreaux was sitting in a tent at JazzFest a few years back, carefully stitching beads to his costume for the next year’s parade. I had a question I needed to ask he who would know, about lyrics from the classic tune “Iko Iko.” Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’16: Daze Between

Posted: April 27th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | Tags: | 1 Comment »

jz1imagesThe Fest rests on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, before picking up again for a long Thursday through Sunday second hootenany.

The period is cannily and most aptly dubbed the Daze Between.

While there are many turista who keep decent hours — lots from Australia and China, it seems — there are also a great number of bleary eyed folks, who when visiting this partiest of the party towns welcome their days/daze here at noon and beyond.

You know, there are evening shows that start at 2:00 in the morning. Rule, not the unusual exception.

 * * * * *

Which is why I’m grateful for the shows, with starting times suitable for old farts.

Like Monday’s 7:00 PM first notes by Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses at Maison on Frenchman Street.

The Bechet-inspired clarinetist/ vocalist is an amazing talent. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest Sunday: The Tradition Carried On

Posted: April 25th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music | Tags: | 1 Comment »

jz1imagesThere’s a hole in the festival this year.

Allen Toussaint is gone.

Of all the incredible, important, influential artists from this town, the ones so infused with the spirit force of New Orleans music that it permeates most all their output, Toussaint was the most notable.

I sadly note that, in a year when a lot of artists are acknowledging the passing of Prince or other beloved musicians — the subdudes memorialized an influence, Papa Dooky Edwards — I haven’t yet heard a mention of Toussaint’s passing.

(Of course, since I can only be at one stage at a time, it doesn’t mean, there weren’t shout outs. And there’s a whole set of tribute for him on the final Sunday.)

So, it was a relief, and a great pleasure, to hear Henry Butler & Jambalaya’s set at Congo Square.

It was seriously New Orleans-centric. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest 1st Saturday: Alpha, Darcy & Van

Posted: April 24th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music | Tags: | 2 Comments »

jz1imagesFor reasons too complicated and sordid to go into here, JazzFest got big about a decade ago.

Really big.

Instead of an essentially indigenous festival, featuring the music of New Orleans and Louisiana, plus national acts with ties to its focus, it went nationwide pop.

In the old days, there would be no My Morning Jacket or Pearl Jam or Red Hot Chili Peppers, as this year, or Eagles or Counting Crows or Elton John or Bon Jovi as in recent years.

The byproduct of that shift, nay, the product itself, has been bigger crowds and more “success.” Meaning the Jazz & Heritage Foundation, which owns the Fest, gets more money that ever.

Many of the actual byproducts haven’t been so positive.

The crowds can be so huge, unengaged and without focus that it impedes the ability for listeners to laser in on acts they wish to savor on the big stages. There’s more sound bleed between stages, which in some instances is not a good thing at all.

As when Pearl Jam starts, and the DeJohnette, Coltrane, Garrison set at the Jazz Tent gets Eddie Vettered. Everybody does not need to hurt.

Other than the humongous crowds, which, like yesterday, are starting to get to me, my personal biggest peeve is that the sound at some of the stages isn’t as good as it used to universally be. Until five years or so ago, I would always mention, when talking Fest to people, how righteous the sound always is.

No more. Read the rest of this entry »