Assorted Notes: Duke Ellington, Khaira Arby, Cesaria Evora, and more

From here and there… Duke Ellington: Jan 2 – live concert only $1.00! I found some parts of the Dec. 31, 1942 Toronto Star stuffed into a crack in my basement wall recently. While the war dominated headlines, the ad for Duke Ellington’s January 2 performance at the Royal York — advance tickets $1 — was the best find for me. We’re 69 years late for this bargain… Also on the same page: – New Year’s Eve — “Toronto’s gayest frolic”– for only $2 at the Humber Pier Ballroom, a “Fireproof building” – Yehudi Menuhin at Massey Hall on Jan. … Continue reading

TV documentary (1969): “Gene Vincent – Rock & Roll Singer”

I recently discovered this BBC TV documentary about the late rock & roller’s British tour of that year. It’s a fascinating and sad picture of the man who a decade previously was a huge star, riding his classic hit “Be Bop a Lula” to the top of the charts. In the film, he plays tiny clubs and small halls, struggling to get paid. (One commenter aptly described the setting as “the rough end of the music biz in the raw”). He comes across as someone tolerant of the circumstances he’s found himself in, doing all he knows how to do, … Continue reading

Best CDs of 2011: a collection of lists

Some year-end selections from various sources: Best of the Year lists Afropop Worldwide: Top Ten Releases of 2011 The Best World Music CDs of 2011 – Megan Romer, Top World Music Albums of 2011: picks by 3 critics on World Music Central Pop Matters: picks in world,  Americana,. Includes notes & videos National Geographic “Best World Music Albums of 2011” (with video) World’s Top Music PIcks 2011 by broadcaster/writer Marco Werman fRoots Crtics Poll: The 26 poll selected its winners by surveying over 300 world & folk music critics. As noted in the introduction by the magazine’s editor, Ian … Continue reading

Etta James: Last chance to catch radio documentary

One of the greatest R&B singers ever is now dying. Last week, the BBC rebroadcast an excellent 2006 radio documentary about her life & career. I highly recommend it. There are 3 30 minute episodes; Part 1 will be taken off line about 8pm EST Monday (Dec 26), and Parts 2 & 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday. Catch it if you can: For some more of Etta on You Tube: With Dr. John, in a memorable duet of one of her greatest songs, “I’d’ Rather Go Blind” Also live, from 1962, “Something’s Got A Hold on Me“ “Rock n … Continue reading

“Oxford American” magazine: Music issue now on the stands

The annual Oxford American (“The Southern Magazine of Good Writing”) has just published its annual Music Issue, this year focusing on music from Mississippi. Always a great read — and listen. Its accompanying CD is usually a gem of diversity (and excellent music, of course). This year’s issue features the above-mentioned Howlin’ Wolf on the cover (with article on him by Peter Guralnick), plus articles by Elijah Wald (on X-rated blues lyrics), William Gay on Mississippi John Hurt, Roy Blount Jr, Nick Hornby and many more.   It’s not always easy to find… those stores that carry are often sold … Continue reading

“Globalized Tuaregs, and the Plight of the Festival in the Desert”

From Afropop Worldwide’s blog: These are trying times for the Tuareg communities of the Sahara. We are barely one month from the 11th annual Festival in the Desert in Timbuktu. A tantalizing preliminary roster (including Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Habib Koite, and of course the preeminent Tuareg band Tinariwen) has been posted. Tinariwen has recently toured in the US, including an appearance on The Colbert Report, further enhancing their mantle as champions of a globalized, “desert rock” sound. And, prior to a November 25 kidnapping incident in Timbuktu, Festival in the Desert director Manny Ansar was also making the rounds, … Continue reading

RIP, Hubert Sumlin

One of the truly great Chicago blues guitarists, long-time guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin died on Dec 4 at the age of 80. New York Times obituary (which is where I learned that Sumlin’s guitar — and Wolf’s howls– were a selling point for Viagra!) Mick Jagger & Keith Richards will pay all the costs of his funeral Some video: “300 pounds of Heavenly Joy“… a Wolf song, written by Willie Dixon featuring typical excellent guitar work Sumlin (“Little Hubert”) with Sunnyland Slim, 1964 From the DVD: “Hubert Sumlin – Living the Blues“  

Billy Joe Shaver: videos from Buffalo show, Dec 1

I took a drive down the QEW last week to catch one of my favourite performers, the great singer and songrwriter from Waco, Texas, Billy Joe Shaver at Sportsman’s Tavern Billy’s music has always been about his life, and he has led a more than remarkable life. ( A couple of videos from the night: His story about how he came up with one song: And a mix of some of the songs from the night: