Photo: Phil Weedon,
Townes Van Zandt never
had anything resembling a hit in his nearly 30-year recording
career. He had a hard enough time simply keeping his records in
print. Labeled a problem child, he was given shock therapy in his
early 20s after he fell backward from a four-story window "just to
see what it felt like".
The above was taken from Films
We Like for the Toronto screening of Be Here to Love Me,
a moving documentary about Van Zandt.
"Townes Van Zandt is the best
songwriter in the world, and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table
and say that" -- Steve Earle
His life was turmoil; his death not
unexpected by his friends. Among them was Guy Clark, who just before
playing at Van Zandt's funeral said, "I guess I booked this gig
thirty-some years ago".
Here are a couple of tribute
performances from Austin City Limits:
Who wouldn't die to have Emmylou Harris sing at your wake? A
moving goodbye from Harris and Steve Earle (who wrote it for his
two biggest "hits": "If I Needed You" and "Poncho and Lefty",
performed by Emmylou, Steve Earle and Willie Nelson, intercut
with Van Zandt's own performances.
to Be Here to Love Me.
Townes Van Zandt
(with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson)
Indonesian Rock & Roll (1960)
Toumani Diabate &
Billy Joe Shaver
Andy Palacio & Garifuna music
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Sammy Davis Jr, Sonny & Cher, Lovin' Spoonful & Supremes
Vieux Farka Touré
Sly & The Family Stone
Mississippi Fred McDowell
King Sunny Ade
Austin City Limits
The worst/best video?
Super Timor TV ad
See Page 1 for:
Buddy Miller, Emmylou
Harris, Patty Griffin
Big Joe Williams
African Rock 'n' Roll Years
Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock
World music "subtitles"
"Whammer Jammer" - the original?
Otis Rush, Magic Sam
Stormy Weather/Cab Calloway
Soul (James Carr, Ry Cooder, Frankie Miller)
Hound Dog (Big Mama Thornton, Elvis)
Gospel video collection
Lullaby of Broadway
The Story of Indo-Rock
The Tielman Brothers
brothers were among many Indonesians to move to the Netherlands
when Indonesia was a Dutch colony. I don't imagine many of them
could rock like these guys though. Great showmen too.
Photo: John Leeson. Toumani at Harbourfront Centre, 2007
Toumani Diabaté &
The great Malian kora player (who put on of the best Toronto
concerts of 2007 - pictured) joined up with the American jazz
trombonist for an album titled MaliCool, recorded in Bamako in 2003.
Cross-cultural mixes sometimes work
well, sometimes not, but are often not smooth. I've heard in the
past that Diabaté can be a bit difficult to work with, not always
following processes expected by Westerners. (Which is one reason he
has not been able to tour extensively here).
These 6 YouTube clips, each about 9
minutes are a fascinating glimpse look at cross-continental
communication, and mis-communication.
Photo: John Leeson. Toronto Jazz Festival, 2007
Mavis Staples & Staple Singers
Her performance (July 1) will probably be my personal highlight of the 2007 Toronto Jazz Festival.
She has just (Apr. 24/07) released a new CD,
We'll Never Turn
Back that is already getting great reviews. The recording
revisits much of the spirit, and many of the songs of the civil
rights era that the Staple Singers were so involved with.
two YouTube videos that capture some of that spirit -- and the
For some great audio of Mavis, listen to her as Charlie Gillett's
guest on his former BBC radio show, Christmas Day, 2004.
- Go to the
Mondomix radio page. Under "The sound of the world", scroll
down under "Last programmes" for Mavis Staples, Part 1 and Part
Photo: John Leeson. Harbourfront Centre, 2007
Andy Palacio &
the Garifuna Collective
The Garifuna people are of African descent and inhabit the Atlantic
coastal regions of Central America. Their gorgeous music has
recently been getting more international attention. This group in
particular has attracted a lot of recent attention.
interview with Palacio on Afropop Worldwide, and click the photo
credit link to the left for more information about Palacio and
Garifuna music and culture.
"Umalali": a preview of a new Garifuna women's album
A great loss to the world of
music: Andy died in January, 2008.
Photo: John Leeson
Click for larger image
In 1976, I went to Willie Nelson's annual Fourth of July Picnic in
Gonzales, Texas. By that time, the festival had become the symbol of
the new music scene in Austin. Many people credit Willie for single
handedly uniting the two country music factions that had been
warring for some time: the rednecks and the hippies. Or, as the
conflict was sometimes called at the time, "the ropers vs the
dopers". The latter tended to listen to KOKE-FM.
Waylon Jennings' 1973 album Honky
Tonk Heroes (almost all songs written by
Billy Joe Shaver) really
launched the "outlaw" music scene, and Willie's 1975 Red Headed
Stranger remains its masterpiece.
Also in 1973, Jerry Jeff Walker
had a regional hit with a song that captured some of the flavour of
that time, "Up Against
the Wall, Redneck Mother" ("He's thirty-four and drinking in a honky tonk / Just kicking hippies asses and raising hell"). The song was
written by Ray Wylie Hubbard, who performed with his
group, The Cowboy Twinkies (A photo of my autographed album is on
Here, Ray Wylie explains to Jerry Jeff how the song came
features the two of them performing the song at Willie's 1974
Picnic (Warning: poor audio/video quality)
Lyrics to the song are
here, and some background on RWH
This video clip contains one of the most amazing dance
performances you'll ever see. The late singer was a huge singing star in India, especially for
his Bollywood work. The clip below, from the 1966 Indian film
Gumnaam was also featured in the 2000 American film, Ghost
Zimmers' myspace page
The oldest rock & roll band in the world and their version of
The Who's "My
Generation". It's sure a different take on "Hope I die before I
get old". The lead singer is 90... and he's not the oldest in
here. For more info, and an alternative edit, check their
myspace page below.
Photo: John Leeson, 2003
The great Ethiopian singing star was the surprising (but very
deserving!) winner of the 2007 BBC World Music Award for
African Artist of the Year. His prime years may have been the
70's, but he's still a huge stage force. Here are two YouTube videos
of French concerts that capture a bit of the sense of one of his
clip has decent sound, and some of the feel of bring up
front at one of his shows, bouncing video and all
clip features bad sound; but some more shots of him
- Audio only: listen to his full
2005 WOMAD concert here. What a magnificent singer!
Want more of him? Get the CD Ethiopiques vol 7 (1975),
part of the great
Ethiopiques series. I loved his recent Toronto shows. See my
According to an account I read,
Stevie Wonder claimed Gaye never got on TV again until he was
killed, because network executives "couldn't handle a black man
singing a sexy soul version of the National Anthem". The crowd sure
could, based on the cries, screams and clapping.
The original, the one and only will
play the Phoenix in Toronto May 22 (2007). At 78, the show probably won't
resemble this classic of his:
Photo: John Leeson. London, Ont. 2007
Vieux Farka Touré
The son of Ali Farka Touré is bursting on the worldwide African
Four clips of his great guitar work, filmed in Bamako, Mali are
below. This shows just part
of the reason his February shows in
London were so
great. He also has a wonderful stage presence. I predict great
things for him.
Playing "Tipitina". He was and always will be THE New
Orleans R&B musician. Don't need to say any more.
"A Few Words in Defense of our Country": Words as only Randy Newman
An American blues musician, and
former street person now
living in Norway, he is better known in Europe than North
America. His music is pretty unique and
powerful. Listen and watch his driving three-string guitar. His
James Brown, RIP
my appreciation of
Brown for some comments on and context of these clips.
His groundbreaking performance in
The TAMI show
(1964) (Video removed from YouTube)
1966 show -- good film work too.
here's an audio link where you can download his entire
1974 concert in Kinshasha, Zaire -- part of Muhammed Ali's
"Rumble in the Jungle". (Scroll down to the Jan. 4 entry,
"James Browin in Africa")
Sly and the Family Stone
An act that could have rivaled
James Brown for funk and originality, but Sly let it
This YouTube video
shows the group winning an award (and $10,000) as the "best new
talent of 1968". A GREAT performance, but did somebody kill the
audience? How could they be so dead?
The one and only! Man, can she sing!
(NOTE: The first two video links
below (1958,1966) have been removed from YouTube. Meanwhile, I've added
one of her with Chuck Berry).
- 1958, in Boston. If
Sly's audience (see above) was dead, her audience here sure is alive!
The audio and video quality are pretty poor, but as one
viewer wrote, "don't you wish you were there that night?"
- 1966: "Something
Got a Hold On Me". Better quality film. Same quality
voice and soul.
Roll Music with Chuck Berry, from Chuck's movie Hail,
Hail Rock & Roll
Bull Run Restaurant
A one-of-a-kind. (Well, how many tall, deathly skinny albino blues
guitarists do you know?)
Johnny played Toronto recently
(March, 2007). Of course, he's not quite the same as the blistering
guitarist in those clips. Read the
Live Music Report review of his recent concert here. Like the
reviewer, I too saw and remember Johnny Winter perform live in 1971.
my page for Chuck's 80th
birthday for some info on Chuck and these clips.
Two lip-sync'd, but grooving clips from the 50's.
But here, "really live":
Hail Rock & Roll
(the movie made for Chuck's 60th birthday).
It starts with Chuck &
Keith Richards having a few arguments
(the best of which are not now available on YouTube). After a
bit of shouting...
Classic Movie Kids
The Collins Kids
This has to be seen to be
Lorrie (originally Lawrencine) and
Larry Collins were regional (California) rockabilly
stars in the 50's. By the time they were 16 and 14, they were
regulars on Tex Ritter's Town Hall Party TV show. Lorrie became
Ricky Nelson's on and off-TV girlfriend (until she married
Johnny Cash's manager, twice her age). Like most acts their age,
their fame was brief, but they sure were unique. Larry plays
guitar and leaps and duckwalks around the stage like a possessed
Two TV clips from their prime:
Photo credit: U.S. Post Office
(Artist: Julian Allen)
true original, never to be copied.
J. B. Lenoir
Jim Marshall cover photo of Arhoolie album,
Fred McDowell Vol 2
Photo: John Leeson. Debashish
Battacharya, The Mod Club 2006
Slide guitar: various takes:
McDowell (top photo)
Battacharya: (bottom photo)
Amazing slide guitarist from India, playing various
guitars of his own invention.
has video, interview and reviews
Tap!" Not a slide, but some pretty fascinating guitar
"The Empress of the Blues" in her only film appearance (what a
shame!). The 1929 film was 15 minutes. The YouTube link below has 8
and a half glorious musical minutes. Try maximizing the window.
has some background on the film, and a link to the full 15 minute
version. It's poor quality, but the opening gives you more evidence
of how rotten her man is.
Photo: John Leeson. The Opera House,
King Sunny Ade
- 8 (count 'em!) video clips
King of Juju in Holland. What a great performer!! Date
- 1983 in Europe:
Part 2 (Part 1 is currently unavailable on YouTube)
Photo: John Leeson, 2005
Photo: John Leeson. Harbourfront, 2003
Photo: John Leeson, Harbourfront, 2006
K'Naan with Ba Cissoko
Mali (K'Naan is on Ba Cissoko's newest CD, Electric
Photo: John Leeson. Harbourfront, 2006
Refugee All-Stars of Sierra
Leone (bottom photo)
Photo: John Leeson. Harbourfront, 2005
One of my favourite musicians, and one of America's greatest
songwriters. Elsewhere on this site, I have a lengthy
appreciation/biography of Shaver.
His music has always come from his life experiences, and he has had
to deal with more adversity and tragedy than many of us would want
to contemplate; his strength and faith keep him going and provide
the heart and soul of his music.
From 1984, Billy Joe, and a painfully
young Eddy Shaver (his son who died of a drug overdose in 2000), performing his
classic "Black Rose" ("The devil made me do it the first time / The second time
I done it on my own").
From July 2006 in North Carolina, Billy
Joe performs two songs in memory of Eddy. After talking about his son's death,
he advises young people, "If you tempt God long enough, he'll take you... Be
very careful". He then performs, virtually solo, "Star of my Heart".
. He follows that with a song he co-wrote with
Eddy, "Live Forever".
A couple of Billy Joe stories:
- "No Fool Like an Old Fool". A
story about a marriage that almost happened. Billy Joe's marriages are
part of his legend. He married his first wife three times (divorced
twice; she died of cancer in 1999). A few years ago, news came out he
was going to re-marry. Then he didn't. This tells that story.
Subsequently, he did marry, divorce, marry and divorce -- once again all
to/from the same woman.
The dynamite story. Billy Joe & Waylon
An American Boy". Contains three excerpts from the TV
documentary, made while he was touring after the release of
his controversial CD, Jerusalem.
Photo: Live from
Austin City Limits
The long-running TV show has produced an extensive series of DVD's
featuring many artists who have been on the show. The link below
lists many of the DVD's, and you can view one song from each DVD.
Artists include: Johnny Cash,
Neko Case, Asleep at the Wheel, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson,
Billy Joe Shaver, Dwight Yoakum, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle,
Merle Haggard, Son Volt, Sir Douglas Quintet, Texas Tornados, The
Flatlanders (Jimmy Dale Gilmour, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely), Delbert
McClinton and Fats Domino
Some ODDS and ends:
in London (photo at left)
Lucille Ball, of course! With the Dave Clark Five and music and
singing by Phil Spector. The first rock video? Seeing is believing
Davis Jr, Sonny & Cher, Lovin' Spoonful & The Supremes
On Hullabaloo, mid-60's. Nobody
makes TV like this anymore! (Never should have for that
matter). They all join together at the
end on "I'm Henry the Eighth, I am"..
Wanna Love You Tender". This just might be The worst music video ever. Others call it the best ever. You
should be sure you're sitting down when you watch it.
Want more? See