Doc Pomus documentary

UPDATE (May 13) Just came back from the first-ever screening of the documentary, A.K.A. Doc Pomus at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema as part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. What a great film. It did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of Doc’s life (as well as the music and the stories.  I found it really did prove a quote by Doc’s biographer, Alex Halberstadt that Doc “was literally the most beloved person I’d ever come across”. Very moving, and highly recommended. Not sure when or where you’ll be able to catch it. See www.akadocpomus.com. My older article … Continue reading

“Under African Skies”: Documentary on “Graceland”, 25 years on (updated)

Update, May 24: See this page for details on the various CD/DVD/Blu-ray packages being released June 5. Update (May 18): The film will be shown on A&E (TV), May 25 at 10pm. Update (May 13): A couple of film reviews: LA Times (May 11) The Age (Australia) (May 14) And, to capture a bit of the flavour of the original album release, you can find many videos on YouTube of Simon’s original “Graceland” tour which followed the original album release. Many are from the final concert in Harare, Zimbabwe, including: “You Can Call Me Al“ “Diamonds on the Soles of … Continue reading

“Appalled by Dick Clark”: Joe Boyd on Clark’s Bandstand beginning

He may not be hip, but he was clean Two very, very different rock & roll figures died within a day of each other this past week, and have each received, in their own way, extensive media & internet coverage. Below is one take on Dick Clark. One of the news stories I read about Clark noted that he had taken over a local Philadelphia music and dance TV show, “Bandstand” after the original host had been fired. In the opening chapter of his excellent memoir, White Bicycles: making music in the 1960’s, Joe Boyd describes just what happened. (see … Continue reading

Musical losses in Sudan & North Carolina

RIP: Sudanese singer and musician Mohammed Osman Wardi died Feb 18 at the age of 80. More here Live in Addis Ababa, 1993:   And halfway across the world, North Carolina fiddler Joe Thompson died Feb. 21 at 93. More here Thompson was the prime inspiration for the Carolina Chocolate Drops who will be releasing a new album next month. As the “bio” piece on their website notes: In the summer and fall of 2005, three young black musicians, Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, and Justin Robinson, made the commitment to travel to Mebane, N.C., every Thursday night to sit in … Continue reading

Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Jr Lockwood: on film, 1942

Amazing colour film footage from 1942 of Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) and Robert Jr Lockwood playing on the front porch of an Arkansas grocery store in 1942. It also features some shots of Williamson playing with his band in 1952. No sound, but as one YouTube commenter wrote, “The music is there! You just can’t hear it”. This is quite an amazing artifact. It was apparently shot by Max Moore, the owner of the King Biscuit Flour company which sponsored the now-legendary (an overused word, but in this context, highly appropriate) King Biscuit Time radio show on KFFA … Continue reading

Etta James & Johnny Otis

It’s been more than a week since the deaths of those two giant figures of American R&B: Johnny Otis, and his greatest discovery, Etta James. My initial comments on Otis’ death are in a post below, and they’ve both received significant media coverage, especially James, although Lynn Crosbie in the Globe & Mail this week wondered why it took her death for James to receive such wide recognition. “But if she is such a legend, why was she not pushed forward more in her life?” There was nothing simple, or easily mainstreamed, about the way James sang. Pure soul is … Continue reading

Howlin’ Wolf: “What is the Soul of Man?”

In early December, I made my yearly note that the Oxford American‘s annual Music Issue was about to hit the streets.  Usually full of interesting takes on musicians, unknown, little known, or well known, it includes a CD of music by all artists profiled. (NOTE: The issue has been out for some time, but Soundscapes on College always gets in a good stock. Information on the issue, along with some articles, and online music is available on the OA website ) This year’s issue focuses on the music of Mississippi, and the cover features Howlin’ Wolf, who’s the subject of … Continue reading

Townes Van Zandt: new book, old interview

Sometimes I don’t know where This dirty road is taking me Sometimes I can’t even see the reason why I guess I keep a-gamblin’ Lots of booze and lots of ramblin’ It’s easier than just waitin’ around to die —from “Waitin’ Round to Die”, Townes Van Zandt One of the greatest Americana singer-songwriters, Townes Van Zandt died 15 years ago this past New Year’s Day, and a new book, A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt, written by Robert Earl Hardy has just been published. Townes was never famous, and never had a hit. He’s most … Continue reading

A few video treats

Today I was browsing the readers’ forum of the late British DJ, Charlie Gillett, and came across a few video treats… Boubacar Traore The wonderful Malian guitarist/singer will be at Hugh’s Room, Oct. 3. A nice, short video clip here Kandia Kouyate An amazing clip of the Malian griot at the age of 18. She’s the mother of Montreal singer Tapa Diarra. A Ye Sira Bila Otis Redding A timeless voice. The fashion sense… maybe not so timeless. 1966, “A Lover’s Prayer“. Same year, rough video, gritty soul. Stax/Volt Revue in London. B. B. King At the top of his … Continue reading