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

Don’t miss Khaira Arby May 8: “It’s boom! It’s flash! It’s great!”

Anyone who’s followed this website, or my newsletter for the last couple of years, knows that I’m a huge fan of the Malian singer Khaira Arby. Over the summer of 2010, I followed news & reviews of her first-ever North American tour, and finally saw her perform in Toronto that September, at the Ashkenaz Festival and also in the CIUT studios. She was indeed, an amazing singer, but here, she was singing as a guest with the New York City Band, Sway Machinery. So later that month,  I took the train to Montreal to catch her performing with her own … Continue reading

Doc Pomus: documentary, biography & appreciation

A new documentary, AKA Doc Pomus will screen on May 13 at the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre as part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. (Screening details here) I don’t know the documentary, but  highly recommend this, based only on what I know of Doc Pomus’s life. Doc grew up as a short, overweight Jewish kid in Brooklyn, whose childhood polio meant he lived life with crutches (and later in a wheelchair). He became a true blues shouter in the Joe Turner style, and later half of the most successful pop music songwriting team in the early to mid-60’s (“Save … 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

The crisis in Mali, Tuareg music and rebellion

For some people, when you say “Timbuktu”, it is like the end of the world, but that is not true. I am from Timbuktu, and I can tell you we are right at the heart of the world. — Ali Farka Touré. from the liner notes to his 1994 album, Talking Timbukutu In 1994, I was looking forward to seeing the great Malian guitarist for the first time, in a concert with American Ry Cooder, with whom he had recorded the above CD. However, not long before that concert, word came out that Touré had cancelled his tour, because of … Continue reading

Gospel (and other) music for Easter

An appropriate time for a bit of gospel… Mahalia Jackson From the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, the intro says it all: “The World’s Greatest Gospel Singer… Miss Mahalia Jackson”   Sister Rosetta Tharpe Gospel and rock & roll: The connection is well known. Numerous soul singers had roots in that tradition, starting with Ray Charles,  and Sam Cooke who was once one of the great stars of gospel. But one performer who is less known now,  was perhaps a much more important link between the two musics: Sister Rosetta Tharpe,  a highly under-rated performer. Below, part 1 of a BBC … Continue reading

Khaira Arby at the Lula May 8

Great news, that Malian singer Khaira Arby is finally playing a concert in town with her band.  Of course, given the situation in Mali, especially in her region, around Timbuktu, we can all hope not only that she gets here, but that the fighting is resolved soon, and the people there can enjoy peace. She, Vieux Farka Touré, Bassekou Kouyaté have just released a new single, “La Monde Pour La Paix” pleading for peace. Khaira first played North America in the late summer of 2010 (and in fact, it was almost the first time she’d ever travelled outside Mali), and … Continue reading