Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blues on a Saturday: B.B. King and T-Bone Walker

A rare clip of T-Bone Walker sitting-in with B.B. King at a festival in the later 1960s or early 1970s.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blues on a Saturday: Bille Holiday "Fine and Mellow"

I recently watched Ken Burn's Jazz and was struck again by this 1957 clip featuring Bill Holiday and one the few blues she wrote and performed "Fine and Mellow" This originally aired live as part of a special telecast ("The Sound of Jazz") on a short-lived CBS Sunday afternoon "cultural program", "THE SEVEN LIVELY ARTS". The man setting the scene for the number is host John Crosby, best known as a TV critic for the New York Herald-Tribune. This was also Billie's last major appearance on network television. the first tenor solo is by Ben Webster, the second by Lester Young, and the third by Coleman Hawkins. The trumpet solo is by Roy Eldridge.

The entire show is on DVD. Well worth watching. And there's a CD as well.

How Higher Education Favors the Rich--Great Infographic

Rags to Rags - Riches to Riches

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brownback wants to save your marriage--unless you're gay

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has already used his administration to make Kansas one of the most social conservative in the nation. Kansas has become the first state to end public funding of the arts and has narrowly missed being the first state to do end abortions. Now, Brownback is developing a plan to promote marriage. To head up this effort, Brownback has hired Robert Siedlecki. Ironically, Siedlicki is divorced, but he is an advocate of “faith-based” solutions and an opponent of gay marriage. And, he's from Florida, as if Kansas has a shortage of religious right activists.

Tim Carpenter reported recently some juicy details about a secret April meeting to design Brownback's marriage agenda. The Topeka Capital-Journal uncovered some through a Kansas Open Records request. The Kansas government spent $13,000 to bring together 20 mostly far-right marriage “experts” for the closed door meeting. Thanks to the reporting of Tim Carpenter and other public information we know something of what Brownback has in mind, even though the details of the meeting remain confidential.

Organizations represented included the Heritage Foundation, Institute for American Values, Georgia Family Council, National Center for Fathering, Stronger Families, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Marriage Savers, Kansas Healthy Marriage Institute, and National Center for African American Marriages and Parenting.

Governor Sam, according to Carpenter, “urged invitees to think in terms of 'Hail Mary' approaches to boosting marriage rates and slashing divorce rates in Kansas.” According to SRS secretary Robert Siedlecki, a Brownback import from Florida "The governor wants us to create a national model." Perhaps because he is not the best model as a divorced father and to begin the work on this national model, Seidlecki has hired a minister—from Florida! Carpenter also reported that Joyce Webb of Catholic Charities' Kansas Healthy Marriage Institute, recommended that SRS fund a new marriage with $1 million from federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Ethics of Brownback's Experts

Carpenter points out that one invitee Wade Horn “departed the Bush administration amid reports of cronyism in awarding federal grants to the National Fatherhood Initiative he founded. According to OMB Watch, NFI received a five-year, no-bid contract for $12 million.”

But, Horn is not the only invitee with shaky ethics.

Michael McMannus, according to wikipedia

On January 28, 2005, it was discovered that McManus was one of three media figures to accept money from the George W. Bush administration for targeted public endorsements of government policy.
McManus was the third person to be implicated in an article by Tom Hamburger of The Los Angeles Times. It was revealed that McManus, who is a self-described "marriage advocate", was paid through a subcontractor of the Department of Health and Human Services to endorse a Bush-approved initiative defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. The payments were said to be $4,000 plus travel expenses, with an additional $49,000 paid to his organization, "Marriage Savers". McManus did not disclose this payment to his readers

Maggie Gallagher, again according to wikipedia
received tens of thousands of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services during 2002 and 2003 for helping the George W. Bush administration promote the President's Healthy Marriage Initiative. During this time, Gallagher testified before Congress in favor of "healthy marriage" programs, but never disclosed the payments. When asked about that situation, she replied "Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it? I don't know. You tell me. ...frankly, it never occurred to me".
After the Washington Post revealed this information on January 26, 2005, Gallagher claimed significant differences between her situation and that of conservative columnist Armstrong Williams, going on to add that "I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers."]
Gallagher received an additional $20,000 from the Bush administration for writing a report, titled "Can Government Strengthen Marriage?", for the National Fatherhood Initiative...
Gays No, Polygamists Maybe
It should surprise no one that Sedlieki made it clear to the TCJ that there would be “ no room in the state's program for gays and lesbians interested in marriage or parenting.” What is surprising is that some of Brownback experts think polygamy isn't so bad.
Gallagher has said that gay marriage is worse than polygamy, which, "for all its ugly defects, is an attempt to secure stable mother-father families for children".
Another invitee founder of the Institute for American Values Daniel Blankenhorn
was presented to the court as an expert witness in Perry v. Schwarzenegger by the proponents of California Proposition 8 (2008), a constitutional amendment stripping same-sex couples of the right to marry. On cross-examination by David Boies, Blankenhorn stated that marriage's "rule of two people" is not violated by polygamy, because "Even in instances of a man engaging in polygamous marriage, each marriage is separate. He — one man marries one woman." (source)
The Agenda?
We can't know what the Brownback marriage  agenda will  look like, but there here are some possibilities.
Mike McManus of Marriage Savers wants to get rid of no-fault divorce, limiting it to only cases of physical abuse or adultery. Gallagher not only want to end no-fault divorce, she want to prosecute spouses for adultery.
 And, a definite--no room in the state's programs m for gays or lesbians interested in marriage or parenting.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Blues on a Saturday: Tracy Nelson "Down So Low"

In April, Tracy Nelson released her 26th album Victim of the Blues. She's done not only  blues,  but also country  and rock, and in-between. She got her start in the folk and blues revival of the sixties and was part of the San Francisco rock scene in the late sixties., where she helped lead the under-rated  Mother Earth.  I bought their first LP Living with the Animals back in the day and it has long been one of my favorites.  it is out on CD from Wounded Bird records and is recommended. There are those, myself included, who ranked her as as superior to Janice Joplin

BluesWax recently published Don Wilcox's two part interview with Nelson--part one and part two

Here is Nelson in 1987 doing her 1968 song Down So Low.  It seems to be a modern blues standard, having been covered by Cyndi Lauper, Linda Ronstadt, and others.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Bachman's Third Try at a Theme Song

Far right Presidential candidate Michele Bachman has had almost as big a problem with theme songs for her campaign as with American history.

First,  Tom Petty send a cease-and-desist letter to stop Bachman from using American Girl. Next, Katrina Leskanich announced that she wasn’t cool with Bachmann’s “misuse” of Katrina and the Waves’ hit song “Walking on Sunshine.”

Today, it is reported that Bachman, apparently rejecting an offer from Ted Nugent,  is using Elvis Presley's recording of "The Promised Land."

It is interesting that Bachman picked an Elvis cover of a song written by the still-living African-American Chuck Berry, which in turn is a reworking of  Wabash Cannonball, most famously recorded by Roy Acuff, and dating back to at least 1882.

Even more interesting is that Berry's original lyrics referred to the 1961 Freedom Ride. Presley completely omitted the second verse where Berry says he bypassed Rock Hill, the place where future Congressman John Lewis and other riders were attacked by a white mob.
We stopped in Charlotte,
We bypassed Rock Hill
We never was a minute late
We was 90 miles out of Atlanta by sundown
Rollin' out of Georgia state
The next verse goes like this and seems to also refer to another key Freedom Ride site.
We had a little trouble,
Turned into a struggle
Half way across Alabam
Our 'hound broke down
Left us stranded
In downtown Birmingham
I'm not saying that Chuck Berry was transformed into Woody Guthrie, although Woody also borrowed the Wabash Cannonball tune for the Grand Coulee Dam. But the background of the segregation and Freedom Rides ought to inform the performance of this great Chuck Berry tune.  Sadly, many  versions of the "Promised Land" mangle the words, leaving out key lines.

Here's nice version of Chuck Berry doing the 'Promised Land", probably in the UK.

I kind of hope that Chuck Berry as composer of the Promised Land can and will bar the crazy lady from the North Country from using his song.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Who Needs a Pension When You Can Have a Pizza Party?

Blues on a Saturday: Junior Wells and Buddy Guy

Junior Wells performing Cryin' Shame, with Buddy Guy, guitar, and David Myers, bass, from the movie Chicago Blues, in 1970.