Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Books of 2012

It's the time of the year for "best" and "top" lists.  As in 2011, 2010, and 2007, I've looked back over the books I've read this year to come up with  my top book list. I'm considering only books I read for the first time this year and ones published fairly recently, basically in 2010-2012 and for the most part I am excluding books on economics and unions which deserve separate list. That will help keep the total to just over ten. This is not a rank listing.

1. Sam Farber, Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment.

I really enjoyed reading Farber's book. One of the most well-informed and astute analysts of Castro's Cuba,  Farber writes from what he describes as "the classical Marxist tradition that preceded Stalinism in the USSR."  In the intro, Faber says he will concentrate on "those questions that I believe have been subject to a great deal of mythmaking, fallacies, and misunderstandings..." So there is a polemical quality to this books which makes it delightful reading.

Farber's book has won endorsements from leading academics such as Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Jorge Dominguez, and Adolfo Gilly.  It has also received in-depth coverage from Havana Times, and has been favorably  reviewed by Pablo Velasco and Sacha Ismail at Workers' Liberty and Charles Post at New Politics.


2. Sean Wilentz, Bob Dylan in America.

This is must reading for all serious Bob Dylan fans. Wilentz is a Professor at Princeton University and author of such works as The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (W.W. Norton, 2005) won the Bancroft Prize.  He also has an interest in American popular culture, having teamed with rock historian Greil Marcus to edit Rose and the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad.

Wilentz knows his Dylan and he knows American popular culture and links them in enlightening ways.  There are occasions when I think Wilentz lets his aesthetic judgment be outweighed by his appreciation of Dylans ties to earlier American culture.  For example, I don't understand Wilentz's praise of Dylan's Christmas CD, which I thought was horrible.


3. Stewart Acuff Playing Bigger Than You Are - A Life in Organizing


A fascinating memoir/autobiography by Stewart Acuff, former organizing director for the AFL-CIO.  It is essential reading for every youngish labor organizer and social justice and activists and for those who are not so youngish.







4. Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire: the Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right.


Frank is great, as usual. And, for this one, he not only gave a reading at Wichita's Watermark Books, but went out for pizza afterwards with a number of  local activists.  Cool.








5. Chuck Collins, 99 to 1

This is a concise (124 pages, plus 14 pages of notes) examination of how wealth inequality is wrecking the economy.  It is well-organized with lots of tables and graphics.  If you want to know how the 99/1 economic divide means in the real world and the damages that it does, this is a great place to start.

One limitation, Collins analysis doesn't really discuss the central role of the attacks of unions and limits on the ability of workers to organize in the dramatic rise of inequality.  Or the necessity to increase the power of workers in turning the situation around.


6. Michael Kazin, American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation.

Kazin, co-editor of Dissent and professor of history at Georgetown has written a new history of the American left, a sort of companion to John Nichols, The S Word, which made my 2011 list.

The publisher describes it this way:

Kazin tells a new history of the left: one in which many of these movements, although they did not fully succeed on their own terms, nonetheless made lasting contributions to American society that led to equal opportunity for women, racial minorities, and homosexuals; the celebration of sexual pleasure; multiculturalism in the media and the schools; and the popularity of books and films with altruistic and antiauthoritarian messages.

7. Manning Marable, Malcom X: A Life of Reinvention

Michael Glitz has a good review on Huffington Post.
The scholar and author Manning Marable died just on the eve of publication of his magnum opus, this sober, detailed, engrossing biography of Malcolm X. One trusts he is resting easy, knowing that the early reviews were rapturous and that the book did justice both to his lifelong work as an educator and champion of progressive causes and to Malcolm X's ever-growing importance as a figure both in the black community and impassioned fighters for freedom and justice around the world.
I'm not sure about the "ever-growing importance" of Malcolm X.

Emahunn Campbell wrote, just before the publication of Marable's biography, on the Activist blog of the Young Democratic Socialists.
I hope that Marable’s book will uncover and develop Malcolm’s relationship to socialists and socialism. Although one cannot refer to Malcolm as a socialist–he did not have a chance to fully develop or move towards a socialist position–he did have strong opinions about the depredations of capitalism, especially after his split with the Nation of Islam (NOI). To be sure, he went from being a proponent of black capitalism, which was an ideological residue from his time as the national spokesman for the NOI, to becoming anti-capitalist due to his engagement with socialist and Marxist literature as well as his travels to Cuba and a number of decolonizing nations in Africa and the Middle East that claimed to be developing their respective national paths to socialism. ...
While no socialist organization can claim Malcolm, one can definitely imagine how profoundly developed his thought would have been if he was around long enough for it to manifest itself in his organizational pursuits.
Lawrence Gulotta describes the relationship between Malcolm X and democratic socialists A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and James Farmer here. Gulutta notes

No church wanted to receive Malcolm X’s body, after the assassination, for fear of retribution by the NOI. Finally, after a week of calling Harlem churches, the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ was willing to arrange the funeral and made its auditorium available. A thousand people came to pay respects to Malcolm X and his family. The national civil rights leaders, and Harlem civic leaders, including Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, stayed away from the funeral. It was a small group of democratic socialists, including Bayard Rustin, James Farmer, James Furman, and John Louis, that were present at the funeral. Dick Gregory, not a socialist, was present. King, Whitney Young and Kwame Nkrumah sent condolences. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee presided over the program. Marable doesn’t mention Clifton DeBarry or George Breitman attending the funeral.
8. Cornelius L. Bynum, A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights

I've written on the importance of A. Philip Randolph before here on the NAR, so I looked forward to this book. And I was not dissapointed. Bynum, Associate Professor of History and Associate Director, African American Studies and Research Center, Purdue University, has written a very valuable intellectual history of A. Philip Randolph through the post-WWII campaigns to end Jim Crow in the military and to establish a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission. It does not explicitly discuss Randolph's key role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s. the 1963 March on Washington, or the 1965 Freedom Budget for All Americans
 
Bynum's books discusses the evolution of Randolph's thought and action as he dealt with the dual problems of class exploitation and racial repression.

9. Michael G. Long (editor) I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life In Letters

A fascinating and educational collection of 150 letters by Rustin, the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and trainer of generations of activists in non-violent social change.

Sociologist William Julius Wilson writes

"I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters provides fascinating insights into Bayard Rustin’s activist life. It includes hundreds of letters in Rustin's own words that reveal his tireless and brave efforts to promote American civil rights, as well as his personal tragedies. All aspects of Rustin’s experiences are captured in these letters, including his struggles with opponents dedicated to silencing him as an international symbol of nonviolent protests against racial injustice. This remarkable and deeply moving publication is a must-read."

10-11  Van Jones Rebuild the Dream and Robert Kuttner, A Presidency in Peril

Two leading progressives examine frustrations with the Obama administration and what the left should do.

12.  William Cunningham, The Green Corn Rebellion

A reprint of the 1935 novel by William Cunningham about  the 1917 rebellion by Oklahoma farmers against the draft and World War I. There is a fine, informative introduction by historian Nigel Sellars, author of  Oil, Wheat, and Wobblies: The Industrial Workers of the World in Oklahoma.  I half-expected this to be mainly of historic and regional interest.  But, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a really good read and stands alongside Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Upton Sinclair's better works.

Here's a nice review by Elizabeth Breau.  
 



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blues on a Saturday: Fontella Bass

Fontella Bass, most famous for her 1965 hit "Rescue Me" died this week on December 26 at age 72. ht: Mick Hartley

The song has been described in Allmusic as "the greatest record Aretha never made." It was certainly an immense hit. It went "pop." I heard it on the radio in small town Kansas and a few years later found it in the bins at a little operation that stocked jukeboxes in the area.

.

Bass got her start on the blues scene in St. Louis where she played piano in Little Milton's band and met her husband trumpet player Lester Bowie. After unpleasant experiences, to put it mildly, with Chess Records where she had recorded "Rescue Me" she performed with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and recorded the acclaimed The Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass. Here is a AEC song featuring Fontella Bass from a movie soundtrack.

I'm putting the AEC with FB album on my "listen to" list, but for now it seems right to close with Rescue Me."


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday MusticThat Doesn't Suck #9 (2012 edition)

The Modern Jazz Quartet - England's Carol or God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.

Holiday Music That Doesn't Such #8 (2012 edition)

I think that the best version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" is 1961 hit by Ray Charles and Betty Carter, which I remember hearing as a youth. In recent years, many have criticized it as a date rape anthem , but it has become an even more popular recording vehicle. I can't claim to have listened to all of the performances listed in the wikipedia article, but if you want something different from the Charles-Carter duet, I recommend Blossom Dearie and Bob Dorough.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Music That Doesn't Suck #6 (2012 edition)

With Elvin Jones on drums, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and McCoy Tyner on piano,John Coltrane performs "Greensleeves/What Child Is This?" a popular Christmas carol written in 1865. At the age of twenty-nine, English writer William Chatterton Dix was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months, during which he went into a deep depression. Yet out of his near-death experience, Dix wrote many hymns, including "What Child is This?", later set to the traditional English tune "Greensleeves."

This version is from the classic 1961 album Africa/Brass. With a little searching, you can find several life versions.

Holiday Music that Doesn't Suck #5 (2012 edition)

Ms. Jody "It's Christmas. Baby". A contemporary Southern soul singer. I really like this gem that I discovered quite by chance.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Support Eric Looms

I have added my name to this statement. I urge other bloggers and academics to do the same. 

Statement on Erik Loomis

by Erik Loomis Statement on December 19, 2012

Erik Loomis is no stranger to this blog. A gifted young scholar of US labor and environmental history, Loomis is also a blogger at Lawyers, Guns and Money. Many of us have tussled and tangled with him, most recently over whether leftists should vote for Obama. We have often disagreed with Loomis, not always pleasantly or politely, and he has certainly given as good as he has got.
But now we must stand by Loomis’s side and speak up and out on his behalf, for he has become the target of a witch hunt, and as an untenured professor at the University of Rhode Island, he is vulnerable. Loomis needs our solidarity and support, and we must give it to him.
This past Friday, in the wake of the tremendous grief and outrage millions of people felt over the Newtown mass shooting, Loomis tweeted the following:

I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.

Wayne LaPierre is the head of the National Rifle Association. It seems obvious to us that when Loomis called for LaPierre’s head on a stick, he had in mind something like this from the Urban Dictionary:

A metaphor describing retaliation or punishment for another’s wrongdoing, or public outrage against an individual or group for the same reason. After the BP Oil Spill; many Americans would like to see Tony Hayward’s head on a stick, myself included.

Ever since putting someone’s head on a stick ceased to be a routine form of public punishment—indeed, the last instance of it we can think of is fictional (Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, though it references an actual event from the French Revolution)—calling for someone’s head has been a fairly conventional way to express one’s outrage or criticism. Two months ago, for example, right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds voiced his anger over the State Department’s lax provision of security in Benghazi by demanding, “Can we see some heads roll?” Yet that very same Glenn Reynolds is now accusing Loomis of using “eliminationist rhetoric.”
Other conservative voices have joined in. The Daily Caller says Loomis “unleashed a flurry of profanity-ridden tweets demanding death for National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre.” Townhall put Loomis’s tweets in the context of NRA members and leaders getting death threats. And just this morning, Michelle Malkin wrote at National Review Online:

What’s most disturbing is that the incitements are coming from purportedly respectable, prominent, and influential public figures. Consider the rhetoric of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis….
Unfortunately, Loomis is not alone….
So, it’s come to this: Advocating beheadings, beatings, and the mass murder of peaceful Americans to pay for the sins of a soulless madman. But because the advocates of violence fashion themselves champions of nonviolence and because they inhabit the hallowed worlds of Hollywood, academia, and the Democratic party, it’s acceptable?
Blood-lusting hate speech must not get a pass just because it comes out of the mouths of the protected anti-gun class.

This campaign has now brought Loomis into the crosshairs of the state and his employer. Loomis has already been questioned by the Rhode Island State Police, who told him that someone had informed the FBI that Loomis had threatened LaPierre’s life. Loomis also has been hauled into a meeting with his dean.  And now the president of the University of Rhode Island, where Loomis teaches, has issued the following statement:

The University of Rhode Island does not condone acts or threats of violence. These remarks do not reflect the views of the institution and Erik Loomis does not speak on behalf of the University. The University is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and equitable culture that aspires to promote positive change.

We do not expect any better of the orchestrators of this campaign—this is what they have done for many years, and doubtless will be doing for years to come. We do expect better of university administrators. Rather than standing behind a member of their faculty, the administration has sought to distance the university from Loomis. Even to suggest that Loomis’s tweet constitutes a “threat of violence” is an offense against the English language. We are dismayed that the university president completely fails to acknowledge the importance of academic freedom and of scholars’ freedom independently to express views (even intemperate ones) on topics of public importance.  This statement—unless it is swiftly corrected— should give alarm to scholars at the University of Rhode Island, to scholars who might one day consider associating themselves with this institution, and to academic and professional associations that value academic freedom.
However, this is not merely a question of academic freedom. It also speaks to a broader set of rights to speak freely without the fear of being fired for controversial views that many of us have been flagging for years. Everyone should be clear what is going on. As a blogger at Atrios has pointed out, what the witch hunters want is for Loomis to be fired. Indeed, the calls have already begun (see comment thread here). Though Loomis has a union, his lack of tenure makes him vulnerable.
We insist that the University of Rhode Island take a strong stand for the values of academic freedom and freedom of speech, that it not be intimidated by an artificially whipped-up media frenzy, that it affirm that the protections of the First Amendment require our collective enforcement, and that all employers—particularly, in this kind of case, university employers—have a special obligation to see that freedom of speech become a reality of everyday life.
We urge all of you to contact the following three administrators at the University of Rhode Island:

Dean Winnie Brownell: winnie@mail.uri.edu
Provost Donald DeHays: ddehayes@uri.edu
President David Dooley: davedooley@mail.uri.edu

Be polite, be civil, be firm.

We also call upon all academic and other bloggers to stand in support of Loomis. We invite others who wish to associate themselves with this statement to say so in the comments section to this post, and to republish this statement elsewhere.

Holiday Music That Doesn't Suck #4 (2012 edition)

Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon performing Mel Torme's "Christmas Song." I like the way that Gordon's improvises around the melody and that he improvises in the spirit, mood, and tempo of the song. Very nice.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Music That Doesn't Suck #3 (2012 edition)

"Hey Santa Claus" by The Moonglows (1953), a doo-wop and r-and-b group from Cleveland, who recorded for Chess and discovered Marvin Gaye.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Music That Doesn't SucK #2 (2012 edition)

Ella Fitzgerald is widely considered to one the great female jazz vocalist. My Uncle Lloyd rated her the best by far. Nothing would sour him on a new singer more quickly than a reviewer who compared her to Ella.

I included Fitzgerald's Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas in my 2009 post on Best Jazz Christmas CDs. A Swinging Christmas was recorded in 1960. Scott Yarnow describes it as "a lightweight but enjoyable set of Christmas cheer." A Verve 2002 reissue has some bonus tracks.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Music That Doesn't Suck #1 (2012 edition): Lowell Fulson "Lonesome Christmas"

This is my second annual installment of Holiday Music that Doesn't Suck. In 1950, West Coast bluesman Lowell Fulson recorded "Lonesome Christmas." According to comments on the youtube clip it is Andy Harwick on sax and Ray Charles on piano.  The Charles is unmistakable.


Blues on a Saturday: B. B. King "Three O'Clock Blues"

Three O'Clock Blues was B.B. King's first big hit in 1952.

West Coast(via Tulsa) bluesman Lowell Fulson recorded it first in 1946 and it was a hit when it was released in 1948. I think you will recognize how B.B. made it a classic.(Fulson also was the first to record "Tramp" which Otis Redding made a hit.)

Naturally, the tune became a staple of B.B. King's live shows over the years.

And here's the up and coming Gary Clark Jr. playing it very much in a B. B. vein.

Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale

Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale is an 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality. Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don't want to pay taxes anymore. They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren't so sure. This land bears a startling resemblance to our land.

The video is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. It was written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. For more info, www.cft.org. © 2012 California Federation of Teachers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Everyday is Once in a Century

How many times did you hear or read that yesterday December 12, 2012 was once in a century? Dozens, if not hundreds. At my large workplace, fully staffed and many working overtime for the holiday mail, the social and recreation committee gave out two prizes every hour at, you guessed it, 12 clicks past the hour. And, every time, it was said this is a "once is a century" day. Guess what? Today, December 13, 2012 is once is a century. Seriously, there are 12 dates every century where the month, day, and year have the same numerals. So, it seems to me that it would have been far more accurate to have said that "December 12 is twelfth is a decade."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tom Hayden Speech at Wichita Peace and Social Justice Center

Tom Hayden, a leader of the student new left and antiwar movement in the sixties and a long-term activist, writer, and thinker for progressive politics, was keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary dinner of the Wichita Peace and Social Justice Center on Dec. 7 2012. My friend and fellow DSAer Russell Fox has written an insightful post on Hayden and his Wichita talk. [Dec 13 corrected: on the first version, the sound wasn't complete. This one should have the complete video of the speech.] Tom also spent about an hour answering questions from the fully packed audience. I haven't yet edited that recording.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Four Takes on American Music

1. Marc Myers, proprietor of the excellent Jazz Wax blog,  has written a different kind of jazz history Why Jazz Happened (University of California Press). It the focuses on the economic and social changes that facilitated the creation of be-bop, cool jazz,hard bop and a few more styles leading up to jazz-rock fusion. I haven't read it yet, but Myers was interviewed by Jeffrey Siegel for his Straight No Chaser online jazz show (go here) up in Massachusetts. You can listen for free to the podcast. It's a fascinating interview and there are some great tunes played.

2.  Tom Hurka, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, writes about Rob Bowman's Soulsville, USA: The Story of Stax Records in normblog's writer's choice series.  I'm an  admirer of Peter Guralnik's 1986 Sweet Soul Music, which as published more than a decade before Bowman's book and with a broader focus. Hurka's  mini-essay persuades me that Soulsville deserves to be read widely as well.  As Hurka  observes 

A running theme in the book is the contrast between soul music, as at Stax, and the music of Motown. (Whereas the sign outside Stax said Soulsville, USA, that outside Motown said Hitsville, USA. Bowman thinks that encapsulates the difference.) The Motown sound was slick, northern, and urban, while Stax was rough, southern, and rural.


3. Ricky Ricardi, archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, has a great blog The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong. He's written a highly-praised book  (2012) with the same title about Armstrong's later years, but the blog for the last year has been devoted to Armstrong's early and seminal Hot Fives and Hot Sevens recordings, which marked the first revolution in jazz.  Ricardi did 10 blog posts on the 5 and 7s over six month period--they are listed here. Really fascinating stuff.


4. Dave Brubeck was one of the few jazz artists to achieve mass popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Russell Fox comments here and Norm Geras here. I'm sure I heard "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" before I began to explore jazz in high school.  A class mate, out reliable guide to what was cool in rock, was a drummer and a fan of Burbeck's drummer Joe Morello. His parents had the famous Time Out . A few years later I spent an evening hanging out with couple of Brubeck's kids who had a jazz rock fusion group and had played at a college gig in my hometown. Despite this exposure, I didn't feel a burning desire to get the album and I was well into  adulthood before I got it. 

Burbeck wrote some great jazz standards and I have enjoyed many of the Quartets performances, but I don't really like his playing; it seems heavy handed, lacking subtlety, and not really swinging. I prefer John Lewis and Thelonious Monk.  I tend to think that the strange time signatures was a dead end.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Libertarian Anti-Semitism

I just came across a very interesting mini-essay "Documenting Anti-Semitism Within the Libertarian Movement" by an unidentified Jewish libertarian. It certainly rings true from what I know of the libertarian movement. But the extent of anti-Semitism appears to be greater than I had thought.

He writes

In recent years, as the libertarian movement has grown, so has the anti-Jewish movement within this clan of activists supposedly concerned with promoting liberty and freedom for all of humanity.

 ...In the U.S., the libertarian movement, broadly speaking, consists of think-tanks, Ron Paul activists and organizations, and those affiliated with the Libertarian Party.

The anti-Semitism in the libertarian movement has manifested itself in all three categories at alarmingly high levels. It's difficult to imagine how any libertarian activist or scholar can envision success for their movement with such anti-libertarian sentiment and malicious bigotry in its midst.
The essay concludes with this observation:
Jewish libertarians or classical liberals -- or others who are pro-equal rights (pro-decency, really) should refrain from further participation in the libertarian movement
 The author of the document has also written a useful essay on Ron Paul's Disdain for Jews and Israel.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Blues on a Saturday: Mickey Baker and Coleman Hawkins

Mickey Baker playing with Coleman Hawkins, probably recorded in France.

Egypt: Old and New Unions Split on Morsy's Power Grab

Union Law Decree May Mean Government Interference, New Egyptian Unions Say [Solidarity Center] 2012-12-01

Mubarak-era state-run trade unions backs Morsy’s declaration [Daily News Egypt] 2012-12-01

Workers march against Morsy [Mena Solidarity Network] 2012-12-01

Independent union federation rejects president’s power grab [MENA Solidarity Network] 2012-12-01

New Egyptian trade unions issue demands regarding proposed IMF loans [ITUC] 2012-11-21

It has been fairly widely reported that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has accommodated the military, I  hadn't known that they have apparently made a deal with the corrupt and ineffective state-controlled Mubarak unions.


Also, check out LabourStart's  outstanding Eygpt labor news page.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mickey Baker

 It was announced today that legendary guitarist Mickey Baker has died.  He was busy r&b and jazz session guitarist in New York in 1950s and wrote a jazz guitar instruction book series that influenced a generation or two of players.  He is most famous, though,  as half of Mickey and Sylvia.  Their 1956 hit Love is Strange is truly a classic.  Baker's guitar playing is among the best rock/r&b playing ever.  Turns out though that much of is borrowed from Jody Williams playing on Billy Stewart's tune "Billie's Blues" on Chess.  Chess even sued over the matter, but Williams apparently got no compensation. Another Williams piece ("Lucky Lou") was borrowed by Otis Rush for "All Your Love."

This YouTube Of "Love Is Strange" has some very nice vintage photos.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Complete run of Labor Action on-line

Workers' Liberty reports

David Walters has announced the completion of a major milestone for the Left Opposition Digitization Project for the Marxist Internet Archive: the complete run of Labor Action, the newspaper of the Workers Party (U.S.) and Independent Socialist League from 1940 through the Autum of 1958.

Writers for this paper included, among others, Max Shachtman, James T. Farrell, C.L.R. James, Raya Dunayevskaya, Hal Draper, and Irving Howe. The 19 years of Labor Action represents approx. 1,000 issues published, over half of which are full broadsheet in size. Presented in beautifylly digitaly optimized PDFs, the work was a joint project between the Riazanov Library Project and the Holt Labor Libary. Walters says: "We encourage the free and widespread distribution of this historic archive".

Click here to visit the archive.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Partners for Progressive Israel endorses the application to make Palestine a Non-member Observer State in the United Nations

[The original can be found here Americans for a Progressive Israel is linked to Meretz, the Left-wing Zionist,social-democratic, pro-peace Israeli political party.]
November 27, 2012 

Partners for Progressive Israel strongly endorses the application of Palestine to be accorded Non-Member Observer State status at the United Nations and calls on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to do so as well.

As a longstanding member of the American Zionist movement and as an organization that traces its roots to the days of Israel’s creation, we regard the Palestinian application as a vital step forward towards a durable, just, comprehensive, negotiated two-state peace, which is the only way to secure Israel’s existence as a democratic, Jewish-majority state.

The recent violence between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza has underscored that any attempt to ignore the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and any effort to indefinitely maintain the status quo of ‘manageable Occupation’ and ‘low-intensity conflict’ – as Israel’s current government seems inclined – is dangerous folly that is certain to exact a growing price in suffering and death on both sides.
Two Palestinian groups are vying for dominance of the Palestinian national movement: The Islamist Hamas, which controls Gaza, condones the targeting of civilians, and does not accept Israel’s fundamental legitimacy.  And the Fatah-led PLO, the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has endorsed the two-state solution, rejected violence and terrorism, rejected efforts to delegitimize Israel, and is preparing his people for the difficult, but necessary, concessions that a peace agreement will entail.

At this crucial juncture, it is the obligation of the international community, including Israel’s greatest ally, the United States of America, to make sure that the strategy of coexistence and moderation is rewarded, and that the Palestinian people are offered a horizon in which they are able to realize a viable, contiguous, independent state alongside Israel not through guns and bombs, but via the tools of statecraft and diplomacy.

Far from being an act of “diplomatic terror” against Israel (in the words of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman), the Palestinian application for Observer State status is entirely consistent with the two-state approach supported by the international community and by a majority of Israel’s citizens, and nominally endorsed by Israel’s current government.  In particular, we note that the application:
  • Prominently refers to UN Resolution 181 (II) of November 1947, which clearly endorses the existence of an independent “Jewish state” as part of the partition of Mandatory Palestine.  This reference constitutes an important step towards accommodating Prime Minister Netanyahu's demand that Israel be recognized as the expression of Jewish nationhood.
     
  • Affirms the State of Palestine’s desire to live, “side by side in peace and security with Israel”.
     
  • Acknowledges that the occupation began in 1967, rather than at the time of Israel’s creation.
     
  • Emphasizes that the Observer State application is in no way a substitute for final-status negotiations with Israel, whose “urgent resumption and acceleration” is called for.
     
  • Indicates that mutually agreed adjustments will be made to the 1967 borders in negotiations between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.
On November 29, 1947, the Jews of Mandatory Palestine, the yishuv, rightly celebrated in the streets when the UN General Assembly approved the partition plan and endorsed the principle of the self-determination of the Jewish people.  Sixty-five years later, we believe it is time for the UN to fulfill its two-state vision and recognize a state of Palestine alongside Israel.

We are deeply disturbed by reports of a threatened US cutoff of funds to Mr. Abbas’ government should he follow through with the application, as they suggest an American unwillingness to stand by the Palestinian proponents of a two-state solution.  We call on President Obama to swiftly renew his administration’s serious efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

We are similarly dismayed by reports of threatened Israeli punitive measures – including a withholding of Palestinian tax revenue, massive settlement construction, annexation of parts of the West Bank, and even the toppling of the Palestinian Authority.

Israel cannot decide who will lead the Palestinian people.  But it can and does pursue policies that add legitimacy and validation to one side or the other.  For four years, Israel’s current government has taken steps that have strengthened Hamas at the expense of Palestinian moderates, negotiating with, and making concessions to, Gaza’s hard-line rulers over prisoner releases and ceasefire terms, while at the same time spurning meaningful peace talks with Mr. Abbas and undermining his standing among his people by building thousands of housing units in West Bank settlements.

We call on Mr. Netanyahu at this critical hour to reverse this tragically misguided policy.  We call on Mr. Netanyahu to publicly acknowledge that President Abbas is a worthy partner; to engage constructively with Mr. Abbas in order to achieve a two-state peace based on the 1967 borders, with agreed, equitable territorial exchanges; and to lead the chorus of nations that says ‘Yes’ to a State of Palestine at the United Nations, and alongside the State of Israel.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Favorite Westerns

Norm Geras of Normblog has conducted a number of reader polls over the years and I've participated in  a fair number. His latest is favorite Westerns and the deadline is the end of November. (To enter, look for Norm's email link in the upper right-hand corner of his blog.

I've put together my list. It doesn't include very many classic Westerns and no Clint Eastwood.  On the other hand, it is heavy on what might be called anti-Westerns.

Here's my list with the top three picks as allowed by Norm's rules.

2. True Grit (2010)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Soldier Blue
The Searchers


Blues ona Saturday: Big Bill Broonzy "Summertime Blues"

Big Bill Broonzy, Wikipedia tells us "began in the 1920s when he played country blues to mostly black audiences. Through the ‘30s and ‘40s he successfully navigated a transition in style to a more urban blues sound popular with working class Black audiences. In the 1950s a return to his traditional folk-blues roots made him one of the leading figures of the emerging American folk music revival and an international star. His long and varied career marks him as one of the key figures in the development of blues music in the 20th century."

Broonzy was picked to replace Robert Johnson at the legendary 1938 From Spirituals to Swing , but there was no Big Bill craze similar to that for Johnson. Which is a shame because Bronzy was a very important bluesman and made some very great music. Here's a 1947 performance "Summertime Blues"--not the Eddie Cochran/Who/Blue Cheer rocker. It's very interesting, starting with piano and guitar lines that might been played in the 1930s,then horns enter with lines from swing and jump blues. This was a dominant sound in Chicago and other African-American urban centers. Even the very early Chess Records and Willie Dixon sides were in this vein. Then in 1948, Muddy Waters recorded "I Can't Be Satisfied" and "Rolling Stone" and a blues styles that had been considered out-of-date was again relevant. A preservationist stream keeping country blues alive was created on the white folk circuit, meanwhile Waters went electric and the modern Chicago blues was created.

If you want to learn more about Broonzy, there are over 100 YouTube videos.Bob Riesman has written a highly-regarded biography I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy Bob Riesman. which has a very nice website, which includes an appreciation by Pete Townsend, Foreword by Peter Guralnick, multimedia, and other features.

This seems like a good place to put in a plug for Elijah Wald's Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. While it is focused on Johnson, it is essential to understanding the whole scope of blues and American popular music. Including Broonzy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blues on a Saturday: Magic Sam "Easy Baby"

 Magic Sam had a short career, dying in 1969 at the age of 32, but among blues afficianados he has a very high reputation.  His two albums on Delmark, West Side Soul and Black Magic, are highly regarded. Here's a sample.


Partners for Progressive Israel on Violence in Israel and Gaza

I find a lot to agree with in this statement from Partners for a Progressive Israel, a group of Americans who support Israel's Meretz, a left wing Zionist social democratic, pro-peace party with roots in Mapam.

 Statement on the latest violence in Israel and Gaza
 

November 16, 2012

Partners for Progressive Israel is deeply dismayed by the killing and destruction in Israel and the Gaza Strip over these last days, and we urge all sides to refrain from further escalation and reach a negotiated cease-fire with all due speed.  In the last day, Palestinian rockets from Gaza have claimed their first three Israeli lives in the latest round of violence, and the shelling has now reached the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas.  Over a dozen Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by Israeli bombing.  We mourn the loss of all innocent life.

As we learned four years ago, massive Israeli military action, divorced from diplomatic progress, does not deliver long-term results. Precious human lives are wasted for short-term gains, or no gains at all. And sometimes the use of force inadvertently creates worse scenarios, as we have witnessed repeatedly throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While Israel clearly has the right to, and must, defend itself from Hamas and the rockets fired from Gaza, Israel has an obligation to use this right and its overwhelming firepower prudently: to seek negotiation first to defuse tensions, to respect the lives of innocent Palestinians, and to recognize that, ultimately, the conflict can be fully resolved only through diplomacy.  Unfortunately, Israel’s current government has not always fulfilled these basic obligations to its citizens.

Hamas is an unsavory neighbor which shoulders a very large degree of responsibility for the current escalation and the ongoing conflict, due to its unwillingness to accept Israel’s fundamental legitimacy. Yet Israel has no choice but to find a way to live alongside the Hamas government for the foreseeable future.  Reports that Israel’s government did not pursue promising third-party efforts to mediate an extended truce with Hamas are therefore a cause for deep concern.

To quote the group of Israelis living in Sderot and nearby communities who have created the organization, “Another Voice”:

“We call on the Israeli government to immediately launch negotiations with the Hamas government.  Rockets and bombs don’t protect us.  We have tried warfare long enough, and both sides have paid, and are still paying, a high price of suffering and loss.  The time has come to talk and seek long-term solutions that will allow citizens on both sides of the border to lead normal lives.”
Above all, at a time when Israel has potential partners in President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Palestinian leaders who are keeping alive the flagging hopes for peace by reaffirming their commitment to a two-state solution, rejecting violence and terrorism, and preparing their people for necessary concessions regarding the ‘right of return’, it is unconscionable for the current Israeli government to continue to rely on military action alone and to resist ending the occupation.

For the long term, a political solution is the only way out of violence and despair, and the only hope for the peace which so many Israelis and Palestinians yearn for and deserve.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stop the Koch Brothers Greed Agenda Tour Reaches Kansas: Teacherken Reports



Patriot Majority USA has run two bus tours, one on the West Coast, and one in the eastern  half of the country. focused on the Koch Brothers and their Greed Agenda, which they push with hundreds of millions of dollars and through organizations they have established and funded such as Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council, and Freedomworks.
Ken Bernstein,  a recently retired National Board Certified Social known for his blogging as teacherken at Daily Kos reported on the trip. Here is his report from Kansas re-posted with permission from the Education Votes website

When I say “we” it is because on Friday both buses, the one I was on in the East and the one that had been traveling the West, caught up with one another in Topeka, the state capitol, and then finished the tour at a union hall in Kansas City. Oh yes, and Bill Burke and some others first went to Wichita, to the headquarters of Koch Industries, founded by Fred C. Koch, father of the Koch Brothers Charles and David, who are the perpetrators of the Greed Agenda.

In Topeka, we set up outside the Kansas State Capitol
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to hold a press conference and deliver a letter to Gov. Sam Brownback asking him to break his ties with the Koch Brothers and end his support of the Greed Agenda.

We had lots of press. There were interviews both before and after the formal event. For example, Sid Voorakkara from the West bus got interviewed by Kansas One News
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and Mariah Hatta of the East Bus (on which I traveled) by CBS affiliate WIBW-TV, Channel 13:
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We had coverage from all four networks, from the AP, and from several print and radio organizations.
Mariah began the press conference by covering the content of the Greed Agenda:
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She was followed by Jim McCullough, Director of The Topeka Center for Peace and Justice:
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who spoke on voter suppression. He said it was nice to have someone talking about the 99% and pointed out that the Koch Brothers are Kansans. He told us
Your taxes are helping out their profit margins.
Joy Ginsburg, a concenred parent (of the charming young lady next to her):
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told us of her concerns about what the Greed Agenda was doing to her public schools. She referred to this editorial from The Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star, which criticized Governor Brownback appointing an “efficiency task force” to wring more saving out public schools whose 10 “experts” included no one based in schools or serving as educators. As the editorial, to which I will return later, noted:
Intended or not, the exclusion of practicing educators comes across as a show of disrespect for the people in the trenches who understand what resources are necessary to educate the children of Kansas.
Sid closed the pressed conference
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by announcing and reading the letter to Gov. Brownback, which is signed by Patriot Majority but also backed by more than 84,000 people who “LIKE” (and if you follow the link you will see the numbers keep going up – feel free to “LIKE” it as well) the Patriot Majority’s Facebook Page before he and others then headed off to the Capitol:

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to deliver the letter to the Governor’s office.
After a brief stop for some barbecue – how can you visit Kansas City and not eat local barbecue? – both buses traveled to a union hall in Kansas City: 
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You will note this local hall servers both Laborers (who do construction) and Public Employees.
Sid kicked off the proceedings, and introduced Mark Nidiffer (in the ball cap on your left): IMG_1096 who is the business manager and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 1290, who welcomed us and thanked us for what we were doing. He was followed by Andrea Veronica Hodges of Patriot Majority: IMG_1097 who told us the Koch Brothers are attempting to rob us of our rights. She mentioned that ALEC has supported 38 pieces of legislation that effectively rob us of our civil rights. We need to send a message to the Koch Brothers that we will not let them get away with it.
After Joy Ginsburg spoke again, the final speaker was Don Jones of Patriot Majority: IMG_1099
who talked about growing up in a union hall like this. Both of his parents, his uncles, now even his 21 year old son, were/are union members.
I was raised and taught that you get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
But the Koch Brothers and others pushing the Greed Agenda want to take these jobs overseas. Don said that what we want is jobs to provided “everyday stuff” like our houses, being able to send our kids to school, to be able to pay for our cars.
This is OUR country… Labor hands built this country.
Kansas is an appropriate place to end this Stop the Greed Agenda Bus Tour for a number of reasons. First, let me return to the editorial from which I quote:
Once again, Brownback has shown he will heavy-handedly wield the state’s authority over local communities even as he decries the idea that the federal government should have a say in what goes on in the states.
A key approach of the Greed Agenda is to take power away from the Federal government, including the power to regulate corporations as much as possible, and to return it to state government, where through organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council, with its cooperation between state legislators and corporations shaping laws government can be perverted to benefit corporations and the rich. If the Federal Government is hamstrung and limited in what can be done, and state governments are controlled by ALEC and other similar organizations, then the ability of local governments to protect their people begins to disappear, as does the meaning of democracy as a form of government that is rule by “We the people.”

Kansas is also ground zero for something else. One needs to remember that Governor Brownback is on record as not fully supporting evolution – as seen by his raising his hand at a Republican primary debate and by this op ed in the New York Times – even though the Roman Catholic Church to which he converted as an adult has no difficulty with Darwin’s theory. Kansas is also the state whose elected state school board sought to downplay evolution and require the teaching of  ”intelligent design.” While that school board was eventually voted out by the people of Kansas, this points at something to which we often do not pay attention. Those pushing the Greed Agenda realistically care little about such social issues – what they want is unfettered ability to run their corporations, break the unions, and maximize their profits. They have seen that they can use the concerns of some fearful of change to rile them up about social issues and vote for legislators and others who will be compliant on the economic issues that concern the likes of the Koch Brothers, and these same legislators, having been courted and financially supported by organizations like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks will then join ALEC and support the Greed Agenda which is the real concern of the Koch Brothers.

Remember, many people who are anti-evolution also tend not to believe in anthropogenic Global climate change. Wanting people not to accept climate changes is important to those whose profits depend upon continued reliance on fossil fuels, which is an apt description of Charles and David Koch.

We cannot merely push back when legislation is passed or state constitutional amendments are placed on the ballot. We must recognize what is going on, and fight strongly on every election through which the Greed Agenda is being advanced, or we will lose our democracy.

We must be informed and inform others.

This is my last post from the road, describing particular events.

I will offer one more post, without additional pictures, focusing on the issues of concern to those of us who work in and for public schools and/or who support public education.

It has been an honor to travel on behalf of Education Votes, and to share my observations and thoughts here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Remembering Thelonious Monk on his 95th anniversary

The great Thelonious Monk was born on October 1917, 95 years ago. He was truly one of a kind. A vinyl Grdatest Hits on Columbia was among the first 10 or so jazz records I bought. I wore it out. Here's a performance of his classic "'Round Midnight" recorded in Poland in 1966 with ( in addition to Thelonious on piano)Charlie Rouse on tenor sax Larry Gales on bass, and Ben Riley on drums.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Wage theft in Philadelphia -- and elsewhere

 My write-up on two articles by Jake Blumgart on wage theft and low wage workers in Philadelphia appeared on Talking Union and Teamster Nation.



                                                                                 by Stuart Elliott

Talking Union contributor Jake Blumgart has written a couple of outstanding articles on low-wage workers and wage theft.  In an interesting cover story  on wage theft in Philadelphia’s City Paper. He portrays some victims of wage theft: an undocumented carpenter, a waitress forced to share tips with her manager, and a coffee shop worker who wasn’t paid overtime despite working every day for two weeks. He also places the problems of low wage workers in historical perspective with some surprising facts.

In the past, unionization was a strong option for workers who wanted to defend against employer abuses. During the 1950s, within the now theft-wracked restaurant industry, 25 percent of America’s waitresses were unionized. Today, just 1.5 percent of food-service workers are organized. There are few remaining unionized independent restaurants in greater Philadelphia: the stadium-adjacent McFadden’s, Hymie’s Deli in Lower Merion and the Pen and Pencil Club, for example. Now, organizers tend to focus their efforts on the industry’s biggest employers, like food-services provider Aramark.
Nontraditional worker organizations provide an alternative to unions, but in Philadelphia there are only two options: the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania and the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), which is barely a year old.

A recent report from the Progressive States Network gives Pennsylvania an F for its anti-wage theft efforts and shows why they are so inadequate.

They are alternatives, Blumgart notes.
The fact is, legislative models do exist. In recent years, Seattle and Miami passed anti-wage-theft ordinances, while Madison, the District of Columbia and San Francisco have bulked up enforcement. 
The wage-theft law passed in Florida’s Miami-Dade County in 2010 is one of the nation’s most compelling. It allows workers to contact the Department of Small Business Development with wage-theft complaints, and requires employers to answer those complaints with documentation. If the case cannot be settled, it goes to an administrative hearing. If the employer is found guilty, he or she must pay back the original wages and damages worth twice the original amount to the employee and administrative costs to the county.
In another article (“Want to Fight Poverty, Philly? Start at the Bottom, With the Low-Wage Jobs“) in the Next American City, Blumgart notes
Manufacturing isn’t intrinsically remunerative work: Workers, citizens and legislators faced challenges through the years to eventually turn those jobs into potential gateways to the middle class. 
Now that the economy has changed dramatically, these battles are being fought on new ground. Security guards in the office towers of Center City are organizing with the gargantuan Service Workers International Union, while their counterparts at the Art Museum and the University of Pennsylvania have formed an independent, locally based union.

South Africa in Crisis 1977

The August 2012 police shooting of approximately 34 striking miners has been widely compared to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. It should also be compared to the 1976 Soweto uprising in which more than 170 youth were killed.  The Sharpeville massacre led to the banning of ANC and the Pan African Congress and their shift from passive to armed resistance.  Soweto was also a turning point.

I wrote the following article for New America, the paper of Social Democrats USA on the fallout a little more than a year later when the South African government instituted a severe political repression.  My last sentence was "Only a political miracle seems capable of reversing a political dynamic that is inevitable heading for confrontation and explosion." There was a miracle in 1990.  But it is now seems that the terms of the miracle and decisions since have had their own contradictions and that South Africa is entering a period of intense crisis.  I don't yet have a handle on all that is involved.

In the meantime, here is my 1977 take with some modern links added.

South Africa Lurches to The Precipice

by Stuart Elliott New America  Nov 1977 (?)

The most dramatic crackdown in two decades [a reference to the Sharpeville massacre] virtually forecloses the possibility of a peaceful resolution to South Africa's racial crisis. On October 19, the South African government banned black protest groups, closed down the leading black newspaper and arrested its editor, Percy Qoboza, and arrested at least fifty people and served an unknown number with banning orders, which bar them from political activities and curtail their freedoms for five years. Both urban black leaders, regarded as moderates, and white liberals were victims of the repression.

The Black ConsciousnessMovement, founded by Stephen Biko in 1969, which filled the gap left by the earlier banning of the African National Congress and the Pan-AfricanistCongress, was only one of many organizations to be banned. Also proscribed were non-political self-help organizations like Black Community Programs, a business-financed group which ran a network of medical clinics. The main targets of the crackdown, however, appear to be the organizations which are the political expression of urban blacks. Among the groups covered by the ban are the South African Students Movement, a high school group; the South African Students Organization, a university group ; and the Black People's Convention, an umbrella group that is the closest thing to a black political party. The Soweto Teachers Action Committee which coordinated the resignations of several hundred high school teachers last month in support of students who have boycotted classes for more than three months in demand for the upgrading of black education was also banned. Leaders of the  Committee of  Ten, an organization of black moderates, which was formed earlier in the year in an attempt to end the near-anarchy that prevailed in Soweto since last year's rioting, were also arrested. The action of the South African .government was a clear statement that : not only has no intention of ever allowing blacks to have a voice in a federal structure, but that it will not even permit blacks to organize for peaceful political change.

The South African government also struck at leading white liberals like those around the Christian Institute of Southern Africa, an ecumenical group noted for its authoritative reports on apartheid. Donald Woods, the white editor of the Daily Dispatch, was arrested as he was preparing to board a flight to New York. Invited to the United States by the American ambassador to South Africa, William G. Bowdler, Woods was to have met with Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, and possibly President Carter. Under banning, Woods is forbidden to work as a journalist or to write or speak for publication. In addition, he is restricted to East London in Cape Province, subject to a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and limited to meeting only one person at a time other than members of his own family. Just as the crackdown was a clear rebuke of Western opinion, the arrest of Woods was a challenge to the Carter administration's human rights policy and its opposition to apartheid. The South African action undoubtedly complicated the British-American effort to secure a peaceful transition to majority rule in Rhodesia as well.

The crackdown also marked an accelerating restriction of the political freedoms that have long been South Africa's selling point in asking for time and tolerance from the West. Not only was the World, the leading black newspaper and the second largest in all of South Africa, closed down, but its editor Percy Qoboza was detained without trial, a status that can be prolonged indefinitely by the government. Along with the arrest of Woods, this was clearly intended to warn other newspapers "not to abuse" the right of criticism. Threats against the press have become a regular feature of speeches by government leaders in recent weeks and it is widely expected that harsh measures controlling the press will be passed by the new Parliament in January.

The willingness to consider the need for change that existed among white South Africans for a brief interlude following the Soweto riots has been extinguished. With white liberals and moderates weak and disunited, the overwhelming majority of whites appear determined to retain their domination by increased repression and the abridgement of democracy, whatever the cost. The cost is likely to be high. Only a political miracle seems capable of reversing a political dynamic that is inevitable heading for confrontation and explosion.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Blues on a Saturday: Taj Mahal "Bourgeois Blues"

On Labor Day weekend what better BoaS selection than Taj Mahal's 1991 performance of Ledbetter's "Bourgeois Blues." The instrumental backing of Taj's barreelhouse piano and mandolin may seem a little odd to modern ears. But the mandolin did make appearances on some early blues records and there was a vibrant black string band tradition, which was neglected by both commercial recording companies and folklorists.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blues on a Saturday: Allman Borthers Band

The Allman Brothers Band perfroms Elmore James' "The Sky is Crying" at on 12/3/2011 at the Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA.For some fans this is a controversial and inferior lineup with neither Duane Allman or Dickey Betts, the twin guitars who made the band's sound. To my ears, Warren Hayes and Derek Trucks play at a level barely below Duane and Dickey.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Separated at Birth?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blues on a Saturday: Robert Cray "Smokin' Gun"

I've heard Robert Cray live several times. Once in Washington DC when he was first rising on the scene and several years ago in Wichita after he had become an established star of the blues. He gave great performances both times. As a star, howoever, his security people wouldn't let amateur photographers close to the stage.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blues on a Saturday: Mose Allison Parchman Farm

Mose Allison was named a jazz master this week, so naturally I'm going to pick one of his great songs. Listen carefully all the way to the end. Mose stopped performing this live at some point. I've previously posted Allison songs here ("Your Mind is on Vacation" and here ("Ever Since the World Ended".