Sister Ola Mae Terrell


Papa Charlie McCoy

Charlie McCoy (1909-1950) - vocal and mandolin 
Georgia Tom Dorsey - piano
Recorded Feb 4, 1932


Kenosha Kid ~ 'Inside Voices'

Artwork by Ryan White

With plenty of heart and some wry smiles, Kenosha Kid's newest album Inside Voices is dense with smoldering intensity and musicianship at the apex of instrumental/experimental jazz (or post-rock or whatever genre peg you prefer to hammer home).  Recently self-released on 12" vinyl and digital, guitarist-composer-arranger Dan Nettles helms another inventive outing as Kenosha Kid based in Athens, GA. Joined by an international crew of horn players, tonight is the album release party at Hendershot's, sets at 8:30 & 10:00, as part of the music/electronic art/tech Slingshot Festival.

"Vanishing Point" opens the album with melancholic horns in harmony giving way to floating guitar interwoven with more spirited trumpet lines from Jacob Wick.  Nettles' guitar work is effortless and subtle, laying out warm melodies with blue tinges while drummer Marlon Patton unleashes cymbal sparkle.

Wrapping up side A is the gorgeous, slow burning "Liberty Bell", a reverent anthem rife with deeply soulful guitar work accompanied by lush tenor saxophone from Greg Sinibaldi and superbly restrained drumming.

On "Map of the Universe" Handley lays back on bass, reigning in pent up energy from repeated horn rhythms, giving the tune a sense of steady pull, like hauling in an ancient vessel, hand over hand, slowly inching toward the longshore. Patton's shuffling drums engender a blend of drive with a soft touch.  Nettles' guitar takes turns with saxophone soaring over the groove as feet become inches until contact.  This is perhaps the album's best simmering mix of careful arrangement and wild improvisation.

Inside Voices has been in the works for two years, explains Nettles: six to eight months writing and arranging, another year fleshing out the songs through live performance, and finally a week-long residency at Hendershot's Coffee Bar paired with concurrent studio time at Studio 1093, just blocks from Nettles' home.  Getting everyone together in Athens was a challenge, but ringleader Nettles says he's "thankful to have a pool of great musicians who know my songs".  Once assembled, the project coalesced between nightly on-stage experimentations and daily recording sessions, essentially the distillations of the prior evening's flashes of inspiration.  "It takes a little more spice to keep my ears on board," adds Nettles.  The album and Kenosha Kid's live shows are always exhilarating as a result.

The vinyl release is adorned with some very special photographs, graphically incorporated with style by Ryan White.  Nettles' grandmother cheerfully graces the cover. His aunt, Bea Nettles, is the source of the timeless negatives used on the album; she's well-known in fine art circles for her photography, especially her tarot card series.  Aesthetic sophistication evidently runs in the family.

The B side feels looser like the group has found a cruising trajectory.  The horns add creepy levity to the 60's throwback vibe of "Zombie Party"; Patton's landslide drum fills tumble like gore strewn across varsity sweaters. "Mushmouth" swings with funk guitar, sending the listener on something like a Chips-era highway chase; later, an all-too-brief bass solo from Handley is punctuated by joyful horn hits and more Meters'-style guitar from Nettles. Patton's bass drum is propulsive and his intro on "Everyone I Know" displays his mastery of the instrument with fully-automatic, hair-trigger sensitivity as the band rises to a fever.

Clearly Nettles, Patton and bassist Robby Handley possess the sort of self-described "telepathic" musical relationship which constitutes the essential heart of Kenosha Kid.  To see their live performance as a trio is to witness the finest in creative collaboration; they also genuinely seem to have a great time playing together.  Inside Voices is the boiled down essence of more than a decade of musical partnership.  The final package is clean but not clinical, with an emphasis on ensemble playing, approachable melodies, and spontaneity with dashes of electronic effects to enliven the senses.


Woke Up on the RIght Side of the Bed

I do have plenty to be thankful about.
How about you?

The longer version of this tune is in the Sound Recordings archive at CulturalEquity.org.  The online repository is packed with Lomax's field recordings, films, interviews, festival performances, photographs, and so much more--the living history of our country's sonic and visual culture.


Academy Awards Contest ~ Take 6

Oscar contest time again.
Let's go!

Copy the entire ballot into a comment. Delete all but the category headings and your corresponding picks. I'll tally; you'll sally up the stairs--without tripping--to the podium!

Enter by Feb. 22nd 5:00PM EST

Best Picture
“American Sniper”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Theory of Everything”

Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”

Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”

Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”

Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6”
“The Boxtrolls”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“Song of the Sea”
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

Adapted Screenplay
“American Sniper”
“The Imitation Game”
“Inherent Vice”
“The Theory of Everything”

Original Screenplay
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
“Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
“Unbroken” Roger Deakins

Costume Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero
“Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
“Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
“Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
“Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
“Boyhood” Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Bennett Miller
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson
“The Imitation Game” Morten Tyldum

Documentary Feature
“Finding Vivian Maier”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“The Salt of the Earth”

Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper (La Parka)”
“White Earth”

Film Editing
“American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
“The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
“Whiplash” Tom Cross

Foreign Language Film
“Ida” Poland
“Leviathan” Russia
“Tangerines” Estonia
“Timbuktu” Mauritania
“Wild Tales” Argentina

Original Score
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson

Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
“Glory” from “Selma”
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”

Animated Short Film
“The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
“The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
“Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
“Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
“A Single Life” Joris Oprins

Live Action Short Film
“Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
“Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
“Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
“The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

Visual Effects
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”


Reasonable Tidbits

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend" - Robertson Davies

And since I've always been a fan of chiasmus, "...act like a man of thought and think like a man of action" - Henri Bergson


Marcel The Shell with Shoes On

Happy New Year!

This will make you smile (not a typical post for me).

Marcel's been around a while, but he seems to be more and more popular lately, like the year when ironic, spastic, bizarre t.v. commercials became accepted as "oddvertizing".  Like that but way more clever and adorable. The voice makes it, as does the quixotic dialogue, all provided by Jenny Slate with husband Dean Fleischer-Camp.  Enjoy!


"If today was Christmas Eve..."

I'd been posting these family photos to Facebook where they seem to land like a snowflake on an outstretched tongue.  Something about social media has gotten to me, in a bad way: The fleeting, scrolling, trending nature of everything, a post like a glare off a mirror to elicit a smile or provoke a thought then fades into the feed never to be revisited.  Here I can come back and remember.

The Huron River outside Hamburg, MI

From the vaults of Frederick H. Tank, Sr. via my father, F.H.Tank, Jr. and his preservation of these negatives:  Christmas & Days Past.

Little Freddy seems fairly pleased with the globe Santa left for him.

Grandma didn't much enjoy having her picture made by the time she and Grandpa Tank moved up to Traverse City in the '80s, so this is a rare, placid shot of her.  She loved to hang the tinsel though!

Helen (Jordan) Tank

Uncle Larry

Freddy & Larry circa 1948

My dad and his dad circa 1938.

My grandpa had a fine eye for composition and could nail an exposure. Back in the day, this took practice, persistence & patience, all of which he had.  This shot of my dad and my uncle is one of my favorites--Rockwellian and classically American--taken just after World War II when no doubt the future looked very exciting, indeed!


R.L. Burnside & Alan Lomax

Alan Lomax is well known as the pre-eminent field recordist and folklorist who helped bring the musical traditions of Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta to the public interest (setting aside his trove of recordings from around the world).  Together with his pioneer folklorist father, John Avery Lomax, their impact on American culture reverberates still. 

For a narrow slice of the Lomax legacy--and a subject close to my heart--collected here are films he made of R.L. Burnside of Holly Springs, Mississippi. I came to know Burnside's music after a series of late 90's remixes on Fat Possum Records and listened back from there.  On a trip to New Orleans, I spotted him in these historic photos, probably taken before he was ever recorded.

These clips offer a look into a verdant, peaceful place where, after long sweltering workdays, Burnside cultivated his sound, picking at home into dusk and playing juke joints into night.

The first tune below is from Sound Machine Groove, an album released in 1997 but recorded in1979 & '80. The film was shot two months before I was born.  In college, I listened to this song over and over--couldn't get enough of that shuffling feel!

Here Burnside's sons get into it.  You can imagine these kids playing along with their dad before they could manage instruments.

Those 90's remixed blues tunes, oddly enough, put R.L. Burnside on folks' radar.  It's where I first heard him, and in one of the tunes he calls out, "On drums, my grandson, Cedric Burnside...".

I've since seen Cedric Burnside playing live to a sparsely occupied venue in Athens, GA.  Most people there didn't understand the tradition that this young guy was carrying forward.  Despite the meager crowd, he was as solid singing behind the drum set as his grandfather was behind a guitar.

One of the comments under this video says it all:  Cedric Burnside is "the best example of a self-actualized person I have ever seen. Pure joy!" Here he is doing a mean hambone with longtime collaborator Trent Ayers.  See if you don't agree.

R.L. Burnside - bio and discography at Fat Possum
R. L. Burnside - Delta Boogie interview

Alan Lomax - at CultureEquity.org, field recordings & plenty more


Escher & Hundertwasser Prints

I've drifted back over to Seattle's superb Davidson Galleries and continued collecting images (at least virtually).  Escher caught my eye on the main page--iconic, legendary--but so too did Hundertwasser for his richly colored and textured works--and what a name!

We always gravitate towards M.C. Escher's masterworks of perspective, the tessellations, intricate patterning and bold graphics.  Along with the trademark images, this time a few lesser known pieces stood out (buy them here); the first helps to see into his process, the precision and density of his line work.  The second is a classic Eastern natural scene, a catfish (or koi) submerged in monochromatic autumn.  The last two are more commercial work, doubtless Escher's bread & butter in his early career before reaching mythical status.  His command of the medium is still unmatched and as striking as ever.

Regular Division of the Plane I, 1957
Woodcut in red on wove paper.
9-1/2 x 7-1/8 inches.

Three Worlds,   1955
14-1/4 x 9-3/4 inches

Lute (III),  1931
From XXIV EMBLEMATA. Woodcut on buff wove paper
7-1/8 x 5-1/2 inches

Peacock (Second Titled Page),   1931
From XXIV EMBLEMATA. Woodcut on buff wove paper
7 x 5-3/8 inches

The following is from Davidson's literature on Freidensreich Hundertwasser (prints here):
[Hundertwasser] was largely self-taught apart from a few months at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. While he admired members of Die Wiener Schule des Phantastischen Realismus (Viennese Fantastic Realists), it was with the richly colored and patterned surfaces of work by Gustav Klimt, Walter Kampmann and Egon Schiele that he found greatest resonance.
Hundertwasser's extensive graphic output began in 1967 and was characterized by hybrid forms that enmesh human and natural elements while using highly saturated colors, metallic imprints and carefully  ,calculated color variations within the printing of an edition.
The parallels to Klimt are evident, especially his framed, "cubbyhole" surfaces and use of metallic pigments.  The fact that he was self-taught brought to mind Earl Cunningham and maritime paintings I'd seen once in Orlando's Menello Museum of American Art; Cunningham's buildings in particular have that same tweaky, rickety feel with distorted perspective, the kind Escher would have scoffed off the paper.

These two below were made for the 1972 Munich Olympics, not necessarily remembered for sporting achievements but instead for an infamous terrorist act.  Beautiful colors printed ahead of dark days.

Olympische Speile München, 1972 (2 variations shown)
Silk screen in 21 colors with metal imprints in 5 colors 
and an electrostatic application of felt fibrils. 
40-1/2 x 25 inches.

One of Five Seaman, 1975
Silk screen in 18 colors with metal imprints in 2 colors   
33-5/8 x 22-7/8 inches.

Maybe it's the mustard color or the head shape in this last one, but I think of Os Gemeos, the twin Brazilian street artists who've been befriended by graffiti darling Banksy and lauded by international art critics.  Here's a write-up of their 2013 "Anglo-Paulista" collaboration for Banksy's residency in NYC.


Israel "Cachao" Lopez

Who is Cachao?

Israel "Cachao" Lopez is often lauded as the creator of Mambo, which then led to the advent of Salsa music. More broadly, he is respected as the greatest bassist in modern Cuban musical history.  Over six decades his innovations on the instrument and his participation in countless groups have made him a giant who has spread the Cuban sound out of the Caribbean and into the mainstream.

I came upon Cachao and his musical legacy via the actor (and avid percussionist) Andy Garcia in a documentary entitled Cachao: Uno Más, currently on PBS's American Masters. Discussed in the film, the recording above is a version of Lopez's seminal cut called "Chanchullo", originally titled "Rareza de Melitón" in 1937,  and clearly the source for Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" later popularized by Carlos Santana. Below is the film's synapsis from PBS:

The Grammy-winning bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez died in Coral Gables, Florida in March 2008, almost 90-years old. A maestro of legendary status on the world stage and ultimately considered one of the greatest Afro-Cuban musicians of all time, he had made his home in the United States for the past four decades. Coming from a family of classical musicians, he had formal conservatory training and held a seat in the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra for 30 years, performing under the direction of all of the legendary international conductors of the time – beginning at age 10! American Masters pays tribute to the Father of Mambo in the series’ bilingual film, Cachao: Uno Más premiering Monday, September 20, 2010... The film is produced, narrated and illuminated by the actor Andy Garcia, a close friend and ardent fan, who helped re-establish Cachao’s career in the ‘90s. Among the film’s many treats is Garcia playing the bongos with Cachao.

Here's one of Cachao's first American releases--can't wait to hear it!