Monday, November 30, 2009

A free Candye Kane download

I knew nothing about Candye Kane until I heard a song of hers on B.B. King’s satellite radio channel (Bluesville) this very morning.

Turns out she’s a former stripper and porn model who is now a respected blues singer and songwriter... as well as a left-wing activist, cancer survivor and bisexual.

Other than that, she’s an average Jewish chick from East L.A.

Candye Kane’s latest CD, “Superhero,” came out in June.

Click here to hear “I Put a Hex on You” on my Vox blog. To download a FREE MP3, click the title below.

“I Put a Hex on You” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store
Album available at Amazon MP3

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Random Japaneseness

Ever wondered what the Japanese word for "underpants" is?

A free James “Blood” Ulmer download

Want a FREE MP3 from progressive jazz guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer? I think you do. (It pays to visit Amazon.com every once in a while to see what they’re giving away.)

Click here to hear “Last One” on my Vox blog. This cut appeared on Ulmer’s 2005 CD “Back in Time.”

It’s now available on a digital sampler from the avant-garde label Pi Recordings. To download “Last One,” follow this link to Amazon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Too bad I don’t have TV One.

Anybody see the “Unsung” episode with Bootsy earlier this month? Here is a taste:

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Saturday morning cartoon

Friday, November 27, 2009

I ate so much yesterday...

... I couldn’t sleep through the night. So there I was at 3 a.m., scanning through all the cable channels, and I saw the same infomercial playing on four different channels simultaneously.

It was for TimeLife’s “Sweet Soul of the ’70s” CD set. My first time seeing that infomercial.

Also my first time getting an extended look at Cuba Gooding, Sr., father of the well-known actor.

Cuba Sr. was lead singer of the Main Ingredient. Click here to hear my favorite hit of his, “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely.”

Below is a 4½-minute interview with Mr. Gooding off of TimeLife’s YouTube channel. He tells an interesting tale about “Everybody Plays the Fool,” the Main Ingredient’s biggest record. Turns out it was written with Charley Pride in mind...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Playlist: Funky Thanksgiving

I want to thank all of you who continue to visit this blog. Next month will be my three-year blogiversary. Where does the time go?

I’m also thankful for the fact that I got a job. I’ll be having Thanksgiving dinner down here in New Orleans with executive producer Nina Noble and other members of the “Treme” family.

To celebrate the day, let me share some live tracks I just purchased from the fine folks at DigitalSoundboard.net. These come fresh out the oven... recorded two weeks ago at the Bear Creek Music & Art Festival in North Florida.

New Orleans funk, Parliament funk, James Brown funk... y’all hear me out there? Click the titles below for 37 minutes of streaming jam-bandy goodness. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. “Unfunky UFO” – Ivan Neville’s DumpstaJam (feat. Bernie Worrell)

2. “Southwick/Shake Your Rugalator” – Bonerama (feat. Fred Wesley)

3. “Jam/Doing It to Death” – Papa Mali Band (feat. Fred Wesley)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A new cut from Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

Back during Hispanic Heritage Month, I posted a playlist of Spanish-language cover songs. Represented with their version of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” were Los Fabulosos Cadillacs from Buenos Aires.

Since then, that band has released a new album. On it is a Spanish-language version of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.”

Click here to hear “Vamos Ya” on my Vox blog. It’s pretty cool.

Untitled

Whilst riding through New Orleans today, I saw a big billboard for a personal-injury lawyer. It said: “Crippling injuries? Call now!”

And I thought: That sign would be a lot hipper if it said: “Crippling injuries? Call now! (With your good hand.)”

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Keep Your Body Workin’ ’

This one is for bklyn6.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A free Kermit Ruffins download

Bandleader Kermit Ruffins is the de facto goodwill ambassador of New Orleans... except he rarely travels to ambassadorize. You will see him blow, sing, act and barbecue on HBO when “Treme” debuts next April.

Kermit has a new Christmas album out. And I got a FREE MP3 for you.

Click here to hear “A Saints Christmas” on my Vox blog. To download it, click the song title below. Who dat!

“A Saints Christmas” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Playlist: Songs you didn’t know black people wrote

I like this concept, y’all. I like it a lot. If you know other songs that belong on this list, let me know in the comments section.

1. “Anna (Go to Him)” – The Beatles

Early in their nightclub and recording careers, the Beatles performed many songs by black songwriters. Not only hall-of-famers like Chuck Berry and Smokey Robinson, but forgotten artists such as Larry Williams, Roy Lee Johnson and Arthur Alexander.

Alexander wrote and recorded “Anna (Go to Him)” in 1962. The next year, John Lennon sang it for the very first Beatles album. (Click here to hear Arthur Alexander’s version.)

2. “Java” – Al Hirt

If you’re old enough to remember “middle of the road” pop music, then surely you know this melody. To me, it’s as quintessentially ’60s as Herb Alpert’s “Spanish Flea.” And just as corny.

Come to find out it was written by New Orleans R&B legend Allen Toussaint when he was 20 years old. (Click here for Toussaint’s original cut. The drummer sounds like he got three arms. He’s killin’!)

3. “Hard Headed Woman” – Elvis Presley

A No. 1 hit for Elvis in 1958, “Hard Headed Woman” was written for him by Claude Demetrius, a successful black songwriter who had worked with Louis Jordan. (Click here to hear “I Like ’Em Fat Like That,” a tune Demetrius wrote with Jordan.)

According to Wikipedia, “Hard Headed Woman” was the first rock ’n’ roll 45 to be officially designated a “gold record.”

4. “It’s All Over Now” – The Rolling Stones

This was the Stones’ very first No. 1 single in Britain. “It’s All Over Now” has since been covered by the likes of Rod Stewart, the Grateful Dead and the Chambers Brothers. In New Orleans, the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth brass bands have turned it into a familiar parade number.

The song was written by Bobby Womack and his sister-in-law, Shirley Jean, for Womack’s family group, the Valentinos. (Click here to hear the Valentinos original.)

5. “Oh Dem Golden Slippers” – The Sing-A-Long Gang

Remember those Golden Grahams commercials from the ’70s? Oh, those Golden Grahams. Oh, those Golden Grahams... Yep, a black guy wrote that melody... 130 years ago.

I grew up knowing “Oh Dem Golden Slippers” as a piece of Americana, like “Sweet Adeline.” Never knew that it used to be sung in blackface. And that it was written by Negro minstrel James A. Bland, who also wrote “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.”

Born before the Civil War to a free and educated black family in Flushing, N.Y., Bland graduated from Howard University in 1873 and spent 20 years performing in London.

Today, there are housing projects named after Mr. Bland in Flushing, Queens, and Alexandria, Virginia.

(Click here to hear Nina Simone sing another of Bland’s enduring tunes, “In the Evening by the Moonlight.”)

Random hipness

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Best news I’ve heard today.

A new CD from the Carolina Chocolate Drops is coming in February! It’s called “Genuine Negro Jig” (a front-runner for album title of the decade).

Follow this link to Nonesuch Records to see the track listing.

The album was produced by Joe Henry, the Daniel Lanois of the new millennium. He has produced Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, Ani DiFranco, Aimee Mann, Solomon Burke and other top talents.

All the critics love Joe Henry, which means “Genuine Negro Jig” will get lots of attention. So 2010 could be a breakout year for the Chocolate Drops. They’ll get on Letterman or “The Tonight Show” for sure.

If you haven’t seen my previous posts about this band and wonder why I’m excited, check out the video below. It was recorded three months ago at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Goofing on Sarah (Slight Return)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dreams from his father

I knew a right-wing reaction was coming. But I clutched my pearls when I read today’s opinion piece by Wesley Pruden, former editor- in-chief of the Washington Times, about President Obama bowing to the Japanese emperor.

Mr. Pruden concluded with perhaps the most racially provocative paragraph written by a legitimate American journalist in the 21st century. To wit:

“It’s no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what [America] is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared... in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.”

I worked at the Washington Times during the 1980s. I’ve had a conversation or two with Wes Pruden. I couldn’t believe that graph. He is on some Lawrence Auster shit.

And his words are ricocheting all over the Web. The liberal watchdogs at Media Matters sent out an email alert. The Huffington Post piled on.

Media gossip site Gawker is running a poll on whether Pruden’s piece is more outrageous than some shit Glenn Beck said about Roman Polanski and health-care reform. (Pruden is ahead three-to-one.)

Now, before even 24 hours have passed, the “blood impulse” column is mentioned on Wesley Pruden’s Wikipedia page.

On a biological level, the idea that one’s comprehension of (and respect for) America depends upon the birthplace of one’s father, or to whom one’s mother was sexually attracted... I mean, that’s plain silly.

On a metaphorical level, though, everyone understands what Pruden means by a “blood impulse.” He means that white Americans are the best Americans. The only true Americans. Non-whites can become good Americans maybe... but it’s not “natural” for them, not instinctive.

So then. Pruden wants to bring mamas and daddies into it? Let’s talk about his father... the Rev. Wesley Pruden, Sr. (pictured below).

As the anti-racist Southern Poverty Law Center has pointed out, Pruden the Elder was a staunch segregationist in Little Rock, Arkansas. The New York Times once described him as “a hot-eyed pastor.”

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Pastor Pruden pumped up the white mobs in front of Central High School in 1957, “verbally encouraging them, according to [journalist Roy] Reed, ‘to fight niggers, communists, and cops!’ ”

Here’s what the New York Times reported when Rev. Pruden’s Broadmoor Baptist Church was kicked out of the Pulaski County Baptist Association in 1959:

“Mr. Pruden is the chaplain and former president of the Capital Citizens Council, which has promoted resistance to the racial integration of Little Rock’s public high schools. He has also directed ‘freedom fund’ collections for the legal defense of persons arrested in segregationist demonstrations.”

So when Wesley Pruden, Jr., talks about having a blood-borne understanding of what America is all about... I am led to wonder about his natural instincts.

After all, his great-grandfather David was a corporal in the Confederate army. His great-great-grandfather – John H. Pruden – owned slaves in North Carolina. Can’t get more American than that, I reckon.

Leave my face out of the conversation.

So I’m sitting in the men’s room at work, and I happen to read the wrapper on the Precious brand toilet paper. It says “facial quality.”

I’m thinking, “You know... I would be perfectly satisfied with ‘butthole quality.’ ”

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Contact’

All right, I admit it. I’m running out of 12-inch clips worth flashing back to.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A free Taana Gardner download

I am such a fan of Taana Gardner’s 1981 funky hit record “Heartbeat,” I used it in my TV show “Kingpin.” Put it under a gunfight in a strip club. It was hot.

Last week, West End Records digitally reissued Ms. Gardner’s debut album from 1979. I’ve got a FREE MP3 of her first club hit, “Work That Body” (written by Kenton Nix, who would later create “Heartbeat” and another all-time great jam, Gwen McCrae’s “Funky Sensation”).

Click here to hear “Work That Body” on my Vox blog. To download it, click the song title below.

I just learned something I didn’t know about Taana Gardner. There’s a Kid Creole connection!

In ’79, she was recruited to sing with a studio project called Aural Exciters. One song they cut was “Maladie D’Amour,” written by August Darnell and Andy Hernandez... and later recorded by them for the first Kid Creole & the Coconuts LP.

Click here to hear Taana Gardner singing “Maladie D’Amour.”

“Work That Body” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Sunday, November 15, 2009

About that bow...

Seeing that most commenters here are cool with Obama’s bow to the Japanese Emperor – as a sign of cultural respect – I wonder what actual Japanese people are saying about it.

Thank God for the internets, where bilingual folks can read Japanese online forums... and blog about it in English.

Such as Joshua Williams. His “Japanese Headlines Examiner” blog is on Examiner.com. Here are a few online comments Williams says he translated from Japanese:

“What a bow!”

“Such a deep bow from Obama, what a fine guy.”

“I’m surprised he bowed. He’s really trying hard to meet the Japanese way!”

“President Obama is a top-class person, isn’t he? Amazing!”

“I laughed because it was a much better bow than I had imagined.”

“Obama has more of a true Japanese heart than most Japanese do.”

But then a commenter at Examiner.com, one Ted Nakagawa, replied:

“What we are not getting translated [by Williams] are these Japanese blogs with posters to whom the Obama Tokyo bow is somewhat ‘going to their nationalist heads’.

“All kinds of nationalist comments such as amazement that a nation defeated would be bowed at in this manner, and ‘Long Live the Emperor!’, and also abject surprise at Obama bowing like this -- racial ephitets are also made about Mr. Obama in disdain (for example, referring to him as ‘kuronbo’ (or ‘little black boy’)...

“One Japanese poster is questioning if this kind of Obama [bow] to the Emperor is not a violation of US diplomatic protocol, and another one predicts that Americans, despite what Japanese might think -- are going to get mad over this...”

In another comment, Nakagawa added:

“Comments (in Japanese) on the same Japanese blog that were NOT fawning over Obama and his controversial ‘ojigi’ before the Emperor, some in fact questioning it and suspecting it insincere, have apparantly been purposely left out of this journalist's translations and report.”

I am not looking forward to a week’s worth of talk-radio and cable- news folderol over The Bow, curious as I am about the actual protocol. The signal-to-noise ratio is gonna suck!

UBM's World of Glamour and Fame

This morning I saw Steve Harvey playing roulette at the Harrah’s New Orleans. (He performed last night at New Orleans Arena.) Sharp- dressed man... except for the sunglasses worn indoors.

As for me... I didn’t wanna deal with the poker room waiting list, so I messed around on the slot machines. Walked outta there $90 ahead. Woo-hoo!

That’s like a free bag of groceries from Whole Foods.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

WTF??

I know Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck will trash him next week for this... but dammit, look at this picture of our president.

Who-da-hell told Barack Obama that he, as President of the United States, should ever bow down to a foreigner?

I don’t like this, y’all. Makes Obama look chumpish. (And I had already started wondering whether he’s a lightweight.)

I’ve only spent a little time in New Orleans, but I can tell you... a Mardi Gras Indian wouldn’t bow down to the Emperor of Japan. Nor to anyone else. (If you don’t understand what I mean, listen to this.)

Who is Obama gonna bow down to next? Ice Cube?

A free Henry Threadgill download

Avant-garde jazzman Henry Threadgill has been described as “one of the most original jazz composers of his generation.” But his music isn’t for everybody.

Threadgill has a brand new CD out... with his ensemble Zooid, which combines instruments such as tuba and acoustic guitar. I got a FREE MP3 off the new album featuring Mr. Threadgill on flute.

Click here to hear “White Wednesday Off the Wall” on my Vox blog. To download it, click the title below.

(By the way... this is my 400th FREE MP3 post!)

“White Wednesday Off The Wall” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Saturday morning cartoon

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random blackness

Seriously, you will never see a Russian or Korean baby acting this way. (Hat-tip: Denmark Vesey.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A free Ramsey Lewis download

Pianist Ramsey Lewis, who’s been making records since the 1950s, has a new jazz album out... “Songs from the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey.”

If you’re registered at AllAboutJazz.com, you can cop a FREE MP3.

Click here to hear “Touching, Feeling, Knowing” on my Vox blog. To download the track, follow this link to AllAboutJazz.

Trivia time: When Eldee Young and Red Holt left the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1966 (eventually to become the Young-Holt Unlimited), who was Ramsey Lewis’s new drummer? Hint: He later became very famous.

The answer is in the comments section.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Random genius

Seriously... how brilliant is Erika Brooks Adickman?

(By the way, I blogged eight months ago about the legend of Stagger Lee and its musical byproducts. Case you missed it.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A free Apache flute download

President Obama today addressed more than 500 Indian chiefs in Washington, D.C. This reminds me to point out that November is American Indian Heritage Month.

Not to pat myself on the back... but last year, on this blog, I rocked the balls off of American Indian Heritage Month. Some of you might remember.

If not, you can still read about rock ’n’ roll Indians... or the Mohawk ironworkers... or the famous orator Chief Red Jacket... or Afro-Navajo recording artist Radmilla Cody... or the fascinating history of Canada’s oldest Christmas carol.

I won’t be kicking it like that this year. As a blogger, I’m a shell of my former self. Because now I got a real job.

Anyhoo... for American Indian Heritage Month 2009, the least I can do is point to a FREE MP3. Hope y’all dig Apache flute music.

Click here to hear “Flying Free” on my Vox blog. The artist is Andrew Vasquez. To download the track, click the title below.

“Flying Free” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store
Album available at eMusic
Album available at Amazon MP3

Random wrongness

Even I am sickened by this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A free Wadada Leo Smith download

If you like the electric Miles, you’ll dig this FREE MP3... something funky from free-jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.

His latest album is a live double- CD titled “Spiritual Dimensions”... recorded with two different bands.

Click here to hear a 5-minute edit of “South Central L.A. Kulture.” To download this edit, follow this link to AllAboutJazz.com. (You must be registered at the website to get the music.)

The album version of this track is 12½-minutes long. And one of Smith’s sidemen is badass guitarist Nels Cline.

Worst Broadcaster in the World

Last night, on television, Keith Olbermann casually referred to a sitting U.S. congressman as a “son of a bitch.” Within five minutes, Mr. Olbermann also told Glenn Beck and his followers to “go to hell.”

As with his occasional utterances of “goddamn” on the air, one can argue, I suppose, that this is entertaining.

Inarguably, it is crass. It is weak writing. (Each profanity was carefully scripted.) Such vulgarity is unpersuasive as political speech and, of course, unprofessional for a major-league journalist.

(Yes, Mr. Olbermann does consider himself a journalist... in the Edward R. Murrow tradition, no less.)

Hey Keith... you child... what’s next? Gonna talk about Rush Limbaugh’s mama? Call Glenn Beck a faggot?

I bet you dollar money Sean Hannity has never – not once, not ever – referred to anybody as a “son of a bitch” on his air. And Hannity’s the King of All Douchebags!

But he is a better broadcaster than you, Keith.

You think it’s hip to make the cable news experience more like reading lunatic blogs or watching “Family Guy”? Or maybe, being wrapped like a Hollywood mummy in liberal sanctimony, you think you’re speaking truth to power. Or impressing us with your passion.

Get over yourself, Keith. The words that tumble from your mouth are making the world just a little bit worse. Because you are contributing directly to the degradation of our political culture.

UPDATE (11/04/09): And looky here. The Huffington Post is encouraging him! It’s a daggone shame, people...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Something semi-animated from Basement Jaxx

Featuring Lightspeed Champion.

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Standing On the Top’

I always felt a little sad for the Temptations when this record was out.

Yeah, I know it was a hit. But after everything the Tempts achieved in show business, only to have Rick James barking “Temptations, sing!” at ’em... that shit wasn’t right.

Nice bridge, though. Real nice bridge.

Who dat? Who dat?

Who dat sayin’ they gonna beat dem Saints?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sometimes I miss journalism.

My last newspaper job was at the Washington Post. I wrote for the Style section from 1990 through 1993. I had a ball there.

The hands-down best writer on Style was Henry Allen. Every piece he wrote was an event. In 2000, he won a Pulitzer Prize.

One day, during my first year at the paper, Henry Allen said to me: “You got chops.” The rest of that day I was walking on air, boy. Never will forget it. “Henry Allen said I’ve got chops!

Now comes this extraordinary gossip item from Harry Jaffe at Washingtonian magazine:

“Details are sketchy, but numerous witnesses report that veteran feature editor Henry Allen punched out feature writer Manuel Roig-Franzia on Friday. ...

“It should be noted that Allen is nearly seventy, but he served in the Marines in Vietnam.”

According to Harry Jaffe, the incident began when another Style editor assigned Roig-Franzia and Monica Hesse a story about political secrets inadvertently revealed. The reporters turned in their piece. “Allen took a look and didn’t like,” writes Jaffe. “He started ranting about the number of mistakes he had found. ...

“Allen, according to sources, said: ‘This is total crap. It’s the second worst story I have seen in Style in 43 years.’

“Roig-Franzia then wandered into the newsroom. A veteran foreign correspondent, he has been turning out political features for Style. He heard Allen’s rant and stopped by his desk.”

Supposedly, Manuel Roig- Franzia told him, “Oh, Henry, don’t be such a cocksucker.”

Then... “Allen lunged at Roig-Franzia, threw him to the newsroom floor, and started throwing punches. Roig-Franzia tried to fend him off. [Executive Editor Marcus] Brauchli and others pulled the two apart.”

Wow.

Damn-near everybody I knew at the Washington Post is now gone. They took buyouts as the Post went about shrinking its staff. I chatted with a Style reporter just last week who said there’s a weird vibe in the air.

I had no idea how weird. (I also had no idea that Henry Allen could draw. That sketch above is a self-portrait.)

UPDATE (11/02/09): Meanwhile, blogger Matt Dornic of FishbowlDC posted this afternoon: “[W]e regret to inform you that our sources have disclaimed [Harry Jaffe’s] account saying, ‘Jaffe’s story is full of hyperbole -- it was a single punch and no one was on the ground.’ ”

More to come, no doubt.

UPDATE (11/02/09): Erik Wemple of the Washington City Paper reports that Henry Allen has been banned from the Washington Post newsroom. According to Wemple:

“That sanction is not as harsh as it sounds: Allen’s last day was to be Nov. 20. He is 68, had already accepted a buyout, ... and had already announced his retirement.

“Of his swing, Allen says, ‘The last time I threw a punch at anybody was in the spring of 1963 in Parris Island, S.C., in Marine Corps recruit training.’ ... Roig-Franzia hung up when called on this matter.”

Random whiteness

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A free Janelle Monáe download

Today’s FREE MP3 is a quirky new cut from Janelle Monáe, the girl from another planet.

Click here to hear “Come Alive (The War of the Roses)” on my Vox blog. To download it, follow this link to Giant Step, the marketing website.