Sunday, January 31, 2010

A free Rene Lopez download

New Yorker Rene Lopez is the first Latin cat I know of to jump on the ’60s soul revival.

Click here to hear “Not the Same Day” on my Vox blog. Sounds kinda Staxy. If you want it as a FREE MP3, hit this link to commence downloading.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Two free Soul of John Black downloads

Former Fishbone member John Bigham now performs as The Soul of John Black. He just released a six-song EP with solo acoustic versions of tunes from last year’s album “Black John.”

I’ve got two FREE MP3s for you tonight.

Click here to hear the acoustic version of “Black John” on my Vox blog. To check out the original version, click here.

You can download one or the other – or both – by clicking below. I like the acoustic one better.

“Black John” (acoustic version) (MP3)
EP available at iTunes Music Store

“Black John” (original version) (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store
Album available at Amazon MP3

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prince’s song for the Minnesota Vikings

As the New Orleans Saints prepare to throw down against the Vikings for the NFC Championship, it has come to my attention that Prince wrote and recorded a “fight song” to inspire his hometown team.

You can hear a bit of it below, courtesy of a Minneapolis TV station. I think Prince is about to get his feelings hurt. WHO DAT??

First official images from ‘Treme’...

... are up on HBO’s website. Look for the photo gallery. The series premieres in April.

Stumping for Jesus

God isn’t gonna like me for that headline. But I mean no disrespect.

Matter fact, Nick Vujicic is the coolest guy I’ve ever seen on the internets. I just wish he was a standup comic. That would rock.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday morning cartoon

Worst. Cartoon. Ever. Depressingly worthless in every way.

Friday, January 22, 2010

If this music triggers happy memories...

... then you’re as big a TV nerd as I am. I used to love me some “ABC Movie of the Week.” Who’s with me?

Remember “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”? (Especially the bit with the flashbulbs?) How about “The Girl Most Likely to...”? (Written by Joan Rivers, this one provided Stockard Channing her first starring role.)

I remember “The Feminist and the Fuzz.” (Even before my first hard-on, I was totally into Barbara Eden.) “Shirts/Skins.” (Turns out this was written by Bruce Paltrow... who returned to the subject of basketball with “The White Shadow.”) “It Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy.” (A comedy about a man raped by a woman at gunpoint.)

Wasn’t there one where a guy was trapped inside a department store all night with some pissed-off Dobermans? I think James Brolin was the star. Hang on, lemme check IMDb right quick...

Yep. Brolin. It was called “Trapped.” (U.K. title: “Doberman Patrol.”)

Can’t remember whether I actually saw “Killdozer” or just heard so many other kids talk about it.

Anyway, that “Movie of the Week” theme music... always loved it.

Just found out it was written by Burt Bacharach. A tune called “Nikki.”

Now for a treat. Click here to hear on my Vox blog Mr. Bacharach’s own version of “Nikki”... originally released on his 1971 solo album.

“Nikki” was named after Bacharach’s daughter with Angie Dickinson. Sadly, Nikki Bacharach committed suicide in 2007.

Compare and contrast

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A free Santigold download

Coming next month is a peculiar collaboration from David Byrne and Fatboy Slim... a double-CD called “Here Lies Love.”

Evidently it’s a dance-music concept album about the former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. (What?)

“Here Lies Love” features a hip lineup of guest vocalists such as Sharon Jones, Alice Russell, Theresa Andersson, Cyndi Lauper... and the one and only Santigold.

Mr. Byrne is giving away the Santigold cut as a FREE MP3. Click here to hear “Please Don’t” on my Vox blog.

If you wanna download it – and you’re willing to share your email address – here’s a widget:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Playlist: Dock Ellis, folk hero

Did you check out the cartoon I posted on Saturday morning? “Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No”?

I didn’t mention that I know the journalist who conducted that interview with the former Pirate pitcher. He’s on my blogroll, in fact. Cheers, Donnell Alexander, for having a YouTube hit on your hands.

Turns out the tale of Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter while tripping on acid is already deep in American folklore. Below are five different songs about it!

Click the titles and stream the music on my Vox blog. Hope you enjoy these tracks as much as I do.

1. “Dock Ellis” – Zachariah & the Lobos Riders

2. “Dock Ellis’ No-No” – Chuck Brodsky

3. “America’s Favorite Pastime” – Todd Snider

4. “Dock Ellis” – Marvin’s Garden

5. “Dock Ellis” – SF Seals

‘Only God can save this country’

Linked below is a 23-minute documentary about Haiti produced in November 2008.

Seen in the context of the latest earthquake, it shows a land of perpetual crisis... and a people used to saying to the rest of the world, “Help us.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haitian Mardi Gras music

It’s Mardi Gras season in New Orleans. Which means I’m seeing a lot of king cakes. (Not a big fan of the king cakes.)

Mardi Gras is such a big deal here, it’s easy to forget that Carnival is a very special time throughout the Catholic world... including, of course, Haiti.

In Haiti it’s called “Kanaval,” and radio stations start playing Carnival-themed music right after New Year’s.

As the eyes of the world now settle upon Haiti for the saddest of reasons, it’s ironic that a CD box set documenting the country’s vibrant musical culture was recently released. “Alan Lomax in Haiti” is a 10-disc collection of field recordings made in 1936 and 1937 by the great musical anthropologist Alan Lomax.

One disc is devoted to Haitian Mardi Gras music!

Click here to hear “Sourit Kaba Bobo A,” which translates as “Mice Have Eaten My Vagina.” (Seriously.) This track is by an unidentified “bann madigra” (band of masked revelers).

If you’d like a FREE MP3 of Haitian Mardi Gras music off this box set – and if you’re willing to give your email address to the record company – check out this widget:

A free Charlie Hunter download

Funky guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter has a brand new album out. It’s called “Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid.”

Would you like a FREE MP3? Click here to hear “High Pockets and a Fanny Pack” on my Vox blog. To download it, click the track title below.

If it leaves you wanting more, you can cop a free live track – recorded a month ago at Yoshi’s San Francisco – direct from Hunter’s official website. Listen to the live version of “Antoine” by clicking here.

"High Pockets and a Fanny Pack" (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bobby Charles (1938-2010)

Louisiana songwriter Bobby Charles died today at age 71. He was best known for two early rock ’n’ roll hits – “See You Later, Alligator” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.”

The New Orleans Times-Picayune obituary is here.

For a Louisiana Cajun, Bobby Charles followed an unusual path to success... black music. He wrote “Walkin’ to New Orleans” for his idol, Fats Domino, and Fats took it to the Top 10 in 1960. Clarence “Frogman” Henry then had a hit with Charles’s “(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do.”

Robert Charles Guidry started out as a singer. According to legend, the Chess Brothers assumed by his singing voice that Guidry was black when they gave him a record deal.

Here’s a story from the Lousiana Music Hall of Fame website:

“The only white artist on a black label, [Bobby Charles] began touring with an all-black band along with Chuck Berry and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers.

“They were touring Mississippi and were at the University of Mississippi for a gig when he had to go to the restroom. He was followed into the restroom by several Ole Miss football players who were unhappy that he was riding with Chuck Berry.

“Berry, however, had seen the players enter the restroom after Charles and suspected they weren’t seeking autographs so he and several other band members went in after the players. ‘Chuck and the others saved my damn life,’ Charles said.”

Click here to hear a young Bobby Charles performing “Time Will Tell.”

New cuts from Bernie Worrell (and friends)

Nothing is more of an automatic purchase for me than Bernie Worrell music. He is simply one of the most gifted dudes ever to lay fingers on a synthesizer, clavinet, Hammond B3, electric piano or baby grand. I’ll buy any track he ever played on.

Bernie’s latest project is a groove-oriented supergroup called SociaLybrium, which includes another former Funkadelic – Blackbyrd McKnight on guitar. (On bass is Melvin Gibbs. On the drum kit, J.T. Lewis.)

The SociaLybrium album “For You - For Us - For All” is digitally available at iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and other fine MP3 retailers.

It’s all instrumentals, and the album hasn’t really grown on me. Frankly, the compositions won’t burn any houses down. But I’m streaming a couple of tracks on my Vox blog... so my fellow P-Funk fans can know what’s happening.

Click here to hear “Glory Story,” with Bernie rocking the organ.

“He-Then Holiday” is a sick showcase for Melvin Gibbs, with Mr. Worrell providing swirls of color. Click here to listen.

It’s a gift to humanity that Bernie is doing his thing to a ripe old age.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fox with my mind

I just flew back to New Orleans from New York City on JetBlue. Cool thing about JetBlue is, they got in-flight satellite TV so I could watch cable news... just like I would be doing at home!

CNN and MSNBC, of course, are covering the earthquake in Haiti. You heard about that, right? The absolute destruction of a nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince? Tens of thousands presumed dead?

Well, when I popped over to Fox News, what were they talking about? The Republican underdog in the Massachusetts Senate race. “New ethics questions swirl around Nancy Pelosi.” “The left wing’s malicious attacks on Sarah Palin...”

And that is the news tonight from Hannity’s America!

What a sickening joke. Hannity, O’Reilly and Glenn Beck went out of their way not to mention the earthquake. Like it didn’t happen.

Either the bosses at Fox News (and, by implication, the viewers of Fox News) don’t give a shit about dead black people, or Fox doesn’t want to cover a story that is bound to show the Obama Administration in a positive light... as the U.S. government mobilizes to respond to a foreign crisis.

I hope media analysts call out Fox News for this crap. It is not a news organization! It’s a propaganda arm of the Republican Party! How can they even deny it now?

Somebody please make Roger Ailes explain why he’s ignoring the No. 1 news story on planet Earth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’

I don’t think the Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards side projects stand up as well as those old Chic hits. This one just sounds old to me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coming in April

Yeeeaaah, muthafuckaaas!

‘Sam Cooke: Crossing Over’ on PBS tonight

Check your local listings for the time. Looks like a good one.

Obama’s ‘Negro dialect’

The burning controversy about Sen. Harry Reid’s old comment about Barack Obama is such a waste of time. The comment wasn’t insulting, wasn’t shocking... and was likely true.

In case you haven’t heard, Reid reportedly remarked that Obama was electable because he was light-skinned and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Today, talking heads white and black are clutching their pearls... Joe Scarborough, Jonathan Capehart and Michael Eric Dyson, to name several.

Capehart is like, “No one should say the word ‘Negro.’ ” (Negro, please.)

As for Obama adopting a Negro dialect if and when “he wanted to have one,” consider this old Obama campaign vid, which I recall blogging about in 2007. Check Obama’s pronunciation of “alligator.”

Random blackness

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A free Jon Cleary download

This weekend I’ve been in writers’ meetings with David Simon, Eric Overmyer and George Pelecanos. Let me tell you, the joy of my life is being in a room with those guys constructing stories.

“Treme” will have lots of New Orleans music in it, so occasionally, in meetings, Simon will crank up his laptop and blast a tune.

Today it was a song by Jon Cleary, a British pianist who’s now a New Orleans fixture. “This is so funky,” Simon said. Click here to hear “More Hipper,” a track from 2002.

Turns out “More Hipper” is available as a FREE MP3. Just click the title below if you want to download.

“More Hipper” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store
Album available at eMusic
Album available at Amazon MP3

Random hotness...

... with a quiz. This “Gong Show” contestant is now the mother of a successful young Hollywood actress. Can you name the actress?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Year of the Chocolate Drops

As a reminder that the new Carolina Chocolate Drops CD – “Genuine Negro Jig” – comes out next month (except in the U.K., where it’ll be available January 25), I’ve embedded below a 6-minute promotional video from Nonesuch Records.

The Chocolate Drops begin a two-month American tour tonight in Athens, Georgia.

Random wrongness

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Playlist: Black rocker chicks rock!

Will the Twenty-Teens be the decade of Black Rocker Chicks? Surely a lot of talented black women – more than ever before, it seems – are going the indie-rock route. Even if very few of them get famous.

Some of them I’ve blogged about before. Dita Vox of Thee Emergency, Lisa Kekaula of the BellRays, Shingai Shoniwa of England’s Noisettes...

Here go some more, streaming on my Vox blog. God bless ’em for doing their thing.

1. “Remember” – Three5Human

Atlanta’s Three5Human is fronted by vocalist Trina Meade, a.k.a. Black Rock Queen.

She got a break a few years ago when Three5Human toured with the Indigo Girls. You can see Ms. Meade singing “Midnight Train to Georgia” on the new Indigo Girls DVD “Live at the Roxy.” And the Indigo Girls provide guest vocals on the 2007 Three5Human album “A Swig from the Acid Bottle.”

The track I’m streaming is from the album “Sunlight and Toys.”

2. “Pearl” – Tamar-kali

I got turned on to Brooklyn’s Tamar-kali by one of my readers, daughterofthedream. I blogged about Tamar-kali in 2008. This cut, “Pearl,” is brand new.

According to Rob Fields, the must-read music blogger at Bold As Love, Tamar-kali’s new album – “Black Bottom” – is due out next spring.

3. “On My Way” – Res

Res is another artist I stumbled upon at Bold As Love. You can download Res’s new album, “Black.Girls.Rock!,” for free. Just follow this link to her homepage, and peep the lower left-hand corner.

4. “Box” (live) – Shelley Nicole’s blaKbüshe

Shelley Nicole is another one from Brooklyn. Her new release is called “The Quick & Dirty E.P.”

5. “The Hard Way” – The Doll Daze

More FREE MP3s... this time from Atlanta’s The Doll Daze (pictured left). To cop her six-song EP, follow this link.

Hey... how about a battle of the bands between Brooklyn and Atlanta black rocker chicks?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Random hipness

I’ll have more to say about Shelley Nicole in a minute...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Willie Mitchell (1928-2010)

Renowned R&B producer Willie Mitchell, who recorded Al Green’s signature hits of the 1970s, died today. He was 81 years old.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal obituary is here. Mr. Mitchell was a titan of Memphis soul music.

During his long and fruitful career, Willie Mitchell was a trumpet player, bandleader, studio owner, record-label executive... and was still in demand as a horn arranger into the 21st Century, working with the likes of Buddy Guy and John Mayer.

Mitchell’s work with Al Green is familiar to all. But click here and listen to “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Ann Peebles. Splendidly arranged and produced by Mitchell, this single reached the Top 40 in 1973.

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘I Want Your Love’

Monday, January 4, 2010

Random wrongness

If you know of something on YouTube more hilarious than the first seven minutes of this video, let the rest of us know.

Friday, January 1, 2010


The Pedro Bell benefit show tomorrow night in New York City will feature such funky luminaries as Bernie Worrell, Melvin Gibbs and guitarist Ronny Drayton. Wish I could be there.

But here’s a video I originally posted in 2007. It’s Pedro on a Chicago public-access cable show back in the 1990s. Wild stuff.

Random hipness

Irma is a Cameroonian girl living in France. I’ve blogged about her before. I say she has a future in music.

Happy New Year, y’all!