The music world lost another unique voice on Thursday. Dr John, the man who brought the voodoo infused magic of New Orleans music to the world, died “toward the break of day”, of a heart attack. John was 77.
I saw Dr John play live once, when I was in New Orleans during their Jazz Festival. It was pure luck really, but sometimes the train pulls up to the station at just the right moment. It was after Katrina, and there were still a lot of roofs that were covered by blue tarps. Dr John put on quite the show, but this was more than just playing a concert, it was his attempt to use music to help heal his city from a hurricane and apathy.
Dr John simply oozed New Orleans, in all its funky, bluesy, bayou form. I read a review once, where the writer described his voice as a “bullfrog with a hangover”.
Rest in peace, Night Tripper; your bullfrog voice will be missed.
Tony Joe White passed away suddenly on Thursday of a suspected heart attack. The musician was inspired to pick up a guitar as a teenager when he heard Lightin’ Hopkins for the first time. Known for his “swamp rock” style, White wrote several classics including “Willie and Laura Mae Jones”, “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia”. The latter had been covered by over 100 different artists by the time White turned 30.
In the above video, White performs one of his songs with Johnny Cash. White was 75.
In order to avoid the intense traffic that had already started to build up at 1:30pm, it was suggested that we drive up to Sorel, then take the ferry across the Saint Lawrence River.
The Mini-RV is packed down in that mass of steel somewhere. The ferry run was short and smooth, but it took some of the stress out of the impressive traffic that we had been battling.
The MacDonald Monument at Place du Canada. John A. MacDonald was Canada’s first prime minister. This monument was erected in 1895. There are two cannons flanking the monument, which were used in the Crimean War. Queen Victoria presented the city with the cannons in 1892, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Montreal. The Curator found the cannons quite interesting.
A trip to Montreal would not be complete without a visit to a jazz bar. We stopped by The Upstairs Jazz Club. A wonderful club, with a great atmosphere. The Shawn McPherson Blues Band was the night’s act. McPherson plays a decent harmonica, and the band surrounding him was solid. We were treated to some very good music.
We lost another icon of the music world with the passing of Aretha Franklin. Franklin got her start as a child singing gospel at the New Bethel Baptist church in Detroit, where her father was a minister.
Franklin signed on with Columbia Records in 1960 at the age of 18. She found success and acclaim after signing with Atlantic Records in 1967. By the end of the 1960’s Aretha had become the Queen of Soul.
Franklin brings down the house at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015. As a singer, Franklin won’t drop the mic, but she can drop the coat.
I have to add a clip of Aretha’s cameo in “The Blues Brothers”. Matt “Guitar” Murphy is “her man” in the film. Sadly, we lost Murphy earlier this year, as well.
Franklin was a powerful vocalist, who wrenched every bit of emotion out of the lyrics. As Paul McCartney said, she “was the Queen of our souls.”
Aretha Franklin was 76; there will never be another quite like her. Rest in peace.
The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival winds down to a close at the end of the weekend. Hopefully, visitors, at the very least, took in some of the free lunch concerts that have been going on at various locations around town. The Festival started in 1980, and has been a boost to summers in Fairbanks ever since.
I saw the Lowboy Cello Band on Alaska Live Wednesday, which prompted this post. One doesn’t often think of Fairbanks as being a cello hotbed, but we seem to be holding our own. The band consists of four members of the Alaska Cello Intensive. The above video is the ACI doing a beautiful, yet more traditional piece. I will follow that up with a video of ACI getting a little loose and funky.
Valley Spruce by Sara Tabbert
The original piece above, by artist Sara Tabbert, is hand carved and painted on wood. The piece will be auctioned off today at 7:30pm at the Westmark downtown, during the FSAF Orchestra Pops Concert.
Legendary Chicago bluesman, Eddy Clearwater died today. He was 83. Born Edward Harrington in Macon, Mississippi, Eddy moved to Chicago in 1950, taking on the nickname “Guitar Eddy”. His agent suggested Clear Water, playing off of bluesman Muddy Waters. Eventually that morphed into Eddy Clearwater.
Clearwater perfected his own style of Blues, which he called “rock-a-blues”, a mixture of Blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel. His music career extended over six decades, and he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016.
I first saw Eddy Clearwater live at a club in Des Moines called “Blues on Grand”. I tell you, it was one hell of a show. Of all the Blues acts I saw in Des Moines, I think Clearwater was my favorite. Eddy was such a showman, and I was mesmerized by his guitar play. Clearwater was self taught, and he played the guitar left-handed and upside down. My buddy who was at Blues on Grand with me said, “Watching him play is giving me a headache!” When Clearwater was on stage, he grabbed your attention, and didn’t let you go until he was done with you.
We sat close to the stage, although at BoG, no one sat very far from it. Just before a break, Clearwater called my buddy and I out from the stage. During the intermission, he came over to us and talked to us like we were old friends. Of course, he gave each of us a guitar pick. To this day, I still have mine; it’s fastened to the dash of my old Land Rover.
The Curator and I took a trip over to Woodstock between chasing hockey pucks. The museum at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was closed on the day we arrived, but that did not keep us from searching out historical markers, and the like.
We found the Yasgur family home. Max Yasgur, a local dairy farmer, leased out one of his fields for the concert. He received plenty of threats for doing so, including calls to “burn him out” and cries to boycott his milk. Yasgur held to his principles, scolding neighbors for charging concert goers for water.
32 musical acts performed in front of over 400,000 people from August 15-18, 1969. Organizers of the festival told Bethel authorities that they expected 50,000 to show up.
The stage was down in the lower left of the above photo, and the entire hillside was filled with spectators.
The museum and art center seem to be first rate, although it was a cursory glance. Even though that was closed, the trip was still a fun drive through the Catskills and music history.
The Jimi Hendrix set list from Woodstock’s final day
The Curator and I met up with some New York friends to take in a Lyle Lovett concert in Geneva, New York. The show took place in Geneva’s 125 year old opera house. The beautiful venue was packed to the balcony.
Lyle Lovett, photo credit: world wide web
Lovett and Shawn Colvin gave a very good show. The two musicians went back and forth singing their songs, with some spirited discussions between songs. It was obvious that Lovett & Colvin had a lot of history together.