Music Night, March 28, 2014

Alex Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) first swam into my consciousness in 1967 as the lead singer of the Box Tops, part of the blue-eyed soul singer wave. In the early 70s he was a founding member and lead singer of Big Star, a hugely influential powerpop band that withered without any decent support from their record company but reached cult status over time.

From Wikipedia: Before it broke up, Big Star created a “seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations” in the words of Rolling Stone, as the “quintessential American power pop band” and “one of the most mythic and influential cult acts in all of rock & roll”.

Alex Chilton died at age 59 of a heart attack. He’d experienced symptoms for weeks beforehand but, hey, no health insurance so not doctor visits. Four years later, with the ACA, he might well have survived.

Music Night, March 14, 2014 More about backup singers

Ok, I’ll admit, I love Nashville (the tv show), not because it’s a dopey soap and not just because Connie Britton. Well, maybe it is Connie. At any rate, this week’s episode had one of the minor characters auditioning as a backup singer–pretty girl with a pretty voice. Sweet. And, thanks to 20 Feet From Stardom I was shaking my head the whole time.

No power. That’s something made clear time after time in the film; all these women have tremendous vocal power. Hell, they probably don’t need microphones half the time. Case in point is Judith Hill, the youngest of the performers. YouTube has a number of videos from her time on The Voice, but this one is my favorite, from the film. Gorgeous, exotic woman who can bring down the house with her singing.

February is what? Over? Music Night Feb. 28, 2014

Last week I watched Twenty Feet from Stardom, a brilliant documentary on some of the greatest American backup singers. If you have not seen the film, stop what you’re doing and order up a copy from Netflix. Seriously. We’ll wait…. Ok. All of these women will knock your socks off, guaranteed, but for the moment we’ll focus on Lisa Fischer, who was a complete revelation to me. There is a point in the film when Mick Jagger goes on about how he and Keith decided in the midst of recording that they needed a female voice on account of how they were all masculine and stuff so they had someone bring this woman in in the middle of the night. What he doesn’t say is that they didn’t need a woman, they needed this woman because suddenly they had one of their biggest hits. So this is a Rolling Stones video, but you really want to pay attention at about 2:30 min. And go get that movie.

Music Night, January 31, 2014

My comment upon discovering this video on YouTube: I saw them at a Pop Festival in Rotterdam, summer of 1970. I had their LPs but nothing captured that live performance. I still vividly remember Jerry Goodman standing at the front of the stage, his long hair flying in the wind, hypnotizing the crowd with his violin. Great to see a live video!

First Music Night of 2014, January 3

Please share with the rest of us any music or musical acts that you discovered in 2013 or music you think we probably missed.

Prefab Sprout was apparently very popular in the UK in the 80s and 90s. Living in the US you can be forgiven if you never heard of them or heard any of their music. They had few releases this century and don’t appear to have a US label. This fall they released a brand-new album in the UK, Crimson/Red. And I just found a couple of stores based in the US that have the CD in stock. Ordering in 3, 2, 1…

Music Night, November 22, 2013 – 50 years later

I had something all prepped up to play by the Dixie Chicks when I realized what a knucklehead I was. It’s 50 years today after the Kennedy assassination and one song came immediately to mind. I had completely forgotten that it was recorded by Dion (once of Dion & The Belmonts) and found it serendipitous that a YouTube video memorialized Dion on the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour.

Music Night October 25, 2013

I won two tickets to see a Rising Star concert by calling in to a Bay Area radio station. The person I spoke with on the phone had no idea who this Pat Benatar person was. As long ago as this show took place, I was the oldest person in the audience except for Paul Kantner. Benatar killed it. This video was shot a few months later, when everyone knew who Pat Benatar was.

Great hair, Pat!

Music Night, August 16, 2013

I was a huge Byrds fan from the beginning and virtually all of my favorite original material was written and sung by Gene Clark. He left the band after just a few years and drifted across my personal radar on rare occasions. As far as I knew at the time, he was done. The reality is that Clark continued to write and perform (but not tour) for a couple of decades and the albums (solo and with various partners) contain some amazing music. In the 1980s he worked with singer/songwriter Carla Olson, resulting in several really excellent albums. Clark died in 1991, age 46 after years of excessive drug and alcohol use.

Music Night, July 5, 2013

Because the world can never have too many Japanese neo-psychedelic, Cipollina tribute musicians. And because  you’ve probably never heard of White Heaven or Michio Kurihara, which is a damn shame.

Tomorrow I get to stand up with two good friends as they marry in a rose garden in Corvallis, Oregon and one of those friends turned me on to White Heaven some years back. And I get to wear a linen suit with a turquoise tie and socks!


Bonus bonus!

Music Night, June 21 2013

Still working on that theme. 1968 was a fantastic year for rock music and blues, continuing the tidal wave from 1967. One of my favorite albums of the year, and forever after, was the first record from Mother Earth, Living with the Animals. Featuring another pint-sized singer with a huge voice, Tracy Nelson, it was a strange blend of folk, country and rock that never really took off commercially but was soulful and well-loved by some of us. (It also featured some work by a fellow named Mikail Blumfeld, IIRC, whose contract elsewhere prevented him from receiving clear credit).

The album was followed the next year by Make a Joyful Noise which, if anything, was better than the first. This video is from that period and I think it gives a great look into the heart of the band. Tracy Nelson is still working and still belting it out.

Sunday Roast (for want of another title)

Face of a predator?

In the unlikely case that you haven’t heard about Kaitlyn, here is a recap:

Kaitlyn Hunt faces felony charges after the mother of her girlfriend, aged 14, notified police of the relationship as soon as she turned 18.

She has been charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years of age and has been expelled from Sebastian River High School, in the town of Sebastian, Florida.

If she had chosen to accept the plea deal, she would have been under house arrest for two years, and would have been labelled a sex offender.

The state attorney’s office now says she will face trial on 20 June, and could face up to 15 years in prison, if she were to be found guilty of the offences.

Over at Think Progress, I read a long list of comments on Kaitlyn’s case. Most of them wrote of her as heroic and essentially a political victim. As always there are a few right wing trolls who consider Kaitlyn a pervert along with anyone who suggests she’s being treated unfairly.

I am plagued by mixed feelings. Although her attorney points to one case where a boy got a much lighter charge for essentially the same behavior, lots of young men are also stamped as sexual predators for having a physical relationship with a girl a few years younger than they are. As the attorney says, there would be no media attention at all if Kaitlyn was a boy — true, because it would be too common to be newsworthy. The cases we have heard of lately were very different — primarily gang rape of girls who were incapacitated by drink or drugs.

Does Kaitlyn get a pass because she’s a girl? Because she’s a lesbian? Or could this be a wakeup call that not all statutory rape cases are simple and clear cut. What is an appropriate age difference for teens, or is age an appropriate marker at all?

I’ll cop to it: when I was in my late teens I had sex with several girls under age 18 (although the marker was 16 in those days where I lived). I believe to this day that no coercion was ever involved or that any of those girls were incapable of making the choice to be sexual. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m simply justifying selfish behavior.

I don’t think Kaitlyn should be singled out for praise because she’s a girl, but I support her fighting back at a ridiculous interpretation of the law. But that’s just me. This is, after all, an Open Thread.

UPDATE: From ThinkProgress

Conflicting reports, including an investigation by the Windy City Times (WCT), suggest that Kaitlyn was 18 before her relationship began. State Attorney Bruce Colton also suggested that the offered plea deal would have spared her from registering as a sex offender, a detail which does not correspond with previous reporting on the story from various outlets.

Music Night, May 24, 2013

Continuing our theme, tonight’s video is a hat trick. Not one female singer belting it out, but three! If you do not know who Lou Ann Barton, Angela Strehli and Marcia Ball are, it’s time to find out. And the fourth woman is Sarah Brown.

Proving that not everything coming out of Texas is bad.

Music Night, May 10, 2013

Continuing my theme: Lydia Pense

In the summer of 1969, my friends and I traveled to Stockton for a day-long concert at the university stadium, for music and to hand out copies of our brand new underground newspaper. As it turned out, the organizers had failed to do any promotion at all; a few hundred of us sat around on the grass while a stream of outstanding bands played: Sons of Champlin, Santana and Cold Blood among them. No one had any idea who these people were prior to the show and I vividly remember how every one of us instantly and spontaneously leaped to our feet after the first few bars from the percussion of Santana. And I vividly remember the tiny woman in the red dress, who had earlier powered through her own set and now danced furiously backstage to this incredible band.

That was Lydia Pense and her band was Cold Blood. She’s still performing and still belting it out.

Oh, and I got to hand a copy of our paper to Carlos Santana. I was that close!

Music Night, April 26, 2013

I seem to have a theme going lately: women singers who can belt it out. This time it’s Maggie Bell, a blues singer in the style of Lydia Pense and Janis Joplin. In the early 70s she fronted the bad luck band, Stone the Crows, doing one of the band’s standards.

Bonus video is Maggie and Stone the Crows from 1971.