Monday, November 30, 2009

BAND OF THE DAY! 11-30-09

I saw the Chicago band Spires That in the Sunset Rise by accident and was totally blindsided by their set. I was awestruck. This all woman four piece can find common ground with some of the neo psych-folk movement while also sounding often very Eastern in their melodies and instrumentation. Their use of voice-as-instrument with more often non-lyrical approach also helps to keep their music out of obvious Western forms. Most of what they play are acoustic stringed instruments like banjo and table harps and zithers. Their arrangements are loose and sometimes frail giving a tenseness to their set. Please see them if you can and buy their records.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


NPR has a nice series of performers playing tiny concerts behind a desk in their office. Very simple concept that has yielded a lot of great video of great artists playing mostly acoustic for a handful of office workers. Microphones used only to record... not to amplify. Here is the great Bill Callahan (Smog) playing a few songs from his his most recent record Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (Drag City).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Happy Birthday to Donald Duck Dunn, one of the very best of the best bass players ever. He of course played with the Mar-Keys and Booker T and the MG's who were the house band at Memphis' Stax Records. They backed records by Sam & Dave, Albert King, Wilson Picket, Staple Singers, Freddie King, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and really almost every single song released on Stax.. A third of the basslines in your head belong to him.

Here he is with the MG's as the backing band for Sam & Dave...

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Wow.... not many TV commercials like this... and add in the Clara Rockmore track, you got yourself a one of a kind beer spot. As amazing as it is, I'm not sure if it is talking me into having a beer or not. I feel like now checking my next beer for bugs.

Friday, November 20, 2009

BAD-ASS OF THE DAY! 11-20-09

Jim Bowie! Jim Bowie! He was a bad ass who threw a big blade!

Jim Bowie! Jim Bowie! The home owner was pissed by the hole in the door that it made!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


On this day in 1994, Cab Calloway passed away at the age of 86.

Here is a great old Fleischer Brothers animation of their character Koko the Clown singing to Calloway's "St. James Infirmary" to the deceased Betty Boop. Check out this amazing surreal interpretation... added to by their use of the Fleischer's own invention... the Rotoscope which is an animation technique in which animators trace over live-action film movement, frame by frame. So good.

Monday, November 16, 2009


All hail Joe Maphis, one of the great early country lighting hot shredders.... He played with everyone from Merle Travis to Wanda Jackson to Johnny Burnette to Ricky Nelson. He was known for his double necked Mosrite guitar and in fact helped launch Mosrite as a national production line guitar maker with his high visibility TV appearances.

Here he is pickin' (but not singin') out front, starting off at a speedy gate and gaining speed as he goes!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Wow! Saw a very inspiring art show this weekend... Jesse LeDoux (known for his art on records by the Shins, Elliot Smith, Death Cab for Cutie, as well as a ton of Sub-Pop related art) showed some beautiful and fun paintings/drawings at Chicago's Rotofugi Gallery. Wow! Really great work!! You can buy these original works at Rotofugi if you are in Chicago or buy archival signed prints online at Tiny Showcase.... either way, get 'em!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I've been occupied recently with all the great animation of Norman McLaren who created a large body of work from the mid 30's up thru the 80's.. Great stuff.

Here is a film short showing McLaren creating his own soundtrack. He created it himself by drawing and scratching into the edge of the film where the optical soundtrack is found.. Wow! Amazing! It is very Raymond Scott sounding.... and actually a lot like some of the other soundtracks for McLaren's films by composer Maurice Blackburn who also employed that way of music making.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Saw this clip of the Cats and the Fiddle recently... I think on a PBS program about latin music called Latin Music USA.... can't remember. Well, anyway, hot clip! Man, you can't beat the line up! Tenor guitar, tiple, standup bass, and baritone uke!! So great! They played from the late '30's up thru the '50's.... almost twenty years on almost as many labels. I believe this clip was from a cameo they had in the 1938 Lena Horne film ""The Duke Is Tops" (later retitled "The Bronze Venus").

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Here is a trailer for the upcoming Numero Group DVD, Celestial Navigations: The Short Films of Al Jarnow, which will be released on February 23rd, 2010. Jarnow is an amazing artist who made hundreds of educational and experimental short films and animations for Sesame Street, 123 Contact, and PBS among others. Everyone who grew up in the 70's has some pieces of Jarnow's work drifting around somewhere on our internal harddrives.

The Numero Group releases the most amazing, burning comiplation CDs and DVDs...they are a "multi-format media company, devoted to dragging brilliant recordings, films, and photography out of unwarranted obscurity". They do a lot of small scene soul reissue compilations that are just amazing. Go to their website right now and buy everything they have ever had anything to do with.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I'll admit it, I am not a huge fan of circuit bending in general. Like a lot of free jazz, I see how it can be very fun TO DO, but most of the time it is a DRAG to hear someone else do it. Also, it most often ends up sounding like a cross between an out of control R2D2 and a turd. That said, this fellow at NoysToise Blog does an amazing job of repurposing old plastic keyboard bodies, discarded Speak and Spells, form fitted tool carrying cases, and snooze control clock radios into very beautifully constructed, new forms of musical oddities. This one especially caught my attention with its great aesthetic form and details and its actual musical uses... it's not just a sputtering out of control audio crap sprayer.