Friday, February 26, 2010
The Moogseum is exactly what it sounds like it is... a museum celebrating, educating, and archiving all things Moog. The Moog synthesizer was one of the first widely used electronic musical instruments and was created by legendary inventor Robert Moog. Moog started his company in the early 50's as a theremin kit supplier and, after doing some collaboration with composer/inventor Raymond Scott, started working toward his modular synthesizers.
Thru Moog and later his Big Brior company, Moog continued pushing the envelope (and envelope filters...) of what was not only possible with oscillators and synthesized sounds, but also set very high standards with the instruments that he built to do such things. These were musical instruments for use for artisits and musicians, not just scientific oddities. Robert Moog passed away in 2005.
One fun thing the folks at the Moogseum are doing is recording live shows at the Moog Factory with artists using Moog instruments. The Yo La Tengo one is super nice (of course).... I'm hoping there are more to come.
The Moogseum has an online counterpart that seems to be coming together as does its physical version in Ashville, NC near the Moog Factory. Time to load up the mini-van (or "mini-moog-van" perhaps?) and head out for a road trip!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
One of my most favorite Beatles, George Harrison would have been 67 years old today. Happy birthday George! Here is a track off his fantastic "Beware of ABKCO" bootleg which is made up of his own fourtrack demoing for the 1970 triple LP "All Things Must Pass".
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I just found this great video on YouTube of Gilberto Serna of Century Mallets here in Chicago. Gilberto has fixed and serviced my vibraphone and marimbas many many times over the years and visits to his shop are as fun as breaking the instruments in the first place. He worked for J. C. Deagan Company (one of the most respected makers of vibraphones, xylophone, and many many other mallet instruments) up until they were bought out by Yamaha in the 80's. His place is loaded down with mallet instruments of literally every shape and size... forms you NEVER knew existed.... early electronic versions run off of primitive car batteries... ones made over a hundred years ago... He is THE guy to service mallet instruments in the western hemisphere. Yes, he is that well know in those circles. He is like the Mohammed Ali of mallet instruments.
The first time I brought him my vibes for a fixing, I stayed to watch him work a bit. It was like stepping back 100 years when you enter his shop and there was almost too much to see. As he looked my vibraphone over he said to me " You know, these were made here". I said "Yeah, they were made in Chicago. Deagan was from Chicago, right?" He turns to me and said "no, no... I mean they were made right here in THIS ROOM in 1920." Crazy! It was true. Gilberto took over Deagan's Chicago headquarters for his workshop and showroom where he remains today . The "Deagan" logo still graces the clock tower on top of the building.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The Emotions were a sweet soul singing group from Chicago comprised of sisters Sheila, Jeannette, and Wanda Hutchinson. They released a few small, local singles including the burning hot "I Can't Stand No More Heartaches" and gained many admirers and later collaborators but it was their connection to Pervis Staples of the Staple Singers that landed them on the Stax/Voltz label for their debut record "So I can Love You" released in 1969. Pervis took over management for the band as well. They hit paydirt on both the R&B and pop charts with hits like "Best Of My Love" and "Don't Ask My Neighbors" but perhaps their biggest success was as part of Earth Wind & Fires mega hit "Boogie Wonderland" which featured the Emotions. Over the years the lineup has changed and sisters were replaced by younger sisters or cousins or good friends. They still play today though their last studio record was released back in the 80's.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
HONEYBUS was an English band ('67-'73) that never hit much wide notoriety beyond their UK hit "I Can't Let Maggie Go" (which was later used to sell bread on UK TV). My friends Steve and Joey were listening to them the other day and played me some of the band's lesser known gems. So good! They fit somewhere between Rubber Soul/Revolver era Beatles and the Bee Gee's circa Cucumber Castle with Big Starish drumming. Great great stuff!
Here is the title track from their 1970 LP Story.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Johnny Guitar Watson, the original Gangster of Love, would have been 75 years old today. From his early raw, out of control guitar playing style to his sweet blues ballads to his funkier disco-ier 70's records, Johnny had many worthy landing points in his career and inspired tons and tons of guitarists from Hendrix to Zappa to the Vaughan brothers. He died on stage in the middle of a show in Japan in 1996... it's said his last words were "Ain't that a bitch!".