Friday, April 28, 2006:

Spread the Good Word!

the lost skeleton of cadavra
Rev. Tom Frost -- All the Way Home
The good Reverend has a CD out, a ten-track gallop through roots rock and outlaw country. It's the aural equivalent of Leone's Man with No Name, a rock star Man with No Name who plays chunky distorted electric guitar and sings like a cross between Tom Waits and Link Wray, backed with rollicking barhouse piano or funhouse organ.

It's a bold CD--you've guessed this already--bold and gritty and a lot of fun, with some remarkable tracks on it, most of them covers of songs that have been taken apart and rebuilt to get there faster and more dangerously.
[Pick the record up here for $7.]


Two amazing videos I found today:
VD Is for Everybody, which has a rather cheerful tune and montage that, coupled with the lyrical content, is effectively beyond description. (via Neil Gaiman's blog)

And Stop the Madness, an unspeakably bad music video featuring New Edition, Whitney Houston, David Hasselhoff, Nancy Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger encouraging you not to use drugs. Did I mention that it's bad? It's bad. It's the kind of bad that makes you feel guilty for laughing, because you're horribly embarrassed for the director, but you can't help laughing anyway. (via BoingBoing)

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Thursday, April 27, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Tipitina lyrics

Update: Thanks to reader Mike and Amazon reviewer W. Flannery, I changed "Roberta" to "Loberta" and provided a translation for "oola malla walla dalla." For newcomers, the link is live again (for a limited time only).

Professor Longhair -- Tipitina (original)
I just spent more than an hour on the Internet searching for the lyrics (such as they are) to Tipitina and couldn't find them anywhere, so I spent another hour or so transcribing (deciphering?) them from the original 1953 Atlantic Records version. As a public service, here's the best I could do. If I made some mistakes, well, that's why God created comments.
Tipitina tra la la la
Whoa la la la-ah tra la la
Tipitina, oola malla walla dalla [little mama wants a dollar]
Tra ma tra la la

Hey Loberta, oh poor Loberta
Girl you hear me callin' you
Well you're three times seven, baby
Knows what you want to do

Say Loberta, oh poor Loberta
Girl, you tell me where you been
When you come home this mornin', honey
You had your belly full o' gin

I'll say hurry, hurry, come on Loberta
Girl, you have company waiting for you at home
Why don't you hurry little Loberta girl, hurry
Don't leave that boy alone

Tipitina tra la la la
Whoa la la la-ah tra la la la
Tipitina, hoola malla walla dalla
Tra ma ti na na

Come on baby, we're going ballin'
We're gonna have ourselves a good time
We gonna hoola tralla walla malla dalla
Drink some mellow wine
The Professor re-recorded this song several times after he was famously discovered sweeping floors in a local record shop and made a triumphant comeback appearance at the 1972 Jazzfest. The lyrics got even wilder in these recordings as the nonsense syllables stretched and twisted around on themselves like some kind of aural Moebius strip.

While I couldn't find the lyrics online, I did find a fascinating anecdote from Jerry Wexler in Rolling Stone about this recording. I'm not sure when it was written (the interview was posted online in 2005), but it was clearly decades after the fact. Take it for what it's worth:
When Ahmet [Ertegun] and I recorded it with Professor Longhair in 1953 in New Orleans, he came into the studio with absolutely no material. We said, "What the hell are we gonna do? We have no songs." But there were two songs around then: "Tra-La-La" and "Ti-Na-Na." Both were purported to convey encoded dope messages, like an R&B "Louie Louie." And they were both built on eight-bar chord changes, which was a very natural, harmonic basis for Longhair. Eight bar blues was very strong in New Orleans. We said to Fess, "Let's do something like "Tra-La-La" and "Ti-Na-Na," on eight bar changes. We cobbled it together in the studio.
Well, I'm finally off to Jazzfest. Enjoy the Professor while I'm gone.

['Fess: The Professor Longhair Anthology]
Wednesday, April 26, 2006:

Richard Underhill -- Morse Code

Richard Underhill -- Morse Code
The joy and the curse of instrumentals is that they can be about nearly anything the listener wants. For instance, this one is about a man of unremarkable looks, in an overcoat, standing in an office in Europe in early 1942, receiving a coded message. The Code Talkers haven't been introduced yet; messages sent by Morse Code are prone to interception and decryption. And his message: BSK OFC: message sent not received. Must destroy.

He tears it off once it's done, rips it in half and in half again, chews it up, swallows it. Chases it with some whiskey from a flask in his overcoat. Caps it, nods to the elderly gentleman at the counter, steps out into the city and boards a bus beneath the constant droning of planes.

The percussion sets the pacing: pressing, urgent, except when it's more pressing and more urgent.

The saxophones trade messages: incoming, outgoing, padded with deceptions and double dealings.

The piano is the man, slipping through busy sidewalks and city squares, focused and efficient--ducking into alleys, going in through cook's entrances and out by fire escapes, leaping to the next building and entering the street again a half-block away.

The center of the track is an inspired chaos of misinformation and conflicting goals, marking our hero's arrival at BSK OFC. It's a three-story building on a wooded riverbank; the enemy is across the river.

He sprints for the door, hears the machine gun: bullets hitting wood, snowy dirt, brick, glass: thwock, crunch, chink!, tinkle. In through the door and diving for cover. Crawling to the telegraph machine, tearing the paper off, seeing that it is in fact coded. Tearing it up, eating it. More whiskey. The machine gun has stopped. Peeking out through broken windowpanes, ready to duck back. The enemy are piling into jeeps. The bridge is three miles away. He codes his message, quickly, realizes a mistake, tries again, taps it out: "Destroyed. Do not respond." And then it's back to the window for a quick glance, and sprinting out the front door, his breath burning in his chest. Around the building and into the woods to work his way back to the city.

None of the above is true, though Underhill did base the track on a message in Morse Code.
[Richard Underhill's site, with CDs available]

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Sunday, April 23, 2006:

The Roots Canal: ¡Cubanismo! in New Orleans

Cubanismo -- Shallow Water Suite
It opens with a deep, mysterious rumbling of piano and drums and flute and odd chants. It coalesces into the haunting spiritual, Shallow Water. Suddenly, the tempo picks up and starts to swing. The New Orleans rhythm kicks in, backed by a tight horns section. Then, a brief tease...of what? could it be? a rumba? But not for long, because the song suddenly shifts and you're listening to the New Orleans anthem Iko Iko. Then it starts again, with a verse in Spanish. Before you notice, it's a full-throated rumba. You're no longer in New Orleans, but Cuba. Back and forth. An easy transition.

Shallow Water Suite came out of a trip to New Orleans in 1999 by the great Cuban jazz band, ¡Cubanismo! Or Cubanismo. (I think I'll leave out the exclamation points. They don't even use them in their own liner notes.) There, they collaborated with singer John Boutté, jazzman Donald Harrison and the pickup band The Yockamo All Stars to produce this great New-Orleans-meets-Cuba CD, Mardi Gras Mambo. It's a smooth combination, in my opinion (although allmusic doesn't seem to agree). As the liner notes say, "Most of the world's most popular dance music can trace its lineage back to either New Orleans or Havana." This song takes you to both at once.

[Cubanismo in New Orleans -- Mardi Gras Mambo] (Also available, with all of Cubanismo's records, on emusic.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bonus track: Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo -- Congo Square
While we're on the subject of New Orleans music by non-New Orleans musicians, check out this wild New Orleans band from, of all places, Ottawa, Canada. They're the real thing. I caught Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo live last year when they opened for the Neville Brothers at the Montreal Jazz Festival. I thought they must have been some great New Orleans band I'd never heard of, when the guy in the next row told me they were from Ottawa -- and, in fact, had to cut a lot of their best songs from the show because they didn't want to play any Neville Brothers songs when they were opening for the Brothers themselves. This is one of three mp3's available on their site.

[Walk Thru the Fire]
Friday, April 21, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Roy Montrell

Roy Montrell -- (Every Time I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone
New Orleans Month continues at The Roots Canal with one of that city's least-known but most ubiquitous musicians. Roy Montrell was the go-to guitarist for New Orleans recording sessions and touring bands in the 1950s and 60s. He recorded with everyone from Roy Milton to Little Richard, Lloyd Price and Larry Williams. He toured with Fats Domino and helped Dr. John break into the business. This is one of just two singles he cut under his own name in his entire career. It's a fabulous record that ought to be a classic, but it's only been covered a few times and doesn't seem to be that well known.

It turns out that Home of the Groove posted the same song about a year ago. In fact, he knows a lot more about it than I do. Here's how he describes it:
The joyous, oddball lyrics by Mississippian John Marascalco, who had written several hits for Little Richard, are sung by Montrell with a hoarse hipster voice and a little scatting a la Satchmo. Meanwhile, the band cooks, rockin’ atop Earl Palmer’s locomotive syncopation, with the pumping saxes of Red Tyler on bari and Lee Allen, who turns out a signature solo, on tenor. The rest of the rhythm section is Clem Turvalon on bass, and Ed Frank on piano. Despite the song’s lyrics, there is nothing mellow about either the saxes or this tune!
That pretty much says it all.

[Creole Kings of New Orleans] (Also available on emusic.)
Wednesday, April 19, 2006:

Dama and D'Gary

Dama and D'Gary -- Hiakatra Sa Hidina
D'Gary -- E! Nama Inona Ny Anzaranao
Once upon a time I decided I wanted to play guitar, so I bought one and jumped in. I loved Jimi Hendrix but I'd bought an acoustic, thinking maybe I should start simple. Armed with a half-dozen chords and the most rudimentary understanding of rhythm, harmony, and melody, I was ready to bore and annoy myself playing, and I did, until I didn't anymore, which happened when I decided that maybe my time was better spent on other things.

Later I discovered Django Reinhardt; he was equally inspiring and intimidating. I'd put him or Jimi on and lay back in awe, struck by the skill and grace. I didn't understand everything they were doing--I didn't understand a fraction of it--but I didn't doubt that once they put that guitar on they said exactly what they meant to say with it.

Some time back I bought Dama and D'Gary's The Long Way Home beause I'd heard good things about it. I mention this because someone at allmusic thinks D'Gary is one of the world's greatest guitarists. I'd been inclined to say that he is impressive, but the liner notes say that the songs on the CD I'd been most impressed with, "Hiakatra Sa Hidina" and "Mitady Kandra," are both played by Dama.

(The liner notes also say that "Hiakatra Sa Hidina" is about capitalism versus socialism. Based on its mention of unity, I'd imagine it finds in favor of socialism, preferring community interests to a quick buck.)

And then there's D'Gary's album Malagasy Guitar/Music from Madagascar which shows that, yes, he is in fact quite good.

"E! Nama Inona Ny Anzaranao" is, like Tom Waits, also from an alternate universe. But this one is one where Godzilla bleeds to death from a cut foot and Bambi goes back to eating grass.
[ review]
[RFI Musique biography]
[Dama and D'Gary -- Long Way Home]
[D'Gary -- Malagasy Guitar/Music from Madagascar]

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Larry Williams

Larry Williams -- Bad Boy
Larry Williams -- Dizzy, Miss Lizzy
If you only know these songs from the Beatles' cover versions, you'll be amazed by the Larry Williams originals. It turns out that the Beatles imitated Williams in everything from the guitar licks to the phrasing. As great as the Beatles versions are -- Paul McCartney called Dizzy Miss Lizzy one of the best Beatles recordings -- they don't come close to capturing the energy and abandon of Larry Williams' originals.

Larry Williams was a 1950s New Orleans rock'n'roller who was supposed to be the next Little Richard, after Little Richard abandoned secular music for the ministry. He had a string of hits but never achieved Little Richard's iconic status. Apparently, he was more popular in England than America, which might explain why the Beatles became such big fans. Williams played and sang with the same manic energy as other great early rockers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly as well as Little Richard.

The Beatles also covered another Williams song, Slow Down, and John Lennon recorded Williams' Bony Maronie on his 1975 retro collection, Rock'n'Roll.

Here's something else I was surprised to learn while researching this post: Larry Williams later became a record producer and, with Johnny "Guitar" Watson, co-wrote the lyrics and had the first vocal hit of "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," the great Cannonball Adderley instrumental that was actually composed by his keyboardist Joe Zawinul, another fascinating guy who also founded Weather Report, wrote Birdland and even played on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew.

Oh, well, I digress. Enjoy the early Larry Williams. He's one of a kind.

[Bad Boy] (This album is also available to emusic subscribers here.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jazzfest Update: Honey, Where You Been So Long just posted a song from Bruce Springsteen's new album, We Shall Overcome: The Songs of Pete Seeger. It's terrific. According to Sunday's New York Times, this is the band that Bruce is bringing to Jazzfest. He'll be on Sunday night at the same time as the Meters. Another quandary! How will I ever choose?
Monday, April 17, 2006:

Get Behind the Mule, Buzz Fledderjohn

Tom Waits -- Get Behind the Mule
Tom Waits -- We're All Mad Here
Tom Waits is from an alternate universe where M.C. Escher's architecture is scorned as uninspired and pedestrian. People walk up upside-down stairs and into/out of buildings through doorways which are also pools or mirrors, and the kitchen sink is the most popular percussive instrument. Animals are routinely parts of bands, and they're paid well (over here we get a glimpse of why when they unionize in the running of the bulls in Pamplona; in Waits' universe the reflex is more widespread).

In this universe, avant-garde cinema consists of a romantic comedy with a meet-cute, a misunderstanding in the middle third, a scorned boyfriend banging on the door near the end, and a girlfried who wants to forgive, and does. Strange place.

"We're All Mad Here" is from Alice, Waits' tribute to Lewis Carroll and Carroll's muse, Alice. The album is mad, yes. Completely and utterly, like a hatter who's soaked up more than his share of mercury.

Waits "says the title phrase of the slow-roasting blues 'Get Behind the Mule' comes from something the late bluesman Johnson's father told his shiftless son: 'You gotta get behind the mule in the morning and plow.' For years Waits lived out the gutter-trawling lifestyle of his characters. 'There have been plenty of days when I've gotten up too late in the morning and the mule is gone,' he says. 'Or somebody else is behind the mule, and I have to get behind the guy who's behind the mule.'"
Waits Plays Out 'Variations' On A Twisted Persona

... If you like "Get Behind the Mule" be sure to pick up "Buzz Fledderjon" from's been on an EP in Europe and on one in Japan but was cut from Mule Variations--God knows why; it's fantastic, and better than a couple of the songs that made it onto the CD. This is the spiritual flip-side to "Chocolate Jesus," which I posted over the summer: sleepy front-yard blues with animals pitching in where they can.
[Mule Variations]


Sunday, April 16, 2006:

The Roots Canal: James Booker

James Booker -- Good Night Irene
This is the wildest version of Good Night, Irene you'll ever hear. (Well, I can't speak for you, but it's certainly the wildest version I've ever heard.) I wouldn't even try to describe this guy's piano style. Here's how allmusic does it:
Booker's left hand was simply phenomenal, often a problem for bass players who found themselves running for cover in an attempt to stay out of the way; with it he successfully amalgamated the jazz and rhythm & blues idioms of New Orleans, adding more than a touch of gospel thrown in for good measure. His playing was also highly improvisational, reinventing a progression (usually his own) so that a single piece would evolve into a medley of itself.
James Booker was a classically trained New Orleans piano player who became an R&B legend in his own time until his death in 1983. One of his claims to fame was that he spent time in both Louisiana's Angola prison and a mental institution. In the introduction to this song, he comments that both he and Leadbelly spent time "partying at the Ponderosa" (his nickname for Angola). I can't resist quoting allmusic again about this guy's flamboyant style:
Booker's performances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals took on the trappings of legendary "happenings," and he often spent his festival earnings to arrive in style, pulling up to the stage in a rented Rolls Royce and attired in costumes befitting the "Piano Prince of New Orleans," complete with a cape. Such performances tended to be unpredictable: he might easily plant some Chopin into a blues tune or launch into a jeremiad on the CIA with all the fervor of a "Reverend Ike-meets-Moms Mabley" tag-team match.
Incidentally, Booker had a hit song in 1960 called Gonzo, which may well have inspired the use of this word by Hunter Thompson.

[Junco Partner] (This album is also available on emusic if you're a subscriber.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

At Shea Stadium on Saturday, they played a brief clip from the Buddy Johnson song I posted last week, Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? It was Jackie Robinson Day in the major leagues. Before the game started, they played a Jackie Robinson tribute video featuring some awful, awful "inspirational" music. I sat there listening and wishing they were playing the Buddy Johnson song (or at least the Natalie Cole cover) instead. Wouldn't you know it, but a few innings later they played a few seconds from it between innings. I think it was the original, too, although it might have been the similar Count Basie version.
Thursday, April 13, 2006:

The Roots Canal: The Iguanas

The Iguanas -- Flame On
Bad news! I can't believe it. What am I going to do?

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival finally came out with its daily schedule. The way Jazzfest works is there are 10 different stages and tents, each with more or less continuous music (except for breaks) from 11am to 7pm. Once you pay the general admission, they're all free. Just walk from stage to stage and tent to tent, and see what's going on.

The problem comes when there are two different acts you want to see at the same time. Then you've got to choose. You can split your time and see part of each act, but then you walk into the middle of the set and you're probably going to find a lousy place to sit.

Wouldn't you know it? Not just two but THREE of my favorite New Orleans groups are playing at the same time. On Saturday the 29th, the subdudes are playing the Acura Stage (the biggest one) from 3:40pm to 4:40pm. Luther Kent & Trick Bag are playing the Southern Comfort Blues Stage (the second biggest) from 3:40pm to 4:55pm. And the Iguanas are playing Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage from 4:05pm to 5:15pm (immediately following Eddie Bo so you'll know where to find me then, Tuwa). Believe it or not, Herbie Hancock and Hugh Masekela are also on two other stages at the same time. Are they nuts, or what?

I'm totally devastated. For me, going to Jazzfest is about catching the great local bands as much as hearing the big national acts. (Not to mention the food!) What can I do? Right now, I'm leaning toward Luther Kent. Or maybe splitting my time. We'll see. I have plenty of time to make up my mind.

I've already posted songs from Luther Kent and the subdudes. Here's one from the Iguanas. They're an eclectic Louisiana-based band with a unique style that blends rock, country and blues with a strong strain of their Mexican heritage. They put out a breakthrough album a couple of years ago with Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart. I call it a breakthrough album because it was the first one I heard of. (It's all about me, right?) Each song on the album is different. Flame On is a relatively hard rocker with a catchy hook. Zacatecas, about one of my favorite cities in Mexico, is more bluesy. The First Kiss Is Free is a little new age-y. The Liquor Dance is kind of tongue-in-cheek retro. Machete y Maiz is more Mexican-influenced. (I don't know enough about Mexican music to tell you what kind of music it is.) Et cetera.

Man, this is getting tougher by the minute. The more I listen to all three of these bands, the harder it is to decide.

[Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart]
Wednesday, April 12, 2006:

Magic Sam -- That's All I Need

Magic Sam -- That's All I Need
This song is a friend helping you carry your load, an umbrella for the rain, a board for tires stuck in mud. It's from Chicago bluesman Magic Sam's 1967 debut, West Side Soul--an awesome album I hadn't heard just a few weeks ago--a recording that's intense and original and sparking with life. The disc was recommended by someone who knew I liked Otis Rush and who thought I'd like Magic Sam, and I did, and I do.

The opening riff is a bit like "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man" and overall it's got a similar vibe--a soulful, melodic performance. The other tracks on the disc are grittier but no less impressive for it.

Magic Sam had a promising start to his career but died young--32, of a heart attack.
[ bio]
[BluesNotes bio]
[West Side Soul]


Monday, April 10, 2006:

Eddie Bo -- The Thang / Sissy Walk

Eddie Bo -- The Thang (Pt. 1)
Eddie Bo -- Sissy Walk
I ordered another Eddie Bo CD after liking the last one so much; this one (The Hook and Sling) is much funkier than the previous, which was more in line with early rock and R&B.

As I mentioned when I posted Eddie Bo before, I'd first found his music on DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's Brainfreeze, and then I spent some time trying to track down the samples. So far Bo's are the only ones I've been able to find.

Hook and Sling has another of them, surprisingly enough--I didn't see it on the list I found of samples used, but "The Thang (pt. 1)" was in the set, for good reason: it has this great "lost funk" vibe to it with the vocal delivery and the wah-wah on the guitar, and then the distortion in the solo.

Then "Sissy Walk," with its sax and guitar, sounds like it could have been a lost James Brown track. Eddie latches onto that groove and rides over the hill and into the sunset.
The Hook & Sling review @
[The Hook & Sling]


Sunday, April 09, 2006:

The Roots Canal (guest blog): Baseball Buddy

Buddy Johnson -- Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?
Last night was a night that will go down in history. My own personal history, that is.

I've been going to the ball park my whole life. You could say I'm a fan, but not a fanatic. I like going to games in different cities when I'm traveling. Last night, I watched the Red Sox beat the Orioles at Camden Yards in a 2-1 thriller. I got great tickets from a scalper on the third-base side of home plate. One of my favorite moments was watching Boston's exciting new leadoff hitter, Coco Crisp (can you believe his name!) get on base. He stole second on the first pitch, and on the very next pitch he tried to steal third -- but forgot to wait for the pitcher to actually throw the ball home. He was an easy out at third.

In any event, one of the great joys -- and frustrations -- of a ball game is trying to catch a foul ball. In all the years I've been going to ball games, I've never snagged a foul. I've hardly ever come close. But last night my streak of frustration came to an end. It wasn't the kind of dramatic bare-handed catch I've always dreamed about. In fact, it wasn't a catch at all. It was a bitter cold night and by the seventh inning there were lots of empty seats. Curt Schilling threw a fastball to Jay Gibbons who fouled it into my section. The ball came down in an empty row, and I scrambled over my daughter in time to get my hand on it just before the guy in the row behind me. It wasn't pretty, but who cares. A foul ball is a foul ball.

By the way, did I mention that Camden Yards has Guinness on tap? Great ball park.

In honor of this historic achievement, I'm posting a song by the great Buddy Johnson. Buddy was a big-band leader who made the switch to small-combo jump blues after the economics of jazz were changed by World War II. Etta Jones, who started her career with Buddy's band, recently put out a Buddy Johnson tribute album called My Buddy which is pretty good. eMusic subscribers can download it here, along with the Buddy Johnson originals here.

My favorite Buddy Johnson song is Fine Brown Frame, particularly the Lou Rawls version with Dianne Reeves. But Buddy's original is great, too, along with Nellie Lutcher's 1948 hit. I'll post that song another time. Today is a day to think about baseball.

Oh, yeah. Some country singer I've never heard of sang the national anthem a cappella. When he reached the words "Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave," the entire ballpark joined in on the word "Oh." Must be some kind of Baltimore tradition. But the Red Sox fans struck back in the 7th (there were at least as many Red Sox as Orioles fans) during Take Me Out to the Ball Game, when they outsang the home fans by singing "Root, root, root for the RED SOX."

Update: It turns out that Natalie Cole covered this song for the soundtrack of Ken Burns's documentary, Baseball: An American Epic. I don't have the record (or the song), but you can hear a short clip on allmusic.

Update 2: It also turns out that Coco Crisp broke his knuckle on that ridiculous attempt to steal third, and he'll be out for at least 10 days.

[Buddy Johnson -- Walk 'em: Decca Sessions]
Friday, April 07, 2006:

MC5 -- Motor City Is Burning

MC5 -- Motor City Is Burning
MC5 were a proto-punk band from Detroit, like The Stooges, and in fact both of them were signed to Elektra at the same time. Their first album, which this track is from, is loud, muscular, and devastating, like Conan the Barbarian with a bloody maul.

Towards the end of the disc they drop "Motor City is Burning," a electric blues jam workout with a locked-in groove and the occasional guitar touches reminiscent of Magic Sam or Otis Rush or, more recently, Jimi Hendrix. The song comes off as relatively chill in comparison with the tracks before it (but not so much in comparison with the original by John Lee Hooker), but the lyrics are pointed and political.

The song is about the Detroit Riots of 1967, started after a group of police arrived at a bar to arrest everyone, including the two veterans fresh from VietNam and the 80 other people celebrating with them. The police in Detroit were overwhelmingly white, "protecting and serving" a population that was overwhelmingly black, and the police force was known for its brutality. It's the kind of scene that couldn't end well, for reasons that should be obvious, yet for some reason authority doesn't seem to grok that people don't like being subjugated.

After the police left, smashed windows led to days of looting and impassioned ineffectual pleas for peace, which led to Lyndon Johnson deciding the police couldn't handle the situation and maybe the National Guard could. By the time it was over 43 people had died and hundreds were injured. If you've ever been in a riot, or if you've heard of Kent State, or if you've seen much of the WTO protest footage, it probably won't be any surprise that a study of the riots found that the police and National Guard quickly became as disorganized, personal, and random in their violence as the looters, even after civilian violence had died down (specifically, Bergesen's "Race Riots of 1967: An Analysis of Police Violence in Detroit and Newark." Useem's "The State and Collective Disorders: the Los Angeles Riot/Protest of April, 1992" shows more of the same.)
[12th Street Riot writeup @ wikipedia]
[Rutgers writeup in need of a bit of proofreading]
[Allmusic bio of MC5]
[MC5 -- Kick out the Jams]

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Thursday, April 06, 2006:

The Roots Canal (guest blog): Keb's Kids

the subdudes -- Papa Dukie & the Mud People
After that thread about Keb' Mo' in yesterday's post, I thought I'd put up this song by the subdudes, a contemporary New Orleans band whose new album was produced by Keb' Mo'. As a courtesy to the band, since this is their big single, I'm posting the live concert version they made available on their website. The album version is a lot tighter and better mixed, but the strength of the song comes through here, too.

"Papa Dukie & the Mud People" is about a band of hippies that showed up in the small Louisiana town where a couple of the band members grew up in the 60s. In the kind of culture clash that was common in those days, no one knew quite what to make of them. I'm not sure how to describe the subdudes' music. The album covers a lot of styles, from rootsy acoustic rock to funky dance music, all of it backed by a Cajun-style accordion that gives it a distinctive sound. Whatever it is, it's fun. They're playing at Jazzfest on Saturday afternoon, April 29th, and that night they're doing a double bill with their mentor, Keb' Mo', at the House of Blues.

I'm not sure what to make of this lower-case thing, either. If that's how they want to spell their name, fine. But why design their album cover in all capital letters?

[Behind the Levee]
Wednesday, April 05, 2006:

The Roots Canal (guest blog): Luther Kent

Luther Kent & Trick Bag -- Let's Straighten It Out
It's amazing to me that Luther Kent never became a bigger star. Man, can he sing the blues! He's been a fixture on the New Orleans scene for at least thirty years. In fact, he was the lead singer of Blood, Sweat & Tears for a while in the mid-70s but never cut a record with them because of a contract dispute with another label.

I first heard Luther Kent on my only other trip to Jazzfest, back in 1997. My friend Talo, who grew up outside New Orleans, told me not to miss this New Orleans legend. I wasn't disappointed. This big bear of a man came on stage and belted out the blues like no one else. He's really in a league with the great blues shouters of the '40s and '50s like Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown and the rest. I can't think of anyone else singing today I'd say that about.

And the band! Trick Bag was put together by Charlie Brent. It's got a horn section not to be believed. They barely fit on a stage. Of course, it takes a big sound to stand up to a big voice like Luther's.

I'm thrilled that Luther and Trick Bag will be back at Jazzfest on the weekend I'll be there. It's one of the reasons I chose that weekend (along with Bob Dylan, Dr. John, the Meters, Keb Mo, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, et al.) I can't wait to see him again!

[Luther Kent & Trick Bag Live]
Monday, April 03, 2006:

Holopaw, skullduggery, and espionage

Holopaw --Hula-La
Holopaw -- Velveteen (All Is Bright.)
mp3blogging is a cut-throat business. We like to pretend we're all affable and laissez-faire, but it's a carefully-projected facade, the manners of a diplomat who knows that all their country's best spies are out and about blackmailing stubborn officials and arranging tragic accidents.

Just last week, while the Said the Gramophone crew was at a concert, I was black-suited and night-visioned, rappeling down from the roof to Jordan's 15th-story apartment to pick the lock on his window and steal his next post. His safe was a challenge--I had the combination but didn't expect the fingerprint verification--but what particularly surprised me was the single paper inside.

"231612 3435031623 0834330739 362804 142318061824 34370812 261303 34203535 0637232613083936 280437 36162318 24342614," it said.
"What the hell," I said.

Outside he was staggering up the stairs drunk, far too soon. All I scored was a couple of Holopaw CDs off his desk.

On the plane, I found a post-it note tucked inside: posted June 29, 2005. Do try again.

P.S. You left your balcony door unlocked.

Holopaw are from Gainesville, Florida, and did not approve this post.
[Holopaw's official site]
[Quit +/- Or Fight]

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Sunday, April 02, 2006:

The Roots Canal (guest blog): Goin' Back to New Orleans

Dr. John -- Goin' Back to New Orleans
Joe Liggins -- Goin' Back to New Orleans
Since I'm heading off to New Orleans for the Jazz & Heritage Festival at the end of April, I guess I'll make this New Orleans Month at The Roots Canal. I'll be down at Jazzfest for the first weekend which has an unbelievable lineup: Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Keb Mo, Luther Kent & Trick Bag, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews Band, Etta James, the Meters, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Allen Toussaint with Elvis Costello, the subdudes, the Iguanas and Dave Bartholomew, along with dozens more local bands. You couldn't ask for much more, short of Professor Longhair coming back to life for an encore of Tipitina.

We might as well kick off New Orleans Month with my all-time favorite Dr. John song, Goin' Back to New Orleans, along with the original jump blues version. The Night Tripper is joined on this one by the Neville Brothers on harmony and Al Hirt and Charles Neville on horns. It's the culmination of a great album of the same name that surveys the entire history of New Orleans music from Congo Square to, well, Dr. John. If you don't know this song, you're really missing something.

The original was by Joe Liggins, one of the biggest stars of the 1940s. I've read that Joe's 1945 hit The Honeydripper was the biggest selling record of the entire decade. After that, he called his band "Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers." Goin' Back to New Orleans came out in 1950 and was pretty much forgotten for the next four decades. It's a terrific jump blues, apart from a goofy bridge that Dr. John wisely omitted in his 1992 cover. In a way, Liggins himself was a bridge between the swing era and the early rock'n'roll era that began in 1948, with what allmusic calls a "polite" jump style that sounds a lot more like jazz than rock'n'roll. His kid brother Jimmy hit it big a few years later with a harder-edged, more rock'n'roll-like style of R&B. (If you're an eMusic subscriber, you can download two great collections of Joe's work here and two of Jimmy's here.)

[Goin' Back to New Orleans]
[The Shuffle Boogie King]

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Since I'm supposed to be posting about roots music, I couldn't resist linking to this story. You can't get much more "roots" than The Singing Neanderthals, a new book from Harvard University Press.