Monday, December 24, 2007

and a...

...very Merry Christmas to all!

"for unto us is born this day a child who is Christ the Lord..."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lucky Peterson...

So they tell me I missed a great show when I didn't go to see Lucky Peterson at the Slye Fox last week.
Dave said this, "Great night, if not a little loud. He was tired but put on a hell of a show. That's my beer he drank..."
And Rich (sitting at the next table) said, "I'm sorry you couldn't make it out, you missed an amazing show. Lucky was having a blast and it showed. For the second set he was joined on stage by a local 14yr prodigy guitar player who blew everyone's minds. Good time had by all."
This is likely the same kid who sizzled on Buddy Guy's axe when I saw him at Hamilton Place.
Where do these kids get the chops?
Practice, practice, practice!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Good morning, faithful reader[s]!
Howdy to Lester.
The newest RYLANDER went out today in the mail. It's the Mavis Staples issue. While I was in Toronto last week I bought the album she did with Lucky Peterson. A tribute to Mahalia Jackson it features Lucky on either piano or organ and Mavis singing spirituals and/or gospel songs. It may not be for everyone but it's a good collection.
Lucky Peterson himself was in town last night, but I missed him. Haven't heard any reports back but a couple of my amigos were there.
The new Levon Helm CD (Dirt Farmer) is earthy and raw, with Levon sounding almost as good as ever, and Larry Campbell playing guitar. The version of Steve Earle's "The Mountain" sounds very Band-like! Amy Helm's backing vocals throughout are lovely.
I found a copy of Yusuf's Cafe Session on DVD, and (although I haven't watched the whole thing) it's a beautifully shot intimate concert of Cat Stevens' favourites and some newer material. Yusuf sounds reinvigorated, and I love his guitar!
It's been very cold here in Ryland the last few days. We had some snow, then rain, then cold, and fortunately the plows got the sewers cleared in time for the freeze or else we'd have been skating down the road.
See you soon!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas shopping...

Picked up the new 3-DVD set The McCartney Years, which features all Macca's videos for 30 years of singles, plus some live material drawn from out-of-print videos. For the Macca-fan it's a goldmine. For anyone who doesn't care about the ex-Beatle it's a waste of money and time. So you have to decide which camp you fall into and then decide if the $30 price tag is worth it. I like having this material, but music videos wear out quickly. And Sir Paul has a look about him that is increasingly growing tiresome. He's too old to have that gormless smirk on his face, and his eyebrows (which form the front cover design) are taking on a life of their own. He's just so precious...there, I've said it. That said...he remains one of the world's greatest melody writers!
Better viewing appears on Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival. Two discs boasting some amazing guitar pyrotechnics. Doyle Bramhall, John Mayer (great guitar, vocal mannerisms annoying), Vince Gill, Robbie Robertson (sizzling on "Who Do You Love"), Albert Lee (can anybody play that fast...and accurately?), Sheryl Crow, Bill Murray (playing "Gloria"!) and more. Not a dull minute. And at a dandy price!
We're just mourning the passing of another national record store. Remember when they were called that? Music World is closing its doors, following Sam the Record Man into the history books. Where am I going to shop when I get to Toronto now? HMV I guess!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Here it is in the 2nd half of November. The Grey Cup is only a week away. Winnipeg & Saskatchewan? Hmmm. We've seen the first of the snow, but certainly not the last of it! Took a trip up to St.Jacob's on the weekend, bought another hand-made broom (you can't beat 'em!). Went to see the Steve Strongman Band a week or so ago. Excellent show. Sure he looks like the guy from ScoobyDoo but man he makes that guitar smoke!
New music from Ray Davies! They were giving the new CD (Working Man's Cafe) away with the newspaper over 'ome, and a friend sent me one. Good stuff. I remember seeing the Kinks one night at Maple Leaf Gardens Concert Bowl. We had seats up in the greys! So everything was way small! Except the volume! Rockin'!
Then last week the Beatles' second movie HELP! was issued on DVD. The sales clerk at Future Shop said, "What's that?" I said, "It's the Beatles' 2nd movie." "Oh, I didn't know the Beatles made movies." Well...I took it home and watched the documentaries, because I knew what would happen if I watched the feature! And sure enough...after about a hlaf hour I dozed off, woke up in time to catch the exciting conclusion,'s no A Hard Day's Night that's for sure.
James Taylor released a CD/DVD package on Starbuck's Hear-Music label (like Joni Mitchell and Paul McCartney). It's called One Man Band and features stripped down versions of his classic tunes. The movie is watchable, kind of fun, with James's folksy ways, and his odd sense of humour. As always...great playing.
I bought a copy of Bernie Leadon's most recent album. Mirror comes in two editions, regular, and limited. I bought the limited, signed edition. Bernie was an Eagle way back when, but here he sounds almost Nick Lowe-ish. Good guitar playing, some intriguing songs and vocals from Emmylou Harris. Ken Whiteley's One World Dance is a dandy collection of blues and folk. Led Zeppelin's 2 disc best of is called Mothership, and is all the Zep anybody really needs. The Bob Dylan film footage from three Newport Folk Festivals has been edited together to make a fascinating study of the early Bob from shy folksinger to radical rocker. Don't miss the Other Side of the Mirror.
I just re-read the first Rebus novel by Ian Rankin. Knots & Crosses has been re-issued in an anniversary edition, and it's a cracking good tale, but long time Rebus fans will notice how much our lad has changed from then to now. Well, haven't we all!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


The Eagles. It's called Long Road Out of Eden, and comes in a cardboard sleeve, not unlike a double vinyl package. Two CDs and a lyric booklet (which is seriously hard to read). Why do people print song lyrics in long square formats with designs as line breaks? Why do they do it? reduces the carbon footprint by using less paper (I guess) but what's the point? Who's going to take the time to read these lyrics? They're not numbered, so you're listening to the album and you think, "Hmmm, what was that line?" then you have to check the CD player for what number the track is, look on the back cover for the title that goes with that number, then look in the booklet for the correct lyric. You can't just say, "it's the 2nd verse" because the lyrics are printed in this full page block! So...what's the point? And...obviously, Henley and Frey want us to read the lyrics because they've made so many political comments.
Why is this CD only available at WalMart? You know, when WalMart came to Canada, they used a lot of leverage to stop other department stores from being built in the neighborhood, they paid their employees low wages, etc. You've heard it all before.
Ah well...back to the album. The photos are all from out of Eden...deserts, dunes, clear cut logs, and the four Eagles. The songs? Well, they sound just like the Eagles. It's been 28 years or so since the last time they put out an album...but all the solo stuff and changes in the music world over those three decades have had no impact on the Eagles at all. In fact, it sounds like a Greatest Hits album...with songs you don't quite remember. So...I guess the point is...if you liked 'em'll like 'em now. And $10.88 for a double CD is pretty good...even if you have to go to WalMart to buy it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

where've you been?

I've been right here...but busy. Sorry for the delay in getting back to blogging. Sure, it seems simple, every day you just write down what's been happening...but did you ever stop to think...if something's're too busy to write about it!
Anyway...I'm listening to Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II right now. "Ordinary People" is the track, and Neil is jamming the beejeebers out of that note again! Nu-nu-nu-nu,nu,nu,nu-nu-nu-nuuuuuu!!! Gotta love that. Just received my free copy of Ray Davies' Working Man's Cafe, which was given away in the Sunday Times last weekend. My friend and fellow Rylander Jerry managed to score me a copy. (Thanks Jerry) It's a good album, ten songs by the former Kink, which show that Ray still has what it takes and we've always loved his voice (admit it!) The recent DYLAN box is a decent collection, especially for people who want to start a Dylan collection. Not one rare or unreleased track (ok, "Blind Willie McTell" might rate as hard tofind...but it's been available on an official Dylan album before this) but altogether a satisfying bunch of Bob's songs. And I got the special deluxe box (for a great price at Indigo!). Whether or not these are actually Bob's greatest songs...well...that's not for me to say. Many of his best songs are included.
Reading Paul Myers' It Ain't Easy, the biography of Long John Baldry. And it's a good read. Baldry was one of those guys whose music was pretty much in the background but his impact on the scene was more through the success of band members like Rod Stewart & Elton John. Nevertheless...he made some enjoyable records, and...he lived in Dundas for a while, just up the road. Last time I saw him...he opened for the Beach Boys, and sang a duet with Kathi MacDonald.
Clapton's autobiography is a bit like a chat with an old friend. Quite a pleasant way to hear about drug and alcohol abuse. Patti Boyd's book covers much of the same ground. The most unpleasant biography I've read recently is Billy Joel by Mark Bego. I'm really not sure how Mark Bego gets these book deals, the guy can hardly put together a coherent sentence. And Billy Joel comes across like a complete jerk.
The Eagles new CD comes out today, only at Walmart. An exclusive deal! They said on the radio that it's because Walmart impressed Henley and Frey with their devotion to "leaving a smaller carbon footprint"...uh-huh! No comment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


There has been a flurry of posts on the Rylander Discussion Group because British TV was showing the Ry Cooder session on Old Grey Whistle Test. This show was taped in 1977, and features the Chicken Skin Band. They are pretty hot as they work their way through "Tattler," "Dark End of the Street," Jesus On the Mainline," "Do-Re-Mi," "Goodnight Irene," "He'll Have To Go," and "Smack Dab In the Middle." Awesome. I was able to get a DVD copy of this show in a trade I made with an English collector a couple of years back. Also there is a second DVD, called Ry Cooder on the BBC-TV. It seems to be an episode of Later On with Jools Holland and includes two tracks from the OGWT show of '77 ("Smack Dab..." & ""He'll Have To Go"), 2 from an OGWT in 1973 ("Vigilante Man" & "Goin' to Brownsville"), 2 from OGWT in 1982 ("How Can a Poor Man..." & "The Very Thing That Makes You Rich") and 2 from The Late Show in 1990 (Little Village's "Fool Who Knows" and "Rattlin' King Snake" with John Lee Hooker). It even includes all the ads, which make for really entertaining viewing!
Quality is good. We started a trading pyramid on the Rylander Discussion Group for interested traders.
Other DVDs I have include the Pahinui Brothers show, taken from a VHS-tape from Hawaii (includes a cool documentary about Gabby), the Chavez Ravine film, Ry on Rockpalast, and Les Blanc's extraordinary documentary of Ry's Moula Banda at the Catalyst.
I hear rumours that David Lindley has a DVD forthcoming. That'll be a goodun! Maybe Ry will finally release an official DVD one of these days...until he's boots for me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

first posting of October...

Good morning!
It feels like autumn today.
There's another batch of new CDs and I bought a few of 'em.
The new Springsteen, Magic, is packaged in a mini LP gatefold cover, very attractive. First recording with the E Street Band since The Rising, and more lively than that one. On first listen I'd have to say that Bruce picked up some tips from the Seeger Sessions. "Radio Nowhere" sounds like a classic.
JJ Cale's Rewind is a selection of archival recordings from the early days. Excellent album, and no surprises. The Shelter years established JJ's sound and as one might expect these are lazy grooves with Cale's mellow mumble, and nifty guitar picking. I can't get enough of this guy. New or's JJ Cale!
The Very Best of Mick Jagger does a good job of finding the one or two good songs from his non-Stones output. There were always a couple of gooduns on his albums, and for the most part...he (and Atlantic/Rhino) has made the same choices I would've. "Memo From Turner", ""Don't Look Back" (with Peter Tosh), "Just Another Night" and the duet with Bowie on "Dancing In The Streets" are all here, as well as the unreleased (John Lennon produced) "Too Many Cooks". A good collection, but look for the deluxe edition with the DVD...I couldn't find it!
Have a good Canadian Thanksgiving, and look for the new autobiography by Eric Clapton next Tuesday.
Oh, and the new Steve Earle washington square serenade, is getting a lot of play around here.
For Beatles fans. While you're waiting for the release of HELP! on DVD (Nov.6), and The McCartney Years (3 DVDs on Nov.13) check out this web site for a delightful cartoon history of Beatlemania!
There are two more print Rylanders in the can, so if you're a subscriber look for mailings later this month, and again just before Christmas.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New CDs...

We must be gearing up for Christmas! There have been some really interesting releases in the last couple of weeks (and next Tuesday holds quite a bit of promise). Mark Knopfler's kill to get crimson arrived last week. It's a fairly subdued album featuring some intriguing lyrics and music that's beautifully played and recorded if a bit soporific. Of course, if you're REALLY having trouble getting to sleep, try the new Raul Malo! Zzzzzz!
Joni Mitchell was just inducted into the Canadian Songwriters' Hall of Fame (last night on CBC) and her new CD arrived (at Starbucks) the same day! I downloaded it (all legal-like) from eMusic, and I'm glad I did. Saved some dough! It's dull, samey, and precise. Again...a beautiful
sonic sheen covering up...a tired Joni. Shine is not Blue, whatever they tell you. And who needs another version of "Big Yellow Taxi"?
Goin' Home is a double CD sub-titled a Tribute to Fats Domino. Now here's a guy who deserves a tribute. The recent biography Blue Monday gave me a new appreciation for Antoine. And his recent album Alive and Kicking rocks like crazy! This one spreads new versions of Fats's tunes across 2 CDs and features people like Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, Taj Mahal, BB King, Robbie Robertson, and a bunch of Crescent City denizens too! I like it!
I also enjoyed the new Steve Earle disc washington square serenade. It's rootsy, and acoustic, lots of guitars, and mandolins and Steve's rugged vocals.
A new DVD came along too, The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show. This is just some of the musical guests, hand-picked by Johnny for his 1969-71 variety show. I recall watching many of these when I was a mere boy! I specifically remember Bob Dylan's appearance. The version included here seems far grainier than the rest, and looks as though it comes from a different source. My complaint with this set is that in the opening scenes they show artists who don't appear in the programme. They show James Taylor a couple of times, for instance, but his efforts are not included.
The David Gilmour concert DVD is still getting lots of play at home! Called Remember That Night it certainly helps this viewer remember the night at Massey Hall in Toronto. And the bonus footage is quite interesting too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New Rylander (in print)

I got down to work and finished off the two Rylanders that had been residing on my computer for the past few months, and have (as off today) mailed them off to subscribers. I also have two more issues almost in the next month or so I will have caught up! Whew!
I apologize for the delay. My office was moved and already printed issue were lost in the confusion, computer files were misnamed, you know the drill! So now it's back to normal...well...what's normal?
A setting on a clothes dryer!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Strat Masters

After a couple of days in the nation's capitol I returned to find a package I had been waiting for. A 2-DVD set entitled Strat Masters which is called the Definitive History of the World's Most Famous Guitar. It's an excellent documentary showing the development of this iconic axe, and the programme is filled with interviews with famous players. Jeff Beck, Chris Rea, Robert Cray, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and even Ryland Peter Cooder. Ry looks ever so comfy in his studio, Strat on his lap, as he chats about this essential tool-of-the trade. The DVD is PAL format only, but all regions so you can watch it on your computer...or...lookup the appropriate 'hack code' and adjust your DVD player to accept PAL discs!
Ordered a copy of Uncommon Sound, which they're mailing out to me today...can't wait! We lefties need to stick together!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hey...where've I been?

Been absent for a while! Wow, I didn't realize it had been so long. I know everyone out there in blog-land is just waiting on my next posting with bated breath. Especially Lester Bilbo! The newest issue of Fretboard Journal just came out, and again they've shown that they are the best guitar magazine out there! Earl Scruggs on the cover. Awesome. And a review of what looks like a MUST-have book for southpaw pickers like me! Uncommon Sound! 2 big deluxe volumes, lotsof pictures, and all the left-handed guitar players you can name! Well, except for yours truly...but when I sign my name in the front of my own copy...I'll stick a snapshot of myself playing between the pages!
I'm off to a board meeting in Ottawa for the rest of the week, so won't be posting.
New music? I recorded a couple of my own songs at 3 Flamingos Studio in Brantford. Picked up a copy of Eliza Gilkyson's live CD (excellent) and Lyle Lovett's It's Not Big It's Large (I think he means his band!) . Also Ben Harper's new one, (yawn). But I'm waiting for next Tuesday and Mark Knopfler's new CD! And David Gilmour's live DVD. And the Johnny Cash TV show set. It's always something, and me trying to save the money for that book of left-handed guitar players. It's $300!
Anybody want to take up a collection?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The story of Blondie's autograph...

I wrote what we call an "omni" review of Blondie Chaplin's recorded ouevre for Green Man Review a few years ago. It's been one of my most popular reviews,'s one of the few things on the internet to deal with Blondie's career. Oh, he now has his own MySpace site, and even his own web site, if you look hard enough. But for a long time you Googled "Blondie Chaplin" and you got my GMR article. It even led to Blondie himself phoning me at the office. Of course, I was on vacation at the time and missed the call...we never did connect...although I have spoken with Keith Lentin and Rob Fraboni and I've been put in touch with the people who are planning to distribute Blondie's great unreleased classic Fragile Thread. They tell me it's still coming!
Anyway...Blondie was on tour with the Rolling Stones, providing backing vocals and playing some guitar, and an internet pal printed off my review and had Blondie sign it after a Stones show a couple of months back. There it to the left. To Blondie and to Gwen...thanks!

what next?

It seems that the standard nowadays is the deluxe package with a 20-30 minute DVD included along with the CD. I must admit that I find this to be good value. For an extra $2 or so, you get some really nice collectible material. Of course, it can be overdone...see the case of Bruce Springsteen who released a regular edition of the Seeger Sessions, a DualDisc edition and then a few months later put out the American Land edition which featured a couple more bonus tracks, extended video on the DVD, and cost a lot more! How many times do they expect people to buy this stuff? Of course...then the Boss did the whole thing live and released a double CD, or a DVD, or a double CD+DVD edition of the Live Seeger Sessions! Whew! And in the meantime...he worked on a new album of original material due for release in October. I think I'll hang on til I see the premium edition for a good price!
I bought the new Lyle Lovett (with DVD) and it's great value! $17 for a half hour's worth of video material + a dandy collection of new songs! Excellent. Ben Harper's new one is called Lifeline and it comes in a reasonably priced box set too. A live DVD of all the songs from the CD, played in the same order. And a book of photos from the sessions. All for around $20. Trouble is...Ben is just so darn dull these days. As he expanded his band...he stopped doing what I liked best about him...playing the Weissenborn. It features only on the final two tracks. And those two tracks are my faves...but the synthetic R&B/gospel stuff that people seem to love about Ben just pales in comparison to the real stuff that I much prefer. Give me the Staple Singers, or the new Vee-Jay anthology, or any number of old Marvin Gaye albums.
Opinionated? Moi?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday, August 22nd...

Finishing off some vacation time, by hanging around the house...playing the guitar...watching some DVDs (Wild Hogs was a bit of a laugh) out the know the drill. I picked up the Popeye DVD set which FINALLY has the early B&W Popeye cartoons that I grew up loving, along with some wonderful documentaries and extra bonuses. And, NO I'm not old enough to remember these cartoons from their first release...but the I Yam Wot I Yam doc tells about how they were Popeye's popularity was rejuvenated in the mid-50s with the playing of these great 'toons on TV, with local hosts (like Big Al, or Captain Andy, f'rinstance). I had previously bought some poor transfers of Popeye cartoons on DVDs from Walmart, for about $1 each. The quality on this new set is extraordinary. It also features the long-form Sindbad and Ali Baba films in glorious technicolor! Beautiful!
Read The Rabbit Factory (a detective story about a Disney competitor plagued by a serial killer) which was an entertaining read! And now moved on to Michael Palin's Diaries 1969-1979 which are subtitled the Python Years and provide an intimate look at the creation of Monty Python's Flying Circus. As expected Palin is a charming and gentle writer, quite erudite, witty and opinionated.
Trying to get into Crowded House, which my friend Rick tells me is a great band, but apart from a song here and there...I don't get. I managed to find an interesting DVD in the deleted bin at Zellers. The Acoustic YES. Now I never thought of them as having much of a sense of humour, but they do "Tiger Rag" for their sound check. This is well worth the $4.94 I paid for it. If they'd had more than one copy I'd've bought them for Christmas presents for my brothers! I guess they'll have to be happy with what I brought them from NYC! Don't tell them though!
One last DVD recommendation...Les Paul Chasing Sound. I saw this on PBS last month, and it was highly informative and fun to watch. Okay, Les has a massive ego...but after all he did...he deserves it! Some dandy bonus footage too! From the Iridium Jazz Club in NYC, where he plays every Monday night.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

the latest fascinating news...

So we're back from the great north woods, where we visited our friends Don & Pat. On the way we stopped at the new Tim Horton's in Bracebridge where I met Mike O and bought his Pignose amp. I took my 335 with me to test it out, and man...this little thing has a lot of sound. Especially if you want distortion, but played with the volume down you can achieve some nice pure tones. Well worth the money, and (after all) I've wanted one since the very first time I saw it advertised in a magazine...WAY WAY BACK!
Bought the new Crowded House CD, which has some nice tunes on it, and the John Lennon covers album for Darfur. If some of the money goes to helping those folks in Darfur, then I'm all for it. Read Dave Eggers' What Is The What for a taste of what is going on over there! Horrifying!
I'm still enjoying Paul Wellers' Hit Parade CD, and finished reading the new biography of Joe Strummer (another guy I've really begun to appreciate.) My son (and his girlfriend) gave me a gift card for Chapters which I spent on the new Bob Marley book about Exodus (which includes a CD of the album) and this is an excellent look at the creation of this classic album.
Thanks to Gwen for sending Blondie Chaplin's autograph! I appreciate it! Love that guy. When is Fragile Thread coming out?
Look for RPC on the cover of the fall edition of Sing Out! which should be coming any day now!

Monday, August 6, 2007

cd player update...

So, the next morning, I turn the car on, and out pops my CDs! As easy as that. Now it's loading and unloading, and playing, and random selecting, and all the other functions just great. I think I must have rushed pushing the 'load' button, while it still said 'wait'...anyway...I won't do that again.
I'm not sure if anyone out there reads Vanity Fair, but there's a dandy interview with Sly Stone in the new issue! With some recent pictures too! And he doesn't have that weird white mohawk he sported when he did the Grammies!
After 2 weeks of vacation I'm back to work tomorrow, and then I'll work on the budget update, and prepare for another couple weeks off. I am buying a Pignose amp from a guy in Bracebridge. He bought 2, for some reason. So, I'll meet him at a coffee shop on my way to the cottage. Make the exchange, my money for his amp. I'll take a handful of AA batteries with me and then I can plug in my 335 on the dock, as I'm relaxing in the sun! Aah! All mod cons!
Time to go, gotta vacuum the know the drill.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

cd player in car...

OK. Does anybody out there have recommendations for a jammed CD player? It's a 6-disc premium player, but has twice now jammed with CDs in it (the 2nd time just this morning). So now my Jimmy Rogers All-Stars Blues Blues Blues CD and Richard Thompson's Sweet Warrior are trapped in that netherworld of @#$%ed-up technology! I didn't get to load Joe Strummer or Paul Weller...but all I could listen to on the way to the market was 1150 CKOC! Yikes. (To be honest, fiddling with the FM dial was too distracting).
I'm thinking that, maybe if I pull the fuse, the logic might reset itself when I re-install it!?!?
Worked fine yesterday on the road trip to St. Jacobs, we listened to Taj Mahal, Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham, Eric Clapton, and more.
I bought a beat up old copy of Their Satanic Majesties Request just for the lenticular cover. It was only $10, because you can use the vinyl for a peanut dish! But the picture is in good shape. This is an album that's always been on my Guilty Pleasures list. It doesn't really work, that's true, but I can't help but like some of the tunes. Why don't we sing this song together? That's a darn good question.
I read Song Man by Will Hodgkinson and it was every bit as entertaining as Guitar Man was. I highly recommend both, to anyone with a sense of humour about the music business. And...if you look on MySpace (for Double Fantasy) you'll find the songs Will and his "band" you an extra feel for the story. Great stuff.
Only a week til my birthday! Keep those cards and letters comin'!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

back from NYC...

Well, we had a great time in the Big Apple. David Hyde Pierce was hilarious in Curtains. We had good seats, since we ordered them early in the run, before he had won the Tony Award. Our hotel was close to all the action of Times Square, easy to walk to Virgin Records, or Manny's, Sam Ash, Rudy's, the Iridium Jazz Club, etc. Les Paul played Monday night at the Iridium, but they were sold out well in we didn't get in. Can't say that the people at the club are very friendly though. The Jazz/dinner cruise was excellent, with food that was tasty, music that was rockin' jazzy, and the biggest Black Russians ever! Mmmm.
Bought the new Stephen Stills CD, which is really his first recordings, done after a Judy Collins date, when he "peeled off a couple of hundreds..." and used the engineer's time to record a demo. Some classic tunes that Stills recorded again later. I picked up the Johnny Rivers' anthology too, since it was never released in the Great White North. Good stuff. And a few DVDs, including the Best of Hootenanny which features B&W footage from the old Hootenanny TV show, back in the early 60s. For a folkin' good time, check it out.
Also picked up Randy Newman Live at the Odeon, with special guests Linda Ronstadt and Ry Cooder. Had previously only seen this on a grainy VHS copy. Beautiful show.
And...Paul Weller's hit parade (2xDVD set) showed me that I had missed some seriously good music by ignoring this guy's career. Well, it's not too late to jump on the bandwagon.

Friday, July 20, 2007

wot? another John Phillips album?

In the summer of 1970 I was working at Eatons, in the Hardware Dept. Before going back to school, my chum Les and I decided to take a trip to New York City. We stayed at my Aunt Marge's house in Brooklyn. Every morning we would take the subway into Manhattan and spend a LONG day touring a different part of the city. We hit the MoMA (where we saw Picasso's "Guernica") , the Guggenheim, and a couple other museums, we wandered through Central Park where we were accosted by a semi-naked jogger. We were offered sex by a prostitute on 42nd Street, dope by a dealer in the Village, and were sent on a wild goose chase blocks out of our way by a doorman when we asked for directions to the subway. Ah...what a holiday. But we also went to see John Phillips at the Bitter End, in what was to be one of his only live solo shows ever. Heroin took control of his life, and he vanished from the music business. Well the last few years saw the release of his final album called Phillips 66 and the long awaited release of the lost Pay Pack and Follow album (recorded with Mick and Keef!). Then last year Varese Sarabande put out his classic Wolf King of LA on CD, with bonus tracks. And now they have issued Jack of Diamonds, a different take on his 2nd album. It sounds more like Wolf King than Pay Pack...and features many of the same California session guys who played on the Mamas & the Papas (and on Wolf King). There are a couple of duplicated (but very different) tracks, but this is a darn good album. Wolf King has been a favourite of mine since I bought it (and I recall, they did a fine job performing it live at the Bitter End that night long ago.) I should say that The Chapins opened the show that night. They were good too, although they left us no recorded proof. I watched Papa John's hands as he played, and have always said, "Hey, Papa John taught me how to play the opening to "California Dreaming" one night in NYC!"'s true, sort of.
Here we are a couple of days before I head back to Manhattan for a vacation. This time it's a Broadway show, a jazz/dinner cruise, and maybe, just maybe...a night at the Iridium to see Les Paul. I'll let you know.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I posted something yesterday and it took a few hours before it showed up...but there it is...a quick review of Steve Strngman and Watermelon Slim...
Just finished reading Mark Bego's biography of Billy Joel. Billy Joel sounds like a bit of a jerk. But then Bego holds him in such high regard he can't seem to make the logical jump to say, "Billy Joel is a jerk!" He has spoken to the ex-band members, especially Liberty DeVitto who really has an axe to grind. There's lots of dirt on the boss, and as a reader you can't help but think...why does he say that stuff (Joel, that is) and do the things he does. In the meantime, you're humming his songs to yourself as they are discussed, and you can't help but be drawn back to the records in only just to remind yourself what they sounded like. Bego is not a particularly good writer, and there are a ton of typos throughout the book. My favourite is when he calls Senator Joe McCarthy...Joe McCartney!
Next up...Chris Salewicz's bio of Joe Strummer. I'll take it with me to NYC. I can read a page a night just before I drop off to sleep.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

latest news...

Wow! It's been over a week since I wrote, but it's been busy. Getting ready for vacation can toake lots of time. Last night I went to see Watermelon Slim and the Workers at a local club. Great show, but LOUD! Man, that Slim attacks the mouth harps with so much energy (to say nothing of O2) and he tends to go for the highest notes possible. He has fantastic breath control, and manages to make the little reeds sound like saxophones or trombones. His renditions of Muddy Waters' classics were fine, rocking examples of what you can do with new interpretations. The Workers provided solid support, especially the drummer, who put on a real show! Slim's work on the slide guitar was also worthy of note. It was just...too loud. Of course, we were sitting right next to the speaker!
Opening the show was local blues hero Steve Strongman and his band (supplemented by keyboard wizard Jesse O'Brien) who put on a dandy show themselves. The volume was a bit more controlled, not so many screeching highs! Both Slim and Steve have new CDs to pitch, and they are well worth looking into.
Finally bought my MP3 player...a ZEN V Plus, 4GB. Lots of room, bright screen, easy to use, good sound...and the price was right. OK I don't get the snazzy white earplugs...but black goes with everything!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Penguin Eggs review...

Penguin Eggs is a Canadian magazine, featuring articles, interviews and reviews dealing with every sort of "folk" music you can imagine. In fact the top banner lists it as "Canada's folk, roots and world music magazine." That about captures it. The summer 2007 issue is out, and has Mavis Staples on the cover. Also listed are Joe Boyd, Martin Carthy, Watermelon Slim, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and David Essig...and the opportunity to "win Maria Muldaur CDs and John Prine t-shirts." I already entered the contest, although I've never won anything from them yet!
The Mavis interview is newsy. Some new pictures. Then there's the following review of My Name is Buddy by Roddy Campbell:
Consider this the audio equivalent of George Orwell's Animal Farm. Ostensibly packaged as a children's tale, complete with hardcover binding, it tells of the Great Depression-era adventures of Buddy Red Cat, Lefty Mouse and the Reverend Tom Toad. But pay attention to the graphic for the first track--a pencil drawing of Karl Marx's Das Kapital. Beside it rests a button that reads "Free Mooney". While it's not specified, Tom Mooney was a socialist and a labour and anti-war activist wrongly jailed for murder in 1916. He spent 23 years in prison before being pardoned in 1939.
The lyrics are just as subtle and poignant. Cooder has, essentially, wrapped My Name is Buddy in tales of 'labour, big bosses, farm failures, strikes, company cops...the America of yesteryear' in defiant, if sometimes blunt, allegory.
As a wiser man than me once said, 'the past didn't go anywhere.' And many of these issues--homelessness, failing family farms and rascism--are still relevant today. The bold title track even propagates environmental challenges.
Oddly enough, though, this record has gone right over the heads of many critics, who found it frivolous due to the main characters being animals. But, you'll recall, Cooder was prosecuted and fines $25,000 by the Bush administration for recording the Buena Vista Social Club in Cuba. Progressive political commentary in today's radically conservative America simply attracts frenzied commentary from the powerful, reactionary, right-wing media. Just ask the Dixie Chicks or Michael Moore.
Backed by the likes of Pete and Mike Seeger, Bobby King and Terry Evans, Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains and Flaco Jimenez, Cooder delves into the real roots of Americana as he revisits the acoustic musical legacy left by the likes of Woody Guthrie, the Carter Family, Hank Williams, the Staple Singers, Bukka White, Billie Holiday, Snooks Eaglin...indeed, Eaglin's "One Scoth, One Bourbon, One Beer" provides the dark inspiration for the electoral fraud perpetrated on "One Cat, One Vote, One Beer." "Three Chords and the Truth" sings the praises of labour and civil rights activists Joe Hill, Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger. "They took Pete Seeger before the law and put him on the witness stand / but he stood right up to tyranny with just a banjo in his hand." Stirring stuff. All told My Name is Buddy is a beam of bright light in these darkest of political days.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Rolling Stone magazine...

The new issue of Rolling Stone is the second of a series of three celebrating RS's 40th anniversary! Wow! 40 years. I remember buying the third issue, way back...well...40 years ago. Porteous's Drug Store on the corner of Cannon and Ottawa Streets, had a small magazine rack at the back. There was this raggedy looking newspaper with the flowing lettering across the top Rolling Stone. Just the name held so much promise. Was it named after the band? Or was it, like the band, named after the Muddy Waters' song? Or maybe it was promising to "gather no moss" as it printed "all the news that fits." How many of the early readers got the little NYTimes reference?
I read RS fairly regularly, or as regularly as Porteous Drug Store supplied it...and over the years the newspaper turned into other formats, developed staples, colour pictures, slick paper, new flowing, then not flowing, then flowing, then not flowing lettering. Sometimes the new logo design would not last any longer than the latest Top Ten singles! The politics got in the way sometimes, sometimes the editorial staff got in the way. Often newer glossier magazines with a new way of grabbing our attention came along and distracted us from what RS was doing. Sometimes they were just their own worst enemy. But on and on they went introducing writers like Richard Brautigan, Dave Marsh, Lester Bangs, Hunter Thompson, Greil Marcus and photographers like the great Annie Leibovitz to us. We never really gave up on RS. I subscribed for a couple of years. Stopped when my wife was throwing out the magazines before I had a chance to even read them. (OK it only happened once...but I still remember it!)
Nowadays Mojo has more of interest musically, Fretboard Journal guarantees keeping my interest throughout all its pages, but I always check the new RS. I look at the reviews, I get the e-mail subscription service with highlights, and I will buy the new issue about once in three or four. That's far more often than I even look at Time or Newsweek.
Ah well...things change. This most recent celebratory issue has a nifty cover and is a retrospective of all the things that happened in 1967...Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Doors, Donovan, the Byrds, the Airplane, the Dead, music I'm still listening to today. 40 years on...whew! Whodathunkit?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ry Cooder Songbook...

I was cleaning up the computer room at home and sorting through all my songbooks last night. Harry Nilsson (with images from Buckminster Fuller), a couple of Randy Newman books, plenty of Beatles stuff, Country classics, Blues, and hits of the 60s (you know the kind of stuff you collect). I came across a 36 page book I bought in 1980 for $6.95! It was hidden in the racks of a funky little guitar shop in Toronto. Ry Cooder is scrawled across the top in red script and it says 'A selection of Ry Cooder's best songs specially arranged for easy guitar plus an illustrated biography. Includes Little Sister, Smack Dab In the Middle and How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?' And sure enough...that's all true.
The illustrated biography is fairly simplistic. Written by Giovanni Dadomo it runs for three pages illustrated with three B&W photos of Ry and some pen and ink sketches of the songs.
The songs transcriptions are even simpler. I've included an image of one. Enjoy. For more chords check out the Ry Cooder web site I've recommended in LINKS. For more biography look for the Ry Cooder bio, only available in Italian! More about that later.
Happy Anniversary to my wife and I today! 32 years! And they said it wouldn't last!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

long weekend...

Well, the long weekend is over. Canada is 140 years old! Happy birthday, Canada!
Matt came home safely from his camping trip, Connie survived her hip replacement surgery, Gloria spent much of each day visiting the hospital, Jesse came home from Meaford but spent most of his time with Natalie...and I played my guitar quite a bit. The people next door went away, and their son came to look after the dog. While there, he decided to have a party, which went on, quite loudly, into the early hours of Sunday morning. Lots of swearing and shouting, plenty of laughing and swearing as too many people squeezed into 'not strong enough' chairs. We heard several crunches and tears..."Oh, sorry man! I'll have to reimburse you for that one!" Oh's not like they do this every we just laughed and tried to ignore it. Didn't see any fireworks at all though...not one!
Listened to a new box set from Free Reed (makers of the absolutely BEST CD sets in the universe) this time five discs of the music of Steve Tilston. He reminds me of Bert Jansch quite a bit, so right now I am playing Bert Jansch's limited edition Best of Bert Jansch CD which came as a bonus with Crimson Moon. This British folk music stuff is, for me, an acquired taste. And one which I have not completely acquired yet. Small doses are okay...but five discs!?!? No thanks! Excellent fingerstyle guitar, but the voices are so...I don't know...annoying. Nice piccolo trumpet on "Woe is Love My Dear"!
I'm trying to clear some space in my home office...and am at the point where I'm willing to dispose of five or six years of Q magazine! If you're interested...send me an e-mail.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

a couple of things...

I received two books in the mail in the last 24 hours. One is as close to a biography of Kate & Anna McGarrigle as we're ever likely to see. It's called Kate and Anna McGarrigle: songs & stories (published by Penumbra Press) and it's a lovely thing. Sort of a scrapbook covering their whole life (lives?) with photos and clippings from their career, and the lyrics to their songs. But that's not all. It comes with another book which is a songbook containing more than 30 of those songs, with music and guitar chords. Excellent.
I'm only counting this as one book though. The second book is entitled Goodbye Gutenberg, written (and designed) by Valerie Kirschenbaum. Ms Kirschenbaum is a teacher who was asked one day, "Why aren't our books in colour like these old books were?" They were looking at The Canterbury Tales at the time. She didn't know, so she researched it. Novels, poetry and the like (literature, if you will) was published in black print on white pages, but cookbooks and other genres were heavily illustrated, and coloured. And the price was comparable! So it wasn't a question of cost! She wrote this book to describe the potential for a revolution in publishing, and as a call to others to write/design books that would utilize all the tools at hand. Her book is illustrated on every page, with clippings from olde volumes, she even designed her own font (she calls it booklady). It is apparently the first font designed by a female writer in 500 years! There's a section on the need for female fonts!
Anyway...both books (or all three, I guess) state a very clear message about creativity. And they are wonderful things to behold in their own right.
Check out Penumbra Press and have a look at Goodbye Gutenburg here:

Monday, June 25, 2007

another word about Gene Autry...

There was a tribute concert a few years ago celebrating the singing cowboy which was hosted by the Gene Autry Museum. Dwight Yoakam played, accompanied by RPC, among others. This show was released on VHS but has never appeared on DVD (to my knowledge) which is too bad. The Dwight tunes were available on YouTube (I saw them there last week) but RPC has been carefully cleaning anything connected with him off he might have already got there.
The Autry Museum is a cool place, and their web site is well worth visiting. I had a penpal who lived a block or two away from the Museum. She went to the Gift Shop and bought me a couple of nifty souvenirs. so I have an oversized Gene Autry mug on my desk, and a Gene Autry magnet on the fridge. Still trying to get a Gene Autry autograph though. Prices are going up on eBay as more folks start to appreciate the man.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday, June 21st...

Just listening to some Rosanne Cash, after Shorty's Ghost (by David Rea), and trying to read some documents about "teaching and learning" for a meeting tomorrow. We have to try to explain to other people just what it is we do. Have you ever tried to do that? It's not easy. Sure you can list all the things you might do in an 8 hour shift, but whatever you ends up not sounding like very much.
Just received a Gene Autry Tribute CD (by the Riders In the Sky) called Public Cowboy #1. I used to love watching Gene Autry on TV when I was a kid. And I still am a fan, after buying a box of DVDs (for $5 at the grocery store!) I listened to a new collection of Gene's music (The Essential Gene Autry, I think it is) and was really pleasantly surprised at how good he was. It wasn't just my young mind being impressed by a cowboy. Very Jimmie Rodgers-esque!
Still trying to compile a library of songs for my mp3 player (which hasn't yet arrived, I might add). It's not easy. What do you leave out? What has to be there? Quite a challenge.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments for Guitarists:

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS: That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.
2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR: Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.
3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH: Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.
4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL: Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.
5. IF YOU'RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU'RE OUT: If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.
6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE: Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.
7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY: You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That's your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song "I Need A Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he's doing it.
8. DON'T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT: You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.
9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE: When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.
10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE: Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

Hmmm. Please note that Mr. Van Vliet does not play the guitar...and yet...some of this is just plain good advice! Now listening to Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, live at the Baked Potato. No guitar at all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thinking about that last review...

I don't know, but I think I'm tired of reading about what a musical archivist RPC is. In essence he isn't that different from many people I know who play music. We're all shaped by the things we heard when we were growing up. My dad listened to a lot of country and western music. So around the house we had Merle Haggard, Jimmie Rodgers, even Tex Ritter playing a lot. My mom, on the other hand, like big band music, pop singers like the Ames Brothers, and maybe some BB King too! And then as teenagers, my brother Al and I were deeply into the British Invasion! The Beatles, the Who, the Searchers, and some American stuff too, surf guitar from the Trashmen, the Beach Boys.
One day I came home and my dad was sitting on the porch, listening to records. He had stacked ten albums, and they were Merle, Tex, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, a million selling singles collection of my mom's (which featured "The Naughty Lady From Shady Lane" among others)...well, you get the idea. Music was whatever we felt like putting on the turntable...and I believe we've kept that freedom into our separate families, my brothers and I. My sons listen to rap, hip-hop, Johnny Cash, Oasis, the White Stripes, you name it...and they also riffle through my CD collection from time to time. For instance I wasn't been able to find my copy of the Mothers of Invention's Freak Out CD for a while (it was in Jesse's CD shelf!)
I am trying to organize my own personal listening collection, in preparation for uploading to my new MP3 player. After looking at iPod (both shuffle and larger models) I was talked into getting the Cowon iAudio U3...mainly because it has 2GB of storage, a screen, and it's possible to record on it! I'll review it later, when it actually arrives. But the big question now is...what music do I put on-board? Do I think thematically? Do I make it artist driven? Should it be like sitting in front of the stereo, with your record collection and playing whatever you feel like...2 songs from that one, a b-side here, an album track there? It's a challenge.
And as we all become musical archivists, dumping the songs of our life onto personal storage is that any different from what RPC does? Except, he takes all that he's heard, and learned, and re-channels it through his own consciousness, and makes something that is at once old and new. More power to him! And one thing that's going on the MP3 player for sure is...My Name is Buddy...and...Chavez Ravine...maybe some Mambo Sinuendo...the Pahinui Brothers...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Buddy Review from SING OUT!

"Ry Cooder is at his musicological best in this conceptual song-cycle inspired by old-left politics and a musical palette encompassing strains of old-time Appalachian music, blues, country, Tex-Mex, bluegrass, gospel and jazz. The songs are based on three anthropomorphic characters: Buddy Red Cat, Lefty Mouse and the Reverend Tom Toad. They're a trio of fellow-travelers who overcome their differences and bond in ways that previous generations of cats, mice and toads wouldn't understand or accept as they ride the rails and observe an American society whose ideals and realities are still far apart. The Great Depression of the 1930s is the backdrop for many of these songs but Cooder freely makes historical and musical references that freely draw on the entire 20th century while subtly offering lessons for our own times.
The songs are all quite wonderful as they describe scenes that could have come out of books like Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath or Woody Guthrie's Bound For Glory. We hear about riding the rails, labor strikes, the meaning of solidarity and the animals' encounters with such iconic figures from folk music history as Joe Hill, Hank Williams, Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger. While some of the events referenced in the songs may be fictionalized, and while Cooder doesn't use a factual timeline, we also hear about real labor and civil rights struggles and such historic events as the Peekskill riots.
Cooder is a master musician and he surrounds himself with such collaborators as Mike Seeger on fiddle and banjo, legendary accordionist Flaco Jimenez and mandolinist Roland White. Pete Seeger's presence often seems to be felt in these songs and Pete himself sits playing banjo on one song. This is one of the greatest folk albums of recent years." (reviewed by Mike Regenstreif for Sing Out!)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happpy Father's Day!

I hope everyone is having a great day! The sun is shining and both my sons are home for supper. I'm looking for the pictures I have of Ry and Joachim. I'll post them tomorrow. Time to go barbecue. See ya!

Friday, June 15, 2007

sad news...

I just received some sad news indeed. Keyboard wizard Richard Bell passed away today. This guy was Canadian, and every bit the equal of the legendary Garth Hudson in adding "honey" to the tracks he worked on. I saw him a little while ago playing with the Pork Belly Futures with Paul Quarrington and Danny Weis. They opened a reading by Ian Rankin (creator of the Rebus series), and quite rocked the Scottish Rite. Bell had been a member of the electric Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, he had filled Richard Manuel's considerable shoes in The Band for a while, he formed part of Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band, but I think the track that really opened my eyes to his talents was on the long piano introduction he added to King Biscuit Boy's "Playhouse"! Awesome! Richard...we'll miss you!

Listening to some Marvin Gaye right now, getting ready for the weekend. Happy Father's Day to all the Pops out there!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dylanesque Live...

Bryan Ferry. Remember him? King of the lounge lizards. Mister suave. Vocalist for Roxy Music, the band with the sexiest album cover art anywhere. Well, in the early 70s he released his first solo album, and it was a strange, but infectious collection of covers, all done up in Ferry's own inimitable style. I loved it. And the centrepiece was his rendition of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". Followup solo records followed a similar format, and were always enjoyable. There was something about the juxtaposition of Ferry's louche persona and traditional, or familiar songs. He has just released a new CD called Dylanesque wherein he covers a dozen Dylan tunes. As an addendum he has put together a DVD called Dylanesque Live: the London Sessions which shows his band in the studio playing the tunes (and a couple extras) from the CD. On first viewing I was struck by the lack of visual interest. OK the girl backing singers are attractive, but Ferry sits on a stool, with the lyrics on a music stand in front of him; he sort of wiggles his shoulders and delivers the text in a whispery croon. The band is hot though. Colin Good is bandleader & pianist, Chris Spedding, Leo Abraham and Oliver Thompson play guitars, Guy Pratt is the bassist, and Andy Newmark drums. Ferry adds a touch of harmonica and noodles on the Farfisa. The girls are Me'sha Bryan, Sarah Brown, Anna McDonald and Tara McDonald. It's all to do with style, I guess. And Ferry has more than his share of that! The interplay of the 3 guitars is cool.
Anyway...I'm listening to my favourite album of the past year...Vince Gill's extraordinary 4 disc set These Days...and it still works for me. I don't think I've listened to anything as much as this album in a long time. There is such a breadth of material, styles and such solid playing and singing. I hear Vince filmed his shows at the Ryman for an upcoming DVD. I sat in the third row for his show at Niagara Fallsview in January, and if the Ryman set is anything like that show...the DVD will be fantastic.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rylander 7.2

I've been working on the next hard copy edition of The Rylander. I have some new subscribers and am planning on making a big issue this time. There'll be lots to talk about. The international reaction to My Name is Buddy, some reviews of Mavis Staples CD, pictures from Vincent Valdez (the artist who illustrated Buddy and provided drawings for Chavez Ravine) and lots of other stuff too. I may include a review of Ron Sexsmith live, and some recommendations for new DVDs. If there are any Paul Rodgers fans out there...his Live in Glasgow is a good one. Rodgers has one of rock's finest voices, and a masterful stage presence. His band is hot, led by ex-Heart guitarist Howard Leese.
I've been listening to Richard Thompson's Sweet Warrior CD again, and to T Bone Burnett's Proof Through the Night. Enjoying both of them. I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying Corey Harris's forthcoming reggae album, Zion Crossroads. Neat title...note how it captures both the reggae and blues aspects of Harris ouevre! Why, it even hints at some African roots!
There's a new series of collections issued by Universal Music called Number 1's. All different editions, but I have '70s SOUL, which features one of my favourite tracks of all time. Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up, part 1" is a song which I love to play in the car, cranked up loud. It's sexy and funky, and makes me want to drive with the wind blowing through my hair. Unfortunately this is impossible for me so wind blowing over my scalp just has to do!
The rest of the tracks on the album are not bad either. Parliament, James Brown, Dianna Ross, Rick James, Rufus, Peaches & Herb. A nice bunch of Number 1's indeed.
Oh, and that Bachman-Cummings CD is another good one for the car!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wilburys and guess who else...

Up to Future Shop today to pick up the deluxe editions of the Traveling Wilburys Collection and Bachman-Cummings Jukebox. Both of these albums contain a DVD, as well as the music that one expects to find on a CD. Where to start?
George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison combined for one song, and stayed together long enough to create the first classic Wilburys album. It's included here on the first disc, along with two, relatively forgettable unreleased tracks. The sound is fine, everything has been done to present this stuff in the best light. The second album was called Volume 3 (just because) and it is expanded with "Nobody's Child" and "Runaway" two tracks which saw limited release. The third disc is the DVD which has all the Wilburys' videos (5 songs) along with a 25 minute documentary called "The True History of the Traveling Wilburys". It exists mainly as a tribute to the friendly nature of this project, and as a tribute to the lives of Roy Orbison and George Harrison. Excellent stuff. All of this is available in the standard edition, but the deluxe version has a linen box, and a hardcover book filled with pictures, original liner notes and an article by Anthony DeCurtis. Oh, and there's an envelope of memorabilia too. Wilbury pictures and a sticker, and a certificate of authentication with an official number. I have #11128. Not sure how big the edition is! My guess is...BIG!
The other album, by Canadian idols (real idols...not the TV kind) Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings is their take on some of their favourite songs from fifty years of rock'n'roll. They cover Elvis, Fats Domino, the Beatles, Georgie Fame, John Fred & his Playboy Band (whoda-thunkit?), Cliff Richard, Chuck Berry, The Equals and more (it's a jukebox, get it)...they even cover themselves. They polish up their shuffle rendition of "American Woman" with which they opened their 2006 tour. These two guys couldn't stand the sight of each other for a long time, and on the DVD they're so chummy it's almost sickening..."Oh Burton sings so great on this track...Randy lays down a super guitar part on that track..." I guess I should be happy for them, but it seems almost TOO friendly. The album, though, is good listening. Special props to slide guitar soloist Michael "Mickey Zee" Zweig for his work throughout.

Monday, June 11, 2007

where did that weekend go?

Friday night we fed both sons and their girlfriends, my mother-in-law, the neighbor from across the street, and ourselves, and then rushed everyone away so we could drive for an hour to Ball's Falls to a wedding rehearsal at 8pm. Ooops! It was scheduled for 7pm! Oh well! They had everything pretty much sorted when I got there. Then a nice leisurely drive home, along backroads instead of the QEW. Saturday started with swimming (need exercise to manage the diabetes y'know) then the market, groceries, gardening, dog-walking, collapsing in a heap and watching a chick flick (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) YIKES! Sunday, the usual morning stuff, then a quick lunch and get dressed for another wedding. The one we rehearsed on Friday. Mark & Sharon (the other 2/3's of the band I play in). This time I arrived ahead of schedule. It was in a little white wooden chruch at the Ball's Falls conservation area, and it was a beautiful spot for a wedding. Nice weather too. Musically? Mark's sister-in-law played the pump organ. Sharon's daughter sang a solo. And at the reception? Sharon's brothers did their country hit parade thing. Great singers both, they each played a black guitar, and sang some Dwight Yoakam, a little Van Morrison, some Don Gibson and more. A good time was had by all. By the time we got home we again collapsed. I read a page of the newest Peter Robinson novel and dropped off...and it's back to work. Good thing too, I need a break! Tomorrow...Bachman-Cummings Jukebox and...the Traveling Wilburys deluxe edition! Maybe some Rolling Stones?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tuesday's coming...

Friday morning and after a cool week the heat and humidity are back. Whew! I think I'll do my best to stay inside today. Listening to some music, and reading a magazine. Maybe surfin' the interweb. My friend Michael just dropped off some burned CDs for me. Alfie Smith a local bluesman who played at the Sgt. Pepper's 40th Anniversary celebration last weekend. He bluesed-up "Fixin' a Hole". This one is full of trad-blues like "Nobody's Fault But Mine," "St.James Infirmary," "Amazing Grace," and "Soul of a Man." Very Bukka White I'd say! The other discs are mix-tapes, and while I know that term dates me...the fact is that that's exactly what these are. Blur, Okkervil River, Ane Brun with Ron Sexsmith, Xavier Rudd, Matthew Good, the Skydiggers, Bright Eyes, Arcade Fire, Damien Rice, and more. Geez, I feel like Michael is trying to drag me into the 21st Century! Oh, wait a minute...U2 with Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, there we go.
I've been listening more to that McCartney memory almost full CD, and enjoying it much more. I have found the melodies just as contagious as the best Macca albums of the past. Sure, some of it seems unnecessary, even redundant. And he does have a tendency toward coyness...but Sir Paul knows his way around the studio, and around vocal arrangements. Speaking of harmonies, I listened to The Definitive America for fun, and found that I was appreciating some of the stuff they did, even though I have spent the last 35 years mocking them. "The heat was hot..." indeed! And The Thorns do they same sort of thing. I have the 2 disc set wherein they recorded the album on acoustic instruments. Tasty but too much of a sweet thing.
I'm about to review a handful of new blues albums. Jimmy Thackery, Tab Benoit and Paul Reddick. Been listening to them for a couple of weeks in order to get a handle on them. Gotta love that Reddick! And he's Canadian!
Oh...and why did I say Tuesday's coming? Because the Traveling Wilburys package comes out Tuesday! Finally! I have the two original albums on cassette, and then bought a CD version on a Russian bootleg! But now I'll get them in remastered glory, with a DVD and souvenir memorabilia! Oh boy!
Also coming Tuesday...Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings Jukebox. The core of the Guess Who doing cover versions! They were dynamite live last fall...this album should be fun.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Fretboard Journal...

There are guitar magazines, and there are guitar magazines. A friend loaned me a copy of a recent Guitar World with the Beatles on the cover. Mainly so I could read about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. But I was struck by the ads. Clearly this mag was aimed at a different generation of guitar players. A fellow named John 5 appeared in a couple of ads for different guitar products. He wore lipstick that made his mouth looked about eight inches wide. Nothing wrong with that but...I'm not the makeup wearing kind of guitar player, myself. I wondered if the same people who knew John 5's work well enough to take his advice on which strings to buy would be interested in the Fab Faux (a bunch of session musicians who play Beatles' songs 'just like the record'). Lots of heavy metal, grunge, etc. players in the ads in this mag. You can buy custom made picks with pictures from Pirates of the Caribbean! Steve Morse explains how to play double-stops. People playing the guitar in contortions that I simply can't get into at this stage of my life. And there's tab for five songs. And that's all well and good. Different strokes for different folks.
There's Acoustic Guitar which has changed its format a few times but always has something of interest, like how best to setup your amplifier for the kind of small gigs I do, and how to play passing chords. AG really covers just about everything you need to know about acoustic guitar, and the interviews are based both on gear and technique.
There's the old stand-by Guitar Player which has always had a fine balance between interviews with players and gear tests. BUT as far as a guitar magazine is concerned...the ultimate for my taste is Fretboard Journal. This quarterly is pricey but worth it. It's like a full colour book that comes out four times a year. And I find I keep it close at hand for all of the three months til the next one arrives, and read each article at least a couple of times. The new one just came out and features BB King on the cover, resplendent in a gold tux, holding on tightly to the latest version of Lucille. There are stories on David Grisman, Z.Vex Pedals and the First Martin OM and some gorgeous photos, and the ads...are beautiful. It's a pleasure to browse through Fretboard Journal, and to revel in the beauty of these instruments both old and new.
Hey, I downloaded a couple of nifty albums from e-music today. Gerry Rafferty's Another World and Gurf Morlix's Toad of Titicaca, both of which are excellent albums. But I noticed that Sir Paul's new one is available for download there too! Imagine! Downloading Macca's music. What's the world coming too! E-music has a dandy selection of Americana and folk it's worth checking out! I've had a subscription there for a year and a half.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Paul McCartney...and...the Boss

The newest album by Sir Paul arrived today, in a special edition, looking almost like a DVD package. But unfold it and amidst all the folds sits two discs, and some typical B&W photos of a smug multi-millionaire sitting on (or is it perched on) a big old chair. Story goes he was working on this album before he put it aside to do Chaos & Creation. Memory Almost Full seems like a continuation of that album in some ways. It's mainly a solo record. The touring band shows up on a couple of songs (and you can hear the difference when they do). It's all produced by David Kahne, and it sounds lush, with snappy and bright acoustic guitars, and Paul's amazing self-harmonies. The guy can still sing.'s quite simply another Paul McCartney album, without a really memorable song. I'll listen to it for a couple of weeks and then file it with the rest of his stuff. Abbey Road will be played much more regularly!
I also picked up Bruce Springsteen's multi-disc Live in Dublin. Two CDs and a DVD of a live show (drawn from 3 consecutive nights in Ireland at The Point in November 2006) all packaged in a digipack. It's a bit hard to get the DVD out of the centre panel, and the picture book seems a bit thin but I really like all these old songs from the Seeger Sessions. Bruce mixes in some classic originals that haven't been played on stage, and it's pretty enthusiastically delivered. Next week...the re-release of The Traveling Wilburys! Can't wait!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Richard Thompson

Well, the new Richard Thompson album arrived, with an extra insert, autographed by RT himself. Very nice. I have been busy with a conference I was hosting at work, so I've only had time to give it one quick cursory listen, but my feeling so far is...I like it! It's called Sweet Warrior and is filled with the electric guitar wizardry for which Thompson is best known. It's an electric, band album. And RT is in top form. He's not showy like Steve Vai (f'rinstance) and he definietly has his own sound. Man does this guy know his way around the fretboard. The lyrical content is suitably doomy and gloomy, some of it about the war, some if it about the people responsioble for the war. I'm going to spend a couple more days listening and will report back.
Picnic today, out in the heat. They're calling for possible thunderstorms. Oh, that'd be too bad!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

t bone's 2nd chance...

Nope! Couldn't get into it. The dramatic reading approach to rock'n'roll doesn't work for me, whether it's Steve Allen mocking the genre, or T Bone Burnett taking it in a new direction. I like his guitar all right, and the sound is really interesting...but the whole "performance art" style simply doesn't get the ole feet movin'.
I've been listening to that Paul Reddick album though, and it sounds great. Colin Linden slides all over the place. Fans of RPC's bottleneck playing will definitely find something to satisfy them with this release. And Reddick's vocals and harp technique are startlingly good!
Reading a book about Lenny Breau. It was my souvenir from Winnipeg (the city where Breau lived for some of his life, and where Randy Bachman met him, and learned his own jazz stylings). It's part cautionary tale, and part tribute to a guitar genius. One Long Tune by Ron Forbes-Roberts, is worth searching out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

t bone burnett...

Just listening to Twenty Twenty (the Essential T Bone Burnett). I recall buying many of these original albums both on vinyl and on cassette. That's right! I made the mistake of buying cassettes for a while. Packaging was even smaller than the dread jewel box! And now nobody wants cassettes. But my new car has a problem with the CD player (a CD from the previous owner is jammed in the 3rd slot) so I dug around for some of those cassettes to have some music of MY choice playing in the car (instead of what passes for radio these days.) So I started listening to The Criminal Under My Own Hat in the car and then decided to listen again to this 2-CD set from last year on the CD player at work. While I have to say I'm not crazy about T Bone's more recent explorations (the spoken word stuff on the true false identity is tough to enjoy) his earlier work is well worth digging. Even the spoken word stuff, like Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, seems to work. And the musicians are all great. Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder, Van Dyke Parks, Ruben Blades, David Hidalgo, Jim Keltner, Jerry Douglas, Marc Ribot, and they are given wonderfully open soundscapes to play in. T Bone toured with Jerry Douglas one time and I came upon a bootleg recording of one of these shows. Excellent. Maybe I'll give the true false identity another chance. I'll watch the DVD side of the dualdisc again, and see what I think. I'll get back to you later.

Monday, May 28, 2007

everybody's a critic...

I got an email the other day from someone who took exception to a review I wrote about two years ago. In my article about the Kevin Courrier Randy Newman bio, I happened to say something to the effect that Courrier did not tell any of Newman's secrets. Then I went on to describe the book as well written, interesting, fascinating, highly recommended...I think I stopped just this side of "book of the year, without which no self respecting reader should be..." Anyway, this fellow wanted to (and I quote) "demenstrate [sic]...[that you're an] idiot...[and that the author had] forgot more than you'll ever know, or ever experience." Well...I am thinking of getting out of the reviewing business. I confess...I'm sorry I mentioned that there were no 'secrets' in this book...I shouldn't have expected them. [In fact...I didn't.] I do realize what secrets are. And I see now, that if Courrier had divulged them...they wouldn't be secrets anymore. Doh!'s back to just talking about music. No more opinions.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

another day...another DVD...

Went shopping this weekend for the new Lyle Lovett LIVE DVD, but much to my had a copy of it. In fact at one of the local shops I had to spell L-y-l-e L-o-v-e-t-t TWICE!
So I special ordered it, see it in two weeks! Since I had an extra $20 in my pocket I decided to see if there was anything else musical floating around and then my eyes settled upon...The American Folk-Blues Festival: the British Tours 1963-1966! This is volume four! And I loved the other three. Well, volume four is no disappointment, at all. Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Lonnie Johnson, Big Joe Williams (playing his 9-string guitar), Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, big Joe Turner and Junior Wells...oh, and the incredible Sugar Pie DeSanto doing 2 songs! Fantastic! And four bonus tracks, including 2 by Muddy and two by the always amazing Sister Rosetta Tharpe. This time (1964) she's outside a train depot, playing live to an audience of very interested British teenagers, and she rocks, even though it's later in her career. Great stuff.
My signed copy of the new Richard Thompson should be arriving in the next two days or so...I'll let you know how it is. Right now I'm listening to the new John Prine/Mac Wiseman disc. Country tunes. Well done. And then it's back to watching a very young Hubert Sumlin sizzling behind Howlin' Wolf. Oh, and if you haven't picked up Hubert's most recent should! It's a goodun!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

a new week...

Greetings all (or should I say...both). If you read this blog I welcome you. I guess if you don't read this blog, it doesn't matter what I say to you, does it!
Listening to the new collection of Paul Reddick's music. This guy manages to capture the essence of the blues. He channels so many old bluesmen, I just can't believe it. Such a sound he gets! Plays the harp, sings great, is produced by (and features guitar by) Colin Linden. Check him out, and Reddick Revue is a fine way to start. It's 18 tracks from his whole career, lots of dandy guitar work, and sizzling harmonica. New from Northern Blues Music. Canajan blues! Aah!
I just heard that Rhino Handmade is releasing a T Bone Burnett collection, with the complete Proof Through the Night album (including contributions from RPC, Pete Townshend and Richard Thompson) as well as the 2 Trap Door eps. A double disc set, well worth the price. Rhino Handmade continues to find material that I'm interested in. And I love the smell of their insert booklets too!
I ordered the forthcoming Richard Thompson CD too, with a pre-order you get an autographed booklet! Who could resist. Check Newbury Comics for this offer.

Friday, May 18, 2007

home again...

...the streets are not much cleaner...the quaint old southside scenery is quaint no more...just older than before...sorry, that's Randy Newman for you. Well, I'm back from Winnipeg. The conference was worthwhile, and the board meeting went quite smoothly, now it's back to normal. Listening to Lyle Lovett's covers album which I found used in the old 'Peg. Excellent stuff. I read Kevin Courrier's 33 1/3rd book about Trout Mask Replica and it reawakened my interest in Mr. Van Vliet. There's quite a few mentions of RPC in this volume, as it tells the story of the Safe As Milk album in the leadup to TMR. Courrier is a writer I have admired, his book on Zappa (Dangerous Kitchen) is excellent, & his biography of Randy Newman (American Dreams) fills in all the details you need to know.
Step Inside This House is the name of the Lyle Lovett album, and it's well worth looking into. I'm still digging the Mavis Staples album, and can't quite figure out why people don't like it so much. She can sing, that's for sure, and Ry and the band play their butts off.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Portage & Main, 40 below...

Okay, it's not too cold...but I'm here in the 'Peg (home of the Guess Who and Neil Young) and where else would one go but to the famous corner of Portage and Main. Just on my way out the door. I didn't bring a hat because everyone warned me it would blow off! It's raining a bit, but, hey! I'm Canajan, eh! I did buy a hat at The Bay. Looks cool too!
So some people don't like the Mavis Staples album! If you aren't into that rich gospel sound, maybe you're just not going to get it...but to me it is a funky blast! I love it!
Even went so far as to pick up a copy of her Prince produced collection The Voice. I like the Ry album better!
Will write again soon!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Howard Fishman

I was working in the lab late last week, when I came upon a CD for sale that caught my attention! Now, let me say for the record that I am a Bob Dylan fan, and am drawn to cover versions of his material. Well, there on the Bob Dylan web site was a promo for a CD (and DVD) by one, Howard Fishman. The title? Howard Fishman performs Bob Dylan & the Band's "Basement Tapes" Live at Joe's Pub. Now, that's quite an album title, wouldn't you agree? I ordered it immediately! It arrived yesterday. And it's one heck of a thing! I agree with Greil Marcus who is quoted on the wrapper as saying, "Remarkable...I'm stunned." Imagine...this music stunned Greil Marcus! Having been to Joe's Pub (to see Donovan a couple years ago) I was interested in seeing how the place looked. The camera for Howard Fishman is set on a ledge of a booth, and is fixed. So it's a one-shot for the four songs that are included. But you can see the whole band, and note the visual cues when it's time for a guitar solo, or violin break. And you can see the waitress walk in front of the band, taking drink orders or delivering the asparagus salad thingy that was so tasty. The music is rough and funky, Fishman's voice a little more user friendly than Bob's, but you get the same sense of wonder that came from the original demos recorded lo, those many years ago, by Bob, Robbie, Rick, Garth, Levon, and Richard. And, of course, the songs are great. Yessiree! Well worth a listen. See for yourself, at
Going to Winnipeg for a few posts might be few and far between. We'll see.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Van Dyke Parks

Van Dyke Parks is a talented musician who, even if you don't know him, I'm certain is on at least one of the albums in your collection! Maybe more. He cowrote the Smile album with Brian Wilson, he played keyboards and did arrangements for RPC's albums, he has written soundtracks for some really good movies, and worked with Rufus Wainwright and Joanna Newsom. I sent him a picture of himself standing with Ry Cooder, and happened to mention the height differences! He replied, "Cooder WAS that much taller than I. Years have passed (38, precisely), and he is, unfortunately, bent with age--while I, though unapologetically of silver mane (I use no cosmetics), have retained not only an undiminished mental acuity, but am up to his eyebrows by now, taut, trim for battle, and fully erect. Go figure. Time weighs heavily on some of the ablest early athletic contenders, offing them from such odds-on expectations. No doubt about it, I’ve been merciful to Ry throughout. I keep this very picture (taken by WB/Reprise art director, the late-lamented Ed Thrasher in front of WB’s Burbank offices) on my small studio wall...Incidentally, Ry came by one day whenI was working on one of Joanna’s [Newsom] tunes for her album. He heard her voice and said 'Is that intentional...the voice...she doesn’t want to go on sounding like that for the rest of her life, does she?' I was reminded of the pot and kettle. Of course, his objection steeled my resolve to do all I can in Joanna’s behalf. I sure hope it shows to her greatest advantage.Yet, no mistake about it--Ry has always been a kindly force in my life, and in the main, a man of solid principles. I love him....All the Best, Van Dyke
So there you have it. Cooder tall, Parks small, Newsom not to RPC's taste...but then...that's what makes the world go 'round isn't it? If we all liked the same'd be awfully hard to find yourself a mate!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

wot? sick again?

No, still sick. Feeling much better though, and using my time wisely. Brushing up on my slide guitar, playing along with the Mavis Staples album...and also picking up some Pops Staples' riffs by playing along with his Father, Father album. I also started watching Crumb, the Terry Zwigoff film about R. Crumb. What an unusual family; and what a marvelous artist he is. I have a couple books of his work, The R. Crumb Handbook and R.Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country. The handbook features a much broader spectrum of his work, and has substantial amounts of sexual material while the heroes book is a collection of his drawings for three sets of trading cards. Just portraits of musicians. I bought two of those three sets when they were first issued, and have treasured them for years. Crumb's drawing (whatever the subject matter) are extraordinary. His characters have weight and presence, and are absolutely real. His new book (a biography of Kafka) is also worth having. Got an e-mail from Van Dyke Parks the other day...more about that later!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

home sick...

I feel crummy today, so I cancelled all my meetings and stayed home, and slept til 10:30! Feeling a tad better. Then I picked up the mail and there was a package from the Netherlands, which included a DVD of Ry Cooder's PBS programme from 1978! He essentially plays the Jazz album in concert for TV. And Joseph Byrd is there, resplendent in a white suit, conducting the little salon orchestra. The gospel quartet led by Bill Johnson does a short set in the middle of the show. Ry plays the Beiderbecke numbers, and at the end Mr. Dave joins Ry out front for a simple rendition of "Comin' In On a Wing and a Prayer". And it's an altogether excellent programme. Glad somebody taped it way back when! Sure it's not perfect. I had a much worse copy (4th generation maybe) on VHS. Marvelous stuff, even though it has very little to do with "jazz" it has plenty to do with music. Just watching it (and it's in PAL so I can only watch on my computer!) but just watching helped perk me up! Music hath charms, man!

Monday, May 7, 2007

A new week...

I know, Sunday is the first day of the week. You can see it on the calendar. But nobody really believes that do they? It's Monday that starts it off. After all Sunday is the final day of the week-END! Right!?! So today, Monday, is the first day of a new week. Back to work. With a terrible cold. Feeling a little dizzy, nose all stuffed up, and coughing from time to time, I struggle bravely to answer phones and solve problems. And listen to a little music at the same time. Out of the Cradle is as poppy and odd as it was on cassette. There's just something about Lindsey Buckingham that turns my crank. The Anjani CD is mellow to the point of somnolence, but beautifully performed and produced. If you like moody music about love's pretty much all about love, and maybe some sex...and if you like that you'll like Blue Alert. And the accompanying DVD is interesting. But I think it's back to Mavis Staples for me, funky guitar and the deep resonant voice of Ms. Staples.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

and Sunday...

Picked up a copy of Lindsey Buckingham's Out of the Cradle CD, after listening to it on cassette for all these years. It's a sterling example of Buckingham's quirky, pop-based experimentation. The guitars sound crisp and real, and everything about it is vibrant and ringing. Also got Anjani's second edition of Blue Alert which comes with a DVD. Only $15 at Chapters. I haven't listened to it yet, but we were talking about Leonard Cohen at the Sexsmith show the other night, and Leonard produced this set of his songs. we spoke about Cohen Thursday night...they started playing his music over the sound system. Spooky!
Have to get the CD player in the car fixed...there's a disc jammed inside, won't eject. Ah well, it gives me an excuse to play the old cassettes! Michael Bloomfield is in now. And some Canadian pop hits from the 70s. Hmmm.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


No real excitement. Went to the pool this morning, stopped at the garden shop on the way home. did the marketing and then to practice with Mark & Sharon, my partners in Crosswalk. We learned a Randy Travis tune and a new original blues. We're playing together much more intuitively...a year of playing has us reading each other quite well. The blues was fun to play and should go over well, the harmonies on the Travis song were tight. I played a bit of bottleneck on that one.
Listened to the Mark Knopfler/Chet Atkins album in the car, and had forgotten how pleasant a recording that is...then I switched it for a collection of Michael Bloomfield. The guitar is just an instrument that I love with a passion, hearing it, or playing it.
I am still trying to find out what kind of guitar Ron Sexsmith played on Thursday night. Sure there was his old trusty Taylor cutaway, but for one song he slipped on a shiny black electric semi-hollow body that looked like a 335, but it also seemed to have silver resonators which I don't recall seeing on any other 335s. My 335 certainly doesn't have them. But I wasn't close enough to see the name on the headstock.
Also listened to the Kevin Hearn CD I bought that night. Very interesting stuff, and I hope you'll take my advice to check him out. Of course the song I really liked isn't on this album. "Born Human" is the one I'm looking for. "Born human, raised by wolves..." is a great concept!
This blogging business is addictive.

Friday, May 4, 2007

late last night...

Ron Sexsmith warmed up for his big Massey Hall concert (tonight) by playing to an intimate crowd of Hamilton fans last night. The band (Jason, Don, Tim and a piano player whose name I missed) seemed tighter than in previous shows, although they made their fair share of goofs and gaffes. It was a safer set list than usual, more a selection of Ron's best known songs, not so many risks. Some favourites were ommitted (like "Lebanon, Tennessee"or "Imaginary Friends") but it was a reasonable retrospective of his 10 album career. (setlist: Secret Heart, Hands of Time, Strawberry Blonde, Thirsty Love, Lemonade Stand, Hard Bargain, Ship of Fools, So Young, Jazz at the Bookstore, How on Earth, Fallen, Gold in Them Hills, Some Dusty Things, On a Whim, God Loves Everyone, Up the Road, Feel For You, Happiness, Never Give Up, All in Good Time, Whatever It Takes, Snow Angel, Not About to Lose, Foolproof)
Annette Haas ( opened the show but forgot to plug in her guitar. She seemed nervous, and a bit fumbly, but sang well, and made a few new fans.
Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle ( played next. These guys have been playing together for a long time (20 years for 3 of them) and they sound like it. Tight, imaginative, if somewhat odd melodies and lyrics...but a great sound and engaging stage presence.
Then Ron and his band took the stage. We had bets on which new tune would open the show. He fooled us all by starting with "Secret Heart". I guess it's his biggest money maker, in versions by other artists. For a Sexsmith was a good night. Only one song from Destination Unknown though. No wonder this duet album (with drummer Don Kerr) is under the radar! Play some of those tunes Rockin' Ron (king of the blues guitar).

Thursday, May 3, 2007

listening to Mavis...

I waited a week for it to arrive, but it was worth it. I managed to get one of the hundred signed copies of We'll Never Turn Back! You can see it on this page. On first listen it's completely hypnotic! I love it. Ry plays greazy slide guitar (and some dandy mandolin too) and the great Jim Keltner keeps the beat. But it's the vocals that really make this album. Mavis is in fine voice, and the backup singers (including Ladysmith Black Mambazo!) recreate an era when the Staples Singers recorded their first few albums. When Mavis appeared on Leno last week she sounded like she had a cold, and her guitarist delivered a rough approximation of RPC's guitar part but she still delivered a stunning performance. The CD does it much better though. Too bad the Apollo shows have been cancelled. Poor ticket sales!?! I'd have gone, had it been a little closer. OK I saw Buddy Guy last month for $60, and tonight's Ron Sexsmith show was only $30, but this was to be a sterling evening of exquisite virtuosity. Too bad! As long as Mavis let's her light shine like she does on WNTB I'll be keeping my eyes on her! (Also, you might check out Pops Staples 2 solo albums...funky stuff!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

later the same day...

Am I crazy or has Elvis Costello been the most reissued artist in history. I just received notice that there are two new collections (a Best of the first 10 years & one called Rock 'n' Roll) to add to all the other Best of's from every label he's ever been with...AND...the first 11 albums are to be re-issued. Now, I like Elvis as much as the next guy, but it's getting a little bit crazy, isn't it? OK, some of the interest will be simply because this will be the first time his tunes will be available digitally, so people will now be able to dump them onto their iPods...but I don't have any more money to donate to Declan's household. I saw him on his first tour of Canada, when he only had one album...his songs were only a minute long...he played everthing from My Aim Is True plus a new song, and a cover version, and he was finished in about 32 minutes. Considering that the venue didn't even provide an opening band ( was a juggler!!!) it was probably the briefest concert I've ever attended. Good though!

early the next morning...

Went up to Future Shop last night to pick up the new Blackie & the Rodeo Kings CD. It's part 2 of a set recorded in Woodstock last year, and features Garth Hudson & Jimmy Weider (from the Band) as well as all the usual suspects. If you're into rootsy music with some fine guitar playing and rough and tumble harmonies then B.A.R.K. are right up your alley. Check out the first Let's Frolic CD, and their absolute must-have BARK, but all of their albums are excellent. That's Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing and Colin Linden...along with John Whynot, Gary Craig and the great Richard Bell. Well...Let's Frolic Again is sounding really good. Covers of "Down By the Henry Moore", Teenage Head's "Something's On My Mind", and Chris Whitley's "Poison Girl" and a handful of originals. Plenty of slide guitar. A fine addition to anyone's record collection (if we still call 'em that!)
See the Hamilton Spectator's review of My Name Is Buddy below.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Day one...

Greetings and welcome to the Rylander blog. I've been publishing Rylander Quarterly as a hard copy newsletter for 6 years, and thought I'd give this a try. Drag myself into the 21st century, so to speak. We'll still put out hard copies for subscribers but this seemed like a way to interact. After all, I'm curious how people are liking Buddy or the new Mavis Staples CD. Or what about Ry's production on Hello Stranger? Or where did he get those funky yellow sunglasses? Or even if everyone has caught onto the new Vince Gill set? What an album that is!
Feel free to discuss any or all of these topics. If music is involved, I'm interested.