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.