Latest: Lotus

Do NOT Miss Leftover Cuties

Best Beloved took me to see Leftover Cuties Wednesday night at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Actually, we saw the cutest cutie three times, not just once.

Stopped at the light at 10th and Nicollet, I watched Shirli cross the street, a pair of high (really high) heels in one hand.

As she stepped to the curb on the northwest side of the intersection I thought, Shirli . . . Shirli. Wait. I just watched Shirli McAllen cross the street.

I felt like I should run after her and apologize for not saying hello. (She later told me “You should have!”) As we were seated at our table near the stage, there she was again, scooting between the tables toward the backstage rooms. I started to stand and apologize for my earlier rudeness, but she was just too quick.

Leftover Cuties are the kind of band which feels like you really ought to run after them and say hello.
Continue reading “Do NOT Miss Leftover Cuties”


Rachel Flowers: Emerson, No Lake, Little Palmer

Guitarist Jim Earp sent a link to this video of Rachel Flowers performing Emerson, Lake, & Palmer’s Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression on a Hammond C3 organ.

Ten minutes in my head exploded. (It’s 14 minutes long.) Continue reading “Rachel Flowers: Emerson, No Lake, Little Palmer”


Mama Don’t Take My Kodachrome and Leave Your Boy So Far From Home

Some songs are obviously made for headphones. Anything by Pink Floyd. Some classical and jazz.

Paul Simon’s Kodachrome isn’t so obvious, but I just heard a different song from the one I’ve been listening to for lo these many years. Continue reading “Mama Don’t Take My Kodachrome and Leave Your Boy So Far From Home”


Happy Heartbreak #1: Engine, Engine #9

A hallmark of Roger Miller’s songwriting is what I call his happy heartbreaks: the saddest stories, told with wit to cheerful music.

Just as Hitchcock makes pokes us with the incongruity of life by making us laugh during a terrifying scene, Roger reminds you that life isn’t the events, but our reactions. Even the poor guy standing in a train station somewhere 110 miles from Baltimore sounds more resigned than heartbroken when he says “I don’t think she loves me any more.” Continue reading “Happy Heartbreak #1: Engine, Engine #9”


USSS: oddbod

Why isn’t oddbod famous? Proof positive that talent and fame are not connected. Tim “oddbod” Conway is one of the finest songwriters and performers I’ve ever heard. His new songs at FAWM turn into a mad rush to comment. A week in, his first song Instamatic has nearly a hundred comments from other songwriters who are supposed to be scrambling to write 14 songs of their own. Continue reading “USSS: oddbod”



beautiful carelessly sultry

Songwriter friend Charlie Cheney keeps telling me that song lyrics should lean heavily on nouns. Show, don’t tell. Pack the song with people doing things in places with stuff, instead of talking about feelings and interior monologues and all those abstracts.

A handful of years ago, Charlie and a group of friends wrote a song which was nothing but nouns. It didn’t make much sense, but it sure had nouns.

Continue reading “beautiful carelessly sultry”




More Gypsy Jazz

F[az]B0019HBXB8[/az]ilm maker (which is quite an understatement, really) Nic Askew graciously pointed out the music credits in his film “The Perilous Journey” which you should go watch right now. I’ll wait.

Back? Great. You’ll need to watch it more than once to really let it sink in. Anyway, the credits pointed me to Stephane Wrembel, acclaimed as the finest personification of Django’s gypsy jazz, and I thought you should know.

In fact, if you’re in New York, would you please go see Stephane for me? I can’t make it to New York right now, but I’d feel better knowing the task was being covered.

Thanks. Let me know how it goes.

Oh; here’s where you can see and hear Stephane Wrembel:



One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Applying thoughts from one industry to a completely different industry is one of my favorite business revitalization tricks. It’s been working with music for aeons. Speaking of Ians, have a listen to the psychedelic classical and big band music of Ian Stewart.

There are links on his bio page to some mildly psychedelic jazz, and a fantastic rock arrangement of the standard “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”

Another page has downloads of a half-dozen ambient/techno tunes.

The home page has a video of a live performance of the adagio from Stewart’s Concerto Grosso. Perhaps I’m a sucker for live classical music (this is not rock or jazz where you can turn mistakes into improvisation) but it’s mesmerising.

Everything tomorrow doesn’t have to be like everything yesterday.


Charlie Cheney and Jimmy Doogan

Jazzy, with a light edge, floral topnotes and a decisive nose.

Charlie Cheney is a distinctive and intelligent songwriter whose love for February Album Writing Month is a driving force behind the fun and learning that I get from it.

His song Jimmy Doogan was a jazz delight when he recorded the demo last year. He’s done a video which includes a new bridge section. Lyrically, the song has nice tension, but musically it was all sweetness and happy. The bridge really pushes it briefly into a meaner place, so the release coming back to the sweet melody is darkened nicely.

Charlie Cheney. Jimmy Doogan. Enjoy.

(The video isn’t exactly HD quality, but the sound’s the important part and that’s crisp and clear.)


FAWM Over. We Win.

February Album Writing Month is officially over for 2009. And I officially won.

Which means I wrote or co-wrote at least 14 songs during the 28 days of February. (You’ll see on my FAWM profile that it lists 19; it’s actually only 18 because one is listed twice but I don’t want to lose the comments on my original post.)

This year I discovered the double harmonic scale, which makes everything you play sound all Arabian Night-ish. I wrote two Arabic-sounding songs (my most ambitious musical endeavours to date) and collaborated on another.

I wrote a German drinking song. In German.

I wrote a Mexican dance song. In Spanish.

I played a jazz guitar improvisation, my first guitar improvisation ever.

I did my first FAWM music video.

I also did, as I have every year, some country, some folk, and some swingabilly.

And now, I’m tired.


Journey Down the Nile

[az]B001F7XITW[/az][l1P][/l1]P” border=”0″ align=”left” />roving once again that it’s not just a river in Egypt, J. D. Souther’s Journey Down the Nile is my new intentional earworm.

I think it’s a samba. I’ve forgotten most of the little I ever knew about Latin rhythm, but I think it’s a samba. With little machine-gun drum fills and a bass that knows how to samba. Or whichever dance it is. Apparently the horn section was recorded live, sliding in behind the languid vocals and wrapping around the piano which, like the bass, dances to whatever Latin rhythm that is. The trumpet solo defies the subtlety of the other instruments, blaring over the top, holding one long wavering note while they all change chords underneath. It’s one of those little musical witticisms I love.

Lyrically, there’s some kind of social commentary in there, but I’ll be hanged if it’s surfaced yet. The wit overshadows the message, but Joel David doesn’t care any more than John David did.