Good news: Coen brothers to bring folk scene to life

While I'm on the trail, let me shamelessly plug the upcoming Coen Brothers movie, which sounds utterly irresistibly to folk music lovers.  Some say it's good (from a review at Cannes via The Playlist): Arguably the least plot driven film from the Coens since "The Big Lebowski," which still provided the journey for a newContinue reading “Good news: Coen brothers to bring folk scene to life”

Remembering the March on Washington: Dylan and Baez

The 50th anniversary remembrance of Dr. King‘s famous March on Washington raised some questions. Kevin Drum (and Chris Matthews) wondered why the Republican party, despite much effort, could not find a single speaker willing to be associated with Dr. King, the great black man who spoke for justice and equality. And ever-thoughtful Randy Lewis forContinue reading “Remembering the March on Washington: Dylan and Baez”

J.J. Cale (Gotta Get Back to You, Magnolia)

Last week the great J.J. Cale, beloved by talents ranging from Eric Clapton to Neil Young to Widespread Panic, left our realm. But he'll never be forgotten, for "Around Midnight" and "Cocaine" and many other great songs.  As a thoughtful obit in the Daily Beast pointed out, J.J. Cale songs don't seem to have beenContinue reading “J.J. Cale (Gotta Get Back to You, Magnolia)”

The loveliness of a violin, with gamelan, from Lou Harrison

According to the late great California composer Lou Harrison: "A good gamelan is the most beautiful musical ensemble on the planet." His point was proved this spring at the Ojai Music Festival, where a fifteen-person-strong ensemble, called Gamelan San Raras, from UC Berkeley, with Hrabba Attadottir on the violin, played Harrison's meltingly gorgeous Philemon and Baukis.Continue reading “The loveliness of a violin, with gamelan, from Lou Harrison”

John Luther Adams at Ojai Music Fest (outdoors)

Thanks to a video maven from Bart's Books, here's what the final movement of composer John Luther Adams' Strange and Silent Music looked like this morning at Besant Hill in Upper Ojai. During the entrancing performance, which began on the drums, moved to the east for a soft thudding playing of the gongs, to theContinue reading “John Luther Adams at Ojai Music Fest (outdoors)”

Wild Ones: Saving Endangered Species (w/soundtrack)

Ever heard of a soundtrack to a book? Me neither, but that's what we have here with blackprairie (including members of the Decembrists) and their lovely, moving collection of songs to a forthcoming book about efforts to save three endangered species, called Wild Ones. The author got to know Chris Funke and friends before theyContinue reading “Wild Ones: Saving Endangered Species (w/soundtrack)”

George Jones and the Replacements: two drama queens

This week George Jones, by consensus one of the greatest of country singers, passed away. Have to admire his ability to tell a story (as in the wonderfully rich Southern California, a duet with Tammy Wynette) but also his ability to make a story: …make no mistake, he could be menacing, a word that cameContinue reading “George Jones and the Replacements: two drama queens”

The sound of 2012: Anthemic, but with banjo or violin

Although Frank Ocean captured the headlines and topped the critics' lists, for yours truly what stands out in pop music this year is the discovery of a consensus acoustic sound that is not rock, for better or worse, and yet is shared by the likes of relatively new bands Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear,Continue reading “The sound of 2012: Anthemic, but with banjo or violin”