Friday, July 31, 2009

Founder and re-founder

So he can't call it the Newport Folk Festival, but a rose by any other name... George Wein started the Newport Folk Festival 50 years ago, and when new owners couldn't turn it into the Bonnaroo of the Northeast, he reclaimed it just in time to celebrate a half century of amazing music.

He, and longtime musical cohort, Pete Seeger, spoke to Vanity Fair.

Folk Festival 50 in Newport, takes place this weekend. Here's the lineup.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

'Dam you Bill O'Reilly

Talk about your "wonderfully naive" ideas. O'Reilly and his panel of fake experts don't seem to have a clue, as usual.

Godverdomme, you moederneuker.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why Jim Vicevich is a racist

Now that I can get instant traffic reports on my iPhone, I much prefer John Dankosky's Where We Live in the morning to wading throught the pitiful, non-tempered "libertarian" (read: conservative lunatic fringe) musings of hatemonger Jim Vicevich, and his herd of birther and flat-earther caller/listeners on WTIC-AM while waiting for a traffic report.

Vicevich, who makes a great, florid show of outrage if anyone accuses him of racism, demonstrated Tuesday that he is, in fact, a racist.

On a late morning drive, I listened in long enough to hear Vicevich condemn Barack Obama for chastizing the Cambridge Police Department's Sargeant James Crowley as "acting stupidly" for arresting Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct when the cops tried to arrest Gates for breaking into his own house.

Sounds pretty damned stupid to me (and racist - a good essay on the topic here). What's stupider is that Obama apologized. Stupider still is Vicevich's implication that Obama himself is somehow racist for calling stupid, "stupid".

Meanwhile, acting the peacemaker, Obama has invited Gates and Crowley to the White House to hash out the problem over a few beers.

One of Vicevich's callers, a self-proclaimed "Irishman" was appalled that Obama would offer beers to a cop of obvious Irish descent, claiming that such an invitation was insulting and somehow anti-Celtic. Vicevich hooted, and agreed heartily with the caller.

The caller went on to say that if the invitation went the other way, Obama should be offered "fried chicken and watermelon."

Oh. Doesn't take a genius to sniff a bigot at work.

Vicevich just laughed. No scold. No disclaimer. No rebuke. No condemnation. No indication that the caller had just crossed a line into old-fashioned, xenophobic, tiny-minded racism.Vicevich just laughed.

Which, in my book, makes Vicevich a racist. A radio host who encourages outright bigotry is, undeniably, himself, a bigot.

But that's no surprise from a man who regularly calls Barack Obama "the young president." Someone should remind Jim that constantly and consistently reminding his listeners that the president is "youthful" and "inexperienced" is tantamount to calling him "boy." And, Vicevich probably doesn't have to be reminded that calling a person of color "boy" has been a time-honored method of diminishing the worth of a person because of their race. If Vicevich doesn't intend the insult, he should refrain from using the "young president" tag, but my guess is that, in this case, he means what he says.

Resolution - The Torture Song

David Ippolito, who has made a singing career out of relatively impromptu weekend concerts in New York City's Central Park has written a great song of accusation on the topic of torture. Susan Forbes Hansen placed it in my hands last Wednesday, and I've been playing it in my car ever since.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sandy Paton, RIP

Sandy Paton, a well-regarded traditional folk musician, and founder of Folk Legacy Records of Sharon CT, died yesterday after years of suffering with emphysema.

I didn't know Sandy well, though I met him several times. I knew his music, and the music he played and produced with his family, and of course I knew the many classic traditional and contemporary recordings he produced with Gordon Bok, Bill Staines, Cindy Kallet and the trad folk supergroup, Bok, Muir and Trickett.

I came to know Sandy's music, and Sandy's label through Bill Domler who recruited me as a folk DJ at WWUH. Bill loved the Patons, and their music, and was so inspired by their album of singalong traditional folk, The Golden Ring, that he started a coffeehouse, The Sounding Board, which still runs strongly, three decades later. The Patons played the Sounding Board annually.

The music Sandy and Caroline played and recorded was real, honest-to-god folk and traditional music. Music that had been passed down through generations, hand to hand, until all the burrs had been worn off. Sandy played and preserved the music with a nerdy passion, that we promoters and seekers of edgy, electrified and singer-songwriter type folk music would sometimes scoff at. I confess to a bit of scoffing myself, but I've grown (or grown up) to believe and understand, that without "nerds" like Sandy, we wouldn't have the rich reserve of folk songs and tunes that each successive generation seeks out to learn, love and perform.

Sandy's Folk Legacy label, like folk music itself, has survived the fashionable ups and downs of pop music and sustained an evergreen catalogue of folk songs. What Sandy, and Caroline, have done, and have left us, is important, though not necessarily sexy enough to command headlines.

Sandy left this old world a better place than he found it, and not much higher praise could be given to anyone who has finished trodding its dusty paths.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Interity? What integrity?

As Chris Dodd complains about having his integrity assaulted, and he campaigns under the banner of the Senator who turns his back on lobbyists, the truth is that he's courting the same lobbyists, succcessfully, for his campaign war chest. Then he's spending the money on commercials to say the opposite. And what's most sickening, is the "press is out to get Chris" line he's peddling through his colleagues and his spouse. The press may be out to get Chris, but the press is only interested because he's a Senator who apparently can't walk the talk, like too many in that august body.

How much wasted, how much lost?

In reading this story about the triumph of law enforcement over marijuana smugglers, two questions occur to me. How much money was spent on breaking this ring which was smuggling a drug used by a huge, non-addicted, swath of the population? And how much was lost in not being able to tax a billion dollars in pot sales?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer harvest

An interesting postcard from Kevin Lynch in the Netherlands. In this country we drive through summertime fields of ripening corn, tomatoes, squash and beans. This is a field of prime Netherlands' hemp. A taxable crop which law enforcement does not have to worry about.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Barefoot Truth and Naia Kete

Listen up. How can we sing King Alpha song in a strange land?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

From the sublime to the sublime

Today was a day of discovery and validation. There are new and young musicians who are pushing the boundaries, and great veterans who are only getting better.

Jim Olsen has got to be complimented for his booking prowess. Naia Kete, who grew up in a family of French language reggae singers, the Black Rebels, tore the tent down with her amazing voice and beautiful songs. I couldn't get close enough to the stage to get a photo.

Also, in the small tent, the Sweetback Sisters from Brooklyn, who were the only band to play Friday and Saturday, won over many new fans with their version of bluegrass, old-time and old country, and an indication that their revival of Roger Miller's My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died, could be a hit again.

On Friday night, one had to ping-pong back and forth from the main stage, where singer-songwriters joined with a hot house band, to the dance tent where the rain meant a crowded, sweaty dance floor, to hear all the good music, and appreciate the high level of musicianship on the Signature Sounds label.

For my money, the main stage highlight was Dave Alvin and The Guilty Women. His wonderful band of veteran women musicians went from roots to rock. And Dave driving the band through two false finished with Abilene, where Cindy Cashdollar (pedal steel) sparred with Amy Farris (fiddle), to a draw, was out of this world.

The festival was a sell-out for the first time in it's 23 year history, and one begins to wonder if this two-day delight has outgrown its venue.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Come back Woody Guthrie

Ninety-seven years since America's first singer-songwriter was born in Okemah, OK.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Doing their imitation of conservative Republicans

Spineless creatures washing up on the beach. San Diego, or DC?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The champeen fundraiser

Somehow, I'm not sure this is exactly the point Chris Dodd wants to focus on right now.

In an email blast, new CT Dem communications director, Colleen Flanagan castigates Dodd's Republican opponent Rob Simmons for his "lackluster" fundraising. The sneering tone of the email makes it kind of a schoolyard taunt. It's completely unappealing, and I have no use for Rob Simmons:

Rob Simmons, the darling of the state and national Republicans, and clear choice for his party to take on Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, posted his fundraising numbers today, raking in a pitiful $750,000 in 90 days. Combined with his lackluster first quarter total of zero, Simmons has averaged a pathetic $375,000 per quarter, ensuring a bloody Republican primary before anyone is even chosen to run against Dodd.

“Is Rob Simmons running for Congress again or is he serious about running for the U.S. Senate?” questioned Colleen Flanagan, Connecticut Democratic Party Communications Director. “With an embarrassing total for the second quarter, combined with his pitiful average of $375,000 per quarter since he got into this race, it’s a valid question, and one that Connecticut and National Republicans are surely asking themselves, as well. While he was billed as the frontrunner by national and state Republicans to take on Chris Dodd, this is a huge blow to the guy who had already picked out the color of the drapes and chosen his office on Capitol Hill.”

Of course, it's completely naive to think that fundraising is not an essential, maybe the essential component of successful politicking these days, but considering the sticky spot Dodd is in with the voting public, does the new Connecticut Democratic Communications Director really want us thinking that Dodd is spending a lot of time courting lobbyists and influencers who might have some effect on his votes in say, the new health care bill. This from NPR, July 8:

It was a hectic day for Dodd, who is chairing the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee while the official chairman, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), is being treated for cancer.

When the committee took its lunch break, Dodd dashed off to meet with President Obama about another huge project he is spearheading in the Senate — fixing the nation's financial industry.

But squeezed in between the committee meeting and the White House, Dodd made one other stop: He popped in at a fundraiser — for him.

The fundraiser was a $1,500-a-plate luncheon, hosted by two lobbyists, with proceeds going to support Dodd's re-election campaign.

The lobbyists hosting the fundraising event work for U.S. Oncology, a major provider of cancer drugs and services. Their business is all wrapped up in the health care proposals.

According to Dodd's campaign manager, there were other donors in attendance — not just those with a stake in health care policy. But this scenario is a snapshot of something that happens all the time on Capitol Hill.

A member of Congress will routinely spend part of the day legislating — and part of the day raising money. And that money often comes from the industries that will gain or lose from that legislation.

The efficient, successful, fundraiser at work. Not the picture I would guess Dodd needs painted of himself when he's trying to dig himself out of a hole lined with accusations about his connections to people of larger influence than you or I.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why they began calling it the boob tube long ago

I'm guessing it's intentional. Some smart, pissed-off layout artist knew that the best spot for a full-page Fox 61 ad promoting the beauty and bosom of a Fox 61 "news reporter" was on the page following the story in which Shelly Sindland's complaints against the station were aired.

The lucious, pouting lips, the red form-fitting dress, and the perky, though modest, mammaries of undoubtably-brilliant reporter, Erica Arias, is printed on the backside of a news sheet in which a story about discarded-cutie Sindland, is given the gutter, and placement below the important "cheetah import" story.

Sinland has accused the management of Fox 61 of age and sex discrimination, and if the recent set of newspaper ads is evidence, she likely has a case.

It seems that Fox 61 has given up on promoting the frumpy news writers of the Courant as new TV stars, and has settled on the age-old ploy of selling beauty and breasts as they parade their young and handsome hi-def fodder in large, full-color newspaper ads that look like Hollywood ads for the latest light summertime comedy.

These insulting news pin-ups are only the latest insult to anyone with half a brain. The newly designed front page, from which real stories have been banished for mini-headlines, teasers and news-ish crudités, is yet another laughable attempt by the new management to recruit young readers. Instead they are driving the core readers, guys like me, away. When was the last time you caught someone under 30 with a newpaper in their fist and they weren't chasing a housefly?

BTW, if the Courant were not owned by the Trib, and joined at the hip with Fox 61, do you think the Shelley Sindland story would have been buried in the business section? Exactly. It's the kind of front-page gossip story that sells papers, except if the paper in question is run by the manager, Richard Graziano, who is the focus of the complaints.

Also, BTW, I'd have tuned in if I'd have known is was "Big Boob Friday." Personally, I think every newscast on WTIC-TV Fox 61 is anchored by big boobs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A broken neck in the 'friendly skies"

H/T to Kevin Lynch

Cat Mother

Since I yakked so much about it on the radio today, here's the link for MP3 downloads of Albion Doo-Wah, and if you can stand it, a slide-show, below of a Cat Mother reunion and benefit held earlier this year.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Darling Be Home Soon

On Ed Sullivan with a real-live string and horn section, no less.

Monday, July 6, 2009

At home with Ms. McKeown

My cousin Erin is raising money to pay for her new album by holding concerts at her own abode, and allowing us to join in via the web.

The deal is called Cabin Fever, and it's not too late to buy tickets, and catch the barn-raising spirit.

And you won't be left without a seat.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

For every silver lining, there's a dark cloud

If the two days of New England sunshine have got you feeling a bit, optimistic, here's a little black cloud from Nouriel Roubini to get you back in the spirit of our soggy spring. Try to dismiss Roubini's negative view of the economy, but realize he's been one of the very few who has been right about virtually everything so far.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

He plays the devil's advocate so well, perhaps he's typecast

Video from Paul Bass and the New Haven Independent

As far as I'm concerned, once you've run over the skunk, no amount of air freshener is going to get rid of the stink.

And so is the case with Creepy Joe™ Lieberman, who shilled for the Republicans when he guessed, and guessed wrong, that he might find a power base in an alliance with his idealogical similar colleagues. After he and his bellicose, conservative allies were rundown in an election by voters fed-up with deceit and cronyism, his limp corpse was dusted off by Barack Obama and presented to Democratic legislators, wearing clothespins on their noses, as an opportunity.

The skunk in question made no apologies for his stink, but set about pretending he was one of the gang again.

Until things like this demonstrate that the proof is available, in black and white, that a skunk's stripes are as indelible as a leopard's spots. As for the skunk's obligation to help those who held their noses and welcomed him back, it seems that the skunk is thinking like a Republican again.