Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Bear Family is a German label that specializes in immaculately-produced career overviews. Two important sets from their vast catalogue are Flatt & Scruggs 1948-1959 and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys' San Antonio Rose.
Fiddler Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys are the greatest band the country/jazz hybrid known as Western Swing has ever known. San Antonio Rose captures all of their most important studio sides recorded between 1937 and 1948. Wills started out absorbing as much black music as white country, and by the late 1930s he evolved into the ringleader of one of the wildest batch of virtuoso musicians ever wrangled together. Nearly all of them are here, performing on the records that made Wills famous. The honeyed vocals of Tommy Duncan, guitarist Eldon Shamblin, steel masters Leon McAuliffe, Noel Boggs and Herb Remington are at the center of the Playboys' sound. It's a staggering roster of talent, heard in both small and big band settings all showcased on 11 CDS with a DVD and hardback book thrown in for good measure.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The NEA announced the 2009 National Heritage Fellowships in August, and the 11 honorees represent the vast range of folk traditions in the U.S., including a willow basket-maker, a Cambodian classical dancer and choreographer, a cowboy poet, a Yoruba singer, a Puerto Rican cuatro player and two artists presented in the past by Cityfolk, zydeco master “Queen” Ida Guillory and the a cappella gospel singing group the Birmingham Sunlights.
The 2009 honors had a bittersweet aspect as well as the celebratory, as the recipient of this year’s Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship--musician, record producer and folk music advocate Mike Seeger--was in hospice care nearing the end of his battle with cancer.
Mike Seeger (1933-2009) is as responsible as any one musician for the re-discovery, preservation and ongoing revival of the country music recorded between 1925 and 1942, what we now call “old-time country.” Seeger was a tireless evangelist for the charms of this music, and he was the portal through which many of us first approached the stringbands, ballad singers, fiddlers and banjo players of this formative era in American music. Seeger called these songs and tunes “Music from the True Vine,” and he tended and nurtured the vine with love, care, respect and intelligence.
Seeger is best known for his work with the New Lost Ramblers, the pioneering old-time revival band he co-founded in the late 1950s, but his contributions to American music go far beyond the recordings and tours of that seminal trio. He was also a prolific solo artist, with a dozen albums to his credit displaying his mastery of guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, autoharp, harmonica and dulcimer.
Seeger did lots of important field recordings and produced albums by the Country Gentlemen, Elizabeth Cotten, Sam and Kirk McGee, Roscoe Holcomb, Ernest Stoneman, Dock Boggs, Kilby Snow, Cousin Emmy and many others, as well as the 1956 record that’s considered the very first bluegrass album, American Banjo: Three-Finger and Scruggs Style. He was also an avid collaborator, touring and recording with such musicians as Tommy Jarrell, Alice Gerrard, the Strange Creek Singers (Seeger, Gerrard, Hazel Dickens, Tracy Schwartz and Lamar Grier) and John Hartford.
“It was Mike who said to a generation of musicians, ‘Dig a little deeper,’” said Joe Wilson, head of the National Council for the Traditional Arts and himself a recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship. “His contributions as an advocate of great artists who had been ignored will shine for generations to come; he is our teacher in inclusiveness, the one always willing to put others before himself, to say ‘You need to hear this.’”
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Will Rogers made quite a few movies. This edited version, narrated by Jim Rogers, one of Will’s sons, is a showcase for Roger’s great roping skills. It was the first commercial film to feature slow motion. The narration describes the tricks and their difficulty, and gives the feeling of a magician explaining his tricks.
Best Bluegrass Clog Dancing Video Ever Made--from Bluegrass Roots
In 1964, film maker David Hoffman spent three weeks around Madison County, North Carolina, with the 82 year old founder of the pioneer Asheville Mountain Music and Dance Festival, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, resulting in the documentary film, “Bluegrass Roots”. This is how clogging and square dancing got started--neighbors gathering in someone's house.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
When they turn up during a celebration of Latin heritage at the White House on PBS, perform the closing music to a Simpsons episode, or provide the perfect tag to an episode of the Sopranos, it's all part of a continuing reminder that 35 years in, Los Lobos are thoroughly ingrained into American music. They are great songwriters and skilled musicians who also have impeccable taste in cover material. And they are still out there with a lineup that has been intact for decades. You have your chance to experience their special magic on November 19 at the Victoria Theatre.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The "Summit" also included alto sax legend Phil Woods (pictured at left, sometimes known as "New Bird"), who just recently celebrated his 78th birthday; Jimmy Heath, tenor saxophone master who's played with everyone from Ray Charles to Art Farmer and Cannonball Adderley, and whose autobiography, I Walked With Giants will be released in January 2010; and young tenor sax "monsters" Harry Allen and Jimmy Greene (pictured at right).
Being a somewhat skilled reed player myself in a previous life, I jumped at the chance to catch this performance. I have had a life-long desire to see Phil Woods in person, and have seen and heard the other musicians a number of times. My wife and I hopped the subway (first time ever!) and headed uptown to the 92nd Street YMCA.
The concert blew both of us away and was truly one of the most memorable live performances that I've seen in my 30+ years of concert-going. Hearing five world-class sax legends in one "sitting" was a joy for myself, and discerning each of their very distinctive styles was something that I could have done long after the performance ended. Walking out of the show I told Joelle that this amazing show is something that I know will stay with me for the rest of my music-appreciating days.
That brings me to my somewhat rambling point of this blog post: given the range of musicians coming to Dayton in the next several weeks (Son de Madera, Los Lobos, Del McCoury and Natalie MacMaster, to just name a few), what shows would you list in your top 3 of your own personal music-appreciating life? Better yet, out of those shows, have any been Cityfolk shows? Share your experiences in our comments section, and I'll reward the 3 best stories with a $20 coupon for the Meadowlark Restaurant that's good for anytime from now until next summer!
Thanks for your continued support of Cityfolk and I look forward to seeing you at one of our many upcoming shows!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
What brings these two bands together is their shared love of son jarocho, a style of traditional music from the Mexican state of Veracruz that blends European, African and indigenous influences into a distinctive string-based music that was disseminated throughout Mexico (and beyond) by radio, records and movies in the 1930s and 1940s. The most famous example of the son jarocho sound is “La Bamba.”
Founded in 1992 and based in Xalapa, Veracruz, Son de Madera is one of the leading bands in the ongoing revitalization of son jarocho. The band's most recent album Son de Mi Tierra, released earlier this year by Smithsonian Folkways, showcases the updated version of son jarocho that has earned the band critical acclaim for bringing the style “into the present, making it sound fresh, modern and fully its own” (Los Angeles Times).
Son jarocho has been a vital part of the Los Lobos sound from the start. The band-—then a quartet of David Hidalgo, Cesar Rojas, Louie Perez and Conrad Lozano—-recorded the son jarocho songs “El Canelo,” “La Iguana” and “Maria Chuchena” on its debut album, Del Este de Los Angeles (Just Another Band from East L.A.) and that infectious son jarocho sound has popped up on subsequent Los Lobos albums as well, especially La Pistola y El Corazon, Acoustic En Vivo and Papa's Dream.
And who can forget “La Bamba,” which Los Lobos took to the top of the charts in 1987, part of the soundtrack album from the Ritchie Valens biopic of the same name. Los Lobos performed the music for the film, including a memorable on-screen snippet of the band playing a very traditional Veracruz-style version of the iconic son jarocho standard.
Son jarocho was traditionally played on three primary instruments: the arpa jarocha, a large wooden harp with 32-36 strings; the guitarra de son (also known as a requinto jarocho or javalina, pictured here), a four-stringed instrument that looks like a small guitar and is used to pick out melody notes; and the jarana, a descendant of the Spanish Baroque guitar, with between eight and 12 strings arranged in five courses, and strummed to provide a chordal and rhythmic base for the song.
The guitarra de son has largely replaced the harp as the primary lead melody instrument in most modern ensembles. Other instruments that are sometimes used to augment the sound include the violin; 6-string Spanish guitar; guitarrón, an acoustic bass guitar more often found in mariachi bands; leon or leona, a large-body baritone requinto; and jaranas of varying sizes.
Sample both bands' styles of son jarocho in person this month. On Thursday, November 12, Son de Madera visit the Kennedy Union Ballroom at U.D. and on Thursday, November 19, Los Lobos returns to the Victoria Theatre with a plugged-in rock show
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Whiskey Tasting before The StepCrew
Saturday, November 7
6:00 - 7:30 pm - $20
Join us at Cityfolk's Celtic Series Sponsor, The Dublin Pub for fun before and after the show! The Pub will host another popular whiskey-tasting event before the show where you'll get to sample some great new whiskeys along with tasty Pub appetizers. PLUS you will get a stainless steel Cityfolk logo stein. Purchase tickets to this event by clicking the link above, or at the Dublin Pub that night. The whiskeys on offer that night include
Then to continue your Celtic music experience after the show with the lively tunes of Mothergrove from Indianapolis at The Dublin Pub. Celtic Series artists often show up at Dayton's own Irish pub after their show, so you may get to rub elbows with members of The StepCrew. Show your concert ticket for free admission.
The Irishman Irish Whiskey: a unique style based on 30% Pot Still and 70% malt whiskeys from the Midleton distillery. Slightly sweet and full bodied with flavours of spice, dried fruits and vanilla.
Ryan's Irish Cream
Nutty Irishman: rich and bold, a perfect blend of Ryan's Irish Cream and Almond Liqueur.
Chocolate Martini: succulent and divine combination of Ryan's Irish Cream, Chocolate Vodka, and Chocolate Liqueur and Chocolate Syrup
Irish Cappuccino: Ryan's Cappuccino Irish Cream, Coffee, and whipped cream
Mexican-themed Dinner before Los Lobos
Thursday, November 19
Dinner and a prime concert ticket - $75
Start your evening right with dinner at Coco's Bistro before the show! A portion of the proceeds benefits Cityfolk. Alcohol, tax and tips will be added to your bill. To take advantage of this offer, click the link above or call Shelley at (937) 496-3863. Choose from two special entrees that are not on Coco's menu:
Carne de vaca y arroz - Seared beef tips, red and green chili rice, toasted pumpkin mole, tortilla strips, lime creme fraiche
Tacos de pescados - Tequila grilled mahi, corn tortillas, cilantro slaw, house hot sauce, black beans & rice
Entrees served with smoked avacado ranch house salad and dessert of churros - Cinnamon Sugar, Mexican Chocolate
All Spanish wines 1/2 off per bottle; $5 margaritas!