Sunday, July 31, 2011

Plugging in to Newport

By Al Tays

Paste this link into a new window and listen up:

Join Al Tays for the first Sunday
at the Sanctuary "Name That
Acronym" contest. Hint: Newport
Folk Festival won't win. Clue:
What words might be used to
declare a fiddle ban.
Never made it to either Newport, R.I., music festival, Folk or Jazz, despite growing up near Boston, just a hop, skip and an ungodly traffic jam away. Didn't appreciate jazz until much later in life (thank you, Herbie Mann) and by 1971, when I was a senior in high school and just starting to venture beyond the local concert scene in Boston and Cambridge, the Newport Folk Festival closed up shop for several years, reopening in 1985.

Newport, with its beautiful harbor brimming with sailboats, is a wonderful place to do almost anything on a summer day, but listening to great roots music is one of the best things.

Unfortunately, Newport is best known for one of its darker days: the occasion in 1965 when Dylan had the audacity to play an electric set, backed by some members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

On Saturday, watching the live feed of this year's Newport Folk Festival on (it continues through today), I noticed that some people are STILL angry about electric instruments being used. Hey, I was part of the Dylan-is-a-heretic movement back in the day, but we all evolve. What was it the "Willie Brown" character said to Ralph Macchio's acoustic-guitar-playing "Eugene Martone" character in "Crossroads"? "You got it all wrong. Muddy Waters invented electricity!"

Anyway, it's great to catch up with this venerable music celebration after all these years. Even if you've never seen it, it's worth a look. Check out that link if you haven't already.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 cheers for beers

According to a new Gallup Poll the popularity of beer is at a record low.  Now you certainly wouldn't agree with the pollsters if you spent any time on a bar stool at Walter's on North in Wauwatosa, where the luminaries and cognoscentes of our fine community meet regularly to discuss topics of great interest. And to drain kegs and kegs of beer.

Positioned on our perches at Walter's we discuss the budget crisis, consider the plight of teachers, fret about Rickie Weeks' ankle injury and celebrate with great anticipation another Super Bowl run by our beloved Packers. But worry about the future of beer? Trust us, it's in good hands. Every day at Walter's is a celebration of what made Milwaukee famous.

So Gallup this: 10 of our favorite beer gulping songs (sorry, this is confined to BEER music):

1. There's a Tear in My Beer, Hank Williams
2. Beer Barrel Polka, Frankie Yankovic
3. What's Made Milwaukee Famous, Jerry Lee Lewis
4. Pop a Top, Alan Jackson
5. (Lookin' For) The Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Waits *
6. Red Necks, White Sox and Blue Ribbon Beer, Stonewall Jackson
7. A Six Pack to Go, Hank Thompson
8. In Heaven There is No Beer, Polkaholics
9. A Couple of Beers Ago, Dale Watson
10. I Hardly Ever Sing Beer Drinking Songs, Johnny Cash

* Since he was "cruisin' with six" it's obvious what was being consumed in that Oldsmobile

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We hardly knew her

Amy Winehouse: A talented, tortured soul.
When Amy Winehouse burst onto the music scene in 2006 we weren't paying attention, even though her sophomore album Back to Black possessed just the sort of kinetic energy and musical alchemy that should have won us over.

But we couldn't see the talent for the tabloid headlines. If you believed what was being written -- and much of it apparently was true --Winehouse was more than a trainwreck waiting to happen; she rarely stayed on the tracks at all.

Now that she's gone -- the newest member of the ghoulish 27 Club -- perhaps the most amazing detail to consider is that despite the remarkable commercial and critical success of Back to Black she never made another album. All that talent and just two albums in eight years.

Of the dozens and dozens of videos online, we recommend this clip of "Valerie" which captures the raw beauty of Winehouse's voice:

The opening words to "He Can Only Hold Her" from Back to Black provide a haunting farewell to an artist we never really knew:

He can only hold her for so long
The lights are on, but no one's home
She's so vacant, her soul is taken

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When Trucks collide

By Al Tays
Although he accomplished
absolutely nothing on the 
ballfield as a kid, Al Tays
did once whistle a puck past
lovely and beguiling hockey
goalie Manon Rheaume.
Given our blog founder's love of the Grand Old Game, we thought we'd do a little baseball/music combo this morning. In both worlds, the name "Trucks" commands enormous respect. Derek Trucks is, of course, the immensely talented guitarist associated with the Allman Brothers and various bands of his own. Virgil "Fire" Trucks was one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the history of baseball.

Derek Trucks is the nephew of Allmans drummer Butch Trucks. Butch Trucks is Virgil Trucks' nephew. In an excellent 2010 column for, longtime baseball writer Peter Gammons (who plays a mean Stratocaster himself) documented the 2008 meeting of Derek and Virgil.

Virgil wasn't very familiar with the musical legacy surrounding Derek. "I haven't listened to the Allman Brothers too much," the then-91-year-old told Gammons. "They don't play them much on the Birmingham (Ala.) station."

Derek knew about Virgil, however. He had one of Virgil's baseball cards on the back of his guitar. Another one of Virgil's cards has had a place on Butch Trucks' drum kit.

If Derek Trucks doesn't someday make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they should burn the place down (which might not be a bad idea anyway). Virgil Trucks isn't in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he put together some Hall-worthy accomplishments nevertheless.

How many pitchers do you know of who went 5-19 in a season, yet threw two no-hitters (and very nearly three)? If your answer is "one -- Virgil Trucks," congratulations. Pitching in 1952 for the Detroit Tigers, he no-hit the Washington Senators and New York Yankees (both 1-0 games). Trucks also threw four no-nos in the minors, and in 1938, in the Alabama-Florida League, he struck out 448 batters, the most K's ever recorded in a pro season.

Fortunately, there is no guitar equivalent of sabermetrics, so we can only appreciate a talent like Derek, not quantify him. There's so much video to choose from, but let's go with one from 1993 when he was only 13 years old, opening for the Allmans in Raleigh, N.C.

Plus, he's rockin' a sweet Braves hat.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The truth about Margaret (we think)

Ever in pursuit of musical knowledge -- and fully aware it has been days since our last post -- we throttle up to 78 rpms today to take a wistful look at a golden voice of yesteryear.

Things we DID know about Margaret Whiting, who was born on this day in 1924:

-- She was a popular singer in the Forties and Fifties who covered many of the standards, like "Moonlight in Vermont," "It Might as Well Be Spring" and "Time After Time."
-- Her father was a composer.
-- My oldest sister was not named after her.

Things we DIDN'T know about Margaret Whiting:

-- She passed away in January of natural causes.
-- She and her sister were in a situation comedy that was a summer replacement for I Love Lucy.
-- Her fourth and final marriage was to gay porn star Jack Wrangler.

Hey, these are wikifacts.  Now here's a video of our birthday girl:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Groovin' with Alan Gorrie

Alan Gorrie, bass player for the Average White Band, turns 65 today. If this video shot last year at Daryl Hall's "house" doesn't get you going, better check your pulse.  Now this is a jam, with Gorrie in the middle of the commotion.

"Pick Up the Pieces" is one of the planet's greatest groove songs. It rose to the top of the Billboard chart in 1974 and through the years has been used in numerous shows and movies like Swingers, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Superman II. It is a paean to funkadelia.  It completely legitimizes the disco beat.  It'll get you a speeding ticket if you don't watch out.

Put in the earbuds this morning and see if you can slip your groove past the boss. Ain't gonna happen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A rocker remembered

Terry Tanger played with his fingertips protected
during a show at Shank Hall in April 2010.
It's not easy listening to the first song on Terry Tanger's self-produced CD, The Vicodin Sessions. Not today, not right now, because Terry is gone at age 55.

It's just the facts of life and you're gonna do it until you die

It's just the facts of life and you're gonna do it until you die

It's a fact of life that Terry Tanger was a rocker until the day he died, or at least until he was too weak and ill to pick up a guitar and play it. The last year wasn't easy.  When the pain grew severe -- just pushing the steel strings down on the frets was excruciating  -- Terry looked for ways to get around it.  He needed to play, but a lead guitarist can't go out there in gloves.

Not that Terry didn't try. He tried everything. The last time we saw him -- the only time we saw him -- he played a reunion show with Those XCleavers at Shank Hall in Milwaukee. It was a year ago in April. To help blunt the pain that night he affixed the tips of blue surgical gloves to the ends of his left fingers before driving the band through its catalog of dance-til-you-drop songs. 

If you never heard Those XCleavers at least know that they once opened for the Police and U2.  They were a tight, kick-ass band, a favorite in Milwaukee clubs, playing an amalgam of punk, ska, blues, reggae, whatever. Wherever they played a herky-jerky dance crowd would form, shaking to those funky beats.

Bass player Tom Lesions had tipped us off before the Shank Hall show -- alarmed us, really -- by saying "Terry's not doing too well. He doesn't have all his organs." Other than family and close friends, who really knew how sick Terry was? How fortunate we were to have experienced that memorable show. The poor quality of this video does absolutely no justice to the band, but here's a glimpse of Terry playing guitar that night:

Terry recorded The Vicodin Sessions in his kitchen, in one take, while recovering from surgery. He used two channels on a multi-track cassette recorder and played a 1966 Fender Newport acoustic, a 1938 Oahu lap steel guitar and various Hohner harmonicas. The music is raw and unvarnished, in a most beautiful way. You can hear the pain.

The Vicodin Sessions, in its purest form, a simple story. A lament over situations, fortune, and lost love. There has been little new in American popular music for over one hundred years. Songs, with lyrics or not, are the accompaniment to our lives. If we took the time to put them to some kind of order, they would be a soundtrack. Writers are best when they write what they know, and musicians have been writing about that that got away for ages.

Those were Terry's words. No doubt they'll be playing his soundtrack today during a memorial gathering at the Milwaukee Yacht Club. We didn't learn until reading a staff-written obituary in the Journal-Sentinel newspaper that Terry, a good guy by all accounts, had a wife and a career in banking. All we knew was that music had been his calling, from that first day he picked up a guitar as a preteen.

Those are just facts of life.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

If Mandy is 41, that makes Bill ...

Sundays at the Sanctuary, you never know what you'll get -- or even when you'll get it from our West Coast rock (and usually rock solid) contributor Al Tays, who clearly marches to the beat of a different bass player.

By Al Tays

Today we wish a happy 41st birthday to one Mandy Smith, one of the most interesting figures in rock and roll. Interesting not as a performer, although she has been a singer, but as a supporting character in one of music's great soap operas, the Rolling Stones.

Stones fans may recall Ms. Smith married bassist Bill Wyman in 1989, when she was 19 and he was 53. Nothing unusual there, although the couple did begin dating in 1983 when she was 13 and he was 47. No, it was later developments that took this relationship into News of the Weird territory. Bill and Mandy divorced in 1993, but before the divorce became final, Wyman's son from his first marriage, Stephen, married Smith's mother, Patsy.

Got that? Him: My son is also my father-in-law. Her: My mother is also my daughter-in-law.

I know, it's only rock and roll.

If you only know Wyman from the Stones, check him out here with his own band, the Rhythm Kings, featuring Georgie Fame on vocals, Procol Harum cofounder Gary Brooker on piano and Peter Frampton on guitar:

Steve Earle soldiers on

By Mike Tierney

You can eschew Steve Earle, from his potpourri of musical stylings to, as the greybearded one himself put it Friday, his "pinko" world view.

But you cannot help but admire him. A recovering heroin addict with a prison record and numerous failed marriages behind him, Earle, 56, is an enduring pro's pro -- never mailing it in, live or in the studio.

Typical of the current tour, Earle and his band delivered 30-something songs at the Atlanta Botanical Garden that spanned two hours, 45 minutes (including an intermission) and put his considerabily music range on full display. (For his tour schedule click here.)

Regrettably, he has released his foot somewhat off the rock 'n' roll pedal, but that is to be expected of an aging troubador recently married to bandmate Allison Moorer and toting around their 15-month-old son on the tour bus.

Also regrettably, Earle has always hewed closely in concert to the recorded versions of songs, thus preventing his enjoyable performances from becoming memorable by altering their arrangements.

Still, attendees know they will get ample doses of blues, bluegrass, country, toe-tapping pop and balls-to-the-wall rock, all in one sitting.

To keep it fresh, Earle is properly pumping out several cuts from his new CD, I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, most of them in the opening set.

The evening moves at a moderate pace until the main man puts away his acoustic guitar and mandolin and plugs in the electric toward the end. You almost wish he had cranked it up earlier. But, when the final notes are hit, your ears are ringing.

Another certainty with Earle: The audience can count on a gifted supporting band. Besides Moorer, who blessed the gathering with three of her own numbers, he was flanked by guitarist Chris Masterson, late of the sublime band Son Volt.

Earle cannot resist sharing his take on politically driven news. Not should he clam up. Wisely, though, in these divisive times, he has toned down his rhetoric between songs and allowed their lyrics to convey his mindset.

Earle might be nearing a line that all long-timers approach: He has written so many songs that some start to sound alike. Yet concert-goers depart with a variety of tunes bouncing around in their brains. Give them nearly three-dozen selections, almost all of them solid, and they will find plenty to like and remember.

At the end of the day (or night), that's what a live show is all about.

Mike Tierney, a big-time correspondent for The New York Times and other worldy publications, gets more feedback for his musings at the Sanctuary.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Six strings for your soul

We notice the video we posted recently of a Cher-Gregg Allman duet has been removed for copyright reasons. C'mon, it wasn't THAT bad.

Well fine, go ahead and take 'em down and we'll just keep putting 'em up.  But keep your hands off the video we're linking you to this morning of brother Allman. This one deserves to live forever on YouTube and wherever they're posting 100 years from now.

When we consider Gregg's musical (as opposed to marriage) repertoire we don't often think about his deft moves on a six-string guitar. His brother Duane, after all, was legendary in that regard and it has always been Gregg's remarkable voice and keyboard prowess that defined his contributions in the Allman Brothers Band and most of his solo work. But Gregg picked up a guitar first as a kid, and he learned how to play it, too.

Your prize for making it through another week: Sit back and watch/listen to this video of "Come and Go Blues." If you're a guitar player it will inspire you to explore some alternate tunings, in this case DGDGBD.  If you're just a friend of warm, bluesy acoustic music that can bend your soul, why not grab a cup o' joe and get that groove on now.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rob Grill lived for today

In our midnight confessions we're tellin' the world that we loved Rob Grill. The lead singer and bass player for the Grass Roots died earlier this week in Mount Dora, Florida.  He was 67. Here's the obituary we saw on the Washington Post website via the Orlando Sentinel:

We Boomers tend to romanticize our past because, well, we were younger and it seemed like a better place and a simpler time -- especially with the music that was playing on the airwaves.  Grill and the Grass Roots generated good vibes with songs like "Let's Live for Today" and "Midnight Confessions" that helped us get through our teen-age years.

Here's to Rob Grill and some good times...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You could be a weiner

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind

Do this, don't do that
Can't you read the sign?

Being the sharp bunch that you are, you've probably figured out today's topic. That's right, we're always looking for signs here at the Sanctuary. Not signs like "Wash Hands When Finished." No, deeper, more mystical signs that are never obvious to the casual observer. Sometimes you have to connect the dots to discover the true meaning of things.

Take yesterday when my computer sent me randomly to a Facebook page I otherwise would never have visited. Now I could have clicked off the page and gone on with my business. But because I realized the potential of this "sign" one lucky Sanctuarian will very likely be winning Jewel's purse in an Oscar Meyer sweepstakes:

Go for it, and report back when you win so we can write a proper feature story.  (There are also daily and weekly giveaways, but we're thinking big here. Jewel's purse big.)

Special thanks to the Five Man Electrical Band for today's lyrics, which inspired "long-haired freaky people" like us to to hide our hair under our caps before applying for jobs. Unfortunately that tactic didn't work at the Whitehall Packing Company back in 1971, which dispatched us before we had a chance to witness any bloody carnage. Meanwhile, "Signs" made it to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 that summer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Born to be metal

Could this be the day in history when heavy metal rock was officially born?

We haven't done much research on the topic, but our rock 'n' roll calendar lists two events on July 13, 1968 that suggest the birthing of headbanger music.  All we know for sure is that our mommas were not pleased.

Exhibit A: Steppenwolf's landmark "Born To Be Wild" is released in the U.S., where it will climb to No. 2 on the Billboard chart.  A line from the song about "heavy metal thunder" refers to motorcycles yet is credited with popularizing the term for this emerging music form. 

We were all in at this point, as Steppenwolf became a welcome addition to the music of the day with songs like "Sookie Sookie" (which didn't even chart), "Born to Be Wild" and Magic Carpet Ride" that pushed us deeper into the catatonic stages of pre-adulthood.

Exhibit B: Black Sabbath plays their first gig at a club in Birmingham, England. Can't say we really noticed them until a couple years later when their album Paranoid completely sent us over edge. As draft-age adults by now we were offended to read an article suggesting that Black Sabbath's music was targeted at 14-year-olds.

Who in hell wrote that trash?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saved by the Dropkick Murphys

Does Boys and Toys refer to the men and their instruments,
or the special talent they brought out to polish off their set?
We heard Piles of Rhythm at this year's Summerfest, but my normally steady sidekick Jessi suffered Vanity Theft when she was Caught Looking at Dan Rodriguez's tattoos during his set at the Tiki Hut. It was Bad City after that, as a lot of the music we heard sounded like Stray Voltage (although one guitarist in particular on the Big Backyard stage seemed to have an Electric Touch with his Gibson Les Paul).

Throughout the day we swilled beers and probably injested too many Fatty Acids. We also found time to call our Unwed Sailor son/brother Zach to see what was happenin' in Hawaii. But then we heard a Siren, which caused an Early Ending to our afternoon at the Big Gig. Picture Me Broken. It was Something To Do on a warm summer afternoon in Milwaukee. At least we weren't sitting at home considering our Stock Options.

When you start your new band -- and you WILL have a band -- we're hoping you can come up with a better name than some of the monikers we saw on this year's Summerfest lineup. When you have in the neighborhood of 700 bands playing on 11 stages over 11 days there are going to be some stinkers, but hey, at least most of the music we heard was enjoyable.   

Once we decided to forego the headliners who appeared at Marcus Amphitheater and just go with the flow from stage to stage we were OK. We saw Rodriguez, a Minneapolis-based artist who sounds like a cross between Jack Johnson and Paul Thorn, and we can tell you he's not just another Junk Male. Rodriguez was on the same bill with Love Out Loud and Funktion. From there we headed to the Classic Rock Stage to hear The Sociables -- what in Lynyrd Skynyrd's name is a band that plays "That Smell" doing with a name like that?  But they really did play some smokin' southern rock.

And we had great fun with the crowd that gathered for Boys and Toys, a hard-rocking trio from Kenosha that can jam with the best of them -- and could really use a nameover.  But I realize if this Revision Text doesn't stop now I Am History with you kind readers.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Feast on this birthday treat

You can get anything you want on 
Sundays at the Sanctuary, where
Al Tays covers everything from
Arlo (above) to ZZ Top.
By Al Tays

For today's birthday celebration, a cake just won't do. No, it's gotta be "a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat." Thanksgiving in July? We could only be talking about Arlo Guthrie, the creator of "Alice's Restaurant Massacree."

Guthrie turns 64 today, and it's been 44 years since he released the album titled "Alice's Restaurant." A few years ago he re-recorded the song, adding an anecdote about discovering that Richard Nixon owned a copy of the album, and the song is exactly the same length as the famous gap in the Watergate tapes.

It's a tradition among many radio stations (not to mention yours truly) to play this song every Thanksgiving (I get to do it as long as I agree not to force Mrs. Assistant Music Blogger or Assistant Music Blogger Son and Daughter to listen).

But for Arlo's birthday, I'll crank up the iPod and wait for it to come around again on the gi-tar. Those of you Sanctuary seekers who enjoy it as much as I do can easily find it online. But for those with shorter attention spans, we offer this version of Guthrie's other well-known recording, his version of the Steve Goodman classic "City of New Orleans."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The music of baseball

If you think there was hugging on the field you should
have seen the aisles at Miller Park, where jubilant fans
were grabbing the nearest body they could find after a
ninth-inning rally produced an 8-7 Brewers victory.
We're hoarse this morning from all the screaming and squealing. In fact we have no voices at all. And, yes, we're a little woozy and hung over. In other words, nirvana!

This is summer, and summer means baseball, and baseball provides those rare moments when you don't believe you could feel more excited or eurphoric about any other event on this great earth.

Brewers win! Brewers win!

After the dreaded Reds scored three runs in the top of the seventh last night, taking a 7-5 lead, we admit it was difficult to summon the energy for the "Beer Barrel Polka," the appropriate encore for "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch at Miller Park.

Then it seemed like the bottom half of the seventh ... took ... forever.  Didn't we eventually strand runners at first and third without scoring? After watching a weary beer vender who was barking "Last call!" make his umpteenth trek up and down the steps of Section 126 Jess turned to me and remarked: "That guy thought his job was done a long time ago."

We don't remember much about the scoreless eighth, or even details of the top half of the ninth where Marco Estrada somehow kept the dangerous Reds' offense (Joey Votto is the scariest weapon in baseball) off the scoreboard.  But the bottom of the ninth will live forever.

Reserve catcher George Kottaras led off with an ominous walk against former Brewers closer Francisco Cordero. Next All-Star Rickie Weeks, who had an inside-the-park homer in the third that made the Reds outfielders look like Larry, Moe and Curly, flew out. Damn, one away. Up came sparkplug outfielder Nyjer Morgan (alter ego: Tony Plush), who followed with a wild triple into the right field corner, scoring Kottaras and pulling the boys within one.  (At this point the game's fan giveaway, a Ryan Braun Rally Towel, offically became a high-use collectors item.)

Corey Hart then followed with a chopper to the shortstop that woulda, coulda, shoulda tied the game but the Reds catcher took the throw at the plate and Morgan, a 185-pound model freight train choo-chooing down the line, couldn't dislodge the ball from the mitt. Two out.

Cordero then pitched carefully to Prince Fielder, who drew a walk, moving Hart to second. When light-hitting and slow-moving third baseman Casey McGehee, a late-inning substitution, somehow beat out an infield chopper, the bases were jammed, no place to put 'em.  Up stepped reserve outfielder Mark Kotsay, who has been playing in left for the injured Braun. Kotsay had already played hero-goat on this night, with a home run and a botched play in left that aided the Reds' rally in the seventh.

Here rookie manager Ron Roenicke made his best move of the night, and maybe the season.  He inserted the Carlos Gomez as a pinch-runner for Prince. Now, with the fleet Go-Go on second, a well-placed single could win it. Still, there were two outs. I don't remember exactly when we started screaming, but I can say with assurance that we never stopped until 25 minutes later when our bus shuttle -- 20 drunk and delirious fans in a 10-seat van -- triumphantly returned to Rounding Third Tavern.  Come to think of it, we were just starting.

Rounding Third -- how appropriate, since that is how we remember Gomez, just a blur as he wheeled past third base coach Ed Sedar in full view from our seats.  Kotsay had worked Cordero to a nail-biting 2-2 count before launching a 95 mph fastball into right. Hart was home in an instant, followed closely by Coco, who made a beautiful head-first slide to beat the throw at the plate and score the game-winner.

Pandemonium, the word, somehow doesn't seem dramatic enough, even in this morning afterglow. But it's all we have. We're out of words, out of voices, out of this world.

Friday, July 8, 2011

67 candles for Jaimoe

We're here today to spread some good cheer for a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. Jai Johanny Johanson, who shared the duel drumming attack with Butch Trucks, has made it to 67 -- which must seem like 1,000 in rock band years.

In a 2009 interview at Jaimoe recalled reading Downbeat magazine in high school. "God sent Downbeat magazine to 33rd Avenue High School (in Gulfport, Mississippi) for me and I used to read that magazine from front to back, everything in it," he recalled. When he read how artists like Sonny Greer and Paul Gonsalves in the Duke Ellington band had survived 30 years he couldn't believe it. "That's the craziest thing," he said.

Congratulations, Jaimoe, you've now made it 42 years.

Today we're sharing a clip from earlier this year at the Iridium in New York City, where the Jaimoe Jasssz Band was running through a sweet version of "Rainy Night in Georgia."  These cats are tight.

Besides spinning some Allman Brothers today we have a mind to hear some Sea Level, the fusion offshoot started by Jaimoe, bassist Lamar Williams and keyboard player Chuck Leavell when the Allmans were disbanding following the deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley.

"When you have something that you do well together, know what it is, that's one of the greatest lessons in 40 years," says Jaimoe.  "Knowing how chemistry works."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The new math

They gave it four paragraphs in Twisted South magazine, and that was good enough for us. If you're looking for some new blues grooves this just might do the trick for you.

The CD is The Mathematics of Love by Peter Parcek and we see smoke coming out of the jewel case. If you're not familiar with Parcek (we weren't), all you probably need to know is that he has been called "as bad as Clapton" by Buddy Guy.  Bandmates Steve Scully (drums) and Marc Hickox (bass) appear to be the perfect sidekicks for Parcek's fusion of blues, rockabilly and surf guitar.

Check out the video and don't bother thanking us. We're just passing it along. For more information about Parcek here's a link to his website:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hey baby it's the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July, we have some fireworks for you today.

Dave Alvin remembers years ago watching Austin City Limits for the first time in his home in Downey, California. On the stage for that show were a couple of legends that must have inspired him: Townes Van Zandt and Lightnin' Hopkins. 

Which is why he mentions after performing "Fourth of July" that words couldn't adequately describe his feelings about performing on the same stage. But we're of the opinion that no stage is too big for Alvin, who has never received his due as an artist and songwriter despite his barn-storming days in the Blasters and X, and an impressive catalog of solo work.

Anybody who thought Robert Earl Keen wrote "Fourth of July" owes Dave Alvin a red-white-and-blue apology. You can start by listening to the real deal, which starts as a slow burn and builds up to Alvin's pyrotechnic riffing on his Stratocaster (beginning at 3:46):

On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shooting fireworks below
Hey baby it's the Fourth of July
Hey baby it's the Fourth of July

Sunday, July 3, 2011

And then there was Pickett's charge

If contributor Al Tays really wanted to spoil your Sunday at the Sanctuary he would have mentioned that Roy Rogers' horse Trigger died on this day  in 1965. He (Trigger) was 25. Tays, age unknown, soldiers on.

 By Al Tays
Look both ways when you cross the street today, Sanctuary seekers, 'cause there's lots of bad karma on this day in music history.

1969: Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones drowns.

1971: Doors frontman Jim Morrison is found dead in a bathtub in Paris.

1972: Blues great Mississippi Fred McDowell ("I do not play no rock 'n' roll")
dies of cancer.

1973: Laurens Hammond, the inventor of the Hammond organ, dies.

2001: Singer-songwriter Johnny Russell dies. The Beatles, with Ringo on lead vocals, covered his "Act Naturally," which was first recorded by Buck Owens.

So much music to choose from to honor these greats, but we're in the mood to hear some sweet Hammond B-3. So listen to Jimmy Smith rip it up on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and light some candles for our Band of the Dearly Departed.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Feel like we do

A poster promoting Day
on the Green, one of many
concerts at Oakland Coliseum.
You've noticed that icon on the top right corner of our page for Wolfgang's Vault?  We hope you've been curious enough to click on it, because it'll take you places.  Places like ...

Oakland Coliseum, two days before the Fourth of July, 1977.  Promoter Bill Graham presents Day on the Green No. 4, featuring Peter Frampton, Santana, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Outlaws.  The stadium is packed to the gills, it's been 10 years since the Summer of Love blossomed on the Left Coast but there are still plenty of hippies and longhairs -- and bikini-clad worshippers -- grooving on the big stadium concerts.   As fireworks explode in the sky Frampton steps up to the mic and performs "Baby I Love Your Way."

You can relive moments from that memorable concert -- and watch hundreds of other vintage performances -- by simply visiting the Vault.  We've never received much positive feedback when referencing Frampton, but watch the setup to "Do You Feel Like We Do" -- a meandering love fest that tracks for 24 minutes, 14 seconds -- and witness the artist's complete mastery of his audience. It's something to behold.  Here's a direct link:

It's a reminder that music can make any day, but especially a warm summer day that folds into a promising Fourth of July weekend. Better get out there and find something real ...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer strummers

Sweet days of summer
The jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up
And playing her tune

Whatever became of June, and for that matter, Seals & Crofts?  Our favorite month is officially shot in the keister. If you're feeling cheated, join the band.  We never had spring up here in the hinterlands, and summer is blowing past like a C.C. Sabathia fastball (striking out 13 Brewers yesterday, now that's cruel!)

OK, you can tell we have nothing today. Except ... what really did happen to Seals & Crofts? They would have been the perfect accompaniment to Summerfest, where 700 bands are sharing 11 stages over 11 days.  It really is the world's largest music festival, and we'll be there before it's over. But no Seals & Crofts. 

"Summer Breeze" really did make us feel fine, so fine that we're posting a video to help break in July on a mellow, groovy note. Now if we could just transport back to 1972 ...