Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks
Born to be Wilder
recorded live at WorkPlay,
Blind Pig Records BPCD 5120
Deliveries After Dark
Blind Pig Records BPCD 5121
The Yank Rachell Tribute Concert and CD Release Party happened June 8 in the courtyard of the Indiana Historical Society in downtown Indianapolis, along the banks of the newly renovated White River Canal. It drew only a moderate crowd, perhaps because of the $10 admission charge ($12 at the door), but nonetheless, was a delightful way to spend a sultry Sunday afternoon that featured a full five hours of music.
The mandolin was very much the dominating instrument among the music played, fittingly enough given that that was not only the instrument of choice of Rachell himself, but also given that he was one of the undoubted masters of the blues mandolin.
National artists Rich DelGrosso and Andra Faye sang and played mandolin, with mandolin also featured by several notable local and regional artists as well -- Jim Richter, Mike Butler (who played not only his electric mandolin, but also Yank's own acoustic-electric Harmony mandolin, which Butler plans on donating to the Smithsonian upon his death), and Steve Robbins.
Jimmy McGriff -- 04.03.36-05.24.08
Seminal jazz organist Jimmy McGriff died Saturday, May 24, 2008, of apparent heart failure. He was 72. He had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years earlier.
One of the giants of the Hammond B-3 organ, McGriff was mostly known as a jazz musician, even though he always considered himself first and foremost a bluesman. Indeed, his numerous jazz records always had a funky, bluesy edge to them. Comparing himself to another great jazz organist, Jimmy Smith, McGriff once said, "Jimmy Smith is the jazz king on the organ, but when it comes to blues, I can do things where he can't touch me."
Another strong influence on his playing was the Black church. As he stated in a biography posted on All About Jazz, www.allaboutjazz.com, "They talk about who taught me this and who taught me that, but the basic idea of what I'm doing on the organ came from the church. That's how I got it, and I just never dropped it."
It's good to be back in the saddle again! Recurring viral infections have kept me away from my computer keyboard, so that this is my first "Blues and More" column since Feb. 24. I'm happy to be able to devote it to another top regional blues-based group, Indianapolis's Stone Martin Band, same as I had the honorable pleasure of devoting my Feb. 9 column to Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel.
The Stone Martin Band describes itself as an "eclectic, blues-oriented show band" whose repertoire not only includes modern blues, but also ample soul and funk, and blues classics from the 1940s and early 1950s revamped in contemporary blues and blues-rock arrangements, a la Buddy Guy, Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Covered material ranges from Muddy Waters to James Brown, and also includes band originals.
Two recent benefits for members of Indianapolis's blues community were three positive things: 1.) an outpouring of solidarity and compassion for "its own" when they developed major medical problems (and corresponding expenses); 2.) significant and helpful philanthropic fundraisers; and 3.) outstanding displays of blues talent and musicianship. They were displays of Indianapolis's blues community at its best, outpourings of love, artistry and devotion from fans and artists alike.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Mike Milligan for a decade now and during this time watch him grow as a guitarist and musician, a songwriter and a singer, becoming, with his band Steam Shovel, national-quality blues-rock performers who are respected as such -- while still continuing to live in Central Indiana!
Mike, now 36, and the two other permanent members of Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel -- brother Shaun, 33, bassist, and Robert "Tiny" Cook, drummer -- are all full-time musicians, although "Tiny" is also an engineer for Escience, a multi-million dollar home theater company that's made home theaters for former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller, pizza entrepreneur Papa John and the Drake Hotel. Mike formed Steam Shovel in 1993, with Shaun joining in 2000, and Cook in 2005.
With contemporary so-called R&B so dominated by Britney Spears wannabes in blackface, it's so pleasurable indeed to hear the real thing done by a seasoned artist who knows how it's done. Certainly Betty Harris's Intuition fits that bill -- to a tee! It's just an all-around musical pleasure.
Betty Harris perfected her soul, blues and R&B chops from 1958 to 1969, working with singer Big Maybelle and producers Bert Berns and Allen Toussaint, and touring with Otis Redding. Then she retired from music to raise her family, but fan notice posted on the Internet brought her back into performing again in 2005. In December, 2006 she teamed up with producer/engineer/songwriter/musician Jon Tiven to record Intuition, her debut solo CD, released on the well-regarded Evidence blues and soul label.
My First Time
A Collection of First Punk Show Stories
Chris Duncan, Editor
Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2007
Yes, a review-essay on a new book about punk rock. So what’s that got to do with the blues? Plenty, as you’ll see below. This is exactly why my column is called “Blues and More.” Because, just as with the review last week of the killer CD by the Killer himself, classic rock ‘n’ roller Jerry Lewis, I wanted to be able to explore far more that is relevant to the living soul of the blues than just genre-specific blues music itself. And a good look at My First Times fits this format of doing blues – and more – exactly.
There are certain things in life that just sit with you. Maybe it's a song, maybe it's a scene in your favorite movie, or maybe it's a painting filled with color and life. Whatever "it" is, it rounds out your life and makes the journey a little easier to bear.
For me, it's an entire musical. Rent, the history-making rock musical based on Puccini's opera La Boheme, came to the IU Auditorium Nov. 13 and 14, and the experience filled a hole in my life that I didn't even know existed.
While I was already familiar with the music and storyline from the movie version that came out in 2005, I knew I needed to see it live to get the full experience. Well, I went, and I fell in love with the production all over again.
I'm a Rent fan. I love the music, I love the message, and I love the characters who tell the story through their eyes during "a year in the life." So, naturally, seeing the opera that inspired such a production
was crucial. It would be like seeing the movie without reading the book. For me, it was one of the last pieces of the puzzle to help me grasp the message of the plot: that through seasons, sickness, poverty and even death, love can still hold on.
And I loved every minute of it.
Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme played to a packed house in the Musical Arts Center on Nov. 9, and for good reason. The story of four young bohemians dreaming (and freezing) their way through winter in 1800s
Paris is a tale packed with human emotion and relatable experience, even if not all of us have lived it. The characters are strong, the plot even stronger, and for IU Opera Theater's production, the set just blows your mind.