music clip of the day


Month: April, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Me and a million other dudes said ‘later’ to picking cotton.—Wilson Pickett (in Gerri Hershey, Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music [1994])

Wilson Pickett, live, Germany, 1968

“Stagger Lee”


“Funky Broadway”

Want more? Here.



listening room

The UPS guy left a tiny box yesterday—the new albums by Roky Erickson and Gil Scott-Heron. Who’s next? Sly Stone?



The Bobby Dylan clip was very nice and linked to Manfred Mann—sweet. Thanks.


Thanks, Richard! Emails like yours are the main reason I have some energy every week to sit down and grind through another show. Many thanks.

—Kevin [Nutt, host of Sinner’s Crossroads on WFMU-FM, responding to an email notifying him of this mention]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy (111th) Birthday, Duke!

At least one day out of the year all musicans should just put their instruments down, and give thanks to Duke Ellington.

—Miles Davis

Duke Ellington and His Orchestra

“C Jam Blues,” 1942


“Mood Indigo,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” 1943


It is becoming increasingly difficult to decide where jazz starts or where it stops, where Tin Pan Alley begins and jazz ends, or even where the borderline lies between between classical music and jazz. I feel there is no boundary line.

—Duke Ellington


Radio Ellington: All Duke, All Day

WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)

Wednesday, 4/28/10

As I mentioned a while back, I’m leaning toward a career, in the next life, as a tap-dancer.

Marilyn Miller, “All I Want To Do, Do, Do Is Dance” (Sally, 1929)

Want more? Here.

Tuesday, 4/27/10

Indian Music Festival, part 4

This instrument, in this man’s hands, makes some of the most haunting sounds I’ve ever heard.

Hariprasad Chaurasia, bansuri (bamboo flute), with Zakir Hussain, tabla, Raga Chandrakauns, live, India (Pune), 1992



Want more Indian music?

part 1: Ali Akbar Khan, sarod

part 2: Nikhil Banerjee, sitar, with Zakir Hussain, tabla

part 3: Shivkumar Sharma, santoor, with Zakir Hussain, tabla

Monday, 4/26/10

Like Tom Harrell, this guy’s made music (at least from time to time) through the fog of schizophrenia.

Roky Erickson with Okkervil River

Live, Austin, 2010

“You’re Gonna Miss Me”

Take 1


Take 2


“Two Headed Dog”


“Goodbye Sweet Dreams”


“True Love Cast Out All Evil” (2010) (title track of RE’s new album)



For decades, Roky Erickson has joined Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson at the top of the list of rock’s most tragic burnouts.

As vocalist for the ’60s pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators and as a solo artist active through the mid-’80s, the Austin, Texas, native influenced countless bands in the punk, garage and psychedelic-rock movements. But for 20 years, he has lived in poverty as a virtual recluse, shying away from the music world as he battled schizophrenia under the dubious care of his mother, Evelyn, who does not believe in modern medications.

Now, as his legacy is celebrated with a new two-disc anthology, two reissues of landmark recordings, and the brilliant documentary “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” a seemingly happy and healthy Erickson is slowly emerging from the shadows, thanks to a remarkable recovery overseen by his brother and new guardian, Sumner. And even if Roky’s resurrection never becomes as complete as that of Brian Wilson — who not only returned to touring, but completed his epic “Smile” album in 2004 — he seems primed to reclaim his place in the rock pantheon.

Last July, Sumner asked his brother what he wanted for his 57th birthday, and Roky said he’d like to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Unfortunately, that birthday has passed,” Sumner said recently. “But the point is that he is very cognizant of his place in history, and he really wants to be recognized.”

Roger Kynard Erickson — his first two names were truncated as “Roky,” pronounced “rocky” — grew up in a musical household. His mother was a locally renowned opera singer, and Sumner would become first-chair tuba player for the Pittsburgh Symphony. “I’m lucky that along with my mom, who had a world-class voice, Roky’s voice was one of the first I ever heard,” Sumner said. “What a gift that was.”

By his mid-teens, Roky had developed one of the most distinctive voices in rock, more frightening than the most powerful screaming by his heroes, Little Richard and James Brown, and as plaintively beautiful than the most tender crooning by another Texas great, Buddy Holly.

Erickson had already written “You’re Gonna Miss Me” with a band called the Spades when he was approached to join a new group formed by poet and lyricist Tommy Hall in 1965. The 13th Floor Elevators re-recorded “You’re Gonna Miss Me” with guitarist Stacy Sutherland’s electric riffing, Hall’s frantic blowing on an amplified jug (a relic of the jug bands on the folk scene) and Erickson’s bone-rattling vocals. It became a hit in 1966, and it ranks with “Louie Louie” as one of the all-time garage-rock classics.

The Elevators signed to a Houston label called International Artists, run by Lelan Rogers, brother of rocker-turned-country crooner Kenny Rogers, and two extraordinary albums followed: “The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators” (1966) and “Easter Everywhere” (1967). More than any other American group in the ’60s, including the vaunted San Francisco bands during the Summer of Love, the Elevators proudly espoused the virtues of transcending the ordinary via psychedelic drugs, and they strived to evoke the feeling of an acid trip via the otherworldly music and visionary lyrics of songs such as “Fire Engine,” “Slip Inside This House” and “Kingdom of Heaven.”

As the surviving band members recalled during a panel discussion at the South by Southwest Music Conference in March, there was a price to pay for flaunting such freakiness in Texas at the time. Shortly after the second album’s release, Erickson was busted for possessing a small amount of marijuana. His lawyers adopted an insanity defense, calling a psychiatrist who testified that the singer had taken 300 LSD trips that “messed up his mind.” The ploy backfired when Erickson was sentenced to an indefinite stay at Rusk State Mental Hospital, a hellish institution where he was confined with mass murderers, pedophiles and rapists.


For years, Roky resembled a wounded animal whenever he was dragged into the spotlight for a 30-second appearance at the Austin Music Awards. In the mid-’90s, rocker-turned-publisher Henry Rollins arranged a book-signing during SXSW to celebrate Openers II, a collection of Roky’s poems and lyrics. I watched as a frightened Roky emerged from the car, then immediately demanded to be driven back home.

This year, before Sumner could even introduce him, Roky bounded onstage to sing “Starry Eyes” — his voice as pure and strong as ever — during the annual benefit for the Roky Erickson Trust ( at Threadgill’s.

Roky and I chatted briefly following the screening of “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” He was much more lucid and content than the troubled soul I had encountered in the past, even if our conversation was no more relevant than our earlier interview. Mostly we talked about the weather.


“You’re Gonna Miss Me” — which will screen at other film festivals before finalizing a deal for widespread release — ends with a poignant scene of Roky playing acoustic guitar and singing a newly written song about the power of love on the porch outside his therapist’s office.


“It’s been a real gradual but steady process, and it is light years beyond what anybody thought was possible,” Sumner said. “I told Roky originally that my number-one goal for him was wellness, but that his wellness would eventually include being creative and being who he is.

“Right now, nobody is more invested in Roky Erickson’s wellness than Roky is, and nobody is going to pull him off his path — nobody, nobody, nobody.”—Jim DeRogatis (2005)


listening room

Nothing’s been giving me greater aural pleasure lately than listening, while working or whatever, to past broadcasts of Kevin Nutt’s weekly one-hour gospel radio show Sinner’s Crossroads, which can be found here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Someone could offer me a million dollars to forget this voice and I still couldn’t do it.

The Soul Stirrers featuring R.H. Harris

“Walk Around” (1939)


“Lord I’ve Tried” (1946)


“I Want To Rest” (1946)


“I’m Willing To Run” (1947)



“He [R.H. Harris] was The Man – the guy everyone tried to sound like,” says gospel historian Anthony Heilbut. “If you’ve been to a black church or listened to R&B music, you’ve heard the influence of R.H. Harris.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made the Soul Stirrers its first gospel inductees in 1989.

Musically, Harris and the Soul Stirrers helped shape gospel’s transition from the old “jubilee” a cappella style into the “quartet” style, with a more distinct lead voice and musical parts.

Harris sang in a striking high voice Heilbut calls “a combination of gospel moans, cowboy yodels and a clear Irish tenor.”

Harris helped found the Soul Stirrers in Texas in the 1930s. When he left in 1950, Cooke took over as lead singer and always called Harris his major stylistic influence. He then passed the style to the likes of Al Green.—David Hinckley, New York Daily News, September 6, 2000 (obituary)

Saturday, 4/24/10

Sixty years from now what will folks think about today’s music?

Barton Brothers, “Cockeyed Jenny,” c. 1947, on Victrola Favorites: Artifacts from Bygone Days (Dust-to-Digital)



Here’s a profile of this fine small record label (previously featured here [Sister O.M. Terrell] and here [email from founder Lance Ledbetter]).


Part 1

Part 2

Friday, 4/23/10

Imagine that you were talking with someone who’d been blind all his life.

How would you describe this guy’s act?

Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders, live (TV broadcast [The Jackie Gleason Show]), 1968

Thursday, 4/22/10

Happy Birthday, Mingus!

No jazz composer since Thelonious Monk has a stronger voice.

Lyrical beauty, inexhaustible drive, deep feeling: what more could you ask for?

Enormously influential, his music served as a bridge between the compositional elegance of Duke Ellington and the freewheeling rambunctiousness of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Henry Threadgill, David Murray, et al.

Charles Mingus Quintet (CM, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums; Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Jaki Byard, piano), live (TV broadcast), Belgium, 1964

“So Long, Eric”


“Peggy’s Blue Skylight”


“Meditations on Integration” (excerpt)

Want more? Here.



. . . [Mingus’s] music was pledged to the abolition of all distinctions: between the composed and the improvised, the primitive and the sophisticated, the rough and the tender, the belligerent and the lyrical.—Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz (1996)


Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.


I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn’t only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts. And those people are: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker, who is the greatest genius of all to me because he changed the whole era around.


In my music, I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.

—Charles Mingus


Radio Mingus: all Mingus, all the time

In celebration of Mingus’s birthday, WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University) is playing his music all day.

Wednesday, 4/21/10

Bob Dylan/1965, part 3

“Like A Rolling Stone,” live (with Mike Bloomfield, guitar; Jerome Arnold, bass; Barry Goldberg, piano; Al Kooper, organ; Sam Lay, drums), Newport Folk Festival, July, 1965


Press Conference, San Francisco, December, 1965

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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