A Great Record, a Great Party and a Great Writer (February 16-17, Columbia and St. Louis, Missouri)

Friday:

I listened to one of 2018’s best new releases. David Murray and Saul Williams’ Blues for Memo is definitely a work for these egregious times. Murray’s sax work is, as always, burly and brawny, but most impressive are the settings his written for Williams’ poetry, much of it adapted from his harrowing US(a.) collection from 2015. The poet’s readings have an actual pocket to breathe inside the songs–Murray wrote them with the lyrics sitting on his piano–though the listener may at times find it hard to breathe when confronting their truths.

Saturday:

My lovely wife threw an early birthday party for me, and I did control the music (the new Songhoy Blues was something I remember playing–there were many Bloody Marys involved), but the best musical moment was one I didn’t control. Imagine that!

My friend Rick Hocks brought his guitar, and near the end of the party played a lightly jazz-tinged arrangement of the above Gregg Allman classic–for me (though I am no midnight rider)! It was very nice, and inspired me to sing “harmonies.” That is a rare thing, and the Bloody Marys hadn’t anything to do with it!

Later in the day, we drove to the St. Louis County Library to hear the great writer and humanist George Saunders discuss his masterpiece (so far) Lincoln in the Bardo and the art of writing. With sprite-like wit and verbal agility, he kept a very impressive crowd rapt with his encouragements, especially regarding the power of line editing, the need to avoid constructing a grand plan before you begin writing, and the importance of being on speaking terms with the story you’re trying to tell. Absolutely delightful, and we eagerly await the next book!

Short-shrift Division:

The Hollies’ Greatest Hits

Fountains of Wayne: Out-of-State Plates

Glasvegas

The Go-Betweens: 1978-1990

Songhoy Blues: Resistance

George Saunders: Lincoln in the Bardo (audiobook–166 different readers, and it’s a must!!)

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