A Good Old Circus

An inaction-packed couple of days leaves me little with which to entertain you peripherally–care to hear about my new crown or my crossing my own no-NFL-TV picket line?–so let’s get to the music.

Indeed, it is, as Al Johnson memorably sang (and still sings), CARNIVAL TIME! We always celebrate that in our house, and Sunday I lazily clicked on a YouTube playlist I made last February and ended up listening to the whole thing (at the expense of investigating any albums). It’s not half-bad, and it’s not just the well-known tracks, though those can be played endlessly. Let me offer it to you again–it features great songs from the above-pictured Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Danny White, Lil’ Buck Sinegal, and Betty Harris (clockwise from upper-left). Bon temps roulez all the way into March!

Heroes are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions

The 2018 American Book Award winners for oral literature go way out, around, and inside the life and work of Baraka. It helps to have some of the poet’s oeuvre under your belt, but it isn’t necessary–you live in this world. Poetry-with-music of both a volcanic and bitterly hilarious nature.

Interjazz IV: Good Old Circus

Skeptics say you can’t tell wide-open free sessions apart, but when Willem Breuker’s in the house, even a neophyte listener’s earbrows are sure to be arched by distinct features. That title is perfect. With drummers by the name of Moholo and Oxley cracking the whip.

Sir Shina Peters: Sewele

The newest offering from Strut Records’ Original Masters subscription series is the first juju record other than King Sunny Ade’s that I’ve ever heard. Though the keyboardist can overexpress himself cornily at times, Peters’ singing and guitar are more than within shouting distance of his more famous compadre.

Stax Singles Volume 4–Rarities and The Best of the Rest

One would think that by a fourth volume (and each is a multi-disc set) the compilers would be loudly scraping barrel’s bottom. Not so. Yes, there are some mediocrities, but the many delights (instro-rockers The Cobras–guy named Cropper on guit–Rufus Thomas delivering a miraculous “Fine and Mellow,” the Nightingales’ scintillating “A Little Overcome,” Hot Sauce covering Swamp Dogg, The Dixie Nightingale’s heart-stopping “The Assassination”) beach them in their wake. I am strange, but, not planning to, I listened to the whole thing in a sitting. Also: if you didn’t know, Jim Stewart and Co. recording a lot more black music than soul.

…and still out in my truck is good ol’ Sandinista! One thing I forgot to mention the other day is how wonderful it was that the boys shared their tracks with a church choir, a little kid, and Timon Dogg (humanistic, democratic outreach in action) and moved their vocals into the mix’s midrange. It annoyed the ever-lovin’ shit out of me when I was 19, but I was a dum-dum; I totally get it now, and it makes me smile! Miss ya, Joe.

“Default to ‘Comfort Food’—The Aural Kind” (January 6, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)


What I should have done and planned to do:

Get caught up with some hot new youth music that one can dance to. I had two such albums in the chamba: Charli XCX’s Pop 2 and Princess Nokia’s 1992 (Deluxe), the latter of which I am quite excited about hearing.

What I actually DID do:

Listened to two of my all-time favorite albums of New Orleans-based music, both starring famous Mardi Gras Indian Big Chiefs: The Wild Magnolias (with Bo Dollis and Monk Boudreaux, plus Snooks Eaglin on guitar) and The Wild Tchoupitoulas (with George Landry, plus Ziggy Modeliste on drums). Definitely danceable, still sounds young, oh so comfortable to my ear, heart, and mind. All triggered by a friend changing his Facebook profile to a Mardi Gras Indian pic. Hey–it’s…

Also, to create a great environment for Nicole’s cooking, I played Eddie Cleanhead Vinson’s absolutely magnificent Kidney Stew is Fine, on which he is supported by none other than Jay McShann on piano and T-Bone Walker on guitar, and the out of print Down the Road A Piece: The Best of Amos Milburn, on which you can hear where Johnnie Johnson probably picked up some tricks. That latter also has the great Maxwell Davis on sax and arrangements.

Short-shrift department: All those 45s I bought in Louisiana, plus the Sarayah CD, which I repeat-played all over again.