kenny weir

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Everything posted by kenny weir

  1. Has anyone read the first volume of Giddin's biography of Crosby? I'm a fan of both, but after hefting this (ahem) tome in a couple of book shops, I suspect it may be a case of too much information.
  2. So, What Are You Listening To NOW?

    Sun Ra - Exotica Sal Nistico - Live At Carmelo's Decoy with Joe McPhee - Spontaneous Combustion Lockjaw Davis/Johnny Griffin - Complete Sessions Allen Lowe - Mulatto Radio
  3. Savoy set coming from Mosaic

    Hello! I have so very little of it that the Savoy box is an automatic buy for me. And I love the Dial effort. But it got me also thinking about the Savoy gospel catalogue. Too much, yes, for anything comprehensive save for single artists such as the Caravans. But I'd be very happy with a smart overview - 10 cds would not be too many!
  4. Donald Byrd

    I've been listening to a lot of Byrd in the past few weeks - Byrd In Hand, Jacknife, The Transition Sessions mainly - so I've decided to do my radio show next week on him. I was surprised to find I have more than 20 albums on which he is either leader or sideman, plus other tracks on compilations. I'm not going to have enuf time to listen thoroughly to all of 'em, so I wonder if any of you discerning folks would be prepared to name your fave albums or tunes. Cheers, Kenny
  5. I suspect a lot of folks here are like me - when they listen to non-jazz arists they are often, but not always, looking to get a similar buzz from the music. My faves: Bing Crosby (could pass as jazz anyhow) Van Morrison The Grateful Dead Others that come to mind: Steely Dan John Martyn Joni Mitchell Frank Zappa Wynton Marsalis
  6. Who were the first westen swingers?

    After reading the Wills bio, I then reread the Brown book. Allen, it may not be what you specifically mean, but ... There's a story about the band not being able to make a gig and handing it on to a local black outfit, earning them $100 a head and a happy management, too. There's also reasonably detailed reference to them learning from various contemporary records as they are released. Finally, there's the story of their Chicago recording trip under the Kapps during which the band went to various clubs, including seeing Carroll Dickerson and hanging out with Duke Ellington. The frustrating thing about BOTH books is that while they deal with such things as booze and divorces and so on, they are tantamount to hagiography to the extent attribute to their subjects the title of Sole Creator Of Western Swing. Given these two books and the oral history book are all there is - AFAIK - it's disappointing.
  7. I am re-reading, for the first time in more than 30 years, Charles Townsend's Bob Wills bio San Antonio Rose. Like Cary Ginnell's bio of Milton Brown, it tends - perhaps inevitably - to posit Wills as the central big bang of western swing. I suspect it was all a bit more complex than that. Apart from the two fiddle tracks they recorded together in 1932 ... Brown first recorded western swing proper with the Brownies in 1934. Wills first recorded with the Texas Playboys in 1935. As well ... Leon Chappelear recorded string band stuff veering towards genuine western swing in 1933, and western swing proper in 1935. The Blue Ridge Playboys with Floyd Tillman, Moon Mullican and Pappy Selph recorded pretty much pure WS in 1936. Then there's the likes of Jimmie Davis, where the line between bluesy Jimmie Rodgers-style tunes and WS and honky tonk is blurred.
  8. Who were the first westen swingers?

    John Morthland, in The Best of Country Music, cites an unknown source as having the leader of the Hi-Flyers, Andy Scarborough, as claiming his group "was the first to play 'takeoff' solos ... he claims the group was doing so in the 20s, though there is no recorded evidence backing him up". Another group on my to-do list! And comparing Milton Brown and Bob Wills, Morthland says: "Brown's music was nonetheless hipper, more urbane." Such comparisons will always be moot, of course, in light of Brown's early death. However, having just finished reading the Wills bio and playing most of my San Antonia Rose Bear Family box in the process, I can't say I agree. Wills' achievement is staggering. Am playing at the moment an Arhoolie CD by Beto Villa - the horns sound like they could be straight from classic Wills! Though given the 48-54 recording span, I'd say it's murky who influenced who!
  9. Not for the first time in my life Bear Family is taking a big whack of my time in terms of listening, money, online browsing, researching and pulling of triggers. The outfit is so broad and diverse that there’s no way I could claim to be holus bolus in love with all of it, as opposed to maybe Mosaic or Jazz Oracle. Nope, not interested in Doris Day or Bonanza box sets, or even Nat King Cole. There’s a few rockabilly releases I’d like get familiar with again – Johnny Brunette Trio, Sid King maybe – but by and large I find straight-out rockabilly near unlistenable these days. But for my areas of interest – honky tonk, western wing, hillbilly boogie and so on, with a nod to old-timey and bluegrass – it sometimes seems that there’s not a Bear Family release out there that will not provide at the very least some interest and at best jump-for-joy delirium. And unlike, say, Ace (who have also been getting a fair whack of my custom), BF always has full recording/personnel details. And with BF there’s always the thrill of knowing the next revelation is just around the corner! Here’s what I picked up in the run-up to Christmas … The Texas Troubadours – Almost To Tulsa: The Instrumentals Simply incredible! Backin’ the boss, Ernest Tubb, these guys were kept on a pretty tight – if very tasty – leash. Here they sizzle. Smokin’ pedal steel and lead guitar, particularly from Buddy Charleton and Leon Rhodes. There’s a whole CD at the rear end of the third final Hag BF box of the Strangers doing the same sort of stuff – but nowhere near as compellingly as this. IMO. On a couple of tracks the Troubadours veer towards bachelor pad/lounge territory, but that’s cool with me, too. Unreservedly recommended to diggers of Hank Garland, Speedy West/Jimmy Bryant and so on, but also fans of Hank Roberts and Tal Farlow, and anyone interested in checking out the roots of Area Code 615 and Barefoot Jerry. Ernest Tubb – Thirty Days Picked this up at the same time after a year or so of prevarication. The Bear Family Tubb boxes stretch to five, comprising 30 discs. So it was time get real and admit I was never going to go that far, even had I the money! There’s a Proper box, but that would’ve restricted me the early stuff only. Thus it seems clear this is the best single-disc available – and it sounds great. Like all in the BF Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series, it puts the emphasis on uptempos, rockers and groovers. But not exclusively. (Arguing the toss on country music at the weekend with a buddy, he admitted that when it comes to country he prefers, erm, Gillian Welch, John Prine and even Neil Young, and that what he called that “catch” or “cry” in the voice of Hag and his ilk was always going to be a deal-breaker for him. My response was that if you don’t dig that kind of voice – God knows what he’d have thought if I’d spun some Tubb for him – and if you have a problem with novelty tunes, drinking songs, cowboy tunes, Bible-thumping gospel outings, sickly sweet sentimentality as found on Wayne Raney’s The Child’s Side Of Life or Fuzzy-Wuzzy Teddy Bear by Hal “Lone” Pine/Betty Cody (see below), wailing steel guitars (pedal and otherwise), endless tributes to southern culture, well … you may be loving some fine artists, but you sure as hell ain’t digging country. IMO. Take all that stuff away and it’s no longer country.) (In some ways I feel lucky to be free of all the baggage that seems to accompany country for many people, including it seems many Americans … Another mutual friend of ours once confessed that the sound of bluegrass made her feel ill.) But back to specifics … Leon McAuliffe – Tulsa Straight Ahead (Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series) Wow, wow, wow! This has blown me away. Capitol ’50s recordings from Bob Wills’ steel man. Nothing all that original here, but it all swings and rocks. More slick than the Wills recordings on which Leon performed – and more in line with the R&B-tinged cuts available by Billy Jack Wills. Great and hot fiddle, steel guitar and vocals. Leon Payne – I Love You Because This one had been calling to me for a while, so it’s sad to report I’ve been a little underwhelmed. A hugely successful songwriter (viz the title track right through to Jim Reeves), Payne turns in a mixed bag of honky tonk and related stuff. One for the true believers (which is me), but not essential. Other goodies in my Bear Family collection … Hank Snow – The Goldrush Is Over (Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series) Ah, yes, bliss, another blind spot eradicated. I don’t know why I spent four decades of country fandom without ever really checking out Snow – maybe (shamefully) because in my mind’s eye there was some sort of connection between Snow and the likes of the aforementioned Jim Reeves. Silly! Anyways, this does the job – rocking, wailing brilliance from beginning to end. Especially surprising are Snow’s own acoustic guitar breaks. He ain’t no virtuoso, but perfection doesn’t always require that level of genius. Which is no doubt genius of a kind, too. Like Tubb, Snow is covered by multiple box sets – a whole lot too much for me, although the set showcasing the Thesaurus transcriptions of Snow doing his own material and covers with his own band has profound appeal. I’m more likely to spring for one or two of the recent releases that are thematically presented - railroad tunes, cowboy songs, Hawaian stuff. Hal Lone Pine/Betty Cody – On The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine More from Canada. Straight-up mixed bag but almost always with a twist that contrats it from the mainstream US product of the times. Lovely! Montana Slim/Wilf Carter – The Dynamite Trail Another Canadian! My country adventures of recent years could well be sub-titled “How Kenny Learned To Chill Out And Love The Yodel”. But that might be going a bit too far. More like “Kenny Learns To Live With The Yodel”. In any case, there’s wall-to-wall yodelling here, a single disc I chose to get to grips with this particular artist. I dunno – maybe some earlier stuff might be more my go, but this is too slick/formulaic for me, yodelling aside. Frankie Miller – Blackland Farmer (The Complete Starday Recordings and More …) Whooeeee – three discs of unrepentant honky tonk brilliance. Many of these sides are, I’m guessing, among the last with Nashville fire before countrypolitan doused the flames. Like fellow Starday artist George Jones, Miller writes little but has a genius for making other’s lyrics his own and so believable one simply falls into the song. A prime example: Baby Rocked Her Dolly – in which an old codger in a rest home looks back on his life – is pure dynamite. There’s a single BF release of Miller’s earlier recs for Columbia, more in the Hank mould. (Hey, hey – the magic of subliminal listening! As I’m bashing this out, Leon Payne is sounding better by the minute! Similarly, I find that when doing such a banal time-wasting thing as playing computer solitaire, I often pick up details in the music that have previously passed me by.) Benny Barnes – Poor Man’s Riches (The Complete 1950s Recordings) More Texas honky tonk schtick a la Miller/Jones. Some great, some good, some pretty awful really. Not essential. Jess Willard – Honk Tonk Hardwood Floor One of those BF releases on which I simply took a punt, with spectacularly enjoyable results. Lisping former sidekick of Jack Guthrie doing one-of-a-kind west coast honk tonk/hillbilly. Weird, surreal, essential. And absolutely one of THOSE voices seemingly calculated to give the screaming shits to those who dig, say, the likes of Shania “Ball Of Twine”. Gene O’Quin – Boogie Woogie Fever Ah, re-acquainted with another old friend. And another one of THOSE voices. Irresistibly enjoyable west coast jive with beaucoup Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Merle Travis and so on. The musical equivalent of a shit-eating grin. Jimmy Swan – Honky Tonkin’ In Mississippi The liners notes make quite a bit of Swan’s campaign for the Miss. Governorship on a segregationist platform. So what? Heaven forbid we stop listening to music for such reasons. Real, real hardcore honky tonk in the Hank Williams mould. Jack Guthrie – Milk Cow Blues One of three BF Guthrie releases, this features him and his band doing covers such as Muleskinner Blues, San Antonio Rose, Peach Picking Time In Georgia and so on. Really fine, but the Oklahoma Hills CD is probably the better pick in terms of Guthrie’s individual talent/voice. That’s on my wishlist. Jimmy Murphy - Electricity Brilliant beyond words. Right up there with the likes of Monk, Longhair, Howlin’ Wolf, Roger Miller in terms of one-off American genius. Roger Miller – Kings Of The Road Speaking of which … quite an old release by now (1990), but still the best single disc comp as far as I know. Skeets McDonald – Heart Breakin’ Mama Jimmie Skinner – One Dead Man Ago As with the Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb single-disc comps, these gonna Shake This Shack releases cherry pick in sublime fashion multi-disc box sets. These’ll do me for these two fine artists. More essential stuff. Jimmie Skinner has the laudable knack of doing a relatively modern honky tonk style with a real old-timey feel. A fair bet, too, he's an influence on Bob Dylan. Skeets is simply classic and about as hard as country gets - mostly a mix of Nashville cats and pre-Hag Bakersfield. Hawkshaw Hawkins – Car Hoppin’ Mama Eddie Hill – The Hot Guitar Two more Gonna Shake This Shack release. The Hawkins is genial, rocking and pure ambrosia, with the vocals more in the Merle Travis/Johnny Mercer vein. The Eddie Hill is good fun along the Hot Rod Lincoln lines, but not essential. Harry Choates – Devil In The Bayou (The Gold Star Recordings) 2 cds Link Davis – Big Mamou Two more American heroes, sort-of Cajuns both. Essential, both of ’em – heaps of wailing fiddles, swing, cajun, rockabilly and much more. And, of course, Kenny has boxes … Merle Travis - Guitars Rags And A Too Fast Past His Capitol classics - couldn’t live without it. Genius/loon/jiver all in one. Bob Wills – San Antonio Rose Ditto. Various – A Shot In The Dark/Tennessee Jive Heavyweight comp of early Nashville labels. Fabulous. The Blue Sky Boys – The Sunny Side Of Life Far and away my fave sibling harmony outfit. And, yes, couldn’t live without it. But … there is an undeniable sameness about the tempos, keys, lyric content and so on. Would make me hesitant about picking the Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon and Louvin Bros sets, even if I could afford them. Merle Haggard – Untamed Hawk/Hag Another blind spot joyfully banished. I’m a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to Hag, but with these two boxes I’ve become a zealot. Why are Johnny Cash and Gram Parsons, just for example, so revered in rock circles when Hag’s associated with Okie From Muskogee and not much else? Merle Haggard – Hag: Concepts, Live & The Strangers Not nearly as compelling as the Capitol studio tracks covered in the first two boxes, but has its moments. But not the gospel stuff, which is frankly bloody awful. Floyd Tillman – I Love You So Much It Hurts Founding father of honky tonk along with Tubb and Williams. Unsung giant/genius. And another one-of-a-kind a la Longhair and Monk and so on. Jimmie Davis - Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine Louisiana Governor-to-be does much country smut and hard-grinding blues with Oscar Woods on steel. Cliff Bruner And His Texas Wanderers This was pretty much the beginning of my born-again interest in this area. But despite having large amounts of Bob Dunn and Moon Mullican, I find there is something ho-hum about this as a whole. Geez, that sound sacreligious even to me! Bill Monroe – Blue Moon Of Kentucky Has the duets with Charlie, the tremendous proto-bluegrass with accordian and classic early cuts with Flatt & Scruggs. As well as two discs of alternate takes. But it is the earlier four-disc box of the ’50s Decca stuff with Jimmy Martin that I really covet. Maddox Brothers & Rose – The Most Colourful Hillbilly Band In America Slightly silly impulse buy, as it has plenty of the band’s whacko rocking stuff, but also unfortunately also plenty of Rose’s routine but still enjoyable Nashville cuts. I even have non-country boxes … Duke Ellington – Live From The Cotton Club Smiley Lewis - Shame Shame Shame I got this 2nd hand here in Melbourne. As I walked to the counter, a smartass quipped: “I always wanted to see what someone who wanted four discs by Smiley Lewis looked like.” Idiot! Four discs, sure, but larded with not just one of great blues singers but also plenty of other Crescent City greats such as Tuts Washington and many more. Basically replaces the stuff I used to own on vinyl in another time, if not another place. Kenny’s wishlist … Gonna Shake This Shack tonight series: Johnny Horton, Faron Young, Cowboy Copas and many more. Multi-disc boxes: Marty Robbins western/cowboy set, Speedy West Jimmy Bryant, Darby & Tarlton. Plenty curious about: Tex Ritter, Gene Autry and literally dozens more. Bear Family – the fun way to poverty. Tips and recommendations most welcome!
  10. A Yodel For The Bear Family label ...

    A real, real beaut in every respect. Recommended! While I still tend to believe you (see our earlier discussion of this series in this very topic), there are a few BEWARE's. This past summer I bought the JIMMY SPELLMAN CD from that series (BCD 16528 AH) mainly because this is one artist where you are unlikely to have too much on previous hillbilly bop/rockabily compilations. So I bought it unheard and on the strength of it belonging to that series (and of course the dynamic cover photo also conjures up images of music with a "GO" ). But sorry to say, if the music on that CD is meant to REALLY "shake the shack" then this just is lame. Really ... A handful of uptempo, rocking tracks but all too many MOR C&W, pop, ballad, tearjerker, teen angst and other relatively subdued ditties (often marred by saccharine girl choruses which does not improve matters one bit in a series such as THIS) that really won't shake even a splinter of that proverbial shack. Fine for those who love those "country weepers" and teen ballads that were recorded and released aplenty in the 50s but beyond that ...? I dunno ... So how am I to know there aren't more like this buried in this particular series BEYOND the "name" artists (i.e. with those artists that you would welcome as "discoveries" because they would not overlap to any significant degree with previous reissues and would therefore fill another gap)? Really, really sorry to say this about a thoughtful and meritorious reissue label such as B.F. but as far as "The Great Rocking Unknowns" seem to go, we really seem to be well past the "scraping the barrel" stage when it comes to rounding up previously unreissued or unheard-before UPTEMPO material that warrants a FULL CD by such an artist. Steve the Shack series discs I have in my shopping basket at cdconnection are all well-established artists. I figure these discs are probably the best single outing for guys I don't need/want a box set on: Cowboy Copas, Hank Thompson, George Jones, Little Jimmie Dickens, Johnny Horton and so on.
  11. A Yodel For The Bear Family label ...

    Sad to say, my financial situation precludes record purchases at present, including the above Allerton & Alton. Happily, I seem to have accumulated so much vintage, jazz, old-timey, bluegrass, western swing, Hawaiian and more in recent years that I've got plenty to be going on with. The J Miller Cajun set and Bristol sessions set remain top of my list. The Gonna Shake This Shack series also has plenty of titles I desire. Melbourne's Hound Dog's Bop Shop has closed at Christmas so any purchases of these kind of sets will be online for me from now on. Denys stocked so many BF titles - including surely the biggest selection of box sets in a retail operation outside the warehouse in Germany - I wonder if BF will doing anything in Australia to plug the gap in Australia.
  12. A Yodel For The Bear Family label ...

    Yes, I'd find that damn disappointing, too.
  13. Who were the first westen swingers?

    It's funny I forget about them! I was even born in Abbeville. They are sort of obscure. That is kinda funny, hey! My first go round with cajun, the Broven book and various trips to Louisiana, they were definitely under my radar.
  14. Who were the first westen swingers?

    Did the obvious thing and looked up the western swing entry at wikipedia. It mentions this 1929 recording: Pretty damn cool! He worked with Dalhart, too! You know you're getting arcane when the youtube clip you call up has ... 70 views!
  15. Who were the first westen swingers?

    "Western" and "Southern" and "Southwestern" are three things that too easily get lumped together by those who don't/won't know any better. It's...complicated, to put it mildly. I'll refer to you to this quote from Vernon Dalhart, as found in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Dalhart Lots to think about there...lots. Yes, lots. I love doing so! My impression has always been that despite his southern ancestry, Dalhart was a straight pop singer who became a country singer by happy opportunism. Thanks, Neal. Have most of those folks in tha racks, too, as you know. What about the 1939 stuff by the Alley Boys of Abbeville? Hard-swinging stuff, that!
  16. Who were the first westen swingers?

    Yes, agree. But Jones AFAIK is unrepresnted at present on CD. Allen what you say about the Brown book is utterly true, as it is pretty much all books on such figures. The Wills bio has a great 1944 photo of some of the Playboys sitting in a NY club with Red Allen, JC Higginbotham, Ben Webster and others. But it's been so long since I read it I can't recall if it goes further than the author's early words on Bob picking up the black spirit while picking cotton. Gagging material a bit, that, even if true. Yes, have their stuff, too. 1939 but unable to find out anything about history to that point. Very jazzy and swinging! I was really struck by how flowing a lot of their stuff was time-wise. Seemed a bit unusual for the genre at that time, which has me wondering if they should be considered real "western swing", or maybe "country jazz" instead... But in the end, who cares, right? Yes, there's debate about that - same with Smoky Wood. As you say it doesn't matter, but still interesting. But western swing is such a brilliant invention, like Allen and J.A.W. I am forever left wondering about dynamics and culture that produced it - not just musical, but also social, cultural and - yes - racial.
  17. Who were the first westen swingers?

    Hi J.A.W. - I have cuts by all those artists. I'm just wondering where and when and by whom it all came together before the landmark recording sessions. Maybe the unrecorded Doughboys with both Wills and Brown. I did some research about that many years ago, but I don't have my notes anymore, so I'm afraid I can't help you. Any idea if there's a (good) general history of Western Swing? Never could find one. Nope - no such thing, more's the pity.
  18. Who were the first westen swingers?

    Yes, have their stuff, too. 1939 but unable to find out anything about history to that point. Very jazzy and swinging!
  19. Who were the first westen swingers?

    Hi J.A.W. - I have cuts by all those artists. I'm just wondering where and when and by whom it all came together before the landmark recording sessions. Maybe the unrecorded Doughboys with both Wills and Brown.
  20. The Facebook Resisters

    Fair enough to that, too. But from my perspective, it feels little or no different.
  21. The Facebook Resisters

    Fair enough, too! However, a big part of the reason I feel reasonably comfortable with Facebook is that I have spent so many years at places like ... this. Not a lot of difference to me.
  22. The Facebook Resisters

    Ha! Yes I know that, that's why haven't taken that route - yet. No use unless I'm really prepared to follow through. However it remains a possibility given: a. My finacial situation is grim; and b. Much as we love our pay TV, truth is after six or so years it could actually be areally good thing for my son and I to get rid of it and create something new and meaningful from the vacuum.
  23. The Facebook Resisters

    Demanding the same rates and concessions from management would likely be successful. Or at least worth a try. This is kind of like asking "why does my company pay so much to the airlines for business travel when it's some grandmother who only flies once every five years who gets by far the lowest fares?" Well, your company pays this much for airfare largely because your company is willing to be a sucker. It's not worth their while to bargain hard with the airlines, the money is still small potatoes compared to their overall profits, and they need the flexibility anyway, so they're willing to pay a lot more. That's how market segmentation works: firms frequently work hardest to acquire the most frugal customers, if they think it's worth it. The more loyal customers are already in the bag and don't need much "maintenance" because lots of them simply don't really care that they're overpaying. (That's what "loyalty" is, isn't it? Being on the margin willing to put up with less competitive behavior because you value your overall experience with the seller more than others do.) Yes, I am in the same position with Australian pay TV. New deals are being offered to members of AFL clubs that are significantly lower than what I, a long-term ("loyal") customer, am paying. I've had them on about it but was only offered discounts on upgrades, which I don't want or need. I have been told by friends, however, that if I push harder - i.e. threaten to pull the plug altogether - I will then be put through to people who will match the cheaper deals. Better to have a customer paying $50 a month instead of $60 when the alternative is $0.
  24. The Facebook Resisters

    Demanding the same rates and concessions from management would likely be successful. Or at least worth a try.