Sunday, December 28, 2008

MusicBiz Biz (etc)

I don’t believe I’ll be writing any retrospectives as ’08 winds down—of course all things are subject to change in blogland, but right now I’m more in the mindset of looking ahead than looking back. So today’s posts (this & one later on today) both will talk a bit about some “coming attractions.” This post will discuss the music side—the afternoon post will focus on the poetry side. This isn’t to suggest that other aspects of the blog will be diminished—in fact, I see the Country Living, “Happy on the Shelf,” “Life of Objects,” “Diners I Have Known,” “Things Seen” series all continuing, as well as film reviews, & recipes, etc.

On the music side, I’m happy to say there are still a number of Musical Questions interviews out there, & I hope to post a couple a month for the foreseeable future—& yes, if you’re curious, I’ll weigh in on these questions myself at some point down the line, probably when the others all have been posted. I really appreciate the time our musical friends have put into this series.

I’ve also been gratified by the response to the “themed” song series, both the Train Songs & the Songs 4 Foodies; I have some ideas about similar series, but I’d be interested in any feedback from readers about this. Obviously, any series would need to include a lot of songs in the jazz/blues/old-time/country realm, since these are the genres I know best—if someone wants a list of great death metal tunes, I’m not the guy to write it.

The recording & slideshow for “Silent Night” were a lot of fun, & I’ll be doing more of these—as proof positive there’s one at the bottom of this post. Eberle & I were both pretty burnt out on recording after two silent film soundtracks & background music for two plays in the course of three years, but I’m starting to look at microphones again with a friendlier eye.

There will be more musician profiles—some likely candidates in no particular order: Mary Lou Williams, Johnny Dyani, Maria Kaleniemi, Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Ritz, Ukulele Ike, & Son House. & speaking of Son House, I’ll probably be writing about my current obsession, the resonator guitar (see pic at top of post—& by the way, I know it not a National, so let’s not get into that debate, ok? It’s not even a Beltona, which I would have taken over a National—to really incite the reso crowd—but us country blogger/musician/poets only have so much $ to go around—& I can’t get enough of this Regal). Now that was a long parenthetical aside, wasn’t it? But the history of resonator instruments is fascinating—an strange side route along the story of the guitar’s ultimate electrification, since the resonator design was another way to make the darned thing heard in a band setting.

Speaking of which, there will be more musical instrument history—besides the resonator guitar, I may look at the mandolin family, & possibly the bouzouki (now a sort of adopted mandolin, tho it was much different in origin, & still is a much different instrument in Eastern Europe). I might also do a feature on the baritone uke, itself an adopted instrument, & somewhat of a “special case” as ukuleles go.

Finally, at the urging of some friends, I’m going to do some posts—possibly a monthly feature—from a music teacher’s vantage point.

Hope these ideas seem interesting—as I said, I’ll post a similar "coming distractions" for the Poebiz end of things sometime this afternoon. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the tune & slideshow at the bottom of the page. The song is called “Rubato Kangaroo,” & it’s one Eberle & I co-wrote back in early 05. Because we figure you can never get too much mileage out of a song, this made it into our Back to God’s Country soundtrack as a guitar solo—somewhat deformed to fit the onscreen action—& also was part of our background music for Rootabaga Stories (for those of you familiar with Sandburg’s wonderful tales, it was part of the background for the story of the Two Skyscrapers). & of course, we performed it as a stand alone piece at Five & Dime Jazz live shows—it also made its way into a few wedding gigs. The slideshow incorporates Wiki Commons kangaroo pix with photos of Eberle & I in musicianly settings & pix of us in the San Francisco Arboretum several years ago (because it’s always pleasant to think about the Arboretum during an Idaho winter). The recording dates back to our minidisk phase, so the sound quality isn’t what we could manage nowadays, but it’s ok

Hope you enjoy.


  1. In the late 80's, Leonard Cohen toured with an oud player in the band. He was turned loose during "The Partisan," shown here.

  2. I checked it out-- yes, let loose indeed-- he can play. There was a good oud player involved in the Buena Vista Social Club, too, if I recall.

  3. You don't need to apologize for that Regal guitar. Imported resophonic guitars from the last ten years or so have been pretty spectacular.

    If anything ever happened to my two Dorbos I would probably pick up an imported metal body and stick in a new cone before shelling out for a National.

  4. Thanks, Patrick-- I actually meant what I said about a Beltona-- I have a Beltona tenor uke that I love. But I think it's important for folks to hear that they don't have to follow some sort of knee-jerk response regarding various brand names of guitars. I also love my Harmony archtop a lot. & yeah, that Regal is plenty guitar for me-- am having a blast with it.

    Hope you're feeling better.
    John H


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