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All posts for the month January, 2008

Had little time to blog recently, but noticed a few musical highlights in Nashville and (yes) Huntsville recently that I’d not recorded.

[Post Note - here's a site with links to blues joints all over he joint.]

Let’s start with fiddle-players in Nashville.

Mentioned the excellent fiddle-player we’d seen with Heath Haynes in Nashville we’d also seen at the International BBQ event in Lynchburg (Jack Daniels Distillery) – well he’s Josh Hedley (aka Johnny Lasso) – saw him again, twice with Heath Haynes: Rock’n’Roll style on the Saturday night (Layla’s Blue-Grass Inn) – a little the worse for drink on his birthday apparently, and trad country style on the Sunday afternoon (Roberts Western World) – a little the worse for a hangover we suspect.

Regular fiddler with Brazilbilly is the good ole (79 years) boy Gene “Pappy” Merritts, but with regular steel player Chris Casello absent we had a surprise addition to the band.

The exceptional Jimmy Clarke – doubling up on fiddle, as well as stand-in guitar and steel, including a weird electric four-string, but most amazingly on trumpet, stunning, and finaly vamping away on piano in the bar at the end. The boy can play.

OK, so another great Brazilbilly set, an entertaining Don Kelley set (another interesting guitarist there) and two Heath Haynes sets. The latter’s Saturday night set inlcuding – my particular faves “G.L.O.R.I.A” and “Baba O’Reilly” (better when Josh is not inebriated), but also “Lust for Life”, “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Right to Party” and that infuriating “Blister in the Sun” again, on top of a long set of country mix with Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and the Stones thrown in. In the hands of musicians of this quality the common blues and folk roots of all these genres is clear to see (hear). Excellent.

Now to guitarists in Huntsville, the last two weeks.

Can’t believe I’ve not blogged about Dave Anderson before – easy to take for granted as part of the furniture here – but a huge repertoire of Prince to Pink Floyd, Seal, U2, Who (“Baba O’Reilly” again), Stevie Wonder, Cold Play, excellent originals, and no request too obscure to try, all performed solo, semi-electric with loops for rhythm and fill – K.T.Tunstall-style – not to mention a fine voice and mike technique. The Wall (full version) played solo – not a favourite of mine at any time, but quite remarkable. My regular Thursday late night in Klatschies.

Friday before last, as well as supporting the anniversary party at Crossroads, Dave performed as guitarist for Toy Shop (a local band he used to be with) with the Snake Doctors’ guys jamming in at various points before their own set. The place was bouncing. What’s more Dave is the current guitarist with “The Atlanta Rhythm Section” (now there’s a blast from the past) played a couple of times in Vegas recently and tonight is in Jackson, Tenessee … what’s the chance of being there ?

Anyway the point of this posting, is that Dave introduced us to two (three) other very young Huntsville guitarists recently – James Irvin and Rob Aldridge (the latter currently Birmingham-based) – both technically excellent but also remarkably accomplished performer / singers for such young guys each performing solo, with pollished original material too. I say three, to include Nathan, who seems to have the skills and technique, but not the stagecraft yet, getting up to jam with Marge (Loveday) on electric piano. One for the future.

Currently listening to (wearing out the CD track in the car) Tommy Womack’s “Alpha Male and the Canine Mystery Blood” after a layoff of several months. Good as ever.

(Must go back through that and acknowledge all links.)

(Post Note: Didn’t make Dave’s Jackson, TN, gig with TARS, but I did drop into Voodoo Lounge on Tuesday to see Dave’s set on a very stormy night here in Huntsville. We had a power outage for about an hour, during which all ten people in the place, cuddled-up to the candle-lit bar whilst Dave continued his set up-close-and-personal as well as unamplified. ie not just “unplugged”, as they say, but entirely unaided, and in the totally silent ambience that you only get when all powered appliances – coolers, pumps, TV’s, fluorescent lights – within a mile of the place, are dead. “That noise ain’t right.” – as Tommy Womack sings it. A special moment to remember.)

Noticed these two recently …

Daniel Goleman author of Emotional Intelligence on the innate good Samaritan reflex on the significance of just noticing, paying attention, rather than being self-absorbed. Rang bells thanks to a recent MoQ.Discuss thread which asked moral questions about finding a “drunk” on the sidewalk.

Most impressive is this talk by Isabel Allende. Very explicit “feminist” agenda, but a passionate story – truer than truth.

[Post Note - This is the news item that sparked this debate.]

In all the debates about energy policy there has been a tendency to consider nuclear fuel as practically limitless for foreseeable needs – with all the downsides of the nuclear option concerned with the costs (capital and energy) in the investment and the safety / security therafter.

Sam pointed out a thread on “The Oil Drum” where the available resources of Uranium & Thorium fuel are being debated in much the same way as the peak-oil / end-of-oil. I commented on a number of the posts. My main missing piece is to understand where the “breeder reactor” idea fits into this energy accounting.

[Post Note : several good responses to my questions led me to re-read the original article - my summary so far is here. And finally my conclusion for now.]

Tom Hanks is not sure if Charlie Wilson’s War will be a success.

We saw it the night before last, and have to say it was excellent. The Aaron Sorkin / West Wing style works really well with Hanks and Seymour-Hoffman bouncing the Washington one-liners and press-statements off each other and the close-combat camera. And some great cinematography too – in scenes like the Peshawar refugee camps. The in-your-face “let’s kill some Russians” undercurrent (if that’s not an oxymoron) seems strange, but is already a sign of the pre-fall-of-Berlin-wall times.

Some tongue-in-cheek license with the characters and the plot detail I’m sure in the “based-on-a-true-story” style, but really well done.

Glorious …. but we fucked-up the end game.

Nuff said. It occurred to me whilst I was watching it that I was in Pakistan (Baluchistan province) near the Afghan border during the latter period of the film – early / mid 80’s – must check the dates. The Pashtun refugees and the local Bughtis at the tribal checkpoints were all proudly brandishing their Kalashnikovs, booty from the Soviet-Afhgan war, but it had never occurred to me that the Russian weapons had been supplied to the Afghans by the US via Israeli and Egyptian intermediaries. Believable.

Followed the link to this Dave Snowden post from Johnnie Moore … on the face of it because “we” (in the sense Dave puts it) are recognising that the fragmentory (but interconnected) nature of blog-like technologies is much closer to “real human knowledge” than more formally structured forms. Also that “we” also therefore have a responsibility to manage the wider social transition just as any one form of media replaces another (written over oral, say) because the new disruption can appear (quite unnecessarily) threatening to the old … following on the reaction to Doris Lessing earlier.

So far so good. Even better though, Dave concludes with

Balance and memory have to go with progress and we need to start to challenge the assumption that whatever is the most popular is necessarily right, or for that matter sustainable.

This is two of my ongoing agenda items in one.

The democracy-needs-elitism imperative … a strictly popular vote is not the best arbiter of (real) value – which is an unpopular opinion to hold, but inescapable. (I need to find a better word than “elite” if I am to avoid offending those of a nervous disposition.)

And

The best memes are often the least attractive. Some memes are popular simply because they are easy to like / share / understand, not because they are good / right / true / valuable.

[Post Note : on re-reading, I see Dave's post also includes a quote on the human "generational" nature of technological evolution (of knowledge) - I added my comment concerning my 3-Generations view of Kondratiev Waves or (Kuhnian) Techno-Economic-Paradigms. Small convergent world. Actually, there is a fourth connection here too ... the teleological one ... Dave's post is entitled "The illusion that where we are is where we were meant to be". Anthropic principles here we come.]