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HAPPY BIRTHDAY BESSIE SMITH, EMPRESS OF THE BLUES

Posted by Billyjam, April 15, 2009 09:12am | Post a Comment
bessie smith
Today marks the birthdate of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith, who was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 15th, 1894 according to the 1910 census. (Note that Smith's D.O.B. has been contested, but this one is the commonly agreed on date.)

Life was tough for the young Smith, who would go on to great success and become widely known as the “Empress of the Blues” (initially she was dubbed "Queen of the Blues").

After both Smith's father and mother died by the time she was only nine, she and her siblings teamed up to earn money to make ends meet in their impoverished household and assist her older sister, Viola, who had taken over the role as parent for her and her brothers and sisters. 

At a young age music became a way to make money. Around the turn of the century, along with her brother Andrew, Bessie would do a song and dance routine on the streets of Chattanooga for spare change. Andrew played guitar while she sang and danced.

By age 18 Bessie Smith joined the Stokes troupe, a company that also included Ma Rainey, as a dancer initially. Smith's singing career would later be given a chance to blossom via stage productions and when Columbia Records began releasing her recordings in the early 1920's. bessie smith

She would make over 150 recordings for the label before splitting from them in 1931. Smith soon beacame a major star and was the highest paid black performer in her heyday, when she became the biggest headliner on the black Theater Owners Booking Association circuit. Her stage shows, during which she was known to wear a variety of  eye-catching costumes, were legendary.  Smith's signing with Columbia Records in 1923 coincided with the label expanding its target audience to include blacks by forming a "race records" series and Smith's earlist hits for the label included "Gulf Coast Blues" and "Downhearted Blues."

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Record Store Day This Saturday!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 14, 2009 06:35pm | Post a Comment
record store day

Coming up this Saturday, April 18, is that ultra-cool, ultra-fresh international holiday Record Store Day! It's a whole day designed to celebrate the independent record store! So, all three Amoeba Music stores plan to celebrate in our classic, over the top Amoeba fashion!

kelley stoltzwendy and lisawhy

To see what the Hollywood store will be up to, from a DJ set by the enduringly hip Wendy and Lisa to exclusive on site T-shirt screening, click here!

You can also check out what Berkeley has planned, including a DJ set by Jonathan "Yoni" Wolf of Why?, by clicking here!records

Here in San Francisco, our very special DJs this Saturday will be: For more information on the SF store's happenings, click here!

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Coachella 2009 30/30 Initiative: The Gaslight Anthem

Posted by Amoebite, April 14, 2009 02:08pm | Post a Comment
127 Bands, 5 Stages, 3 Days and 1 Mean Sunburn.

"Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - April 17-19th, 2009 or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Find
30 Reasons To Love a Weekend in the Desert."

- By Scott Butterworth

Coachella LineupThe Gaslight Anthem

Day #25 - Artist #25 - The Gaslight Anthem:
The Gaslight Anthem
I think what I love about The Gaslight Anthem is that they take me back to summer days spent with my friends on Pier 30/32 on the beautiful San Francisco Bay watching our favorite punk rock bands at the annual Warped Tour. But I hate to call them a "Warped Tour" band; that label just feels so limiting. The same issue was brought up in Pitchfork.com's review of their second album, The '59 Sound, that slapped the dreaded "Sophomore Slump" across the band's face with its release in August 2008. Pitchfork's notoriously cynical reviewers expressed the essence of the band in the exact way I felt, but didn't know how to describe: "The Gaslight Anthem might work the Warped Tour mall-punk circuit, but they're not of it. Instead, they belong to an older breed of punk band, one we don't see too much anymore: Social Distortion, Alkaline Trio, fellow Jersey knuckleheads Bouncing Souls. These bands might be emotional, but they're about a million miles removed fromThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound emo, especially in the way that term gets tossed around now."

Coachella 2009 30/30 Initiative: Tinariwen

Posted by Amoebite, April 13, 2009 11:43pm | Post a Comment
127 Bands, 5 Stages, 3 Days and 1 Mean Sunburn.

"Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - April 17-19th, 2009 or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Find 30 Reasons To Love a Weekend in the Desert."

- By Scott Butterworth


Coachella Lineup     Tinariwen

Day #24 - Artist #24 - Tinariwen:

It doesn't fail! Tonight is the second night in a row that I have been in bad mood, or a stressed mood or an exhausted mood or any combination of undesirable moods. And as soon as I press play on Tinariwen's recent album, Aman Iman: Water Is Life, my mood instantly takes a 180 degree turn. I have plenty of go-to albums to put me in a good mood or get me excited or motivate me, but this album physically woke me up...instantly! What normally takes a cup of coffee an hour or
Tinariwenso to do, Aman Iman: Water Is Life does in a matter of seconds.

"Tinariwen is a Tuareg group that performs in the Middle Eastern/African style Tishoumaren, similar to artists like Ali Farka Toure or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; [they] sing mostly in the French and Tamashek languages." I consider myself to be a pretty cultured person...but I'm going to be honest; I have no idea what that description means. But what I do know is that they formed in Mali in 1982 and have released music for 18 years, circulating locally in Africa. The music had a political soul of rebellion and became a voice for the Taureg people, eventually becoming banned in Algeria and Mali. It wasn't until 2001 that Tinariwen gained attention from the Western world with the release of The Radio Tisdas Sessions (2001). Their most recent album, Aman Iman: Water Is Life, released in 2007, introduces us to songs that were actually written as far back as the band's origins in the early '80s, but still sound as if they were born yesterday.
Tinariwen - Aman Iman: Water Is Life
There's just something different about this band's music than what I'm used to with Western popular music (and I would put almost every other band at Coachella into that category). They are a magical band, from a magical land. Tinariwen's music feels like it's made because it has to be, and for no other reason. The album title Water Is Life alludes to the band's foundation of necessity and Tinariwen is the water that their Saharan Desert lacks. If the Sahara Desert is a metaphor for my night, coffee is not the "water" that my soil needs...I think it needs Tinariwen.

Los Angeles Film Noir Festival 2009

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, April 13, 2009 11:34pm | Post a Comment

OK, I'm late with this one. I've already attended three double features and I have tickets to two more. You've still got a week's worth of programming left, so get on it! Ann Rutherford gave an amazing interview last week, absolutely sharp as a tack and a total charmer. The Fritz Lang double on Sunday was amazing-- Ida Lupino was smoking hot in the first feature While The City Sleeps. Opening night was amazing... 3 hours of Jane Greer. This week I'll be at the Deadline USA/ Chicago Deadline & Walk Softly Stranger/ Chicago Syndicate doubles. My hopes are high as Abbe Lane is in Chicago Syndicate. 1955 may have been a September year for film noir, but it was a peak year for Abbe. Check out the rest of the festival lineup at the Egyptian Theater site.



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