Amoeblog

Happy Discovery Day -- Real Geographic Discoveries of the Modern Age

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 13, 2014 04:42pm | Post a Comment
Portrait of Columbus

I will not make the argument that Columbus's arrival in the New World was insignificant merely because he was an absolutely awful person or because he didn't actually discover anything (which he himself maintained, claiming until his death that he'd merely found a different route to Asia). But think about this before you dismiss -- before Columbus, avocado, bell peppers, blueberries, cashews, cassava root, chili peppers, chocolate, cocaine, gourds, maize, peanuts, pecans pineapples, pumpkins, squash, tobacco, tomatoes, and vanilla were all unknown in the Old World and alcohol, apples, bananas, barley, cheese, coffee, mango, onions, rice, tea, and turnips, and wheat were unknown in the Americas. Imagine an existence without any of those and you can hopefully begin to get a taste of the importance of the Columbian Exchange. Imagine Italian cuisine without tomato sauce or gnocchi and you can't help but wonder if this is why Columbus is so dear to many Italians. Imagine, on the other hand, genocide, slavery, and old world diseases and you'll understand why he's even more hated by many others. 



The Buck 65 Amoeblog Interview

Posted by Billyjam, March 27, 2011 06:00am | Post a Comment

Canada's ever musically creative hip-hop artist Richard Terfry, who is best known by his stage name Buck 65 (the primary alias of the many that the artist employs), may be celebrating two decades of making music, but many of these 20 odd years were spent under the radar and beyond the glare of the mainstream where the prolific abstract hip-hop artist has been free to delve off into far off musical corners, away from the sometimes restrictive confines of what is often considered "hip-hop." Along the way the always innovative Buck 65 has built an impressive back-catalog of releases.

As well as being an extremely prolific recording artist, the ever active Buck 65 also hosts a radio show on Canada's national station, CBC. His current album, 20 Odd Years, released by Warnera few months ago, is perhaps the artist's most musically adventurous to date. This diverse, collaboration-heavy collection of songs ranges from unbridled b-boy flavor to lushly produced, ethereal-sounding productions. Since its release, the self-described "rap weirdo and international romantic" has been busy getting the word out via Twitter updates, interviews, and shows, including a series of dates at SXSW last week.

This week the Amoeblog caught up with the hella cool and always insightful & articulate MC and turntablist (and fan of Amoeba) to ask him about the last 20 odd years of his music career.

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Jay Silverheels - Happy American Indian Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 24, 2010 02:00pm | Post a Comment
Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels was a Kanien'kehá:ka actor born Harold J. Smith on May 26th, 1912. He was born on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation reservation, the most populous First Nation in Canada, and the only nation in which all six Iroquois nations live together. He was the third of eleven children born to Major George Smith, the most decorated Native American soldier in the Canadian Army, who served in World War I.



Six Nations

Harold began going by the name Jay and was given the nickname Silverheels when he played on the lacrosse team, the Mohawk Stars, at sixteen. He later moved across the Niagara River to play lacrosse on the North American Amateur Lacrosse Association team, the RochestJay Silverheels er Iroquois. He also boxed and in 1938 placed second in the middleweight section of the Golden Gloves tournament. He lived for a time in Buffalo, where he had his first son, Ron, with Edna Lickers.

The previous year he'd begun working in film, as an extra in the musical comedy, Make a Wish. He married his first wife, Bobbi, and they had a daughter named Sharon. They divorced in 1943. Over the next few years he appeared, usually uncredited, as a stuntman or extra in The Sea Hawk, Too Many Girls, Hudson's Bay, Wester Union, Jungle Girl, This Woman is Mine, Valley of the Sun, Perils of Nyoka, Good Morning, Judge, Daredevils of the West, The Girl from Monterrey, Northern Pursuit, The Phantom, I Am an American, Raiders at the Border, Passage to Marseille, The Tiger Woman, Haunted Harbor, Lost in a Harem and Song of the Sarong.

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Remembering Lenny Breau

Posted by Whitmore, August 12, 2009 09:56pm | Post a Comment

As far as I am concerned, Lenny Breau is arguably the greatest guitarist that ever strummed a chord on this goddamned sweet earth, and yet outside the guitar playing world his name remains virtually unknown. Several years ago I was gigging in Vancouver B.C., Canada and someone asked me who were my favorite guitarists. I mentioned Lenny Breau. I obviously answered correctly; for the next couple of days I had my pick of booze and food aplenty. Though Breau was born in Auburn, Maine, in 1941, he was raised in Canada. His family settled in Manitoba in 1957 and he always remained very connected to his adopted home country. His parents, Hal "Lone Pine" Breau and Betty Cody, were country & western performers active as both a touring and a recording act from the mid 1940's into the late 1950's. Breau’s first professional gigs were with the family act until he was about 15 or 16, when one night his father slapped him on stage for improvising.
 
Lenny Breau's phenomenal technique was a combination of his close study of his idol Chet Atkins, adapting Atkins' picking style of playing bass lines with a thumb pick and with his other fingers adding melody lines -- he was able to sound like two guitarists playing simultaneously -- and his harmonic sensibilities, predominantly influenced by legendary pianist Bill Evans. Along with significant classical, modal, and flamenco elements, not to mention his extraordinary right hand independence and his unique use of artificial harmonics, no one sounded like Lenny Breau.
 
25 years ago today, Aug. 12, 1984, Lenny Breau was found dead in the rooftop swimming pool of his apartment building in Los Angeles. He was 43 years old. During his lifetime Lenny Breau had a long struggle with drugs, especially with heroin, amphetamines and alcohol, something left over from his days on the Toronto jazz scene, but at the time of his death Breau had reportedly managed to take some control of his addictions. On that Sunday, his wife, Jewel Breau, an occasional singer born Joanne Glasscock, claimed that he had accidentally drowned, but an autopsy determined that he had actually been strangled and then dumped in the pool. The Los Angeles Police Department never had enough evidence to bring charges against her or anyone else, but in a 1999 Canadian documentary, The Genius Of Lenny Breau, directed by Breau’s daughter Emily Hughes, Detective Richard Aldahl states that Jewel Breau was the prime suspect. Jewel Breau, now remarried as Jewel Flowers, was never charged in the homicide because detectives thought that the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office couldn’t build a strong enough case to bring her to trial. Ironically, it was Chet Atkins who introduced Lenny Breau to Jewel. Breau's murder remains unsolved.
 
Lenny Breau was buried in an unmarked grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. Funeral expenses were covered by a memorial benefit at Nashville's Blue Bird Café.



The evolution of the music video, part II (1950s - 1960s)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 6, 2009 01:45pm | Post a Comment
As persuasively and incontestably argued in The evolution of the music video, part I  (1890s - 1940s), the music video began not in the '80s, as is often wrongly assumed, but the '90s... the 1890s (if we accept the basic concept of videos being one stand-alone work of one song/one visual). From the humble sound experiments at the dawn of the celluloid age through the artistic flowering of Soundies, many musical promos were created of high historical and artistic importance. In the 1950s and '60s, videos moved from bars and clubs to the living room, as television became the new venue for music promotion.

Cineboxes, Scopitones and Color-Sonics
According to the Quixotic Internet Accuracy Project, the term "music video" was coined by DJ (VJ?) J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson in 1959. That year, the Cinebox hit the scene, essentially following in the footsteps of Soundies by manufacturing videos for what was essentially a jukebox with a visual component. In 1965, the Cinebox was re-branded the Colorama in the US. The following year it was again re-branded, this time as the Cinejukebox.

Cinebox Brochure  Frankie Avalon and a Cinebox Cinebox highlights

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