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In-depth Discussion with Author Denise Sullivan on Her Latest Book, "Keep on Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop)"

Posted by Billyjam, September 17, 2011 04:00pm | Post a Comment
The recently published Keep On Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop) (Lawrence Hill Books/IPG) is the latest book from longtime California music journalist/author Denise Sullivan whose last book was 2004's The White Stripes: Sweethearts of the Blues. This ever-engaging book by the Crawdaddy columnist and self-described "record geek" could as easily be filed under American political history or American music history (she thinks the latter to be more fitting) as it explores how American history of the past numerous decades is so closely intertwined with protest/revolutionary music (from the early blues, through the musical soundtrack of the civil rights movement, up to the role of contemporary hip-hop as voice of protest).

In Keep On Pushing, the "Nor Cal through and through" music writer examines the cultural interchanges of black and white musicians (many Bay Area artists included) and, along the way, takes numerous enlightening tangents uncovering tidbits of musical history not normally unearthed.
This week I caught up with the author, who tomorrow (Sunday, September 18th) will be at  Stories Books & Cafe on 1716 Sunset Blvd from 4pm to 7pm  and next month at both D.G. Wills Books in San Diego and at San Francisco's literary festival LitQuake, for an in-depth discussion on Keep On Pushing and many of the areas it explores.


Amoeblog: Following a book on the White Stripes, how did you decide on the theme of this book next? How long did you work on this book for?
 
Denise Sullivan: It's complicated, which is the exact thing I noted in the White Stripes book when I was writing about them covering "Your Southern Can is Mine" by Blind Willie McTell. Matters of race and the sexes, the Great Migration, what was once called the "American Dream," industry, ingenuity, and the entire great American songbook are of deep interest to me and all are tied up in the White Stripes story. Keep on Pushing is a similar story, only it has a lot more people (many of them black, others are Native American, women, or economically strapped, most all of them are trying to survive America), and music is big part of their toolkit. Specifically though, in the case of both books, it was fine art photography that initially inspired me to launch my investigations: American Ruins by Camilo Jose Vergara, and The Black Panthers by Stephen Shames.

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Gary Clarke Jr's "The Bright Lights EP" Proves That The Austin, Texas Artist's Got Soul & Truly Feels The Blues

Posted by Billyjam, August 31, 2011 08:42am | Post a Comment
        

Before even hearing Gary Clark Jr.'s music any artist whose musical influences range from John Lee Hooker and Curtis Mayfield to Snoop Dogg is definitely deserving of one's attention. And in the case of this 27 year old Austin, Texas blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist that attention is more than deserving as witnessed by his numerous recent soulful performances such as the concert video below of "When My Train Pulls In" at Bardot Hollywood (not too far from Amoeba) earlier this year) or the above rendition in of "Bright Lights" live from Dave Matthews Band Caravan in Chicago just last month.

The artist's recently released major label debut EP of the same name, The Bright Lights EP on Warner, was released three weeks ago and is self-produced with the exception of the title track which was produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, etc). Leaving you longing for more this all too short EP release is essentially a teaser for the young bluesman's (who has been accurately compared to a "Frosty" era Albert Collins)  full-length Warner album debut that is expected to drop sometime in the Spring of 2012.



Gary Clark Jr. "When My Train Pulls In" (Live at Bardot Hollywood) (2011)


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Diamanda Galás Hates The Food Fighters

Posted by Job O Brother, February 28, 2011 01:32pm | Post a Comment
blond girlbuttons
Call it a survival kit.


The boyfriend is out of town this week, enjoying* the chilly dewiness of Portland, Oregon. (I wish I was with him – I get hungry just thinking about Portland, with all its easily accessible, diet-vanquishing, culinary goodness. Plus there’s a lot of hella rad folks who live there, and while I normally loathe good food and great people, something about the air there makes me all for it.)

I love my boyfriend, and I never find myself wishing he was gone; all the same, I cherish these times when it’s just me and the cats. It’s not that the boyfriend keeps me from doing anything, per se, but self-respect  keeps me from behaving certain ways in his presence.

For example, alone, I do nothing with my hair other than washing it. The result is a blond afro which effectively doubles the size of my already-capacious noggin. I wear a wife-beater constantly – something that never fails to get me not laid in this house – and if it’s too cold, I simply toss a hoodie over the wife-beater. That’s fashion, kids.

afro
The cover for my new album, Save Auntie

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Howlin’ Wolf’s 100th birthday

Posted by Whitmore, June 10, 2010 02:07pm | Post a Comment
howlin wolf, chester burnett, blues, guitar, harmonica, killing floor, smokestsck lighten', spoonful, back door man, eric clapton, soul on fire,

He was named after Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, and as a kid Chester Arthur Burnett was nicknamed Big Foot Chester or Bull Cow as he grew to stand 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weigh in close to 300 pounds. That was a big man. But we know him as Howlin' Wolf, legendary and incredibly influential blues singer, guitarist, harmonica player and composer, whose songs are as standard today as anything written by Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Carmichael, Leiber and Stoller or McCartney and Lennon. Howlin' Wolf’s compositions include “Killing Floor,” “Sikilling floor, smokestsck lighten', spoonful, rock, rawk, back door man, eric clapton, soul on fire,tting on Top of the World,” “Who's Been Talking?,” “Moanin’ at Midnight,” and “Smokestack Lightnin'.”
 
Also, his versions of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and “Back Door Man” are about as perfect a three minutes as you’ll ever hear in any genre, anytime, anyplace. Rough-edged, fearsome and fearless, Howlin' Wolf's booming voice sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before -- like something in between grinding a knife on a whetstone or a sharpening steel or shears tearing into bone or a monster truck pulling donuts on a gravel road. As the adage goes -- Howlin' Wolf has often been imitated but never duplicated.
 
Chester Burnett died in Hines, Illinois on January 10, 1976 and is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County in Illinois. His gravestone, etched with a guitar and harmonica, and allegedly purchased by Eric Clapton, can be found in Section 18 on the east side of the road.
 
Today would have been his 100th birthday.




"Baby Please Don't Go" Has Remained Popular with Artists Over the 75 Years Since It Was Written By Big Joe Williams

Posted by Billyjam, May 27, 2010 06:51am | Post a Comment
Big Joe Williams "Baby Please Don't Go"

Written, recorded, and released back in 1935 by the great delta blues musician and songwriter Big Joe Williams, the sBig Joe Williamsong "Baby Please Don't Go" has been popular with countless artists in the seventy five years since, having been covered by dozens upon dozens of different musicians to the point that it ranks among the top ten most recorded blues songs in music's history. 

Perhaps the most famous or recognizable cover version of "Baby Please Don't Go" is the 1964 recording/release by Them -- the Belfast, Northern Ireland blues-rock ensemble featuring Van Morrison. Them's cover (with "Gloria" on the B side), which was a top ten single in the UK in 1965 and a US AOR radio staple in consequent years, injected a whole rock n roll energy into the classic blues song. 

themSo influential was Van & co's version that nearly all of the versions of the song recorded or just played after 1965 (including by fellow Irish blues-rockers Taste featuring Rory Gallagher) are rock inflected covers a la Them rather than the original blues version by Williams. Another Irish rocker to cover the song was guitarist / vocalist Eric Bell, who was an original member of Thin Lizzy. 

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