Hip to the Wind by The Hydrogen Jukebox—live in a club, 2002



I never spoke of this publicly before because it could sound self-serving, but here in the year after the year of the selfie, what the heck. Some friends of mine in the now-defunct band The Hydrogen Jukebox wrote a song about me in late summer 2000. It’s based on a visit I paid them in their dorm suite at Temple University in the spring of 2000. I had been visiting friends in New York and had a giant box of CDs with me plus various accoutrements in a shopping bag. They had one fellow who would do bizarre, impressionistic monologues, and I insisted on taking them to Tower Records where they were required to purchase a Lord Buckley CD. It came to be their most popular live song through several band incarnations and arrangements, and much dancing would take place whenever they started to play it.

My friends moved into touring around the world full-time with their sideshow troupe as the Squidling Brothers.

Education channel creativeLIVE goes 24-7

Education channel creativeLIVE goes 24-7

ON DECEMBER 12, 2013

CreativeLIVE announced it’s ramping up service to 24 hours a day, letting users tune in anytime to watch instructors teach on topics ranging from “Pregnancy and Newborn Photography” to “Launch a Successful Podcast.” There will be five available channels: Photo & Video, Art & Design, Music & Audio, Maker & Craft and Business & Money. Experts in their respective fields have signed up to run classes, including Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, who will be teaching “The Startup of You.”

“Potato Head Blues” with foundational Louis Armstrong solo

Uploaded on Mar 10, 2010

Potato Head Blues — Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven

“Potato Head Blues” is a Louis Armstrong composition regarded as one of his finest recordings. It was made by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven for Okeh Records in Chicago, Illinois on May 10, 1927. It was recorded during a remarkably productive week in which Armstrong’s usual Hot Five was temporarily expanded to seven players by the addition of tuba and drums; over five sessions the group recorded twelve sides.

Not strictly speaking a “blues,” the chord structure is a 32-bar form in the same neighborhood as “(Back Home Again in) Indiana.” The recording features notable clarinet work by Johnny Dodds, and the stop-time solo chorus in the last half of the recording is one of Armstrong’s most famous solos. The last, hot “ride out” chorus is an example of this New Orleans jazz custom brought to the level of genius through Armstrong’s inspired melodic playing.

Tallulah Bankhead said that she played it in her dressing room every day during intermission while she appeared on Broadway for the invigorating effect it gave her.

In Woody Allen’s 1979 film, Manhattan, the character Isaac Davis (played by Allen) lists Armstrong’s recording of “Potato Head Blues” as one of the reasons that life is worth living.

The earliest recording of a structured solo that leads harmonically within the regular chord changes of a song, and which uses a melodic method of anticipating them. And so I say the modern jazz solo is invented. It may seem odd to call something from so long ago contemporary, but the manner of extemporized instrumental solos owe greatly to Armstrong’s example demonstrating how it’s done to this today.

The eventual sense of new-found freedom when the changes finally reach their goal instill great joy and release in the listener. And is mighty.

further reading: 85 Years of the Hot Seven: Potato Head Blues


Sometimes Joe Scarborough is Sensible

Joe-is-rightHarris-Perry, Romney handled controversy gracefully

I just happened to catch this as I was going back to sleep. Nicolle Wallace who was with the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign was apparently determined to continue their in-commercial conversation, and it took over the planned Mika’s Papers segment entirely. Some people who seem to live to be angry need to get over themselves.

Miracle on the Hudson reminder

Miracle on the Hudson reminder

Four years ago this January 15th, 155 lives were saved by the actions of a long-experienced airline captain and crew when huge disaster was avoided by a brilliant hard landing on the Hudson River. This is a video playlist to help us remember this unique, moving story.