Monday, September 07, 2009

The south's gonna do it again.

Yesterday in The Arizona Republic, Ed Masley published a list article called "Six Pillars of Southern Rock," which purported to pick out the most significant Southern Rock albums without ever stating so explicitly. Here's his list
1. The Allman Brothers Band, The Allman Brothers Band (1969)
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd, (pronounced 'leh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) (1973)
3. The Allman Brothers, At the Fillmore East (1971)
4. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Street Survivors (1977)
5. The Drive-By Truckers, Southern Rock Opera (2001)
6. The Black Crowes, Shake Your Money Maker (1990)
In fact Masley's weasel words descriptive qualifier for his list is "six essential albums that are probably more Southern Rock than ZZ Top." Putting aside the obvious comment on the timorous adverb. This is clearly a definition that defines nothing. From the list we can in fer that Masley is looking for some kind of traditionalist notion of Southern Rock as a guitar driven entity, coming out of the wedding of blues and country traditions, which focuses on some notionally Southern version of manhood. Thus we get such a conservative list that misses at least two bands best album and has the throwaway sixth entry, which really doesn't belong despite all Masley's protestations otherwise!

There are many ways to redo and improve this list. I will simply offer two: a better traditionalist list followed by a better list which has a much broader definition of Southern Rock. Also I fail to see why there are six pillars? Sikhism has three, the Dominican order has four, Islam has five. But wisdom (Proverbs 9:1) has seven! and surely what said list is offering is wisdom.

Seven Pillars of [Traditional] Southern Rock
1. The Allman Brothers Band, The Allman Brothers Band (1969)
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Second Helping (1974)
3. The Allman Brothers, At the Fillmore East (1971)
4. Lynyrd Skynyrd, One More For From the Road (1976)
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Street Survivors (1977)
6. The Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South (2004)
7. Molly Hatchett, Flirtin' With Disaster (1979)

Honorable Mention:
The Outlaws, Outlaws (1975)
.38 Special Wild-Eyed Southern Boys (1981)
Derek & The Dominoes,Layla and Assorted Other Love Songs (1970)
Little Feat, Dixie Chicken (1973)
The Band, The Band (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country (1969)
This list is temporally bound as Southern Rock's great era came to a close with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, with only the Drive-By Truckers as a unique outlier. The Allmans were the originators but Skynyrd was clearly THE BAND, thus they merit 3 slots. Their second album is better than the first, plus everyone knows the version of "Free Bird" you wanna hear is on the live double LP with Cameron Crowe's famous liner notes. Molly Hatchett stands in for all the other lesser Southern bands, some of them listed in the honorable mention section. This section is provided not as a cheat on the 7, but rather to give readers a wider range of listening/investigating options. It also points to some precursors.

Seven Pillars of [Non-Traditional] Southern Rock
1. The Allman Brothers Band, The Allman Brothers Band (1969)
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Second Helping (1974)
3. Big Star, Radio City (1974)
4. Pylon, Gyrate (1980)
5. Archers of Loaf, Icky Mettle (1993)
6. OutKast, Stankonia (2000)
7. The Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South (2004)

Honorable Mention:
Dusty Springfield, Dusty In Memphis (1969)
The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers (1971)
The B-52s, Wild Planet (1980)
REM, Murmur (1983) or Reconstruction of the Fables (1985)
Superchunk, Tossing Seeds: Singles 89-91 (1992)
The dBs, Stands for deciBels/Repercussion (2001)
The list veers away from strictly guitar driven rock venturing into rap and the new wave. I chose the B-52s second album because the red one is more "Southern" than the yellow one. I also, against the critical grain, like it better. Both Fame in Muscle Shoals and Stax in Memphis needed to be noticed in this list, thus the Dusty and Rolling Stones' honorable mentions.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

How many more years.

A photo essay on yesterday's 14th annual Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival at The Civic in West Point, MS.

Festival Director Richard Ramsey introduces the next act.

Big Joe Shelton does the "Black Prairie Blues!

Memorial shrine for the late Willie King.

Honored guests and members of Howlin' Wolf's immediate family.

Bill Abel from Belzoni.

Some signs at the Civic's entryway faux Juke.

Mississippi has been a "red" state since Reconstruction even whe it voted yellow Dog.

Billy Dee always was smooth . . . Bingo long anybody?

Colin Linden from Nashville via Toronto.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Sam Cooke presents a classic medley.

Seems appropriate that this blog's 350th entry is a mishmash.

Tonight I'm heading West Point way for this. With any luck some photos up in the future. And don't forget this other local festival, which will have some major news re: headliners for 2009 the Tuesday after Labor Day.

This medley by The Bishop of Soul Solomon Burke pays homage to his fellow travelers.

Looking forward to a historic opener for the Mississippi State Bulldogs as they become the first SEC team to host a SWAC HBCU team, the Jackson State Tigers. More specifically, I'm really looking forward to the halftime performance of the visiting team's band, The Sonic Boom of the South!

A few other famous show band performances with better sound:

And let's close with a classic medley from "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business . . . Mr. Dynomite . . . Mr. Please Please . . . Soul Brother #1 . . . Are you ready for Star Time?"

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dixie Chicken.

The most recent issue of the Oxford American is an extravaganza for lovers of Southern writing. They list not only the Best Southern Novels of All Time but also the Best Southern Nonfiction.

Here's the Novels Top 10
1. Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1938)
2. Robert Penn Warren, All The King's Men (1946)
3. William Faulkner, The Sound and The Fury (1929)
4. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
5. Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird (1950)
6. Walker Percy, The Moviegoer (1961)
7. William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1930)
8. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
9. Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (1952)
10. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
As I've commented elsewhere, this list is surprisingly conservative in providing a narrowly focused view of one particular version of The South. Sure;y there has been a great novel or two in the last 30 years or even longer since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964! Later this week the online OA will publish the longer list from 11-50 and that's probably where the more interesting action will be. For now my thoughts. 3 Faulkner's is too much, but he's important enough I don't mind seeing him twice. I'd lose The Sound and the Fury Myself. Penn Warren's mess of about four different novels shoved together is really overrated at 2 here. I'm not convinced Invisible Man really belongs on a list of great Southern novels although I do realize it has the "Tuskegee" section. Personally I'd replace it with another forgotten Harlem Renaissance classic, Jean Toomer's Cane (1923). I'd put something modern in the place of the third Faulkner and perhaps something urban. Maybe a Florida noir by John D. MacDonald—say The Deep Blue Good-by (1964)—or something Appalachian like Ron Rash, Serena (2008) or Sharyn McCrumb, She Walks These Hills (1994). For a quirkier old school selection I'd go with George Washington Cable, The Grandissimes (1880).

Here's the Nonfiction Top 5
1. Agee & Evans, Let US Now Praise Famous Men(1941)
2. Richard Wright, Black Boy(1945)
3. W.J. Cash, The Mind of The South (1941)
4. Eudora Welty, One Writer's Beginnings (1984)
5. Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative (1958-1974)
Sure this list avoids the former's time-boundedness, but it is still pretty conservative and presents a kind if old fashioned monolithic view of the South. Agee & Evans at number one is a well-earned given as was Absalom, Absalom! I'm glad to see W.J.Cash gte his due rather than being trashed as some kind of racist by ex post facto. holier than thou academics. I'd jettison both 4 and 5 from my top 5. I was at the Harvard lectures which became One Writer's Beginnings. Professor Costello is right that this book represents an idealized and nicer little old lady version of Welty. It was also Harvard University Press's first NY Times bestseller but I'm not sure it rises to the level of greatness. Similarly I think Foote owes his prestige more to his appearance on Ken Burns' miniseries than he does for the impact of his extended history. What do I put in their place? My Mississippi book would be Willie Morris, The Courting of Marcus Dupree (1983), discussed more here. Food being so important to the South, I'd think long and hard about a food book and perhaps go with a book about food rather than one of numerous cookbooks, so John T.Edge, Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover's Companion to the South (2000).

A few other serious contenders would include something by C. Vann Woodward from the list The Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955), The Burden of Southern History (1968), Origins of The New South (1951), or Mary Chestnut's Civil War (1982) any of which could be seen as a corrective to Cash. For reportage and because it became even more relevant after Katrina, John M. Barry, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America (1998). Barry's book really helped me understand the area I had moved to when took my job at Mississippi State. Penn Warren shows up either in I'll Take My Stand: The South and The Agrarian Tradition (1930) or with Cleanth Brooks, Understanding Poetry (1938). Finally one personal quirky favorite would be Gloria Jahoda, The Other Florida (1967). The essay, "Two Hundred Miles from Anywhere Else," remains the best explanation of why my hometown Tallahassee, FL is unlike any other "city in Florida, or in the South" (128).

Little Feat at the Rainbow Theatre London 1977

UPDATE [Saturday, September 5 9:37 AM]

The full Oxford American Lists were released yesterday for Underrated, Novels and Nonfiction. As I expected this is where the real interest in this categorizing/listing project lay. I was pleased to see many of my alternate suggestions there and some just outside the Top 5 or 10. For example if you collate the split votes for C. Vann Woodward across the 4 works I mentioned he gets to 22 and is 6th on that list. I was also leaed that one novel and one nonfiction pick of mine were unique (MacDonald and Edge).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something and nothing.

As fans of this blog know by now, I spent 1985-6 in York on a Rotary Post-graduate Fellowship. There I first heard the second Reception single, "Once More," by the Wedding Present whilst working as a staffer at URY. They rapidly became one of my favorite bands. Here's a little something I wrote about their early best phase for PopMatters.

What was and what shall never be

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another the letter.

Woke up to this shocking news which came to me in a circuitous route. Someone landed here when they Googled this: "closing of harvard university press display room in harvard square." Sure I understand the world of publishing has changed, but surely the wealthiest University in the history of the world could cut its own Press a little slack on the rent of a room or two in Holyoke Center, now couldn't they? I know, I know, the silly mantra: "Every tub on its own bottom" Blah Blah Blah.

Now you'll have to head to Blackwell's in Oxford, Foyle's in London, or Powell's in Portland for that amazing wall half red half green filled with Loeb Classical editions. Plus how many cheapo copies of Lipstick Traces did I score over the years (slight damage here, dog ear tear there, et cetera et cetera et cetera)? And no I'm not interested in hearing how great your Kindle is!

Lagniappe for making it this far. Our title song on German TV in 1978:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mexican radio

I wish I was in Tijuana
eating barbecued iguana.
—Stan Ridgway
It's somehow perfectly appropriate that I will go see the USA v. Mexico CONCACAF WC qualifier from Azteca on Telemundo at a Peruvian restaurant in Mississippi. As usual Mexican fans will surely outnumber us Yanks!

Ole! Ole Ole Ole. Just one Cantor "Dramatico Final! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!" pretty please.

Little whirl: GBV (iii).

Bob is everywhere with helicopter at Memphis' Last Place on Earth.

2/3 of the rockin' rhythm section.

"Smothered in Hugs" at the New Years's Eve 2004 Final Show in Chicago

"Game of Pricks" Amoeba in-store in Hollywood 2002

The club is open for the Final Show!

"Unleashed! The Large-Hearted Boy" Live in Dayton 1994 (The classic line up)

Cut-Out Witch at the GbV reunion show (AKA Bob's 50th Bday party)

Tobin Sprout "Awful Bliss" from Bee Thousand Live in Chicago

Tobin Sprout "Dayton Oh 19 Something and 5" reunited with GbV at Final Columbus, OH show

2 from a 40 Watt show.

A band of seemingly endless line ups, whose like we'll surely not see or hear again!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Picture me big time: GBV (ii)

A random collection of my favorite GBV videos through the years.

"Bulldog Skin" This one has played on the JumboTron at Davis Wade Stadium Scott Field right here in Mississippi. To which I say, "More Cowbell!"

"Weed King"

"Glad Girls"

"I Am A Scientist"

"My Kind of Soldier"

An Old School Interview from 1996

The famous Family Feud send-up. Incidentally Guided by Voices won the game!

The last part of our trilogy will highlight live performances; here's a foretaste.

"Teeange FBI" Live on The 10:30 Slot

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Man called aerodynamics: GBV (i).

Anybody who really knows me understands it was only a matter of time before the GBV You Tube entry sprung up. They also probably realized it would be a multiple parter. I dedicate Part 1 to my Facebook friend Doug Gillard: he of the endless riffs!

Doug was in a lot of bands before GBV, lastly Cobra Verde, for whom he wrote a little ditty made famous by Pollard & co.
"I am A Tree"

Tallahassee native that I am this clip, filmed at the Cow Haus as it was in 2002, gives me great joy! At a 40 Watt show, Doug accepted my copy of Mag Earwhig! to get signed by the entire band to send to my friend who had just moved to Dayton, OH to be a Department Chair. Ask yourself one question: why was the lead guitarist for international "rock stars" wandering around a club freely available to his fans? Yeah, Doug is a mensch!

"Redmen and Their Wives"

Speaking of the 40 Watt, I only ever heard this track live once on the Electrifying Conclusion tour in Athens, GA.

"Back to the Lake"

Amoeba in-houses rule whether Hollywood or Haight!

Speak Kindly of Bob's best solo album, the one with Doug Gillard!

GBV is done, but occasionally this will happen:

I haven't done nearly full justice really to the genius of Doug Gillard, but you get a real taste of him here. All I can say is the club will always be open, when DG is in town!

I close with 2 rare pictures I took myself.

The first features DG in full flight at the legendary Last Place on Earth show in Memphis.

We shall never forget the other guys: Farley and Tobias. They were way cool too. Here they hang out at The Nick after Ice Storm 2000 with Gordon before GBV's set!

More Pollard madness tomorrow . . .

A night in tunisia.

The Mediterannean patio-fest small dinner party was a memorable evening, in spite of the patio-lessness. Just too muggy. We started with some skewers to gnosh on:

I set up dinner as serve yourself stytle buffet in the dining room. What you don't see here is the Moroccan black olive loaf bread on the table.

Our Main course proved a cultural hybrid: Marella Pasta from Apulia married with a Catalan Red Pepper Sauce and Gulf Shrimp.

The salad was a colorful marinated affair including roasted red pepper slices, green, orange, and yellow bell pepper slices, Vidalia onion slices, quartered artichoke hearts, various olives, tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and hues, and mango slices with a lime ginger garlic homemade vinaigrette:

Not to brag, but it was pretty good and a nice culmination for the weekend de cuisine.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The end has no end.

The Strokes' song title seems an appropriate sentiment for this ongoing weekend de cuisine. Last night was a little grill out followed by a DVD in the music room. Tonight pre-"Thursday Night is Poker Night Event #8," I have a potluck supper from 5:30-7:00 three houses down the hill on Edgewood. Here's what I made.

Basically a faux Mediterranean marinated salad with lemon ginger garlic vinaigrette and optional garlic and herb feta cheese crumbles.

Essentially I cut up three different size, type and shade tomatoes (well no cut to cherry), a Vidalia onion, a mango, a red and green bell pepper and then added pitted black olives and quartered artichoke hearts. Seasoned the salad and drenched it with fresh lime juice. Then I marinated with the aforementioned homemade vinaigrette. We'll see how it turned out in about an hour.

Tomorrow I have the Starshine benefit for SAAC Cook-off at the State Theatre. I'm sorta pulling for Vicki Leach because of this, but Ty Thames, Jay Yates or J.J. winning would be great too. Saturday I'm doing a Mediterranean inflected pasta feed on the back patio with a focus on Catalan-cuisine, though no El Bulli foamy pyrotechnics I fear.

Off to sharpen my 7" Santoku . . .

Monday, August 03, 2009

Field day for the sundays.

A short sharp shock from the irrepressible Pink Flag! 1977 collides 2009.

Wanted to do a video essay for Wire like I did for the Buzzcocks last week and am finding it harder to get interesting footage for Wire. No luck yet with any live stuff. And Wire do put on memorable live gigs, however rare-ish they might be.

A beautiful Wire original followed by an equally impressive Flying Saucer Attack cover:

And then I remembered the Wire, Live on the Box (1979) DVD, and lo and behold . . . "Map Ref 43°N 110°W" from the famous Rockpalast gig:

Wire introduced by Suzanne Somers?!!?

"In the Art of Stopping"

"Lowdown" live at South Street Seaport, NYC 5/30/2008

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Airwaves dream.

Did you know that song? No, not you J.G. Norman; I'm sure YOU did. Well I didn't! I know The Buzzcocks' Singles Making Steady-era extremely well and also on vinyl have a new-ish 7" discussed here.

"Airwaves Dream" helps to make my point about the essential genius of the songwriting team of Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle. Well O.K., Pete writes most of the songs. But it's their interplay on guitars that makes the whole thing tick and why the band has survived through a variety of 3rd and 4th players.

1 short one and 2 long(er) ones to fill your aural feast.

"Why She's A Girl From A Chain Store"

"Moving Away From The Pulsebeat"

"I Believe"

They still put on a great show as Buzzcocks MK IIIb! Investigate Manchester's Likely Lads for yourselves then. And watch for the tour where they play their first two albums in their entirety coming to North America perhaps later this fall. The Publican's Secret is out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

You really got me.

A while ago I mentioned this conference coming up in October in VA honoring Andrew Gurr. Well, today got the news. My paper, Falstaff at the Garter: The 1602 Merry wives of Windsor as City Comedy, was accepted. For non-Shakespeareans, I won't bore you with an extended summary. Just suffice it to say that the status of this printed version of the play has been part of a major and on-going debate within Shakespearean studies for more than a hundred years about the nature of play texts and their status as authetntic authorial documents.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Well no left, actually. Yesterday, they inducted two of the left fielders of my youth into the Baseball Hall of Fame: the utterly unique Rickey Henderson, of whom Bill James once exclaimed that statistically he had two Hall of Fame careers (!), and the BoSox Jim Rice, my second favorite player on my favorite team after right fielder Dwight "Dewey" Evans, he of the cannon and perfect form when performing the long throw from the outfield.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Show me the way.

If you watch tape-delayed US TV, there be spoilers below!

So 37-year-old Lance Armstrong is human after all, but just barely as he rode around the Champs-Élysées swigging champers and standing 3rd on the podium at the 2009 Tour de France. Quite an accomplishment, esp. after the crash and broken collarbone earlier this year in March.

Congrats to Lewis Hamilton for a fabulous and unexpected win on a somber day at Hungaroring.

4 world records already gone on Day 1 of the last Hi Tech suit meet at the Satdio de Nuoto in the Foro Italico in Rome. Special was Pellegrini breaking the 4 minute barrier in the women's 400m freestyle. The US men unexpectedly upset the French in the 400 X 100m freestyle relayed wven without Jason Lezak who opted for the Maccabiah Games instead.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Eat a peach.

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

from T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" 11.111-125

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That'll be the day.

Woke up to find out my third PopMatters YoutTube essay jumped the queue and was published a mere 2 days after I submitted it. Now the purpose for my trip to Antone's is made clear.

Fantastic breakfast at Juanita's Tacos and more followed by a trip to UT Austin camopus to finalize my reader's privileges at The Harry Ransom Center.

I love restaurants that set up in converted train cars.

I had a migas and cheese taco and a chorizo and cheese taco con dos salsas (pictured) and a Diet Coke all for $5 even.

The main entrance to campus overseen by the famous UT Tower.

The entrance to Harry Ransom Center.

Two great exhibitions I saw.

Lunch at the Famous Ruby's BBQ: 2 1/2 pound mixed plates Elgin Sausages and either Beef/Pork with Cole Slaw and BBQ Beans plus Freshly Squeezed Homemade Lemonade.

This afternoon took Gracie for another play period at Town Lake underneath Mo-Pac Bridge and a walk down and back to Deep Eddy Pool concluded with a fantastic Papaya Maya smoothie. That will be all from Austin. Adios amigos!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mellow down easy.

This afternoon took Gracie to another favorite dog park at the other end of Town Lake, Red Bud Isle. Here's a brief photographic essay sans comment.

The Tom Miller Dam marks the boundary between Lake Austin and Town Lake.

Bengali in platforms.

One of Austin's best restaurants in a historic adobe building downtown.

The mango lassi not only tasted great it was beautiful as well.

Look at this spread; all for under $40!

I collect beer mats. This is a new fave!

House at pooh corner.

I'm spending the week of July 15th-22nd visiting my Stanford pal Isaac and staying at his place on Blanco @ 9th just around the corner from Waterloo Records, Book People, and The Whole Foods flagship store, while his wife Janine and his daughter Madison are visiting family in the Netherlands.

My upstairs lair above the converted "garage", also known as Janine's home office work, where her famous Jane Austen book is coming to its final fruition.

What the garage was converted into.

The central core of the main 1893 Victorian farmhouse cottage.

Various shots of the house and garage's exteriors. Yes . . . it has a white picket fence.