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Posts Tagged ‘blues’

After a delightful morning with my granddaughter and my older grandson, I went to Providence to hang out with my younger grandson and Suzanne and a good friend.

I caught up with them at the park, where the farmers market was winding down and a free summer concert was revving up: the annual Summit Music Festival. (Check it out here.)

The four of us liked a blues group called the Selwyn Birchwood Band (pictured) and another band called Smith and Weeden. The ice cream eater below had reservations about a third performance. Everyone’s a critic.

We spent a chunk of time going “higher, higher” on the swing in the playground and watching a multi-ethnic group of small boys kick a soccer ball. (How brave it is to go up to boys you don’t know and ask to play!) We skipped the face painting, which was gorgeous but, to a 2-year-old, kind of pointless. We watched kids and grownups painting a mural wall.

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paint-the-wall-providence

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I remember going with Nicky Perls up a steep and very narrow stairway near Times Square years ago so my brother could buy bootlegged blues 78s. Later Nicky traveled the South buying up old 78s and rediscovering blues singers like Mississippi John Hurt.

Record collecting can become an obsession, as seen in a Brooklyn Magazine excerpt from Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records, by Amanda Petrusi.

Petrusi says, “In the 1940s, 78 collecting meant jazz collecting, and specifically Dixieland or hot jazz, which developed in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century and was defined by its warm, deeply playful polyphony …

“Because of its origins, collecting rare Dixieland records in 1942 was not entirely unlike collecting Robert Johnson records in 1968, or, incidentally, now: deifying indigent, local music was a political act, a passive protest against its sudden co-optation by popular white artists. …

“In January 1944 [collector James] McKune took a routine trip to [the Jazz Record Center operated by Big Joe Clauberg] and began pawing through a crate labeled ‘Miscellany,’ where he found a record with ‘a sleeve so tattered he almost flicked past it.’ It was a … nearly unplayable copy of Paramount 13110, Charley Patton’s ‘Some These Days I’ll Be Gone.’

“Patton … was almost entirely unknown to modern listeners; certainly McKune had never heard him before. He tossed a buck at a snoozing Clauberg and carted the record back to Brooklyn. As [scholar Marybeth] Hamilton wrote, ‘even before he replaced the tone arm and turned up the volume and his neighbor began to pound on the walls, he realized that he had found it, the voice he’d been searching for all along.’ ”

More here on the world of the impassioned music collector.

Photo: Nathan Salsburg

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An early stage in the creation of a Hari & Deepti light box

Do you ever click on the links to the right, in my blog roll? My Dad’s Records, for example, has old blues recordings you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

And This Is Colossal is a constant wonder. Today the art and visual-culture site posted illuminated paper light boxes that have to be seen to be believed.

Says Colossal: “Deepti Nair and Harikrishnan Panicker (known collectively as Hari & Deepti) are an artist couple [originally from India] who create paper cut light boxes. Each diorama is made from layers of cut watercolor paper placed inside a shadow box and is lit from behind with flexible LED light strips. The small visual narratives depicted in each work often play off aspects of light including stars, flames, fireflies, and planets. The couple shares about their work …

‘What amazes us about the paper cut light boxes is the dichotomy of the piece in its lit and unlit state, the contrast is so stark that it has this mystical effect on the viewers.’ ”

More.

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In case you missed NPR's Weekend Edition today, you might like to check out this 
nice blues story.

"In a residential neighborhood in Bessemer, Ala.,about 20 miles from Birmingham, 
sits a blues lover's dream: an honest-to-goodness juke joint. Gip's Place is one 
of a precious few musical roadhouses still hanging on in this country. . . .

"Gipson has celebrated his 86th birthday about five or six times, we're told. In 
those years, he says, he's been struck by lightning and run over in a stampede. 
A singer who retired from the railroad, he's a gravedigger who owns a cemetery.


"Gipson has always been famous for his hospitality, whether it be with the locals 
he's known for decades or the wide-eyed college kids just discovering some gut-
bucket blues. When he opened his place back in 1952, it was little more than a 
glorified tent. Now, still several degrees removed from spiffy, the roadhouse 
has been fixed up — but not so much that it's lost its down-home appeal, says 
guitar player Lenny Madden, who functions as the house emcee."

Apparently people from all walks of life hang out there to enjoy the music and 
dance. And top-name performers are happy to just pass the hat and take whatever 
because it's such an awesome venue.

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