Townes Van Zandt one of America’s greatest songwriters was born today.

Townes Van Zandt one of America’s greatest songwriters was born today.  He would have been 72, but left this world in 1997, far too early. If to live is to fly, as Townes Van Zandt would warble, then he himself, to quote from his devout admirer Willie Nelson, was an angel flying too close to … Continue reading Townes Van Zandt one of America’s greatest songwriters was born today.

Athens, Alabama-based Alabama Shakes : Sound & Color

Muscle Shoals-inspired, Athens, Alabama-based quartet Alabama Shakes formed in 2009 around the talents of Brittany Howard, Zac Cockrell, Steve Johnson, and Heath Fogg. Originally simply called the Shakes, the band's blend of fiery blues-rock and hard-hitting Southern soul drew comparisons to the Black Keys, Drive-By Truckers, the Detroit Cobras, and even Sharon Jones & the … Continue reading Athens, Alabama-based Alabama Shakes : Sound & Color

Lucinda’s Louisiana Ghosts : Highway 20

One year after the release of her double album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Lucinda Williams has released another record. The Ghosts of Highway 20 (February 5th), which focuses on a region which I know well.  Having grown up in Shreveport, Louisiana, I-20 (which Lucinda calls a highway) runs right through my home … Continue reading Lucinda’s Louisiana Ghosts : Highway 20

Charles Mingus : The Jazz Workshop Concerts: 1964-1965

When Sy Johnson, a jazz pianist and arranger, used to visit Charles Mingus at his apartment in the East Village in the 1960s, there was always a pot of soup on the stove, and Mingus—a gourmand who once interrupted a concert to eat a steak dinner on the bandstand—was constantly tasting it. “He would say—‘Needs … Continue reading Charles Mingus : The Jazz Workshop Concerts: 1964-1965

American Original : John Fahey (1939-2001)

“I consider myself a classical guitar player, but I’m categorized as a folk musician,” John Fahey says ruefully in the new documentary In Search of Blind Joe Death—The Saga of John Fahey. In true Fahey fashion, he speaks humbly while taking Occam’s Razor to his own complicated place in music history. One thing that Fahey … Continue reading American Original : John Fahey (1939-2001)

God Don’t Never Change : The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson

Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. Yet the Texas street-corner evangelist is known as much for the his powerful and fervent gruff voice as he is for his ability as a guitarist. He most often sang in a rough, bass voice (only occasionally delivering in … Continue reading God Don’t Never Change : The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson

Maurice Duruflé : The Last Impressionist

Maurice Duruflé (11 January 1902 – 16 June 1986) was a French composer, organist, and teacher. Although he was born in 1902 and died in 1986, Maurice Duruflé is not a typical 20th-century musician. Compared with other great composers of his day — Bernstein, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Britten — he seems strangely out of touch with … Continue reading Maurice Duruflé : The Last Impressionist

Francis Poulenc : Born today in 1899

Today is the birthday of French composer Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc, born in 1899. Poulenc has always had a special place in my heart ever since I first heard his music my first year at music school.  Prior to my formal music studies my background had been in jazz and R&B.  While I had a … Continue reading Francis Poulenc : Born today in 1899

Dominique Vellard’s new take on Early Music

The major areas explored by Dominique Vellard in his musical career are rooted in his childhood experiences -as a choirboy at Notre-Dame de Versailles- that gave rise to his passionate love of Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, French composers of the seventeenth century and Bach organ music and chorales. Soon after completing his studies at the … Continue reading Dominique Vellard’s new take on Early Music

Joe Henderson : The Art of the Tenor

Joe Henderson (April 24, 1937 – June 30, 2001) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. In a career spanning more than forty years Henderson played with many of the leading American players of his day and recorded for several prominent labels. After being discharged from the army he traveled to New York and sat in … Continue reading Joe Henderson : The Art of the Tenor