Thursday, January 26, 2012

Playlist: January 25, 2012

Eddie Boyd, Five Long Years 
Elvin Bishop (w/ John Németh), Fooled Around And Fell In Love
     Fri 1/27 @ Great American Music Hall
Jimmy McCracklin, Think
Elvin Bishop, Rock My Soul

Buxter Hoot'n, Thought I Heard You Say
Quinn Deveaux & The Blue Beat Review, Good News
     Sat 1/28 @ The Uptown
Big Bones & Paul Pena, Put You Down Baby
Quinn Deveaux, Last Time I Fool Around With You (in-studio)
Steve Lucky & The Rhumba Bums, Some Like It Hot
     Thu 1/26 @ Biscuits and Blues
     Fri 1/27 @ Midtown Stomp
     Sat 1/28 @ Point Arena Theatre
Steve Lucky, Smack Dab in the Middle

Mark Hummel, Humblebug
     Fri-Sun 1/27-29 @ Yoshi's Oakland: Blues Harmonica Blowout
Mark Hummel, My Kind of Baby
     from the new album Blue and Lonesome: Tribute to Little Walter
Little Walter, Off The Wall
Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Wall To Wall
Charlie Musselwhite, Juke
John Németh, Hoodoo Man Blues (in-studio)

George Cole Quintet, Minor Swing (in-studio)
     Fri 1/27 @ Freight & Salvage
Panique, Swing 48 (in-studio)
     Sun 1/29 @ Freight & Salvage
Hot Club of Cowtown, Dark Eyes (in-studio)
     Sat 1/28 @ Freight & Salvage
     Sun 1/29 @ Harlow's
     Mon 1/30 @ Amnesia
Beso Negro, Mala Reputación (in-studio)
     Thu 1/26 @ Yoshi's San Francisco
Etta James, Good Rockin' Daddy
Etta James, Welcome To The Jungle
     Etta James (1938-2012)
Howell Devine, Poor Boy
    Wed 2/01 on Fog City Blues 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Five Years of Fog City Blues

Fog City Blues first went on the air on Monday, January 29, 2007 (oy, at 11 pm!).  Its mandate from KALW was to provide a local forum for blues in the Bay Area.  For me it was a sort of homecoming, if not part of a dream come true.  I'd been working for almost a year on another KALW program, Philosophy Talk (of which I am currently Producer).  I came to that show after finishing a doctorate in Linguistics at Cornell but with little formal radio experience beyond a blues show I'd had in college (at WOBC in Oberlin OH), Rags, Stomps & Blues.  Fortunately the Senior Producer of Philosophy Talk was also the Producer of the House of Blues Radio Hour (with Dan Aykroyd), so the arrival of an unemployed PhD with a blues background felt like an aligning of the stars.  About a year later, KALW came asking if we were interested in filling a recently-opened hole in their blues schedule, and Fog City Blues was born.

I'm told that 'radio' was my first word in life (pronounced 'beydjo'), so I never saw the jump from academia to radio as anything but fate; in fact it's kind of a miracle it didn't happen without the dissertation being finished.  And it certainly helped to find an egghead program to ease the transition, keep my finger in the academic pie, and begin my life's work integrating music and language scholarship on the radio.  But while Philosophy Talk is a full-team multi-pronged day-job, as it were, Fog City Blues is my full-time one-man sideshow.  Of course that's a bit disingenuous: most of the great moments on the show have been brought to you by people other than me, particularly the artists and musicians who've generously stopped by the studio to talk and/or play on the air.  And those moments have been anything but sideshows.

I've been privileged to spend time on the air with a few national and out-of-town acts who've passed through these parts (including a pair of Canadian bands of some renown that I followed back in the day).  But it's the local Bay Area artists who give the show its real flavour, several of whom have stopped by more than once.  The quality and diversity of blues-ish music in the Bay Area is staggering, and for this week's anniversary show, we'll check in with a suite of past guests who capture some of the breadth that the program aspires to: Elvin Bishop, Quinn Deveaux, Mark Hummel, and Miss Carmen Getit (of Steve Lucky & the Rhumba Bums).  We'll also hear some past in-studio performances to help fill out the picture of what's gone down in five years of Fog City Blues.

And it certainly doesn't stop with the anniversary.  Next week it's Howell Devine live in the studio, and Con Brio the following week.  We are just getting started.

For now I leave you with a little blurb I wrote for a KALW event that serves as a kind of extended mission statement for Fog City Blues:

A radio program, at least the kind I'd like to host, needs to tell a story.  Even when the show is made up of a set of self-contained stories -- the songs on a playlist, say -- I need there to be a story arc with a sort of narrative progression through the at least some portion of that playlist.  But does a sequence of songs from blues artists with upcoming Bay Area shows create a compelling enough story?  How can that sequence be punctuated with other music that both flows and keeps listeners (pleasantly) surprised?  Fortunately, it's often made easier with the help of talented musicians from near and far who join me on the program.  They tell the story and make the connections in real time, either through their own music or through a guest-deejay set of inspired tracks.  But in either case the goal remains: to craft a sequence of music that's greater than the sum of its parts, while making sure each of those parts is illuminating and inspired.  In another setting, each show would be a mix-tape designed to woo.  And I do hope that Fog City Blues woos -- and surprises -- someone new each week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Playlist: January 18, 2012

The Johnny Otis Show, Signature Tune
Lula Reed, Bump On A Log
The Johnny Otis Show, Goin' Back To L.A. (live)
     Johnny Otis (1922-2012)
Howell Devine, Come On In My Kitchen
     Sat 1/21 @ Speisekammer
Con Brio, Not At All (live)
     Thu 1/19 @ University of the Pacific

Shawn Colvin, This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
     Thu 1/19 @ Yoshi's SF
Lucinda Williams, Motherless Children
     Fri 1/20 @ Uptown Theatre
     Sat 1/22 @ Center for the Arts
Ramon and Jessica, Waltz #3: in which Coffee Becomes Wine
     from the forthcoming album Fly South
     Fri 1/20 @ Community Music Center
Mari Mack, Birthday Suit
     Fri 1/20 @ The Saloon
Bill Sims, Jr. & Mark Lavoie, Blues for Breakfast
Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band, EZ Rider
Joe Louis Walker, I'm On To You
     from the forthcoming album Hellfire
Veretski Pass, Tango Under the Influence
     Sun 1/22 @ The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life
The Andrews Sisters, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Merle Kessler & J. Raoul Brody, King Little King
     Sun 1/22 @ The Marsh Berkeley: Philosophy Talk Live

Elvin Bishop, Callin' All Cows (live) 
Elvin Bishop, Stealin' Watermelons (live)
     Wed 1/25 on Fog City Blues
Quinn Deveaux @ The Blue Beat Review, Tiger In Your Tank 
     Wed 1/25 on Fog City Blues
Steve Lucky & The Rhumba Bums, Let Me In
     Wed 1/25 on Fog City Blues (Miss Carmen Getit)
Mark Hummel, One More Time
     Wed 1/25 on Fog City Blues

Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Hoodoo Man Blues (live)
Muddy Waters, Trouble No More (live)
Pinetop Perkins & Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, You'd Better Slow Down
Lache Cercel and the Roma Swing Ensemble, Romani tune (in-studio)
Reinier Voet & Pigalle44, Minor Swing (in-studio)
Les Doigts de l'Homme, Ol' Man River (in-studio)
Django Reinhardt, Night And Day
Richie Havens, San Francisco Bay Blues

Friday, January 13, 2012

Inside the National Recording Registry: Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica"

A radio feature I produced for PRI's Studio 360 airs nationally this weekend, featuring the voices of John French (Magic Band drummer and musical director), Mike Barnes (Beefheart biographer), and Tom Waits (you may know him):

From Studio 360's website:
Last year, the Library of Congress inducted a Captain Beefheart record into its National Recording Registry. Trout Mask Replica (1969) is part free jazz, part blues, part beat poetry. Frank Zappa (who gave singer-songwriter Don van Vliet the name Captain Beefheart) produced the album. “It sounds like it's been made up on the spot,” describes Mike Barnes, van Vliet’s biographer. “But in fact it was rigorously learned so the players would play the tracks the same way every time.” 
John French was the album’s musical director and the Magic Band’s drummer. “Captain Beefheart realized the possibilities that existed in music if you looked past the rules.” That made for some grueling, 70s-cult-style recording sessions. “They had a very harsh work regime,” Barnes explains. “Beefheart would deprive people of sleep, he would keep them up all night.” 
But the result was a sound that redefined the boundaries of rock. “I just had never encountered anything filled with so much abandon,” musician Tom Waits remembers. “It's so unlike anything that we all consider music to be.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Playlist: January 11, 2012

Click to listen

Omar Shariff, Omar's Boogie 
Omar Shariff, The Raven
     Omar Shariff (Dave Alexander) 1938-2012
Mavis Staples, I Belong To The Band
     Sun 1/15 @ Paramount Theatre
Los Lobos, When the Circus Comes
     Sat 1/14 @ Cascade Theatre
     Sun 1/15 @ The Center for the Arts
     Tue 1/17 @ LAxson Auditorium
Guitar Shorty, We The People
     Thu 1/12 @ Biscuits and Blues
     Fri 1/13 @ Palms Playhouse
     Sat 1/14 @ Riverwood Inn

Joe Louis Walker, Too Drunk To Drive Drunk
     from the forthcoming album Hellfire
Heritage Blues Orchestra, Clarksdale Moan
     from the forthcoming album And Still I Rise
Catherine Russell, He's All I Need
     from the forthcoming album Strictly Romancin'
Ramon and Jessica, Manzanita
     from the forthcoming album Fly South
     Sun 1/15 @ Subterranean Art House
Wendy DeWitt, Summertime
     from the new album Industrial Strength
     Fri 1/13 @ The Saloon
Mark Hummel, Lord Oh Lord Blues
     Fri 1/13 @ Speisekammer
     Sat 1/14 @ George's Nightclub
     Sun 1/15 @ Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
Stan Erhart, Mystery Train
     Thu 1/12 @ 7 Mile House
     Fri 1/13 @ Bluz By You
Tommy Castro, Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven
     Thu 1/12 @ Downtown Brewing Company
     Fri 1/13 @ Double Tree Hotel
     Sat 1/14 @ Club Fox

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Electricity
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, China Pig
Tom Waits, Satisfied
Howlin' Wolf, Who Will Be Next
Earl Hooker, Universal Rock
The Meters, Tippi-Toes
Allen Toussaint, Singin' The Blues
Long John Baldry, Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air
Jay McShann, Yes Sir, That's My Baby
Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Hootie Blues
     Fri 1/13 @ Ashkenaz
     Sat 1/14 @ Speisekammer
     Sun 1/15 @ The Royal Cuckoo
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Reefer Man
     Sat 1/14 @ Livermore Valley PAC
     Sun 1/15 @ Gallo Center for the Arts
Howell Devine, You Got Me Runnin'
     Sun 1/15 @ Revolution Cafe
     Wed 2/01 on Fog City Blues
Chris Cotton, Friend In Me

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Playlist: January 4, 2012

Lightnin' Hopkins, Happy New Year
Dick Dale & His Del-Tones, King Of The Surf Guitar
     Fri 1/06 @ The Blank Club
     Sat 1/07 @ The Uptown
Mark Growden, Been in the Storm So Long
     Fri 1/06 @ Viracocha
     Sat 1/07 @ Subterranean Art House
Howell Devine, Write Me a Few Lines
     Sat 1/07 @ Giordano's
     Sun 1/08 @ Cafe du Nord

Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole, Na Pu'u 'Eha
     Sun 1/08 @ Yoshi's San Francisco
Dori Caymmi et al, O Que É Que A Baiana Tem?
     Wed 1/04 @ Yoshi's San Francisco
Maria Muldaur, Blues Go Walking
     Thu 1/05 @ Yoshi's Oakland
Quinn Deveaux & The Blue Beat Review, Come & Go
     Fri 1/06 @ Club Deluxe
Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, I'm Not Evil
     Fri 1/06 @ Biscuits and Blues
Tip of the Top, She's Too Much
     Sat 1/07 @ Down Home Music
Ron Hacker & The Hacksaws, Gonna' Miss You
     Fri 1/06 @ The Saloon
David Jacobs-Strain, Rainbow Junkies (live)
     Sun 1/08 @ Hotel Utah Saloon
Seth Augustus, Buffalo Eight
     Fri 1/06 @ Revolution Cafe

Cyril Neville, Brand New Blues
Brownie McGhee, Brownie's New Blues
William Elliot Whitmore, Not Feeling Any Pain
Doug MacLeod, Dubb's Talkin' Politician Blues

Arthur Conley, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Arthur Conley, Sweet Soul Music
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Things I Forgot To Do
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Payback Time
Tampa Red, You Got To Reap What You Sow
Elvis Presley, Medley: Nothingville - Big Boss Man - Let Yourself Go - It Hurts Me - Guitar Man - Trouble - Little Egypt
Wilbert Harrison, Let's Work Together