Friday, October 31, 2014

La Tradtion.....

I was at this show 46 years ago at The Grande Ballroom
in Detroit.  This was actually the second appearance by The Jeff Beck Group that year. I was and still am a real fan of Jeff ever since he was a member of the Yardbirds. I had seen him on stage with Jimmy Page in that legendary lineup in Detroit in late 1966. There are a lot of great guitarists out there, but after I had seen Beck, I knew I had heard the future. One of the few distinctive instrumentalists who you can identify after only hearing a few notes. Check out Becks Boogie around the 20 minute still cracks me up when in his manic solo breaks, he breaks into the Beverly Hillbillies Theme! In 2014, Beck still is the cutting edge. Fresh and adventurous as the innovative kid he was then.  The poster was by the great Gary Grimshaw!

Vampire by The Residents. Released Oct 30, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

& Teller

The normally mute performer, Teller of the team of Penn & Teller has been writing and creating a series of videos about being trapped in a Las Vegas zombie world. This is the first in the series, but if you follow the links in the videos you will be able to see the entire series, including the fifth and latest episode which was released today.  Happy Devils Night!

Miss Daisy

We never knew her real age. In fact most of her history was sort of sketchy to say the least. She claimed to be a princess in exile fleeing the revolution.  We called her Miss Daisy, but when she lapsed into her reminiscing, she kept referring to herself as Princess Tondelayo. What revolution? She was always vague on the details, but that never stopped her from criticizing and complaining about the competency of the servants. She told me I had potential and after the restoration, she might be able to find me a position as a scullery boy in the royal kitchens, but I would probably be beaten by the royal chef. Then there were those damn Virginia Slim Menthol Lites she chain smoked. No one could figure out where she got them. Now I'm stuck with an attic full of boxes of little paper umbrellas I picked up on Amazon for her Mai Tais...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jack Bruce

Most people only knew Jack Bruce as the bass player of the legendary band, Cream. He wrote most of the songs with his friend, the poet, Pete Brown. After Cream, he released some of the most eccentric and personal solo records in the rock genre. He pushed edges constantly. His first real solo recording was a set of his own jazz compositions, called Things We Like. He was an accomplished conservatory trained multi instrumentalist and vocalist. You probably remember  Pretty Flamingo by Manfred Man from 1966 without knowing who you were listening to. He was the bass player of that band.  He worked with some of the best Avant Jazz Modern musicians as a player and vocalist. Carla Bley recruited him and John Mcglaughlin for her big band jazz opera, Escalator Over The Hill. He worked with Carla's husband, Michael Mantler singing Mantler's interpretation of No Answer by Samuel Beckett and on a few subsequent brilliant recordings. He worked for a few years with the latino jazz big band composer, Kip Hanrahan. Meanwhile releasing his solo recordings. Through the mid 70's, Carla Bley played in his band! Bruce was a very big influence on me and opened many doors into completely different worlds of music.
I was saddened to hear that he died today. He had recently released a new recording, Silver Rails but had to cancel some live performances because of his health. Truly a creative visionary in his own universe, a uniquely personal artist who never strove for stardom, he was true to his spirit and I have to humbly thank him for the effect he had on my life. Here are two videos. The first is a recording from 1970, soon after the break up of Cream withThe Tony Williams Lifetime. I saw one of the first performances of this band in of all places, Toledo, Ohio. Bruce with his new clear lucite Dan Armstrong Bass pacing the floor with the sheet music laid out like dance instructions. The guitar player was John Mcglaughlin and the Keyboardist was Larry Young. Tony Williams had been previously playing with Miles Davis and the music the Lifetime band was creating was truly dangerous! They cleared the auditorium of the people who had come thinking that they were going to hear some Cream type rock. What was happing was totally new and radically different. I had to grow new ears! It was truly a performance that changed the way I listened to and understood music. I had to know more!
Here is another video from 2008. Jack was instrumental in putting together a band to commemorate Tony Williams after he passed away. The guitarist is Vernon Reid, the keyboard artist is John Medeski and the drummer is Cindy Blackman-Santana...the wife of Carlos and the bass player is Jack. 

Jack Bruce 
14 May, 1943/25 October, 2014

One more piece for you
Shadow Song (Mario's In)
From Kip Hanrahan's  1984 release Verical Currency
Jack sings, plays bass and keyboards on this cut.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Flag designed by Mark Twain
Representing American imperialism following American colonization of the Philippines in 1899.
"And as for the flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily arranged. We can have a special one - our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hello Kitty

Tell me I am a patient man. Please, I need some support here. A few months ago, we decided that we were going to repaint the first floor of our house. After weeks of discussion and research, I thought we had decided on a sort of aged rose color for the walls. I took my wife to the French version of Home Depot...really, it is identical to Home Depot in layout and design. Here, it is Brico Depot....
We got lots of color samples and tried to match the available colors to what I thought we had agreed upon. Every version of the color my wife liked was not what I thought we wanted. It was just too damn pink! I laughingly referred to her choices as "Hello Kitty" Pink and when I got really disgusted, it became Pepto a bit of a compromise....but when we got home and started painting, it was still just too damn pink for me. My wife liked it. So with the accents, it all kind of harmonized and months later, I am beginning to kind of like it. It's an almost violently daring color statement. t actually works for me, but it took months of acceptance on my part. 
So, on Monday, my wife had the first of her cataract surgeries. A lot of trauma. There were minor complications, but as of last night, her enhanced vision with her new lens implant really began to kick in. The first thing she noticed was how the blues on the TV screen looked! Today she raved over the lobelia flowers on the window sill. Hourly, her vision improved. She said she was seeing colors she had forgotten about. Then sitting at the table, the sun hit the wall full force. Her jaw dropped! "But, that's not the pink we wanted!" she said. But that's the pink we got. She had been seeing a totally different color....Now, it's her turn to have to get used to it, because I'll be damned if I'm going to repaint the house again anytime soon!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


The ongoing collaboration between David Byrne and St. Vincent (Annie Clark)
from their latest release, Love This Giant.
Now, if the pair could have a child  that they could teach to do synchronized dance moves.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Silence of The Grapes

Here's a little video shot from the point of view of my buddy, Stef of some of the work on October 2 during the vendange at Chateau Vieux Chevrol. I stumble through at some point near the end and do a grape drop....The video is kind of bizarre because of the silence. Usually there is so much noise, I must have been between songs, because that is my survival technique. My co workers always tell me that they know I'm happy because I'm singing. I want to mention also that I haven't been posting much lately because I am taking care of my wife, who immediately after I got back, was scheduled for cataract surgery in both eyes, one at a time. Yesterday was the first surgery and I have become Frankie Nightengale. Cooking, cleaning and trying to think of what else I can do to. One of the hardest things is to not be overly attentive. I tend to make a lot of noise, so I am outside doing yard work. She is at the doctors now getting a post op check up. I am going to make a chocolate gateau.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why Privacy Matters......

Glenn Greenwald was one of the first reporters to see — and write about — the Edward Snowden files, with their revelations about the United States' extensive surveillance of private citizens. In this searing talk, Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re “not doing anything you need to hide."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

The Saturday Night Brain Police Cinema Club
..Sit back and relax with a movie I thought had been technically banned. 
Todd Haynes 1987 version of The Karen Carpenter Story!
I saw this when it came out and thought it was brilliant. Haynes uses Barbie and Ken dolls to re enact the tragically bizarre anorexic death of Kern Carpenter. Then the movie disappeared in a fog of legal problems and libel lawsuits. You might want to make an extra bowl of popcorn. You don't want to end up like Karen......
Buster Keaton/The High Sign/1921

There's A Forest

Jack Bruce 1980
I'm speechless....

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

It's A Good Life

One of my all time favorite Twilight Zone episodes. It's A Good Life with Billy Mumy as the 6 year old monster Anthony who can put you into the cornfield if you piss him off!
The Twilight Zone theme is performed by the Ann Arbor band The Iguanas. Recorded in 1963 with a kid named Jimmy Osterberg on drums.
Here's some of the original:

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Always Over Too Fast......

Every year I take a trip back in time to a world with no internet, television and radio. I surrender to the rhythm of waking before 7 am in the dark to the sound of bells and getting ready to work for 8 hours carrying grapes on my back. A few years ago we tried to calculate how many kilometers a porteur walked and how many tons of grapes we carried each day. Using a GPS watch, my buddy came up with 26 kilometers....I still can't think of the weight thing. I'm just happy that I can do it. 
And I'm happy because it is something I choose to do.
Microdot Throwin' Them Grapes!
 Frankly, after 2 weeks, the hardest part is to stop and re enter the modern world. Not that my world is so modern. I live in a rural tiny hamlet at the end of a little road surrounded by valleys and forests with about 6 neighbors. The only traffic is a farmer who comes down on his tractor a few times a week and the facteur in his yellow truck with the mail. Still, when I get back here after my time traveling, I am always over whelmed by what has happened while I was away. I'm totally connected to the rest of the world with the internet and media.
I have been back here for about 72 hours and am just beginning to get over the trauma of reality.
It was actually one of the best vendanges  for Chateau Vieux Chevrol that I have ever participated in. The last time I saw grapes like the ones we harvested was 2006. Everyone was happy especially after the last 2 years, 2012 and 2013. Last year was especially bad, but surprisingly, the 2013 young wine we had at the table was very promising. That says a lot for Jean-Pierre Champseix and his artistry. Earlier this year, Chateau Vieux Chevrol won the Silver Award at the prestigious Concours de Bordeaux Vins d'Aquitaine. It was an especially satisfying achievement as Vieux Chevrol is a totally independent, family owned traditional operation. Most of the cultivation and harvesting is done by hand and it is as close to being an organic wine as possible.
If you asked me to describe Chateau Vieux Chevrol Lalande de Pomerol, I would have to say that I considered a very serious wine. An intellectual wine. A complex wine that doesn't have to resort to cheap effects. Americans often think they have a sophisticated appreciation because they can taste the oak tannins in a Bordeaux wine. Because of the emphasis on that aspect, many of the wines that aim for the 20 dollar a bottle American market are often artificially infused with an oaky aroma that hits you over the head when you pour the wine into a glass. There are many artificial methods that are used to impart the sense of aroma and flavor to industrially produced wines. They are aged in stainless steel containers with oak chips and added industrial oak aroma. Vieux Chevrol spends a few months aging in real oak casks after the initial fermentation. That is how the oakiness is imparted to the wine and how the flavors develop and mature.It's there, but it never hit you over the head. What is more important with this wine is the after sensation of flavors. Cassis, frambois, caramelization, even the aroma of toast. The vineyards are located just across the valley from the world famous Petrus vineyards. Because of the nobility of the product and the tradition, I have been very proud to have been a part of the process for the last 12 years. I am going to write more about my experiences this year, because I am just beginning to get some pictures. We took a few little excursions. I stood on the ramparts of the Citadel de Brouage in Poitou-Charente where my ancestor Joseph-Osanny Nadeau left for Quebec in 1661. He was from that region. I ate the very best oysters I ever had in my life that day! Meanwhile, here's a picture of the entire group of workers taken on the very last day of 2 weeks of perfect weather. I never had to put on my boots once! a bientot!