Tea for the Bloggerman

New semester, but still old skool
January 8, 2009, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Misc. | Tags: , , , , , ,

Well, this is the last weekend of winter break. So sad. Lots of good stuff happened during winter break, and I am hoping that it continues into the new school semester. I have quite a workload ahead of me, but I think I can manage.

Here are the classes I have lined up:

* English 400-something-or-another: English Romantic Poets w/ Decker
* English 303: Literary Theory and Criticism w/ Becker-Leckrone
* History 451: Proseminar w/ Chung
* Anthropology 101: Intro to Cultural Anthropology w/ Fields
* Anthropology 102 (online): Intro to Physical Anthropology w/ Thompson
* Philosophy 102: Some critical thinking bullshit w/ Delaney

On top of those, I’ll be starting my new job with the America Reads program sometime soon which will consume 15+ hours a week, and I will be sticking with my gig at Michael’s Used Books for 16 hours across Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to that, I will be orchestrating monthly book club meetings and bi-weekly poetry workshops at the bookstore, AND attending blues guitar/harmonica workshops in Henderson on Thursdays. I’ll be a busy bee, trying to keep up with it all. Oh, and I won’t have spring break to utilize for catch-up either: I’ll be on Catalina Island with UNLV’s Alternative Spring Break program, a program which also requires me to do some fundraising.

Almighty Bowie who art all-knowing and all-powerful, please be gentle on my doomed soul.


January 7, 2009, 5:35 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: , , ,

There’s a new social networking site out there, one specifically for harmonica players. It’s called HarmonicaSpace (ain’t that clever?). It’s only on a soft launch right now, registration being open to a limited number of people, so I can’t say much about it good or bad. I’m sure it will grow and change for the better, though.

Until then, check out my profile page.

T5AotW: Week 16
November 23, 2008, 11:14 pm
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Week Sixteen: November 23rd

1. Missouri Sky by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny
I’ve been listing to a lot of Pat Metheny lately. I love his guitar work (and I want his Pikasso guitar!). This is a very fine album, very peaceful. Accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: to render the Missouri landscape into music. Put this CD on on a quiet night, sit out on the porch, and watch the stars for hours on end.

2. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie
Listened to this album twice in a row on Friday. First track to last. I talked about this one before so I won’t bother. However, it should be noted that the demo versions of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Lady Stardust” on the special edition CD are EXCELLENT.

3. Mr. Wizard by R.L. Burnside
Mentioned R.L. in my previous entry. This is one of his classic albums, a collaboration with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. A large number of blues standards (“Rollin’ and Tumblin'”, “Over the Hill,” “You Gotta Move”) made down and dirty by R.L. and company. Highly recommended.

4. The Stranger by Billy Joel
One of my personal favorite albums. I listened to this maybe five times all the way through this week. Great songs. “Movin’ Out” especially. I listened to the 7th track, “She’s Always a Woman” a large number of times only because the bookstore’s stereo was on “repeat” and I didn’t even notice. That song has some brutal lyrics. “And she’ll promise you more than the Garden of Eden/Then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleedin'” Ouch. Billy and Elton John are going on tour together next year and I’m hoping to go. If the price is right.

5. White, Hot, and Blue by Johnny Winter
I listened to this album a few times at home after hearing about the death of Pat Ramesy, Johnny Winter’s harmonica player. A highly-skilled and innovated player. He will be missed. His harp work really shines on the song “Last Night” on the second side. As a matter of fact, the entire second side is wonderful. The second side includes Johnny’s covers of Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With the Kid” and Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do.” Great stuff, and so far not available on CD. Bought this at a used record shop in town (you can see the $3.99 price sticker still on it; I couldn’t take it off without damaging the cover).

T5AotW: Week 15
November 17, 2008, 1:22 am
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Week Fifteen: November 16th

Blues, Muse, and Huun-Huur-Tu!

1. Anthology of Muddy Waters
I can’t say anything about Muddy. Muddy is Muddy. If you haven’t heard Muddy, you should. If you have, then you know.

2. Harlem Blues by Satan and Adam
Satan and Adam, arguably the greatest thing to happen to blues in this generation. Satan and Adam’s music is pure, unfiltered street music. It started on the street and the street is everywhere in their music. They sadly do not play much together anymore due to Mr. Satan’s illness, but Adam Gussow has been doing so much for the blues community. He runs the Dirty South Blues Harp channel on Youtube where he offers free harmonica lessons, as well as http://www.modernbluesharmonica.com with some very cheap and highly detailed lessons. Revolutionized the playing of harmonica players all over the world, including myself.

3. Absolution by Muse
In my opinion, Muse will one day be considered one of the finest rock bands of the era. Think the Jimi Hendrix Experience smashed into Pink Floyd then dunked into a pit of despair. Everything about them is wonderful: the searing guitar work, the ghostly vocals, the vicious drums, the haunting lyrics. The songs mainly deal with the frailty of the human condition and humanity’s inevitable destruction. We are in a barred spiral galaxy and are being slowly drawn into a supermassive black hole. Songs to listen to are: “Apocalypse Please,” “Time is Running Out,” “Knights of Cydonia,” and…”Supermassive Black Hole.”

4. Come on In by R.L. Burnside
I love R.L. Burnside. The blues don’t git no dirtier than his. But this is a weird album. Even for R.L. This is a remix album, turning some of R.L.’s songs from classic albums like “Mr. Wizard” and “A Ass Pocket of Whiskey” and…takes a hammer to them. The end result is catchy, yet unfulfilling. The only exceptions would be the remix of R.L.’s rendition of the standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin” (done as “Rollin’ Tumblin'”) and “It’s Bad You Know,” which is basically a verse of “Rollin’ Tumblin'” mixed in with some harmonica and a loop of R.L. saying “it’s bad you know.” The song is on the Sopranos soundtrack and is featured in a new commercial for the Sopranos DVD boxset. It’s bad, you know.

5. Tuvan Throat Singing
I’ve been exposed to Tuvan throat singing recently and fell in love with it. Huun-Huur-Tu and Ondar especially. I also recently saw the movie Genghis Blues where blind blues singer Paul Pena travels to Tuva to participate in a throat singing competition. A very heartwarming movie, everyone should see it. R.I.P. Paul. Huun-Huur-Tu made a cameo in the movie and they also made a cameo in Las Vegas today, playing a black away from my house. What a show.

Top Five Albums of the Week: Week Eight
September 28, 2008, 7:59 pm
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Week Eight: September 28th

1. To Bring You My Love by PJ Harvey
I like PJ Harvey a lot. I found this baby at the used bookstore I work at. Lots of great songs here, lyrically and musically. PJ’s Tom Waitsian/Beefhearty blues-rocking voice really shines here, in my opinion. Especially in the title track. I wouldn’t be surprised if the following album was played on repeat at Harvey’s house…

2. Bone Machine by Tom Waits
A great Tom Waits album. Hard to get into, but each song is monumental in its own way. From the opening track “The Earth Died Screaming” (a personal favorite), through the pseudo-gospel tracks “Dirt in the Ground” and “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” down past the hard-rocking “Goin’ Out West” and down to “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” Tom doesn’ disappoint.

3. The Woodstock Album by Muddy Waters
One of Muddy’s later efforts which are underrated when compared to his classic Chess cuts. While Muddy himself may not be 100% on this record, the person who really shines is Paul Butterfield who contributes his harmonica-heroics to the band. Adam Gussow recommended this album on one of his youtube videos and I bought it up instantly after hearing some samples. Butterfield goes all out on “Goin’ to Main Street” and “Caledonia.” I also believe Pinetop Perkins is on this album too, which is always a bonus. Nothing Pinetop is on can be bad, that is one of Newton’s laws.

4. Hot Rocks 1964-1971 by The Rolling Stones
I have mixed feelings about the Rolling Stones as a whole, but in their early years nothing could match them. As long as Brian Jones was at their sides and undrowned, they were a juggernaut (bitch). “Paint it Black,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Sympathy for the Devil.” Sweet bajeezus, they were good. Wha-happend?

5. Live at Antone’s by The James Cotton Blues Band
James “Superharp” Cotton, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Pinetop Perkins, live and sizzling baby. These blues powerhouses blaze their ways through seven standards by Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson, and end the set with Cotton’s unstoppable “Creeper.” Mind-boggling. Another Adam Gussow recommendation, I believe. I bought this online used for like $10. Now it’s selling for around $40. Check it out. I also left the first review of it on amazon.

Top Five Albums of the Week: Week Seven “Honkin’ on the Bobo” Week
September 22, 2008, 12:04 am
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Most of the albums today involve either harmonica or harmonica-related tracks. All the CDs are spread out on my Hohner harmonica case, with all my harps and humble equipment showing, including my new (and awesome) Bottle o’ Blues harp microphone. It sounds beautifully dirty.

1. Juke by Little Walter
Sets the theme of this week’s layout. I must’ve listened to this CD three times in a row Tuesday afternoon at work. Little Walter is magic. His harmonica playing is without equal, bringing the instrument to a new level of technicality. And his tone! Little Walter is the example all amplified harp players try to emulate. He was the first to cup a microphone in his hand and play through an overdriven amp, perhaps the first person in the history of music to EVER purposely use electronic distortion. It’s the tone my Bottle o’ Blues mic gets close to, but doesn’t quite reach. Also, Little Walter Jacobs wrote excellent songs. The lyrics to “My Babe” are extremely catchy. I often find myself walking through the house snapping my fingers to the beat of it.

2. Tigerman by Kim Wilson
A contemporary disciple of Little Walter. Wilson, formerly of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, is an excellent amplified harp player. One of the best around. This CD has a few clunkers on it, but overall it’s a fine blues album.

3. Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play the Blues
Buddy-fucking-Guy and Junior-fucking-Wells. The Simon and Garfunkel of Chicago blues. Hated the ever-loving shit out of each other, but somehow were able to get together on many occasions to produce some find material. The highlight of this is the Junior Wells classic “Messin’ With the Kid” which I have been playing along with recently thanks to one of Adam Gussow’s Modern Blues Harmonica song lessons. While the original “Messin’ With the Kid” single is far to fast for me to play with, the one on this album is slower and jazzier, and is completely void of Junior’s harp. Even though Junior was a great harmonica player, his playing being absent makes this version an excellent jam track.

4. The Complete Plantation Recordings of Muddy Waters
No harp on this CD that I can remember, but still top-notch blues. I am a very huge fan of old Delta blues recordings–Charley Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, etc etc–and this takes a proud position in my collection. Alan Lomax (God bless his soul) did so much good for the world. In the 30s and 40s Lomax traveled all through the South on behalf of the Library of Congress and recorded damn near everything he came across. Delta blues, gospels, prison chain gang work songs, everything. Including a poor young farm worker who went by the nickname of “Muddy Waters.” Lomax recorded Muddy and his friends between ’41 and ’42, went back to Washington and sent Muddy back a copy of the recordings. The first time Muddy had ever heard himself sing and play. The liner notes say that Muddy listened to this record over and over again, knowing deep down that he could make it. Pack up and leave Mississippi. Go to Chicago, where the work is. Move in with some relatives. Take on down the road, just him and his guitar. He could do it, he knew he could do it. And he did. Without Muddy Waters, we would not have rock music period. The end. End of story. A giant of popular music here at the very ground floor of his spectacular career. Amazing album.

5. Bird and Diz by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
The only non-blues album on the list, but still quite a goodie. This album, first off, is short. About 22 minutes of actual album. Then there is another 20 minutes or so of outtakes, false starts, breakdowns, studio chatter, etc. But here in all this mess is Bebop at its finest. There is nothing I can say about Charlie Parker that Jack Kerouac hasn’t said already a thousand times better, and the younger Dizzy here could easily be mistaken for Miles Davis. A very pleasant surprise here is the piano player, a then little-known musician called Thelonious Monk. With names like these, who needs description?

I <3 Judy Garland
September 16, 2008, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Misc. | Tags: ,

Yes, she was a fantastic singer. But this $3 thrift store find, which I now have on ebay, makes me love her so much more:


Judy, you just bought me a new harmonica amp. Thank you.