Arts, Entertainment, Living

Two new CDs from Grand Marquis and Retro Deluxe

Wednesday, 15 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

CD-Cover-final-SMALLIt's new CD time again -- I seem to have a never-ending supply. And once again, these are two regional bands (from other regions, or course), and each has a CD that's pleasantly unique, and featuring lots of good music.

First is a band that comes from Bowie, Md. (not all that far), calling itself Retro Deluxe and led by an irascible-sounding singer named Bobby Joe Owens with a vintage approach that's part blues, part rockabilly, and entirely enjoyable.

The album, "Watermelon Tea" (Rinkled Rooster Records) was produced by Jimbo Mathus at his Mississippi Delta Recording Service, where he also contributed drums, some guitar, harp and a few backing vocals.

It's an album of original music by band manager Robert J. Thompson, and music that sounds fresh in its oldness. The band lays down blues grooves, bounces with rockabilly sensibilities and generally just swings and shuffles through the 16 tracks. These guys have a great feel for their music, and the result is music that feels great. Here's a video of the title track:

grandmarquisThe other band, Grand Marquis, is based in Kansas City, and also takes pleasure in vintage music with its latest CD, "Hold On To Me" (GM Records).

But this hot little group plays variations on jazz, blues and swing, and manages to sound a lot like many of their historic predecessors on the Midwest band scene.

Bryan Redmond leads the group on vocals and also handles multiple sax roles, plus they add a trumpet, guitar, upright bass, percussion and sousaphone to round out their swinging sound.

They play mostly covers here, but great covers of great music -- "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Dinah," "Saint James Infirmary" and "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise" offer a sample of their approach. If you enjoy traditional jazz and jump blues, you might want to catch GM's fresh approach.

Here's a video:

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Golden Globe, AFI TV recognition

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

Nominations for the 68th annual Golden Globes, Hollywood's precursor to the Oscars and an awards show that also recognizes excellence in television, were announced this morning.

You'll find TV nominees and the list of AFI-adored programs after the jump....

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A Bluzer Spotlight on Katie Webster

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

Obviously inspired by his visit to see "Junior Boy" Jones, Bluzer has put together his latest Spotlight, this time on Katie Webster. I've added a video to start it off. Check it out.

Having just seen Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones, I was reminded of the great Katie Webster and so I began to dig around on YouTube and found alot more great material than I thought I would. Katie was far more of a talent than even I remembered and going back and listening to her music was a pure delight. From rollicking piano boogie to stone-cold Blues to sweet gospel-flavored Soul, Katie Webster produced an incredible body of work that will remain firmly in the Blues world as an example for future generations. Not to mention the work she did backing the J.D. Miller artists whose recordings were released on Excello. She was a monster and I'm happy to pass along another BLUZER Spotlight that truly illustrates all that makes me happy and glad to be a Blues Freak!!

KATIE WEBSTER (January 11, 1936 – September 5, 1999)
(born Kathryn Jewel Thorne)


'THE SWAMP BOOGIE QUEEN!!!"

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AUDIO RECORDINGS......

BABY BABY (AKA 'NO BREAD, NO MEAT')
(ASHTON SAVOY, SECOND VOCAL)
(BIG FAT BLUES!! - THIS IS TREMENDOUS!!)

I FEEL SO LOW

BABY COME ON

WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU GONNA DO

SINCE I MET YOU BABY
(B.B. KING, GTR & VCL)
(CONVERSATION WITH THE BLUES!!)
(THE REAL DEAL UPTOWN BLUES!!)

HELL OR HIGH WATER
(HEAVY-DUTY SOUTHERN SOUL/FUNK)

SLOWLY I'M FALLING - 1987
(WHAT A BEAUTIFUL TUNE!!)
(THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO KATIE WEBSTER!!)
(SOLO PIANO WITH VOCALS)

GLORY OF LOVE
(SHUFFLIN' THE BLUES WITH A N'AWLINS BEAT!!)

HOO-WEE, SWEET DADDY
(45RPM ON ZYNN)
(A SWAMP CLASSIC !! - REALLY ROCKIN'!!)

SEA OF LOVE
(SWEET AND TENDER VERSION OF THE N.O. CLASSIC)

SEA OF LOVE
(EARLIER VERSION WITH THE SONGETTES!!)

RED NEGLIGEE
(THEM DIRTY NO-GOOD MAN OF MINE BLUES!!)

NEVER LET ME GO
(SWEET SOUL BALLAD - BABY-MAKING MUSIC!!)

IT'S MIGHTY HARD
(ANOTHER FINE TUNE DRENCHED IN SOUTHERN SOUL!!)
(THIS IS FOR ALL YOU TRUE BLUES LOVERS!!)
(CUTS OFF AT THE VERY END)

HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT
(KATIE'S GREAT VERSION OF THE SOUL CLASSIC)

WHO WILL YOUR NEXT FOOL BE
(LOW-DOWN BLUES FROM 'THE SWAMP BOOGIE QUEEN' RECORDINGS!!)

WHITE SILVER SANDS
(KATIE'S SWINGS THE BOOGIE!! - GREAT STUFF!!)

SECRET OF LOVE
(A NICE 'BIG EASY'-STYLE BALLAD)

CRY CRY DARLING
(GREAT BALLAD WITH A STRONG GOSPEL FEEL!!)

BULLIE'S SOULFOOD PLACE - 1991
(WITH 'BLACK CAT BONE')
(KATIE WEBSTER CHANNELS JOHN LEE HOOKER!!)
(NICE 'SOUTHERN-FRIED' GERMAN BACKING BAND)

GOODBYE BABY
(A BURNING BAYOU BALLAD - SWAMPY AND SOULFUL!!)

TROUBLE BLUES - 1962
(HEAVY-DUTY LOW-DOWN DEEP-MOANIN' BLUES)

NEED SHORTER HOURS
(ASHTON SAVOY, VCL; SOUNDS LIKE LAZY LESTER ON THE HARP!!)
(THAT'S KATIE BACK THERE ON THE PIANO)
(BLUES FROM CROWLEY, LOUISIANA)

------------------------------------------------

LIVE PERFORMANCES........

THOSE LONELY, LONELY NIGHTS
(VASTI JACKSON, GTR & VCL)
(LIVE PERFORMANCE - ?SWEDEN - 1990)

I'M BAD
(AS ABOVE)

EVERY DAY I HAVE THE BLUES
(LIVE IN HAMBURG, GERMANY - 041683)
(GATEMOUTH BROWN, GTR & VCL - GREAT BAND!!)
(I'M NOT SURE WHOSE GIG THIS WAS - TWO LEGENDS!!)

CAME HOME THIS MORNING
(LIVE ON GERMAN TV - MID 1980'S)
(SOLO PIANO WITH VOCALS - THANK YOU GERMANS!!)
(THIS IS AS I REMEMBER HER FROM MANY YEARS AGO!!)
(NICE PRODUCTION VALUES!!)

PUSSYCAT MOAN

(UNKNOWN DATE AND LOCATION)
(POSSIBLY AT N.O. JAZZ AND HERITAGE FEST)
(AND BOY, DOES SHE MOAN!!)
(INCOMPLETE)

TWO-FISTED MAMA/?KATIE'S BOOGIE WOOGIE
(UNKNOWN DATE/LOCATION)
(SOLO PIANO WITH VOCALS)
(THE QUEEN ROCKS THE BOOGIE!!)

DECK THE HALLS WITH BOOGIE WOOGIE

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.

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Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups

Monday, 13 December 2010 01:27 PM Written by

Spinach-Lasagna-Roll-upsHappy Monday!!!

Tonight's dinner - Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups - is so yummy!!! We have it with spinach and ricotta - and truth be told - my husband doesn't care for it this way. The rest of us like it but next we may have to roll it up with some meat in there! I was thinking sausage and mushroom with ricotta. Sounds pretty good!

Enjoy the day and stay warm!!!

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'Dexter' denied

Monday, 13 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

dexter_501_0861Showtime's "Dexter" concluded its season last night with resolution for Deb on the barrel girls case and for Dexter with regards to his murder-minded protege, Lumen (Julia Stiles).

It was an OK finale, but nothing that would rival last year's dead-Rita-in-a-bathtub ending.

Read more (spoilers included) after the jump. ...

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A PGH-er in NYC Guide to New Fragrances

Monday, 13 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

01HL

From the Mon to the Hudson... Julia DiNardo brings her NYC fashion perspective back to PGH.

Last week I mentioned some fashion-oriented books that are sure to garner a gleeful grin this holiday season. This week, I'm going to dish on some new, top notch scents that I've tested out.

Top Picks for Women:

Calvin Klein Beauty (sizes vary, $50-$85) Nordstrom, Ross Park Mall). With notes of Lily, Absolute Ambrette Seeds, Jasmine, and Cedarwood, this floral scent is a timeless and modern scent that can be worn both for day and evening.

Harajuku Lovers - ($30-$45 each, $100 for the set of five) Nordstrom, Ross Park Mall. For your more playful side, or a younger lady, try the Harajuku Lovers individual fragrances, or buy the entire limited edition collectibles of five scents, including: Love (a fruity floral), Lil Angel (a sparkling floral), Music (a woody floral), Baby (a vanilla floral, and my personal favorite!), and G (another fruity floral). Pictured above.

Thierry Mugler Womanity (sizes vary, $28-$98) Saks Fifth Avenue, Downtown.  Never a disappointment with his bottle design and fragrance potency, Mr. Mugler's latest concoction is considered both sweet and savory with notes including fig, caviar, woods, and citrus - a sophisticated and distinctive scent reserved for that 'discerning' gift recipient.

Top Pick for Men:

Marc Jacobs Bang ($55-$75) Saks Fifth Avenue, Downtown. Not only does this have one of the coolest bottle designs around and is Marc Jacobs' first men's scent in 10 years, it is a provocative peppery woody spice combination sure to please. Compliment the fragrance with the coordinating After Shave Balm ($40), Hair and Body Wash ($25), and Deostrick ($22).

Julia DiNardo, a Pittsburgh native and New York City resident, has penned articles for a myriad of publications, including Clear, Redbook, GQ Magazines, The New York Sun, BagSnob.com, AOL's Stylelist.com, and RunningwithHeels.com. Her own site, FashionPulseDaily.com has been mentioned on NYTimes.com, Elle.com, and RackedLA.com. Julia also designs the Pittsburgh-based locally-printed t-shirt line Neighbor Teaze and is an adjunct professor at NYU's Gallatin School. When in Pittsburgh, Julia enjoys shopping in Lawrenceville and at 'Gabes', scavenging through vintage shops on Ellsworth Avenue, and eating the best Vietnamese food at Tram's on Penn Ave.

Thanks for the post Julia! I never know what scents are current and what smell good, so I'll definitely check these out next time I'm in need of a new smell.

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Geoff Muldaur & Jim Kweskin: That good old-time music

Monday, 13 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by
kweskin_500
Geoff Muldaur, left, and Jim Kweskin. (Jim White photo)

On Friday night, we heard some great traditional electric blues from Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones (see below). Then on Saturday night, we shifted to great traditional acoustic sounds from two musicians who have spent their lives plucking folk, blues and country music out of its beginnings and offering it in a contemporary setting.

Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin, co-founders of the Kweskin Jug Band (jug band history) in Boston in 1963, are performing together again after a separation of about 35 years, and making fine music by revisiting what seems to be the history of American music in the 20th century.

They appeared courtesy of Calliope, the Pittsburgh Folk Music Society, at the Carnegie Lecture Hall, and spent the evening telling tales and taking sly digs at each other in between a history lesson in country, folk and blues music.

They dropped names like Victorian women dropped handkerchiefs: Dock Boggs, Vera Hall, Jimmie Rodgers, Uncle Dave Macon, Furry Lewis, Mississippi John Hurt, Stephen Bruton, Milton Brown and more.

And they played the songs: The richly lascivious "Jelly Roll Blues," the pre-Frankie & Johnny "Frankie & Albert," "Blues in a Bottle," "Boll Weevil Blues," "Wild Ox Moan" -- great old stuff like that.

They dropped Pittsburgh names like Billy Strayhorn and talked about how he met Duke Ellington, wondered where they might have played here in the 1960s - the crowd thought the Syria Mosque, but they seemed unsure. Another '60s memory up in smoke. Kweskin allowed that The Steelers-Ravens game of last week was one of the best he'd ever seen.

So what more could you ask? Praise for the Steelers, praise for Calliope and the Lecture Hall -- and lots and lots of great music, played with humor, skill and passion.

For me, the best performance of the evening was an elegant solo turn by Muldaur as he performed "Wild Ox Moan," as recorded by Vera Hall, complete with ethereal falsetto and gentle guitar work (her version was a cappella -- simply brilliant music-making.

It was one of those fine musical nights where performers, audience, music and memories all seemed to blend perfectly, and like good whiskey, went down smoothly and left a warm glow behind.

Old-time country music singer and Western Pennsylvania native Brett Howland opened the evening with a very nice set of old country tunes, focusing on Rodgers and Macon. and in the process, produced more yodeling than I've heard in many, many years. He also made great old music, including excellent versions of "TB Blues" and Muleskinner Blues."

A BlueNotes memory:

One of the original members of the Kweskin Jug Band was a harmonica player and character named Mel Lyman. Lyman left the band after a brief period to form a commune in Boston, with himself as the leader. The Mel Lyman Family, as it was called, was involved in publishing an underground newspaper called Avatar, and later, American Avatar. They also recorded a couple of albums.

At some point, Kweskin moved in with the Lyman group, breaking up the Jug Band. I happened to have begun my newspaper career in Massachusetts in the mid-1960s, and remember some of this, and if my memory hasn't faded too much, wrote about the Lyman Family's first album, "The Lyman Family with Lisa Kindred: American Avatar."

It was an interesting time and place.

I found these online posts about the show at Joe's Folk Music Forum, which include a nice set list and description.

Here's a video of Muldaur singing "Wild Ox Moan"

And here's a brief slice of a Vera Hall version

 

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Video Game Awards Blog

Saturday, 11 December 2010 11:36 PM Written by

The annual Video Game Awards aired on Saturday night.  The event was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, who it seems is willing to step into any hosting gig in need.  

It was only announced a couple weeks ago that Harris would be hosting, which may be the reason his monologue fell a flat on the people in attendance.  Fortunately, it was short and they got right to the awards.  

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