Arts, Entertainment, Living

Looking back on 2010 - already

Thursday, 09 December 2010 10:43 AM Written by

It's sort of hard to believe, but when I read the list below on Roots Music Report, it finally sunk in that 2010 is almost over. I suppose all those Christmas decorations should have been a hint.

For people like those of us here at BlueNotes World Headquarters, that means it's the time of the year to read all the "ten-best" lists that seem to be so popular, and maybe even write one of our own. You know -- the ten best movies, the ten best albums and of course, the much more useful ten best beers (we drank those without taking any notes).

But I found this list, which like many "best" lists, come out before the year is even over. We won't be guilty of such shoddy work here at BWH. In fact, we may not be guilty of any work at all, but that's another matter.

Anyway, this list is still interesting -- it's compiled by Roots Music Report, and reflects the blues albums that have received the most airplay worldwide -- regular and internet radio -- this year. I'm not sure what the Stones are doing on the list, but otherwise, it's not bad. There are a bunch of fine albums here, including the No. 1 spot.

  1. Pinetop Perkins / Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith – Joined At The Hip
  2. Eric Bibb - Booker's Guitar
  3. Janiva Magness - The Devil Is An Angel, Too
  4. Peter Karp / Sue Foley - He Said She Said
  5. The Holmes Brothers - Feed My Soul
  6. James Cotton - Giant
  7. Elvin Bishop - Red Dog Speaks
  8. Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
  9. Guitar Shorty - Bare Knuckle
  10. Magic Slim & The Teardrops - Raising The Bar
  11. Robin Rogers - Back In The Fire
  12. Little Joe McLerran - Believe I'll Make A Change
  13. John Nemeth - Name The Day!
  14. Buddy Guy - Living Proof
  15. Albert Castiglia - Keepin On
  16. Harrison Kennedy - One Dog Barkin'
  17. Various Artist - Things About Comin' My Way - A Tribute To The Music Of The Mississippi Sheiks
  18. Maria Muldaur & Her Garden Of Joy - Good Time Music For Hard Times
  19. The Rolling Stones. Get Yer Ya Ya's Out! 40Th Anniversary Box Set.
  20. Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King - Have Blues, Will Travel
  21. Joe Louis Walker - Between A Rock And The Blues
  22. Moreland & Arbuckle - Flood
  23. Debbie Davies - Holdin' Court
  24. Tinsley Ellis - Speak No Evil
  25. Arsen Shomakhov - On The Move

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Charming new family special: 'The Gruffalo'

Thursday, 09 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

GruffaloWe're in an era where new holiday specials are few and far between. The old classics ("The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer") deliver boffo ratings but attempts to created new Christmas classics tend to fall short in both ratings and creative success.

Last year ABC scored a bullseye with "Prep & Landing" (a sequel is in the works for next Christmas) and this year ABC Family delivers a charming British import, "The Gruffalo" (7 tonight).

It's not, strictly speaking, a Christmas special. Save for a little added snow at the end, there's nothing really holiday-ish about it. But "The Gruffalo" tells its simple story deliberately and quietly without any unnecessary theatrics.

Read more after the jump. ...

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EA Active 2 - Review

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 10:32 AM Written by

EA Active 2 is the new fitness game (obviously) developed by EA and (almost as obviously) the sequel to EA Active.  This first EA Active was a serviceable starting point for a fitness game, but Active 2 looks to bring more to the genre and make some serious improvements. 

The game has been perfectly timed to hit stores right when the masses are in the midst of gorging on Thanksgiving leftovers and holiday sweets.  Beach season is five months away; time to get cracking. 

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'Community' celebrates Christmas Rankin/Bass style

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

After an uneven, trying-to-find-its-way first season, NBC’s “Community” (8 p.m. Thursday, WPXI) has blossomed into one of prime-time’s best comedies in its sophomore year. The show began as the story of a community college study group but in its second season has evolved beyond its premise to become a series more driven by its established characters and the world they inhabit than by its collegiate backdrop.

A focus on the characters has allowed the show’s writers to put them in absurd situations where they flourish, whether it’s in a spaceship, in the midst of a zombie attack or, as in tonight’s episode, rendered in stop-motion animation.

“Community” creator/executive producer Dan Harmon said the idea for an episode that pays homage to the Rankin/Bass Christmas classics came up at the start of the season after a suggestion from soon-to-depart chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment Jeff Gaspin.

“One morning he said, ‘Community’ should do an animated episode and we took that ball and ran with it,” Mr. Harmon said in a recent phone interview. “We thought, we can’t let the top guy say that and not take advantage of it. It’s usually the kids saying, ‘Do an animated episode,’ and the parent saying, ‘Behave yourself and do your sitcom.’”

Read more after the jump. ...

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DIY be-jeweled gloves

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by


As I was flipping through the December issue of In Style, I came across these fantastic jeweled gloves pictured above. I was amazed by their beauty and shocked by their price. Really $95 and $350?!?!

Not for my pocketbook. I knew I could make my own version of these fantastic gloves and that's just what I did below:


For a total $25, I purchased two jeweled bracelets at H&M and placed the bracelets on top of a pair of gloves that I already own. And bam!, my own set bejeweled gloves. Unlike the designer gloves in the magazine, I now have two bracelets that I can wear without the gloves.

I hope to bring more DIY projects like this to Clutch. Be sure to check back on Friday for another Clutch post!

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New CD: "Jus' Desserts" from Tas Cru

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

tascru3It's time to pick up a recently released CD from the pile and let you know about one of of those regional artists that you've probably never heard but probably should.

First up is Tas Cru, a blues singer/songwriter out of Albany, N.Y., with a love of storytelling and a flair for clever lyrics and bright arrangements that range from slow blues to New Orleans to funky shuffles.

You may remember him from the International Blues Challenge held by the Blues Society of Western Pa. in April, 2008. A press release with the CD says that "tas cru" in Quebec means something like "peeled potato." When I tried to translate it online, I got something that's closer to "rough vintage." But it's still a cool name.

His latest CD, "Jus' Desserts" (Crustee Tees Records), is his fourth, and they all show off a tough, lyric-based blues style that touches on influences from all along the blues highway.

Here's a sample of the lyrical and musical approach in the first track, "Just Let It Happen" --

Cru (Rick Bates) can do down and dirty (and his sly sense of humor makes it even more so), and he can can do poignant reflection, and he can do darned nice straight blues. Check this video:

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John Steinbeck Gets Home Again

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 10:32 AM Written by
FINAL STEINBECK UPDATE: According to my best guess, it was 50 years ago Dec. 5th or Dec. 6th that Steinbeck staggered into New York City and ended his 75-day, 10,000-mile circumnavigation of the USA.

Steinbeck, who in "Charley" says he sprinted to the finish line in a road-bleary blur, was out of gas physically and spiritually and he knew his search for America had been mostly a bust.images_copy_copy_copy

While he was away from his homes in Manhattan and Sag Harbor Nikita Khrushchev had made a fool of himself at the United Nations, the Pirates had shocked the Yankees in the World Series and JFK had out-debated Nixon to become boss of the Free World.

For reasons that should be obvious to anyone who’s read this blog, it took Steinbeck more than a year of struggling to finish “Travels With Charley,” which didn’t come out until the summer of 1962. Of his 16 novels, six nonfiction books and five collections of shortstories, it was his last major work and reportedly his best-selling.

Six weeks after Steinbeck returned to New York he would attend JFK’s inauguration day festivities and share a limo with JFK insider/advisor John Kenneth Galbraith.

In less than two years he’d win the Nobel Prize for Literature and be reminded by a creepy New York Times editorial the next day that he hadn’t written anything important for 30 years.

In less than four years he’d be writing speeches for his new buddy President Lyndon Johnson.

In six years he’d be supporting the war in Viet Nam in public and doubting it in private.

In eight years, on Dec. 20, 1968, at age 66, the author of some of the most popular books ever written by an American would be dead.

And in 50 years I would drive 11,276 miles chasing and fact-checking his ghost.


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Crystal__Nathan_38_reducedSundance Channel debuts a series with an eyebrow-raising title: "Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys" (10 and 10:30 tonight), cable's latest series to explore an aspect of modern culture. In this case, the phenomenon in question is the notion of heterosexual women who form close friendships with gay men.

It's certainly aims higher than the awful "A-List: New York" on Logo. Read more after the jump. ...


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