Doodles in the margin from an artist living and working in the Scottish Borders.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Music on Monday: White Boy Blues

If I say "what a noise", I mean it entirely positively. 'Bukka' White knocks the hell out of a National Steel guitar playing Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues, one of his signature songs.

He had hands like Rachmaninov, a punishing way with a guitar and a Mississippi accent forty yards deep, which could partially account for the fact that he's been chiselled into history as 'Bukka' White, when his real name was Booker T. Washington White. 'Bukka' was the name a (white) producer put on the label of his first set of recordings in the 1940s, and despite hating it, White was stuck with it.

Legend has it that in 1937 White shot a man in a barroom brawl (in self-defence, it was later determined), fled to Chicago, and was two songs into a recording session when the police came for him. He served time in the notorious Parchman Farm, where he composed the songs that would make his reputation.

Not the least of his legacy is that a White's young cousin (one B.B. King) developed his distinctive finger vibrato trying to mimic White's, not understanding he did it with a slide.

The guitar featured in this video (probably, anyway - I say that to give this low voltage anecdote some narrative cohesion) is the one that wound up in Eric Bibb's hands:

While Bibb has been carrying a torch for his musical ancestors for 40 years or so, it took a chance encounter with a guitar owned by one of Bibb’s heroes, Delta bluesman Booker White, to set it ablaze.
It happened after a concert in the north of England a few years ago. A fan came up and asked him if he’d be interested in playing this old guitar. “I opened the case and there was this wise old instrument - it played like a dream” explains Bibb.
I remember talking to someone from Newcastle who heard that White's guitar was on sale at a music shop in the city. When he went there he found that there was some sort of mini pilgrimage underway and the shop was full of people like him who'd just come to have a look at Booker White's National steel.

Anyway - that guitar (probably) in the substantial mitts of Booker T. Washington White, tough, loud and magnificent.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas, Baby

Merry Christmas Baby, to you all from Otis Redding and Baboonery.

Clip posted by BeachMusic, who are "shaggin' 'round the Christmas tree" apparently.

It beats getting socks and a scarf.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Music on Monday: Champion Jacq DuPre

It's huge, stirring, uplifted and dramatic. But get past Daniel Barenboim's hair and you'll notice that the lady scrapes a good fiddle.

Massive thanks to markvogue who posted these on YouTube.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Spotlight But No Kid.

Don van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, whose music was Howlin' Wolf heard down a lobster telephone, has left the building.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Seasonally Adjusted

Cheviot Foothills, Autumn. Oil on board, 18" x 12".

New painting of the country around the Cheviot foothills, North Northumberland. It has a companion piece (below). I like the idea of returning to a place to observe seasonal changes, so there might be a third, snowy one sometime.*

(You'll also spot that between summer and autumn it's not just light and colour that change but hills, trees, field layouts, horizons ...)

*Might not be, though. Part of me thinks that for all the work I put in on these, especially the autumn one, they're just a bit boring.** Working on a sea/sky painting now. I like these. Sea -wallop. Horizon -wallop. Sky - wallop. Clag it on and scuffle it around.

**You see, it's comments like this that make me think I'm maybe not the best person to be in charge of my own publicity...

Music on Monday: "Those That Have Ears, Hear - Those That Don't..."

From now on, for no real reason other than it's alliterative, Mondays are Music Mondays.

Post one, and on the one, is probably my favourite James Brown song. Talking Loud and Saying Nothing was recorded October 1st 1970 in Macon, Georgia and it's funky as a week-old sock. This is the extended seven minute version: I was overjoyed to discover that there's a complete, unfaded version on the Motherlode compilation that clocks in at a magisterial fourteen minutes.

The band, and this is about nothing if it's not about the band, was the legendary J.B.s:

Clayton "Chicken" Gunnells - trumpet
Darryl "Hassan" Jamison - trumpet
Robert McCollough - tenor saxophone
St. Clair Pinckney - baritone saxophone
Bobby Byrd - organ, vocal
Phelps "Catfish" Collins - guitar
William "Bootsy" Collins - bass
John "Jabo" Starks - drums
Johnny Griggs - congas

The improvised stop/start set up from about 5:00 is the industry standard definition of 'tight.'

He didn't play on Talking Loud... but Clyde Stubblefield was the Funky Drummer. Here he gives an insight into how the Brown band worked. And there's some funky drumming.

And while we're at it, Bootsy and Jabo explain the one. To Lenny Henry.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Cinema Paradiso: Ushers With Powers of Arrest.

It's all true and right and good and must be implemented immediately for a better world.

Santa Claws

The magnificent Simon's Cat. Anyone who has or had cats knows that every frame is true.

It's a measure of the appeal of Simon's Cat that I'm happy to shill for his merchandise for free. Now that's success.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fail Better

I caught this last night by accident, and it was serendipitous, given my own perennial fretful brainfizzings and the recent sacking of Chris Hughton.

It's screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce's talk The Joy of Failure on Radio 3's Night Waves. His thesis is that failure is not something to be fearful of, rather that progress (and Post-It Notes) depend on mistakes.

"Is this pathology-ward level cheering and waving really encouragement? Or is it a strange new morbid dread of failure? Boyce ... makes a passionate plea for the traditional enemies of happiness - error, disappointment and, above all, failure. Bad ideas have often led to great discoveries, he claims, and human knowledge is dependent on our ability to continue making mistakes."

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Brian #3: Pupil Friction.

Teachers, yesterday, enjoying Brian on the internet.

The best thing about teaching, and there were so many best things, was simply filling young minds with knowledge.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Peter in America

A half hour World Service interview with novelist Peter Carey on the back of Parrot and Olivier in America.

"[Information should come from] a diverse, a great number of sources... There should be an education system that teaches it's still important to be able to read, that it's not enough to get a ten-second grab on television that's amusing. You would imagine an education system that led to an educated population that could actually read books - any books."

"I never washed my cars, which upset my father terribly. In fact, he once found a potato growing in the back seat."

Freezo, Freezas, Freezat. But Especially Freezas.

It got cold. You might have noticed. A couple of nights ago it was down to four degrees below freezing. Quite notable, at the time. It was cold. Going to bed early was the only option.

Then it dropped to minus seven.

That was cold. I mean, for Scotland - parts of Scotland, anyway, I know there's people in the Highlands who would say 'minus seven? Luxury!' if only their faces unfroze enough to speak.

Last night it started to get really cold. Icy sky, sharp, flinty stars. Really bitter. We watched the thermometer drop - well, I did. Laura sat on the sofa with a look that said 'stop opening the front door, you freakish thermo-voyeur.'

That's minus nine. And still it fell. When I finally went to bed, we'd run out of thermometer. There were no more degrees left:

At approximately twelve degrees below freezing, it fell off the bottom of the thermometer. They say it'll be warmer by the weekend. We've about a bucket and a half of coal left. I don't think I've looked forward to four degrees centigrade quite so eagerly.

And to put my photographic pretensions to shame, here's Jason Baxter, a local photographer. If all went to plan he was up this morning before dawn to hike to the top of Broad Law to take a photograph of the sunrise. I'd do the same, obviously, but, you know, I've comic stuff to draw. Important, gosh, yes. Inside. Goggles! That's what it is, I've no goggles.

Edit: well, he did it, the nutcase. Chapeau!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Brian #2: What Kind Of Party Do You Never Want To Go To?

A long agenda, the end of the day, other things to do and someone firing up a projector and PowerPoint. The perfect storm of pencil-chewing abomination.

The high point of my enthusiastic involvement (time span: one year) was being on the committee that drafted the Home-School agreement, a document which took about three months to write, went out with fanfare to parents, was solemnly signed and returned and was never referred to again.

I expressed my rage in badger form.


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