Stephane Grappelli Hall

I think the first lp I bought by Stephane Grappelli was the double set Satin Doll. I loved his playful, soulful tonality & the range of his music tastes. Never adventurous but never boring. He is a jazz master for sure. In my collection I have Stephanova, Live, 1971, Hommage a Django, Satin Doll, Duet with Menuhin 2 cds, Romouski 94. Some as stand alones, some at lp to cd transfers & some as mp3. All worth listening to.

The mp3 collection also includes some great tango work: Gotan Project: La Revacha Del Tango. Grand Salon Orchestra: Tango’s. Gotan is a more modern take on tango while Grand Salon is traditional. Both are fun. 

With them is Chile’s Los Jaivas: Alturas De Manchu Picchu; Aconcagua – this is latino progrock – a fine delightful mash up of folk, jazz, rock that is worth seeking out. Finally a pair of lps by Cacho Tirao: Guitarra, Imágenes – this is splendid latino guitar, a little experimental but beautiful & transporting.

Nearby on the jazz shelf is a stand-alone by guitarist Jim Hall: Concierto. A jazz standard is Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, a classical piece for guitar, that countless musicians from Miles Davis to Emerson Lake & Palmer, have reinterpreted. Hall’s take is sweet thanks to Don Sebesky’s arrangement. Joining him are legendary Chet Baker & Paul Desmond.

Empty

Mark stepped on something. A harsh crack and an echo.

‘What was that?’ he stooped to see what he had crushed. A small silver bead. Glass. ‘Wonder what it was?’

‘Christmas beads, you know those strings for around the tree. When I was unpacking it to repack it, it broke. Beads all over the place.’

‘Not hard to visualize this place as full. Table, chairs, bed.’ Mark walked over to where the bed had been. The floor was scratched in the four spots where the legs had rubbed back and forth. ‘There’ll be something off the damage deposit for this.’

‘Honourably earned after years of use. And I don’t mean single occupancy either.’

There were lighter spots along the wall, where the various paintings and pictures had been. Different sizes and shapes. Peeling wall paper along wall near the bottom of a door that the cat had taken a dislike to it.

‘What happened to the cat?’

‘New home. Ginger was the first thing out of here in fact. He’s adjusted. Takes a while.’

Mark sniffed. ‘Don’t smell much of the cat here now. Good thing. That always makes it harder to rent.’

‘I suppose. Here are the keys. You have my number if there’s anything.’

‘Yeah. You did an okay job clearing out.’

‘As best as I could bother doing. Not really my responsibility is it? I’m not sure what to do about the crap on the balcony though. Gardening stuff.’

‘He liked to garden. I’ll see if the other’s tenants may want some of it. Those big pots looks useful.’

‘I was wondering …’

‘What?’

‘If I could be here a few minutes. Alone. Now that it’s empty of everything I want to just be here. Bare walls & dust. The door’ll lock behind me when I leave.’

‘Okay.’ Mark left. Strange notion but after years of being super here he’d seen his share of strange notions. What did the guy expect to get in an empty room? A chill. No ghosts here.

New tenants were already lined up. The waiting list was long. It was a big bachelor, could be made into a one bedroom easily enough. Might think on that. Raise the rent too, without having to do much work. 

Shame though, the guy that lived here had been such a good old guy. One of the long term residents. But when death comes it makes room for the next tenant.

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Joy of Jobim

Antonio Carlos Jobim is considered an elder statesman of Brazilian jazz – though in Brazil, samba, bossa nova were considered street music they became jazz in the USA & hence in the rest of the world. Best know for his his breakthrough recording with Stan Getz, Jobim is more than a fine guitarist. As stand alone’s in my pop collection I have his Echoes of Rio, Rio Revisited (with Gal Costa), Jazz Masters. Sure it is easy listening but well worth it & perfect for quiet nights of quiet stars.

Not quite next on the shelf is an mp3 collection of Joy of Cooking. Here is their First & Closer To The Ground. Folk-jazz with sweet harmonies and congas – nearly very song is propelled by the pitter-pat of congas. The songs are romantic, feminist & easy on the ear. The First was a moderate ‘hit.’ Joy of Cooking was an unusual example of a late 60’s rock band fronted by women.

When Joy broke up the women worked together on Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite: Cross Country. This is more country blues folk. Solo Terry Garthwaite released Terry – an amazing jazzy rock album that I consider a hidden treasure & it is well worth hunting down.

Also in this mp3 collection I added Cass Elliot: Dream A Little Dream; Bubble Gum, Lemonade. Cass never regained the momentum of her Mama & Papas days. The production on these lps is merely adequate & the songs lack energy & focus. There are few good tracks mind you, but over all she needed a stronger musical guide as she has one of the great rock voices.

Also in here is Kathi McDonald’s Insane Asylum. Why didn’t she become a huge star? This is one of the best Canadian albums ever with great songs i.e. Bogart to Bowie is amazing. Kathi can sing the pants off nearly any female vocalist out there & probably teach the guys a few things too. A hidden treasure worth seeking out.

Wait there’s more. To balance all these female voices I added The Association: And Then … Along Comes the Association – an immensely popular mid-60’s group that was never taken serious because of their success. Complex harmonies, some stunning production & songs that will live on forever. And finally Candymen: The Candymen – power driven 60’s garage rock of the best kind.

Brother

‘What do you mean, your brother? You never mentioned a brother before.’

‘Well I’m mentioning him now.’

‘And he’ll be here for supper? Tonight!’

‘That’s right. We can order pizza. He loves pizza. Save you cooking.’

‘That’s not the problem.’

‘There’s a problem?’

‘Damn rights there is. I’ve known you how long now?’

‘Five years.’

‘Right, and we’ve been living together for the last three and now you tell me you have  a brother?’

‘Didn’t seem like a thing to tell. There’s lots of things we don’t know about each other.’

‘Yes, but not something this big. How could you not mention a brother to me? How?’

‘I guess it never came up. You never asked if I had siblings.’

‘It’s not the sort of thing one asks about. It’s the sort of thing that comes up, in conversation.’

‘That conversation never came up then. Christ. I’m sorry I never told you I had a brother. Is that what you wanted, an apology?’

‘I just want to know why you’ve never told me. Didn’t you trust me?’

‘Oh, now it’s a trust thing. I told you, I never thought him important enough to talk about. Lots of things are like that. He didn’t seem relevant to our relationship.’

‘Till now.’

‘Yeah, till now. He’s in town for the week-end and wants to meet you.’

‘So, he knows about me?’

‘Of course. Everybody knows about us.’

‘You’ve talked to this brother about me. How many times?’

‘A couple.’

‘How often do you speak to him?’

‘Once or twice a year since I met you.’

‘Once or twice! What aren’t you telling me? He’s just been let out of prison or something. Is that it?’

‘No. Why? Do you think my family is the criminal type.’

‘Now that I know you’ve got a family it wouldn’t surprise me.’

‘My mom was right you are …’

‘Mom!’

‘What? Didn’t you think I had a mother?’

‘You never mentioned a mother. Or didn’t she ever come up in conversation either?’

‘Christ you are on a tear today. Yes I have a mother. And a father too.’

‘A father! This is going too far. Why have you kept all these secrets from me?’

‘Secrets? How do you think I got here – you didn’t find me under a cabbage leaf. Of course I have parents. Everyone has parents. Don’t they?’

‘I suppose you’re right, but it’s still a shock to find out. You know. A shock that you’ve kept these things from me all this time. First a brother. Then parents. What else have you neglected to tell me. What other dirty dark secrets do you have.’

‘These are not secrets. Just things I didn’t think important enough to bother you with.’

‘So, now I have to face this opportunity to meet your brother, whom I didn’t even know you had. How am I going to do that, how can I admit I never heard of him before. How?’

Echoes of Rio, Rio Revisited, Joy of Cooking, Toni Brown, Terry Garthwaite, Cass Elliot, Kathi McDonald, Insane Asylum, Bogart to Bowie, The Association, The Candymen

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

July 2019 Sneak Peek

First the June recap of my on line life 🙂 My fan base continues expanded slowly but surely. WordPress followers is up to 329 (5 new followers this past week), Twitter up to 219, & Tumblr is at 231. My WP hits topped 40 many days with a couple of 60 & one day 82! The day I re-posted 2015’s Porn Has Ruined My Sex Life https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3A0. I’ve started a systematic weekend reposting of my last trip to Cape Breton in 2012.

Coal Dusters continues to grow as I get nearer the end with 111,700 words posted so far, still about 30,000 words to go. Finally got to the mine cave-in. So much going on in this section I had to add more! In that first draft I didn’t really build much for Lillian to do – as I’ve been strengthening her character I needed to show her in this new light. Exciting finish will hopefully play out in July.

TV was diverting in June, besides the many movies we watch & endless documentaries I enjoyed the relaunched Project Runway – longer episodes, more interaction with the contestants by the judges & temper tantrums. We also saw more of the judges deliberations. I love the diversity & inclusivity of this show. I do wish they would have at least men’s wear challenge each season though.

Read The Frolic of the Beasts By Yukio Mishima, originally published in 1961 and available in English for the first time last year. Similar to The Sound of Waves but much darker. More blog posts about my love of Mishima: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-36t, https://wp.me/p1RtxU-qS.

Celebrated another birthday & bought myself a subtle Cashew top from Diop https://weardiop.com. Added Prince’s Originals to my music collect as well as Frank Zappa’s: The MOFO Project/Object – The Mother’s Freak Out plus a slew of extras. Help, I’m a rock 🙂 I already have this on CD but wanted the extras 🙂 Freak Out was quite influential on my creative sense of self stranded in the backwoods of Cape Breton. Listening to it bring back great memories.

July brings heat, I hope. My garden is taking jungle turn already thanks to the rain at night & sun in the day. My one Stratford excursion will be to see Gotthold Ephraim Lessing  ‘Nathan the Wise’ from 1783. I vaguely know the story but I have no idea what to expect. The Festival describes it as “rarely seen masterpiece of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.” I hope it isn’t too educational 🙂

The Wednesday poetry chats for July & August will focus on my Brown Betty chapbook – all the pieces are about my growing up in Cape Breton. Thursday’s will contuse with new pieces inspired by the 227 Rules For Monks. Super sneak peek: August in Cape Breton 🙂

Measuring Up – A Cape Breton School Memory

I grew up

in a school system

where I learned 

I would never measure up

because I wasn’t smart enough

to memorize the times table

smart enough

to regurgitate passages of text books

when I wrote exams

even when I was right

I was given no credit

because my spelling was so wrong


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Jethro Tull


I am amused by the press Lizzo gets for bringing the flute into pop music when decades ago Jethro Tull brought flute into pop in a bigger way. Sure Moody Blues used it occasionally but never the same driving way Ian Anderson did. I played those early lps constantly. I loved the scraggy hippy look the band embraced which was a strong contrast to the complex blues baroque jazz pop music they  produced.

I have stand alone’s This Was, Stand Up, Aqualung, Thick As A Brick. In mp3 collections Benefit, A Passion Play, War Child – plus another version of Aqualung that has been remastered etc. All with various bonus tracks & interviews. I had all as lp at one time & gradually replaced them with either cd or mp3 versions.

Tull was the epitome of progrock without delving too much is not the classical end of things, sure there is enough of that but they weren’t flaunting it, the way ELP did. Lyrically the songs were about love, the system, war. Two lps Thick as a Brick (inspiration for Another Brick In The Wall?) & A Passion Play – are two long suites – with mp3 one gets to hear these without having to turn over the lp :-). Brick is commentary on British class & schools, Passion is a fun mess & includes a rather twee fairy tale in the middle of it. Both lapse into British music hall at times.

Later lps – War Child, Songs from the Wood are good with real social commentary & the band is drifting into Celtic folk territory more & more. If you are unfamiliar with Tull start with This was or Stand Up.


On the mp3 collection I’ve added Noel Harrison: Collage – sweet nostalgia for me. Maggie Bell: Queen of the Night, Suicide Sal – bluesy work by a British Maria Muldaur – adult pop. I rounded out this mp3 collection with the classic Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy.

Set A Spell

‘It’s dry.’ his chair creaked as he leaned back against the sun-stripped paint in the shady part of the porch.

‘Been that way for a while now.’ The other rubbed his eyebrows.

‘Yep.’ The third rubbed his nose.

‘Looking to stay that way for awhile longer, if you ask me.’

‘Yep.’

‘Don’t need no one to tell us what’s as plain as the nose on your face.’

‘Yep. That’s right hard to miss.’ He rubbed his nose again with a small grin.

‘Not much we can do about this dry, is there?’

‘Time for …’

Silence.

The three men turned to look at the fourth. He leaned back against the porch rail and spit into the dust.

‘What! What!’ He dabbed at his mouth with the tattered almost-white hanky from his back pocket. ‘You all been thinking the same thing. I know. I can tell when that thought is in the air.’

‘Least you got enough wet in ya ta spit. Some of us aren’t so lucky.’

‘Takes more than luck.’ the first leaned out of the shade. ‘You got something up at that place of yours we don’t know about?’

‘Me? Yeah. Come on up and I’ll show you the hidden river that runs through Dust Canyon. It comes up right under my bedroom. Keeps the missus happy to be so damp all night.’

‘Good thing. Nice missus you got there.’

‘Yep. Some would envy a gal like that.’

‘Sure is dry though. Can’t remember seeing it this dry before.’

‘Years back it was bad. Real bad. That was the last time we …’ he pulled back into the shadow, took off his straw hat to fan his face.

‘You remember that?’

‘Sure enough. I was just a boy, mind you. Just old enough not to worry about being asked to participate.’

‘That was the Gimbly kid wasn’t it.’

‘Not going to say one way or the other. Can’t. Not proper to talk about that sort of stuff. Not here or now. Too much talk takes the power away from it. You understand?’

‘Yep.’ 

The heat couldn’t be avoided. The sun blistered down on the four of them. Each edged more into the scant shade the porch afforded. Time to make plans and in the heat thinking became harder, slower.

‘Can’t take much of this. It’s hot enough to set things afire.’

‘Almost. We don’t need to worry about that. Nothing left to burn. Is there?’

The four of them laughed.

A black-haired girl, about five, came out of the house with a bucket of water.

‘Ma says you might want a splash of this.’

They looked at the water. The first tickled it with his finger tips and splayed the others with it.

‘See. Told you this was the right house to come to. If anything’s gonna done. This is where we’ll find it.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Mussorgsky

My introduction to Mussorgsky was Fantasia’s Night on Bald Mountain as a child. I was unaware of him as composer mind you. Later it was Emerson Lake & Palmer’s take on Pictures as at Exhibition – rock bombast. Then Tomita’s electronic interpretations of Pictures came along. I love the stereo work on it – the birds chirping from speaker to speaker.

I also had an lp with orchestral suites from Boris Godunov on one side & Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances on the other. I can still hear the bell in Boris suite.From MHS I had an lp of his solo piano music. Emotive romantic nostalgic. One piece was called “Nurse Locks Me In A Closet.” Who could resist that title 🙂 

What I have on the shelf are cds of Songs; Pictures; Boris Godunov: 3 cds; Khovanshchina 3 cds; Piano Music/Pictures; Boris Suite, Pictures, Bald Mountain. I also have Live From the Met cassettes of Khovanshchina that I’ve kept sit is quite different from the cd version. As you see I have various versions of Pictures at an Exhibition: orchestral, solo piano, two pianos, organ & somewhere a jazz take. The Gates of Kiev shows up often for grand military moments in movies, TV.

 

His music is impressionistic, romantic, patriotic & lyric. He’s not as emotional as Tchaikovsky, not as austere as Shostakovich, or as calculated as Stravinsky. His operas have Wagnerian epic sweep. Like many Slovak composers he makes great use of folk melodies. If you are unfamiliar start with an orchestral Pictures at an Exhibition.

 


Real Trouble

‘What would make you do a thing like that?’ 

I knew from the tone of my Dad’s voice I was in real trouble.

‘Sometimes I don’t know what gets into your head. I really don’t. Your mom and I do our best to make a good home for you. We lead a good life. Give you a good example and then you go and do something like this.’

I knew there wasn’t much I could say. At least not until I knew just what the thing I had done that he was talking about.

‘Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? No, wait before you attempt to apologize or explain let, me explain one thing. Your mother is up in our room crying her eyes out. You understand. This is going too far. Much too far.’

My mom cried at the drop of a cake, so I wasn’t too distressed to hear that whatever it was I had done had started her off on another jag. It wasn’t my fault that she needed professional help. Help my Dad figured wasn’t really right, morally right, that is. What would the neighbours think if my mom went to a shrink. They’d think we were a family like all the others. 

‘Now, I’m listening.’

My Dad sat on the arm of the sofa. His perch from which he was ready to pounce.

‘Dad I’m … What exactly did I do?’

‘Oh! Now it’s the innocent act. What did I do? God, why was I cursed with such sons.’

‘Dad you are being melodramatic.’ I wanted to add ‘again’ but bit my tongue. No need to antagonize him any further. 

‘You mean you really don’t know what you’ve done.’

‘No.’

‘Then I really don’t know what to tell you.’

‘You could start by telling me what it is that set you off like this. It’s been a pretty ordinary week, so far. Haven’t missed any classes. Did okay on that last quiz. Haven’t stayed out late. Haven’t played my stereo too loud. Haven’t hogged the Internet for hours on end. I even took out the trash last night. Didn’t I?’

‘You better have. How old are you?’

Oh I knew what it was. My social life. My lack of ‘action.’

‘Old enough, Dad. Why does it always come down to this? Always. I will date when I’m ready to.’

‘That’s not it. I know what you did. You mother knows. We just don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with your age. Peer pressure. Someone that would entice you into that sort of behaviour.’

‘Dad what are you talking about? Does it start with a ‘b’?’

‘Don’t make fun, son. Please, that won’t make it any easier on us. Mocking us all the time. I know you kids enjoy that sort of thing but we parents just see it as …’

He was speechless. His eyes glazed as he gaped over my shoulder. I turned around.

‘Mom! How long have you been there?’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Jane, Jellyfish, Jem, Jet, and Dracula

Music styles come & go in a retro flow of rediscovery & reinvention. way back in the early 90’s there was a resurgence of sixties psychedelic pop. One band was  Jellyfish with mix of Hollies, Beatles & Procol Harum. I have stand-alone Bellybutton, & Spilt Milk in an mp3 collection. Smart songs, romantic, acerbic & beautifully engineered. If you miss them then search them out now.

Another retro sound band from the early 2000’s is Australian band Jet. I have stand alone Get Born with its Revolveresque cover it is clear where their retro roots are. More punky that Beatles though with a strong Kinks feel they are high energy sweetness.

Sticking to ‘j’ is an mp3 collection that includes jem: finally woken/Down To Earth. The Swingle Singers sample that grounds the title track of her first lp delighted me. I had this as a stand alone then downloaded Down To Earth to start off this collection. All the tracks are fun, her voice is appealing, the samples are consistently surprising. Similar to Dido but less depressing 🙂

To round out this mp3 cd I added some very eclectic stuff starting with the Mike Vickers soundtrack to the film Dracula A.D. 1972. His music for this is serious electronica that is much better than the movie, set in decadent, swinging Carnaby Street. In the film is also music from White Noise, whose album An Electric Storm, I tracked down to add to this collection.

Featured in the film is a rock band whose lead singer’s voice I recognized instantly. Sal Valentino formerly of the Beau Brummels. Here he fronts the band Stoneground. So I added their self titled lp & its follow up, Family Album. He has one of the best voices in rock of that era. 

Wait there’s more. Another helping of electronica with Edwin Morris’s The Sun Sets. Then Maryem and Ernie Tollar: Cairo To Toronto – I hear Maryem do a music set at a spoken word show & enjoyed this fusion world music.

Finally – to make this cd even more eclectic is Jane Morgan: The Big Hits From Broadway. Jane was a major 50’s, early 60’s, nightclub chanteuse with a strong crisp voice. She recorded extensively & I enjoy the retro quality of the arrangements of these fun show tunes.

 

Nice Rolls

‘You know, this is one of those days when I really can’t think of a thing – of a way to start what needs to be started.’ Jim looked up from the table.

‘Would you like a few more minutes to think it over.’ The waiter stepped back.

‘No, no. I don’t have all day & I know neither do you. But what would you suggest?’

‘The daily specials are always fast. The cannelloni looks good.’

‘Then that’s what I’ll have. Thanks.’ Jim was always relieved when he could get someone else to make a decision for him. The less he had to think the better. The more other people decided the more he could blame them when things weren’t that good. Cannelloni? What was that anyway? He’d soon find out.

A child started to cry in the restaurant.

‘Just you stop that.’ a mother whispered.

The child began to cry louder. A dish broke.

Why had he come here? This was a mistake. He’d never been here before. Rarely dined out alone, to begin with. But there was that thing from the newspaper, framed in the window that said … what did it say? … good food. Did he even read it or had he just glanced at it and assumed it was a good review. After all, restaurants rarely posted unkind remarks about them in the window.

‘I said, be still.’ the mother’s voice rose to match the squeals of her child.

‘I will not. Won’t.’ The child banged on the table.

Jim wanted to look, to turn around and see just what the ruckus was, but couldn’t. He didn’t to be seen as one of those types who had to take  gander at everyone else’s misfortune.

There was a smack. Sobs. Silence.

Well that settles that. He wouldn’t be back to this place in the near future.

‘Here you are, sir.’ the waiter put a covered bread basket on the table. ‘Your cannelloni with be here shortly. Enjoy.’

Jim lifted the linen off the bread basket. Heavy, expensive linen that impressed him. Three kinds of rolls inside, and all warm. Soft butter! That was certainly worth suffering through the slap of a child for. He broke open a roll. Warm, rich smell of rosemary came out of it. The butter spread and melted into the bread. 

‘I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.’ the child erupted.

Jim chewed his bread slowly, savouring it.

‘I wish I had never been born. I wish …’

‘Please keep your voice down Cody. You are bothering the other people here.’

‘I don’t care. I hate this place. Stinking hell hole. That’s what it is.’

Stinking hell hole – where did a child hear something like that? Such a cute turn of phrase though. Yes, nice rolls, very nice rolls. He’d have to tell his friends.

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Jefferson Airplane

Next on the shelf is Jefferson Airplane. I have as stand-alone or in mp3 collections: Takes Off, Surrealistic Pillow, Feed Your Head Live 67-69, Bless Its Pointed Little Head Live 1968, After Bathing At Baxter’s, Crown of Creation, Live at The Filmore East 1968, Volunteers, Blows Against the Empire, Bark, Long John Silver, Red Octopus, 2400 Fulton St, Spitfire, Earth, Reunion.

I can remember the thrill of hearing Grace Slick sing Somebody To Love, then Greasy Heart. I loved the Airplane & the journey of their first releases that went from folks, to counterculture icons – from Surrealistic Pillow to Blows Against the Empire. I couldn’t wait for where each new album would take me. Then they lost focus, thanks to drugs & booze released wildly uneven lps like Bark & Long John Silver. A sort of return to form on Red Octopus, Spitfire, Earth – but lost their edge & became a fine pop group. When corporate rock I lost interest. Members left, new ones joined. Finally an original members reunion 1989 that I do enjoy.

Those early albums are the epitome of late 60’s summer of psychedelic love vibe. Baxter with its amazing engineering, harmonies, guitar work & awesome songs is a classic. Volunteers – ‘up against the walls mother fuckers’ blew my mind. Blows Against The Empire with its scifi underpinning stunned me with where rock could go. 

The live albums are amazing, even when the sound is a little muddy. Feed Your head is a collection of rarities & oddities. 2400 is a nice compilation of hits & some B-sides that never made it to lps, that is worth having. I’m resisting name checking my favorite tracks, even the sloppy lps have good moments (Pretty As You Feel).

 

All have created work outside of Airplane that is worth tracking down. Marty Balin’s Lucky is amazing. Sadly my cassette copy disintegrated & it has yet to be re-released 😦 Don’t know the band?! Shame on you 🙂 Start with any of the hits compilations & After Bathing: some of those cuts are best heard as they are sequenced on the lps. 

Scent

The morning was silent. Cool. I could smell the cold. Some quality the cold gave the air. What ice remained on the streets would crack underfoot like bullets. I wanted to go out, to feel that crack, to hear it echo down the still street, before the noise of life took over. I wanted to make the first noise of the day.

There was that dim blue light hovering on the roof tops, starlight reflected off snow and clouds, early distant sun waiting as the earth turned to face it, as the earth turned my house to face it. 

Too much cloud cover now for a real sunny morning, it would be dim cold and flat. Another day to race the sun to nightfall.

A noise – birds. The flutter and chirp. Bird feeder two houses down brought them out. Twitter twitter – small, harsh, clacking sound and flutter of crisp feathers – flutter feather and fly – tiny nails clicking along the eaves trough of my house, right over my window –

Can birds smell – did seeds have some scent that attracted them – I never figured out how they knew when and were to find those seeds. When that house stopped putting them out in the spring it took a few days before the birds would stop skittering around and even then there would an occasional foray to see if the seeds had returned.

Winter birds, little warm balls of heart racing heat. Was it worth it? To find some nook in a tree somewhere and hope not to freeze into a black fuzzy ice pellet overnight.

More light. I could see the ceiling now. Clouds must be thinning as the light has some red in it. The ice blue warmed by some red. Nice. I’d like to get a sweater in that color. Cold Morning Mist. Now there’s a color name. Something with a cracked black line across the mist with a single pair of dirty brown birds snuggled together near the shoulder, over my heart.

Hmm. Good ideas won’t get me to work. Why hasn’t that alarm gone off yet? Bed too cozy to leave anyway. Lift my head enough to see the window, to look out, to see roofs of the world. That’s enough. Those hoar black streets can wait. White frost and salt residue along the curb. One good rain will wash it away. One good rain and spring will spring into summer. Yes, I think I’ll pray for rain today. Lots of rain.

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Goodman & Giants Of Jazz

When I lived in Cape Breton, the east coast the sources of music were limited. One that I came to rely on was Time-Life. I subscribed to their Giants of Jazz series of box sets. Each box was 3 lps with a well researched booklet. The music was sourced from original whoever possible, sometimes from 78s transferred. They cleaned up the sound as best they could. It was a way of accessing music I would never have discovered.  

I have many of the releases & always looked forward to them arriving every other month. Now I have them as lps to cd transfers – which in a way undoes their careful clean up of surface noise 🙂 So I received a good grounding in Big Band era music. One Giant of Jazz was Benny Goodman. It’s easy to forget that big bands were the rock groups of their era. No TV, only radio & films. The movie studios created short features of big bands doing a couple of numbers which are clearly the origins of music videos. But radio was the big promotional tool. Goodman was a superstar.

 

This compilation has the hits i.e. Sign Sing Sing & much more. His band was fully integrated – a rarity at the time – featuring greats such as Mary Lou Williams & Charlie Christian. He was a quiet revolutionary. Goodman is a good place to start exploring this era’s music.

 

Another Giants of Jazz is The Guitarists. It compiles work that features guitar (gasp!) by Lonnie Johnson, Teddy Bunn, Dick McDonough, Eddie Durham, Carmen Mastren, Carl Kress, Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt, & Charlie Christian. Many were acoustic but Christian was an early electric guitar player – think Wes Montgomery not Jimi Hendrix 🙂

All were highly influential on the acceptance of guitar as being as effective as sax or clarinet in the big band setting & also lead to the near domination of guitar in pop music. Of these players Django Reinhardt is my particular favourite. Yes, guitar was well featured in pop music well before Keith Richard’s first power chords.

Levitation

Tom panned the camera slowly up and down the unconscious form on the bed. Frank had insisted that they record as many details as they could before the boy came to. 

There was band of  white feathers tied around his left leg. On his upper right arm was another band of feathers, only these were black. There was also a band of yellow and green beads wrapped around his cock and balls. The paint smeared on his torso was powdery yet none of it brushed off onto the bedding. 

‘Turn him over.’ Tom whispered. He stepped back to refocus the camera.

Frank gingerly put his hands on the prone form. The flesh was warm, wet. Paint came off on his hands.

‘How?’ he held his hands up. ‘On me but not on the sheets?’

Tom shrugged. ‘Turn him over.’

The boy’s body rolled over easily. His back was streaked with the same colors with a large, black zig zag circle at the base of his spine.

‘Tattoo?’ Tom asked as he brought the lens closer to the marking. He brushed it with one finger. The paint smeared, stained his finger, as the paint had done to Frank’s hand.

‘Roll him back.’

Tom put down the camera and went to the bathroom to wash his hand. Frank joined him.

‘Sleeping beauty was here to protect us?’

The colors wouldn’t come off in the hot water; wouldn’t come off when they rubbed their hands on a towel.

They returned to the bed. The teen remained motionless. Breathing lightly with his arms stretched stiffly at his side.

‘What should we do?’

‘Let try  – what was the name he told us to call him, Tango?’

‘Mambo.’

‘Right. Mambo. Mambo.’ Frank gently shook the boy by the shoulder. ‘Mambo we need your help. We need your protection.’

The form on the bed shook violently. A jet of very yellow urine spurted out of him. It stank.

‘PU. God. What do these kids drink anyway?’

Mambo’s eyes opened wide. His fingers stretched till the bones cracked as his body levitated a couple of feet over the bed.

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

2020

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Garland Jeffreys

I can’t remember when I first heard Garland Jeffreys. One of my friends in Sydney had picked up an lp or maybe I’d bought one on spec at Woolworth’s in their rack of deleted lps. Or I might have even read a review in Rolling Stone. But he is a memory from my Cape Breton life. I have now in an mp3 collection Guts for Love; Rock & Roll Adult; Don’t Call Me Buckwheat.

He was more a cult favourite than a big pop star. More of a Warren Zevon than a Jackson Browne – who were also making ripples at this time. Jefferys’ sound was somewhat different though. More soulful, dash of reggae  Tough songs about love, politics & race. A direct influence on Lenny Kravtiz. Rock & Roll Adult is an amazing live album. Cool Down Boy about his physically abusive father is powerful.

Like many of my mp3 collections this one spans time & genres. So it also has Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE. Hop-hop artist with a queer vibes that is sonically dense but none of the songs really grabbed me. Same with Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox – radio friendly pop. I enjoy this sort of disposable music from the likes of Mars or even the Jonas brothers. Romanic, r’n’b lite. 

Here as well is a Toronto indie band Melting Pot: Cancel Everything. Grounded by the guitar of Nelson Sobral this is solid rock that is well produced, engineered & fun. Finally another throw back with a sort best of collection of The Left Banke: There’s Gonna Be A Storm. A brilliant 60’s group that didn’t hop the psychedelic bandwagon & produced some great songs. Their mix of strings, harpsichord & rock is refreshing, clearly a precursor to the chamber pop of Antony and the Johnsons.

Pain

‘Is there pain after death?’ Tom looked over to Frank. ‘That’s what we’re here to find out, isn’t it?’

‘Not entirely. But that’s a good notion to work with. I doubt if there is pain after death, with no attachment to the nerve endings, no corporal presence to to be connected to, there is nothing to feel the pain.’

‘Physical pain but what about emotional pain, spiritual pain?’

‘Spiritual pain? Have you ever felt spiritual pain?’

‘Yeah. It’s a restless emptiness that can’t be filled with people, places or things. When I use them to sooth that pain, it only gets worse. The spiritual remedy is the only one that has helped.’

‘Well, we are certainly in a philosophical frame of mind this morning.’

‘Must be my Season of Change. ‘What has been started, continues in each of us, even if we don’t know it.’ ’

‘That’s from Dr Melburton’s book?’

‘I think so. It what made me come with you. To find out what there was to find out here.’

‘So you believe there is a power here.’

‘Here, there and everywhere. Hiding. Always hidden.’

‘Only we don’t know what we might find.’

‘We know what we hope to find. That’s a start isn’t it.’

‘And we hope to find out if there’s pain after death?’

‘Something like that. I’ve felt something around me since we heard that chant. You have too haven’t you Frank?’

‘I suppose. Seems the air is more humid today.’

‘Rainy season is creeping up.’

‘The dead are just hiding and we are seeking them.’

‘What?’

‘Something my Dad once told me. He said they have passed beyond mortal sight.’

‘As if life were hide and seek … I kind of like that image. They’ve merely hidden and we may never find them.’

‘Oh, we’ll find them. The harder we seek the sooner we’ll find them.’

‘Then perhaps we’d better stop looking so hard.’ Tom laughed uneasily. ‘I don’t think I’m ready to …’

A flash of lightening was followed by a nearby clap of thunder. The drinking glasses on the bathroom sink rattled.

‘Very close.’

‘I have come to protect you?’

They turned and the leader of the boys they had seen two nights ago stood on the balcony of their room. His body streaked with raw, red paint, daubed with splotches of red, white and yellow. He was naked.

There was another ground shaking crash of thunder. The rain started. Heavy. Thick rain that darkened the room.

The boy stepped into the room and collapsed on the bed.

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Jacksoul to Jamiroquai

There was a time whenMuchMusic actually showed music videos!! One of the Canada bands that shone was Jacksoul lead by the talented Haydain Neale. I have their ABsolute, sleepless, Resurrected as stand alones. The sound is radio & music video friendly sweet soul with jazz touches. The songs are plaintive, romantic, & smooth to the ear. Neale has/had a very appealing voice. Very John Legend. Sadly he died some years ago.

 

Next on the shelf are a couple of Mp3 collections that feature Jamiroquai: a funk/acid jazz group lead by singer Jay Kay. On one cd is Emergency on Planet Earth; Travelling Without Moving; A Funk Odyssey; Synkronized; on the other is Rock Dust Light Star, Dynamite. Jay’s voice is very Stevie Wonder. There have been some radio hits, dance floor hits too. Music with an ecological message that you can dance to. The album sound changes over time as they flirt with then embrace old school disco: strings, congas. Sexy, enjoyable & never challenging.

 

In the first MP3 collection are several indie eps I picked up at local poetry shows. A couple by DanJahRus: 2019, Sunrise. Hip-Hop rap with Dan’s mixing skills equal to his writing. DRP: Clever Title – son of a friend of mine had a sort of metal bar band & recorded some tracks in a basement. Youthful fun.

BC’s CJ Leon: Booty Music for Zombie Swingers; Street Corner Gothic – folk punk sexual anarchy with zombies. good sound quality. Toronto’s: Examples. Rex is a folk punk queer Japanese protest singer. We need more of this. Archie & The Bunkers is an organ based trio full to the brim with sweet, cheese surf music fun. Three Beards: bearded men writing & singing about their feelings.

Also some non-indie powerhouse albums. I became obsessed with the song Lonely Street & found a decent version on Mick Hucknall’s American Soul. Mick was lead singer for Simply Red. This was a come-back attempt with covers. Easy listening pleasant. Bob Dylan’s Tempest. A recent release I picked up more for nostalgia. He still writes well & sings well in a Tom Waits way. The same with Paul Simon’s So Beautiful or So What. Paul Simon never wrote a bad song & his voice is still intact, as is his sense of political irony. Finally: Debbie Gravitte – Defying Gravity – this a great Lp of Broadway songs, some obscure, some well-known. I love her version of that title track, from Wicked.

Stroke of Genius

‘Mambo?’ Ted gave Jim a playful shove. ‘Where did you get that name from?’

‘Just came to me.’ Jim snapped his fingers. ‘A stroke of genius.’

‘Yeah along with ‘dat acc’nt mon’?’

‘Well, those guys had it coming. Snooping around here every night. Had to give them something they could enjoy.’ Jim began to wipe the green make up off his chin. ‘Did you see his face. Boy, looked like he was about to crap his pants.’

‘Yeah, but ‘Mambo.’ Good thing you didn’t give any of the others names.’

‘Good idea. You can be ChaCha. Phil can be Tango.’

‘I don’t feel right about it though. What if they … ’

‘What? Tell on us? I can see them now at the Militia Office. These boys with red and green faces told us they would protect us from evil. That’d go over big around here.’

‘You did pick the red and green. Afraid of the blue and white.’

‘Ted this is for fun. I know enough not to cross the line. That would have been begging for trouble.’

‘Since when did that bother you?’

‘It doesn’t. Fear is an emotion I choose not to fear. But that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot either. Bad enough we used the right markings.’ He continued to rub at the make up around his eyes. ‘Is it all off?’

‘Sort of but I think you rubbed too hard.’

‘You too.’ He gave another playful hip shove that sent Jim sprawling. ‘You think the other guys got home okay.’ Jim stood.

‘Don’t they always.’ 

‘I don’t think …’

‘Then stop thinking. Let me worry about that. We’d have more fun if  you’d stop all that thinking. It’s not as if we are robbing the tourists, just putting a little of local fear into them. Get their imaginations going.’

‘It’s not all imagination and you know it.’

‘Yeah! So. It’s no fun to play in safe places. So this had a little more edge than the rag doll and pins routine. Gives them more for their dollar.’

‘I know. I spooks me. That’s all. Mama Gre’loo says we have to be careful with the forest spirits. This is the Season of Change and all things that start a change now must follow where it leads.’

‘You gotta stop listening to that foolishness. You sound like one of those tourists. You know?’

‘I know. Come on, let’s get that stuff washed off so we can get home.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

May

Stratford Festival – Henry VIII

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet