Family That Plays Together. . .



Kitty, Daisy and Lewis are a trio of siblings – Kitty, 18, Daisy, 22 and Lewis, 20 – from north London, who play thigh-slapping traditional rhythm and blues and hillbilly swing. With their quiffs and 1950s vintage look, which they have had ever since they were at primary school, it is as if they are transported from another era. Most endearing is that they recruit their mum and dad as backing musicians for their live shows, which includes Glastonbury this summer.

Their half-Norwegian mum Ingrid Weiss – who plays double-bass – used to play drums in Kurt Cobain’s favourite post-punk band, The Raincoats. Anglo-Indian dad Graeme Durham – who plays guitar in the band – owns and runs London’s The Exchange mastering studios, which has done albums for Laura Marling, Foals, and The Chemical Brothers. He has produced and recorded Kitty, Daisy & Lewis’s album at the vintage recording studio they have built at home. With 1940s and 1950s recording equipment, using ribbon microphones and tape, their homemade studio was inspired by Memphis’s Sun Studios. This family is fixated with all things vintage, and releases music on vinyl, as well as digital downloads and on CD. Earlier this year Lewis opened his analogue recording studio in Soho’s Riflemaker gallery, where the public could cut one song direct-to-10in disc. Kitty, Daisy and Lewis – Swing out sister, brother, sister (Independent UK, May-20:2011)

It struck me almost no mention of skiffle music in all the write ups about Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. (“A large number of British musicians began their careers playing skiffle in this period and some became leading figures in their respective fields. These included leading Northern Irish musician Van Morrison, British blues pioneer Alexis Korner as well as Ronnie Wood, Alex Harvey and Mick Jagger; folk musicians Martin Carthy, John Renbourn and Ashley Hutchings; rock musicians Roger Daltrey, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Robin Trower and David Gilmour; and popular beat music successes Graham Nash and Allan Clarke of The Hollies. Most notably The Beatles evolved from John Lennon’s skiffle group The Quarrymen.”) Skiffle music: “Skiffle is a type of popular music with jazz, blues, folk, roots and country influences, usually using homemade or improvised instruments.”

My motive for highlighting this family of musicians is the following, beguiling excerpt from a BBC documentary. It is totally worth spending 26 minutes with.

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis (Myspace)
Home Page
Check out the ska romp I’m So Sorry on the group’s youtube page. It’s also featured on the home page.

Sweet Sap



Three years ago, Glen Hansard and Irglova Marketa, starred in the movie Once, a bittersweet love story framed by the joining of a man and woman’s musical and romantic aspirations. Among the duets the two sing as they use their musical journey together to work through their feelings for each other, is the melancholy Falling Slowly. It deservedly went viral.

Now, as a new musical year rolls in, I am happy to report the duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White have plucked this same bittersweet chord with the song Poison and Wine from their debut record, Barton Hollow. And, the video has gone viral too on youtube. The new record drops February 1.Ms. Williams is the known quantity. She gained notice as a rising star in Christian folk music back in the early eighties, when she was in her late teens. Then American Idol contestant David Archuleta picked up a song of hers, and a year later another song was featured on Grey’s Anatomy. Whereas John Paul White labored as a contract song writer until his debut record The Long Goodbye was released in 2008. The Civil Wars have come out from somewhere shy a tad shy of nowhere.

It makes sense the two met in songwriting camp. I haven’t heard the record, yet the copious videos they’ve made available, the free ep from last year, Live at Eddies (download) have generously set the stage for the duo’s song craft to become much better known. Much has been made of the two’s California meets Nashville synergy. Okay, but their artistry really seems centered on two great songwriters, their deep rapport, and, simple guitar or piano settings.

Check out the collection of videos at The Civil Wars‘ youtube portal. Billie Jean! Allison Rizk, one of my go-to mavens, has produced a nifty article and podcast at Radiopotato.

The Civil Wars: Web Site Facebook Twitter Myspace

Wrapping Up 2010 II. Jazz Carousel



As I pointed out in a previous post my enjoyment of Jazz over forty years has been keyed by my understanding its all about immersing myself in the individuated artistry of the player. I do not go to the music through the conventional grid that supposes there are luminaries of innovation and each obtains historical position in a genealogy given by the degree the music is advanced. My own iconoclastic view proposes this kind of myth-mongering does not, and cannot, encompass the actual process of artistry.

What then results is my preoccupation with checking out where the artist’s music stands as a statement of where he or she is “at.” If I want to experience where David Murray or Myra Melford or Tom Harrell is “at” I need only make the time to check out what each has to play as each renders the current state of their personal art.

(In Ben Ratliff‘s NYT podcast review of the best of 2010 his and Nate Chinen parse their choices along conventional lines. From my perspective, this seems more ad hoc than refined because the given’s of the cultural political-economy of Jazz don’t figure into it, and, in a cultural field where thousands of records are issued every year, the reduction to so-called importance comes off as arbitrary.)

My point is: every year is a good year for jazz. This follows, and has followed in my almost forty year experience, from the singular verity supposing that each artistic statement is positioned as the development of artistry rather than as a commentary on jazz history.

Once again, then, a recently past year showcases the annual self-fulfilling prophecy!


I bring some order to the wave of new music from last year by highlighting the sessions that soared up and into my listening. Although there’s no way this order can be fixed in place, I’ve selected here, and put in what I call my Jazz Carousel for 2010, about 30 prime instances. I easily could have put another fifty records into play. One thing I know is it will take a lot more time to truly deal with all the artistry.

A few highlights… Geri Allen has been a masterful pianist for decades and yet her solo recording Flying Toward the Sound strikes me as a superb recapitulation of her deeply felt commitments. There were numerous terrific piano-centric records last and none of the finest–Jason Moran, Jessica Williams, Keith Jarrett, Vijay Iyer, –should be discounted against Geri’s outing. Still, Geri travels to the top on possibly my favorite of her recordings so far.

Charles Lloyd has been on the jazz scene for fifty years. He began recording for ECM 1989 and has settled into an elder’s predictable path. He plays his heart. Mirror, a quartet record with Jason Moran at the piano, uses the classic sax and rhythm format, and provides essays on standards, two Monk pieces and some originals. It is stately in its mostly slow tempos. The record is full of searching and soulful playing and completely realized ensemble interplay.

Roswell Rudd over the last few years experimented to fine results with matching his burry trombone to zesty folkloric contexts. Not so for this record he made with the working quartet of pianist Riccardo Fassi. Rudd is a musician’s musician and this is the first time in quite a while he’s enjoined a format where his playing is the main feature. He’s a great trombone player, has been for decades, and Fassi and his group are up to the task of giving Rudd an ideal setting.

I’m going to defer to the BBC’s review of Isla, by The Portico Quartet.

Portico Quartet are one such act to have flourished. Following their Mercury-nominated 2007 debut Knee-Deep in the North Sea – a sprightly, fleet-fingered album of post-jazz ambience with a glistening, sinewy thread of minimalism that saw the four-piece nod appreciatively the way of Terry Riley, Philip Glass and Steve Reich – the four-piece have made a follow up that makes their beginnings busking on the South Bank seem like a myth propagated by publicists. Receiving a nod of approval for their pigeonhole-defying venture really has emboldened them.

The group’s folkloric inclinations are born by Nick Mulvey‘s hang drum. The group has carved out something like a tribal chamber jazz. Their antecedents are few, yet would include Oregon and Jan Garbarek. Stunning.

Finally, although no single record could possibly claim the mantle of ‘the best of 2010,’ I easily nominate Cape of Storms by trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez to be my second-to-none favorite for last year. I’ve been following Gonzalez since his debut for his own DIY label Daagnim in 1987, Catechism. Since then he’s released on average a record every year. However, he would also be counted as an unsung genius likely unknown to all but the most tenacious jazz fans.

I can circle back to my point about how the sophisticated listener might contextualize jazz year in and year out and point out that the history of jazz cant be intelligently spoken of without making room for Dennis Gonzalez. His artistry mixes a combination of freebop, African melody and rhythm, and, experimentation, in different quantities on different occasions.

He is an astonishing trumpeter in the vein of Don Cherry and Bobby Bradford, and his cascading lines can be said to dance. On Cape of Storms, he’s joined by Aaron González, double bass; Stefan González, drums, percussion; Louis Moholo-Moholo, drums, percussion; Tim Green, tenor sax. The South African percussion giant Moholo-Moholo is the ringer. This band is a family affair going on ten years. The two sons comprise a unique rhythm section; having internalized–no doubt–the rhythmic gospel of their father. The new record is tipped toward freebop, yet the underpinning is drumming.

(A brief excerpt is heard as the backing for the carousel.)

Some of the cream of 2010.

Aki Takase – A Week Went By
Charles Lloyd – Mirror
Cookers – Warriors
Dave Douglas – Spark of Being
Dave Holland – Pathway
Dave Liebman – Turnaround_(Music of Ornette Coleman)
David Binney – Aliso
Decoy & Joe McPhee – Oto
Dennis Gonzalez – Yells At Eels – Cape Of Storms
Evan Parker – Whitstable Solo
Fight the Big Bull – All Is Gladness in The Kingdom
Geri Allen – Flying Toward The Sound
Henry Threadgill Zooid – This Brings Us To Volume
Ideal Bread – Transmit
Jason Moran – Ten
Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden – Jasmine
Lee Konitz – Live at the Village
Michael Formanek – The Rub And Spare Change
Odeon Pope – Fresh Breeze
Perry Robinson – From A to Z
Pierre Dørge & New Jungle Orchestra – Presents
Portico Quartet – Isla
Riccardo Fassi – Roswell Rudd – Double Exposure
Steve Coleman – Harvesting Semblances And Affinities
Ted Nash – (LCJO) Portrait In Seven Shades
The Marsalis Family – Music Redeems
World Saxophone Quartet – Yes We Can

Wrapping Up 2010 I. Everything Rock Pop and Country and Folk List for 2010

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Before Today
Jackson Browne &
David Lindley
Love Is Strange
Jamey Johnson
The Guitar Song
Neil Young
Le Noise
Brian Wilson
Gershwin Reimagined
Elisabeth Cook
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
Cassandra Wilson
Silver Pony
Julie Neumark
Dimestore Halo
J.J. Grey & Mofro
Georgia Warhorse
Jackie Greene
Til the Light Comes
The Texas Sapphires
As He Wanders


Ralph McTell
Somewhere Down The Road
The Doors
Live In Vancouver
Deadstring Brothers
Sao Paulo
Quarantine the Past
Jack Rose
Luck In the Valley
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
1970 With Eric Clapton
Patty Griffin
Downtown Church
The Rolling Stones
Exile On Main Street

My first thought to myself, while scanning a spreadsheet listing of my popular music encounters last year, was, ‘what a great year for hippie music!’

As it is, any year’s offering will be filtered through my decidedly unhip residual hippiedom. Yet, 2010 was exceptional on several crucial counts: first, despite not really having any shelves on which to shelve box sets, or any bins into which to slide reissues, it was sterling year for reissues of ‘way’ old classic stuff. Two reissues almost bookend this year’s distillation, The Doors, and Delaney and Bonnie. On another count, because some of the oldest rock generation’s members popped out records fabulous (Neil Young obviously,) and horrendous. There seemed to be ongoing reminders that some dogged efforts have persisted for 40+ years. What a surprise that Peter Wolf walked back through the door with a darn good record! Then there was the cover record phenomena marked by a lot of mostly forgettable retreading from Cyndi Lauper, Carlos Santana, Sheryl Crow, Garth Hudson, and one immensely enjoyable blast from Bettye Lavette.

Of course by ‘anti’hip’ I mean pro-hippie, and imply that my tastes in pop are long mostly fixed to the verities of well played and well sung, and ‘musicianly’ rock, where the paragons are The Byrds, The Band, Little Feat, and a few really elder others, most long gone. The final count reveals that a lot of rock style buried by FM bombast and punk in the late seventies today has come to constitute touchstones for a third generation of melodious, rootsy bands. It’s not odd that none of this new music is either new or fit to the current mainstream, a mainstream to some extent centered on those bombastic precedents. But, I don’t listen much to this mainstream, settling, as I have settled, on this third wave of accessible, and hoary–in a good sense–rock. The New Pornographers essayed very focused takes on this era on their ingratiating Together.

I put in evidence Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Janiva Magness, whose records this year would instantly appeal to anyone who valorizes Bonnie Raitt. Similarly, and by surprise, The Nouveau Honkies echo Brinsley Schwarz, the connoisseur’s pub rock outfit and Brit equivalent to The Band. Brinsley Schwarz made their last record in 1973! This list of twenty records distills a master accounting of 200+ recordings, so it’s significant English folkie Ralph McTell came out of nowhere with an outstanding record, a record that could be described as what Ry Cooder might be up to were he long The Queen’s subject. Jackson Browne and Dave Lindley‘s 2CD live set squares Browne’s earnest and often biting folk songs with Lindley’s virtuosity, and, on this very fine record, a cast of Latin players. It’s of one of Jackson’s best records.

A certain kind of purist keeps the door shut to the modern sound of Nashville, perhaps not realizing that Nashville isn’t the epicenter anymore. There are so many enjoyable, if modest, records coming out which get lumped into the alt-country, Americana, roots country rock, and, country, that it isn’t possible to keep up. Julie Neumark, naughty Elizabeth Cook and sweet steelin’ The Texas Sapphires, with the Nouveau Honkies, rose into my own top rank. It was Jamey Johnson who sent the biggest message, (perhaps to Brad Paisley and Keith Urban?) with the masterful two sides, The Guitar Song. His deep record has a lot of gravity, and to me Johnson has set himself apart in his genre, in the same way Springsteen did with singer/songwriter fueled rock long ago.

Lilium was new to me and they hold down a spot where hippie demands overlap with post-rock. For Lilium, this means an unholy alliance of country, and, say the demonic spawn of Lou Reed and King Crimson. I know…doesn’t sound appetizing, but it is a fine, if-you-will, slab of “post-alt-country. Sungrazer‘s on the cusp. In my scheme of working this all out I could have plugged something else in. Still, I like this record of heavy guitar psych and hard rock. Unlike the several other alternatives, it preserves its crunch from beginning to the end. Steinar Gregertsen is a Swedish lap steel virtuoso, and he slides all over the Hendrix canon with felicitous zap and zing.

Old timer Brian Wilson‘s Gershwin project proved a winner. If you have any kind of taste for, or weakness to, fifties pop, Wilson has made a statement about timelessness and beauty on a record with only one rock song on it. Delaney and Bonnie‘s archival set from 1970 brings together 3 tour sets from the D&B & friends band that featured Eric Clapton. These have circulated in lesser fidelity in the underground, but Rhino Handmade has given them the mastering and packaging treatment these sets deserve. Prime white gospel soul and rock and roll is the agenda. Last and hardly least is The Doors‘s instantly essential Vancouver performance. Nuff said.

As for Neil Young, the bar is set high because he’s long been in my pantheon and has etched a handful of absolutely essential discs. I was set up for Le Noise by the concert recordings that popped up last spring. Young toured without a band and playing electric, acoustic, piano, and pump organ. A movie of Le Noise is available in a high quality stream. Check it out. This great gust of folk noise music is self-explanatory.

Ariel Pink & Haunted Graffiti finally go into a regular studio after leader Ariel Marcus Rosenberg’s many years working his lo-fi power pop magic from the bedroom or the equivalent. Ironically, I was never a huge fan of the FM radio hitmeisters Mr. Pink brilliantly refers to here. So, I was never much into The Sweet or David Bowie or T-Rex, and, on-and-on, because this record is littered with references and “simulacratic” artifacts from roughly 1965-1980. On the other hand, this was the most refreshing burst of pure psychedelic pop in 2010.

Jazz picks are up next. And then I’ll cover realms of experimental, electronic, and world music…some time soon.

(note–I made up this list year by assigning records released in these genres 3 points each, and then slowly upgraded them through re-listening and re-evaluating, adding points along the way. 2 points is a reject, and 1 point was a waste of my time. Whereas this list of twenty represents the 7,8,9 point evaluations. I’m picky when I do the sort, and I’m careful about where my investment goes, so 80% of the records I engaged with last year have value to me. 63 of 205 pop recordings gained 5 or more points, so there are many gems underneath this creamy top flight.)

The short list.

1. Ariel Pink & Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
2. Neil Young – Le Noise
3. Jackson Browne & Dave Lindley – Love Is Strange
4. Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song
5. Brian Wilson – Reimagines Gershwin
6. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
7. Ralph McTell – Somewhere Down The Road
8. Dead String Brothers – Sao Paulo
9. Janiva Magness – The Devil Is An Angel Too
10. JJ Grey & Mofro – Georgia Warhorse
11. Elizabeth Cook – Welder
12. Ray Davies – See My Friends
13. Julie Neumark – Dimestore Halo
14. The Texas Sapphires – As He Wanders
15. The Nouveaux Honkies – Where Do I Go
16. Cassandra Wilson – Silver Pony
17. The New Pornographers – Together
18. Black Dub – Black Dub
19. Jackie Greene – Til the Light Comes
20. Steinar Gregertsen – Standing Next To a Mountain – A Tribute to the Music of Jimi Hendrix
21. Lilium – Felt
22. Sungrazer – Sungrazer


Deep Verb


I first heard Pauline Oliveros sometime in the early eighties. Could it have been George Todd who dropped the needle? Darnit, I don’t remember. While in my Vermont chapter, I took in recordings by David Hykes, Meredith Monk, Terry Riley and others. Yet, I didn’t begin the deep dive until a fateful day in (probably) 1993, a year after returning to Cleveland, when I took out a copy of the Deep Listening Band’s self-titled debut recording on New Albion Records from the local library. It provided my first experience of the inversion of: music is sound into sound is music.

I was instantly entranced. A switch flipped. A new journey began. Out of this arose an instant connection with deep listening and the soundworlds and music of Pauline Oliveros, The Deep Listening Band, various offshoots, and, soon enough, all sorts of music that can be loosely described as ambient.

Now, more than fifteen years later, my own naive music is shot through and through with the influence discovered in ongoing my deep dive. That I was open to all of this didn’t surprise me because the world is, for me, sound. My resonance with the concept of sound awareness had been developed by my prior immersion in the jazz avant-garde, various ethnic folk musics, and, numerous stirring masterworks of classical music. I’m sympathetic to what I roughly term the medicinal/mystical understanding of music and sound, especially as this was articulated for me in books by, first, Joachim Berendt, second, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and in personal experiences enjoined by a variety of encounters with masterful advocates of ‘vibration’ such as Abdullah Ibrahim, Joseph Begeswitse Shabalala, Bobby McFerrin, John Cage, and others. About this I would say: I was a very lucky fool.

The entire field of sound: environmental sound, found sound, sound walks, natural sound, folk sound, everyday sound, comprises the ground for the development of the refined concept “music is sound.” Then, several years ago I began to reflect on, and later investigate, what could have music been before it was music, thus before sound was known as music.

(From this came my rhythmriver concept, my own extremely modest and nascent contribution to the deep listening ethos.)

“With the music of the Absolute, the bass, the undertone goes on continuously.” H.I. Khan, The Music of Life.

This year the winds brought me a collaboration between the duo, Paul Kikuchi and Jesse Olsen–recording as the group Open Graves–and The Deep Listening Band’s Stuart Dempster. It’s called Flightpatterns and it provides an astonishing ‘float’ in sound.

Recorded in the Dan Harpole Cistern located in Port Townsend, Washington, it is Kikuchi and Olsen’s second recording as Open Graves, and the second essayed in a naturally reverberant setting. Dempster, a unique virtuoso who plays trombone and didjeridoo, has recorded on numerous occasions in similarly cavernous, man-made yet natural vessels. Dempster has said of the environment,

“This is where you have been forever and will always be forever.”

Previous posts with music sample: Over the Tones | Listen From Where You Are

FLIGHTPATTERNS 1 from Prefecture Records on Vimeo.

Flightpaths is the follow-up to their superb debut recording, Hollow Lake. It’s one of my most favorite records from this year.

The discography of The Deep Listening Band and Pauline Oliveros is as deep and reverberant as a 2,000,000 gallon cistern–so to speak. The resources and links available at Pauline Oliveros‘s web site are invaluable.

Dive in.

Bird Maniax

Trained as a musician and composer, French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways. His installation for The Curve will take the form of a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other instruments and objects. As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape. | Barbican Artgallery notice

On one hand, of course one had to be there. On the other hand, something of its moment is able to be retained, thanks to persistent RSS, google image search and youtube.

h/t to Trudi Esberger, whose blog tipped me off to this exhibit from the spring. Short personal review from Skittle Muster on the worthwhile 365 Days of Music blog..

Psych Trailways

Earl Greyhound – Shotgun from think/feel on Vimeo.

Often I read a band described as sounding ‘Stones-like.’ This always seems to be attached to gritty blues-based rock and has become a generic, not very helpful description.

Yet there’s something odd about this description too. The Rolling Stones have always been a very eclectic band in mixing garage, blues, soul, psyche, and hard rock. I know what the description means; think Midnight Rambler. But, the bands that have earned the description, such as The Black Crowes, don’t sound much like the Stones.

Maybe it’s more accurate to suggest comparison to the Stones implies a band sounds like a greasy blues-rock band, and, the Stones are the archetypal example.

This comes to mind when I reflect upon the classic influences extant in contemporary hard rock. I don’t track the various genres closely at all, but when I hear something with the ring of the long gone era (say, 1965-1975) I perk up.

There was a long period from the late seventies through the nineties when it wasn’t even respectable to wear those influences loudly. Oh, there was the so-called Paisley sound, but between punk and grunge and all those drum machines, it seemed (at the time,) the classic sound had been consigned to outposts like southern rock, several dinosaurs who still walk the earth, and bands loaded with chart appeal, like the Del-Lords, Jellyfish, but with no chart to appeal to.

Cycles of regeneration work in the background. Popular styles mature and begin to become weary. Still, the means for evolution lay there in the storehouse of the past. New approaches come to straddle influences. For example, take Animal Collective–moving away from alternative rock and back toward old fashioned west coast harmony pop.

One of my favorites of this new breed is The Quarter After, a L.A. quarter led by Rob Campanella, who square and update the psychedelic folk of early The Byrds and Moby Grape. But, darnit, their last record Changes After, came out way back in 2008.

When I read a review of The Dirty Sweet, they were described as sounding like the Stones. (Oh, no.) I checked out 2007’s …Of Monarchs and Beggars. As it turns out, this San Diego band does play greasy blues-rock, but their sound is much more in the vain of The Black Crowes. Harder. Except singer Ryan Koontz, who sounds much like Chris Robinson, isn’t as much a howler; a good thing.

What delights is their appealing referencing of classic hard and psych styles. The Dirty Sweet never ape their antecendents. They dial the influences in, so, don’t be surprised if you listen and muse to yourself, ‘Hmmm, Thin Lizzy, Quicksilver Messenger Service.’

Their new record American Spiritual is just as good as their very solid earlier record. It rolls more 70’s flavors into their hard rocking recipe. At times the classic model they echo is a good, little duplicated one, Spirit.

Even better is Earl Greyhound. They’re a power trio with a lock down drummer Ricc Sheridan, a jazzy bassist/singer Kamara Thomas, and a terrific guitarist with an encyclopedic grasp of antique guitar slinging, Matt Whyte. Their music doesn’t usually mine the stripped down power trio territory. Instead, they weigh in with an ambitious synthesis of disparate genres.

Their second record Soft Targets, following their debut EP, is very good. It reminds me of the hard power pop of Kings X. A typical move here grafts Brit pop harmonies onto anthemic crunch. Four years later, their brand new record Suspicious Package–great title–is altogether more adventurous and even more syncretic. If you can imagine what it means to meld Savoy Brown with Santana, you’d be onto just one of Earl Greyhound‘s stylistic fusions. And, overall, the emphasis shifts from sparkling pop to heavy driving grooves.

Earl Greyhound is daring, reaching beyond their influences, and they’re posed to be a sonic leader in the second decade of the new century.


The Dirty Sweet on myspace | home

Earl Greyhound on myspace | home –>freebees