Archie Pelago

A video taster from our triplet of guests this Saturday at the Mister – Archie Pelago (courtesy of Sonic Router)

re:ECM & Retromania

I’m a huge fan of Simon Reynolds‘ writing on music and popular culture. Rip It Up and Start Again and Energy Flash are definitive accounts of the emergence and development of the post punk and rave scenes. Each book does a superb job of highlighting the socioeconomic backdrop for these exciting new musical forms in turn helping the reader understand and appreciate the music for what it was really all about. So it was with a dash of despondency that I came to the end of his most recent book Retromania. The disappointment didn’t come from the quality of the writing, which was as brilliant as always, nor the quality of the argument, which was considered and on point, but rather the conclusion which the book leaves you with. That message in a nut shell is that modern music has run its course, and that in the last 15-20 years, with the arguable exception of dubstep, we’ve done little but recycle old music forms in an endless youtube– and reissue-fueled  stranglehold of the past.

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The Dark Power Of Sad Music

A couple days ago, I got an email from my very good friend Andrew Nimmo. (Nimmo also happens to be the graphic designer who makes our flyers and website look so nice.) He often sends thoughtful musings on mushroom foraging in the Pacific northwest, the brilliance of the Get Money Out Of Politics movement or his fervor for a band that he’s just spent hours watching on YouTube. This email, though, was different, a sad take on a topic that’s on a lot of people’s lips right now. I haven’t heard anyone else say any of this since the news of Whitney Houston’s passing, and so, with his permission, here it is:

So I’d been pretty out of it with the latest developments of Whitney Houston’s life. The little I heard about was bizarrely awful, and addiction problems always bother me in a very personal way. I felt like I was feeding the beast by even paying attention to it.

I saw Whitney in Richmond on one of her first tours, during my “born-again” phase, at the invitation of a very musical kid who was on a similar tip. To be honest the one song I could relate to was “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

But I just read a piece in Salon that tapped me into what it was like to be a girl in the 80s and dig Whitney’s ballads, and it gave me new respect for her talent for just nailing a song – I went back and listened to a few of them. The other thing it reminded me of was how ballads about star-crossed love really give me the creeps, and it’s not just because they leave me limp, although that doesn’t help.

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I’ve Got The Blues

As I’ve said a few times on the blog here, thanks to a trip I took down south in October, I’ve really been getting into the blues recently. At the behest of Mister Harkin, I made this little survey of some new records in my collection. The tracklisting is below, and you can download the mix here. I hope you enjoy.

Kid Bailey, “Rowdy Blues” [Monk Records]
02. Blind Willie Johnson, “Dark Was The Night Cold Was The Ground” [Mississippi Records]
03. Lightnin’ Hopkins, “75 Highway” [Tradition Records]
04. Robert Pete Williams, “Levee Camp Blues” [Doxy Music]
05. Mance Lipscomb, “Angel Child” [Arhoolie]
06. Eddie Lee Jones and Family, “Baby, Please Don’t Go” [Mississippi Records]
07. Mississippi John Hurt, “Avalon Blues” [Heritage Records]
08. Fred McDowell and Johnny Woods, “My Babe” [Rounder Records]
09. John Brim, “Rattlesnake” [Chess Records]
10. Eddie Boyd, “Third Degree” [Chess Records]

Photo of Mississippi John Hurt by Bernard Gotfryd

Looking Back on 2011: Justin Carter

The year has ended, and my existence as a DJ requires me to supply my Top Ten list. This is it in no particular order.

The Blues – I took a trip through the south this year. In Mississippi, I stopped in Clarksdale (where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil, an occasion now marked by a sad, easy-to-miss sculpture and a Church’s Chicken), and I joined the generation of middle-aged white men before me in getting into the blues.

Lucky for me, that generation has started to sell their records, and I came upon a store where someone had just dumped their entire collection, allowing me to grow my fairly paltry stock of blues records back at home into something more substantial. I’ve particularly fallen in love with Son House, whose “Grinnin’ In Your Face” I posted on the blog in October.

Gospel and Diva House – The first parties that I ever went to in New York were Body and Soul and Shelter. I also grew up in church mesmerized by a gospel singer named Eunice Mayfield. That means, of course, that I am into gospel and diva house, which I have been more than pleased to see in resurgence over the past year, starting with Omar S’s set with us back in January. It was pretty much all he played.

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