Inside Llewyn Davis and Dave Van Ronk

Yesterday I blogged about the six week music education series Rhapsodic City: Music of New York presented by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. It just so happens the third week focuses on the Folk Music Revival in New York that took place in the 1950’s and ’60s. Greenwich Village became the artistic setting for performers, artists, and club owners.  The Village invokes a warm nostalgic feeling within the music of our heart. Our son lives there today and we love to visit the clubs, restaurants, and stores around this historic neighborhood.

Building on the April 2nd event Sing Out! with Elijah Wood I reconnect with Dave Van Ronk. Elijah Wood and Dave Van Ronk co-authored the book Dave Van Ronk: The Mayor of MacDougal StreetThe book is a memoir of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village. It has inspired the Coen Brothers to make the film, Inside Llewyn Davis

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS follows an aspiring singer-songwriter (Isaac) as he navigates the 1960s folk-music scene in New York City’s Greenwich Village.  Grammy®-winner T Bone Burnett produced the film’s soundtrack which includes music performed by, among others, Oscar Isaac, Marcus Mumford and Justin Timberlake.  Robert Graf served as executive producer, T Bone Burnett served as executive music producer and Marcus Mumford as associate music producer.

The film has completed shooting in New York City and the International release date will be November 6, 2013 (France). Projected US release dates are unknown as of this writing. I have ordered the audio edition of the memoir to better immerse myself in the experience. The first trailer fascinates me to no end. Listen closely to the Bob Dylan track “Farewell” that plays underneath.

I think you will be asking as I  have been who does Llewyn Davis represent? Is he Dylan, Van Ronk, Phil Ochs or is a he a microcosm of that male folk singer of the time? Llewyn Davis will strike a chord in hopeless romantics who identify with living the life of a folkie in that halcyon age from our American culture. Perhaps this picture clues us in 😉

There are several reasons why I relish Dave Van Ronk’s spirit. I find him funny, compelling and engaging as an artist. He was quite the character as his recordings and live performances attest. He was a mentor and inspiration for Tom Paxton, Christine Lavin, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan (who described Van Ronk as “the king who reigned supreme” in the Village)[27]

I had the rare opportunity to meet Dave Van Ronk in person in Hermosa Beach, California one Sunday afternoon years back. My brother-in-law and I attended an early evening solo appearance at The Lighthouse Cafe. We sat at the bar before the show and shared drinks, stories, holding an intimate conversation with Dave Van Ronk. My brother-in-law was the one who turned me on to Van Ronk from his record collection when I started dating my wife in 1969. I went on to feature Dave Van Ronk regularly on my college FM radio shows in the mid-70s.

This early 80’s opportunity to sit across the bar and comfortably chat with Dave Van Ronk was a privilge. He answered our questions openly like an friend indulging old friends. He wiped away that fans talking to a legend sensation to show who he truly was a down to earth soul of a man. He spoke about Bob Dylan in a fatherly way which I liked a lot. We ended up being just two of the 12 people who stopped by that night to hear him play a raucous 90 minute set that was quite animated. Dave Van Ronk played excellent guitar and I will never forget his gravely yet pearl toned voice.  “Cocaine Blues (Rev. Gary Davis Traditional)” was the highlight and we thanked him for playing that song for us all. 🙂


Gary Clark Jr. Collectibles

Gary Clark Jr. continues his logical ascension as a bluesman of authority. This blog post highlights two collectibles that I am eager to own.

1) Living Blues magazine current issue features Gary Clark Jr. as the cover artist and feature story.  Living Blues was acquired by the University of Mississippi in 1983 and is published bimonthly by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.  In case you were not aware Living Blues was founded as America’s first blues publication in Chicago in 1970 and it remains our nation’s #1 blues magazine to this day!

When we get that Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display the goal is to digital subscribe to this publication of journalism excellence. A companion goal is to author a blues article for this illustrious magazine one day 🙂

2) Record Store Day 2013 Exclusive –  “HWUL Raw Cuts Vol. 2” – 12” EP Colored vinyl – (1000 copies only)

I’ll be on the hunt for this vinyl specialty item. Wish me luck 😉

Over twenty minutes of music and performance mastery available for the first time in all of its analog glory. Vol. 2 features a blistering live performance of “When My Train Comes In” as well as a studio version of the track of his hit album, Blak And Blu. A beautiful crafted limited edition offering mastered at 45 rpm and cut by Bernie Grundman Mastering for maximum vibes.

Gary Clark Jr. is made in America
Gary Clark Jr. is made in America (Photo credit: Nastassia Davis [])

Black Sabbath + Rick Rubin = 13 on June 11th!

The release date for the first Black Sabbath studio album with Ozzy Osbourne in 35 years is known. The album, titled 13 drops on June 11th, 2013. We are 90 days away from striking historic pay dirt. I love how true this feels within the music of our heart.

Witness Rick Rubin’s commitment as he talks about the goals of the recording.

“I’ve been a fan of Black Sabbath my whole life, and getting to come in to work everyday and hearing Black Sabbath play, it stimulates something in me just like when I was 14 years old,” Rubin says in the clip. “They just want what’s best, and we’re all sort of working together to find whatever works best for them.”

Red Bull Music Academy 2013 – New York City

I receive The Red Bulletin, “A Beyond The Ordinary Magazine” every month. The April 2013 US issue finally achieved that “objective” for me. 😉

Red Bulletin April 2013

Pictured on the cover is “The Guru” Questlove who I find factoring more and more into my music equation. He is a college professor at NYU Tisch School of Music. My family got to see him live last year at a Late Night with Jimmy Fallon TV taping as The Roots are the house band.

I recently wrote about the public discussion that took place with Questlove and David Byrne at NYU (see Related Articles below). I enjoy and respect seeing Questlove’s logical ascension in musicology circles.

Questlove is a Mentor for the Red Bull Music Academy 2013 that will be taking place all around New York City from April 28-May 31. This month-long plus annual international music event is where up and coming producers, singers, arrangers, DJs and musicians get the opportunity to learn from top industry professionals. Who better to school ya than Questlove and others I am thinking?

I hope to attend one of their events. Stay tuned to which ones I get tickets for 😉

Maria Schneider, Dawn Upshaw – Winter Morning Walks

ArtistShareThe music of our heart takes an intellectual turn as we herald Winter  Morning Walks an Artist Share project from major composer Maria Schneider and soprano Dawn Upshaw.

This is Maria Schneider’s first recording with major orchestras and features two commissioned works composed and conducted by Schneider with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Australian Chamber Orchestra, and poetry by Ted Kooser and Carlos Drummond de Andrade. The album blurs the line between classical and jazz, with touches of avant-garde and pop sensibilities.

“Lyrical, flowing, intimately expressive, with all the elements of words, music, voice and instruments in a seamless blend, this is music to fall in love with the first time – then immediately want to hear again.” –John Montanari, NPR (New England Public Radio)


Taj Mahal – Consummate Blues-man

I have been a fan of Taj Mahal’s eclectic sound for 45 years.  I am partial to his earliest recordings beginning with Taj Mahal’s first recording with Columbia Records released in 1968. He is without provocation “the” consummate blues-man.

A master harmonica player, electric guitar player, national steel guitarist with the ability  to drop just the right sound required for each song. He’s quoted on the liner notes as saying,

 “This is the music I feel at home with. Now I really dig Dylan, but I don’t play much of that. Dylan, though, he’s one of the twentieth-century greats: Dylan… the Beatles… Jomo Kenyatta. “I got more heros than Wild Bill Hickok had notches on his belt.” He later mentions that this record is recorded mostly live. “None of that goin’ in and overdubbing something you did two weeks ago.”


  • Taj Mahal – Guitar, Music Arranger, Harp, Vocals, Slide Guitar
  • Ry Cooder – Guitar (Rhythm)
  • Jesse Ed Davis – Lead Guitar
  • James Thomas – Bass
  • Sanford Konikoff – Drums

Steven Wilson, Prog Magazine, The Raven That Refused To Sing

The latest issue of PROG Magazine  features a cover story on Steven Wilson that is masterfully annotated with engaging graphic design art. The article is designed to complement the superior packaged deluxe edition of The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories).  A suite of six tales that mingle murder, mortality and mystery with The Dark Side Of The Moon engineer Alan Parsons’s sonic talents. The deluxe 4 disc edition of the album has “a 128 page hardback book containing lyrics and ghost stories, illustrated by Hajo Mueller“.

CD1 – studio album

CD2 – 7 demo tracks (album tracks plus one unused idea, Clock Song)

DVD-V – 96/24 Stereo LPCM of the album, plus 2 x 5.1 mixes of album (DTS 96/24 5.1 surround & Dolby AC3 5.1 surround
Art Gallery (images by Hajo Mueller)
Photo Gallery (photographs by Lasse Hoile)
Studio Documentary (filmed and edited by Lasse Hoile)

Blu-Ray – 96/24 Stereo LPCM of the album, plus 2 x 5.1 mixes of album (96/24 5.1 LPCM & DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
Instrumental versions of the album tracks (96/24 Stereo LPCM),
bonus track (‘Drive Home – lounge version’, also 96/24 Stereo LPCM).
Art Gallery (images by Hajo Mueller)
Photo Gallery (photographs by Lasse Hoile)
Studio Documentary (filmed and edited by Lasse Hoile)

SW-deluxe edition

Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective Box Set

Image of Duane AllmanRounder Records will release the seven CD box set, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective on Tuesday March 19th. It will include rare recordings by Duane Allman’s early bands: the Escorts, Allman Joys, the 31st of February, and the Bleus. A 72 page liner notes booklet featuring extensive content is accompanied by a tribute from Allman’s daughter, Galadrielle Allman.

I hope the celebration of Duane’s life inspires you to live fearlessly and enjoy life,” Galadrielle states. “I know that would have made him proud.”

The deluxe set also has the guitarist’s best-known and most commercially successful recordings with the Allman Brothers Band and Derek & the Dominos, as well as session work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs, Clarence Carter, King Curtis, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Ronnie Hawkins, Otis Rush, Laura Nyro, Lulu, the Sweet Inspirations, Laura Lee, Spencer Wiggins, Arthur Conley, Willie Walker, the Lovelles, the Soul Survivors, Johnny Jenkins, John Hammond, Doris Duke, Eric Quincy Tate, Herbie Mann and more.

In her recollection of her father, who died when she was a young child, Galadrielle writes, “I am very lucky that my father is Duane Allman, an artist who left behind a wealth of incredible music . . . Working on this retrospective, I have gotten closer than I ever have been to understanding my father’s development as a musician and a man.

Copyright Amalie R. Rothschild

The best price I have seen for this seven CD set is on the Allman Brothers Band Store, Hitting the Note. The pre-order price is $99.99 a $40 savings off the list price!

David Byrne, St. Vincent and Questlove

David Byrne and St. Vincent Announce Summer Tour DatesWe bought tickets for the David Byrne and St. Vincent 2013 Tour. They will be appearing at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, CT on June 20th. We caught their collaboration last September at The Beacon Theatre in New York City. We loved the event so much that we had to see them perform together again 🙂

I trust you feel the excitement of their distinctive brass band sound watching this video of their recent appearance on the David Letterman Show where they perform, “I Should Watch TV” from the Love This Giant recording.

Speaking of David Byrne, he and “Professor” Questlove participated in a Public Forum discussion at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on February 26th.

I was unable to attend in person. I learned about the gist of the event from subsequent Web article reports

Professor Questlove is currently teaching a class on classic albums at NYU, educating undergraduates on the merits of Public Enemy and Michael Jackson.

David Byrne is making a musical “Here Lies the Love” at the Public Theater. Byrne wrote the lyrics and music (with help from Fatboy Slim), creating a “fully immersive, 360-degree theatrical experience” equipped with disco beats and contemporary dance.

Brought together to discuss the impact of music in popular consciousness, the Roots drummer and former Talking Heads frontman gave audience members a night to remember, swapping stories from the heydays of their respective careers. Questlove asked Byrne about his early days in New York in the 1970s while the Scottish songwriter probed Mr. Thompson on the genesis of the Philadelphia music scene.

questlove david byrne

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson announced during the event that he will release a memoir entitled Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove this coming June.

If you consider the immediacy formed between the two artists coupled with their mutual affinity for unique collaborations, it’s realistic to anticipate a Byrne/Questlove project of some dimension in the future.

Music Journalism A-Z – Summary

I hope you found the February 2013 Music Journalism A-Z series of value. I enjoyed coordinating the research and providing the information about varied music journalists this month.

My impetus for putting together this series was to set the stage for the EMP Pop Conference 2013 multi-city event April 18-21, 2013. It will be anchored at EMP Museum in Seattle with satellite location events at NYU in New York; USC in Los Angeles; Tulane University in New Orléans; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. It’s quite the extravaganza for digital music wonks 😉

I am participating as a member of the professional music blogging community and a music journalist. I will be attending the NYU event, April 18-19 2013. I attended the Pop Conference 2012, Sounds of the City last year at NYU which continues to energize my pursuit of written music knowledge.

I am working with  Tavia Nyong’o and the NY City Program Committee. I will share information about the event via this blog soon so please stay tuned as registration opens on March 15th!


Date: April 18-19, 2013
Details: After the Deluge is New York’s theme. The New York City installment of the 2013 EMP Pop Conference will be held at New York University April 18–19, 2013, sponsored by the Department of Performance Studies and the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. The two-day event will feature a set of discussions and events curated by a distinguished program committee of scholars and journalists. Our postdiluvian title is meant to be open-ended. It will invite reflection on music and the city and region before, during, and after Superstorm Sandy. It will draw focus to the much smaller scale of this year’s event, after the IASPM/EMP extravaganza of 2012. And lastly, it will invite consideration of how we handle—as critics and consumers—the excesses and scarcities of music in our present moment.
Proposals: There is no open call for papers, as NYU is curating this event.

To attend: Registration will open on March 15. Please contact the conference organizer Tavia Nyong’o at if you are interested in learning more. The schedule includes eight panels with additional events and keynote presentations.

Contact: Tavia Nyong’o,
Program Committee Members: Tavia Nyong’o (Conference Chair, New York University), Gustavus Stadler (Editor, Journal of Popular Music), Wayne Marshall (Co-Editor, Reggaeton [Duke UP]), Deborah Kapchan (New York University), Imani Kai Johnson, (University of California), Daphne Brooks (Princeton University), Maura Johnston (former Music Editor, Village Voice), Steve Waksman (Smith College), Daphne Carr (General Editor, Best Music Writing)

I want to highlight program committee member’s  Maura Johnston digital journalism achievements. Maura has taken the bold, necessary step to offer a weekly magazine, Maura. It is available via iTunes subscription. I subscribed today 😉

Maura embodies my core belief as a digital music journalist. If the existing publishing hierarchy gets in the way of your published work, build your own magazine and drive subscription. If you build it they will come.

Johnston, who teaches music writing at the New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and does freelance work (including a regular column at MSN Entertainment), created Maura because “I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. I’ve been proud of the work I’ve done in full-time jobs, but I had a difference of opinions with my hierarchy.”

The publication, Maura features themed issues (“Desire” and “Static” were recent ones), and articles about current events, media and entertainment.

Read this insightful Web article at Digital Journal by Cate Kustanczy, to learn more about Maura Johnston’s significance: