Archive for February, 2009

in performance: charlie louvin

charlie louvin.

charlie louvin.

“I was just wonderin’ if anybody in Lexington dances on a Sunday night.”

That was the question country forefather Charlie Louvin posed to a modest sized crowd at The Dame last night. In a Valentine’s weekend that saw a flood of exemplary touring acts saturate the region, it was a wonder anyone still had the stamina to show up, much less get up on their heels and move around.

But once Louvin introduced a grandfatherly charm to Kris Kristofferson’s Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends, sure enough, two couples made their way to the front of the stage and danced along with the serenade.

For Louvin, 81, the tune was part of a primer in country music tradition that rightly placed his own solo work, as well as the groundbreaking material he recorded in the ’40 and ‘50s with brother Ira Louvin, front and center.

If anything, the Louvin Brothers songs – most notably 1956’s Let Her Go, God Bless Her – possessed an even greater sense of innocence than when they were first recorded. Admittedly, some of that appeal came from the renewed and worldly perspective Let Her Go gained once a singer in his 80s took the reins. But aside from a huskiness that has understandably grown into Louvin’s voice, the song was still delivered as a conversational and unspoiled confessional.

Not so with the show closing Cash on the Barrelhead. Long one of the Louvins’ feistier anthems, last night’s version packed the spark and twang of a vintage Merle Haggard tune. Of course, such an observation all but presented itself given that Louvin ably tackled Haggard’s electric blue collar classic Workin’ Man Blues earlier in the 90 minute set.

Vintage material by the Monroe Brothers, the Delmore Brothers and Carter Family along with ‘60s and early ‘70s gems by Bill Anderson and Dallas Frazier as well as one of Louvin’s more storied solo hits, See the Big Man Cry, fleshed out the set. But that landmark Louvin Briothers sound was inescapable. Hearing an elder renaissance country man like Louvin dig into the polite but solemn gospel of The Christian Life on a Sunday night – in a bar, no less – made for a moment full of heartwarming musical tradition, soul and no small amount of irony.

11th Circuit says plaintiff can show hostile work environment

Lawyers USA January 21, 2010 | Correy Stephenson A plaintiff can show a hostile work environment where both gender- specific and general, indiscriminate vulgarity pervaded the workplace, the en banc 11th Circuit has ruled.

The plaintiff was a transportation sales representative and the only female on the sales floor. She frequently heard vulgar and generally offensive language as well as recurrent discussions of sexual topics.

She also heard gender-specific derogatory language addressed specifically to women, including co-workers, and male employees also listened to an offensive radio show. Her complaints to co-workers and management were ignored. site hostile work environment

She resigned and filed suit, claiming she had been subject to a hostile work environment.

A U.S. District Court granted summary judgment for the employer, but a panel of the 11th Circuit reversed.

The en banc 11th Circuit agreed that the plaintiff could sue.

“A jury reasonably could find on this record that a meaningful portion of the allegedly offensive conduct in the office contributed to conditions that were humiliating and degrading to women on account of their gender, and therefore may have created a discriminatorily abusive working environment. … go to web site hostile work environment

“The [derogatory terms used to describe women], the vulgar discussions of women’s breasts, nipples, and buttocks, and the pornographic image of a woman in the office were each targeted at [the plaintiff’s] gender. … A reasonable juror could find that this gender-derogatory language and conduct exposed [the plaintiff] to ‘disadvantageous terms or conditions of employment,'” the court said.

U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., No. 07-10270. Jan. 20, 2010. Lawyers USA No. 993- 1545.

Correy Stephenson

in performance: lyle lovett and john hiatt

lyle lovett.

lyle lovett.

Conventional Valentine’s night romanticism wasn’t always obvious in the songs and stories summoned by Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt last night during a sold out performance at Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts.

Alternating tunes and off-the-cuff commentaries that were studiously insightful and, at times, almost decadently humorous during an unaccompanied acoustic performance that stretched out for 2 ½ hours, the heart strings were seldom plucked with expected fervor.

Cupid, this night, was wearing some war paint.

Lovett, still the master of subtle vocal intensity that blurred lines between longing, faith and pure cynicisim, early on offered I Will Rise Up, a tune that wasn’t so much spiritual as it was ghostly. Hiatt, in turn, dug up 1990’s exquisite Seven Little Indians, a song that enhanced urban dwelling family faith with mystical folklore.

Similarly, neither artist dug into their darkest material, though the unadorned emotive contours of Lovett’s singing still gave South Texas Girl and a chilly cover of fellow Texas songsmith Eric Taylor’s Whooping Crane a plaintive, poetic feel.

john hiatt

john hiatt.

Hiatt occasionally stepped into emotional bliss for the country getaway reverie Drive South, which opened the performance, and the underplayed romantic renewal of What Love Can Do. His 1986 song Thing Called Love, a career redefining hit for Bonnie Raitt that Hiatt remarked “put three kids through college,” was one of the few tunes performed as a full duet with Lovett. Hiatt, however, regularly added brittle, blues-tinged guitar solos and harmonies to his partner’s songs.

But it was Lovett’s more sardonic turns that captured the evening’s most irreverent view of the season. Who else would end a Valentine’s night performance by singing about the henpecked domestic oppression of She’s No Lady?

Similarly, Lovett held the tightest reins on the evening’s most impromptu humor. He treated the inevitable encore call for Free Bird as compliment, stating the dog-eared Lynyrd Skynyrd epic served as the theme song for his high school graduation. It was, he added, his class’ second choice. The first, Humble Pie’s raunchy 30 Days in the Hole, had been rejected by school administration The Texan also remarked the previous year’s class chose Seals & Crofts We May Never Pass This Way Again as its theme.

“Our class,” he stated in a typical stone-faced aside, “was considerably less sentimental.”

louvin it up

charlie louvin performs sunday at the dame.

charlie louvin performs tonight at the dame.

Take a look at Charlie Louvin’s hands on the inside covers of his two new albums.

On Steps to Heaven – a return to the gospel inspirations, though not exactly the sounds, that began his storied career with brother Ira Louvin in the 1940s, his fingers file through the pages of a hymn book.

But on Charlie Louvin Sings Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs, a record that states its business succinctly and dramatically in its title, the singer’s hands cradle a pistol.

Love. Faith. Death. For over 60 years, those themes have run wild in Louvin’s music. Now at age 81 and in the midst of a remarkable career renaissance, those notions have never seemed so complimentary to each other.

“That’s because they all talk about life,” Louvin said last week by phone from his Tennessee home.

“When Ira and I started out, people continually asked us, ‘How long do you think these songs will be used?’ I had to answer that we were simply trying to make a living. That was all that was on our minds. If a song didn’t do well, we would try to write a better one. And then try again.”

Gospel gave rise to secular music with the 1955 hit When I Stop Dreaming. Great Atomic Power, Knoxville Girl and Must You Throw Dirt in My Face – songs that featured the brothers’ contrasting tenor vocals along with their versed command of roots oriented folk, country and old-time music – followed. And yes, gospel references were inescapable.

All of those songs were re-recorded for Louvin’s self-titled 2007 solo album. That recording paired the singer with such contemporary songsmiths as Elvis Costello, Will Oldham and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy as well as a pack of country elders that included George Jones, Bobby Bare and Olive Hill native Tom T. Hall.

Suddenly, Louvin’s music connected with an entirely new generation. He teamed on tour with artists as varied as Lucinda Williams and Cake. Then in the summer of 2007, just shy of his 80th birthday, Louvin performed as part of the massive outdoor Bonnaroo festival.

“Of course, there are still a few old boys like me mixed in there,” Louvin said of the audiences that come to hear him today. “But mostly, I’m singing to grandchildren and great grandchildren of the people Ira and I played to 60 years ago. It’s a real thrill to be able to stay around that long.”

Things do change, though. Take Steps to Heaven, for instance. While Louvin devoted a considerable chunk of his early career to spiritual music, he had never recorded with black gospel musicians until this album. Such a move provides Steps to Heaven a more traditionally based gospel sound- one built around piano and vocal harmonies – than the country roots inclined music he forged with his brother decades ago.

Two versions of the spiritual There’s a Higher Power recorded 58 years apart underscore such a contrast. The first, featured on the 1960 Louvin Brothers’ album Satan is Real (the one with the unintentionally hysterical cover art of the brothers being poked by a giant cartoon cut-out devil) is so rhythmic and fueled so closely by the Louvins’ harmonies that you can hear how close at hand the leap to country music was. But on Steps to Heaven, the song is soulful and sage-like with Louvin’s singing blending with the churchy gospel support of the McCrary Sisters.

“Ira and I played gospel for about four years. Back then, gospel quartets had a piano and a piano only. The Louvin Brothers were considered a carnival act by those quartets because we played stringed instruments. We finally talked our record label (Capitol) into mixing in some of the other music we played on the road. Thank goodness that worked. When I Stop Dreaming came out after that and changed our world.”

So what’s left for the man that has spent 60 years singing about love, faith and death? Why, the blues, of course. Louvin said he would like to record a blues album. And given that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Levon Helm has offered to make the project with him, the blues may hit Louvin sooner rather than later.

Or maybe not. Louvin’s mood was anything but blue last weekend at the Grammy Awards, where Steps to Heaven was nominated for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album. It lost to the Gaither Vocal Band, but Louvin was thrilled to be part of the fun.

“It was an honor to be nominated. Good people won. Didn’t hurt my feelings.”

Charlie Louvin performs at 8 tonight at The  Dame, 367 East Main. Michael Johnathon will open. Tickets are $15. Call (859) 231-7263.

Samsung and Google Launch Nexus S, a Mobile Phone Powered by Android 2.3

Manufacturing Close-Up December 10, 2010 Samsung Electronics, a mobile phone provider, and Google have announced Nexus S, a handset to feature the latest version of Google’s Android platform.

Powered by Android 2.3, Samsung and Google reported that they have packed Nexus S with technology and the latest in hardware features. go to site nexus s review

JK Shin, President and Head of Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, said, “Samsung and Google have worked together closely to deliver the best Android smart phone experience for consumers. It has been our ambition in working with Google to continue to push the Android platform forward and create a smart phone that has both superior functionality and a stunning user- experience. It is extremely satisfying to see this partnership again bear tremendous fruit.” “Samsung was thrilled to work with Google to create the first device featuring the much anticipated Android 2.3 OS. Nexus S is powerful proof of Samsung and Google’s commitment to bringing technology firsts to market and launching products that utilize the open and innovative Android operating system,” said Omar Khan, chief strategy officer of Samsung Telecommunications America. “Nexus S integrates Samsung’s best-in-class hardware and technology with the exciting new features and upgrades of Android 2.3 Gingerbread to give consumers a breakthrough smartphone experience.” “Google is excited to co-develop Nexus S with Samsung, ensuring solid integration of hardware and software to deliver the lead device for the latest version of Android, Gingerbread,” said Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering at Google.

Nexus S is designed with Samsung’s Super Amoled touch screen technology providing a viewing experience. The 4-inch Contour Display features a curved design for a more ergonomic style and feel when held to the user’s face. The groups noted that Nexus S also features Near Field Communication (NFC) technology which allows users to read information off of everyday objects like stickers and posters that are embedded with NFC chips. Powered by a 1 GHz Samsung application processor, the groups said that Nexus S produces rich 3D graphics, faster upload and download times and supports HD-like multimedia content.

Nexus S is equipped with a five-megapixel rear facing camera and camcorder, as well as a VGA front facing camera. In addition, the groups reported that Nexus S features a gyroscope sensor to provide a smooth, fluid gaming experience when the user is tilting the device up or down or panning the phone to the left or right. Nexus S also comes with 16 GB of internal memory.

Android 2.3, Gingerbread, is the fastest version of Android yet. It features support for Near Field Communication (NFC), a new and enhanced keyboard with multi-touch support, Internet calling (VoIP/ SIP support), and a clean new user interface. The groups noted that Nexus S also includes Android features such as portable Wi-Fi hotspot, true multitasking, access to Google mobile services such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps with Navigation, Voice Actions, Google Voice and YouTube, and access to over 100,000 apps and widgets on Android Market. go to site nexus s review

Samsung Electronics Co. is a global company focusing on semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies.

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in performance: george jones/wanda jackson

george jones

george jones

There was a certain comfort that came from hearing a Rupp Arena crowd of 4,000 offer up a round of boos when country music monarch George Jones confessed that he had to give up drinking after a 1999 car wreck. It was almost as endearing as the similarly fervent vocal dissention the crowd summoned when he asked for an opinion of modern country radio.

After 50 years of hits, there is still something of the renegade in the singer.

While Jones, 77, remains a routine visitor to regional venues (especially Renfro Valley), he hasn’t played Rupp in close to two decades. Given the bells, whistles and pop fluff that usually light up the arena in the name of country music, Jones’ plaintive, confessional tunes, along with the sound of a hearty crowd behind him (the arena used its half-house audience setting), were an honest and refreshingly lo-fi thrill.

As one of two roots music elders in town on Friday night to kick off Valentine’s weekend – Wanda Jackson, who returned The Dame, was the other – Jones used the sage-like tenor that has crept into his voice of late to full advantage.

Sure, tunes that required vocal acrobatics that were child’s play years ago – The Race is On, The Corvette Song and One Woman Man among them – proved a bit of an obstacle course for Jones. But then the singer also made no secrets of the difficulties the songs presented.

“Either we’ve got to stop getting older or we need to slow some of these fast ones down,” he told the crowd.

When the slow tunes came, though, the creases only added to Jones’ continually convincing sense of vocal drama. On Once You’ve Had the Best, a regal A Picture of Me Without You and Take Me (one of his latter day duet numbers with Tammy Wynette that employed harmony singer Brittany Allyn as a nicely understated partner on Friday), Jones exhibited a voice suggestive of both mountain gospel and Hank Williams-style cunning. He still carries notes and verses to dark locales, elongating vowel sounds like they were high, distant howls.

wanda jackson

wanda jackson

In contrast, Jackson, who kicked her show off at the Dame a mere 15 minutes after Jones called it a night, was all about celebration.

The singer, who sandwiched a groundbreaking career in ‘50s rockabilly between two extended runs as a country singer and then balanced all of that with a stay in gospel music during the ‘70s and ‘80s, opened with her 1958 hit Mean, Mean Man. She delighted in digging up vocal growls to meet her music’s elemental but joyous grooves.

Jackson, 71, was backed by four of Lexington’s best -guitarists Fred Sexton and Bob Burriss, bassist Mark Hendricks and drummer Jon McGee. Despite having only a single afternoon rehearsal to get their roots music matrix in order, the performance possessed substantial swing and soul, from the hullabaloo beat of Funnel of Love to a ferocious Riot in Cell Block #9. On the latter, Jackson let loose with siren-like squeals that would have sounded startling from singers one-third her age.

The country cool of Right or Wrong and the unexpected gospel sing-a-long of I Saw the Light added variety to the roots-savvy fun. But when Jackson hit her rockabilly stride on Fujiyama Mama and Let’s Have a Party, the years simply melted away to reveal a singer whose love of stage performing, and the often ageless rhythms that come with it, remained boundless.

the regent hiatt

john hiatt

john hiatt

John Hiatt doesn’t croon a love song with spit and polish any more than he pens one with generic sentimentality. But make no mistake. The guy is a romantic through and through.

Sure, he can be as cheery as the next lovestruck guy. Take a listen to Thing Called Love, a jubilant Hiatt tune that reinvented Bonnie Raitt’s career over two decades ago.

But with a singing voice that wears the creases of life experiences like badges of honor, Hiatt also writes about love that is often not so easily earned.

Take one of his most heralded songs, Icy Blue Heart – beautifully covered in the late ‘80s by Emmylou Harris, among many others. The tune’s barroom come-on and its subsequent rebuff (“his beer was warmer than the look in her eye”) eventually find a crack in almost impenetrable romantic isolation.

And on Hiatt’s recent Same Old Man album, Hurt My Baby embraces new love even as past romantic battle scars heal.

All of which make Hiatt a perhaps unlikely choice for a Valentine’s night concert with longtime pal Lyle Lovett at Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts. Hiatt, however – who will be making his first Central Kentucky appearance in nearly 13 years – couldn’t be more thrilled.

“Man, that’s so great,” he replied when told the Danville show falls on Feb. 14.

But if any contemporary writer has truly discovered true love by traveling a troubled road, it’s Hiatt. An Indianapolis native, Hiatt had to deal with the suicide of his older brother as well as the extended illness that took his father’s life by the time he was 12.

After tenures in Nashville and Los Angeles, a time when his songs were being covered by artists as varied as Three Dog Night and Rosanne Cash, Hiatt became ensnared in alcohol and drug addictions. His estranged second wife killed herself in 1985.

In a recent phone interview Hiatt believed he met Lovett somewhere around 1986 – a time when the long tall Texan singer released his first album and Hiatt’s life and career finally found a place in the sun.

By 1987, Hiatt had kicked his addictions, re-settled in the Nashville area, married his third wife, Nancy, and released the breakthrough album that renewed his career, Bring the Family. The record’s warm references of love, redemption and overall domestic bliss have carried over into a string of remarkably consistent albums that hit an even dozen with the release last fall of Same Old Man.

“You know, I kind of signed up with the idea that writers are supposed to write about what they know,” Hiatt said. “Not that I know any damn thing about love. But I came from a place of such despair back when I was an addict and alcoholic. I was freakin’ out of my mind. To come from that into putting a family together with a woman who cared for me and who I cared for, and now being with her for 23 years… it is a continual source of inspiration. And so that just seems to be what I’ve decided to write about.

“Love’s a different thing when you’re 30 than when you’re 40. And now, at 56, there is a whole other difference to it. The kids are grown (fittingly, Hiatt’s daughter from his second marriage, Lilly, provides harmony vocals on Same Old Man). There is just a whole other thing to it that you don’t hear much about in songs. So I’m happy to cover that beat.”

Hiatt’s onstage partnership with Lovett has coincided with much of his personal and creative renaissance. Though the two began playing as a duo relatively recently, they began touring alongside two other esteemed Lone Star songwriters – Joe Ely and Guy Clark – as far back as 1989.

The Danville performance will essentially be a paired down version of those quartet shows. “Only now, we just hog up more songs,” Hiatt said.

The concert program will have Lovett and Hiatt onstage together for the entire performance. The two will swap songs, trade stories and, in a very informal manner, interview each another.

“Lyle sort of runs the interview, really. He’s very funny. He’s got that particular, twisted view of things that I really appreciate.”

Lovett, it could be argued, is a bit of a romantic himself. One of his seminal works, L.A. County, details a man who guns down a former lover on her wedding day – at the church, no less. That should go down well on Valentine’s night.

“He is a great writer,” Hiatt said. “Very precise. His songs are sometimes askew, sometimes dark. But they’re always very human.

“We have a great time together. And I think audiences dig the whole looseness, the stories and just the whole un-show like quality of what we’re doing.”

But there is another reason why Hiatt fans should take in the performance (the duo will also play in Cincinnati on Feb. 19). Outside of another few weeks of touring with Lovett in October, Hiatt plans to stay off the road for the rest of 2009. It will be his first extended break from touring in nearly 15 years.

Hiatt won’t be entirely idle during that time, though. He is already at work on a follow-up to Same Old Man in his garage studio.  But recording with his touring band will be done at his own pace with no pressure or deadlines.

“I sort of set the scenario. We’re all in the garage. We’ll say it’s the garage mom reluctantly decided to let us practice in. After awhile, she comes out and tells us to turn the music down. We’re all really excited but we’re not very good. But we really love and really care about what we’re playing.

“That’s sort of what we’re going for.”

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt perform at 8 p.m. Feb 14 at the Norton Center for the Arts at Center College in Danville. The concert is sold out.

the queen of rockabilly

wanda jackson

wanda jackson

For the past 25 years, Wanda Jackson has found rockabilly fans even when she wasn’t on the lookout for them.

During the mid ‘80s, when the veteran singer largely devoted her career to gospel music, she discovered enough interest in a rockabilly past that gave rise to hits like Let’s Have a Party, Fujiyama Mama and Mean, Mean Man to record a new roots-oriented album and book a subsequent tour.

In 1995, new generation rockabilly star Rosie Flores recruited Jackson for duets on her Rockbilly Filly album. That’s when audiences began to re-awaken to Jackson’s music.

Then in recent years, enough of a global fanbase emerged to warrant Jackson tours of Australia in 2007 and 2008.

“It seems rockabilly has really come to the forefront again all over the world,” said, Jackson, 71, by phone recently from her Oklahoma City home. “And that lands me right in the middle of it.”

jackson circa 1963

jackson circa 1963

Jackson’s mighty rockabilly past will receive its greatest acknowledgement in April with an induction – along with such varied acts as Jeff Beck, Metallica, Run-DMC, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials – into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“How about that? I have lots of various Hall of Fame inductions, but this is the big one. Of course, I’m especially honored to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with all of my buddies – Elvis (Presley), Jerry Lee (Lewis), Brenda Lee. I’m very flattered.”

In a career that stretches back to the mid ‘50s, before there was music officially termed rock ‘n roll, Jackson has established ties with quite a few “buddies.” She briefly dated Presley while on tour in 1955 and, nearly three decades later, recruited another Elvis – Costello – as one of several guests on an album titled Heart Trouble.

Costello also petitioned the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for Jackson’s induction. In an open letter to the Hall’s nominating committee, Costello wrote, “You hear lots of rocking girl singers who owe an unconscious debt to the mere idea of a woman like Wanda. She was standing up onstage with a guitar in her hands and making a sound that was as wild and raw as any rocker, man or woman, while other gals were still asking, ‘How much is that doggy in the window.'” 

Curiously, one of Jackson’s many touring mates, the iconic country singer George Jones will be performing in Lexington on Friday. That’s the same night Jackson will return to The Dame with a back-up band of Lexington rockers from Crown Electric, Taildragger and Nine Pound Hammer.

“I remember being with George for quite a few tours and some television appearances,” Jackson said. “Of course, I never lived in Nashville so I never knew George socially at all. But we were good friends.

“I’m sure he’s been told this many times, but George is one of country music’s greatest voices. While he’s such an individual stylist, he has come to embody what country music is.”

The same could be said for Jackson’s affiliation with rockabilly as well as her fascination for blending rootsy grooves with country tradition in the ‘60s on hits like Right or Wrong and In the Middle of a Heartache. Of course, when a career stretches into the 21st century, that means those songs have to be delivered night after night, year after year. But Jackson said growing weary of singing the same hits has never been a problem.

“I heard a saying by another singer one time that I’ve never forgotten. It goes, ‘There is no such thing as a tired song, only a tired singer.’ That’s the motto that I live by and it has served me very well.

“Even though it’s a song I wrote, I still enjoy singing Right or Wrong. And, heck, I’ve never gotten tired of singing Let’s Have a Party. I’ve been doing that one ever since 1960.”

The primary constant in a career that stretches over half a century has been her home life. Jackson may have dated Elvis but she married Wendell Goodman in 1961. He also serves as Jackson’s manager and travels with the singer on all of her tours.

“I consider my marriage the most important accomplishment of my life,” Jackson said. “Sometimes you just need a man around to do the business part of things. I’ll do a show and have so much fun that I’ll forget to get paid.

“My husband thinks our marriage has lasted because there’s no competition. He’s not a performer, although he’s quite an entertainer in his own right. It seems the marriages where the husband and wife are both trying to be stars have the most trouble. There’s not enough room in a marriage for that much ego.”

And so life and music go on for, as the title of a recent Jackson film documentary calls her, The Sweet Lady with the Nasty Voice. Jackson laughs at the honor, but isn’t sure which part of it suits her best.

“I don’t know about that ‘sweet’ part.'”

The “sweet part” might also describe Jackson’s audience – especially younger fans that turn out to her concerts. Some may view rockabilly as a bit of retro fun. Others, who have followed the links between rockabilly and the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll, might view a Jackson concert as an opportunity to witness a still-active musical pioneer at work.

“I still love to sing those little rockabilly songs, especially to the young audiences out there in all of their vintage clothes. It kind of keeps you feeling like a teenager. And you’ve got to love that.”

Wanda Jackson performs at 8 p.m. Feb. 13 at The Dame, 367 East Main. Tickets are $12. Call (859) 231-7263.

the eyes of the hurricane

roger "hurricane" wilson and willie "big eyes" smith.

roger "hurricane" wilson and willie "big eyes" smith.

Prepare yourself. After the forecasted thunderstorms roll through Lexington this afternoon, we’re in for a hurricane.

Well, what we’re trying to say is tonight is blues night at the G Busy Blues Room with a performance by New Jersey-born guitarist Roger “Hurricane” Wilson and drummer-turned-harpist Willie “Big Eyes” Smith,

Wilson is a versed instrumentalist whose recent Exodus album boasts blue-rock grinds that summon the spirits of his great inspirations – especially Roy Buchanan. Wilson isn’t a screamer like Buchanan was, but he is often just as electric. Just listen to the way he transforms the title song – yes, moms and dads, we’re talking about the 1969 Hollywood-turned-Pat Boone hit Exodus – into a neo-surf workout.

Wilson also gets big bonus points for an ultra-respectful twilight soul reading of the 1970 Brook Benton classic Rainy Night in Georgia.

Smith has played Lexington sporadically over the years. He highlighted one of the bolder credits on his dossier – namely, ’60s and ‘70s stints as drummer for Muddy Waters – by touring with a team of other veteran players in the Legendary Blues Band during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Smith was in our midst again last summer for an immensely spirited Saturday evening set with Pinetop Perkins at Somerset’s Master Musicians Festival.

The trick tonight will be not to get too caught up in the pasts of these players. Wilson and Smith will play as an acoustic duo – the former on guitar, the latter on harmonica. Be there. Be blue.

Roger “Hurricane” Wilson and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith perform at 7:30 tonight at the G Busy Blues Room, 1474 Anniston Drive. Tickets are $10. Call (859) 299-7710.

critic’s pick 58

kind of blue

kind of blue

A friend recently me to suggest an album to give as a Valentine’s Day present – specifically, a recording substantial enough to be considered a worthwhile gift but still romantic enough to win approval from his wife.

All I could think of was Kind of Blue, the seminal Miles Davis recording that was recorded 50 years ago this spring. Because of the record’s impending anniversary, Kind of Blue is available in two new deluxe versions designed more for ardent jazz admirers rather casual romantics.

So here’s the lowdown on how much green you need to spend on Blue.

The Collector’s Edition runs about $100 and extends Kind of Blue out to three discs – including a fairly redundant set of the album’s initial vinyl mixes. But the kicker is the inclusion of a DVD called Celebrating a Masterpiece, a beautifully shot hour-long documentary on the making of Kind of Blue and the history of Davis’ career that surrounded it.

Shot in vivid black and white, it lets a host of luminaries – from the photographers and engineers involved with the original recording sessions to a host of jazz giants (Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Ron Carter) – provide complimentary but impressionistic views of Kind of Blue. Several of the interviewees – singer Shirley Horn, saxophonist Jackie McLean and journalist Ed Bradley – have passed on since the documentary was filmed.

Hopefully, Columbia Records will see fit to release Celebrating a Masterpiece as a stand-alone DVD. It shouldn’t take 100 bucks to enjoy its riches.

The two-disc Legacy Edition of Kind of Blue is vastly more affordable (less than $20). It augments the original album with bits of studio chat and false starts that, for die-hards, will make the album seem like a combination of rehearsal and performance. The second disc also includes standards (including a lovely and, yes, romantic Stella By Starlight) cut in 1958 with the same Davis sextet that would soon fashion Kind of Blue.

The treat of the Legacy Edition is a previously unreleased 17 minute live version of Kind of Blue‘s most storied track, So What, cut during a 1960 concert in Holland.

Finally, for those favoring romance over any kind of jazz detail, there is From the Heart, a new, Valentine-themed Davis sampler that covers over three decades of the trumpeter’s music, including the ultra-romantic, Bill Evans-penned Kind of Blue ballad Blue in Green. The anthology is designed as much for jazz novices on the prowl for an 11th hour Valentine’s gift as the Collector’s and Legacy Editions of Kind of Blue are for the Davis fanatics who can’t get enough of a classic.

My personal choice: just get the single disc version of Kind of Blue that was remastered in 1997. It sports an extra, alternate take of the hushed, wondrously simple and overwhelming emotive Flamenco Sketches and carries a price tag of $10 or less.

Whichever way you go, though, you will find no greater passport to a day defined by red than with a gift underscored by blue.

grammy post-mortem

robert plant and alison krauss won a total of five grammy awards last night. photo by robyn beck/getty images.

robert plant and alison krauss won a total of five grammy awards last night. photo by robyn beck/getty images.

Last night’s Grammy Awards telecast was loaded with inspired, unlikely and downright odd performances that made the ceremony immensely – and, unusually – watchable.

I mean, it certainly wasn’t for the awards.  After all, Grammys for jazz, blues, classical, folk and any off-the-commercial-radar categories weren’t even acknowledged, much less announced. And as there were no surprises like last year’s Herbie Hancock upset – and, frankly, no nominations insightful enough to even set up one – we will devote our Grammy scrapbook solely to last night’s performances. Among the highlights:

+ U2’s declaration that “the future needs a big kiss” as it tore into the new Vertigo-like single Get On Your Boots. A great start, even though the song is on an album that won’t be released for another month.

+ Al Green singing Let’s Stay Together with Justin Timberlake to see who had more bravado in their falsetto. The Rev won.

+ Katy Perry’s purposely over the top performance of I Kissed a Girl. Homemade “My Grammy Moment” videos sent in to accompany the singer were upstaged by her entrance in a giant banana.

+ Radiohead’s summit with the University of Southern California Marching Band for its In Rainbows rocker 15 Step.

+ New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne shoving hip hop posturing aside for a street parade affirmation of his still-hurting homeland that also featured Allen Toussaint, Terence Blanchard and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

+ Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett performing the ghostly reverb meditation Rich Woman side-by-side with their Americana remake of the Everly Brothers hit Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On).

+ A ragged but heartfelt cross generational medley of Four Tops hits featuring Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo, Smokey Robinson, and the only surviving original Top, Duke Fakir.

+ A salute to Bo Diddley from BB King, Buddy Guy, Keith Urban and John Mayer that was notable mostly because not one of the four came anywhere close to summoning the righteous Diddley guitar groove.

+ An ageless Paul McCartney singing I Saw Her Standing There with the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl bashing merrily on drums like Animal from the Muppets. Ringo must have had a stroke if he saw this.

+ British soul-pop stylist Adele singing the regal Chasing Pavements with a legion of strings and some friendly help from the country-pop duo Sugarland.

To that, we add the show’s line-of-the-night. Courtesy of Robert Plant, came this remark on the making of Raising Sand with Alison Krauss, which won the evening’s last Grammy for Album of the Year: “It was a great way to spend a Sunday..

The best snow this week is in . . .London; Travel: Jump to it – the great Ski and Snowboard Show is here again with everything for the winter sports fan.

The Mail on Sunday (London, England) October 21, 2001 | English, Neil Byline: NEIL ENGLISH HERE WILL be tons of snow in the middle of London next weekend.

Olympia in Kensington will have a fresh supply of the white stuff every day for the indoor piste at the Daily Mail Ski and Snowboard Show.

The world’s biggest indoor winter sports exhibition, organised in association with Nissan X-TRAIL (the car maker’s new four-wheel-drive model), opens on Friday until November 4.

And every visitor can enter a competition sponsored by The Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail, Crystal Holidays and Daily Mail Ski and Snowboard Magazine to win an annual ski holiday for life.

DJ Martin Collins of London’s Capital Radio – himself a keen skier – will compere the show’s dynamic events, including death-defying stunts from some of the world’s top skiers and boarders in the Big Air Competition.

Martin, who has skied for ‘many years, though I’d prefer not to say exactly how many’, leapt at the opportunity to work at the show. ‘I love skiing, the mountains and the whole scene,’ he said.

‘Especially now with the emphasis on free-riding, trick skiing and boarding.

‘The ski scene is cool right now, the Daily Mail show has all the key people in the industry and I’m pleased to be part of it.’ Martin will be in his element at Olympia. ‘One of the great things about the ski show is that I get to see snow before Christmas and I’m always eager for the start of each new ski season,’ he said.

He enjoys all the alpine hotspots like Val d’Isere, Tignes, St Anton and Chamonix and his favourite resort is Verbier in Switzerland, where he indulges his love of offpiste skiing.

‘There is so much terrain to explore there. You can go into areas and not see anybody except the friends you are with.

‘Mind you, some of it is quite treacherous. My girlfriend shudders at some of the stuff I do. I’m learning new things and taking on new challenges all the time.’ There will be plenty of inspiration at the show for Martin and the 100,000 ski and snowboarding enthusiasts who are expected to be there over its 10-day run. see here smith goggles

AT THE centre of it all will be 300 tons of glorious fresh powder snow made artificially indoors by Australian specialists Polar Snow using atomised water and liquid nitrogen stored in giant tanks at minus 196 degrees C. The snow – topped up every night – will be spread over a giant slope built inside the exhibition hall where techniques in racing, freeriding and snowboarding will be demonstrated.

On one side of the slope will be a 38-degree ramp down which daredevil participants in the Big Air Competition will accelerate towards a giant kicker, propelling them impossibly high into the air, spinning, flipping and edge-grabbing in an effort to impress the judges and win a share of the [pound]40,000 prize money. this web site smith goggles

The competition takes place every day of the show with riders and boarders accumulating points for the intricacy of their tricks and – importantly – their style.

British competitor Glenn Parsons, 23, from Evesham, Worcestershire, said: ‘I don’t really get nervous before I jump, you can’t afford to think of what might happen if a jump goes wrong.

‘I get psyched-up as my turn approaches and feel the adrenalin pumping up inside me. You have to stay focused on your jump, think it through in your head and just do it.’ Glenn has risen swiftly through the ranks of the international sport. He is now one of Britain’s top high flyers after only four winters on snow. He turned professional at 19 after having had just 12 weeks’ holiday skiing through his teens.

Glenn has lived and worked as a chef in Zermatt, Switzerland, for the past four seasons to fund and learn his trick skiing trade, earning sponsorship from K2 skis, Siemens phones, Level gloves and Smith goggles, and is now getting excellent results on the Big Air and freeriding circuits.

He says: ‘I am a crowd lover and hopefully a crowd pleaser.

Please come and cheer us all on at the show.’ Olympia is the best place in the world to explore every aspect of skiing and snowboarding.

Anybody worth their salt in the industry will be there from ski tour operator giants like Crystal Holidays to, relatively speaking, tiny specialists like Ski Amis. Scores of tour operators featuring resorts all over the world will have expert staff on-hand to offer all the advice and information you will need to book your next holiday.

YOU can equip yourself, too. All the latest skis, boots, boards and clothing will be on sale from the best winter sports retailers in the country.

Household names like Snow+Rock and Ellis Brigham will be there as will smaller companies like Rud Chains to tell you all about snow chains for your car.

See you there!

The show opens at Olympia’s National Hall at 12 noon on Friday (closing time 7pm).

Opening times thereafter are 10am to 7pm weekends and 12 noon to 10pm weekdays. For advance bookings and price information call the Ticket Hotline on 08705 90 00 90.

English, Neil

in performance: jj grey and mofro

jj grey

jj grey

Almost seven years after they played to a handful of unfamiliar fans shortly before the close of Lynagh’s Music Club, JJ Grey and Mofro returned to Lexington with a sound and fanbase that were, in every sense of the term, transformed.

At the Lynagh’s show, Grey’s Mofro music was defined by its swampy funk undercurrent, a sound that was echoed in then-new tunes like the dark and dense Blackwater and the earthy, culinary-inclined funk anthem Ho Cakes.

Those works sounded suitably ripe again when Grey and Mofro played to a packed house last night at The Dame. But the present day Mofro has evolved into a retro-inclined Southern soul band complete with a two-man horn section (saxophonist Art Edmaiston and trumpeter Dennis Marion) that fleshed out Grey’s already meaty material with loose R&B jabs that approximated the great ‘60s and ‘70s brass work of The Memphis Horns.

A white Southern singer with a preference for vintage soul? Typically, that is trouble waiting to happen. Grey pulled the task off, mostly because he possessed the vocal pipes to address the deep Southern soul fabric in his cover of 100 Proof’s Everything Good is Bad and the slower, harmonica-driven original Fireflies.

More than that, Grey never overplayed his hand. The power ballad I Believe (In Everything), for instance, had the gospel-inclined affirmation of a sterling Otis Redding hit. That’s not exaggerating Mofro’s credibility. In terms of pace and poise, the song, along with Grey’s performance, was that solid.

Of course, the crowd played a key role in this party as well. Apparently, Grey’s music has found a few pals around town over the years even without playing here. To be fair, though, Mofro seems to hit Louisville two or three times a year. When the band finished its Dame set proper, the calls weren’t just for an encore. They became a unison shout for Lochloosa, a song of home and the sermonette sing-a-long title tune to Mofro’s second album.

That’s when you realized Grey’s audience had become as big as his band’s soul-hearty sound.

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