Archive for February, 2011

jason aldean sells out rupp

jason aldean.

jason aldean.

Well, it looks like country star Jason Aldean is a far bigger deal than any us imagined. The Friday concert at Rupp Arena by the Georgia hitmaker is sold out.

Technically, there were approximately 90 single seats still available as of this morning through TicketMaster, but they will disappear quickly. By the time those tickets are sold, attendance figures for Friday’s performance will top the 18,000 mark.

That will give Aldean’s show the highest turnout of any Rupp concert since a 2005 Kenny Chesney date drew 19,200. Such figures more than double the attendance of January’s Rascal Flatts performance. As an FYI, the Flatts boys had a top ticket price that came perilously close to $100. Aldean’s tickets top out, minus fees, at $56.25.

Mr. Aldean himself will chat with us later this week in The Musical Box. And for those lucky 19,000 with tickets, Friday’s show will start at 7:30 p.m. Eric Church and the JaneDear girls will open.

two nights of truckers

This may seem odd with March knocking at the door and all. But April is looking to be one seriously rocking month at Buster’s. The club will be hosting something fairly unprecedented in Lexington – specifically, a multi-night engagement featuring the modern and immensely literate Southern music of Drive-By Truckers. The band will set up shop at Buster’s for a full weekend on April 8 and 9.

A wildly prolific ensemble, the Truckers churn out deep, disturbing rural sagas at a clip that is almost too brisk for even ardent fans to keep up with. Sadly, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and the rest of the Truckers detoured past Lexington for several years as their fanbase began to expand in the mid ‘00s. A sold out Truckers date last year at Buster’s along with another in 2009 at the defunct Dame finally got the band back in town. The April engagement suggests we may have even become a regular tour stop.

The newest Truckers opus is Go-Go Boots, a typically dark but seriously rocking album that boasts such delicacies as Dancin’ Ricky, The Thanksgiving Filter, Ray’s Automatic Weapon and my personal favorite, the sleekly pensive has-been anthem Used to be a Cop.

Dylan Le Blanc will open both shows. Tickets for each performance are $25 in advance and $27 day-of-show. It goes without saying that band shuffles its set list from night to night, so die-hard fans can expect largely varying song repertoires during the Buster’s engagement.

For more information, go to

in performance: randy newman

randy newman, photo by pamela springsteen.

randy newman, photo by pamela springsteen.

It takes a lot to upstage Randy Newman. Yet last night at the Opera House, such a feat was managed by a tiny winged creature – specifically, a bat – that flew out the split second the master songsmith opened his generous two set, 33 song performance with It’s Money That I Love. It was as though the critter had entered on cue.

The 1979 song, a glorious bit of indignant storytelling that reduced its rock-savvy foundation to a solo piano arrangement full of mischievous ragtime and boogie woogie patterns, was Newman at his finest. But the audience roared most each time the bat swirled on and offstage.

“Man, I thought I was Springsteen there for a second,” Newman admitted later in the program.

The bat was somehow apprehended by the time Mama Told Me Not to Come left Newman alone with his piano, his tireless between-tune wit and an immensely crafty catalogue of songs that took huge emotional leaps (and risks) as the night progressed.

It would have been easy to tag Newman strictly as a humorist – a dry satirist, even – early into this program. His work as a raconteur alone could have secured him such titles. At varying points, he took playful stabs at his children (labeling his sons as “lovable old coots” and his daughter as “murderously difficult”), his own instrumental prowess at the piano (“You might think I’d be embarrassed by these piddly little solos, but they don’t bother me a bit”) and even his last Lexington concert, an April 1978 show at the University of Kentucky Student Center Ballroom (a facility he repeatedly referred to last night as “the multi-purpose room”).

And, to be sure, there were songs that mirrored such droll observations with humor that was equally ruptured – from the impossibly odd The World Isn’t Fair (which plastered snapshots of a private school’s orientation ceremony over conversations on societal decay with Karl Marx) to The Great Nations of Europe (where 16th  century voyages of discovery were presented as little more than invasions by disease-carrying marauders) to I’m Dead But I Don’t Know It (a discourse on pop stars outliving their creative worth that became a merry audience sing-a-long). All three works were pulled from Newman’s underrated 1999 album, Bad Love.

But there were also heartbreakers mixed in that sobered up the repertoire but good. Some were desolate love songs where women were treated as emotional castaways (Marie, Real Emotional Girl and the even the hapless A Wedding in Cherokee County). Others were mired in bigotry – specifically, the megahit Short People and the Good Old Boys centerpiece Rednecks, which Newman properly prefaced as being “vulgar in a very babyish and basic way.”

The topper, though, was 1977’s In Germany Before the War, a harrowing confession sung from the perspective of a child murderer. The song, and last night’s stark, European flavored piano reading, didn’t prey on cheap sensationalism of any kind. It was simply a morosely poetic glimpse of a severely disturbed psyche.

Yes, this was the same Randy Newman who later regaled the audience with the ultra G-rated Toy Story hit You’ve Got a Friend in Me (the evening’s only offering from the songsmith’s voluminous catalog of film music). But such were the fortunes of an artist whose music thrives when it shifts from one emotional extreme to the other.

A two-tune encore that bookended Newman’s 40 year recording career underscored such range. On Laugh and Be Happy (one of four songs pulled from 2008’s Harps and Angels), Newman giddily sang of a childlike joy that subdues generational prejudice. But the show closing I Think It’s Going to Rain Today (from Newman’s 1968 self-titled debut album) wrapped a crushing, pervasive loneliness in a delivery of whispery delicacy.

Such fascinating emotive contrasts, above all the hilarity, drove this extraordinary performance. Sure, laugh and be happy, the music seemed to shout. At least until the rain comes.

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critic’s pick 164

On his fine new Bella album, the stylistic canyon between Teddy Thompson and his famed British folk-rock father Richard Thompson widens and clears. As that least that’s the case when the subject is romance.

When the elder Thompson looks into the wellspring of love and desire, he sees an abyss. When son Teddy takes a glance, he discovers something more hopeful but no less fatalistic.

But the cultural division between the two Thompsons has always been distinct, even though father Richard has played guitar on each of his eldest son’s recordings (including this new one). Dad will forever be a disciple of British folk-rock tradition while Teddy, now 35, has released two consecutive albums that operate from a crisply produced, pure pop perspective. Of course, the younger Thompson arrived in the broadest regions of the pop marketplace after first taking a wildly intriguing detour through vintage orchestral country on 2007’s sublime Upfront & Down Low.

Bella picks up where 2008’s A Piece of What You Need left off. The latter was the album that should have made Thompson a pop star but didn’t. It was stuffed with eager, hum-able melodies but was perhaps too lyrically engaging (or demanding, depending on one’s perspective) for a pop generation where examining relationships above the Brittney Spears level is often discouraged.

Bella isn’t likely to change any of that. The album’s generously melodic thrust erupts full blown on the album-opening Looking for a Girl. But the chiming lyrical hooks simply enhance a song that is only partially tongue-in-cheek in its check list of romantic requirements (“I’m looking for a girl who drinks and smokes, who takes a lot of drugs and can take a joke”).

But Bella gains some ground over its sharp predecessors. Especially apparent is Thompson’s continued maturity as a vocalist. One of the album’s highlights is its least complicated love confessional, Tell Me What You Want. There is not a verse or chorus in the tune over two lines long. But it doesn’t need anything more. Thompson uses the concise lyrics to wail like a young Roy Orbison – or more exactly, a young Roy Orbison channeled through a middle age Raul Malo. Those are still strong artistic sources to draw from. Producer David Kahne (whose has handled records for such multi generational legends as Tony Bennett, Paul McCartney and Wilco) dresses the tune with epic strings, chattering marimba-like percussive effects and duet vocals from another notable pop offspring, Jenni Muldaur (daughter of ‘70s pop-blues songstress Maria Muldaur).

Thompson ups the Orbison ante further on Take Care of Yourself, a first-rate crooner that sails briefly into that impossible, yearning falsetto that many pop singers strive (but usually fail) to convincingly hit. Thompson scores a bullseye. That alone makes Bella worthy of attention from the pop maistream. Now let’s see if the mainstream is up for the party.

the mutant music of the graveblankets

the graveblankets: bob nyswonger

the graveblankets: bob nyswonger, chris arduser, george cunningham and rosie carson. photo by daisy allen cunnigham.

Around these parts, we may not know what Graveblankets are. Well, musically speaking, we don’t.

That’s only because the folk-based pop unit that bears that name – or pop-based folk ensemble, depending on your stylistic viewpoint – never journeyed far beyond its Cincinnati home.

We managed to get two of its members – mandolinist/guitarist/singer Chris Arduser and acoustic/electric bassist Bob Nyswonger – down Lexington way very sporadically in a pair of more overtly pop-directed bands, The Bears and Psychodots. Another co-founder, guitarist George Cunningham, has been a more recent visitor through performances with his gypsy jazz troupe, The Faux Frenchmen.

But joint endeavors as The Graveblankets seemed destined to remain one of Cincinnati’s better kept secrets. Not that the band didn’t set bigger sights for its sounds.

Between 1995 and 2000, Arduser, Nyswonger and Cunningham issued four albums of assured folk informed pop that established a solid Cincinnati fanbase. The music, nearly all of which was penned by Arduser, was often thematically dark but texturally light. While the songs’ storylines take their cue from folk’s dark and distant past (among the titles of its tunes: Haul That Carcass, Shoot You Down, The Undead and Acre of Pain), the music is based around melodic hooks fleshed out on mandolin and violin.

“I always say we just play our own mutant brand of pop-folk-rock,” said Arduser, who will finally lead a reconstituted Graveblankets into Lexington on Tuesday at Natasha’s. “I really don’t know any other succinct way to put it. I cannot escape the British pop of my youth. That endlessly informs my songwriting. Actually, it’s not that I can’t escape it. I don’t want to escape it.

“I came fairly late to the folk game, though. I didn’t get into Bob Dylan seriously until the early ‘80s. But getting into Dylan led to getting into Richard Thompson and Bruce Cockburn. Those writers allowed me to see that folk wasn’t just Judy Collins and the New Christy Minstrels. It was this deep, dark well of music that, especially in the cases of Richard and Bruce, seemed inexhaustible.”

Arduser did make one long, serious stab at taking The Graveblankets out of Cincinnati via a Nashville recording project that wound up as the band’s 2000 album Where It Hurts. It was designed with the partial intent of securing a national recording deal. Several labels expressed interest but none of the deals panned out. Exhausted and frustrated, the band called it quits. Sort of.

“I had been working with The Graveblankets consistently since the late ‘80s, watching the band slowly gather steam. But Where It Hurts was the nail in the coffin. The labels all wanted us to be like the Dave Matthews Band and we were going through a lot of personnel difficulties. After one particular gig in front of not many people where nobody made any money, I just went home and said, ‘I think I’ve done enough.’ I wasn’t saying it was over but I knew I was going to move in a different direction.”

That was 10 years ago. Over the last decade, Arduser continued to perform, releasing a series of strong solo albums that upped the pop factor in his music. Some of that music was even picked up for local airplay on WUKY-FM. Curiously, as Lexington interest began to percolate, Arduser, Cunningham and Nyswonger again picked up the Graveblankets banner with a very unexpected new recruit.

Rounding out the band’s renewed quartet lineup is 18 year old fiddle and folk prodigy Rosie Carson. Though heavily versed in British and Celtic folk (she has toured with famed British folkster Kevin Dempsey), Carson was up for the more continental Graveblankets sound.

“I knew she could play the Celtic stuff great,” Arduser said. “But I had no idea what a fine singer Rosie could be. She’s eager to play and learn. So she’s ready to go.”

Carson also plays a key role in the new Graveblankets album, Error Avenue. The recording is essentially a primer, offering reworkings of several songs from past Graveblankets albums (Guilt in a Suitcase, Rosewood Casket), some revisited Bears music (Trust) and a few folk staples sung by Carson (The Beatles’ Blackbird, Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes).

“We won’t be playing out all the time,” Arduser said of future Graveblankets plans. “I’m a working musician, so I have to follow where the money goes. I want to keep making these records that really satisfy that need for self-expression. But I can’t go broke doing it. That’s what happened in the ‘90s. So I choose wisely the gigs we do. I want them to mean something. We always want to look forward to the next one.”

The Graveblankets perform at 9 tonight at Natasha’s Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Admission is  $7. Call (859) 259-2754.

Former CNBC host Dylan Ratigan lands at MSNBC go to website cnbc fast money

AP Online May 7, 2009 Former CNBC “Fast Money” host Dylan Ratigan has landed a new daytime program at MSNBC.

Ratigan’s new show will air on the news network from 9 to 11 a.m. Eastern Time. MSNBC had few details about what it will be, other than a mixture of talk and news with a distinct personality.

It marks a continued shift away from actual news programming to more personality-driven shows on cable news networks. Ratigan’s show will start on June 29. see here cnbc fast money

Ratigan’s move was a mild surprise, considering he had quit CNBC five weeks ago.

randy newman lives

randy newman. photo by pamela springsteen.

randy newman. photo by pamela springsteen.

There is a wonderful yarn Randy Newman spins on his underrated 1999 album Bad Love that speaks to celebrities, like himself, that have spent a veritable lifetime in the pop music arena.

It’s title: I’m Dead (But I Don’t Know It). The storyline deals with a rock ‘n’ roller whose career sits in creative purgatory.

“I’ve nothing further to report,” Newman sings, taking on the persona of the doomed, clueless star. “Time you spend with me is time you lose.”

“Nobody’s retiring,” said the multiple Grammy, Emmy and Academy Award winning songsmith who performs in Lexington on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 33 years. “And I mean, nobody. Artists have said when they turned 30, ‘I’m not going to be doing this when I’m 40.’ And they’re still doing it when they’re 70. That’s a good thing, I guess, unless you’re a young guy in a band.”

The song, thankfully, is not autobiographical. Few of Newman’s extraordinary, character-driven tunes are. His songs may present the viewpoints of bigots, murderers, hapless lovers and political dupes. But Newman is simply the translator, the artist who tells a wild tale with often frightening human clarity.

Still, at age 67, with a career celebrated as much for film score compositions as for his expert songs, Newman would seem ripe for the very kind of pop tailspin I’m Dead addresses. Luckily, retirement isn’t in the offing.

“I think there is a sort prolonged decline that comes with long careers,” Newman said. “I think I might allow myself an experimental type of album or something. I probably need to do that. But if I thought I was getting measurably worse at it, or if the music just sounded old to me, I might just stick to writing for movies exclusively. But that would be a shame.”

Indeed so. Newman has been a champion songwriter ever since his debut album was released in 1968. Over the years his songs have been covered such diverse artists as Peter Gabriel, Wilson Pickett, Joe Cocker, Tom Jones, UB40, Manfred Mann, Three Dog Night, Harry Nilssen and Peggy Lee. But no one performs a Newman song with more distinction that the artist himself. With a singing voice that often sounds like a sleepy moan, Newman’s recordings have long been artfully orchestrated. The symphonic touches reached the first of many zeniths on 1974’s Southern scrapbook Good Old Boys.

“I’ve always tried to do that,” Newman said. “I wanted people – and myself, for that matter – to see what my songs were about. Even on my first album, I was thinking that way.”

With his score for the 1981 film adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, Newman’s musical fancy spread to the screen in beautiful, waltz-like melodies that still reflected the playfulness of his pop songs. From there, Hollywood beckoned. In the decades to come, Newman would score over two dozen movies. Last weekend, he won a Grammy for his 2010 score to Toy Story 3. He will perform one of the soundtrack’s key songs, We Belong Together, later this month at the Academy Awards, where it will be up for an Oscar.

“When I read Doctorow’s book of Ragtime, I knew how musical it could be. It was just one of those great jobs that really needed music. And the period it covered, from the 1890s up to about World War I, was such a great time for music. That whole project was such a great opportunity. And you’re absolutely right. Ragtime was what started things off in getting me noticed for film work.”

While Newman’s recording career may lean toward the symphonic, his performance career leads a bit of a double life. His regularly performs with orchestras. But Newman also remains faithful to the concert setting he has favored since the ‘60s – namely, solo shows where he accompanies himself on piano.

To that end, his next recording will be the second in a series of studio reflections of his solo concerts. The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 2 revamps songs from throughout his career – from 1968’s Cowboys to 2008’s Losing You – for piano and vocals. But where Vol. 1 (released in 2003) sported some of Newman’s best known compositions (Sail Away, Louisiana 1927 and I Think It’s Going to Rain Today), Vol. 2 favors less obvious material like 1989’s Dixie Flyer (which emphasizes one of Newman’s most beautifully bittersweet piano melodies), a de-synthesized revision of 1983’s My Life is Good and three neglected works from 1970’s 12 Songs album (Yellow Man, Suzanne and Lucinda).

“By working with these songs for so long, I tend to see them a little differently at times,” Newman said. “On the new album, they are presented in the way I wrote them. (Producer) Mitchell Froom was incredibly helpful. Being a producer means being part psychologist, you know. He was great for morale.”

Sometimes morale, even for such an honored songwriter and composer, dips. Confidence sags. For that, Newman is unapologetic. He sees his career, which has been marked by periods of  “not working,” as part of a rich and ultimately satisfying life in music.

In short, Newman knows this much for sure – he’s not dead.

“My problem is that I’ve been harder on myself than I ought to have been. You really don’t have to suffer to produce good work. And I wouldn’t want anyone to ever think that I did.

“I’ve agonized about my work, hanging in there with a lyric trying to get a word right. But I don’t begrudge myself any of that, even though some musicians would have probably just slapped me and told me to get on with it.”

Randy Newman performs at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Lexington Opera House. Tickets are $45.50, $55.50. Call (859) 233-3535, (800) 745-3000.

in performance: the john jorgenson quintet

john jorgenson

john jorgenson

Early into the first of two technically dazzling sets last night at the Grand Theatre in Frankfort, guitarist John Jorgenson jokingly admitted that the temperament of his quintet’s very worldly brand of gypsy jazz was dictated strictly by the color of the guitar pick he chose to use.

That, thankfully, was the only fraudulent aspect of the performance. Using the light, limber and exceptionally lyrical jazz popularized during the mid 1930s by Django Reinhardt as a springboard, Jorgenson designed patterns of swing that convincingly sailed far beyond the music’s French origins.

At times, the instrumentation alone dictated the geographic and stylistic globetrotting. Much of Jorgenson’s playing on guitar was light, speedy and brittle enough to approximate (as on Norwegian Dance) the sound of a mandolin, hence bringing the more classically structured music decidedly closer to bluegrass. In other instances, he switched to bouzouki (as on the title tune to his recent One Stolen Night album) for ensemble exchanges that sounded, for lack of better description, like a Greek samba. And on two tunes, Jorgensen left the strings altogether and switched to clarinet (as on Souvenirs Des Nos Peres) for jazz that embraced Dixieland inspiration.

But there were also the tango accents of Dark Romance, a lullaby-like reading of La Mer (the 1940s blueprint of the pop standard Beyond the Sea that nicely showcased violinist Jason Anick) and the flamenco flourishes that propelled Roma Arise.

Still, there was no denying the ensemble charm that surfaced when the quintet plugged directly into the Django muse. For Billet Doux, part of Reinhardt’s repertoire with the famed Hot Club of France, the quintet offered an introduction of understated, elegant beauty before the swing giddily accelerated.

The biggest treat was saved for last when Jorgensen and his band moved to the front of the Grand stage and played Reinhardt’s signature tune Nuages without amplification. The arrangement deemphasized the composition’s dreamy atmospherics, opting instead for a more streamlined but still immensely melodic approach. But the lovingly restless tradeoffs between Jorgenson and Anick still ignited the piece – and the majority of the concert, for that matter. Through such soulful dialogue, a proud gypsy heart proudly beat.

Confused About Oat Bran?; What Is Known About Different Fibers

The Washington Post February 6, 1990 | Sally Squires If you are feeling confused about the cholesterol-lowering properties of oat bran, you’re not alone.

Since researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston reported last month that oat bran “has little cholesterol-lowering effect,” there has been a flurry of various reports about what consumers should-and shouldn’t-eat. too much fiber

“I think that a lot of people are tearing their hair out about this,” says Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer group.

Yet oat bran “never had all the benefits that it was touted to have,” notes John LaRosa, dean for clinical affairs at George Washington University School of Medicine and former chairman of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee. “It’s not a substitute for all of the other more basic dietary changes that the American Heart Association has been recommending for the last 30 years.” The lesson is that when it comes to nutrition, there are no perfect foods, no quick fixes and no magic bullets. “I tell people,” says Liebman, “that this is the way science works.” In the meantime, here’s what is known-and still to be determined-about various types of fiber, including oat bran:

– Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Oat bran is just one of the many plant substances, known collectively as fiber, that are indigestible to humans and other mammals. Few studies have been done to compare the benefit of one fiber against another, but researchers do know that soluble fiber (oat and rice bran are two examples) contains pectin-the stuff that makes jellies jell. At high enough levels, soluble fiber lowers blood levels of cholesterol and blood sugar but has little effect as a laxative. No one knows why soluble fiber is able to change blood fat levels, but it may be because soluble fiber is absorbed by the body. On the other hand, insoluble fiber-wheat, corn and soy bran, for example-speeds the so-called “transit time” of food through the intestine. That’s why this type of fiber is recommended to alleviate constipation and treat diverticulitis, an inflammation of small pockets in the colon.

– The more fiber in the diet, the less the risk of colon cancer. Rates of colon cancer in Finland-where most residents eat the same type of high-fat diet Americans consume-are much lower than those in the United States. The reason, research suggests, is because of the high-fiber diet consumed by most Finns. The theory is that the high-fiber diet helps to move carcinogens through the intestinal tract faster, giving them less time to affect cells along the way. Fiber may also help dilute bile acids, which are thought to be “co-activators” in causing colon cancer.

– Exactly how much fiber should be consumed each day is not known. Unlike for vitamins and minerals or other nutrients, there are no recommended dietary allowances for fiber. But in the early 1980s after much study, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report suggesting that Americans eat between 20 and 30 grams of fiber a day-about as much as is in one apple, one serving of high-fiber cereal and half a cup of beans. Another rule of thumb is to eat 12 to 15 grams of fiber for each 1,000 calories consumed. For example, on a diet of 2,000 calories a day, you’d eat 24 to 30 grams of fiber. Good sources of fiber include whole grain bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, rice, legumes (lima or garbanzo beans, for example), as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

– Some fibers can reduce blood cholesterol levels slightly. Despite the most recent report, numerous studies show that soluble fiber-oat and rice bran for example-does lower blood cholesterol slightly. But you have to eat large amounts to show any effect. “Even a bowl of pure oat bran a day will only lower serum cholesterol by about 3 percent,” says CSPI’s Liebman. The best prescription for lowering blood cholesterol is the same as it has always been: reduce dietary fat, particularly saturated fat, and eat less cholesterol. go to website too much fiber

– More fiber in your diet can help cut calories. The bulk in fiber helps make you feel full longer than other foods. A recent study of 14 healthy people at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis found that consuming two ounces of high-fiber cereal for breakfast led people to eat 100 fewer calories at lunch on average than people who ate cereals with no or little fiber.

– Too much fiber poses its own health risk. Fiber traps trace minerals such as zinc, preventing them from being used by the body. “This probably poses no danger to the average American,” says David Kritchevsky, associate director of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, “but it could be a danger among older people and for little kids.” The elderly tend to eat fewer calories and thus may be at greater risk for a nutritional deficiency from a high-fiber diet. In the young, too much fiber can produce stunted growth-a problem seen in Middle Eastern countries where the main staple is a crudely milled bread. More recently, sporadic reports of stunted growth have also been documented in the United States among children whose parents fed them low-fat, very high-fiber diets. “Some parents think if they feed their kids this way they will live forever,” Kritchevsky says. “And they may,” he joked, “but they will be just two feet tall.” The key, he says, “is moderation, not martyrdom.” Eating Right appears on alternate Tuesdays.

Sally Squires

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gypsy accent

john jorgonson.

john jorgonson.

There was a sound brewing in the back of guitarist John Jorgenson’s mind in the ‘80s and ‘90s that never had much of opportunity to be heard.

It was a light, spirited variation on the gypsy jazz popularized in the ‘30s by Django Reinhardt. But it was also open enough to take on other musical accents from around the globe. Jorgenson even played it a bit in the old days, although the music was mostly a hobby. After all, he was already well employed in artistic communities far removed from the land of the gypsies.

Near the close of the ‘80s, Jorgenson was part of the triumvirate (with Byrds alumnus Chris Hillman and veteran country-rock stylist Herb Pederson) behind the vintage California country troupe known as The Desert Rose Band. When rock ‘n’ roll tugged as his sleeve, Jorgenson plugged into another trio, a fearsome group of guitarslingers known as The Hellecasters. Then in 1994, Jorgenson joined the touring band of a rock celebrity by the name of Elton John. That, in essence, led to the life of an upper class gypsy as Jorgenson recorded and toured arenas around the world with John for the next six years.

Among the other giants Jorgenson has collaborated with: Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Luciano Pavorotti, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs and Emmylou Harris.

“I discovered gypsy jazz in 1979 and played it a bit in the early to mid ‘80s,” Jorgenson said. “At the time, there really wasn’t really any kind of scene for the music, so I couldn’t see playing it as a career.

‘But then there was a shift. While I was working with Elton John and doing a lot of session work, a shift came from the internet that allowed people with specific musical interests to connect with each other. Then people realized they weren’t the only ones who were fond of this music. They banded together and started having festivals while guitar companies started building instruments that were affordable replicas of the old French guitars. So that became a sort of sign to me.”

That sign was illuminated when Jorgenson was invited to not only create Reinhardt-style music for the 2004 film Head in the Clouds but play the famed gypsy guitarist in the movie.

“When I started to go out and perform this music, I would have been happy just to be in a Django tribute band. I would have been happy to dress up like it was the 1930s and do that whole thing. But I started doing my own compositions to fill out the concert programs and audiences responded as much to them as they did to the traditional gypsy jazz tunes.”

That led to Jorgenson’s 2004 album Franco-American Swing and the formation of a quintet that blended gypsy jazz inspirations with accents of Greek, Romanian, Latin music and more.

“When I describe this music to people, I have to mention Django Reinhardt and gypsy jazz to get them into this world,” Jorgenson said. “But it ends up being so much more. I feel it’s much more like world music. There are Greek elements, Eastern European elements and flamenco elements.

“The gypsies have a very interesting heritage in the street performance of music and dance. That’s been a tradition of theirs forever. When they played in the streets of a particular country, they would learn of the music that people liked in that country so they could be more popular. So the influences of all the countries colored the music.”

Jorgenson broadened the visibility of his gypsy music variations in 2010 by releasing two new recordings, a quintet album (One Stolen Night) and a collaboration with Orchestra Nashville (Istiqbal Gathering). There were also performances at festivals throughout Europe and North America commemorating what would have been Reinhardt’s 100th birthday.

“I just love music. I have loved it for so long. And I have always loved different styles of music. So when I go into these styles, I want to be true to them.

“Even when we find differences in gypsy jazz, there are emotional and harmonic components that tie it all together. It could be the difference between a Bulgarian brass band and the pop flamenco of the Gipsy Kings. It’s very different music. But there’s a commonality – at least, there is in the way I hear and feel it. And that element is what I try to bring out in what I play.”

The John Jorgenson Quintet performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Grand Theatre, 308 Clair St. in Frankfort. Tickets are $15 and $25. Call (502) 352-7469 or go to,

critic’s pick 163

In theory, the title of Matthew Shipp’s new double concert album Art of the Improviser holds up. Long heralded as the piano voice of a new jazz generation, Shipp has been at the forefront of a brave new movement of improvisers as both soloist and ensemble leader. Some of his projects dabble with DJs and electronics while others steer decidedly toward the avant garde. But Shipp’s own sense of performance daring has never diminished. Having turned 50 in December, he continues to possess a rich and restless improvisational sensibility in his music.

But Art of the Improviser is far more than what its title suggests. There is a strong compositional base to much of the album, which, in turn, feeds the fire of the improvising. There are also numerous references, both in repertoire and in the stylistic extremes that bolster his piano work, to a previous jazz generation. But that only adds to the drama and distinction that build throughout Art of the Improviser.

The album’s first disc is a beefy trio performance featuring bassist Michael Bisio and longtime drummer Whit Dickey. The opening The New Fact rumbles and builds like the early ‘70s recordings of McCoy Tyner. A leaner, darker trio exchange later emerges out of 3 in 1 but not before Bisio establishes his presence with crisply brittle improvisation of his own on bass.

A revisit to the first movement of the title suite from Shipp’s 1992 Circular Temple album nicely scrambles Art of the Improviser‘s melodic thrust before a dizzying variation of Take the A Train stumbles out of the rhythmic chaos like a drunk from a barroom. It’s a stirring but immensely playful mash-up of styles and jazz sensibilities.

The second disc comes from a solo performance Shipp gave in New York last June (roughly 2 ½ months after the trio gig) and is it ever a beaut. The disc is divided into six tunes, but it is performed as a very singular suite that uses the opening 40 as a reference point. From there, the references again fly by. Tyner. Thelonious Monk. There are even a few fleeting hints of Art Tatum in the disc’s more animated moments.

But mostly Shipp references himself through several lyrical themes that continually revisit the suite. It might be a descending riff here or an almost noir-like trickle of notes there.  They are all devices that set up the muscular piano intent that arrives as the suite moves from a largely unrecognizable Fly Me to the Moon to the nocturnal chambers of Wholetone.

It all makes for a recording of fascinating dynamics. Sure, the improvisational prowess is remarkable. But it’s only one component of the art at the heart of Shipp’s music.

a jayhawk's newest flight

mark olson. photo by ingunn ringvold.

mark olson. photo by ingunn ringvold.

Just under a decade ago, Mark Olson issued an album called December’s Child. A rich, homey sounding project, it was the zenith of the singer-songsmith’s work with an indie folk troupe called The Creekdippers.

December’s Child was a fine record, one that seemed to finally remove Olson from the broader – and more commercially visible – music he cut with The Jayhawks, the popular Americana unit he had co-founded but cut ranks with in 1995.

Curiously, one of the album’s highlights was Say You’ll Be Mine, a song he co-penned and co-performed with longtime Jayhawks mate Gary Louris. In other words, while December’s Child underscored Olson’s musical identity outside of the Jayhawks, it also planted seeds for what proved to be an inevitable reunion with the band.

Flash forward to the present. With a critically lauded duet album (2009’s Ready for the Flood) behind them, Olson and Louris are again piloting The Jayhawks and preparing their first record of new material with the band in 16 years. But Olson isn’t about to let his artistic gains as a solo artist fade as his old group takes flight again.

The Jayhawks, it seems, make up only half of his working life these days. Olson is also hitting the road this winter with a couple of his Creekdipper pals to show off music from a  2010 solo album, Many Colored Kite.

Talk to Olson, a veteran of numerous Lexington concert appearances at the Christ the King Oktoberfest, about balancing duties as a solo artist with the responsibilities of a band man and he will tell you the juggling act is sweet indeed.

“It’s incredible, really” said Olson, who performs Tuesday at Natasha’s. “It’s the culmination of a lifetime’s work. I’m playing all the time now in different places, in different countries and in different configurations. It’s gets to be a little exhausting from time to time, but I keep going. I mean, you write all of these songs and you just want a chance to play them in front of people. And I really have that now.”

The thrust of the trio Louris will bring to Natasha’s – a unit that includes longtime Creekdipper multi-instrumentalist Mike Russell – will be the acoustic based story-songs of Many Colored Kite, although the repertoire will also cover songs from Olson’s 2007 solo debut album The Salvation Blues and a few Creekdippers tunes. Such music is a folk-derived deconstruction of the melodic and harmony-heavy ensemble sound favored by The Jayhawks.

“When I started out, I was listening to folky Bob Dylan stuff and artists like Buffy Sainte Marie,” Olson said. “So I’ve always wanted to do material like that, music that was very powerful yet was played with very simple instrumentation. I can just sit there with a guitar for these songs and sing my heart out.”

While Dylan may have been a powerful formative muse for Olson, Many Colored Kite‘s leadoff tune, Little Bird of Freedom, features harmonies by a folk stylist from an altogether different generation – Jolie Holland.

“It was probably 10 years ago that a friend told me about Jolie Holland,” Olson said. “We were introduced and spent a day walking around San Francisco, playing each other what were then new songs. I just remember that a being a very nice day. So when the opportunity came my way, I asked her to sing on this new record.”

The quiet and altogether sunny vibe of Many Colored Kite has to share space in Olson’s professional life, though, with the more electric reckonings of The Jayhawks. The band has already maintained a high performance profile in 2011, having devoted a two-night January engagement in Chicago to complete performances of its cornerstone albums – 1992’s Hollywood Town Hall and 1995’s Tomorrow the Green Grass. Both records were re-released this winter with gobs of extra material. Green Grass, in particular, includes an entire disc of fascinating blueprint-style outtakes called The Mystery Demos.

But Olson sees no conflict between his solo and band callings. It’s his good fortune, he said, that such differing elements of his musical past now seem harmonious.

“They are different projects with different setlists, different instrumentation and different people. But it’s all very exciting.

“These days, my life is a matter is getting up and doing the things I need to do to make sure I’m prepared to go onstage and have a good show. That’s what life is. If you have a good job, you want to do it well. So I’m pretty fortunate that I have all this work, the ability to play music and people willing to come see me perform.”

Mark Olson performs at 9 p.m. Feb.15 at Natasha’s Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Tickets are $10. Call (859) 259-2754.

Research and Markets Adds Report: Prospects in the US Home Healthcare Market.

Health & Beauty Close-Up February 26, 2011 Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Prospects in the US Home Healthcare Market” report to its offerings.

In a release, Research and Markets noted that report highlights include:

The home health care industry is in its developing stage all over the world, US and Europe leads the market with the support of its developed economy and advancement in technology. US offer great potential for third party service providers and equipment manufacturers to take the benefit of demand and supply gap. In case of services such as practitioners, nurses availability this market offers bright career opportunities. Health insurance for home care is also gaining popularity in the US with rising awareness and low cost treatment.

Demographics changes such as the growing longevity of the patient population are making home the ideal setting for healthcare delivery. The US market for home healthcare equipment was valued at USD – billion in 2010, and is forecast to reach USD – billion in 2012. The market is expected to be driven by governments cost containment efforts, reimbursement reforms and continued advances in device technology. In terms of mobility devices, there is an upward trend in the number of orthopaedic patients which will contribute in the growth for medical furniture and bathroom safety products. go to site american home patient

The report titled Prospects in the US Home Health Care Market describes the industry past performance present analysis and future prospects. It covers home health care expenditures, market size of home healthcare equipment and role of third party service providers. It also discusses industry segments and assess outlook of the industry and its segments. In the industry development section we talked about recent trends and opportunities which contribute in the overall growth of the industry. In the driving forces section we have discussed factors supporting the industry growth. Further, the report highlights the positioning and strategies of top global dental consumables and equipments manufacturers Baxter International Inc., Fresenius Medical Care AG, American Home patient Inc. and Nxstage Medical Inc. Key Findings -Home healthcare expenditures are also expected to show a continuous positive growth trend in coming years and expected to reach USD – billion by 2014 with a CAGR of 5.85 percent from 2010-2014. this web site american home patient

-Globally demand for medical oxygen system has increased in the recent past led by rising number of COPD and asthma patients.

-Home hemodialysis growth has even overshadowed the market growth of dialysis demand. The adoption of home hemodialysis is expected to be more in 2011 & 2012, as more awareness would be created with the entry of more players in the dialysis market.

-The future of dialysis treatment and related device demand is bright with growing rate of patients and awareness level worldwide.

-For 2009, health care expenditures in the United States are estimated to be USD- trillion dollars or approximately 17.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the highest among industrialized countries.

Companies Mentioned:

-Baxter International -Fresenius Medical Care AG -Invacare Corp.

-American Homepatient Inc -NxStage Medical Inc.

Report information:

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