Monday, February 27, 2006

David Rovics & Attila the Stockbroker

Acerbic, funny politi-folky songwriter David Rovics is back in town next week for an all ages show in Eureka Tuesday, March 7.

The last time David Rovics came to Humboldt he was on the road with columnist Norman Solomon. Rovics recalled sitting in on a media panel that included Solomon along with Journal editor Hank Sims and Times Standard editor Charles Winkler. “I can’t remember which one was which,” he admitted. “One editor was making a lot of sense, the other was defending the idea of objectivity, which didn’t really make sense to me or to the rest of the panel. One editor was making the point that, yes, advertisers have a huge impact on what newspapers can do, and there‘s also a lot things people would be looking at if they didn’t have to worry about that kind of influence. The other editor was claiming that newspapers had autonomy and advertisers didn’t really have such an impact.”

I told him I make no pretense of objectivity, to which he replied, “I’ve never been a fan of objectivity myself.”
Rovics was born in New York City and grew up in the surrounding suburbs. His parents were classical musicians, so he was raised on music. While he was exposed to folk music and the activist spirit when he was younger, he didn’t put the two together until he was about 19. That was when he picked up a guitar. “All I heard on the radio was love songs and stuff like that, but I suddenly became aware of this whole ancient genre, people singing songs about the struggle and what was going on in the world,” he told me.

Among those whose songs he learned: Phil Ochs, Utah Phillips, Buffy Saint Marie and of course old masters like Woody Guthrie. “Then after a while I discovered contemporary folks like Jim Page from Seattle and I started writing my own songs. Eventually I got pretty good at it.
“I write about environmental issues, about the labor movement, songs about the struggles in Latin America and here at home — and love songs too.”A good portion of his political material is satirical. “I try to be funny, you can’t just play one depressing song after another or you lose people. But the depressing songs can be effective in the right context.”

What has he been singing about on this tour? “Well, about what’s happening in the world: the unbelievable array of scandals that are before us. The wealth of material has never been greater. I just can’t find enough time to write about all the crazy shit that’s going on.”

Noting that stupid, bad men in office make good fodder for satire, he added, “It really does make my work easier. Not that Clinton was difficult to write about, but with Bush it’s handed to you on a silver platter.”

This time out he’s touring with a Brit, Attila the Stockbroker, who he says, “has been traveling around the world for the last 25 years doing punk rock poetry, playing solo and with a punk band called Barnstormer.”

Since Attila was riding in the car with him, he handed him the phone. After preliminary niceties I asked what it is he does. “I’m a performance poet,” he began, “a very energetic, entertaining, political performance poet.”

He described himself as “a hyper-active mix of Monty Python, Jello Biafra and The Clash,” quoting from his own press release. “I came out of the punk scene doing poetry between sets by punk bands,” he continued. (The Clash were among the bands he performed with.) “Sometimes I play the mandola — I attack it — I don’t play with any particular virtuosity. From there I started doing gigs on my own.”

How do the two of them fit together? “David and I do the same kind of thing in totally different ways,” he explained. “David is more folky, a technically gifted guitarist with a wonderful voice, and he’s polite; and I can’t really play that well and I shout a lot. But I’ve got lots to say, and it works — the two of us work well together. We talk about what’s happening in the world right now from a sort of radical social political perspective, which is also humorous with lot of energy to it. It’s not like po-faced lecturing, there’s a lot of fun in it too.”

At that point in our conversation I heard the sound of a siren in the background. A police chase? I wondered. “No, just a fire engine,” he assured me, “not the police.” As David broke out laughing he noted that the car sports a bumper sticker saying “Impeach Bush,” which could make the pair seem suspect. “And I’ve got a tee-shirt with a picture of George Bush that says ‘International Terrorist,’ that goes over will most places we go. My other favorite shirt is the one worn by women: It has a picture of George and an arrow pointing up saying ‘Bad Bush,’ then one pointing down, which says, ‘Good Bush.’ That’s quite a good one as well.

“Humor is big part of what I do. Not all my stuff is political, and neither is David’s — social awareness and politics are the fundamental first point of where we’re coming from, but there’s other stuff in there too. Some of my stuff is just silly: I’m also very into football, or soccer to you, and one of the things I do apart from touring: I’m the stadium announcer and poet-in-residence for my hometown team, Brighton and Hove Albion. I write a lot of poems about soccer; not that I’d do them here obviously because they wouldn’t mean anything to you, but I write about a lot of things.”

Being a 21st century performer he concluded with a bit of advice: “If people are interested in what we’re doing and they want to find out more, just point them at our websites, that’s and They can see for themselves what we’re doing.”

 The Rovics/Attila performance in Eureka is at something called Synapsis Warehouse (in Old Town at 47 3rd, between A and Commercial). Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is on a sliding scale; no one turned away for lack of funds.

Friday, February 24, 2006

With Love, DMBQ

Ladies and gents,
As you know, we lost a great drummer "China", by horrible car accident while we were on the last US tour. China always gave us wonderful musical inspirations, big smiles, and lots of love. She took us higher stage of our music adventure. We can't find any words still for this big loss, and we can not believe we can not see her again. We feel like she is around here still, and feel like she may open the studio's door suddenly and say hi with big smile. But, at the same time, we know she is not here. It's sad, very sad.
We thought what we should do after this, and decided we should keep strong. We think China hopes DMBQ keeps rockin' even if she can not play with us. So we decided we never stop DMBQ. We talked what we should do first, and we decided we should come over to the US again as soon as we can. Because China loves the US and so many American people helped us when the accident happened, and gave us a lot of love. So we want to say thank you and show you guys we are OK.
We start the new music adventure with new drummer "Shinji Wada." China was special, but New DMBQ cannot disappoint you guys, and Mr. Shinji Wada knows it well. But, don't worry, now we are powerful more and we have full motivation now. Come see and check us up!

With Love,

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dear Anonymous Re: [HumBlog] 2/22/2006 11:42:17 PM

This comment came in regarding the 2/22 post about trying to set the record straight on McCoy Tyner's alleged involvement with Ike and Tina Turner (see below). 
The post begins: We all make mistakes.

Date: February 22, 2006 11:43:20 PM PST
To: journal (at)
Subject: [HumBlog] 2/22/2006 11:42:17 PM

yeah, like the misinformation piece on the green party just to smack greg allen around, and by your editor no less. do you ever tire of working for such a heartless hack like hank sims?

Posted by Anonymous to HumBlog at 2/22/2006 11:42:17 PM

Anonymous? Is that you Charles? Good to see the politicos are visiting HumBlog. 
I haven't picked up this week's Journal yet, and I actually have not read the story on Prop. T and the Green Party business, so I can't exactly comment on it. 
But I can answer your question. First, I don't exactly work for Hank, I'd describe it more as working together. And I love working with him. He's my favorite of all the Journal editors so far. 
Heartless? Hardly. He has a heart as big as all outdoors. 
A hack? I don't think so. My dictionary defines the word as a "a writer producing dull, unoriginal work." I don't find his writing dull by any means. And it's anything but unoriginal. I'd describe him as tough, and I know some of what he writes pisses people off, but it's honest, well researched journalism. I'm getting kind of tired of activists who take the same stance as our short-sighted president along the lines of — if you're not with us, you're against us (or with the terrorists). Are we supposed to be pom pom girls for whatever cause comes along? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

9 questions for a Homesick Hillbilly

A virtual  interview with Jaybird from the Slewfoot Stringband who plays this Saturday night at The Alibi with members of the Dirtnap Band, something they call Homesick Hillbilly, and Hillstomp, a kick-ass duo from Oregon.

Who are you?

I'm Jay Swanigan, and here's my brief interview answers.

Where are you now? Where are you from originally? What do you do?

Right now I’m sitting in a living room with good friends and bandmates JJ Cady and Brian Gibson. I live in Eureka with my beautiful and very Pregnant wife Amber. I am originally from Sacramento then decided to move to Eureka 5 years ago to begin a new life dedicated to music, nature, a new family.

Are you really homesick?

About the Homesick Hillbilly: My Grandfather Bud Swanigan moved from the Ozark hills of Missouri in the ‘40s when he met the love of his life, My Grandmother, Vinita. They met in Patterson, Calif. when he was on leave from a South Seas tour. They married and moved to Tracy, where they raised a family and still live. My Grandfather is a nostalgic, Poetic, writer these days (a long retired heavy machinery mechanic) he has recently Published two books through Abraxis and you can find them on (anyway he has been a Picker his entire life even after a industrial accident severed tendons in his left arm, he Plays what he can. I'll send you a CD I have archived recently. He writes about his childhood a lot, hence Homesick Hillbilly. I'm insPired by him and get nervous he will be leaving us soon; he's 83 this June.

What are you working on?

I'm working on a lot of original material with my close friends.

What’s next?

I'm Playing this Saturday with as the Dirt naP Band (three Piece: 6 string, 12 string, and UPright bass) with HillstomP (from Portland).

Who's that?

HillstomP is a two Piece high-energy band. Good friends of mine. We have Played shows here and in Oregon for the last 3 years.

What is a Slewfoot anyway?

 I honestly don't know what a slewfoot is. It's the name of an old mountain song.

Thanks for the interview, it's always a Pleasure tyPing on a keyboard with a broken lower case P. you have to hold shift and P to even get an uPPer case! is my active site until my Personal site is uP. 

- Jaybird



Slice of Life from a Journal

Because my e-mail address is journal (at), I get a fair
amount of accidental e-mail: things intended for some other "journal"
related address.
I'm not sure how Joel C. mistakenly sent me his daily to-do list. And
it's not exactly earth-shattering, but I thought I'd share this
little slice of his life.
I'm tempted to write him a note pretending to be a friend of
Margaret's -- I could see if I can get involved with his plans with
Ross. Anybody have a clue as to what Hi-Cut Captions might mean?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Return of DMBQ

from Japan
(psychedelic punk-blues)
"the Sleaze Steamin' Locomotive"
(organ/drums duo from Amsterdam)
Friday, March 10
@Six Rivers Brewery
21+ / 9pm doors / 9:30pm music starts / 12am music ends / $6 cover

more on this later...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lila Nelson on Courage

A note came in last week announcing an upcoming theatre piece:

MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN, Bertolt Brecht's frank and darkly funny vision of attempted survival on the tragic road of war, will be performed at Humboldt State University's Gist Theatre, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm, February 23-25, and March 2-4. Directed by John Heckel, featuring Bernadette Cheyne as Mother Courage, music composed by singer-songwriter and recording artist Lila Nelson.

Since I appreciate Lila as a fine and folky songwriter and host of the equally fine and folky radio show “Meet Me in the Morning” (Sunday mornings on KHUM), I thought I’d shoot her an e-mail and ask about her part in the production... 

I asked:

Did you write songs (with lyrics) for the show or was it more like musical settings for Brecht's words?

 I took the lyrics directly from the script, created melodies for the songs, provided some phrasing direction and created "musical settings" - I like that - for the pieces. And wrote a song for the finale.

 Will you be performing as part of the production?

 I play piano in the band. And sing a little at the end. This project has been unique in that I wrote the songs and then handed them off to the actors to sing. I am so used to having my primary instrument be the pencil and then the voice and usually guitar; so the voice becomes very connected with whatever I happen to be playing - guitar, piano. Accompanying the range of voices in the cast is a fun challenge. Piano is not my forte, however it has always served me as a compositional tool — so I stuck with it. Courageous, I know.

 Did you feel intimidated by the shadows of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya?

 I try not to listen to other people's versions of the same show while I'm working on it. But I do use my memory and understanding of Weill and other contemporary artists like Tom Waits; I mull over other artists doing Brecht (I love Nina Simone's live version of "Pirate Jenny," for example). The first show I worked on at HSU, before being a student there, was a Brecht play, Baal. Again, arranging and performing music.

 What does the word courage mean to you?

 I’ll offer Mother Courage's take on courage: "What's courage? Failure of planning, that's all. Some general takes his troops into some stupid situation —the stupider and more useless the general, the more exceptional the men need to be — like it's only a badly-run country where the people have to be special. In a proper run country, there's no need of virtue. Everyone can just get on with being so-so. Averagely intelligent. And for all I care, cowards."

 Cynical. Yes. But we begin to see her name, "Courage," is wrought with irony. "Courage" in this light, ain't so great.

 Do you see yourself as courageous?

 (In so much as I plan poorly? sure...ha...) By the above definition - in so much as life, at best, is improvisation - and I, at my best, am improvising well...yes.

 But really, M.C. makes a good pt. That any system wherein we are competing for power, money, attention, whatever...the risk of loss begs of us that we be courageous - that we put ourselves on the line. Artists have the blessing and the curse of revealing the idiosyncrasies - the contradictions in any of these systems an imaginative and nuanced way. Again, is this bravery? Or necessity?

Best to you!  -- Lila


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Yeah Yeah Yeah

Like many people, one of the things I do on the Net is look for new music. Not that I don’t have enough music laying around my house: an attic full of old records, shelves over-packed with CDs, a pile of albums on my desk with music from bands who are coming to town and so on. 
A few months back I started exploring the world of MP3 blogs, a wide range of them in numerous genres. The first ones I found would typically post one or two songs by some artist for a week or so and include links to where you can buy the album – essentially serving as an education tool. Then I stumbled across a different school of blogs, ones where they post full albums, usually using an upload/download site called RapidShare, which I believe is in Denmark.
It was on one of those sites, that I discovered a post offering a download of the entire as-yet-unreleased album At War With The Mystics, the latest from The Flaming Lips, due out in April from Warner Brothers. I’m not going to go into the ethics of downloading, of listening to something before I’m supposed to have yet, and without paying. For better or worse, I downloaded it. 
The whole record is really good, although as would be expected there are some parts I like better than others – the first track, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” is a good one, with a catchy melody, the requisite hooks, the kind of thing that gets stuck in your head. I love the harmonies, the phase-shifting power guitars, the Vocorder bits, it all fits together to make for an all around great song.
And once you actually listen to what they’re talking about, it’s even better. The questions it raises resonated with things I’d been reading about in the news, from the Bush White House to local events like Rob and Cherie Arkley’s Marina project and on down the line.
 Here’s the lyrics, at least as best as I could make them out:
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yay… (repeat)
If you could blow up the world with the flip of a switch,
would you do it?
If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich,
would you do it?
If you could watch everybody work while you just lay on your back,
would you do it?
If you could take all that’s left without giving any back,
would you do it?
And so, we cannot know ourselves what we’d really do.
With all your power, with all your power, with all your power, what would you do?
With all your power, with all your power, with all your power, what would you do?
If you could make your money and then could give it to everybody,
would you do it?
If you knew all the answers and you could give them to the masses,
would you do it?
No no no no no no.
Are you crazy?
It’s a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want.
Because you cannot know yourself what you’d really do
with all you power.
With all your power, with all your power, what would you do?
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah… (repeat)
With all your power, with all your power, with all your power, what would you do?
With all your power, with all your power, with all your power what would you do?
The other thing that comes to mind: the question of what artists like The Flaming Lips do with the power and the platform they’re given. I have total respect for Bono, even if I’m bored with the power pop of U2. And George Clooney is another stellar example, a guy who takes the cash he gets for Oceans Eleven and uses it to make Syriana and Good Night, And Good Luck. More power to them…
BTW, I did a Google search to see if someone had transcribed the Yeah Yeah Yeah lyrics – didn’t find them, but this came up:
A music industry biz website <> notes that The Flaming Lips are shooting a video for "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" in Los Angeles later this month.
“In typical oddball Lips fashion, Wayne Coyne says the clip will possibly have him 'dressed up as an evil king, and at one point I have a lion on a chain. And [the directors] have real animals in their videos, so that excited me to no end, to be able to work with an actual lion. I just hope I don't get mauled or anything like that.'"

Friday, February 17, 2006

Where I'm going tonight

How could I miss a band that looks like this?
Yes, it's the noisy duo from Osaka, Japan, KYOZIN YUENI DEKAI, whose name translates as “we are big because we are giants.” 

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We all make mistakes. Mea culpa. In the writing business, where we tend to throw around a lot of “facts” often culled from other sources, those mistakes can have an impact. I probably juggle a greater flow of information than many, and on occasion I’ve been known to get a date or a phone number wrong, which can lead to trouble when it’s reproduced 22,000 times in print, and often as not there’s no way to take it back in time to alter unintended results: Someone going to a club to hear a band on the wrong night or at the wrong time for example.
Then there are the cases where writers simply pass along misinformation. Of course I’ve been guilty of that too — sometimes people call me on it, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they believe the misinformation and pass it along. When a falsehood is passed along enough times, people start to see it as a fact. (As evidenced by public perceptions of the current administration that I won’t go into here.)

The repeated falsehood factor seemed to be in play with some information I came across while preparing to interview the legendary jazz pianist, McCoy Tyner. If you scroll down a bit on this page or click on the right link, you’ll find a Q&A version of our conversation. At one point I asked him about something I’d read in a biographic sketch on All Music Guide, a source on music and musicians I’ve been using for years. Scott Yanow, who does a lot of their jazz bios, wrote that, “After leaving Coltrane, McCoy Tyner struggled for a period, working as a sideman (with Ike and Tina Turner, amazingly) and leading his own small groups…” I jotted down a note — “Ike & Tina” — on a page I referred to when we spoke Tuesday morning.

When I asked him about it, I could tell the question upset him. He told me, “That’s not true. You know why people say that? Azar Lawrence was playing tenor sax with me a long time ago. He worked for Ike and Tina… They did an interview with him and it got mixed up. I don’t know how you can do something that stupid. It got mixed up with my biography, I don’t know how. How the heck would they do that?”

Later, when we got off the phone, I took a look at the record again, found that a number of sources on the Net seemed to have the facts misconstrued — many of them could be traced back to the All Music page.
I also found an interview with someone from Jazz Review who asked him the same question. He offered pretty much the same answer adding, “Believe me, if I played with Ike and Tina I would’ve remembered that.”
All Music also lists Ike & Tina as among those Tyner was “influenced by.” Ike & Tina’s page shows McCoy as their “follower.” If you know his music and theirs, well, it just does not make any sense.
There is a link on every All Music page to “Make corrections to this entry,” so I clicked on it and filled out a form. Then I did a Google search for Yanow and came up with an e-mail address.

When I wrote and told him what McCoy had said he sent this reply:

“That's funny about McCoy Tyner and Ike & Tina Turner. I remember reading that he played with them in an old issue of Downbeat. And I wouldn't discount it since he did get stuck playing in r&b groups and in unsuitable circumstances. But if he says it isn't true, and since there are no recordings of it, who are we to contradict him?
I'll see if I can get the All Music Guide to change that.
Take care – Scott”

Now I’m aware that All Music is not like the reader maintained Wikipedia, where mistakes are made and corrected constantly. We’ll see what happens.

One more thing, in the interview with Jazz Review, Tyner wanted to add something, telling journalist Charles Sudo, “Well, while we’re here, I should make another correction. I did not drive a cab in New York before starting to find some success in music. I thought about it, but I never went out and applied for a hack license. Like I said, I went through a series of survival skills back then. Around 1970, it changed and I got a contract with Milestone Records. I came through it, and I’m proud of it.”
12 Questions for David Berkeley

This came in the mail yesterday from Joli von Einem of Cuckoo’s Nest etc.

Event: Singer/Songwriter David Berkeley and Adam Buchwald
Atlanta based Singer/songwriter David Berkeley makes his maiden voyage to the Westhaven Center for the Arts w/ his mandolin and banjo-wielding sideman Adam Buchwald for an intimate evening of acoustic music. Berkeley's songs are rich with imagery, stories that transport you to the rivers of Idaho, the battlefields of the Civil War, the rail lines of the great plains, the lonely roads of America…
Feb, 24th 7:30pm at Westhaven Center for the Arts.
$8-$12 suggested general $5 students, call 677-9493 for reservations or info.

The note included a link to David’s website so I shot him a note with 12 questions.
Here’s what came back:

I heard you're coming this way.
Can I ask you a few questions?


Who are you?

I am David Berkeley.

Where are you now? Where are you from originally?

I live in Atlanta, GA. I was born in New Jersey. In between, I lived in New York City (for a girl), Cambridge, MA (school), Santa Cruz, CA (writing music and generally wasting time), Santa Fe, NM (working for Outside magazine and living with raw foodists on a compound of sorts), Idaho (working summers as a river rafting guide on the Salmon and Snake), Alaska (writing for Let's Go Alaska) and, believe it or not, a month in Humboldt County working for the Redwood National Park maintenance crew.

What do you do?

I am a singer/songwriter and guitarist, which means that I spend most of my life writing music and then singing and performing what I’ve written. My music is in the ‘60s world of songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens or the more modern circle including Elliot Smith, Damien Rice, Ryan Adams, David Gray. The New York Times and many other journals compare me to Nick Drake. The Times wrote: "Berkeley sings in a lustrous melancholy voice with shades of Tim Buckley and Nick his melodies ascend to become benedictions and consolations, the music shimmers and peals."

Why do you do whatever it is you do?

For the past 10 or so years, I suppose I’ve looked to find a path that allows me to bring out something uniquely mine, something authentic, something that expresses my relationship with the world. It's a difficult search, one that isn't necessarily over. But I feel like I can express and connect and give more through my songs than other forms of writing and certainly more than through working as a waiter or a caddy or a barista or other jobs I’ve held.

What are you working on?

Currently, I’m promoting my latest CD--a live CD/DVD called Live from Fez. It features a scattering of songs from my first 2 CDs (The Confluence and After The Wrecking Ships) and some new material. My full band plays on the disc, and it captures our final show at [Fez] the New York City listening room that became our home in New York. Like many great music rooms, Fez closed down. But we wanted to capture what we did there and how special the room was. We kept in my banter with the audience (which I tend to do a lot of) and held back from utilizing any studio tricks. What's left is an intimate, energetic and hopefully entertaining and moving glimpse of our musical journey.

What’s next?

A European tour. A new record. And hopefully a duck hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

When will you be here? With who?

I’ll be at the Westhaven Center for the Arts on Friday, February 24th at 7:30pm. I'm bringing my mandolinist/banjoist Adam Buchwald with me.

Who's that?

He is known affectionately as Buck, and he's a crowd favorite always. He's recorded on all my projects and doesn't mind long road trips and history books on tape.

Where can someone find out more about you?

My website is there's also there are pictures available for download at the press link of -- where you can also read other reviews.

Thanks for your time Bob, and as this show is last minute, thanks for helping to publicize in any way you can.
Best, David

Fascism on Thursday Night Talk

From: Behind the Redwood Curtain 
Date: February 15, 2006 1:18:30 PM PST
Subject: Fascism on Thursday Night Talk

Subject: Peter Kurth on Dorothy Parker and fascism on Thursday Night Talk 2/16 with Jamie Flower

This week (2/16) on Thursday Night Talk, TNT Three host Jamie Flower will be talking with Peter Kurth, author of AMERICAN CASSANDRA: The Story of Dorothy Thompson. Specifically, they’ll be looking at the parallels between Thompson’s assessment of Nazi Germany and the current political climate in the US...


“No people ever recognize their dictator in advance.  He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship.  He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will. ... When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.  And nobody will ever say `Heil' to him, nor will they call him `Führer' or `Duce.' But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of `O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!'" -- Dorothy Thompson, 1937

Tune in this week to Thursday Night Talk on KHSU at 7:30 pm for what is sure to be a lively discussion – and as always, call in with your questions. 826-4805 or 1-800-640-5911

KHSU can be found on the radio at 90.5 Arcata/91.9 Crescent City-Brookings/89.1 FM Ferndale-Fortuna/89.7 FM Garberville/99.7 FM Willow Creek and streaming on the web at

Not Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Thompson on Fascism, silly!

From: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Date: February 15, 2006 4:48:15 PM PST
Subject: Not Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Thompson on Fascism, silly!

Thursday Night Talk is about Fascism and Dorothy Thompson, not Dorothy Parker as previously reported...

   Bob Dornan provided this correction:

        Dorothy Parker once reviewed a novel by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. "This is not a book to be cast aside lightly," she declared. "It should be hurled with great force."

Best to all!

  Michael Twombly
   "Loco" Solutions

ps: Don't forget tonight (Wednesday, February 15th)   6:30 P.M. at the Wharfinger:  "Who Owns the Waterfront? Security National or Us?"  Organizing for Action.   Pass it on and bring a few friends and neighbors.

Re: Not Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Thompson on Fascism, silly!

On Feb 15, 2006, at 4:48 PM, Behind the Redwood Curtain wrote:

  Bob Dornan provided this correction: ...

Sorry to do this, but I must correct your correction. While my name is just one letter away from that of Bob Dornan, my name is Bob Doran. The mistake is not that uncommon since the so-called "Honorable" Robert Dornan aka B-1 Bob, is generally better known than I am. (I would have to say I disagree with him on most issues.) 
Here's an excerpt from the Dornan bio his website (it does not mention his last failed run for Congress when he was defeated by Loretta Sanchez, then as noted in an entry on Wikipedia, "Dornan alleged that Sanchez's winning margin was provided by illegal immigrants" before a House investigation upheld the Sanchez victory. (BTW, he still seems to be running.)

Robert K. Dornan 
U.S. Congressman 1977 - 1997

Robert K. Dornan was first elected to Congress in 1976, representing California’s 27th C.D. in western Los Angeles County and served from January 1977 to January 1983. (His seat was reapportioned out of existence). In 1982, Dornan ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate; having entered the race 10 months late, he finished 4th in a field of 13 candidates.

In 1984, he defeated an entrenched liberal incumbent to represent California's 38th Congressional District in central Orange County. Much of the 38th District was reapportioned into an even more Democratic 46th District in 1992, which Dornan represented until 1997. During his entire congressional career Dornan was elected in districts that were overwhelmingly Democrat.

As a member of the National Security Committee, Dornan has championed such vital defense programs as the B-1 "Lancer" and B-2 "Spirit" bombers, the F/A 18 "Hornet" and the V-22 "Osprey" tiltrotor, antiballistic missile defense, development of an effective ground combat identification system and maintaining proper levels of Guard and Reserve forces. Bob was also an active leader promoting President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). During the Carter years, Dornan was a leader in the congressional battle to restore the supersonic Strategic Air Command penetrator aircraft, the B-1B "Lancer," which was canceled by President Carter in June of 1977.

Clinton years: Dornan was a key leader in the successful effort to prevent the administration from eliminating the prohibition on homosexuals in the military, and was the sponsor of legislation to codify the ban. Dornan passed legislation to place restriction on a president’s ability to place U.S. forces under foreign command. This legislation was included in the House GOP’s "Contract with America."

Consistent with his life-long commitment to human rights, Dornan has been a staunch defender of innocent pre-born life as the author of successful legislation to prevent federal abortions in the District of Columbia, in military hospitals (both in the U.S. and overseas), in federal prisons and on Native American Indian reservations. Dornan has also been the sponsor of the paramount "Human Life" amendment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Talking jazz history with McCoy Tyner

Looking back on the history of modern jazz, is hard to find a band as influential as the John Coltrane Quartet, circa 1960, the forward thinking sax player backed by an amazing rhythm section: Elvin Jones on drums, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and on piano, a young McCoy Tyner, just 20 years old when he joined.
He’s older and wiser now, and he’s still playing jazz. A the end of January he was on the West Coast doing his annual residency at Yoshi’s including a week playing with John’s son, Ravi Coltrane. This Saturday, Feb. 18, Tyner plays for the first time in Arcata, leading a trio with drummer Eric Gravatt and bassist Charnett Moffett who played with him at Yoshi’s.

On Valentine’s Day morning, Tyner called from his home in New York City, Manhattan to be exact. “I’m originally from Philadelphia,” he began, “I came here a long time ago when I started working with Coltrane; I worked with him for years.”

When you were growing up in Philadelphia, was the some point when you decided, I’m going to be a musician?

My mother asked me what I wanted to do. When I was in elementary school and junior high school I was always in musicals and plays, but I wasn’t playing music. There was a gentleman who taught kids in my neighborhood; he was teaching the girl across the street. My mother asked, would I like to study with him? Would you like to take singing lessons or piano? I chose piano, thank goodness. That’s how I got started. I was 13 then.

That would have been the early ’50s?

That’s right. I was born in 1938.

What kind of music did you learn back then?

You know when you begin; you start with scales and have these little songs in songbooks. Then I went to another teacher who took me through Bach and Beethoven, the European classics. It was the regular stuff that people study when they study piano.

And you went to music school?

Yes. West Philadelphia Music Center and Granoff Music School.

And that was while you were still a teenager?


What was the music being played outside of the school setting back then?

Well, I started an R&B band, a seven-piece band. We used to play kind of house-rockin’ R&B kind of music. Then some older musicians heard me and they said, well you should learn this Bud Powell song or a Charlie Parker song, you know the jazz kind of thing. That was great because I started making gigs with them. They saw early on that that was what I was going to do, what I was meant to do.

You were meant to play jazz…

Right, but I started out with R&B like I said.

When you say R&B…

Rhythm and blues…

…you’re talking about post-swing era, pre-rock…

“Flyin’ Home” things like that. We just called it house-rockin’.

What was the difference between that and jazz of the time?

Well I think a lot of the jazz artists started out playing that music, and playing with blues singers, people who sang that style — they had a lot of gigs. So I started playing with singers along with horn players who were playing the clubs. I’d put my age up when I used to go to Atlantic City and play there during the summer. I was 15 or 16 years old, but I’d tell them I was older, that I was 18. (laughs)

When you made the transition into playing what you call “jazz,” what was the difference?
Was it a different audience, people who were coming to listen rather than just to dance?

You’re missing your history. Jazz players used to play for dancers: When I was starting, they were dancing; we played places where they could dance — to bebop. The two went hand-in-hand in the early days.

Was there a time when it became, I don’t know, more intellectualized, where you’d be playing in nightclubs where everyone would just be sitting there listening?

Well yeah, that also existed, but we also played for dancers. You don’t see that so much today as you did then. But people would dance to Charlie Parker songs when I was growing up. We had a place called Red House Hall that was a dance club. And sure we played where people were sitting down, but there weren’t many places where dancing was absent.

What about this place called the Red Rooster?

It was more of a bar, a sit down and listen kind of place. People started doing that: sitting down and listening. That was a trend even before I started playing in clubs.

Did you play differently when people were sitting and listening? Did it shift your mindset?

Not at all. You don’t focus on the public like that. I don’t. Whatever I play, that’s my offering. You either listen to it or you don’t. That’s all. I don’t change my style because of the public worrying about whether they like it or not.

How did you meet John Coltrane?

How? I just told him I was ready to play in my own band. I’d been playing with Benny Golson, going out with him before they formed the Jazztet. I worked with them for a while, but I’d made a verbal commitment to John, that whenever he left Miles Davis, I would join his band.

It’s obvious joining the Coltrane Quartet was a turning point in your life…

And in the jazz period…

What did you learn playing in the group?

Well I learned a lot for John. He was such a major figure in the music. His style was being copied and eventually the whole quartet, Elvin Jones, Jimmy [Garrison] and myself, other people were listening to us and trying to sound like we sounded, trying to copy the whole group thing. I learned so much, it was like going to school because John was my senior of course, 12 years older than me and you know. Elvin was older, what have you.

How old were you then?

I was 17 when I met John; I joined his band when I was 20, something like that. Met him when he was still with Miles. He’d come though; he had family in Philly. He was like a big brother to me. I was so young when I met him.

I know it’s hard to explain, but can you verbalize what it was that shifted in jazz because of that group?

The style of playing changed. The concept. It’s hard to be detailed about it, you have to listen and make that assessment yourself. I don’t know that I can analyze my style with words. What can I say? I don’t do that. I’m doing this; I’m doing that. I just do it. It’s better for someone else to define it. Except, first of all, I really enjoyed accompanying him, the way I comped it, comped behind him. I don’t know, it was a style that just developed. John grew up playing the same kind of gigs that I used to play, of course he was a lot older than me, but he came from something similar. But he was always a progressive thinker, thinking ahead, practicing consistently — always practicing, always working on something. Again, he was alike a teacher. I learned a lot from accompanying him.

And the shift in jazz?

It was a very natural movement from one phase to another.

So following his lead brought you to new places…

That’s right. And he chose members of his band, the quartet, who he thought could accommodate the music.

I’d say he chose well.

He did. (laughs)

After going through that experience for a few years, did you keep exploring?

After I left the band? It was different. Of course I was always interested in doing what I wanted to do on a personal level. I started recording under my own name, even when I was with John, but you know, coming from such an influential group it was easy to develop my own band and do my own thing with a trio.

I know you got into African music with albums like Sahara…

I studied all sorts of music. I really liked Latin music, which had the African influence as well because of the conga drums. I kind of messed with that, playing congas for a while, but it started hurting my hands so I put it down. I wasn’t that good, just playing jam sessions. You have to be careful or you can really damage your hands.

I read somewhere that some time over the years you played in Ike and Tina Turner’s band. [It was in McCoy’s bio at]

That’s not true. You know why people say that? Azar Lawrence was playing tenor sax with me a long time ago. He worked for Ike and Tina.

So some journalist got it wrong. It did not really make sense to me.

They did an interview with him and it got mixed up. I don’t know how you can do something that stupid. It got mixed up with my biography, I don’t know how. How the heck would they do that?

My guess would be some journalist didn’t hear things right or wrote it down wrong, and that was perpetuated because some other journalist read what he wrote and passed it on. The error then seems to be real.

Exactly, but it’s manufactured. (laughs)

Weren’t you just out here on the West Coast playing at Yoshi’s?

That’s right. I’ve been playing there off and on for 12 years. It’s developed to a point where now they want me to stay and play for two weeks and present different musicians so I have a different band each week. I’ve been doing that for a few years.

And you played with John’s son Ravi?

The first week was with Joe Lovano and Dave Holland. The second week was with Ravi Coltrane and Bobby Hutcherson. Bobby and I go way back.

Did you revisit some of the songs you played in the past?

We played some songs that Bobby and I recorded together.

Who’s coming out with you when you play here in Arcata?

Charnett Moffett (bass) and Eric Gravatt (drums), he used to play with Weather Report years ago.

Where having you been taking things musically? Are you exploring any new territory?

I try to do different things all the time, but I don’t really have a name for it. It’s a culmination of everything I’ve been through musically. I use it as a platform and try to have in catapult me to another level. But I’m not doing a John Coltrane kind of thing where I’m like looking all the time for something new. I use music as an experience. I don’t like to play the same thing every day, but I’m not on a mission. I just want to enjoy playing. And if I enjoy what I play, hopefully I’ll run into something very interesting. That’s all. I don’t try to practice every day trying to reach some certain point. You know I’ve done a lot of things and I don’t have to prove anything.