The Story of Stuff...

From the excellent Story of Stuff website:
From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

DELiA'S GONE: A letter from Mr. Johnson

When I helped Porkchop make Fry Pharmacy, we paid royalties to Johnny Cash for Delia's Gone. Now, I realize it's a much older tune.  I haven't done a huge amount of research on it, but it may all come from Alphonso "Blind Blake" Blake Higgs.  I have a Josh White songbook that says Josh started playing it in 1939. Youtube has several other covers. Thought you might enjoy Alphonso's version recorded in the 50's.

Mark "Porkchop" Holder @ MySpace // Facebook 

Some low-down non-triflin' versions of Delia: 

Blind Blake mp3 // Mark "porkchop" Holder mp3 // Ben Nichols mp3 // 
Waylon mp3 // Ron Wood mp3 // Blind Willie McTell mp3

A singer and leader of the house band at the Royal Victoria Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas, Blind Blake's music was a strange mix of old island classics, more recent calypso compositions and American ballads. His musicians combined jazz guitar licks with vocal harmonies and West Indian rhythms, with the result that his recordings have an easy humour and swing that few musicians from any continent can match. Born Alphonso Blake Higgs, commonly known as 'Blind Blake', was born at Matthew Town, Inagua, Bahamas, in 1915. He was adept at string instruments - ukulele, banjo, tenor banjo, six-string guitar - and also played the piano. He lost his eyesight at the age of sixteen and kept pursuing the goal of a career in music and a unique style, a blend of folksong, calypso and early jazz. The traditional song 'Peas and Rice' featured here (almost a Bahaman national anthem) originated during the First World War when the scarcity of imported cooking fats forced the substitution of local coconut oil. And one of the oldest Bahamian songs is the tragi-comic ballad 'John B. Sail' (later adapted and performed by many artists, notoriously The Beach Boys as 'Sloop John B.' on their 'Pet Sounds' album). The 'John B.' was an old sponger boat whose crew were in the habit of getting merry whenever they reached port...His most popular song 'Love, Love Alone' ("It was love, love alone, 'cause King Edward to leave the throne") was based on the love affair of King Edward VIII with Wallis Simpson. Blind Blake wrote about sixty Goombay songs starting in the 1930s, including 'Run Come See Jerusalem', based on the effects of the 1929 Hurricane, 'Jones (Oh Jones)' and 'J. P. Morgan'. This CD is drawn from a series of recordings made in the early 1950s when his band 'The Royal Victoria Hotel Calypsos' featured Dudley Butter (guitar, maracas), Chatfield Ward (guitar), Freddie Lewis (lead guitar), George Wilson (bass fiddle), and at times Lou Adams on trumpet. The band's popularity with tourists led to them being widely heard in the US, and they became an inspiration to many folk revival musicians. Josh White and Johnny Cash covered 'Delia', Pete Seeger 'Foolish Frog', Dave Van Ronk 'Yas, Yas, Yas', and 'Run, Come See Jerusalem' was done by dozens of groups.

Alphonso (Blind) Blake Higgs version of Delia 

Delia cursed Tony
Around one Saturday night
And she cursed him such a wicked curse
That he's swear to take her life
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone.
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone
The first time Tony shot Delia
Well he shot her right in her side
The second time he shot her
She gave up the ghost and died
The reason why Tony shot Delia
Because she cursed him a wicked curse
And if Tony hadn't shot little Delia
Perhaps she might have cursed him worse
On Monday Tony was arrested
Tuesday his case was tried
The jurymen brought him down guilty
He began to rollin' his goo goo eyes
The judge said sixty four years in prison
Tony told the judge that is no time
I have a younger brother 
who's serving nine hundred and ninety nine
Tony, he is in prison
Drinking of his silver cup
While Delia she lies in the grave
Fighting her level best to get up

Josh White version

Delia cursed poor Tooly
Cursed him such a wicked curse
If he hadn't shot her
She'd a cursed him ten times worse
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone.
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone
The sent him for the doctor
He came all dressed in white
Done everything a doctor could do
But he couldn't save Delia's life
Then her mother, she came a-runnin'
All dressed in black
She cried all day and she cried all night
But she couldn't bring Delia back
On a Monday he was arrested
Tuesday he was tried
Jury-box found him guilty
And the verdict was to die
He said, "Jailer, oh Jailer,
How can I sleep?
All around my bed at night
I can hear little Delia's feet


Jeff Norwood playing Acoustic Hootenanny which is a monthly all-acoustic event 
held at the Charleston County South Carolina Main Library. 
You can see the full performance HERE.

Jeff Norwood @ MySpace // Online // Facebook // Twitter //  CdBABY

Here's an mp3 of the performance below


 Many years ago my late friend UK Roy Duncan sent me a mix tape. Roy and I exchanged a lot of tapes over the few years we were friends and we'd never include a tracklist because, I guess, we wanted each tape to be a surprise. That was my thought anyway. We'd email a list a few days after the tape was received. Sadly the last tape he sent me was shortly before he passed away so I never got a list for that one. The nice thing is that he knew he didn't have long and his song choices reflected that. Included in that mix was a track that I figured out was called It Never Rains But It Pours. That much I got. But who was the artist? I had no idea. I wasn't familiar with Jimmy Witherspoon at the time so when the name "Spoon" is mentioned in the song it didn't click. Anyway...I searched the web for hours before I found out who"Spoon" was. Then probably another hour to find what album the sing was on. Keep in mind this was several years ago. Now I could probably find it all in a few minutes. I've always loved this song since then. I earned the song. Spoon's description of the rain on a tin roof and the pianists replication is lovely. I hope you enjoy it.
Jimmy Witherspoon - It Never Rains But It Pours - mp3
Here's a bonus track that i'm sure Roy would have loved:
The Dramatics - In The Rain - mp3


Ladies and Gentlemen we have a winner.
Old Gray Mule hail from Lockhart Texas ( home of the Caldwell County Courthouse ) which lies just due south of Austin and to the right of San Marcos Texas zip code 78666. Scott H Biram Country.  Old Gray Mule is made from scratch out of C.R. Humphrey on guitar/groove w/Joe Falco on drums/groove, one part shiny silver spoonful of Tejas-era ZZ Top, a fat t of stanky dope-era SRV ( 'tho no strats were used in this recording...thank gawd ), some Hooker boogie and a tight fistfull of R.L. Burnside-style grooves. You throw down some really fine Junior Kimbrough cum Mississippi Gabe Carter open deep reverb sugar rolled loose while rockin' it tighter than a dirty Left Lane Cruiser VS grrreasy Hillstomp midnite piney woodser. Brilliant stuff recorded totally live. Ten songs in two hours and forty-five minutes with no gawdamn effects or affects or any other BS to get in the way. Just delicious tight hard blue North Mississippi hillcountry grooves by way of Texas boogie. That's just about all you need ain't it? Y'all seen that pic on the inside of the 'Tops Tres Hombres album? They sound like that. Old Gray Mule kick it hard, let it hang, let it breath, and you just keep diggin' the potlatch. But wait...did I mention OGM is all instrumental? Except for one track which features Mississippi Gabe Carter. But hell, Old Gray Mule's sound is so taut, so arresting, it took three or four listens before it really dawned on me to think, wait a minute...what the? Cool!  This is a fresh olde sound that I cannot wait to blast more of. The feel good hit of the the end of the summer. Get some!

Old Gray Mule @ MySpace // Facebook // Blog // Twitter // CD BABY

Old Gray Mule's C.R. Humphrey hooked me up with a couple non-album tracks to share with you. 
Here's the story on 'em: 

"Here are 2 tunes recorded live on night 1 of our Junior Kimbrough birthday and CD release party. Both tunes will be on the next album "40 Nickels For A Bag Of Chips" which we ought to get around to recording sometime in October or November. Issaquena Stomp is a tune we improvised behind Pat "Rockadaddy" Murphy at Club 2000 during the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale. Club 2000 is on Issaquena Ave, and we played there for 4-5 hours opening for T Model.  Put the Foot To Him is a song I wrote about a day before the Kimbrough's got to my house, so this recording is actually the second time we'd ever played it and the first time live. Kinney told me a story about a fight he had to break up at his Pop's juke joint and one of the punchlines of the story was him telling a gal wearing pointy shoes to put the foot to the guy who had been whoopin up on her who was now lying on the floor against the pool table. Hope you enjoy 'em."

Issaquena Stomp mp3
Put The Foot To Him mp3

Music is A Voice of God...

The late Billy Preston giving a transcendent performance at possibly the very first major fund raising concert in 1971 organised by The Beatles guitarist George Harrison for the folk of Bangladesh. I was reminded of this song when a compilation program celebrating 250 great performances from 'Later... with Jools Holland' was shown recently.

On the same program DJ Trevor Nelson, when talking about Mary J Blige, used the expression 'Took it to church' to describe a particularly brilliant performance where artist and song become one entity, a special moment which transcends personal taste and totally captivates the whole audience. I immediately thought 'Took it to church' as an expression to describe something so special by linking it to 'church' was both challenging and something to always aspire to...




The Selvedge Yard is a photo-heavy blog filled with posts that never fail to interest me. This weeks post is on bluesmen and features fine photos of many of the greats that i've never seen before. Please check it out:

 The Selvedge Yard

Mr. Hooker.



Good ol' Jeff Konkel at Broke and Hungry Records (whose entire catalog you should own or be ashamed of yrself) just turned me on to the premier release by North Carolina's Devil Down Records called Mississippi Fred McDowell : Come and Found You Gone- The Bill Ferris Recordings.  Recorded over the course of a night in August of 1967 with the assistance of Mr. McDowell's wife Annie Mae and Napoleon Strickland. This is an all acoustic set recorded at the home of a friend of the McDowell's. A field (sans field) recording with all the inherent sounds of life one would find in that type of situation. This recording shines and breaths and welcomes you into the room to sit and hear the north Mississippi master up close and very personal. Close your eyes and, like a 3D movie, you'll feel you can reach right out and touch Mr. McDowell's slide hand as it glides and grinds up and down the neck his acoustic and feel his breath in the mic. Eighteen tracks including an interview with Bill Ferris and a spirited conversation between Mr. and Mrs. McDowell. 

From the Devil Down Records site:  
     These recordings are different from any other of Fred McDowell due to their very nature: rather than conducted with the production of a record in mind, the recordings were made casually over the course of a night. McDowell is here heard at his best, relaxed and energetic, performing many of his most famous songs as well as songs never before heard. With his foot tapping on the hardwood floor and laughter in the background, “Come and Found You Gone” brings the listener into that hot night in August, 1967, immersing them in the world of the blues house party, and guiding them through the night as it unfolded… The 18 track album includes a 16 page booklet featuring liner notes from blues researcher and Rolling Stone Magazine top 10 Professor Bill Ferris, Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars, and leading French blues scholar Vincent Joos. This booklet also contains a dozen award-winning photographs taken by Bill Ferris in 1970 at Otha Turner’s 4th of July picnic in Potts Camp, Mississippi. 

This is an essential recording that I know all my friends will love. 

Mississippi Fred McDowell- Letter from Hot Springs MP3

Get it: 
Support the label and Buy Direct // CD Baby // iTUNES 

Greenbelt Festival 2010 perspectives

Greenbelt is always a sea of surprises and stimulating encounters... 2010 was another great year and re-inforces my determination to never miss it!

Here are my initial responses:

1) Fr. Richard Rohr on the church
2) Watching the preview of the film 'Africa United'
3) Revd. Dr John Smith's talks which emphatically restated Greenbelt's original vision(s)
4) Shlomo's mainstage mini-set
5) The start and end of the communion service (i.e. unaccompanied singing with no band)

1) Giles Fraser on The English Civil War and the future of the Church of England
2) Martyn Atkins on Methodism and discipleship
3) Foy Vance bumped up to a mainstage set
4) How many talks I managed to attend!
5) Bumping into Clare Short and having a good chinwag

1) The weather prior to the festival during set-up and the cold in the evenings!
2) Rock band style music in parts of the communion service
3) Many of the mainstage music acts
4) Confetti cannon during the communion service
5) Sensing 'beer and hymns' becoming more organised

Despite being involved as a contributor this year I did manage to attend a couple of Tweetups and was delighted to commune with some of my virtual 'friends' yet missed others altogether. Otherwise it was great to bump into friends from across the years and actually meet, for the first time, folk that I knew about and that knew me too, but until now...!

However, I do think Greenbelt needs to look carefully to ensure that aspects of the original vision that are still valid and distinctly 'Greenbelt' as some of this is in danger of being sidelined. I don't doubt the Greenbelt 'powers' will already be aware of this so I am not going to witter on here!

Greenbelt is for everybody... unless they're not keen on a bit of heaven?

Here's a perspective from a first time visitor: Do Christian Music Festivals Make You Want to Switch Religions?

And on the Greenbelt Blog today a gorgeous poem: 'If heaven (2)' by Rosie Miles

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photo by DJ Hillfunk
Message from Jeff Konkel @ Broke And Hungry Records: "Anyone who's spent much time in Clarksdale, Mississippi, will be very familiar with Foster Wiley, better known as "Mr. Tater, the Music Maker." Tater is the last of the Delta street musicians. In recent months he's had some serious health concerns. Yesterday (9.01.10) he was airlifted to Methodist University Hospital in Memphis. Please keep him in your thoughts and be sure to check out his Facebook page for up-to-date information." 
Per his FB page as of 09.02.10:  
Mr Tater is at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, in the ICU at Tower 422. The info I got is that "His Condition is guarded, his vitals are stable, and he is resting"
YOU can help Mr. Tater by purchasing his CD The Best Of Mr. Tater  via Cathead Delta Blues And Folk Art. Contact Roger Stolle : Roger at cathead dot biz
Mr. Tater The Greatest Music Maker Alive 
@ Facebook // MySpace