Down by the Riverside

New Orleans’ Grandpa Elliott is one of my favorite musical legends. For several years now he has been touring the world as part of the Playing for Change band. P for C recently released an album of Grandpa’s music and made available this video of Down by the Riverside.

Down By the Riverside from Playing For Change on Vimeo.

A library burns

I’m currently taking an online course via the University of North Carolina on Southern folklore traditions. It’s a free course offered through an organization called Coursera and this is the fourth book burningsession I’ve enrolled in.  Most of the offered courses offer the option of earning a certificate but I just proctor the lectures and take the quizzes just for the heck of it.

The professor who is teaching my folklore class titles himself as a folklorists and has done something in his life I’ve always kicked myself for not doing. Early on he took the time and effort to record the people and characters he met along life’s road. Armed with a decent movie camera and recording equipment he filmed many of the old timers from whom he learned life’s lessons. He has films and audio recordings of a well-known local auctioneer of his boyhood days in rural Mississippi, a local black preacher delivering a Sunday sermon in the call and response tradition of the black church, young black boys verbally competing with derogatory lines about each other’s family and friends, and many performers rooted in the traditions of storytelling, field chants, country music and the blues. Without this man’s efforts so much cultural richness would have been lost forever.

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Bummed out on politics

Larry 'n NassauIs it just me or have any of you simply had all the politics you can stand? Others say, and I usually agree, that I’m a political junkie. You’d think with the mid-term elections being so near I’d be more excited and paying attention.

However, it’s the opposite that’s true. Two weeks before election day and I don’t know the name of the Democrat’s candidate for governor. I know the current governor is named Kasich but not sure if I spelled his name correctly, I don’t know who is running for election to the US House of Representatives or any of the state positions. If there are any issues up for consideration I am again, in the dark.

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You’re Right Joe, it is a Bitch!

Recently vice president Joe Biden addressed a group of Harvard students and when one student introduced himself as being the VP joe biden harvardof Student Council Biden responded, “Isn’t it a bitch…that vice president thing!” Biden’s face lit up with a toothy smile and most people in the room took it for both the humor and the truth that was spoken. Being vice president of the United States is, and always has been, a bitch.

Until most recent times the VP has done little but wait in the wings, out of sight and out of mind. While many Americans can rattle of a decent list of former presidents, how many can come up with as good a list of vice presidents?

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Random Rambles: Clorox

Clorox is synonymous with ???. If you answered bleach I’m guessing you’re in the majority. It like Kleenex and tissue, the two are a natural fit. Last week I was in a dentist office and conveniently scattered around the office were pump bottles of hand sanitizer carrying the trade name Clorox. I squirted some on my hands and took a whiff expecting to smell the familiar aroma of Clorox bleach. Instead my nasal orifices detected alcohol. Looking at the label I read, right below the big CLOROX logo, “Contains no bleach.” Somehow it seems against universal law to write a sentence reading, “Clorox, contains no bleach.” No wonder this world is so confusing.

Peyton’s Big Damn CBG

I’ve never seen in person The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band but I heard some of their music on XM radio and I own an album they made titled Peyton on Patton. It’s a tribute to the legendary bluesman, Charley Patton.

Being interested in building and playing cigar box guitars I was pleased to come across a video of Peyton doing an instrumental slide guitar number on a three-string CBG. The instrument has a great tone and the Reverend knows his way around it.

Relax to a little salsa!

I don’t speak Spanish and there’s not a word in this song I understood. Nevertheless my feet were moving throughout the performance. People from all over the world coming together and speaking the universal language of music. Take a break, fix something with rum in it, and move your body to a little Satchita.

White Man Power

FACTOID: “According to a new study out Wednesday from the Reflective Democracy Campaign, out of the 42,000 elected offices in America, 71 percent are held by men. Even more staggering: 90 percent of those positions are held by whites, and 65 percent of that 42,000 are white men. White men make up just 31 percent of the U.S. population. Women, meanwhile, make up 51 percent of the population. The organization compared data from elected officials in the summer of 2014 to recent Census data.”

Strange Fruit; The Rest of the Story

Strange Fruit is one of the most haunting and eye-opening songs ever written. The frequent and accepted lynching of Africanstrange fruit tree Americans in the American South was widely unknown to many Americans. That ignorance began to weaken after the song’s release by singer Billie Holiday.

I’ve heard the song performed many times and by many performers but until now I wasn’t aware of its backstory. A friend posted the following article on Facebook and I decided it needed further promoted. It’s a wonderful account of the songs author and the part he played

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Deficit

FACTOID: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced Wednesday that the projected deficit for the 2014 fiscal year is $486 billion, which is the lowest annual deficit during President Obama’s time in office. It is also $195 billion less than the deficit from fiscal 2013. It also continues the trend of the deficit declining as a percentage of GDP every year since 2009’s record $1.4 trillion.”

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