Archive for April, 2008

Folk School dance May 4

For the last two years, I have played the Wall of Sound dance. The Childgrove Country Dancers host students from the Folk School once a year. The students have been named the “Wall of Sound” name because so many participate. I mentioned it last weekend, and now the date is only a week away. The dance will happen May 4, 2008 from 7 to 10 PM at the Monday Club, 37 S Maple, Webster Groves, MO 63119. A workshop on the dances will begin at 6:30 PM. I plan to dance the first set and fiddle the second. It would be great to see friends out on the floor.

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Michael M. on April 27th 2008 in General, Live, Music

MSMS fees passed

According to this press release, Governor Haley Barbour signed the bill that will institute room and board charges of $500 per semester at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. My last post had information about the House Bill 513 and reactions to it. From what I can gather, Johnny Stringer added the article that established the fees in an amendment that also included less objectionable articles just before the bill left committee. Nobody stepped forward to stop the article. Stringer has tried to charge students to attend MSMS for several years. It seems that with special political maneuvering, he finally has succeeded. The bill is scheduled to go into effect July 1. I do not know whether there is any hope of reversing this change in the law.

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Michael M. on April 27th 2008 in General

MSMS under fire again

Three years ago, I blogged about how budget shortfalls threatened my high school, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. The threats have returned. The Mississippi Legislature has passed House Bill 513 that would institute $500 per semester room and board fees at MSMS. The Clarion-Ledger‘s Rebecca Helmes wrote this editorial against the charges that would squeeze the families of Mississippi’s academically talented middle class students. The paper also ran this story about the bill. The Daily Mississippian published this editorial and this opinion piece on the 18th followed by another opinion piece on the 21st. The Commercial Dispatch of Columbus, where MSMS is located, published this article.

I can only imagine the true motivations behind instituting these fees. Mathematically, they make little sense. The monies collected would comprise a single digit percentage of the school’s budget. Student accountability is not a valid point. Through work study, direct responsibility has been a cornerstone of MSMS since its inception. Every student has a duty such as cleaning a classroom, staffing the library or grading papers. Students rotate cleaning duties in the dormitories. When I was there, the school did not employ a janitorial staff, and I believe that this tradition continues.

Johnny Stringer added the amendment in committee that would institute room and board fees. The same legislator was responsible last time I blogged about this problem. We corresponded, and he seemed open to helping MSMS. Cecil Brown is the bill’s principal author. I also found Rufus Straughter of the House and Alan Nunnelee, Videt Carmichael and Bennie Turner of the Senate on the conference report that includes the amendment in section 44. Governor Haley Barbour received an influx of telephone calls that led him to delay signing the bill. I called, as did my parents and sister. The pressure on the legislators and governor needs to continue. If you have any connection to MSMS, please help it in this time of need.

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Michael M. on April 21st 2008 in General

Saturday Sounds

I blogged about local power poppers Tight Pants Syndrome two times a few years ago. I had wanted to hear them live, but I missed all their shows. Thanks to this post on the 52nd City blog this past week, I saw that they would be playing in Euclid Records Saturday afternoon. I decided it would be a great addition to my weekend routine.

After calling it a night there just 8 hours before, I jammed at the beloved Folk School. We practiced for the annual Wall of Sound performance for the Childgrove dance scheduled for 7 PM on Sunday, May 4, 2008. The two previous times I participated were terrific fun. As usual, it will be at the Monday Club, 37 S Maple, Webster Groves, MO 63119. Along with the dance practice, the jam included a blues session in one room, a new addition that I really enjoyed. It got “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” in my head. Then I played frisbee at Eden. After it I had a little time to kill, so I went in Music Folk and played some terrific guitars and banjos. The current banjo stock there is better than I have ever seen.

I walked back down to Euclid Records and caught most of the TPS set. The sound mix should have been better, but it was great. The band has gone through some changes in membership, but they still have their sound. I learned that they have an album coming out in June. It inspired me to try to make more of their shows.

I was in a record store, so I bought the new The Odd Couple from three times blogged Gnarls Barkley largely because I heard this rave review on NPR‘s All Things Considered. On the walk back to my car, I stopped at Serendipity for an ice cream cone. Cake batter ice cream is excellent. Nina Simone sang to me on the way home.

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Michael M. on April 20th 2008 in General, Live, Music, Recorded

Blue Smith

I revisited Lucas Schoolhouse as planned. Blue Mountain and Big Smith each played a great set at part of local figure Beatle Bob Night. Blue Mountain has reunited, and I think it is even the original line-up. They are back in form and played a solid set. I talked to Cary Hudson for just a minute after the set, and he said that they have been busy in a good way. Then Big Smith tore it up. They are a big band of cousins from the Ozarks in southern Missouri. I hope I get to see them again.

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Michael M. on April 20th 2008 in General, Live, Music

Clinging to Dogma

According to Larry Bartelsop-ed in The New York Times, Barack Obama got it all wrong about the bitterness of small town voters. Neither the Times nor Princeton is a reliable source on the ways of rural Americans, but this one looks on the mark. The press coverage has centered around Obama’s comments as elitist. Elitism is not the biggest problem to me. The bigger matter is that rural Americans are not particularly thoughtless or irrational. Obama’s comments are troubling because they are prejudiced, stupid and wrong.

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Michael M. on April 20th 2008 in General

Ain’t Nothing But a Man

As far as authenticity, there’s really no better moment than that recorded in 1947 AT THE MISSISSIPPI STATE PENITENTIARY at Parchman. In the melodies of the ballad, Alan Lomax writes, “the African slave, transformed into steel-driving John Henry, put the Bill of Rights into one phrase: A man ain’t nothing but a man.”

comes from Music Analysis at John Henry: The Steel Driving Man on ibiblio. The project mentions the work of Scott Nelson tracing the legend back to its possible historical origins. Like so many of those old stories, I find something attractive in the legend. “Spike Driver Blues” is my favorite Mississippi John Hurt‘s version of the legend, and I have blogged about it two times. The New York Times has this review of Ain’t Nothing But a Man, the children’s book Nelson wrote about his research. The best part of the review is this page with a photograph of one John Henry in the accompanying slide show. He could be the legendary one.

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Michael M. on April 12th 2008 in General

The everybodyfields

I went to the everybodyfields concert at Lucas Schoolhouse Thursday. I got a three day weekend, and I wanted to get out of the house. Lucas Schoolhouse is one of the local concert venues I never had visited. I had been curious about it for a while. On a whim, I listened to a few songs on MySpace and headed out.

They have a great little band. The harmonies are very tight. For the encore, the two core members sat on the edge of the stage and performed “Love Hurts.” They said that it was one of the first songs they sang together, and from the audience reaction, it is a favorite. It was a great ending.

Lucas Schoolhouse is a swanky place. It has a lot of stained glass, leather, wood and stone. It seems to book a lot of alt-country groups. The everbodyfields are in that vein.

Reunited alt-country rockers Blue Mountain will play there April 17. I last saw them in 2000 or 2001 at the Bowery Ballroom before their breakup. At least a couple of friends worked for the band or former and current member Cary Hudson. I hope to make it to the show.

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Michael M. on April 6th 2008 in General, Live, Music

Bobby’s Back in Town

Hometown barrelhouser Bobby Lounge has a new album out on Abitian Records. Bobby’s Back In Town is a live performance from his Iron Lung Tour stop at the Fuhrmann Auditorium in Covington, Louisiana. To get a feeling for what it is, watch this video on YouTube from his previously blogged performance at the Louisiana Music Factory.

To any friends heading to Jazz Fest, he will be playing Saturday, April 26 from 3:25 to 4:25 PM on the Allison Miner Music Heritage/Lagniappe Stage. Go and then let me know how it was.

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Michael M. on April 6th 2008 in General, Live, Music, Recorded

Showcase dance

Following our planned performance at the Folk School Student Showcase, friends Steve Hall, three times mentioned Dave Landreth, Jim Nelson and Marc Rennard came on stage with us. Tables were cleared. Dancers took the floor, and Mac McKeever called a couple of squares before the night closed with a waltz.

Soldier’s Joy” is one I have posted before. I called that tune. The Library of Congress has this page about the famous tune. According to Glenn Godsey on the Fiddle Hangout, three times blogged Mike Seeger told him, “After all these years of searching out obscure, interesting tunes, my favorite tune is still ‘Soldier’s Joy.'”

The we played “Little Betty Brown” and “Cowboy Waltz.” Being fiddle tunes, they have been all over the place, but they came to us by way of Vesta Johnson. Her grandson Steve Hall fiddled with us, and she even got up and jigged a little.

Soldier’s Joy

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Little Betty Brown

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Cowboy Waltz

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Michael M. on April 4th 2008 in General, Live, Mine, Music, Recorded

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