Archive for April, 2009


I thought that neurotology would be a good choice for the last couple weeks of school. Doctors in the field treat diseases of the inner ear. In graduate school, I worked on integration of visual and vestibular information at an abstract level, and seeing patients with related clinical diseases seemed like a good choice. I am having a good experience.

By chance, this story about dizziness just aired on NPR‘s Morning Edition. It featured somebody with one of the most common diseases seen, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It and a few other diseases cause the great majority of vertigo. Several people with the same disease have been through clinic here. I have seen the Epley maneuver, a series of positions designed to move the crystals causing the problems to a less troublesome location, performed several times. There is something fun about hearing the report while in the middle of a related clinical rotation.

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Michael M. on April 27th 2009 in General

Dance May 3 and more

Every year, the staff and students of the favorite Folk School play a spring contra for the Childgrove Country Dancers. I have played in the huge Wall of Sound band for the last three years, and it has been terrific fun every time. This year’s dance falls on Sunday, May 3, 2009. It will be at the Monday Club 37 S Maple Ave, Webster Groves, MO 63119. A short workshop will start at 6:30 PM, and the dance will begin at 7 PM.

I also tried performing by myself. The Atomic Cowboy has an open mic night every Monday. Musician, teacher and friend Ryan Spearman hosts it. I got up last weekend and played “Spike Driver Blues,” “Fishing Blues,” “Buck Dancer’s Choice,” “I’m Satisfied,” my own guitar arrangement of “Magnolia One Step” from the twice blogged Nations Brothers and an original instrumental in D. My performance was rough, but I had a good time. I will play again April 27, 2009 at 9:45 PM with two friends.

Finally, old-time music is coming back to the Cabin Inn now that the Cabin has been back for a while. It located at the City Museum that I often mention here on the blog. When it was open the first time, various local old-time musicians were frequent performers. With the revival of the Cabin, some friends are trying to revive its old-time tradition. Wednesday old-time jams starting at 7 PM have been going for two weeks. I made the last one and had a good time. I hope to play with them more in the future.

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Michael M. on April 26th 2009 in General, Live, Music

Cancer comic

As I blogged once before, PhD Comics is great reading for graduate students and other academicians. Jorge Cham visited M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The comic about his experiences is worth sharing. Reddit picked it up, as did Waxy Links. It captures about as much as it can.

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Michael M. on April 22nd 2009 in General

Carter Brothers and Son and Grandson and Great Nephew

I have posted about Mississippi String Bands a few times. Now I found performing links back to them. Wayne Carter and Bobby Carter are listed in the Mississippi Folklife and Folk Artist Directory. I recognized the surname. Carter Brothers and Son recorded several 78 sides back in the early days of electric recording. I know about them from the twice blogged compilation album Mississippi String Bands, Vol. 1. The comments for this post have some information about them. Their music was wild and fast. I believe that the son in the band played guitar. The countermelody bass runs are amazing.

These modern Carters stand in the line that includes that old band. I wish I knew more about their repetoires. How much do they play traditional tunes? Are they mostly active in bluegrass or modern country music? I found this post about Bobby Carter’s performance at the Sparta Opry. From there, I came to this profile of him Northeast Mississippi Music Documentation Project in Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss. I am still on the lookout for more about them and other continuous and continuing lines of Mississippi music.

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Michael M. on April 18th 2009 in General, Music, Recorded

The Africa Project on NPR

I recently blogged about the Africa Project concert. NPR‘s Morning Edition featured Béla Fleck and Toumani Diabaté this morning in this segment. Diabaté is a master of the kora and a pleasure to hear. More recordings from their visit to the studio are available from the segment’s page. I hope to listen to the parts that were not broadcast soon.

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Michael M. on April 13th 2009 in General, Live, Music, Recorded

Tony Russell on Highway 61 Radio

This entry on Highway 61 Radio clued me in that previously mentioned Tony Russell would be the featured guest on the show this weekend. I used to listen to the show often when I lived in radio range. Now the web is here. The episode is now available via the podcast or directly (mp3). Russell is an English expert on American rural music. In the episode, he discusses the lines and lack thereof between blacks and whites in traditional blues music.

Three times blogged Dust-to-Digital has Old Time Music Reader, a compilation of articles from Russell’s now defunct magazine Old Time Music, scheduled for release next year. I had hoped for a release this year. I even have a saved search on eBay in an attempt, unsuccessful so far, to buy old copies of the magazine. I will devour it when it appears.

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Michael M. on April 12th 2009 in General, Music, Recorded

Zora Neale Hurston Satisfied

Back in February, NPR‘s All Things Considered aired this story about the Works Progress Administration Federal Writers’ Project. Zora Neale Hurston was one of the featured participants. I enjoyed her Their Eyes Were Watching God, and I think I had read that she was a folklore collector in addition to being a writer. She sang a song lyrically very close to the “I’m Satisfied” recorded by favorite Mississippi John Hurt. This page has a collection of her recordings. The version she learned was “Halimuhfack” (mp3). According to this entry in the Library of Congress collection of her songs, the man talking was Herbert Halpert. His collecting efforts in Mississippi have come up here two times. Her “Tampa” (mp3) is the tune found in “Funky Butt,” “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” and “St. Louis Tickle.” At the end of the “Hallimuhfack” recording, Hurston talked about how she learned the songs. She did it the right way. She got in there and sang along until she got it herself.


Michael M. on April 12th 2009 in General, Music, Recorded

Dancing Matt

The video of a goofy guy dancing various places around the world has been an Internet phenomenon for a while. Matt Harding‘s fame again bobbed above the Internet’s surface to NPR. His commentary Dancing To Connect To A Global Tribe aired on Weekend Edition Saturday at the end of March.

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Michael M. on April 12th 2009 in General

Dance and cry

Friday night a week ago, I started the evening with the opening at Good Citizen GalleryIn the Tradition features prints by several artists linked via teacher-student relationships. Katherine Rhodes Fields, the curator, stands at the center of them. My friends were heading to the Pageant for the Ting Tings. I went, too. It was fun. It reminded me of going to the Scissor Sisters.

Sunday night, I heard blogged Dana Falconberry play the Tin Ceiling for the Fasionista Folk Festival. She was backed by  Gina Dvorak, Lauren McMurray and Andrew Bergmann. She put on a great show. Her music is harmonically rich and moving. The arrangements are spare and delicate. It is alway a pleasure to hear her. The outer room featured local vintage clothing. I caught Penny Rae Vintage because her show came between two musical acts.  Blogged Jesse Irwin followed. As he took the stage, he talked about how Falconberry’s performance had broken our hearts. He kept returning to absolutely filthy lyrics over the “Cielito Lindo” melody. He kept us in stitches. He also played his best serious songs, which are as gentle and fine as the others are smutty.

I hope to see more from both of them. The last time I saw Falconberry, a friend and I talked about how she should play a larger venue, such as Off Broadway. The same talk came up after the concert last weekend. I hope she returns soon to a place she can break more hearts.

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Michael M. on April 12th 2009 in General, Live, Music

Dust-to-Digital on PBA

I have blogged twice before about  Dust-to-Digital. The record label packages roots music new and old.  Public Broadcasting Atlanta profiled it recently. YouTube has part 1 and part 2, and this page at PBA links to this webcast. It is good to see the attention. I hope the company continues to succeed and grow.

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Michael M. on April 11th 2009 in General, Music, Recorded

Why Old Time?

Oldtime music has changed my life for the better. I was happy to find Trailers for documentaries on San Antonio and Old Time music on Highway 61 Radio. Why Old Time? is the documentary. The trailer is up on YouTube. Because old-time is mostly informal, it is a hard thing to package into a movie. The movie necessarily will miss some great traditions. I still look forward to seeing it.

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Michael M. on April 11th 2009 in General, Movies, Music

Man v Food Saint Louis

Twice I tried to visit Pappy’s Smokehouse, and twice I found it closed because all the food had been sold. In the past, I had gone there in the evening every couple of weeks without any crowds or delays. I have had better luck the last two trips. Two things have happened. The food has continued getting better and better, and Man v Food visited Saint Louis.

I only watched the local episode of Man v Food. Watch part 1 and part 2 on YouTube. The vlog has more. From what I can tell, the host goes to different cities and tries to eat everything that is awesome and massive with special attention to challenges. In Saint Louis, he visited Iron Barley, three times mentioned Crown Candy Kitchen and Pappy’s. I have not eaten at Iron Barley, but I can testify for the other two.

At Crown Candy Kitchen, host Adam Richman took the malt challenge. Crown Candy is always a great experience. The food is fine. The fountain drinks, ice cream and candy are unique and excellent. There is a prize for downing 5 malts in 30 minutes. A plaque in the restaurant lists all the winners. It is not a big plaque. I will not spoil whether Richman’s name was added.

At Pappy’s, he tried the Big Ben. It has most of their meats and 4 sides. Richman complained about some foods it did not include. Pappy’s christened the Adam Bomb. It has everything the Big Ben has and more.

Pappy’s is wonderful. It was great the first time I ate there. The last two times have been outstanding. I started my pulled pork without any sauce. It was supremely fantastic. I added some sauce, and it got even better. The ribs are another story. The first time I had them back in the summer, they were good, but too much sweetness over smokiness in the rub. When I went in yesterday afternoon, I stared at the menu for a while trying to make up my mind before deciding to give the ribs another try. Wow! Now they are supremely fantastic, too. After I cleaned the meat off the bones, I wanted to lick the meatless parts of the bone to get just a little more of that flavor, an act I may or may not have committed.

The people who work at Pappy’s love barbecue. They are friendly. The restaurant draws a good cross section of Saint Louisans. Like Crown Candy Kitchen, it is one of those places that is just fun to go to. It has real barbecue feel with some picnic tables, some red checkered tablecloths, bare concrete floors and a rocking blues soundtrack. Most importantly, they have hit their stride with the food. Every trip there leaves me plotting my return.

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Michael M. on April 4th 2009 in General

The Africa Project

The Africa Project, Béla Fleck‘s project to play with African musicians, came to the Sheldon Concert Hall Wednesday night. Fleck spent some time touring Africa with the idea of bringing the banjo back to the continent and playing with some of its best musicians, and the tour developed from it.

Fleck began with a few solo banjo pieces. Then each musician came out to play his own music followed by a number or two of call and response with Fleck. Fiddler Casey Driessen popped on stage once in a while. Anania Ngoglia, a blind player of the thumb piano, was the first African musician. His first song was great, and it left me wishing he had played more like it. D’Gary, a guitarist from Madagascar, followed him.

After intermission, South African Vusi Mahlasela sang and played guitar. He has many stories of fighting apartheid. Several months ago, I found this YouTube video of Patrick Sky playing “Guabi Guabi.” YouTube user peglegsam has uploaded many wonders. I watched Born for Hard Luck: Peg Leg Sam Jackson last weekend via its page on FolkStreams. “Guabi Guabi” came from Zimbabwean George Sibanda, who played amazingly bouncy and catchy music. Sibanda was wildly popular in South Africa for a while. Mahlasela’s music has some of the same flavor.

Toumani Diabaté was the highlight. He is a griot, billed as the 71st generation of his line, who plays the kora, a harp instrument with a calabash gourd resonator. The kora has a terrific sound, and he must be the best player. I had hoped to hear some songs, but he seems to be mainly an instrumentalist.

While I like Fleck’s own music well enough and recognize that he is extremely proficient, I count him more as someone whose interests also appeal to me. Fleck did a wonderful thing to bring these people to us.

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Michael M. on April 3rd 2009 in General, Live, Music

Server repaired

A few days before Christmas, I returned from a trip to find my my server broken. Now that I can see the system logs, it must have broken right about 10:22 AM on December 20, 2008. I was reasonably confident that the motherboard was the problem. Instead of fixing it, I went home for the holidays. Then I did not make the time to repair it when I returned, and I quickly grew busy with other things. Three and a half months later, I finally have it working again. I pulled out the motherboard, a Gigabyte GA-K8S760M, and replaced it with an MSI K8MM-ILSR. I never found an exact replacement. The choices in Socket 754 motherboards, introduced in 2003, are now few. I bought the new one on eBay. After the switch, the SUSE boot failed with an error about not finding the hard drive for mounting. The helpful information on this page showed me how to rebuild the initrd. The Ethernet and sound controllers are different on this motherboard. I got them reconfigured. The motherboard switch seems to have done the job. I hope to resume posting from time to time now that I have a working blog again. With this experience, I am considering moving to a commodity computer instead of one I assembled myself for my server.


Michael M. on April 2nd 2009 in General

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.