Archive for June, 2009

BBC Folk America

Last summer, I posted about my encounter with a BBC television crew at the Mississippi John Hurt Festival. They said that the series on American folk music would air the following February. I found Folk America. This review is very favorable. Much, maybe all, of the show is available as streaming video. The BBC, however, does not permit streaming to the United States. I recently found it on Google Video as episodes 1 Birth of a Nation, 2 This Land Is Your Land and 3 Blowin’ in the Wind.

The series features some familiar people. Twice blogged Tom Paley visited the beloved Folk School a few years ago, and I got to jam with him. Twice mentioned expert on American folk music Tony Russell shares some of his great knowledge. The BBC found great folks for this series.

The part on favorite Mississippi John Hurt starts at 34:14 in the first episode and runs to about 38:20. It features his granddaughter Mary Frances Hurt Wright prominently. Several shots show the Mississippi John Hurt Festival last summer. I was there. I appear 34:48-34:51 as the leftmost person wearing a light blue t-shirt and beige shorts. At 35:13-35:15, the shot looking from Hurt’s parlor out at the gathering shows “Lost Jim” Ohlschmidt and Andy Burke of Willie Mae. Other shots feature the Valley Store and more nearby buildings. Toward the end is the story of “Creole Belle” told by blogged Tom Paxton. This long discussion on the old Mississippi John Hurt Forum brought me to the same connection, and I found the old sheet music. The last part of the episode around 56:30 covers the end of Hurt’s first recording career among the many stalls and collapses in the early folk recording industry. It also has a little more footage of the festival.

Third episode Blowin’ in the Wind 30:40-32:58 is about Hurt’s revival career. He was reintroduced to the world at the Newport Folk Festival. The segment includes brief footage of “Candy Man” along with several touching reminiscences about his reemergence at the festival and subsequent gigging in Greenwich Village.

Twice blogged Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas follows Hurt in Birth of a Nation. Blogged Cecil Brown talks about how itinerant musicians lived, and three times mentioned John Sebastian is featured, too. Because Thomas was older than most recorded musicians of his day, his music presumably reaches further back. It is captivating.

Other segments in Birth of a Nation cover major figures in the early recording era. The two episodes cover later phases of the American folk music movement. I am on the last one, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” right now. The documentary provides an enjoyable overview with reasonble depth that starts at the beginning of the recording era. I am glad that I finally found a way to watch it.

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Michael M. on June 11th 2009 in General, Music

Showed Me at the Folk School of St. Louis

I posted a few days ago about the visit of KSDK television program Show Me St. Louis to the Folk School of St. Louis, a  frequent topic of mine. I showed up at the Folk School Monday morning ready for my close up. I got it! I appear on screen briefly singing and fiddling the twice bloggedGoing Down to Cairo.” Several friends are featured in brief interviews. The segment, which aired earlier this afternoon, is now available with text and on this video page.

The Folk School has brought me many new friends and hours of fun. It is great to see it garner this attention. With the economic problems, arts and recreation organizations are on hard times. I hope this publicity helps the Folk School to survive and flourish. I am honored and thrilled to have been involved in the television story. Thanks to the people at KSDK who made it.

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Michael M. on June 9th 2009 in General, Live, Mine, Music

Paul Thorn Off Broadway

Paul Thorn played at Off Broadway last night. He is a hard rocking country fellow from Tupelo, Mississippi. I first heard him about 10 years ago when he played at Thacker Mountain Radio Radio. The song “800 Pound Jesus” was memorable. A few years ago, a friend gave me a mix CD with “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand.” I enjoyed it, too. When I saw that he would be passing through, I marked the date. I even got in for free. The day of the show, I logged into MySpace to see this bulletin from the Off Broadway account offering free tickets to the first five responders.

I enjoyed opening act Patrick Sweany. He played just with a guitar and a foot drum. His is a very skilled guitarist. The style reminded me of twice blogged SamLightnin’Hopkins with its driving single note thumb bass and melody played up the neck. Indeed, his biography cites Hopkins. He set the stage well.

Thorn put on a rocking show. As Thorn says frequently, his father is a Church of God minister. He has that wild Pentecostal element. He was quick to share a brief story or to get a laugh. The talking was not excessive, though. They moved quickly from song to song. The music was solid, and the band behind him did a great job filling out the sound. When I had seen him before, he was a solo act. He did perform a few songs with just his guitar this time. The others sounded full with the band. It was a good Sunday night.

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Michael M. on June 8th 2009 in General, Live, Music

Show Me the Folk School of St. Louis

Show Me St. Louis on television station KSDK features places and events around metropolitan Saint Louis. This Monday, the show will visit the Folk School of St. Louis, a favorite of mine, for recording. I hope I make it onto television! The program will air at the next day, Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at 3 PM CDT on channel 5.

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Michael M. on June 5th 2009 in General, Music

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood

The previously blogged showing of Ghostbusters at St. Stephen’s was loads of fun. The audience sang along to the theme. Some people roasted marshmallows. I went because it was a neighborhood event in walking distance. Local group CWE Families and Friends held it. It was not completely a neighborhood event, though. I saw a friend I know from playing frisbee at Eden. He and his wife drove in from there for it. I can see why. Watching a movie outside just after dusk in the spring is great. I will keep up with Frontyard Features and try to make a few more.

I had not seen Ghostbusters in years. The New York Times recently ran this article about a new Ghostbusters video game coming out. I remember the many products and spin-offs when the movie was new.

“They were happy to have our involvement at all,” Mr. Ramis said. “The crassest way I can put it is that they couldn’t have paid us enough to give it the time and attention required to make it as funny as a feature film.”

The original feature film is hilarious. It delivers humor over and over and over. I had forgotten how polished and constantly funny it is, and it stands up as funny 25 years later. The IMDb quotes page gives a clue. I especially like a couple of the science lines.

The purpose of science is to serve mankind. You seem to regard science as some kind of dodge… or hustle. Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy, and your conclusions are highly questionable! You are a poor scientist, Dr. Venkman!

Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

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Michael M. on June 1st 2009 in General, Movies

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