Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
"Musician, composer, soldier." This is the rather arresting occupation listed on the Wikipedia page for Billy Bang, who passed away from lung cancer this week at the age of 63. A promising violinist at 19, Bang was drafted into service in Southeast Asia where he spent one hellish, life-altering tour of duty. By some accounts, Bang spent most of the last four decades outrunning his Vietnam demons by dashing headlong into music. And what a magnificent, furious, breathtaking dash it was.
Whether or not you're familiar with Billy Bang's story, I recommend reading this blog post by Phum at the Ottawa Citizen. In it is a reprint of a 2003 piece written by Doug Fischer that contains a revealing interview in which Bang describes how a violin, hanging in a Baltimore pawn shop, saved his life. Thank you violin.
Thank you Billy Bang...
Billy Bang ~ "Changing Seasons"
(Blog: Hook's Gems)
Bang the violin slowly
"This is a difficult record to find, out of print but worth looking for. The opening track, "Summer Night (With Crickets)" lays down an irresistibly funky groove—not in the fusion sense of the word, but in the acoustic sense....The proceedings have an organic, woody feel to them, as if they are playing deep within forest. After the first track, things grow somewhat denser, and more complex. The closing "Winter Rains" brings everything back down to earth." (Scot Hacker, at All Music Guide)
"His withdrawal from public life after 1968 did not result in Bazoumana fading from the memories of the Malian people. Instead, the myth surrounding Bazoumana grew. It was said that in the heat of a performance he had put his beloved ngoni aside, and the instrument had continued playing on his own. (This was actually confirmed to me by [people who I consider to be] very reliable and down-to-earth witnesses.) Even today you can still hear stories (or myths) about Bazoumanaba and his magic ngoni....When Bazoumana died in 1987, it was said that one of the legendary balanzan trees, which stand at the entrance of the town of Segou and which are symbols of Segou's status as a former empire and craddle of bambara culture, had fallen." (Wrldserv, at World Service, where another masterful recording from Sissoko is available here)
Various ~ "Great Big Yam Potatoes"
(Blog: Times Ain't Like They Used to Be)
Field Recordings from the American Bush
Your tax dollars at work: The 10 fiddlers and 42 performances compiled on this Mississippi Arts Commission production were recorded in 1939 as a joint production of the WPA and the Library of Congress.
Heaven & Earth ~ "Refuge"
(Blog: Colin Crowe)
One of these two winsome singers (is it Pat Gefell or Jo D. Andrews?) sounds for all the world like the long-lost identical twin of Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark. And that is a mighty good thing.
Andrew McMahon ~ "Blueblood"
(Blog: Hard Luck Child's Juke Joint)
<--- What's Mike Tyson Doing on the Cover?
All those years toiling as Howling Wolf's bass player must've earned McMahon plenty of respect. Or so it would seem, given the all-star accompaniment assembled on his handful of records. This platter boasts Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins, Hubert Sumlin and Homesick James on guitars and Sunnyland Slim on piano. (Is it just a coincidence that this LP is on Dharma Records and McMahon was born in Delhi?)
Listen to my radio show Give the Drummer Some—Tuesdays 6-7pm, on WFMU and Fridays 9 to noon—on WFMU's web stream Give the Drummer Radio.
Send your email address to get on the mailing list for a weekly newsletter about the show, the stream and Mining the Audio Motherlode.
Check out every installment of Mining the Audio Motherlode