May 29, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Doc Watson, the blind Grammy-award winning folk musician whose mountain-rooted sound was embraced by generations and whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world, died Tuesday at a North Carolina hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman and his manager. He was 89.
Arthel “Doc” Watson’s mastery of flatpicking helped make the case for the guitar as a lead instrument in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was often considered a backup for the mandolin, fiddle or banjo. His fast playing could intimidate other musicians, even his own grandson, who performed with him.
The wavy-haired Watson got his musical start in 1953, playing electric lead guitar in a country-and-western swing band. His road to fame began in 1960 when Ralph Rinzler, a musician who also managed Bill Monroe, discovered Watson in North Carolina. That led Watson to the Newport Folk Festival in 1963 and his first recording contract a year later. He went on to record 60 albums, and wowed fans ranging from ’60s hippies to fans of traditional country and folk music.
Seven of his albums won Grammy awards; his eighth Grammy was a lifetime achievement award in 2004. He also received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1997. “There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who didn’t at some point in his or her youth try to spend a few minutes at least trying to learn to pick a guitar like Doc Watson,” Clinton said at the time.
Folklore described Watson as “a powerful singer and a tremendously influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar.” Countless guitarists have tried to emulate Watson’s renditions of songs such as “Tennessee Stud,” ”Shady Grove,” and “Deep River Blues.”
May 13, 2012
Bass player and songwriter Donald “Duck” Dunn, a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame band Booker T. and the MGs and the Blues Brothers band, has died in Tokyo. He was 70.
Dunn was in Tokyo for a series of shows. News of his death was posted on the Facebook site of his friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour. Cropper said Dunn died in his sleep.
April 17, 2012
A very sad note just appeared on the website for Levon Helm, the drummer-singer of the Band.
“Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer,” says the note. “Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration…he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage.”
Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late 1990s. He recovered, but it took him many years to recover his singing voice. This past Saturday evening Robbie Robertson sent “love and prayers” out to Helm.
The songs from The Band will live on for centuries to come. Levon had one of the great voices in rock music, as did Rick Danko and Richard Manuel. They are all missed but will be remembered for all the great music they provided. They enhanced our lives tremendously.
March 19, 2012
Peyton Manning will become the next quarterback of the Denver Broncos, barring a snag during intensified contract negotiations that have commenced under the instruction of the four-time MVP to his agent Tom Condon, according to multiple sources.
Once the Manning deal becomes official, Denver will try to trade Tim Tebow, according to sources.
Manning instructed Condon to negotiate the finite details of a contract that would conclude with him joining the Broncos after a frenzied but focused process that began when the Indianapolis Colts released him March 7.
Manning called Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway on Monday morning to tell him the news. Manning also called the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans to inform them of his intent to now play for Denver.
Manning will be paid an insane amount of money, but at least the Broncos will be entertaining again.
March 1, 2012
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
~ Mark Twain
February 1, 2012
WASHINGTON — In a stunning break with First Amendment policy on Capitol Hill, House Republicans directed Capitol Hill police to detain a highly regarded documentary crew that was attempting to film a Wednesday hearing on a controversial natural gas procurement practice. Republicans also denied the entrance of a credentialed ABC News news team that was attempting to film the event.
Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Gasland” was taken into custody by Capitol Hill police this morning, along with his crew, after Republicans objected to their presence, according to Democratic sources present at the hearing. The meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment had been taking place in room 2318 of the Rayburn building. Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, is currently seeking to secure a procedural maneuver that would allow the detained film crew to re-enter the hearing, which is open to the public. Miller’s motion is not expected to succeed.
Approximately 16 officers entered the hearing room and handcuffed Fox amid audible discussions of “disorderly conduct” charges, according to Democratic sources present at the arrest.
January 20, 2012
Dr. Lawrence Britt analyzed the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. While, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history, they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.
Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.
- Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
- Disdain for the importance of human rights.
- Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
- The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
- Rampant sexism.
- A controlled mass media.
- Obsession with national security.
- Religion and ruling elite tied together.
- Power of corporations protected.
- Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
- Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
- Obsession with crime and punishment.
- Rampant cronyism and corruption.
- Fraudulent elections.
January 1, 2012
Start the year off with some goosebumps.
December 31, 2011
In no particular order…
- Japan tsunami and nuclear disaster killed nearly 20,000 people
- Death of Dennis Ritchie. Ritchie created the “C” programming language around 1970 to rewrite the UNIX operating system. It made the porting of software to various platforms much easier than with assembly language. Most software is still written in C/C++ including Windows, Linux, UNIX, Mac OS X, MS Office, most browsers…
- Death of Steve Jobs. A visionary who changed life for many with the iPad, iPhone, iPod, and many others.
- Occupy Wall St. People around the world have been protesting the right-wing policies that have destroyed our economy and ruined countless lives. America finally got into the game.
- Arab Spring. This year we saw the fall of the Tunisian, Libyan, and Egyptian governments. The fate of Syria is unknown with the government murdering 100s of protesters.
- Tim Tebow mania. A mediocre quarterback gains legendary status because he’s a religious nut.
- Killing of Osama Bin-Laden. Obama makes Republicans look bad by taking out the terrorist responsible for the 9/11/2001 attack. Republican tactic: bomb them into smithereens. Democratic tactic: use intelligence.
- Withdrawal from Iraq. One of the biggest blunders in U.S. history ends with the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. No one has been prosecuted for lying us into war, nor has there been a serious investigation into how we got it so wrong.
- Space Shuttle program ends with final mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis. George W. Bush canceled the Space Shuttle replacement program as one of his first acts as president. Right-wingers blame Obmaa.
- Christian terrorism in Norway leaves 76 children dead.
- Consumer outrage stops BOfA credit card charges and Verizon fees. That’s evidence that we’re not powerless to fight abuse.
- And the biggest news of 2011… I wrote 3 songs! For years I’ve wanted to try my hand at writing songs and finally did it. My next goal is to write a GOOD song.
I hope you all had a good year. We need to be more active in the upcoming election to win back the House from the radical right. Get involved in local elections. Expose Republicans for the SOBs they are.
Happy New Year!
December 29, 2011
The cost of one bad loan to Solyndra: $535 million.
The cost of one day of war in Iraq: $720 million.
Guess which one they’re outraged over in Republicanistan?
December 28, 2011
Shedding crocodile tears for the dead dictator
Kim Jong Il’s passed on! This dictator is no more! He has ceased to be! He’s expired and gone to meet his maker! He’s a stiff! Bereft of life! He’s pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He’s off the twig! He’s kicked the bucket, He’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-DICTATOR!!!
Okay, now let’s all shed some crocodile tears for the dead dictator.
December 23, 2011
Religion is horrible for politics and government policy, but it has been the inspiration for a lot of great music and art. That’s because religion appeals to a person’s emotions, as does good art. Conservative politics also appeal to people’s emotions, but for the wrong reasons. While people like Herman Cain, Rick Perry, George W. Bush, Michelle Bachmann, and the rest of the nut jobs provide fodder for comedians and are a source of entertainment, when they get elected, it’s not so funny. Hitler was also a laughing stock until he got into power.
December 18, 2011
Great song by Steve Winwood and Traffic. (It’s also a “how to” on how to make beer.)