Ernest Tubb and His Texas Troubadours

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Poster for Ernest Tubb and His Texas Troubadours, City Auditorium, Salem, Missouri, December 11, 1957

Born on a cotton farm in Ellis County, Texas, in 1914, Ernest Tubb spent his youth working on farms throughout the state. He spent his spare time learning to play the guitar, yodel and sing. In 1936, with the aid of singer and musician Jimmy Rodger’s widow, Tubb was offered a recording contract with the RCA Corporation, recording two unsuccessful records.. He switched to Decca Records in 1940, recording six records with the company. It was his sixth Decca release, the single “Walking the Floor Over You”, that gave Tubb stardom and a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America late in 1965.

Ernest Tubb and his band, The Texas Troubadours, joined the Grand Ole Opry in February of 1943. His first band members were Chester Studdard, Ray “Kamo” Head, and Vernon “Toby” Reese. Tubb and his band were a regular on the radio show for four decades; and Tubb hosted his own radio show, the Midnite Jamboree, which followed the Grand Old Opry each Saturday evening.

Ernest Tubb surrounded himself with some of Nashville’s best musicians. Guitarist Jimmy Short added to the Tubb sound with his single-string guitar picking and clean, clear riffs. Steel guitarists Tommy “Butterball” Paige and Jerry Byrd, who eventually replaced Jimmy Short, added their sounds to Tubb’s recordings. Billy Byrd, who brought jazzy riffs to the instrumental interludes of the songs, joined The Troubadours in 1949 and added the four-note riff at the end of his guitar solos that became a recognizable part of Tubb’s songs. Billy Byrd would remain with Ernest Tubb until 1959, when he left to make several solo albums, later returning to play again with Tubb.

In 1949 Ernest Tubb teamed up with the famous Andrew Sisters to record a cover of Eddy Arnold’s “Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle” and the western-swing “I’m Bitin’ My Fingernails and Thinking of You”. This two-song record sold 750,000 copies. Later that year, he teamed up with singer and musician Red Foley, recording “You Don’t have to Be a Baby to Cry”. The duo of Tubb and Foley released seven albums together, maintaining a friendly ‘on-the-air” feud over the years. 

Known for having one of the best bands in country music history, Ernest Tubb was inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame in 1965. In 1970, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Tubb inspired some of the most devoted fans of any country artist; his fans loyally followed him though out his career, long after his songs stopped making the charts. He remained a fixture at the Grand Ole Opry and continued to host his Midnite Jamboree radio show. Tubb appeared as himself in Loretta Lynn’s 1980 autobiographical film “Coal Miner’s Daughter” along with fellow country stars Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl. 

Tubb’s singing voice remained intact until late in life, when emphysema developed. He still continued making over two hundred appearances, traveling with an oxygen tank, shaking hands and signing autographs with every fan who stayed after the show. His health problems eventually halted his performances in 1982. Ernest Tubb made his final appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on August 14, 1982. He died in 1984 and is buried in Nashville’s Hermitage Memorial Gardens.

Jimmy Scott

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in July of 1925, James Victor Scott was an American jazz vocalist known for his sensitivity on ballads and for his high countertenor voice. The high range of his singing voice was due to a rare genetic disease, the Kallmann syndrome, which prevented him from reaching classic puberty and limited his physical height. 

Given the nickname of “Little Jimmy Scott” by jazz musician and band leader Lionel Hampton, Scott achieved prominence as the lead singer in Hampton’s band when he recorded “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” in December of 1949. This song became a top rhythm and blues hit in 1959. Scott sang the vocals on Charlie Parker’s adaption of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” in 1947; however, his vocals was credited to the female vocalist Chubby Newsom on the album.

Jimmy Scott signed in 1963 with Tangerine Records, a record label owned by Ray Charles and distributed by ABC-Paramount Records. Under that label, he recorded the album “Falling in Love is Wonderful”, with Ray Charles interplaying on the piano. This ranks as one of the best works of Scott’s career, showing his range of emotions and his hitting all the notes with perfection on such classics as “How Deep is the Ocean” and “Someone to Watch Over Me”.

By the late 1960s, Jimmy Scott’s career had faded; he returned to his native Cleveland and worked in several menial labor positions. It wasn’t until 1989 that he returned to music, sharing a late-night billing with singer and pianist Johnnie Ray at the famed New York’s Ballroom. Singing at the funeral of his friend, blues singer and songwriter Doc Pomus, gained him further recognition and an opportunity with Sire Records. 

Sire Records, an arm of the Warner Records group, released Jimmy Scott’s 1992 album “All the Way” which earned Scott a nomination for a Grammy Award. Between 1994 and 1998, Jimmy Scott released three albums: the 1994 “Dreams”, “Heaven” released in 1996, and an album of pop/ rock interpretations entitled “Holding Back the Years”. This last album earned an award for Best Jazz Album of 2000, and included covers of songs written by Prince, Lennon, Elvis Costello, and Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Jimmy Scott’s early recordings for Decca Records and Savoy Records were re-released as a box set in 1999. He signed with Milestone Records in 2000 and recorded four albums with guests such as Wynton Marsalis, Renne Rosnes, and Lewis Nash. His final recording took place at his home in May of 2014, a track written for him by Grégoire Maret titled “The 26th of May” which appears on Maret’s album “Wanted”.

Scott performed at the inaugurations of both President Eisenhower and William Clinton, singing “Why Was I Born”. He received the NEA Jazz Masters award in 2007, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America in 2010. Jimmy Scott was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 2013. He died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas on June 12, 2014 at the age of eighty-eight years. He is buried in Knollwood Cemetery in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

“As singers, we all deal in pain. We’re all trying to push the pain through the music and make it sound pretty. Jimmy Scott has more pain and prettiness in his voice than any singer anywhere”- Ray Charles

 

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 31st of October, Solar Year 2018

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

October 31, 1896 was the birthdate of American actress and sing Ethel Walters.

Ethel Waters was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, growing up in extreme poverty. At the age of thirteen in 1909, she was already working as a chambermaid in a Philadelphia hotel. Later that year, Waters sang in public for the first time at a local Philadelphia night club. She started singing professionally in 1913, billing herself as “Sweet Mama Stringbean”, in Baltimore, Maryland, clubs. It was in Baltimore that she became the first woman to sing W.C Hardy’s classic “Saint Louis Blues”.

Ethel Waters professional career as a singer rose rapidly; so she decided to move to New York City. In 1925, she appeared at the Plantation Club in Harlem, where the response to her voice led to performances on Broadway. She appeared in the all-black revue “Africana”, and started dividing her time between the stage, nightclubs, and eventually movies. In 1930 Waters was on the Broadway stage again in the revival of the popular 1924 musical “Blackbirds”, followed by a starring role in the 1925 “Rhapsody in Black”.

In 1933 Waters appeared with Marilyn Miller, one of the most popular American musical comedy actress of the 1920s, in Irving Berlin’s musical “As Thousands Cheer”. This was Waters’s first departure from shows with all-black casts. Her rendition of “Heat Wave” in that show linked the song permanently to her. Considered one of the great blues singers, Ethel Waters also performed and recorded with such jazz greats as Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. Several composers wrote songs especially for her, and she was particularly identified with the songs “Dinah” and “Stormy Weather.”

Waters’s first straight dramatic role was in the 1939 production of DuBose and Dorothy Heyward’s “Mamba’s Daughters” which the Heywards wrote specifically for her. The show ran initially for 162 performances and again in 1940 for 17 more performances at the Broadway Theater. Later in 1940, Waters spent a season on Broadway in the hit musical “Cabin in the Sky”; she also appeared in the 1943 film version with lyrics by John Latouche.

Probably Waters’s greatest dramatic success was in the 1950 stage version of Carson McCullers’s “The Member of the Wedding”, a performance for which she won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. She also starred in the 1952 movie version with Julie Harris and Brandon De Wilde. Among Waters’s other films are the 1942 musical comedy “Cairo”; “Pinky”, a 1949 race-drama film; and the 1959 drama film“The Sound and the Fury”.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 21st of October, Solar Year 2018

The Art and the Man

October 21, 1925 was the birthdate of Cuban singer Ursula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso.

Celia Cruz was born in the diverse, working-class neighborhood of Santos Suárez in Havana, Cuba. While growing up in Cuba’s 1930s musical climate, Cruz listened to many musicians who influenced her adult career; Fernando Collazo, Pablo Quevedo and Arsenio Rodriguez among others. As a child, despite her father’s objections, she learned Santeria songs from a neighbor who practiced Santeria; she also studied Yoruba songs and made various recordings of this religious genre.

From 1947, Celia Cruz studied music theory, voice, and piano at Havana’s National Conservatory of Music. She began singing on Havana’s radio station Radio Garcia-Serra, winning first place on the station’s “Hora del Te” show for her tango song “Nostalgias”. Cruz’s big break came in 1950 when the Cuban band Sonora Matancera decided to give her a chance. She won the support of the band’s leader. Rogelio Martinez and recorded hit songs including “Yembe Laroco’ and “Caramelo”.

Celia Cruz toured with the band for fifteen years. During that time, she also appeared in cameo roles in Mexican films: the 1950 “Rincon Criollo”, “Una Gallega en la Habana”, and “Amorcito” released in 1961. After Fidel Castro assumed control of Cuba in 1959, the band left Cuba to perform in Mexico. Refused permission to return to Cuba by Castro, Celia Cruz and her husband, Cuban musician Pedro Knight, became United States citizens. In 1965, Cruz left the Sonora Matancera band, and with fellow musician Tito Puente, joined the Vaya Records label. Soon after that, she was headlining a concert in New York’s Carnegie Hall.

In 1969, Celia Cruz won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance. Celia Cruz’s 1974 album “Celia y Johnny”, a collaboration with musician Johnny Pacheco, was very successful, particularly the song “Quimbara” which became one of her signature songs. Touring with the ensemble group “Fania All-Stars”, she sang in England, France, the DR Congo and in Latin America.

With a voice described as operatic, Celia Cruz moved through high and low pitches with an ease that belied her age, and her style improvising rhymed lyrics added a distinctive flavor to salsa. Her flamboyant costume, which included: various colored wigs, tight sequined dresses, and very high heels, became so famous that one of them was acquired by the Smithsonian institution.

Through a formidable work ethic, Cruz rose to the very top in her genre; a genre that was traditionally male dominated. Celia Cruz died at her home on July 16, 2003 at the age of 77. After her death, her body was taken to Miami’s Freedom Tower, where more than two hundred-thousand fans paid their respects. Her last album, “Regalo del Alma”, won a posthumous award at the 2004 Premios Lo Nuestro for best salsa release of the year.

Bombay Dub Orchestra

Bombay Dub Orchestra, “Amina” From the Album “3 Cities”, 2008

Bombay Dub Orchestra released its second album “3 Cities” in 2008. Both Gary Hughes and Andrew T. Mackay traveled to Mumbai and Chennai to record with the cities’ premier musicians and vocalists before returning to London to mix the album. “3 Cities” is where their cinematic soundscapes meet Indian Classical and electronica featuring a huge cast of over 75 musicians.

Tony DeSare “You Don’t know Me”

Tony DeSare, “You Don’t Know Me”

Born in New York, Tony DeSare is a jazz singer, pianist and songwriter. He has performed at major jazz rooms such as Birdland and the Blue Note with his quartet; nightclubs including the Cafe Carlyle; and with his big gand in concert at Jazz in Lincoln Center. He records on the Telarc label and with the California-based Concord Music Group.

Graham Candy “Glowing in the Dark”

Graham Candy, “Glowing in the Dark”, Acoustic Version

A New Zealand-born, German-based singer/songwriter and actor with a distinctive voice, the aptly named Graham Candy is a quirky and unpredictable musician. A student of music, dance, and theater from a very young age, Candy spent the majority of his career in Auckland before relocating to Berlin in 2013.

In Berlin Candy lent his voice to popular German DJ and producer Alle Farber’s international hit single “She Moves.” Collaborations with German indie pop outfit Abbey and electro-swing enthusiast Parov Stelar followed in 2014, as did the release of his Crazy Planet Records-issued solo EP, “13 Lords”.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 24th of September, Solar Year 2018

Attention Caught

September 24, 1893 was the birthdate of American blues and gospel singer Lemon Henry Jefferson.

Born blind, Lemon Henry Jefferson, known as “Blind Lemon” Jefferson, started playing guitar in his early teens. In the early 1910s, he traveled to Dallas, where met and played with the blues musician Lead Belly. Jefferson was one of the earliest and most prominent figures in the blues movement that developed in the Deep Ellum section of Dallas. It was here he met Aaron Thibeaux Walker, also known as T-Bone Walker. Jefferson taught Walker the basics of playing blues guitar in exchange for Walker’s occasional service as a guide.

Jefferson’s music was uninhibited and represented the classic sounds of everyday life from street corner blues to honky-tonk and gospel. Prior to Jefferson, few artists had recorded solo voice and blues guitar; but he became a successful solo guitarist and male vocalist in the commercial recording world. Jefferson was taken to Chicago in late 1925 by Paramount Records to record his songs. The first releases under his name were “Booster Blues” and “Dry Southern Blues”, both hit songs. Two other songs from the same session “Got the Blues” and “Long Lonesome Blues” also became hits, with sales in the six figures.

Jefferson recorded about one hundred tracks with Paramount between 1926 and 1929: forty-three records were issued. His sound and confident musicianship appealed to his audiences. Jefferson never stayed with any one musical convention, varying his riffs and rhythm and singing complex and heartfelt lyrics exceptional for that period of time.

Mayo Williams, Paramount’s connection with the black community, moved in 1927 to Okeh Records and took Jefferson with him. Okeh Records quickly recorded and released Jefferson’s “Matchbox Blues” with his “Black Snake Moan” on the obverse of the record. Jefferson, because of contract obligations, returned to Paramount, who because “Matchbox Blues” had become such a hit, released two new versions of the same song. In 1927 Jefferson recorded another of his classics “See That My Grave iI Kept Clean”, under the name of Deacon LJ Bates. That song was so successful that it was re-recorded and released again in 1928.

Blind Lemon Jefferson died in Chicago on December 19, 1929 at the age of thirty-six. He was buried in an unmarked grave at the Wortham Black Cemetery in Freestone County, Texas. In 1967 a Texas historical marker was erected in the general area of his plot; the precise location is unknown. A new granite headstone was erected in 1997 with the inscription “Lord, it’s one kind favour I’ll ask of you, see that my grave is kept clean”. The cemetery’s name is now the Blind Lemon Memorial Cemetery, maintained by a committee of citizens of Wortham.

Simply Three

Simply Three, “Unsafe Haven”, 2017, From the Album “Undefined”

The classically trained trio of Glen McDaniel, Nick Villalobos, and Zack Clark, together known as Simply Three, has been captivating audiences since 2010. By reshaping convention through genre hopping, the trio continues to seek the true essence of classical crossover with original works as well as innovative arrangements that showcase their technical virtuosity and heartfelt musicality.

Kalki, “Varanasi”

Kalki, “Varanasi”, 2016, Cinematography by Basile Pierrat

Kalki is the tenth avatar of Vishnu to end the Kali Yuga, the last of the four periods in the endless cycle of existence in the Vaishnavism cosmology. He is described  in the Puranas as the avatar who rejuvenates existence by ending the darkest and destructive period to remove adhama and ushers in the Satya Yuga, the first yuga in the new cycle.

Kalki is a progressive psytrance project by Thibault Fontaine, an experience music producer from Lyon, France, who has been crafting electronic music for a decade. He emerged on the trance scene earlier in 2016, wiht the release of his first EP “Varnasi”, illustrated by a captivating music video shot in India by Basile Pierrat. Kalki unfolds a narrative and spiritual universe combining sci-fi culture, primitive rites, and psychic esperiences that resonate with the psytrance movement.