Victim of Term Limits

I started running around the Central Park Reservoir track in 1985, five miles a day, almost every day up to the present. Until very recently, the one constant on those runs was the sight of Alberto Arroyo casually making his way around the track, greeting all with a benediction-like gesture. There was a time not too long ago when he himself would be running; some of us track veterans remember him jogging with Jackie Onassis, some were even there when she showed up to walk with him four days before she died in 1994. There were more than a few male runners envious of his daily ritual of planting himself on a bench near the South Gate House and giving leg massages to models and actresses stretched out across his lap. Alberto was a chick magnet. He was an abiding, positive, spiritual presence in our lives, with whom a fleeting few minutes or seconds of contact on a day’s jog was a daily reminder of something good in this world. He was a friend to all who crossed his path, or rather passed him on his path—that is to say, the Central Park Reservoir track was Alberto's path, not ours, not New York City's. He was known by all as the Mayor of Central Park. But unlike the current Mayor of Gotham, Alberto Arroyo had no City Council to appeal to in order to rescind the law on term limits. The Mayor of Central Park, who took to jogging the 1.65-mile Reservoir track in 1927, when it was but a lowly, ill-kept maintenance path, did not die on March 25; rather, he was merely a victim of term limits of a different sort. New York has lost one of its most beloved and unique characters. At his passing, at age 94, he boasted the distinction of being the longest serving Mayor in New York City history.

A former boxer from Puerto Rico, and widely referred to as a “fitness radical,” Arroyo initially jogged the bridal path circling the Reservoir; but when police complained of his running disturbing their horses, he took to the maintenance path. Untold millions have followed his lead. But Arroyo was always proud to claim, “I am the first man to run in Central Park.” In 1985 the New York State Senate passed a resolution acknowledging his half-century of running and calling him one of the “pioneers of the jogging trend.” Over the years he helped raise money for the track’s maintenance, and raise consciousness about physical fitness. Like many complex people, he had a charming outward simplicity about him, right down to his lifestyle: inspired by St. Francis of Assisi and distraught by the suffering he witnessed during the Great Depression, Arroyo took a vow of poverty that he adhered to for the rest of his life. He lived off Social Security and a small pension he earned from his working days as a clerk at Bethlehem Steel, which afforded him spartan quarters at a Single Room Occupancy hotel on the upper west side outfitted with the bare necessities, including a telephone that could dial only 911. He ate one meal a day at a senior center nearby. “Everyone wants the maximum,” he told a New York Times reporter profiling him in 1985. “I want the minimum.”

A stroke suffered in 2008 rendered Arroyo unable to make it around the Reservoir on foot, so friends banded together to take turns pushing him clockwise around the loop in his wheelchair, a balloon bobbing in the wind behind him, so he could greet the runners coming in the opposite direction.

In the 2005 Times profile, Arroyo acknowledged, “My time is up.” But dying didn’t worry him. “People tell me, ‘You’re going to live another 10, 20 years.’ Baloney. But nobody should be afraid to die, because you keep living. You just go from one apartment to another.”

Vaya con Dios, Alberto. Whatever apartment you're in now, we trust it meets your exacting standards, and comes complete with a comely lass whose gams need the kinks worked out. You are beautiful. —David McGee

‘I’m a spiritual man, I’m a religious man, I’m a naturalist. I communicate with God all the time.’
A brief video profile of Alberto Arroyo


DocK Ellis & The LSD No-No
It’s April, and baseball is back. To mark the start of the 2010 season, we look back on one of the game’s most memorable moments, courtesy NoMasTV (, which offers the following tribute, drawn and animated by JAMES BLAGDEN, to, in NoMas’s words, ‘the greatest athletic achievement by a man on a psychedelic journey,’ a complete game no-hitter tossed by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ LSD-drenched DOCK ELLIS against the San Diego Padres on June 12, 1970. Again, to quote from NoMas, ‘In the past few years we’ve heard all too much about performance enhancing drugs from greenies to tetrahydrogestrinone, and not enough about performance inhibiting drugs. If our evaluation of the records of athletes like Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones and Barry Bonds needs to be revised downwards with an asterisk, we submit that that Dock Ellis record deserves a giant exclamation point. Of the 263 no-hitters ever thrown in the Big Leagues, we can only guess how many were aided by steroids, but we can say without question that only one was ever thrown on acid.’

Dock Phillips Ellis, Jr., a Los Angeles native, made his Major League debut on June 18, 1968 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, played for five different teams (including two tours with Pittsburgh, where he played on four NL East championship teams) and recorded a 138-199 won-loss record and an Earned Run Average of 3.46 before retiring as a Pirate following the 1979 season. In 1971 he was both an All-Star and a World Series winner with the Pirates; in 1976 he was the American League Comeback Player of the Year with the New York Yankees, for whom he went 17-8 and recorded a win in the AL championship series against Kansas City.

ellisdock-Although the LSD no-hitter was by far his most notorious achievement, Ellis was no stranger to bozo behavior during his career. In May 1972 he was maced by a security guard at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati after the guard claimed Ellis “made threatening gestures with a closed fist,” although Ellis insisted he was trying to show the guard his World Series ring as proof that he played for the Pirates. On May 1, 1974, apparently to win an argument with some of his teammates, he attempted to hit every batter in the Reds’ lineup, conking Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen in the top of the first before walking Tony Perez. After Ellis aimed two straight pitches at Johnny Bench’s head, he was removed from the game by Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh. Reggie Jackson also felt Ellis’s wrath, when he was beaned by the pitcher in retaliation for the moon shot he launched off an Ellis pitch in the 1971 All-Star game.

After retirement, Ellis conducted a fervent campaign against addiction, and was hired by the Yankees in 1986 to counsel minor leaguers on drug and alcohol abuse. He devoted much of his post-baseball life to charity work. Upon hearing of Ellis’s death, his agent, Tom Reich, said: ‘I’ve been in this business for 40 years and there was never a more standup guy.’ An alcoholic who had been diagnosed with cirrhosis in 2007, Ellis was awaiting a liver transplant at the time of his death.

The interview with Dock was recorded in 2007 by radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel, whose original four-minute piece appeared on NPR’s ‘Weekend America’ on March 29, 2008. Using the original audio, James Blagden created this animated film. Many have seen it already; to those many who haven’t, here it is. Play ball!



Michael Martin Murphey goes to the wall for a farmer in Wisconsin and makes a difference. Now it’s a calling. Checking in with the Cosmic Cowboy, whose activism on behalf of a farmer in Wisconsin is part of a broader mandate he’s given himself as an artist to be true to country music’s roots and stand up for farmers, ranchers and all rural folk whose way of life is threatened by government bureaucrats in bed with developers and contractors. He also has a new album to discuss, Buckaroo Blue Grass II, and in Interview, he does precisely that, in a reflective interview spurred by the new album’s selection of songs representing almost every phase of Murphey’s fascinating career.

THE BLOGGING FARMER: a new monthly column by ALEX TILLER
A member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and also an agribusiness author/blogger. ALEX TILLER writes about commercial farming, family farms, organic food production, sustainable agriculture, the local food movement, alternative renewable energy, hydroponics, agribusiness, farm entrepreneurship, and farm economics and farm policy. Each month will publish a new blog by Tiller in hopes of raising our readers’ consciousness about the issues facing the American farmer and how those are being dealt with, by farmers, by government, or both. In this month’s first installment, Tiller focuses on the havoc being visited on small farmers by big corporate agricultural firms jacking up the price of seeds to unconscionable levels. ‘Is President Obama going to be another ‘trust-buster’ like Teddy Roosevelt,’ Tiller wonders. ‘Maybe.’ In another piece, headlined ‘Support Your Local Agriculture Through CSAs,’ Tiller advocates for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), ‘a win-win system for everyone’ that gives growers a chance to know their customers and vice versa, ‘building relationships—which means building stronger communities.’ Not the least of the benefits of CSAs: ‘You’re going to be tasting food that’s fresher and better (including better for you) than anything you’ve ever tasted.’

By Jen Osha

After a short sabbatical taken to work on her doctoral dissertation, our Coal River Journal columnist JEN OSHA (Founder/Director of Aurora Lights, a West Virginia-based non-profit that is currently working to raise awareness about the social and environmental impacts of mountaintop removal in Appalachia) returns this month to update us on the latest developments in the opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia and Appalachia. In this column she documents the efforts of three young activists who, for almost a week during a snow-covered West Virginia January, stopped Massey Energy from blasting at Coal River Mountain.

Also, we’re happy to report that an Aurora Lights project, JOURNEY UP COAL RIVER ( is this year’s recipient of the Appalachian Studies Association's e-Appalachia Website of the Year Award. First issued in 2002, the award is based on the content, design and mission statement of web sites dealing with Appalachia and its people. Congratulations to all on work well done!


By David McGee

Ellis Paul returns from a five-year sabbatical with The Day Everything Changed, a stirring work examining personal politics and the state of various unions—exquisite songwriting with an abiding ache. With photos by staff photographer AUDREY HARROD.

By David McGee

A series of two-fer reissues of six early WAYLON JENNINGS albums are assessed and further fleshed out by Waylon’s own words, as published in his autobiography. Here’s the story behind the story of the pre-Outlaw Waylon as told in this music, which concludes on the eve of the artist assuming full control of his recordings.

By David McGee

On March 22, bluegrass superstars DAILEY & VINCENT rolled into New York City to command the opening slot at a small, Lower East Side club, The Living Room. Chances are they’ll be invited back.

By Jeremiah Lockwood

JEREMIAH LOCKWOOD has returned from a trip to the West African nation of Mali with his band, THE SWAY MACHINERY. In our January issue, he announced the tour and his expectations for it. In addition to performing as the first Jewish band invited as guests at the Festival au Desert in the Muslim nation, the Sway Machinery also recorded an album with Malian guest artists. Now back at home in Brooklyn, Lockwood shares his reflections on the journey.

By Michael Sigman

In this commentary, former LA Weekly publisher and current Huffington Post blogger (and regular contributor to MICHAEL SIGMAN considers what has been wrought by rise of digital media. As Sigman notes:However you characterize it, what’s at stake is nothing less than who’s in charge—the elites or the masses. We’re finding out, as Leonard Cohen puts it in his song ‘Democracy,’ ‘who will serve and who will eat?’’


Our stunning Romanian correspondent MIRELA D. files a report from her home in Bucharest on a band that was popular in the small town near where she grew up. Ranking with the premier practitioners of gypsy jazz in the world TARAF OF CLEJANI (also know as TARAF DE HAIDOUKS) have come a long way from Clejani: thanks to extensive touring and a ringing endorsement from JOHNNY DEPP, the band has an extensive following on these shores. Nevertheless, in our never-ending quest to support gypsy jazz, we present the lovely Mirela’s report and some select videos.

ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: PAUL REVERE  & THE RAIDERS, Hungry for Kicks: Singles & Choice Cuts 1965-69
by Christopher Hill

An import retrospective of the defining moments of this great ‘60s American rock ‘n’ roll band inspires our contributing editor to reflect on how the group’s durable work reflects a principledear to the heart of rock ‘n’ roll: the old football wisdom about how on any given Sunday any NFL team can beat any other NFL team applies to rock 'n' roll too. Groups of four or five anonymous untutored teenagers in anonymous suburbs huddled in rec rooms, basements and garages, could emerge with one shattering burst of inspiration able to hold its own, for its two minutes and thirty seconds, against the best of what the icons were doing.



This month in 1930 American consumers were introduced to a golden sponge cake with banana cream filling. Three years later, James Dewar, the head of Continental Bakeries spotted a highway billboard promoting Twinkle-Toe Shoes, and renamed the concoction TWINKIES, by which time the company had also replaced the banana cream filling with a plain vanilla cream filling free of the eggs, milk and butter that made the original cake spoil in two days—in fact, the standard Twinkie recipe developed by Continental has been found to be impervious to mold (see interview with Twinkie authority Steve Ettlinger in this issue), and blessed with a legendary half-life. We could not let this anniversary go unnoticed, and have tried to present the issues surrounding Twinkies in a light both serious and humorous, as befits a product that has produced equal amounts of dour assessments of its nutritional benefits and hilarious references to its powers (yes) and virtues throughout pop culture history.

HOW TWINKIES WORK by Ed Grabianowski
It’s not as easy as you think. The history, how they’re made and the real story behind the shelf-life rumors.

by Gaye Birch, Den of Geek

Come with us as we revisit some exceptional Twinkie-fied moments in film and television history. Love them, hate them, wonder about the taste, appeal, and longevity, we're sure you'll agree, they're in good company.


THE T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project
By Christopher Scott Gouge and Todd William Stadler

T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. stands for Tests With Inorganic Noxious Kakes In Extreme Situations. During finals week, 1995, two Rice University students, Christopher Scott Gouge and Todd William Stadler, conducted a series of experiments to determine the properties of that incredible food, the Twinkie. Among their findings: it would be possible to survive a fall from a six-story building if one landed on a carpet of Twinkies, and Twinkies do not possess native intelligence (a determination that was not easy to arrive at, because the human test subjects kept eating the Twinkies). An excerpt of their final report, and a link to their website for the unexpurgated version, are included in this special feature.

In his book Twinkie, Deconstructed, author and food expert STEVE ETTLINGER goes to the ends of the Earth (almost, seriously) to answer his daughter’s question: ‘Where does pol-y-sor-bate six-tee come from, Daddy?’ He found the answer, and more, then wrote it up. Herewith, our review, and an interview with author Ettlinger.

For five years, Hostess employed the services of our greatest superheroes to promote truth, justice, the American way—and its snacks. A chat with one of writers who scripted the ads, and samples of BATMAN, SUPERMAN, WONDER WOMAN, SPIDER-MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA dispatching villains by means of a simple golden sponge cake with creamy filling.

Will Twinkie wonders never cease? If you can’t possibly be pleased by store-bought Twinkies, but still crave that je ne sais quoi of unbridled Twinkie consumption, check out two recipes here—one for Vegan Twinkies, one for Homemade Twinkies, or open the purse strings for Hostess’s Twinkie Cookbook. Buy ‘em or make ‘em—you can’t go wrong!



This month our book blogger, JULES, examines some new, beautifully illustrated editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland published for the children’s market. Her enthusiasm for all things Alice, plus the unbelievable box office showing of Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland film (which is Burton's continuation of the Alice story, not the Lewis Carroll version) inspired us to dig deep into the Alice phenomenon over time. So in addition to Jules’s always entertaining and insightful take on the latest Alice books, we have waded into the mass of Alice lore to examine the lass’s adventures as depicted in comic books, on film (the essential Alice in Wonderland celluloid exploits—we did the research so you don’t have to!) and in popular culture. We are also presenting here, for one of the few times anywhere, the entire “lost chapter” from Carroll’s original manuscript, deleted after Sir John Tenniel, the celebrated illustrator Carroll had hired to work on Alice, objected to its content. To that end, we also offer a brief profile and examples of the work of Sir John.

What better place to start, then, than with our own book blogger, whose blog title is a variation on a quote from Lewis Carroll’s very pen…

By Jules

Our books blogger JULES, who takes her blog name from the Alice text,takes a peek at some newly published print versions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, and spotlights some cool illustrations that continue a history of arresting Alice art extending back to SIR JOHN TENNIEL’s incomparable black-and-white illustrations for the original edition of Lewis Carroll’s classic.

Speaking of arresting Alice art, writers JOHN REPPION and LEAH MOORE, experts at the art of comic book adaptations of 19th Century literary works, working with penciler/inker ERICA AWANO, have followed their acclaimed The Complete Dracula with a four-volume comic book series, The Complete Alice In Wonderland, published by Dynamite Entertainment. For the first time in print, Lewis Carroll’s tale includes the “lost chapter” deleted from the original manuscript by Carroll after his illustrator, Sir John Tenniel, objected to its content. Hypergeek website major domo EDWARD KAYE interviews Reppion and Moore about their Complete Alice In Wonderland experience.

When his illustrator, John Tenniel, objected to this chapter being included in Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll—grudgingly it seems—omitted it from his final manuscript. “The Wasp In the Wig,” as the chapter is titled, is starting to see the light of day, but it remains the odd man out as far as being part of the complete Alice text. Here it is, courtesy the indispensable all-things-Alice website, Lenny’s Alice In Wonderland site (

*THE TOP 10 QUOTES FROM ALICE IN WONDERLAND, from a new e-book, 101 Quotes from Alice In Wonderland, by Australian freelance writer TUURA OLIN.


by David McGee

SIR JOHN TENNIEL drew the world of his day, and Alice’s too. A profile of the artist whose Alice illustrations remain the standard of all Alice art. Also featured: A selection of sometimes controversial Civil War cartoons the British artist drew for Punch magazine.


CLICK here to learn more about Alice 1 and 2, and to see Alice’s debut on film in a 1903 silent short.Eight minutes of the original 12-minute production survive.

CLICK here to learn more about and to see the 1915 Alice in three parts, which amounts to about half the running time of the original’s 52-minute length.

CLICK here to see a snippet of Alice’s debut in ‘talkies,’ in director BUD POLLARD’s 1931 Alice In Wonderland starring RUTH GILBERT.

CLICK here for a thorough discussion of the most memorable Alice, 1933’s Paramount production starring W.C. FIELDS, CARY GRANT, GARY COOPER, BILLY BARTY, EDWARD EVERETT HORTON, NED SPARKS, STERLING HOLLOWAY and others, with CHARLOTTE HENRY as an Alice who has never lost her charm. In addition, New York Times critic DAVE KEHR pays tribute to the unsung hero of this Alice, WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES, whose ingenious hand Kehr sees all over the expressionist production design and special effects. As well, this section features the complete December 25, 1933 TIME Magazine cover story on Ms. Henry—yes, cover story. Profusely illustrated with clips from this unforgettable screen treatment of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ tales.

CLICK here for a whole other look at the FLEISCHER BROTHERS’ Alice-inspired cartoon from 1934, “Betty In Blunderlad,” starring, of course, BETTY BOOP. In addition to the cartoon itself, our coverage includes an essay by film director PAUL VERHOEVEN (Robocop, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, et al.) on the enduring charms of Ms. Boop and the Fleischers’ animation.

CLICK here for Walt Disney’s May 1936 color cartoon ‘THRU THE MIRROR,’ starring MICKEY MOUSE. It begins with Mickey having fallen asleep while reading Through the Looking Glass and proceeds along much the same narrative line as Betty Boop’s ‘Betty In Blunderland.’ Note Mickey’s slick, Fred Astaire-like moves when dancing on the deck of cards—this sequence was parodied by the Genie in the Aladdin movie’s ‘Friend Like Me’ segment.

CLICK here for THE ALICE PANIC OF THE 1930S, plus some 1920s Alice errata worth noting, including:
*The 1923 WALT DISNEY Laugh-O-Gram, ‘ALICE’S WONDERLAND,’ a blend of live action and animation from the young Walt, who appears in the short. Alice is played by the late VIRGINIA DAVIS in the first of her many appearances in Disney’s ‘Alice’ films, which are credited with making the struggling company solvent in time for Walt to introduce a popular new cartoon character named Mickey Mouse. Viriginia Davis passed away in August 2009 and was remembered in’s September 2009 issue. A still from the obscure 1928 silent film, Alice Through A Looking Glass, directed by WALTER LANG and now almost vanished from the history books—even the cast members’ names are unknown. This was the last silent Alice movie. A rare photo of OLIVIA DE HAVILAND as Alice in a 1933 stage production that was the start of her acting career. A photo of ALICE LIDDELL, Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for his ‘Alice’ stories, by JULIA  MARGARET CAMERON, certainly the first great female photographer, but also one of the first photographers, period.

CLICK here for 1951: THE DISNEY VERSION, AND ITS LOST CHAPTER (Or, LEW BUNIN LIVES!) The classic 1951 animated version from WALT DISNEY, with the editorial grace note of an account of this Alice’s lost chapter—the Disney Studio’s attempt to quash by lawsuit the U.S. release of another Alice, by pioneering stop-motion animator and master puppeteer LOU BUNIN. Included is a 10-minute clip from Bunin’s fascinating and near-forgotten live action/animation Alice.

CLICK here for JONATHAN MILLER’S ALICE FOR THE AGES by David McGee, and an INTERVIEW with Dr. Miller from the British non-profit organization ICONS whose self-described aim is ‘to develop projects that provide stimulating interactive ways of exploring different cultural landscapes.’ Also reviewed here: a 1972 British musical version of Alice starring FIONA FULLERTON, PETER SELLERS (who also appears in Jonathan Miller’s 1966 version), RALPH RICHARDSON and DUDLEY MOORE  (whose comedic partner Peter Cook appeared as a droll Mad Hatter in the 1966 Alice).


by Chuck Prophet

The former Green on Red guitarist and still-resolute musical iconoclast posted a warm remembrance of his friend, written when Alex Chilton was still with us. Plus, a special report on the BIG STAR Alex Chilton tribute at this year's South by Southwest, as witnessed (and remembered) by contributing editor BILLY ALTMAN.

'Good Morning, Mr. Phelps'—Whether playing a scientist receiving messages from Mars, an American soldier imprisoned by the Germans in WWII, a benevolent rancher raising an adopted orphan son, ‘the impervious genius’ leading the Impossible Mission Force or a debased airline pilot, PETER GRAVES made his every appearance on the big or small screen worth cherishing. An appreciation.

Buckskin Becomes Him—The actor whose portrayal of frontiersman/politician/soldier Davy Crockett made him a ‘50s cultural icon and also demonstrated the power of the nascent medium of TV as a marketing tool passed away last month. He was 85. In his later years, Parker established himself as a successful winemaker in California. Therefore, a toast to his life in this issue.

Definitively and Definitely Cool: Actor Robert Culp, who starred memorably with Bill Cosby in I Spy for three seasons, and with Elliott Gould, Dyan Cannon and Natalie Wood in Papul Mazursky’s satiric examination of changing sexual mores in the ‘60s, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, died of a heart attack on March 24. ‘He was the big brother all of us always wished for,’ Cosby said of his friend and co-star.

Calling All Angels—Johnny Maestro, with the Crests and the Brooklyn Bridge, was as fine a vocalist as his generation produced. All along, he was on the side of the angels.

*JIM MARSHALL—The rock photographer of legend, and of legends, died in New York City on March 23.



Johnny Appleseed of Joy
By Michael Sigman

Huffington Post blogger MICHAEL SIGMAN shares his personal experience with author and meditation teacher JAMES BARAZ, whose new book, Awakening Joy, details a ten-step path to ‘put you on the road to real happiness.’ Hint: Music is important!


ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: JOHNNY CASH, American VI: Ain’t No Grave by Billy Altman—Ain't No Grave is a powerful summation of Johnny Cash’s soul-defining battle, and the guiding light it emanates shines on brightly for all to witness, and to learn from.

BARTON CARROLL, Together You and I—If there are no har-de-har-har moments on Together You and I, there is, at root, hope arising from a welter of abiding psychological and emotional afflictions. Rather than see these as debilitating, and cause for all hope being lost, Carroll has found ways around them, however bruised his heart may be. In the end, a bruised heart is better than no heart at all, and the possibility looms of it being fully healed.

ANNA COOGAN, The Nocturnal Among UsFor all its revelations of emotional devastation, The Nocturnal Among Us is not the downer it might seem from this appraisal. It’s more thought provoking in its ruthless examination of the whys and wherefores of things coming apart, of people disconnecting; and the subtlety of the arrangements and JD Foster’s evocative soundscapes offer a beautiful, compelling backdrop for the various dramas under investigation.

THE HONEY DEWDROPS, If The Sun Will ShineAny way you cut it the Dewdrops have something unique and oftimes mesmerizing to recommend them: plaintive harmonies, easygoing rhythms, evocative arrangements, well-crafted original songs, and a genuineness in their approach that can’t be learned in school but must flow from a life affirming need to connect with other like-minded souls. Like Honey Don’t, they hearken back to a gentler time, without sounding antiquated in the least.

SUMMERTOWN ROAD, Summertown RoadWhile the progressive wing of bluegrass awaits whatever wonders will ensue from the release of the Punch Brothers’ second album (apparently in June), the traditional world finds its music enriched by the debut of Summertown Road, the pride of Ashland, KY. Though the band members—Jack Hicks, Bo Isaacs, Jonathan Rigsby, Randy Thomas—has been together as Summertown Road only since mid-2008, all have impressive resumes, and, with an age range spanning the mid-20s to the mid-50s, a wide range of influences coalescing to make their original material musically rich and lyrically striking.



ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: JERRY LAWSON & TALK OF THE TOWN—Jerry Lawson, one of the great vocalists of our time, left the Persuasions in 2003, after 40 years leading the group, and thought he was walking away for good form a cappella music. Then he met four fellows from San Francisco who had their own intriguing a cappella blend, plus a deep love of Persuasions music, and Lawson re-entered the fray. The ensuing blessings are manifold.

BILLY LAVENDER, Memphis Livin’ Whether singing or playing up a storm, in a lead or supporting role, Memphis mainstay Billy Lavender serves up a mighty fine batch of southern soul, R&B, blues and good old-time rock ‘n’ roll on Memphis Livin’, and gets a rousing assist from a redoubtable cast of players who all brought their A games to the fray.

COCO MONTOYA, I Want It All Back—Known primarily as a guitarist—on his own and with the likes of John Mayall (he broke into the business as a drummer for Albert Collins)—Coco Montoya comes charging out on I Want It All Back with his axe blazing and his voice on full display. Yes, his voice. Working with the producer tandem of Keb’ Mo and Jeff Paris, Montoya is dealing some blues, some country, some elegant southern R&B and more here, and making it all work.

MORELAND & ARBUCKLE, Flood As difficult as it is to imagine, Kansas’ native sons Dustin Arbuckle and Aaron Moreland have actually topped their stunning 2008 album, 1861, and the timing is right. The duo is now on a label not their own (Telarc, with its attendant distribution and publicity infrastructure) and has a manager that is not themselves (John Hahn, in New York). So it is that when they take a step up the industry business rung they also coalesce like never before as a unit on record. Moreland & Arbuckle are no myth, but are assuming mythological proportions on Flood.

THE NIGHTHAWKS, Last Train To BluesvilleDon’t take the album title too seriously. If history has taught us anything about the Nighthawks, it’s that the band is always coming back to bluesville. The train may be carrying different freight on some trips, but it’s always running, and it’s always right on time.

MATTHEW STUBBS, Medford & MainGuitar master Matthew Stubbs’s engaging, personable picking makes Medford & Main a standout among many solid instrumental albums released by versatile bluesmen in the past year-plus.



In our video tribute to ALEX CHILTON, Tennessee Representative STEVE COHEN remembers the artist in an address to the U.S. House of Representatives. Videos include Chilton solo, with the BOX TOPS, and music from BIG STAR.

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