december 2011


Words of wisdom for Valentine’s Day and beyond from Schnozzola.


Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy respond to Eric Bolling of FOX News claiming the new Muppets movie is pushing a liberal agenda.


‘Daddy Sang Bass’—February 26 marks the 80th birthday of Johnny Cash; April 9 marks the 80th for Carl Perkins. The Sun labelmates were raised almost directly across the Mississippi River from each other, Cash in Dyess, Arkansas, Perkins in Tiptonville, Tennessee. This rare clip shows the Cash troupe performing Perkins’s classic song in a 1969 concert held at Cummins Prison in Grady, Arkansas.


SARAH BURKE, four-time X-Games champion and odds-on favorite for an Olympic Gold Medal in 2014, crashed during a superpipe training run in Park City, Utah, on January 10, on the same superpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce was seriously injured in 2009. Onlookers reported that the 29-year-old Burke had completed a trick fairly well yet fell onto her head. Initially the accident did not appear to be very severe, but moments later she went into cardiac arrest while still on the ski slope. She was resuscitated and airlifted to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she underwent surgery to repair a tear in a vertebral artery, and was then placed on life support in an induced coma. She succumbed to her injuries on January 19. According to her publicist, Burke's injuries had resulted in "irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest." Her organs and tissues were donated as she requested before her death.

Sarah Burke was a real champion and the kind of all-around class act the world needs more of. In addition to her four X-Games golds in freestyle skiing, she won the world championship in the halfpipe in 2005. She successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have the event added to the Olympic program for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Burke won first place in the 2001 US Freeskiing Open in the half-pipe event and finished second in slopestyle. When half-pipe made its debut at the 2005 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, she emerged as the first world champion. She was the first woman ever to land a jump with 1080-degree rotation in competition. She won ESPN's 2001 Award for female skier of the year and was voted 2007's Best Female Action Sports Athlete at the ESPY awards.

Ms. Burke was born in Barrie, Ontario, and grew up in Midland. She later resided in Squamish, British Columbia. On September 25, 2010, Burke married fellow freeskier Rory Bushfield in Pemberton, British Columbia. He survives her.

Lovely to look at, exhilarating to watch and from all reports blessed with boundless energy and an infectious zest for life, Sarah Burke leaves a void that is not easy to fill. There will be other superpipe champions; there will be other attractive, engaging personalities pushing the envelope in competitions. There was but one Sarah Burke.



By David McGee

After emerging in the mid-‘70s as a key member of an influential progressive rock band, then spending the last half of the ‘80s and first part of the ‘90s writing award winning music for commercials, classically trained Welsh multi-instrumentalist KARL JENKINS began a new career as a composer and conductor. As such he won a devoted following--and equally rabid critics--for his hybrid works meshing symphonic elements with choral music and World Music appropriations of texts, vocals and instruments. In 2000 his The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace became a musical phenomenon and marked the start of a journey navigating the nexus of spiritual, inspirational and socially conscious themes advocating peace and non-violence. Last month he conducted the world premiere of his newest work, The Peacemakers, at Carnegie Hall. Centered on the words of iconic figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Anne Frank, Jenkins’s latest grand pronouncement in this realm (it features a thousand-voice choir) is either journey’s end or a necessary sequel.


You could have an easier job than tracking down mandolin virtuoso Joe Brent. One evening might find him on stage before thousands as a member of Regina Spektor's touring band; another might find him out in Brooklyn leading his own quartet or supporting another artist; or you might find him in the studio recording anything from a classical caprice to an old folk song from the basement of time; and still another day you will located him in a classroom at the Mannes College The New School for Music on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where he is the first and only mandolin player in the United States to hold a conservatory position as an instructor specifically of classical mandolin. Even this is but a cursory list of the various and sundry incarnations of Brent's musical persona. We try to get to it all in this Q&A with one of the truly exceptional musicians of his generation. Joe Brent recognizes no boundaries where the mandolin cannot venture, and thus seems destined to forge a body of work future generations will have to reckon with. (Photo: Emily Raw)


By David McGee

PETER ASHER and the charitable organization Songmasters have teamed up on a winning new BUDDY HOLLY tribute album, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, featuring terrific covers of Holly songs by the likes of Stevie Nicks, Chris Isaak, Linda Ronstadt, Brian Wilson, Imelda May, Jackson Browne, Natalie Merchant and others (including a very twisted Eric Idle interpretation of ‘Raining In My Heart’ that would make Spike Jones proud). Herein the story of how the project came to be, and a Q&A with Asher about the recordings. (Cover illustration of Buddy Holly by jpoulos2561. See his entire gallery of portraits at Star Portraits.)


Album Spotlight: Elvis Country: The Legacy Edition
By David McGee

A new double-CD retrospective from RCA/Legacy features a pair of Elvis’s 1970 albums: the mysterious and startling Elvis Country and the schizoid Love Letters from Elvis. All the greatness of Elvis and the disappointments of his later years arises in the sessions that yielded these two long players.


By David McGee

American originals ETTA JAMES and JOHNNY OTIS: together at the beginning, together at the end, together forever. A remembrance, plus a guide to their essential recordings.


By David McGee
These are the girls of summer. Not the summer that follows spring, but the summer of memory, brighter still, sweeter to the taste, when their voices, honeyed, alluring, and arriving, as Keats wrote on a fair summer’s eve, “on wing of Poesy/Full often dropping a delicious tear,” summoned a world pulsing with love’s young dreams. Our love endures.


By Michael Sigman
is literally an unsung hero--he rarely sings or writes lyrics. Like the greatest jazz musicians, he creates a new composition each time he improvises, often with more musical wit than his fellow rock icons. If Eric Clapton was God, then Beck was Apollo, god of, among other things, music, for whom Hermes created the lyre, ancient precursor to the guitar. Music, by definition, defies verbal explication. But Beck's best work is as expressive and profound as any religious text or philosophical treatise.


The founder, host and sine qua non of Soul Train, who refused to let Lee Abrams’s “Album Oriented Rock” format (translation: no black music allowed) to disenfranchise soul and R&B artists from mainstream America’s popular culture, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 1. Our tribute to the great Cornelius includes excerpts from two recent interviews in which he reflects on the whys and wherefores of the Soul Train experience, and--the best way to pay tribute to Cornelius’s achievement--a wealth of priceless clips from the show, including the famous Soul Train dancers doing their thing and performances by AL GREEN, STEVIE WONDER, The Supremes’ MARY WILSON, ARETHA FRANKLIN, MARVIN GAYE, JAMES BROWN, THE JACKSON 5 and Cornelius’s favorite Soul Train moment, ARETHA and SMOKEY ROBINSON in a breathtaking duet on ‘Ooo Baby Baby’--it don’t get better than this.


Woody Guthrie’s ‘New Year’s Rulin’s’

From Woody Guthrie’s journals dated January 1st, 1943, 33 resolutions to live by in the new year. Music: ‘Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad,’ annotated.


NEWS & NOTES: A niece of the late BEVERLY KENNEY has sent a ten-minute clip, previously thought lost, of her aunt’s 1961 appearance on Playboy After Dark featuring three live performances, one of them a duet with host Hugh Hefner. Must viewing of the tragic singer working her magic on an audience in a casual setting.


Love and heartbreak from the ‘50s and ‘60s and on the silver screen. An off-the-beaten-path playlist built for swooning, complete with the great Durante’s memorable signoff.


The ‘Golden Sound’ of Canadian Brass

In Canadian Brass Takes Flight, its first recording with its new members, the acclaimed brass ensemble presents a wide variety of music, including an eccentric arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’; Mozart’s ‘Turkish Rondo’; Gerardo Matos Rodríguez’s ‘La Cumparita’; Michael Kamen’s ‘Quintet’; and others. Recommended to anyone who admires good musicianship, beautiful sound quality and a brass ensemble ranging from piccolo-trumpet through horn to tuba.


The Border Crossing Vision of Myo-ma Nyein
By Arkar Moe

BURMA’s classical music icon championed his country’s traditional music and the western classics both. Constantly at odds with the authorities, he died with his dream of a national orchestra unrealized.

martin luther

In Praise of Music
By Martin Luther

Music is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us: it is divine and therefore Satan is its enemy. For with its aid many dire temptations are overcome: the devil does not stay where music is. Music is among the highest of the arts: its sounds bring the words of a text to life. It puts to flight all sad thoughts, as we see happened to Saul. (Essay from Martin Luther’s collection of thoughts and essays on his favorite art in Table Talk and Letters [1530-1541].)


By Bob Marovich

Imagine yourself diving head first into a crate packed with dusty 45 rpm vinyl records of gospel music. Not the hits of the day--not the Gospel Harmonettes, Gospel Keynotes, Davis Sisters or the Caravans--but quartets, trios, duos, singers, preachers and choirs you may not be familiar with, artists whose renown didn't reach beyond their city or region. They sold their discs whenever and wherever they ministered in song. Some artists were fortunate enough to secure interest from a large indie label or a decent distribution deal, only to sink quickly into the nether regions of memory. These are the records assembled on This May Be My Last Time Singing, the three-CD follow-up to gospel collector and enthusiast Mike McGonigal's critically acclaimed collection, Fire in My Bones, also a three-CD set on Tompkins Square. Plus: a quick Q&A with McGonigal.


By Linda Cain

Chicago’s Jubilee Showcase, the first TV show to feature black gospel music exclusively, was ‘church before church.’ From the Soul Stirrers to Albertina Walker and the Caravans to the Staple Singers to Jessy Dixon to Andrae Crouch, the artists presented by the progressive producer-host Sid Ordower represent a time capsule of gospel music history from its golden age to the modern era. Now some of the show’s great performances live again on DVD, Classic Moments in Jubilee Showcase, reviewed by Linda Cain, managing editor of the Chicago Blues Guide.


pughGENITA PUGH, My Purpose-- Pastor Genita Pugh of Laurel, Mississippi is making waves in the gospel community with her newest release, My Purpose. Pugh’s voice is warm and calming, a blend of pop, gospel and R&B. It washes over you with cleansing power, even on the album’s up-tempo churchy numbers.

dillardRICKY DILLARD and NEW G, Keep Living--Bursting on the scene in 1990 with the explosive and vocally aerobic “More Abundantly,” a song every choir subsequently learned to sing, Ricky Dillard and New G continue to inject contemporary lit with old-fashioned church spirit on their eighth CD, Keep Living. Regardless of the song style, Keep Living finds New G producing those big, round full-voice chords for which it is well known. The group has a polish ensembles develop only after years of singing together.

santiagoJUAN SANTIAGO & UNINHIBITED PRAISE, Ultimate Worship Experience: Live--On their sophomore album, Ultimate Worship Experience: Live, Instead of offering a collection of songs, Juan Santiago & Uninhibited Praise depicts aurally the mood or tone of the worship service, complete with audience response. Here, instead of bathing, listeners can baptize their senses in the service.

rokROK, Born 2 Sing--With a head full of dreadlocks and Rok as his professional name, you would anticipate that Rokeem Pough is a Christian hip-hop artist. You’d be wrong. He’s a smooth contemporary gospel singer-songwriter and a pretty good one at that. Originally from the Bronx and now living in Harlem, Rok has packaged his songs and style in a new CD, Born 2 Sing. It is a collection of quiet storm-style inspirational songs and a thematic message that Rok articulates most concretely in “I’ll Follow You:” “In this world there’s no one/Who can love you quite like me.” “Me” refers not to Rok but to God, and on selections such as the tuneful “God’s Love,” Rok croons that the Supreme Being is the one true north.

bullockAMBER BULLOCK, Thank You--Amber Bullock is the latest gospel chanteuse to earn top accolades on BET’s popular Sunday Best, taking home the crown during Season Four. Bullock's debut CD, Thank You, is a seven-track EP with a smart song selection and diverse arrangements to showcase her singing.

*After Childrens’ Murders, Rocky Smith and Wife Form Rocky Smith Ministries--
On November 20, 2011, Rocky Smith and his wife Gail received the horrific news that their sons Dylan and Zach had been murdered, along with three other children, by Rocky’s ex-wife, who was distraught over the end of her three-year-affair with a married man. In the wake of this tragedy, the Smiths have formed Rocky Smith Ministries to minister to others about the dangers of domestic violence and untreated mental illness, as well as urging the gift of organ donations.
*’I’ll Flay Away’ Turns 80--In 1932 Albert E. Brumley presented ‘a little ditty’ he had written to the Hartford Music Company. Eighty years later the ditty, ‘I’ll Fly Away,’ lays claim to being the most recorded song in history. Happy birthday. Plus: a performance of ‘I’ll Fly Away’ by Johnny and June Carter Cash and Carl Perkins.


campbellGLEN CAMPBELL, Live in Japan--Wondering why Live in Japan did not merit a U.S. release is not what anyone is going to think about when they experience the vitality and spirit of the artist’s performance at Kosei Nenkin Hall in Tokyo, as recorded on May 29, 1975. With Campbell now on his Goodbye Tour after being diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s Disease, with presumably his final studio album (the intensely moving Ghost On the Canvas) gathering rave reviews, Live in Japan serves as kind of a reality check…

emersonBILL EMERSON & SWEET DIXIE, The Touch of Time--In The Touch of Time Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie have done nothing less than craft a traditional bluegrass album as beautiful as it is meaningful.


frickeJANIE FRICKE, Country Side of Bluegrass--When she was a hit making juggernaut in the 1980s, Janie Fricke was viewed by some country music critics and historians as a harbinger of traditional country’s doom, given the popularity and influence of her many Billy Sherrill-produced (read: pop-inflected) hits. Originally available on a small label in 2004 as The Bluegrass Sessions, this 2012 reissue, on which Fricke reconfigures many of those hits in bluegrass form (with the able assistance of Luke Bulla, Randy Kohrs, Andy Leftwich, Mark Fain, Jimmy Mattingly and other redoubtable pickers), is a reminder of the stellar work she did in her commercial heyday. The irony is that Country Side of Bluegrass suggests she was way more country than the pundits and hardliners ever gave her credit for back in the day. She wins.

littlefieldED LITTLEFIELD, JR., My Western Home--At only eight songs Ed Littlefield, Jr.’s second solo album may seem slight, but those eight songs add up to 59 minutes of music lovingly rendered, subtly performed and felt to the artist’s core.


willieWILLIE NELSON, Remember Me, Vol. 1--Yet another album of time-honored mainstream country hits, Willie Nelson’s Remember Me, Vol. 1 may have some devoted Willie fans out there shaking their heads and lamenting anew the absence of any fresh Willie tunes here and charging him with merely coasting (again). Yet, if he doesn’t get it up, so to speak, on each and every track to every fan’s and critic’s liking, Willie has still made the album title something more meaningful than merely the name by which we know a great country song from the days of yore. As if we would ever forget.


costelloSEAN COSTELLO, At His Best--Live--This may not be the final musical will and testament of Sean Costello, but it is at the very least a stirring reminder of, on one hand, how versatile a player and effective a singer he was, and on the other, of the hole blown into contemporary blues when he departed this mortal coil in April 2008, one day short of his 29th birthday.

leveeLEVEE TOWN, Pages Of Paperwork--Based in Kansas City and clearly helping to energize the city’s resurgent blues scene, Levee Town is a tough-minded quartet (guitar, harmonica, bass, drums) boasting original songs from three band members, stellar musicianship, striking vocals, and a feeling for post-war Chicago blues that recalls nothing so much as the ferocity of the early Rolling Stones, with some southern rock and Texas blues flourishes mixed in for good measure.

russellCATHERINE RUSSELL, Strictly Romancin’--Offering sly, sensuous looks of love courtesy songs from Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh, Hoagy Carmichael, Lil Green, Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Irving Mills and others, Ms. Russell shows off the impeccable phrasing, savvy rhythmic sense and expressive soulfulness that has earned her the praise of top jazz critics worldwide and a growing audience that appreciates the Ella-like sophistication and clarity of her attack and the personal stamp she puts on material from varied 20th and 21st Century sources.

loversDEBORAH WINTERS, Lovers After All--Bay Area-based pop-jazz vocalist consolidates all her strengths on this, her third album. That is to say, there’s plenty here for those who enjoy her Ella-like forays into seemingly improvisational territory, and plenty of romantic ballads, slow and uptempo alike, for those who hear in her expressive voice a contemporary stylist of the first rank who joins the likes of Diana Krall and Maude Maggart (the two established singers she most resembles) in the ranks of today’s most inspired interpretive singers.


From her ‘100 Videos in 100 Days’ project, Christine Santelli performs ‘You Name’s Now Up In Light,’ which is featured on her new solo acoustic album, Dragonfly, available at, and soon to be offered at CD Baby and various online music sites. For those in or visiting New York City, the PATH Café at 131 Christopher Street features Ms. Santelli hosting and performing an opening set at its Singer-Songwriter night every Wednesday from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Check her out live--seeing is believing.



Too Busy to Read Charles Dickens? Then Try the Music

February 7 marked the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of CHARLES DICKENS, the most celebrated English novelist of the 19th century. But unlike Shakespeare or Goethe, Dickens's influence on classical music is less pronounced--at least on first glance. In the first installment of our monthly Dickens Bicentenntial tribute, an overview of the role music played in some of the author’s great works. Includes a video of MARK O’CONNOR, YO-YO MA and EDGAR MEYER, from their Appalachian Waltz album, performing ‘The College Hornpipe,’ a popular dance tune of Dickens’ era that figures in two of his novels, Dombey and Son and David Copperfield, along with audio clips of two other song, ‘The Ivy Green,’ which appears in Dickens’s first novel, The Pickwick Papers, and ‘The David Copperfield Polkas,’ a tune commissioned by a Victorian music publisher hoping to cash in Dickens’s name.

killer klowns


*HOME, SWEET, HOME?--Adding to the mystery of the planet Saturn, it now appears its moon Titan may be more like Earth than previously thought, given its layered, Earth-like atmosphere. In other news, Jennifer Quellette at Discovery News reports that IAN HUTCHEON, an expat Englishman now working in Chile, has developed a new wine aged with a meteorite that fell to Earth from away out there.
*At long last a major cinema event is slated to occur in 2012: the 3D sequel of the 1988 sci-fi classic from Charles, Stephen and Edward Chiodo, Killer Klowns from Outer Space with its rocking Dickies soundtrack. This epic about a horde of alien clowns that terrorizes a small town and its hapless police force has a script and a commitment for funding. Only the lack of a distribution deal is holding up the start of principal photography on THE RETURN OF KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE IN 3D.


Alex Tiller’s Blog About Agriculture and Farming
*Farmers Try Cover Crops to Protect Their Product--
Efficient farming can be practiced in many ways, but one method that has become more popular in recent years is the use of cover crops. The quality of the soil has a direct impact on the health of the farm and its output, so crops that boost soil quality rather than degrading it actually add to the value of the land they are grown on.
*Low Interest Rates Keep Farmland Prices High--For investors, times have never been better for buying up farmland, with interest rates at historic lows. Land values are now increasing at up to 8% per year, while commodity prices being as high as they are making investing in farmland very lucrative. All of this in a time where economic troubles persist and when traditional investments, particularly money market investments on Wall Street, are considered too risky.


Diving Deeply Into The World Of Dolphins With Dr. Denise Herzing
By Duncan Strauss

DR. DENISE HERZING knows a lot more about dolphins than I do. And she also knows a lot more about dolphins—no offense--than you do.  Not looking to pick a fight or anything and, in fact, this position seems pretty inarguable, given that even dolphin experts feel Herzing is the world’s leading authority on dolphins, particularly Atlantic spotted dolphins. Indeed, Denise Herzing holds a PhD and a reputation as a pioneering researcher who has spent the better part of 27 years in Bahamian waters, studying Atlantic spotted dolphins. Her work tracking three generations of dolphin families—entitled the Wild Dolphin Project—has elicited comparisons with Jane Goodall. 


Looking For Winter: The Story In the Silence and Stillness of Yellowstone National Park
By Christine Baleshta

Where I live we wait for winter. It arrives late, sometimes not until after Christmas, and teases us with frost on the grass and morning temperatures in the low thirties. In fortunate years snow decorates the pecans and live oaks for a day and disappears in the warm sun. Then winter leaves almost as suddenly as it arrives. In Yellowstone winter is always possible.



This month Jules offers a real find: Patricia Intriago’s Dot, which isues a simple dot to explore the world of opposites in this concept book, playing cleverly with size, shape, color and composition to make a point about perception, ‘how we cansee the same thing differently depending on context and composition,’ writes one reviewer. Also this month: Angela DiTerlizzi's Say What?, illustrated by Joey Chou and geared for toddler-sized readers.



Recent Issues

(For all back issues go to the Archive)

Video File





After finishing recording his new album, The Three Kings, guitarist Jeff Golub lost the sight in both of his eyes due to collapsed optic nerves. A fund has been set up to help defray his daunting medical expenses. Donations are accepted via PayPal, check or credit card. If you wish to donate, click here:

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024