march 2012


Viva La Mario?

Coldplay sucks in ways we haven’t seen bands suck before, but someone who identifies himself as MrRoboto113 at YouTube has given us yet another reason to despise the band (and by extension, Gwyneth Paltrow). Eve Conte (aka Empress Eve), co-publisher, executive editor and host of the Flix of Doom podcast, summarizes MrRoboto113’s findings at Geeks of Doom:

Remember back in 2008 guitarist Joe Satriani sued the band Coldplay, claiming that the band’s hit song ‘Viva La Vida’ was a rip off of his 2004 instrumental “If I Could Fly”? [Read Joe Satriani Sues Coldplay For Biting His Riffs] While Satch unfortunately lost the suit (even though the two songs clearly sounded similar), someone else has uncovered that ‘Viva La Vida’ sounds like another familiar tune.

YouTube user MrRoboto11 decided to have some fun with the song by posting a video that demonstrates that when the Coldplay tune is sped up, it sounds like the Star Power theme from the popular Nintendo video game Super Mario Bros.

You can listen in the comparison video here below.

My apologies in advance for posting a Coldplay song.

Viva La Mario?


Cover Story


By David McGee

I: Formidable political forces are aligned against a movement to restore Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, which was destroyed in 1923 with the completion of the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Water from the dam serves some 2.4 million residents of San Francisco and nearby areas, but proponents of restoration insist more viable water resources are closer and more abundant than Hetch Hetchy’s. A fight that began at the turn of the century continues. Our coverage includes the historical background of the original battle to save Hetch Hetchy; an interview with SPRECK ROSEKRANS, policy director of Restore Hetch; and breaking news of a Hetch Hetchy ballot initiative filed on Feb. 29 by Hetch, ‘The Water Sustainability & Environmental Restoration Planning Act of 2012.’

II: In 1912 the great naturalist JOHN MUIR took direct aim at the proponents of the Hetch Hetchy dam project--‘devotees of ravaging commercialism,’ he called them--in his book The Yosemite. At the same time, he spoke with a poet’s voice of Hetch Hetchy Valley’s beauty and wonders, observing that ‘no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.’ His complete chapter on Hetch Hetchy is reprinted here. (Cover painting by Albert Bierstadt,



By David McGee

Dana Fuchs steamrolls the Iridium in acoustic mode, plans new band and acoustic albums, a live DVD…and wants to know your sign (not really). Baby loves the life. Catching up with the artist whose Love to Beg was one of the top albums of 2011 and whose live performances make mincemeat of the prefabricated icons beloved by the mainstream media. (Photo by Crosathorian)


Artists On the Verge 2012
By David McGee

A YouTube video has logged a million and a half views; his European audience is growing by leaps and bounds; the percussive and atmospheric effects he draws from (or on) his guitar are stretching the boundaries of the instrument’s possibilities; and his songs’ personal and topical themes are connecting across generations. All this from an unsigned, self-reliant artist whose manager/wife told Simon Cowell to hit the road (in a manner of speaking).


Artists On the Verge 2012

The young Korean pianist’s ambitious survey of the Complete Piano Sonatas ‘emphasizes the emotional, human, spiritual and psychological.’


Artists On the Verge 2012
By David McGee

It's not enough to say of Tucson's Brian Lopez that he is a young man of drive, discipline and vision, laudable as those qualities are, and how essential they are to success in almost every endeavor. Couple his estimable attributes to an artist's sensibility and you really have something special, something to count on for the long haul. Brian Lopez is an artist, and with his debut solo album Ultra he has begun the real work of going inside himself to find out what he has to say to the world. And lo, it is good.


Ladino--the language of the Sephardic Jews that originated in Spain prior to their expulsion in 1492--is in danger of dying out. But one young, passionate Israeli singer steeped in the tradition of European Jewish culture is determined to reverse the decline. Her name is YASMIN LEVY, and her new album, Sentir, is her strongest cross-cultural message yet in what she views as a ‘musical reconciliation of history.’ (Photo: Ali Taskiran)


By David McGee
Right on time for St. Patrick’s Day--with a PBS special set to air on March 17 to boot--the great Irish band CLANNAD is back with a 40th anniversary retrospective. Actually it’s only a 30-year retrospective, encompassing the band’s past three decades on RCA, but those are choice years of innovation that augured a new era in traditional Irish music. Come September, the ‘family from Dore’ (three siblings and their twin uncles) will be appearing live on North American stages for the first time in 20 years. Irish eyes, and many others, will be smiling.


By David McGee

The Philles Album Collection houses the wealth of great music Spector and his artists produced between 1961 and 1964, when the collection (but not the label) ends. Though oft-anthologized, the hits are as lustrous as ever, and for those who care, for whatever reason, the lesser-known album tracks speak to the creativity and inventiveness at work in Gold Star Studios during the years in question. Among the many rare photos in the liner booklet are two--only two--showing Spector smiling. You only wish, damn it, that there were more, and more reasons to smile when the name Phil Spector comes up.
*Plus ‘He Was From Another World,’ excerpts from a 1996 interview with Spector’s go-to engineer at Gold Star Studios, LARRY LEVINE.


Sinatra, Riddle & A Moment To Remember
By David McGee

Leave it to the great artist Nelson Riddle called “the old master” to sing an entire album with such a degree of nuance and sensitivity--and intellect--as to make the full Riddle-conducted orchestra supporting him sound as intimate as a chamber group. The depth of introspection Sinatra plumbs throughout the brief journey that is The Concert Sinatra is so engrossing that when he bursts forth in the triumphant closing crescendo of Rodgers and Hart’s “My Heart Stood Still” you’re jolted by the intensity of the emotional explosion erupting from what had been a measured, pastoral setting and a singer’s insouciant attitude towards the very idea of love, much less of love actually visiting him

davy jones

Remembering The Monkees’ DAVY JONES, who died of a massive heart attack on February 29. A look back at a remarkable career on stage, screen and records, and at what his fellow Monkee Mike Nesmith calls ‘the good times, and the healing times, too…” with copious and wonderful video illustrations.


‘Living Presence’ Lives Again

In what is a major event for audiophiles and classical music lovers, Decca Classics has released Mercury Living Presence: The Collectors Edition, a 51-CD box set of recordings originally issued by Mercury Records in its Living Presence series. Comprised of many of the series’ most treasured performances, the box sex underscores anew the artistry and inventiveness of producer WILMA COZART FINE (above).


In ‘Music Is Infinite,’ SIDNEY LANIER (above), writing in the mid-1800s, argues for refraining from ‘too definite ideas to musical compositions, owing to the many different ways audiences experience and interpret music; from his 1645 Religio Medici (The Religion of a Physician), SIR THOMAS BROWNE illuminates what he heard as a link between music and God.


Woody Guthrie and the Columbia River

It is sometimes hard to believe that one month in the life of a twenty-eight-year-old Oklahoma-born folk singer could have a lasting impact on an entire geographic region, but such is the case with Woody Guthrie in the Pacific Northwest.


strange*BILLY STRANGE: MR. GUITAR MAN--As fine a guitarist as ever strapped on a Fender, Billy Strange was part of the fabled Wrecking Crew; a friend to and songwriter for Elvis Presley, whose song ‘Memories’ became one of the King’s latter-day monuments; a skilled and inventive producer-arranger whose resume includes Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,’ for which he came up with the classic descending bass riff opening. “I have played every kind of music in the world,” Strange said. ‘If they needed somebody in a small group who knew what the hell they were doing in the studio, that was me.’ The 81-year-old Strange died in Nashville on February 22.

louisiana*LOUISIANA RED: ‘A PERMANENT SPRING OF PURE BLUES’--Iverson Minter, professionally known as Louisiana Red, an award winning blues guitarist, harmonica player, songwriter and singer who recorded more than 50 albums, died on February 25 in Hanover, Germany. A tribute to the man whom his friend and sometime musical partner Bob Corritore extolled as ‘a powerful downhome blues artist who could channel his teachers into his own heartfelt musical conversation, delivered with such moving passion and honesty that it would leave his audiences indelibly touched.’

*FRETWORK: PRESSING ON--The popular viol consort triumphs at Carnegie Hall following a 25th anniversary year that saw a founding member die by his own hand and another long standing cohort take her leave. The future beckons.

*THE GIVING TREE BAND OFFERS A PERSONAL TAKE ON THE GRATEFUL DEAD--In an exclusive to, the Giving Tree Band sends a report of its contribution to The Dead Covers Project, along with a video of its terrific rendition of Robert Hunter’s ‘Brown-Eyed Women.’


It is certainly true that musicians live on through their songs long after they have departed this mortal coil, but Robert Sherman is going to be around longer than most, because the songs he wrote with this brother Richard, mostly for beloved Walt Disney films, including Mary Poppins, are so deeply embedded in our cultural DNA.



By Bob Marovich

One might think that the gospel highway is well paved for the Chicago-born Wilson, now living in Houston. But if you listen closely to the lyrics on So Proud, you’ll hear something to the contrary. In fact, several songs on the new album find Wilson head bowed, affirming his faith in the midst of the frustrations and anxiety he experienced transitioning from the financial certainty of a successful career in pharmaceutical sales to the uncertainty of life as a gospel singer.

Immigration and The Gospel
By Russell D. Moore

‘I’m amazed when I hear evangelical Christians speak of undocumented immigrants in this country with disdain as “those people” who are ‘draining our health care and welfare resources.’ It’s horrifying to hear those identified with the gospel speak, whatever their position on the issues, with mean-spirited disdain for the immigrants themselves. This is a gospel issue.’

latoshaPLUS: LATOSHA BROWN's new album, Hope, Heartbreak and Healing, produced by Mark Gowden, is scheduled for release this coming spring. While in the studio, Ms. Brown led the assembled musicians in an impromptu, stirring rendition of ‘I Know I’ve been Changed,’ which took all of about 15 minutes. Released as a video podcast, that moment has now racked up more than one million views and raising hopes that Ms. Brown’s new album could be her big breakout moment. Also, Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the Seventh Day, the second film in Bishop T.D. Jakes’s Woman Thou Art Loosed franchise, had its world premiere as the closing attraction at the Pan African Film Festival on February 19, and is heading for an April 13 release in select AMC independent locations nationwide.


dorindaDORINDA CLARK-COLE, I Survived--The strongest voice of the Clark Sisters and an artist whose vocal assist has vaulted more than one gospel single up the charts, Dorinda Clark-Cole scores with her latest solo release, I Survived. Throughout the album, the stylish and seasoned gospel singer keeps the vibe traditional, regardless of whether the selection is contemporary, urban R&B or P&W.

proudBRIAN COURTNEY WILSON, So Proud--Without a doubt, Brian Courtney Wilson is one of gospel’s best new balladeers. His soulful way with a song places him alongside fellow sacred crooners Bebe Winans and Rev. Paul Morton. On So Proud, Wilson looks back and chronicles the emotional rollercoaster of his musical journey, and especially the faith it took to keep moving forward, with Sunday morning-style lessons for the listener.

processISAAC SIMPSON & DIVINE PROVIDENCE, The Process--The Process is a satisfying album of hard-hitting and muscular P&W, contemporary ballads, gospel singing and bench-shaking choral numbers. The ensemble follows the same diverse strategy in its lyric content, balancing vertical praise songs with selections about encouragement, hope and deliverance.

jackyeeJACKYEE, Broken But Perfected For My Purpose--Elizabeth Kubler-Ross led us through the various stages of death. On Broken but Perfected for My Purpose, Jackyee leads us through the various stages of rebirth. Not rebirth as in reincarnation, but religious rebirth is the thread binding Jacqueline “Jackyee” Carter’s clever concept album together.

reedyJESSICA REEDY, From The Heart--From the Heart is a bounteous blessing of musical riches. Packed with songs about good times, bad times and praise times, Light Records couldn’t have made a better debut album for Jessica Reedy than this one.



hawksI SEE HAWKS IN L.A., New Kind of Lonely--Graceful, easygoing but meaty, the all-acoustic New Kind of Lonely, album six from the veteran I See Hawks In L.A., evokes the spirit of vintage Southern California folk and country--Gram Parsons, Flying Burrito Brothers--and adds a contemporary bluegrass flair. The duality permeating New Kind of Lonely keeps a listener on his toes, lest the Hawks’ world seem too straightforward; fittingly, the music’s southern Cal country lilt is deceptive—it sure sounds pretty, but dastardly things are going on around it. Bliss out at your own risk.

boydKATY BOYD, Paper Hearts--With the help of musicians from the bands of Ricky Skaggs and Delbert McClinton, and Nancy Griffiths’ producer Thomm Jutz behind the board, Katy Boyd has fashioned an album both beautiful and heartbreaking; an album that may or may not be drawn from her own experience, but feels real, and close to the bone.

riverLONESOME RIVER BAND, Chronology, Volume One--In honor of its 30th anniversary, the Lonesome River Band has come up with the interesting idea of celebrating each decade of its lifetime with an individual EP of revisited versions of tunes the band defined during each decade, and which in turn defined the band as one of contemporary bluegrass music’s top echelon practitioners. Volume One honors the band’s first decade following its formation in 1982.

riceTONY RICE, The Bill Monroe Collection--Released in January 2012, Tony Rice’s The Bill Monroe Collection is a bit late in celebrating the Bill Monroe centennial year of 2011, but it can fairly be argued that few artists have celebrated the music of the father of bluegrass longer or better than has Tony Rice. What’s a few months tardiness compared to a stellar career’s worth of Monroe tributes, as this anthology of recordings from the ‘80s and ‘90s attests?


dragonflyCHRISTINE SANTELLI, Dragonfly--Bleak and austere in the manner of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska; flush with the burnished, poignant, bittersweet persistence of memory fueling Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse; and asserting self-reliance in the Marlene Dietrich style (“good for nothing/men are good for nothing”) even as the last vestiges of dependency linger (think Carmen McRae’s “How Did He Look”), Christine Santelli’s solo acoustic stunner Dragonfly is a complex, coming of age work.

arnoldMAC ARNOLD, Live At The Grey Eagle--Tight and merciless at 10 songs clocking in about six minutes short of an hour, Live at the Grey Eagle is a vivid taste of what it’s like to witness Mac Arnold’s Blues Revival in full-tilt form kicking off the fourth annual Collard Greens and Cornbread Blues Festival. The album has such energy you wish it would just keep on going. So play it again. And again.

chambersSEAN CHAMBERS, Live From the Long Island Blues Warehouse-- Live albums can be hit or miss affairs and are rarely as satisfying as a well thought out studio effort, but in Live From the Long Island Blues Warehouse, the Sean Chambers Band has done a laudable job of survey its past, present and future in a tasty 10-song set that is an emphatic display of Chambers’s stellar blues-rock guitar work and muscular singing, while at the same time showing off his accompanying trio as a tight, aggressive unit (featuring the potent blues harp work of Gary Keith, one of the best out there) perfectly attuned to their leader’s energy.

dixieKENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS, Dixie Lullabies--Right now you’re wondering why no one ever sings anymore about the fiscally responsible, gustatory delights of Boone’s Farm wine. Especially the strawberry flavored kind. Your prayers have been answered: the Kentucky Headhunters have never forgotten the small pleasures and cheap thrills that make life worth living, and so a mere one song into their terrific new album they deliver a deeply informed “Boone’s Farm Boogie,” all churning guitars and croaking, hungover vocals. Forty years into their career, these true sons of the south remain true to themselves and to their distinctive brand of southern rock, presented here at its apex.

millsLISA MILLS, Tempered in Fire--Lisa Mills is her own woman, steeped in the blues, as you might expect of a Mississippi native, and singing with gritty, searing authority--and with nuance, too: she can stomp and swagger with brio through her own funky soul strut “Why Do I Still Love You?” while unabashedly battling her conflicted feelings towards a guy she knows she can’t count on, in a heated, multi-textured reading worthy of Mavis Staples. Amidst all its memorable music, the complexities Mills reveals in her readings on Tempered In Fire speak not only to the quality of the writing but to the depth of her artistry in making the most of the possibilities the songs offer her.


From her ‘100 Videos in 100 Days’ project, Christine Santelli performs ‘Justify.’ Her new solo acoustic album, Dragonfly, available at, and soon to be offered at CD Baby and various online music sites, is reviewed in this issue (see Beyond the Blue, above, for link). 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.



Charles Dickens and Music
By James T. Lightwood

“For many years I have been interested in the various musical references in Dickens' works, and have had the impression that a careful examination of his writings would reveal an aspect of his character hitherto unknown, and, I may add, unsuspected.” So writes James T. Lightwood in his preface to his 1912 book, Charles Dickens and Music. In Chapter 1 of his book, reprinted here, Lightwood examines Dickens as a musician, as a singer and in music drama. Videos include period music from Dickens’ time.


In the search for signs of extraterrestrial life, scientists are increasingly intrigued by ongoing findings from the Saturn mission of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft mission indicating the presence of liquid water reservoirs erupting in Yellowstone-like geysers on the moon ENCELADUS. Consequently, Enceladus has been confirmed as only the third extraterrestrial world to be geologically active.


‘A Forest of Food, For the People, By the People’: An Experiment in Public Forestry Begins on Seattle’s Beacon Hill

In Seattle, WA, seven acres of sloping lawn that have sat idly in the hands of Seattle Public Utilities for the better part of a century are being transformed into an edible landscape and community park space known as the Beatrice Food Forest, in which everything from the tree canopy to the roots is edible or useful in some way. The end goal is an urban oasis of public food. From Robert Millinger in Crosscut, a full report on ‘a forest of food, for the people, by the people.’


Canine PTSD: The Dogs of War, And Their Invisible Wounds
By Duncan Strauss

Dr. Walter Burghardt treats military dogs exhibiting symptoms of a canine form of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Yes, canine PTSD is real, and treatment remains a work in progress. ‘We have a very, very scant amount of information and virtually no good research yet on the problem, and treatment of the problem,’ Burghardt says. ‘But anecdotal evidence tells us that the earlier we intervene, the more likely it is that we’re going to get some positive effects.’


Life Gives Life
By Christine Baleshta

A bull elk ventures out of the trees to the west and looks around at the scattered pack, assessing the situation. One wolf spots him and takes a few hesitant steps toward him, then breaks into a lope. At first it appears to be play. Just a wolf chasing an elk. Then another wolf joins in, and another, and another. In a matter of minutes the game of chase turns serious and it is no longer play. I have witnessed my first wolf kill.



In 2009, author/illustrator Taeeun Yoo visited for a cyber-breakfast, and it remains one of my favorite interviews. Not just because her response to the Pivot question about what turns her on was "Coffee. A sunny day. A stormy day, too. Music. Good conversations with friends. And cupcakes." Mostly 'cause I love her illustration work. Every now and then I like to check in with her, and it turns out she has at least (there could be more, for all I know) two titles out this year. And she's here today to share some art from them.



*FREDDIE SOLOMON: ‘HE WAS SUCH A LEGITIMATE GUY’-- Freddie Solomon, who gave up his dream of being a professional quarterback to become an outstanding receiver for the Miami Dolphins (1975-77) and a San Francisco 49ers team (1978-85) that won two Super Bowls, died on February 13 in Tampa, FL, after a nine-month battle with colon and liver cancer. He was 59.


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