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A penny for your thoughts indeed. Around here that would be a raise.

What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

Oh-- and please welcome God to the APW team. We're thrilled and humbled to serve as His earthly vessel.

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Location: NYC

I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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Hey Man-- That's Jazz!
Saturday, February 19, 2005
I've been reading Lawrence Bergreen's excellent biography of Louis Armstrong, as recommended by my friend Ron from Charlotte. Ron, an Allman Brothers buddy, suggested that the book would be helpful to me in my music writing (while I've been somewhat coy about my identity, if you want to know who I am, I wrote the liner notes to the Allman Brothers' 2003 DVD release, Live at the Beacon Theater, for which I received a gold and platinum record-- no joke.)

Reading of Louie's youth in New Orleans put me in mind of a magical day I spent there once, and I wanted to jot down my memories of that day here, before they're gone and all I can do is complain about why the kids never pick up the damned video phone.

It was September of 1995, and I had two back-to-back trade shows in N'Awlins, one ending Friday, the next commencing Saturday night. So I had Saturday to myself, free and clear. It was a beautiful early fall day, not too sticky, breezy and comfortable shirtsleeve weather. And sunny. In short it was the kind of day I dream of. I began the afternoon by walking into a cigar store by my hotel and a block east of Antoine's, on Rue Saint Louis in the French Quarter. The woman behind the counter, a black woman of I'd guess 27, 28, was knowledgable and energetic as she assisted me, and we got to talking. She said she was studying opera. With that, she proceeded to sing for me-- a capella, and all out-- an aria. And I mean, like an angel. I told her to stop, I was embarrassed, but no, she was taken over by the music. I'm no opera buff-- I don't even know, truth be told, if it was an aria-- but
I stood there mesmorized by my one-on-one concert, and I thought to myself as I left, only in New Orleans will the chick in the cigar store sing opera for you.

As I made my way through the Quarter toward the river-- my plan was to find a place on the water to have lunch-- most blocks were closed off, and there was a band in the middle of the street almost every block. At Bourbon Street-- which crosses Rue Saint Louis-- there was a trio, anchored by a rather large black woman sitting in a chair, singing and playing the tuba. Her voice was one of those deep, throaty, soulful, gutteral things, and the bass lines she laid down on tuba were impossibly funky. Her name was Doreen; I know because I bought (and still have) her CD. The CD has, of course, "Bill Baily" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" on it. Doreen was attracting quite a nice-sized, good-timey crowd. One Cajun man, missing a few teeth, in hat and suspenders and in need of a shave, turned to me with a broad smile and said, perfectly, in a deep French accent: "She sing pretty good"-- and then, pausing the perfect beat, he added, "fo a girl!" I could only laugh. She sing pretty good, period.

I made it to the water and found an open air cafe with a dixieland band playing, and I took a table for myself right up front. I had fried crawfish as an appetizer-- imagine different-shaped Calamari-- and then Jambalaya (imagine Jambalaya.) I sat in front of the stand-up bass player, and the band moved through a classic repertoire: "All of Me," "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out," "When the Saints Go Marching In," like that. I have been known to play a little bit of guitar, and when the band took a break I asked the bass player something about which I had recently been pondering. "When you play a fretless instrument," I asked, "how do you know where to put your fingers?" On the stringed instruments I've played, there are always frets, the raised metal bars that go crosswise on a guitar neck, and against which you press the strings; you know that this string on this fret will produce an F, say.

"How do you know?" he asked, repeating my question. "You just know." He gestured over to his bandmate, also setting up for the next set about to begin. "How does the trombone player know how far out to move the slide?"

"And if you're a little off," I said, getting hip to the whole groove thang, "that's OK too." My bass player friend thought this was funny, and called over to the trombonist. This had obviously been a point of discussion between them. "Hey," he said, gesturing at me, "he says that if you're a little off, its OK!" The trombone player looked at me, smiled, and replied, "Hey man-- that's jazz!"


Posted by: --josh-- @ 2:08 PM  

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