Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quiet Thursday

One of the best things about Holly and Robin's trip to New Orleans (for me) was that they saw Doctor John. The main reason that was so good was that I looked for some music from Doctor John on the internet, and found some great recordings on You Tube.

I've seen lots of recordings on You Tube, and I usually try to avoid them. My computer is older and doesn't play most of them in any sort of coherent way. But the recordings of his music were clear, had great sound, and played well.

Which lead me to look for some of my other favorite music makers.

Today, I'm going to let you hear Chris Smither, who, on a list of my favorite artists would be fighting it out with Ry Cooder for number one. I will undoubtedly write something about Ry Cooder sometime soon.

Here's Chris' most famous song, Love You Like a Man. You should note that when Bonnie Raitt transposed genders so she could sing it, she also softened up the language. This is lowdown blues at it's best!

The first time I ever saw Chris was at The Main Point outside Philadelphia in the very early '70s. I went to see John Hammond, and Chris opened for him. He came on, sang Love You Like a Man, and I fell in love! I didn't even care about Johnny Hammond after that!

Chris is not only a superb musician, but he's a showman, too. Not in the sense of putting on a fabulous light show or anything, but just plain charisma. When he comes onto the stage, it's like he grabs you by the collar and drags your attention onto the stage. You can't walk out, you can't talk to someone else, you can't ignore him! You can't do anything but sit there and enjoy the show with him. When he finally lets you go, you have been entertained to within an inch of your life!



Chris always plays sitting down, and he had a large board at the Point to stomp on because almost everything he does has a hard, driving rhythm, and he pounds it out on a board (one of these recordings has a shot of his foot stomping on a board). One of the people at the Point said that they had a "Chris Smither memorial chair" in the basement that they kept for sentimental reasons. It had been reduced to rubble!

Here's Chris doing the classic Statesboro Blues:



But he's best doing his own songs, like Train Home. This recording was hand-held, and the picture bounces around a lot, but the music, as always with Chris, is excellent!



Here's another handheld recording, complete with people walking in front of the camera, of his song Crocodile Man.




This is not his best work, just the best that I was able to find on You Tube. I, personally, like his own songs better than a lot of stuff that other people wrote, with the exception of Catfish, which was not written by him, but is very good nonetheless. And, of course, I love the classics, like Statesboro Blues.

Catfish is another lowdown blues, but in a cute way. Part of the lyrics go:

Catfish got whiskers and a sweet little grin,
but you never can tell where a catfish has been.

I'll be your catfish, honey, any old time,
just call out my name, girl, and drop me your line.

Some lowdown blues goes overboard, and is in questionable taste, but Catfish is more like flirting, cute, not raunchy.

Oh, and I should mention that Chris will be at the Birchmere (in Alexandria) on the 13th of November for anybody reading this locally. You can see his schedule here, find out more about him at his website, and follow him on Facebook.

If you look at his website, you'll find that there's a book that's just out with a story that was written by him. This is the first I've heard of a completly unsuspected talent that he has! The book is Amplified.

I don't remember the name of the author, but there is/was someone out there writing mysteries who was also a fan of Cris'. Sometimes the books would just have a reference where the character would get in their car and turn on the radio and Chris would be on, other times there were other mentions, but he was in most of the books.

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The Legend of the Seeker is about to come on SyFy in a few minutes. If you want to catch it from the beginning, this is it!

And, of course, there will be the usual great stuff on TV tonight: The Vampire Diaries (which got off to a slow start, but is beginning to get good), Supernatural, Flash Forward, and The Mentalist. Those are all new, by the way.

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I've decided that I need to change my whole Christmas present strategy in relationship to my blog. From now on, I'll be talking about Christmas presents, but I'm not going to tell who they're for.

I placed two orders yesterday for yarn for Christmas presents, and they will be original creations, and I'll be writing up the instructions and publishing them in PDF form.

But I'm not saying who they're for.

Legend of the Seeker is on now, so I'm going. Have a great evening!

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