Thursday, August 15, 2013

Going down to the crossroads




Gary Clark Jr., "When My Train Pulls In" Crossroads 2013. 
Give it a moment to get past the warm up.

Of the people I saw, I don't think any of them were younger than 35.  We were a small group anyway, probably fewer than 20, hard to tell in the dark and with most of them behind me.

For a while waiting for it to start I thought about young people arguing on Twitter.  Katy or Gaga?  Beliebers vs. lil Monsters. Serena vs. Demi.  Dimensioners and Swifties.  All for their own music with no idea where it came from, who influenced whom.

Then with the striking of the first note all that melted away while the music slowly immersed us.  Over it sometimes a murmur of  recognition, an understanding laugh at an insiders joke.  Sometimes a quick clap of appreciation, but mostly silence from the small crowd (hmm is that a non sequitur?) as one after another of the great blues, rock and even country, guitar players of our day came to the stage putting his particular brand on the music and the concert.

Among them were names I had never heard before.  Gary Clark Jr., Doyle Bramhill II, Quinn Sullivan, at 14, shredding with Buddy Guy.

And, the familiar names:  Eric Clapton, Guy, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Allman Brothers, every one founded in the blues and jazz origins of American popular music, some raising goose bumps they were so good.  And Booker T, oh yes, raising the memory of dancing the slop and the mashed potatoes with Doreen Pryzbos to "Green Onions" in a dance joint, circa 1962.

And, some surprises:  All I have ever heard of John Mayer was his escapades with beautiful celebrity women.  The man can bend.  An awesome performance including a duet with Keith Urban in a powerful bluesy rendition of the Beatles' "Don't Let me Down."  Now there's a new appreciation for John Mayer.  In the past we excused the excesses of the great musicians, even when those excesses killed them, but that was before social media and haters.  Mayer can play; what he does outside of that as long as no one is injured or killed, well, that's his business.  And country's Keith Urban: I always wondered what the beautiful Nicole Kidman saw in a scruffy country singer. Now I think I know.

Who hasn't heard a guitar riff that remains in memory for the rest of life?  Clapton in "Cocaine" and "Sunshine" and "Layla."   Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider."  Booker T's "Green Onions."  It's a triggered memory thing, more great riffs in mind than a listener can possibly bring to recall on demand.  Oh, yeah, Duane Eddy; "Detour" and "Rebel Rouser."  No, he wasn't there, but he is alive and still playing, now in his 70s.  And here's another one from that era: Does anyone remember Eddie Cochran's "Sumertime Blues?"

One highlight of this concert was adding a new riff. Give a good listen to Gary Clark Jr., playing "When My Train Pulls In" in the attached video.  Almost guaranteed you will have a new riff to remember. 

Clapton organizes these Crossroads concerts every three years to benefit a drug rehabilitation center he sponsors in the Caribbean.  He invites players he likes, some of them surprising. In an interview before the concert showing, Vince Gill expressed as much surprise as anyone that he was included, but once he started playing it was understandable.

There were more and more and more, exhausting, and we only saw two and a half hours of a two-day concert performed in Madison Square Garden last April.  When it ended the few of us in the audience sat and stared at credits for a long time, then slowly walked out, music ringing in our ears, but in silence ourselves.

Many, but of course not all, of the great players of today were there but, only one was really missing. 

The production carried a dedication to the memory of JJ Cale.

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Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve