Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Armadillo World Headquarters, narrated by Joe Nick Patoski.

The Armadillo World Headquarters, narrated by Joe Nick Patoski.

The “Live Music Capital of the World” began with live music venues such as the Vulcan Gas Co. and the Armadillo World Headquarters. Learn why their influences are such a part of Austin’s culture today.

Cooking Up a Big Brouhaha Over a "Borrowed" Pizza Image

Okay, here's some plagiaristic internet fun I ran across this morning checking my morning tweets:

"RT @steamykitchen -bitch on Philadephia Examiner stole my photo mine: fucker."

The internet has been called one big copy machine, but I think the established protocol is to, at least, credit where you "borrowed" an image from. I try to do this or add "From: ???" if I am uncertain of the source.

Here is Lindsay Lovier's column that stirred up the hornet's nest & I've included the many indignant comments. After all that tommyrot is Jaden Hair's Steamy Kitchen original:

Grilled Flatbread Pizza with Gorgonzola, Figs, & Prosciutto

April 2, 8:48 PM - Philadelphia Restaurant Examiner - Lindsay Lovier

Tired of hot dogs and hamburgers? Enjoy the warm weather Italian-style and grill a gourmet flatbread pizza. The thin crust and lack of oversaucing & cheesing makes it healthier than the traditional version. Plus, it couldn't be simpler to whip up on a Friday evening. Pair with a microbrew or a glass of wine.
One of my favorite versions is the gorgonzola, fig, and prosciutto combo. Whole Foods sells a terrific fig spread and their naan is a great thickness & size for appetizers, but for larger pizzas buy store bought dough. I use this recipe from as a base, then add and subtract ingredients as I see fit. Feel free to leave off the prosciutto & add pear or apple and walnuts if you're vegetarian - it's just as good!

Fig and flatbread pizza...toss it on the grill, open a bottle of wine & presto!


16 oz fresh pizza dough (store bought from Trader Joes)
Flour for rolling
Olive oil for dough and grill
½ cup fig jam
4 ripe Mission figs
3-4 oz of Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
3 slices of prosciutto cut into 3” strips
1 TBSP chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

Bring pizza dough out of the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
A gas grill is recommended. Heat the BBQ on high for 10 minutes with the top down. Scrape the grill.
Flour a large cutting board or a counter where you can roll out the dough. Flour the top of the dough and roll out the pizza into a roughly 6” by 10” shape with a ¼ inch thickness. Keep in mind when grilling pizza the dough does not need to be round or perfect, it can be any shape when you put it on the grill. Brush olive oil onto the surface of the dough so it is lightly covered.
Open the grill cover and lower the grill heat to a medium high flame. Pickup the dough up and carefully lay it on the hot grate. As you are laying the dough on the grate it will stretch. Make sure it is relatively flat on the grill don’t worry about the shape of the pizza it is not important when barbecuing.
Close the grill cover and let this cook over a medium high flame. After 2 minutes, open the grill and with the tongs check the bottom of the dough. It should be golden with grill marks. You can cook it for one additional minute if the dough is not golden. If there are bubbles on top of the dough you can use the tongs to pierce them. Turn the dough over and bring the heat down to medium low to low.
Spread the fig jam and then crumble the blue cheese over the pizza. Lay out the figs and close the cover, cooking for 4 minutes.
Open the grill and check for doneness. If you need another minute, leave the grill on or if it looks done, turn the grill off.
Scatter the prosciutto strips over the pizza and then sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.

More About: Philadelphia · CHOW · pizza


StupidMove says:
As a journalist, I can't believe you would even consider lifting something off the net like that. Shame on you. If you worked for a real newspaper, you'd be fired.
August 30, 10:42 AM

MH says:
Don't judge all Examiners by this mistake and lack of judgment. There are many who slave over creating their own photos and artwork. We also use AP photos, royalty free stock photos, take our own location photos when covering a story as well as get permission when we use existing photos. In this case, this photo use is blatant and unethical. There’s a major problem on the Internet with lifting. I can’t tell you how many times my articles have been used in other’s websites, newsletters, etc. without linking back to my original article. They take my research and story. They may credit me, but I’m not paid for my work without linking back to the Examiner.
August 30, 10:38 AM

KarenE says:
This is the sort of thing that harms every Examiner writer. All you had to do was credit the photo.
There are a lot of professional journalists who write for Examiner as well as many other media outlets. We have been trained in journalism and ethics. Examiner is giving "citizen" journalists a huge opportunity but with opportunity comes responsibility, and that means if you don't understand something , ask, if you aren't sure of the rules, ask. It is crystal clear on the Examiner site that you may NEVER use a photo without crediting it unless it is your shot. You have a channel manager. They know the rules if you don't . ASK!
Examiner is a wonderful outlet for those of us who love to write and an equally wonderful resource for the public to find information they cannot find anywhere else.
You need to issue an apology, credit the photo, offer to pay for it and link to the original site.
August 30, 9:37 AM

Janet- LaDue & Crew says:
Unbelievable. How could you think it would go unnoticed?! Jaden has worked so hard to get where she is today. For you to take the easy road by stealing her work, simply despicable.
August 30, 12:29 AM

RKCovington says:
Very disappointing that a web site, let alone this one, will tolerate an "author" that uses an image that was not taken, produced, purchased or even had ask permission to use prior to the image actually being used (Apr. 2). As this image (albeit it a larger size) was used in an article "published" on October 29, 2008 as seen at
Ms. Lovier also didn't give credit to the person that actually created the image (Ms. Jaden Hair), who is a TV Personality, Author, and photographer.
Was the original created under creative commons - doubtful, as the web page above didn't explicitly indicate it as such...
Actions like this tarnish the credibility of the web page, in this case If left unchanged, what message does this send to others that create content? To those who actually do will be less apt to create it, and to those who use content without permission/payment reinforce the notion that it is ok to steal.
August 30, 12:16 AM

Vivian B. says:
So wrong to steal the work of another. Hopefully the Examiner takes note of all the comments and does something about this. This really should not go unpunished.
August 29, 10:43 PM

Heather in SF says:
How disappointing to illegally use another person's photo. Poor judgement, poor journalism, poor taste. I hope the author of this article or her supervisor responds to these comments and apologizes.
August 29, 10:40 PM

BleedingSweat says:
Hey guys, I just reported this page. It has objectionable content in the form of a stolen photo.
City of Brotherly Love? Yeah...not thinking so right now.
August 29, 10:28 PM

Whitney says:
You should fell terrible for your blatant content theft.
August 29, 10:18 PM

catmum says:
shame on your for stealing the photo, not asking permission, not giving credit, not doing your homework/actual work. Shame shame shame. Jaden needs to be paid for her hard work. You should see all the work she has done to come up with the money shots. She even shares how to do it, if you weren't so lazy! shame
August 29, 10:07 PM
Observer says:
Oh no you didn't....foreshame
August 29, 10:05 PM

Chef Mark says:
VERY poor judgement, EXAMINER! You should immediately pay Jaden for the use of her photo lest she SUE YOU! Why are we seeing more and more examples of OLD MEDIA stealing content from small independent producers who work their tails off to produce their own work. Produce your own damn work!!
August 29, 10:03 PM
Engineer Baker says:
Seriously. Take it down, fire the author. It's plagiarizing, stupid!
August 29, 9:30 PM

Tana says:
Hey, BleedingSweat: don't quit reading the Examiner unless they: 1) fire the thief (or put her in the stocks for a while); 2) pay Jaden and attribute her photograph.
REALLY CRAPPY, Ms. Lovier. Ironic last name for the moment, huh?
Thumbs down! You should be ashamed of yourself.
August 29, 9:19 PM

donna c. says:
An affront to anyone who writes about food and photographs their creations for the education and pleasure of others who share that interest. Shame, shame, shame on you for stealing.
August 29, 9:11 PM
Quit Blogging says:
Stealing someone's work? Why bother to blog?
August 29, 9:02 PM

More stealing says:
the photo she uses in the gelato sandwiches article has been "borrowed" from baristanet
August 29, 8:56 PM
use real butter says:
Lindsay's bio needs to be updated with: unethical and thief.
August 29, 8:45 PM

BleedingSweat says:
Here is Lindsay's Bio:
Lindsay Lovier is a Philadelphia freelance writer, editor and girl about town. She’ll give you the 411 on Philly’s food and wine scene as she reviews everything from high-end restaurants to the city’s hottest hidden dives.
Hey, that pic you stole wasn't taken anywhere NEAR philly! Seriously, you should totally add photo-stealing wannabe to your bio.
If the shoe fits...
August 29, 8:39 PM

BleedingSweat says:
Honestly, I think that they should go ahead and pay Jaden even if they DO take the picture down! It was published and therefore there should be compensation. I also think that an apology should be posted on THIS recipe as well as a permanent link to the SteamyKitchen page that the REAL image is housed on.
I can't wait to see what sort of damage control if any comes from this.
The clock has been ticking for about an hour now folks! How long will it take for an official response?
August 29, 8:27 PM

Warm Fig, Apple and Gorgonzola Flatbread


(See below for link to a set of 9 additional step-by-step photos on how I got this money shot)

While I love to make my own pizza or flatbread dough from scratch, sometimes I just don’t feel like getting my hands all messy with dough. I cheat a lot and buy packaged flatbreads from the supermarket and throw them on the grill or under the broiler for a quick pizza. One of my favorite fall recipes is Warm Fig, Apple and Gorgonzola Flatbreads, briefly grilled on our barbeque grill.

The creamy gorgonzola with specks of blue-black cheese melts, the warmed slices of Granny Smith Apples and wedges of juicy figs cradle the shaved slices of Parmegiano-Reggiano. But we’re not done with it yet, sweet, sensual honey drapes each slice, some oozing over the edge, onto your fingers.

Feeling a little lightheaded and in need of a glass of wine with that description of Warm Fig, Apple and Gorgonzola Flatbread!

By the way, I know you’re gonna ask…that beautiful knife is from New West KnifeWorks Fusionwood line. LOVELOVELOVE it.

This was a bitch to photograph by myself - and I wanted to give you my step-by-step photography of the Warm Fig, Apple and Gorgonzola Flatbread…

I’m showing you photos before I used Photoshop, so that you can see before and after. I shoot in RAW with my Canon 40D and I used the 60mm macro lens to get nice, sharp closeups. I generally use Photoshop to sharpen, lighten the photo and increase the saturation just a bit to make the colors and detail really pop. I know many of you don’t have Photoshop (it’s expensive) but you can do the same in Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 ($99); and even in Flickr they have free online tools to help you lighten and increase saturation of your photos. I know Adobe has a free online editing tool…but can’t find it at the moment…if you find, will you please let me know?

I always try to fiddle with the photo and camera settings to take the perfect shot, which minimizes my use of software to touch up. But sometimes, the lighting is not just right or my white balance is a bit off and I’ll need to adjust. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, every single professional photographer does some sort of touch up, and it’s generally sharpening and color correction.

Here’s my before and after:

I’d love to show you what I do in Photoshop (it does make a big difference in the picture, but since so few of you have this software, I’ll have wait until I buy a copy of Photoshop Elements so that the tutorial is more relevant to more people.

In the meantime, here’s my step-by-step slideshow of how I got to my money-shot!:

Oh yes, please enjoy the recipe for Warm Fig, Apple and Gorgonzola Flatbread

Warm Fig, Apple and Gorgonzola Flatbread Recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 8-inch round flatbreads
4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 apple, cored and sliced very thinly
8 ripe figs, cut into 6 wedges each
2 ounces Parmegiano-Reggiano, shaved with vegetable peeler
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat your grill, half direct heat. Brush olive oil on top of each flatbread, especially the edges. Assemble flatbreads with gorgonzola, apples and figs.

Grill flatbreads over direct heat for 3 minutes, until the bottoms are toasted and browned. Then move to indirect heat and close cover for 3 minutes to finish melting the cheese and warming the fruit.

If broiling, set your rack to upper 1/3 position. Grill flatbreads without the toppings for 2 minutes to just get them nice and toasty. Then layer on the olive oil, gorgonzola, apples and figs and return to oven for 4 to 6 minutes until cheese has melted and fruit is warmed through.

Sprinkle shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano and drizzle honey on top.
Serves 4 to 6 as appetizer or dessert.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Few Good Borrowed S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night Images


Dada-Messe, Raoul Hausmann, 1920.


mary engel


the snake priest Edward S.Curtis


Flannery O’Connor sits under a self-portrait with peacock.


“La Gorda” Exitos de los Llopis con Anardy Lopez Colonia Records (Does this door make my ass look fat?)


1933-Paul Max Ingrand (via aujourd'hui, l'obsession)




Lysiosquillina maculata Alcide D'Orbigny (via Janitor of Lunacy)

From: (via agenceeureka)


Help Me Camille Jeanne Let me introduce you Camille . I met her in Paris some time ago, now living in Geneva and still drawning strange and beautiful things in her own very special way ! Go on Camome ! But what the hell is happenning between Switzerland and french girlz for they're all running over there ?!


Drink With The Dead (1959)


Matuzaka Castle (via Janitor of Lunacy)


The sense of impending doom that has pervaded the Western psyche in the past hundred years or so has been informed in large part by Christian mythology, stemming from a deep-seated notion that mankind is flawed and must be punished. Ottowa-based artist Howie Tsui , however, draws from Chinese ghost stories, Japanese erotic art and demonology, contemporary Asian cinema, manga, and what has now become a global end-time psychosis to create a modern Asian reiteration of the torment and fear first translated to canvas by Hieronymus Bosch.


diane arbus girl in a party dress



Girl Next Door With Watermelon - Jesse Sublett

Anybody Got Remembrances/Memorabilia from The Cellar Clubs?

Wm. Wms. at the Big D 60's Yahoo Group:
posted this information. Can anybody out there help?

Participation in The Cellar documentary
Posted by: "Giles Mccrary" taogiles@sbcglobal. net festivetao
Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:49 pm (PDT)

I have spent the past six weeks working on a documentary about The
Cellar. The more research I read, and the more interviews I get on
tape, the more excited I become. This documentary will be able to
reach a much larger audience than first I expected because of its
universal relevance that will be established as the documentary
explores the Cellar Club's juxtaposition to the relevant social issues
of that time, parochial as well as global. It will also examine
poignant existential issues within a specific population as it
remembers the past and reflects on the present.

I need photos, film, and memorabilia related to The Cellar (Fort
Worth, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio) as soon as possible. This is
where the members of the list serve can help me in telling The Cellar
story. I am only interested in photos or film taken in or in front of
the clubs between 1959 and 1974, and/or musicians, patrons, and
employees associated with The Cellar during said time frame. The
photos that are published on the web are exactly what I´m looking for,
except I need better resolution than can I can get by copying from the
internet. If you can help me, I need CD ROMs of your images or the
actual photos so I can scan them. If you do send photos for me to
scan, they will be handled with the upmost care and promptly returned.
I can´t guarantee that every image will be used, but I need to have as
much choice as possible.

Please contact me by email...
taogiles@sbcglobal. net

www.gilesvid. com

You need to read & listen to THE HOUND

Mark "daddyodilly" Dillman at the RockonDelShannon Yahoo Group:
shares some great information here...


I think it is time again to call attention to a really cool online archive of rock 'n' roll radio programs:

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s (most of it during the pre-Internet era for many of us) James Marshall played CDs and records every Saturday on radio station WFMU in East Orange, New Jersey. On air his name was "The Hound". He played all manner of 1950s and 1960s rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, surf, garage, blues, doo wop, soul, and hillbilly. Really great stuff. He had in-studio and phone-in interviews with legendary musicians (some who are no longer with us) and almost-famous superfans. One ambitious fan named Brian Redman collects tapes of The Hound's programs and makes them available to hear on the Internet at this website:

Brian has just added 16 new programs to the archive. I think you'll really enjoy hearing some of these programs.

The Hound is still around and has a blog here (highly recommended):

As to that radio station that aired his programs, WFMU is a popular non-commercial radio station in the New York City/New Jersey area, with similar DJ programs these days, notably with Dave the Spazz, Rex, and Michael Shelly. They keep their programs archived for years. You can hear them here:

If all this doesn't keep you busy enough you might give my blog a peek, too:

Mark Dillman
"Daddy-o Dilly"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

YAY!!! I WON!!!!

I won an on-line contest today! Whooppee! One of my fellow Dallas OPR's (Original Punk Rockers), Dan Piraro, who was in The Doo back when I was in The Nervebreakers in the 70s/80s, is now a fabulously successful (well-earned) big-time cartoonist & blogger. I always dug BIZARRO from the start, then eventually figured out that that Dan Piraro was the same guy from the old days. We'll start here with just his original blogposting and you folks can play along at home. Then scroll on down to see my winning answers plus a really funny bunch of entries that probably should have won for their cleverness, but I played it straight and won because I was first.


Bizarro Contest!!!

Bizarro is brought to you today by Free Eye Exams.

For today's cartoon post, I've decided to try something different. A CONTEST! Weee.

The cartoon at top is the one that ran in the papers, the one below has been changed in ten ways. The first person to correctly list all ten differences in the comments section of this post will win an ENTIRE BOX of Bizarro Trading Cards. That's a bunch of cards, over a hundred, a full set, a 50-something dollar value retail.

"How can you afford to be so generous, Dan?" one might well ask.

To which I would reply, "I don't know, I'm just jacking around."

If the contest is fun and works out well, we'll do this from time to time. If it is a huge hassle for me and I start to sweat and weep, this will be the last one. Stay tuned.

Click on the individual images for a larger view. Some differences are easy (duh) some are hard.

Only one winner per contest. Must be alive to win. No purchase necessary. Do not use trading cards while operating heavy machinery. Light machinery is probably fine. Use of alcohol or tranquilizers may intensify effect of trading cards. Must be willing to send me a pic of yourself with your prize to post on the blog. Try to look excited. Winner does not have to agree to publish their name or location. Trading cards may present a choking hazard to people with a huge mouth and a tiny I.Q.

Let the slugfest begin...



t.tex said...
Garfield graffiti added
snake added
screaming manface photo added
C gone from crash
backwards s
bugeyed little spaceman(?) in top right corner
month misspelled
object under car turned a different direction
image in back windshield added
license plate changed from pixie to piraro

Isaac said...
1. In the second cartoon, David Hasselhoff is yawning. In the first cartoon, he is screaming (locked in trunk of car).

2. The second cartoon states that Garfield sux; the first cartoon demonstrates this proposition implicitly.

3. The second cartoon takes place in a mirror universe, as revealed by the rightward orientation of the pie-shaped droppings left by the car.

4. The second cartoon depicts a lab in which people test rashes on dummies, instead of a place where people try to build better impact mannequins.

5. In the second cartoon, the multi-tentacled horror inside the building has eked one of its tentacles into the parking lot.

6. In the second cartoon, the creature is called a "Mnoth" instead of a "Month."

7. The second cartoon has an alphabet of at least 18 characters, one of which is shaped like a rounded Z.

8. The blue bunny in the back seat has pressed his face up against the window in the second cartoon.

9. A little space alien has come to check on Hasselhoff in the second cartoon.

10. The vanity license plate in the second cartoon has more vanity.

Also, two bonus differences:

1. The count of findable icons is no longer accurate in the second cartoon.

2. The second cartoon is obviously the product of a demented mind. The first one is less obvious.

Luis said...
1. Test Dummies are not "Rash," they are quite reasonable.
2. David Hasselhoff is never that amused.
3. The word "moth" is spelled "M-O-T-H," not "M-N-O-T-H".
4. Certain words are not allowed on license plates.
5. Pythons are never quite that shade of turquoise.
6. Feng Shui clearly indicates that wedge end of a piece of pie must face north, not south.
7. In the Piraro All Caps font, the "S" only reverses when typed with the alt-key depressed, and not when in lowercase.
8. Rabbits have no souls, and so are neither (a) reflected in glass nor (b) appear as spectral images.
9. Miniature aliens would never come within nearly that close proximity to David Hasselhoff.
10. Garfield does not suck, he blows. Huge difference.

Patrick said...
Bummer...I thought I had to have gotten first comment in, this was the first article on my google reader and when I read it, had only been up for 1 minute. Looking forward to more contests though.

PIRARO said...
With a couple of hundred winning entries by 8pm NYC time, t.tex is the first, posting just minutes after I posted the contest.

Many congrats to Mr. tex!

Post an email address where I can reach you on the blog comments of this posting, and I'll be sure NOT to publish it.

Thanks to everyone for entering, we'll do it again in a week or so!

SteveJ said...
1) Used a Prismacolor .05 technical pen on crosshatching.
2) In original, driver suffered severed head contusions. In the second one, it was extensive chest trauma.
3) The secretary sitting on the other side of the wall died instantly in the second one, as opposed to lingering on to life for several painful days hooked to machines and tubes.
4) The second one led to a defamation of character class action suite filed by the many, many Germans who love Hasselhoff.
5) The second one made Jim Davis cry. (wussy)
6) The second one shows the splattered brains smooshed against the back window from the passenger who was constantly telling the driver to "do a wheelie."
7) In the first one, the accident is caused by the forces of Irony. In the second, the driver is a Republican governor and the wreck was caused by him being "serviced" by his Argentinian lover while he was driving.
8) In the second one, it was the building that ran into the car.
9)The security code on alarm sytem in the first comic is 13431. In the second it's 43134.
10) The pie is rotated.



We have a winner of the previous post's contest, a Mr. t. tex. I've posted his winning answers, coming in only minutes after I posted the contest, in the comments section of the contest blog. If you don't want to dig, here they are again, in t.'s own words:

Garfield graffiti added
snake added
screaming manface photo added
C gone from crash
backwards s
bugeyed little spaceman(?) in top right corner
month misspelled
object under car turned a different direction
image in back windshield added
license plate changed from pixie to piraro

Next contest is next week, and this time I'll announce it the day before, telling you exactly what time I'll post the images the next day, so that you can get a jump on the competition if you're so inclined. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Wasn't this fun?!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blind Willie Johnson (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945)

"...Ry Cooder, who based his desolate soundtrack to Paris, Texas on “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground”, described it as 'the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music.'..."

Blind Willie Johnson (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945)

Blind Willie Johnson - Dark Was The Night - Cold Was The Ground - Columbia (# 145320-1)

Recorded on December 3, 1927 in Dallas, Texas.

Listen & download here:

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground was included on the Voyager Golden Record, sent into space with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977; this piece was used in the widely seen science show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan in 1980. Blind Willie Johnson’s music and life were featured in the 2003 film “The Soul of a Man” by Wim Wenders for the PBS series “The Blues.” The film deals extensively with the Voyager spacecraft recording. This recording also got Johnson mentioned on an episode of the television series The West Wing (see “The Warfare of Genghis Khan”); the fictional Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman used Johnson’s recording to show the depth and soul behind the space program. As mentioned by Lyman, Johnson’s music left the solar system on December 16, 2004. Dark Was The Night has also been covered by Jack Rose.

The song is also used in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St Matthew; Walk the Line, a biopic of country singer Johnny Cash; and The Devil’s Rejects, a serial killer film by rocker Rob Zombie. Ry Cooder, who based his desolate soundtrack to Paris, Texas on “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground”, described it as “the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music.”

26 August 2009

Blind Willie Johnson
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Blind" Willie Johnson (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was an American singer and guitarist whose music straddled the border between blues and spirituals. While the lyrics of all of his songs were religious, his music drew from both sacred and blues traditions. Among musicians, he is considered one of the greatest slide or bottleneck guitarists, as well as one of the most revered figures of depression-era gospel music. His music is distinguished by his powerful bass thumb-picking and gravelly false-bass voice, with occasional use of a tenor voice.


Blind Willie Johnson was born in 1897 near Brenham, Texas (before the discovery of his death certificate, Temple, Texas had been suggested as his birthplace). When he was five, he told his father he wanted to be a preacher, and then made himself a cigar box guitar. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried soon after her death.[1]
Johnson was not born blind, and, although it is not known how he lost his sight, Angeline Johnson told Samuel Charters that when Willie was seven his father beat his stepmother after catching her going out with another man. The stepmother then picked up a handful of lye and threw it, not at Willie's father, but into the face of young Willie.[1]
It is thought that Johnson was married twice, first to a woman with the same first name, Willie B Harris, and later to a young singer named Angeline, who was the sister of blues guitarist L.C. Robinson. No marriage certificates have yet been discovered. As Angeline Johnson often sang and performed with him, the first person to attempt to research his biography, Samuel Charters, made the mistake of assuming it was Angeline who had sung on several of Johnson's records. However, later research showed that it was Johnson's first wife.
Johnson remained poor until the end of his life, preaching and singing in the streets of Beaumont, Texas to anyone who would listen. A city directory shows that in 1944, a Rev W J Johnson, undoubtedly Blind Willie, operated the House of Prayer at 1440 Forrest Street, Beaumont, Texas.[2] This is the same address listed on Blind Willie's death certificate. In 1945, his home burned to the ground. With nowhere else to go, Johnson lived in the burned ruins of his home, sleeping on a wet bed. He lived like this until he contracted pneumonia two weeks later, and died. (The death certificate reports the cause of death as malarial fever, with syphilis and blindness as contributing factors.)[3] In a later interview his wife said she tried to take him to a hospital but they refused to admit him because he was black, while other sources report that, according to Johnson's wife, his refusal was due to his blindness. Although there is some dispute as to where his grave is, members of the Beaumont community have committed to finding the site and preserving it.

Musical career

His father would often leave him on street corners to sing for money, where his powerful voice left an indelible impression on passers-by. Legend has it that he was arrested for nearly starting a riot at a New Orleans courthouse with a powerful rendition of "If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down", a song about Samson and Delilah. According to Samuel Charters, however, he was simply arrested while singing for tips in front of a Custom House, by a police officer who misconstrued the title lyric and mistook it for incitement.[4]
Johnson made 30 commercial recording studio record sides in five separate sessions for Columbia Records from 1927–1930. On some of these recordings Johnson uses a fast rhythmic picking style, while on others he plays slide guitar. According to a reputed one-time acquaintance, Blind Willie McTell (1898-1959), Johnson played with a brass ring, although other sources cite him using a knife. The only known photograph of Johnson does not reveal any fretting instrument.
Some of Johnson's most famous recordings include "In My Time of Dying" (identified as "Jesus Make up My Dying Bed" on his recordings), the stirring "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine", his rendition of the famous gospel song "Let Your Light Shine On Me", as well as the raw, powerful "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground", where he sings in wordless hum and moans about the crucifixion of Jesus. This song was a "moaning" piece related to the Bentonia school of blues practiced by such "eerie voiced" artists as Skip James and Robert Johnson.
On 14 of his recordings he is accompanied by Willie B Harris or an as-yet-unidentified female singer. This group of recordings includes "Church I'm Fully Saved Today", "John the Revelator" (a cover of which is featured on the soundtrack of Blues Brothers 2000, sung by Taj Mahal), "You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond", and "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning".


His records have kept his music tremendously influential and his songs have been covered by several popular artists, including Led Zeppelin (who included his photograph on their second album), Bob Dylan, The 77s, Beck, Phil Keaggy and The White Stripes (who have covered "John the Revelator", as well as covering "Motherless Children Have A Hard Time" and "Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Cryin'" live). "John the Revelator" was also recorded by delta blues musician Son House, and "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" was recorded by another delta blues musician, Fred McDowell. In 1968, British group Fairport Convention recorded a cover of "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" under the title "The Lord is in this Place...How Dreadful Is This Place". "If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down" was recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary; retitled as "Samson and Delilah". It was frequently performed by the Grateful Dead and appears on the studio album Terrapin Station; Gary Davis also has recorded a version of the song; Bruce Springsteen has performed a version of the song live with the Seeger Sessions Band, In the opening scene of the second season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Shirley Manson sings a version of this song. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" has also been covered by Mason Jennings, Nina Simone, and was modified by Led Zeppelin. Nick Cave has performed "John the Revelator" live, and based his song "City of Refuge," from his band the Bad Seeds' 1988 album Tender Prey, on the "Blind" Willie song of the same name. In the liner notes of a 2002 record by Derek Bailey, Marc Ribot compared "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground" to the music of Django Reinhardt and the avant garde guitarist Bailey. Many of his songs, and those of Rev. Gary Davis, were recorded in the late 1980s by gospel blues musicians Glenn Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield, on their album Trimmed & Burnin. In 1991 Bruce Cockburn covered "Soul of a Man" on his album Nothing But A Burning Light, the title in itself a line from the same song. In 1994 Ben Harper added a short cover excerpt of "By and By I'm Going To See The King" as a hidden track on his debut album "Welcome To The Cruel World".
In 2003 Deep Sea Records issued a CD tribute called Dark was the Night, featuring artists such as Martin Simpson, Gary Lucas, Mary Margaret O'Hara and Jody Stecher.
Johnson's recordings and legacy have crossed over into other media and cultural contexts. Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground was included on the Voyager Golden Record, sent into space with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977; this piece was used in the widely seen science show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan in 1980.[5] Blind Willie Johnson's music and life were featured in the 2003 film "The Soul of a Man" by Wim Wenders for the PBS series "The Blues." The film deals extensively with the Voyager spacecraft recording. This recording also got Johnson mentioned on an episode of the television series The West Wing (see "The Warfare of Genghis Khan"); the fictional Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman used Johnson's recording to show the depth and soul behind the space program. As mentioned by Lyman, Johnson's music left the solar system on December 16, 2004. Dark Was The Night has also been covered by Jack Rose.
The song is also used in Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St Matthew; Walk the Line, a biopic of country singer Johnny Cash; and The Devil's Rejects, a serial killer film by rocker Rob Zombie. Ry Cooder, who based his desolate soundtrack to Paris, Texas on "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground", described it as "the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music."[6]
In 2006 Eric Burdon covered his song "Soul of a Man" for his album Soul of a Man.
In 2009 4AD put out a compilation CD titled "Dark Was The Night", featuring Kronos Quartet covering the song "Dark Was The Night".


1. ^ a b Charters, 1993, p. 11.
2. ^ Corcoran, Michael. "The Soul of Blind Willie Johnson". Retrieved 2008-04-21. 4th paragraph from end
3. ^ Corcoran, Michael. "The Soul of Blind Willie Johnson". Retrieved 2008-11-13. 9th paragraph
4. ^ Charters, 1993, p. 14.
5. ^
6. ^ Corcoran, Michael. "The Soul of Blind Willie Johnson". Retrieved 2008-11-13


Charters, Samuel (1993). The Complete Blind Willie Johnson, CD booklet. Columbia/Legacy C2K 52835.

Blakey D.N. (2007). Revelation Blind Willie Johnson The Biography.

Charters, Samuel (1959). "The Country Blues" Ch. 12 - published in UK by: Jazz Book Club (1961). Some facts in the book are at variance with those given in this article and may represent an earlier stage of research

The Soul of Blind Willie Johnson
(Retracing the life of the Texas music icon)

By Michael Corcoran
Austin American-Statesman

When Jack White of the red-hot White Stripes announced "It's good to be in Texas, the home of Blind Willie Johnson," at Stubb's in June, most in the soldout crowd likely had never heard of the gospel blues singer/guitarist from Marlin who pioneered a ferocity that still lives in modern rock. We have become used to being saluted as the home of T-Bone Walker, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others. But who is this Blind Willie Johnson?

The first songs he recorded, on a single day in 1927, are more familiar. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" was covered by Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton did "Motherless Children," Bob Dylan turned Johnson's "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed" into "In My Time of Dying" on his 1962 debut LP and "If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down" has been appropriated by everyone from the Grateful Dead to the Staple Singers.

Johnson's haunting masterpiece "Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)" was chosen for an album placed aboard Voyager 1 in 1977 on its journey to the ends of the universe. Foreseeing an extraterrestrial intercept, astronomer Carl Sagan and his staff put together "Sounds of Earth" -- including ancient chants, the falling rain, a beating heart, Beethoven, Bach and Blind Willie.

Should aliens happen upon the spacecraft and, with the record player provided, listen to that eerie, moaning, steel-sliding memorial to the Crucifixion, they will know almost as much about the mysterious Blind Willie Johnson as we do.

On Monday, Martin Scorsese will introduce Johnson to Americans in the second episode of his seven-part PBS series, "The Blues." The installment, directed by Wim Wenders, is named for Johnson's "Soul of a Man," a song that links a trio of protagonists -- Johnson, Skip James and J.B. Lenoir -- as artists driven to create amid abject hardships. With wife Willie B. Harris' soprano sweetening Johnson's coarse bass falsetto on the 1930 recording, the duo demands an answer to the unanswerable: "I want somebody to tell me/Just what is the soul of a man."

An instinctive virtuoso

Beyond five recording dates from 1927-1930 that yielded 30 tracks, the singer remains a biographical question mark. Only one picture of him, seated at a piano holding a guitar with a tin cup for tips on its neck, has ever been found. A search on the Internet or a browse through the music section of libraries and bookstores reveals the slightest information on this musical pioneer, and almost all of it is wrong.

Months on the trail of the man whose music rang with an intensity previously unrecorded turn up a living daughter and a death certificate -- and little else. Finding witnesses who knew Johnson is about as easy as interviewing folks who lived through World War I. Many are dead or too old to remember.

Or, like Sam Faye Johnson Kelly, the only child of Blind Willie and Willie B. Harris, they're too young to realize what was going on six, seven decades ago. "I remember him singing here in the kitchen and reciting from the Bible," said Kelly, 72. "But I was just a little girl when he went away."

And while the death certificate corrects some previously accepted misinformation (he was born in 1897 near Brenham, not 1902 in Marlin, and died in 1945, not 1949, in Beaumont), the document doesn't tell you how he lived from 1930, when his recording career ended, until his death. It doesn't tell you how many times he was married and how many kids he fathered. It doesn't tell you how he learned to play such a wicked bottleneck guitar or which Pentecostal preachers he modeled his singing voice after. It doesn't verify the widespread legend that Willie was blinded when a stepmother threw lye in his face at age 7 to avenge a beating from his father. The certificate reports the cause of death as malarial fever, with syphilis as a contributing factor. But when it also lists blindness as a contributor, the coroner's thoroughness becomes suspect.

Unquestioned is the opinion that Johnson is one of the most influential guitarists in music history. "Anybody who's ever played the bottleneck guitar with some degree of accomplishment is quoting Blind Willie to this day," said Austin slide guitarist Steve James. "He's the apogee." An instinctive virtuoso, Johnson made his guitar moan, slur and sing, often finishing lyrics for him, and throughout the years, Clapton, Jimmy Page, Ry Cooder, Duane Allman and many more have expressed a debt to the sightless visionary.

And yet, the 1993 double-disc "Complete Blind Willie Johnson" has sold only about 15,000 copies on Sony/Legacy. It's safe to say that more than half of those sales were to guitar players.

1930s Mississippi Delta blues man Robert Johnson grew into a full-blown rock icon in part because of the mysteries of his life and death, but Willie Johnson has not benefited from his enigmatic existence. Even though his guitar-playing inspired a host of Delta blues men, from Johnson and Son House to Muddy Waters, Blind Willie refused to sing the blues, that style of pre-war music preferred by collectors and historians. He sang only religious songs, which explains a big part of his relative obscurity. His gruff evangelical bellow and otherworldly guitar were designed to draw in milling mulling masses on street corners, not to charm casual roots rock fans decades later.

Not a single penny

When word got out late last year through the community of music historians and record collectors that Blind Willie had a daughter who was still living in Marlin, 28 miles east of Waco, there was a collective gasp of hope that new information would surface. Maybe there was a box with pictures, letters or gospel programs that would fill in the huge gaps. Maybe Willie B. Harris had told her daughter details about her father, like how he lost his sight and where he learned his songs.

The discovery of an heir also stirred the interest of musical estate managers, such as Steve LaVere of Mississippi's Delta Haze company, who visited Kelly in November. In his role managing the estate of Robert Johnson, LaVere has aggressively collected back royalties from Columbia Records and such performers as the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. "It's all about getting the pennies to roll in your direction -- we're talking about eight cents a record (in songwriter royalties)," LaVere said. "Eventually, the pennies turn into dollars."

But when LaVere left Marlin to return to his offices in Greenwood, Miss., he didn't have a signed contract that would give him the right to represent the estate of Blind Willie Johnson. "I was a little miffed," he said. "I thought we had laid out the groundwork on the phone and would be able to sign a deal, but some people just don't know what they have, what it's worth, and they'd rather do nothing than feel like they might get cheated."

Kelly said she just didn't want to rush into anything. "You know, old people don't like to sign stuff right away," she said as she maneuvered her wheelchair through the cramped quarters of 817 Hunter St., where Blind Willie lived with Kelly's mother in the early '30s. It's a four-room box with a sagging roof and walls warped by the heat.

Kelly said that she's never received a penny from her father's music.

But first she has to fly the flag, said noted New York attorney William Krasilovsky, who wrote "This Business of Music," the industry bible. "You say, 'Here we are. We represent the heirs of Blind Willie Johnson.' " Until an estate is established, there's no place to send whatever royalties may be due.

"I guess I should hire someone to see about getting some money for the family," Kelly said. "I need to make a move here."

Occupation: musician

"Z'rontre!" Kelly called out to her great-grandson, her voice cutting through the loud cartoons watched in the living room by two kids laying on the floor. "Come here and get Mama that box of papers." A little boy bounded in from the bedroom and climbed up on a chair to reach a rectangular plastic box. "This boy's only three years old and he can do everything for me, even fetch me some water," said Kelly, who's stricken with arthritis and other ailments. "He's my legs."

She pulled out a few fragile documents, including a birth certificate which says that she was born June 23, 1931, to Willie Johnson, occupation listed as "musician," and a mother whose maiden name was Willie B. Hays.

Kelly said she remembers her father staying with her mother until she was about seven or eight years old. That would put him in Marlin until at least 1938. But two years after Kelly's birth, her mother had a daughter Dorothy with a man named Joe Henry, according to Kelly. Six years later came Earline, from another father. Kelly recalls that her parents had remained married even as Willie B. Harris was having kids with other men and Blind Willie was drifting from street corner to church to train station for months at a time.

"We was working people, see," said Kelly. "My mother understood that my father had to leave Marlin to make money. She worked seven days a week as a nurse. I'd say, 'Mama, please stay home today' and she'd say, 'But I gotta work' and I'd understand."

During the era in which Blind Willie recorded, artists didn't expect royalties. They took whatever the labels paid them, usually around $25 to $50 per record, and the music they recorded was considered work for hire. The labels claimed all rights. "They had just made a record," Columbia field recorder Frank Walker, who helmed Johnson's remarkably fruitful Dec. 3, 1927, session, said in an interview in the '60s. "To them that was the next best thing to being president of the United States."

Johnson's first 78 rpm -- "If I Had My Way" backed with "Mother's Children Have a Hard Time" (titled "Motherless Children" by Clapton) -- sold a remarkable 15,000 copies, even more than Bessie Smith's recordings of the day. By 1930, however, the Depression dried up demand for gritty country blues/gospel, and Blind Willie's recording career was history. But as was his nature, Johnson kept on the move, playing "from Maine to the Mobile Bay," according to what his touring mate Blind Willie McTell told Alan Lomax in a 1940s interview.

"People recalled hearing him at times over KTEM in Temple and on a Sunday-morning church service broadcast by KPLC in Lake Charles," said Houston-based music historian Mack McCormick. "He left memories in Corpus Christi during WWII when there was a fear about Nazi submarines prowling the Gulf of Mexico. Someone must have told him submarines often listened to radio stations to triangulate their position. He went on the air with new verses to one of his songs, probably 'God Moves on the Water' about the Titanic, offering grace to his audience, then followed with a dire warning to the crew of any listening U-boat with 'Can't Nobody Hide from God.' "

Blind Willie's music was revealed to a new generation of country blues enthusiasts (including Bob Dylan) with the 1952 release of the Harry Smith anthology "American Folk Music," which included Johnson's "John the Revelator." The "Blind Willie Johnson" album came out on Folkways in 1957, with a key detail wrong. Second wife Angeline Johnson, who was tracked down by music historian Samuel Charters in 1953, was credited with the backing vocals performed by first wife Harris.

This error was uncorrected until the mid-'70s, when a Dallas music collector named Dan Williams drove down to Marlin to see if he could find anyone who knew Blind Willie. "I approached a group of elderly black people near the town square and one of them said he was related to Blind Willie's ex-wife, the one who sang on his records, and I thought I was going to meet Angeline Johnson," Williams recalls. "Nobody knew anything about a Willie B. Harris."

After hearing Harris sing along to the Blind Willie records and talk about certain details of the recording sessions that only those present would know, Williams ascertained that she was, indeed, the background singer. "She talked about meeting Blind Willie McTell at the last session in Atlanta (April 20, 1930) and I did some research and found out that, sure enough, McTell recorded at the same studio the same day."

Charters made the correction, crediting Harris, in his notes to the 1993 boxed set, but repeated Angeline Johnson's contention that she married Blind Willie in Dallas in 1927. There is no record of such a marriage in Dallas County or in the county clerks offices of Falls, McLennan, Bell, Milam, Jefferson or Robertson counties. But then, neither is there evidence, besides Kelly's birth certificate listing her as legitimate, that Blind Willie and Willie B. were ever married.

Floating in space

Researching history about long dead blues men is fueled by random payoffs, much like slot machines and singles bars. You run your fingers down the pages of big, dusty books for hours and then you find a bit of information, a bit of new evidence, and it all becomes worth it.

But dozens of hours in search of details on the life of Blind Willie Johnson resulted in almost zero positive reinforcements. A five-hour drive to Beaumont yielded the slightest new info; a city directory shows that in 1944, a Rev. W.J. Johnson, undoubtedly Blind Willie, operated the House of Prayer at 1440 Forest St. That's the address listed on Blind Willie's death certificate as his last residence.

Besides the entry on the death certificate, there is no evidence that Blind Willie Johnson is buried in Beaumont's "colored" Blanchette Cemetery, a seemingly untended field littered with broken tombstones and overrun with weeds and brush. If Johnson had a headstone, it's gone now. When the cemetery floods, a man who lives across the street said, sometimes wooden coffins can be seen floating away among the debris. There is no peaceful rest, no solitude for the ages, for the migrant musician.

His music, meanwhile, continues its journey to the galaxy's back yard.

Ry Cooder, who based his desolate soundtrack to "Paris, Texas" on "Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)," described it as "The most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music." On that Voyager 1 disc is hard evidence that we are a spiritual people, that we hurt and we heal, that we do indeed have souls that live long after we're buried.; 445-3652

(Follow links to original Sweetest Psychopath blogpostings/Wiki post for further informative links & listen/download)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to School with a Few, Good Borrowed Images More


Japanese Chrysanthemum (via bebe le strange)


Henry Cheever Pratt (1803-1880) View from Maricopa Mountain near the Rio Gila 1855, oil on canvas (via janitor of lunacy)


What Would You Do, If The Man You Had Married Turned Out To Be A Weakling? (wanders off for instructions from Mrs Feastingonroadkill on how to answer this…)



Shrunken heads in the permanent collection of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Seattle, Washington. According to Kate Duncan's book 1001 Curious Things, these are probably a mix of real and fake. Shop founder J. E. "Daddy" Standley thought they were all real, but was probably conned on some of them.


via Mogadonia


via msbojangles


Just woke up on this fine Sunday morning and decided to post this vintage exploitation poster for your enjoyment. A good Louisiana hussy is hard to find.


“Heaven’s Satellite” with The Good News Singers from Bakersfield, California. Vision Records This one is highly sought after and rarely found.


Duryang Kim - Sapsalgae - 1743


Photo from:


From Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn, An Account of the Teachings, Rites and Ceremonies of THE ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
(first published 1937) Found in a dumped tea-chest of occult books down the bottom of my road a few years back.


Weegee, [Showgirl Sherry Britton Reading Apes, Men and Morons], ca. 1944


Abstract Forest Vintage Fabric (Latest vintage fabric find. I want to live in that fun forest.)

Music Industry Profile: Legendary Producer Jim Dickinson

From: Artists House Music/April '08

Music Industry Profile: Legendary Producer Jim Dickinson

Jim Dickinson

Mississippi-based producer and musician Jim Dickinson who just passed away this August 15th, 2009 - has worked on hundreds of recordings over a career in music spanning five decades. In that time, he has worked at some of the most legendary studios in the southern United States (such as Ardent, Muscle Shoals and Sun), and contributed to a veritable who’s who of the past fifty years of rock, blues and soul – from playing keyboards for Aretha Franklin, Ry Cooder, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan to producing records for artists like Big Star, Green on Red, Mudhoney, Mojo Nixon, the Spin Doctors, The Replacements, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, as well as dozens more.


Long-time record producer Jim Dickinson sits down with ArtistsHouse for a frank and freewheeling discussion of the craft of producing records – how to get your first studio job, how to manage strong personalities, why producers should understand both music and engineering in addition to their own responsibilities, how to sequence an album to tell a story, how he got to play on a Rolling Stones album, and much more.

Shoot Date: April 2008

AITA: Quote Of The Week

"...Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent..."


Quote Of The Week

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." -Calvin Coolidge


Legendary 'Juke Jumpers' reunion in Fort Worth - by Michael Price

From: Wm Wms @ Big D 60's Yahoo Group

Juke Jumpers' R&B reunion set for Keys Lounge

The Juke Jumpers
No time like the present to contemplate a festive Labor Day weekend: The most festive of signature festivities for Fort Worth looks to be a reunion performance of the Juke Jumpers at a refurbished Keys Lounge. The date is Sept. 5; the time, 9:30 p.m. A standing-room crowd seems likely.

The convergence is significant — a ensemble as immediate as it is historically important, formed originally to help preserve authentically Texan styles of music, in a hitherto low-profile club that has done a great deal to advance Fort Worth's blues heritage. Both the Juke Jumpers and Keys Lounge date from the 1970s, although their names are not often mentioned in the same breath.

But the Keys' new owners, working musicians Danny Ross and Bobby Counts, have undertaken since June to bring in higher-profile artists in addition to the hometown dependables, while branching into such offshoots of the blues as the Saenz family's Latin Express, jazzy pop outfits such as Vintage Vibe and the Tom Petty tribute-band known as Petty Theft.

The blues, after all, is as much an attitude as it is a musical idiom — and such an awareness stands to transform Keys Lounge, 5677 Westcreek, into a destination of popular interest beyond its neighborhood boundaries.

The Juke Jumpers started in 1977 as a partnership of Jim Colegrove and Sumter Bruton — an effort to combine rhythm-and-blues, straight-ahead blues, jump-blues, rockabilly and bayou-country swamp boogie in a setting that would champion tradition over any trend-following appeal. In the process of preservation and re-interpretation, the band blazed trails that have lasted.

The Jukes' name, incidentally, comes from "juke joint," as in a rowdy establishment that deals in music among other diversions. Same root-word origin as jukebox, and of course Little Walter Jacobs' watershed recording of "Juke" (1952) bears mentioning here.

A prolific recording career began in 1978 with an album called Panther City Blues. Personnel had stabilized and begun expanding by this time, with Colegrove moving from bass to guitar — an ideal pairing of Colegrove's visceral technique with Bruton's more astringent six-string style. A now-familiar lineup including bassist Jim Milan and drummer Mike Bartula, among others, grew to include such additional mainstays as saxophonist Johnny Reno and pianist Craig Simecheck. By 1980, the Jukes had begun touring, first regionally and at length internationally. Along the way, the band helped to revive the careers of such pioneering R&B artists as Zuzu Bollin and Goree Carter.

A 1985 breakup led to a resurgence the following year, distinguished by a long-running connection with Fort Worth's J&J Blues Bar, the addition of a full-blown sax section and the occasional flirtation with Hollywood — notably in a starring picture for Ann-Margret called A Tiger's Tale. Additional resourceful adjustments during the 1990s kept things jumping until a more lasting breakup in 1994. The inevitable string of reunions began in 1997 — marking the various anniversaries of its origin, its landmark albums and various breakthrough engagements. The Jukes have reinforced the in-person reunions with various CD-album reissues and a new series of recording sessions.

Nowadays, most of the members of the Juke Jumpers perform as a matter of routine in their own respective groups. Jim Colegrove performs with a roots-music trailblazing outfit called Lost Country, and Sumter Bruton and I have kept our Swingmasters Revue in business since the 1990s.

Time for some new phases or reinvention, then: Keys Lounge has repositioned itself in a bid to become a venue quite like some of the nightspots that first nurtured the Juke Jumpers — Robert Ealey's New Bluebird Nite Club of the 1980s, for example, or the lamented Caravan of Dreams in its initial heyday as an incubator for the indigenous-music scene.

The Juke Jumpers, meanwhile, need no regimented system of reinvention. The artists generate new material as spontaneously as they breathe, anyhow, while holding fast to their original common ground of inspiration. Just give 'em a good juke in which to jump — and watch the sparks fly.

On the Web: www.thecoolgroove. com. The Juke Jumpers' recordings can be found at Record Town, 3025 S. University Drive.

Michael H. Price's 2006 book, Daynce of the Peckerwoods: The Badlands of Texas Music (Music Mentor Books), chronicles much of the period that gave rise to the Juke Jumpers, among other seminal bands. Contact: mprice@bizpress. net

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Unforgotten Hero: Peter Bown and Piper at the Gates of Dawn

"...Bown's wide-ranging ear & inventive stance meant he was open to the Pink Floyd's experiments & sympathetic to what the group was trying to create. 'Bown has not received the credit and acknowledgement he deserves,' says Ryan. 'More than any other engineer at EMI, he experimented endlessly. Bown was gear-obsessed. He was always trying new equipment & looking for unconventional ways of combining pieces to make new sounds. Bown was the best engineer for Floyd. They deserved each other.'..."


Unforgotten Hero: Peter Bown and Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Peter Bown was queer. Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner fondly recalled him as 'more bent than a nine-bob note.' He was also one of the finest engineers to work at any London studio in the Sixties. A florid gay man in his forties, with a Beatles fringe and jovial disposition, Bown was known for having some of the finest ears in the business. Bown brought great experience, having begun his tenure at EMI in 1951 as balance engineer on pop music sessions.

Testament to his skill, Bown made the jump to recording classical music, a move as rare now as it was then. Between 1957 and 1965, Bown facilitated some remarkable recordings at Sadler's Wells Opera. With particular skill at microphone placement, a neglected art today, Bown introduced several innovations in the classical world, a stodgy genre notoriously resistant to audio experimentation.

Among his projects at Sadler's Wells, was the first recording to use 'ambiophonic' technology, which allowed much greater widening of reverb for near-holographic clarity. Given limitations of gear, often limited to two or three tracks, in 1964 Bown engineered a sublime Dream of Gerontitts for Sir Barbirolli.

From 1965-71, he continued classical work in league with producer Brian Culverhouse. Much more surprising was Bown's jump back into recording pop music. Going from pop to classical sessions is one thing, recording both is quite another, analogous to Beethoven suddenly decided to strap on a Telecaster and play heavy metal.

As EMI's top 'pop' engineer, Bown recorded hits for the Hollies, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black among many others. Beatles producer George Martin called Bown 'an electronics wizard.'

His youthful enthusiasm set him apart from other engineers at the Studio. One co-worker called him 'the world's oldest teenager', which seems apt. Bown refused to wear the standard jacket and tie uniform; his paisley shirts rivalled anything worn by the groups. Because he was so good at what he did, the management let him get away with it. Sadly, Bown's flamboyance meant he was denied promotion to producer.

On 27 March 1967, EMI engineer Bown had just gotten home from a full day's work. One of three pop music engineers at EMI Studios at Abbey Road, Bown engineered a string of hits throughout the decade. With Malcolm Addey and Stuart Eltham, Bown formed EMI's terrifying trio. The competition in New York and Los Angeles would scrutinise their mixes, vainly trying to figure out how they got such remarkable sound from limited four-track equipment.

Glad to be home, Bown sat watching the News at Ten when the telephone rang. Studio manager EH Fowler said, 'Peter, I want you back at Studio 3 at midnight. You will be doing a new group, Underground music. You might find them difficult to get on with, they don't communicate much.' Bown gathered his wits, had a shot of whiskey for British courage, and returned to the studio.

A balance engineer was responsible for recording and mixing, as well as technical decisions. At EMI, Bown oversaw all recording equipment during recording. Whatever sounds or concepts artist or producer wanted, Bown was responsible for realizing the technical side. Bown's creative and aesthetic choices led to the unique sound of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Inside Studio 3, the Pink Floyd were rehearsing improvisational centrepiece 'Interstellar Overdrive'. Bown told Cliff Jones, 'I opened the door, and I nearly shit myself. By Christ, it was loud! I thought, How the fuck are we going to get this on tape? I had certainly never heard anything quite like it and I don't think I ever did again. It was very exciting.'

Smith let the group play at full volume to gauge how to best record them. The Floyd’s extreme stage volume destroyed four heavy-duty condenser and ribbon microphones, testament to destructive wattage. Bown was severely dressed down by EMI staff, who informed him next time he was liable for repairs.

'Bown was one of Piper producer Norman Smith's mentors,' says Kevin Ryan, co-author of the landmark Recording the Beatles. 'A senior engineer, Bown taught Smith the art of engineering when Smith was just starting out. Bown had many years of recording experience on Smith. Though history hasn't quite painted him in this light, Bown was by far the most innovative and experimental engineer at the studio.'

Bown's wide-ranging ear and inventive stance meant he was open to the Pink Floyd's experiments and sympathetic to what the group was trying to create. 'Bown has not received the credit and acknowledgement he deserves,' says Ryan. 'More than any other engineer at EMI, he experimented endlessly. Bown was gear-obsessed. He was always trying new equipment and looking for unconventional ways of combining pieces to make new sounds. Bown was the best engineer for Floyd. They deserved each other.'

The third member of the team, tape operator Jeff Jarratt, switched tape spools, filled in session sheets, filed tapes in the tape library, wired up electronic gear and made tea. Jarratt ensured tape rolled when needed, rewound for overdubs, and each track on each take was noted. All punch-in edits were done by Jarratt, a tricky manoeuvre where Smith said 'Now!' and Jarratt dropped in an overdub.

The trio was a triple threat of experience, originality and willingness to throw away the rulebook when need be. They were also ready to use unorthodox microphone arrangements, taking care to ensure the best sound. When the Pink Floyd sought unusual sounds, Smith and Bown conferred, sometimes buzzing staff technicians through the intercom. They arrived, clad in white coats like laboratory assistants, puzzled out what was needed and brought in various filters and EQs to create the sound the engineer requested. The group could not have chosen a better place to record.

Piper’s sound has several vital ingredients. All recording took place through EMI’s custom-built REDD mixing consoles. Hefty grey REDD.51 consoles used in Studios 2 and 3 were exceedingly rare: three were ever constructed. Spartan controls disguised sensitive valves inside the desk. Preamplifiers were the EMI-designed REDD.47, imparting punchy mid-range character to sound.

Each channel had boost and cut controls for treble and bass, though no mid frequency controls, and no sweepable parametric. Engineers literally plugged small equalisation units into the console to change the desk’s capabilities. Plug-ins came in two flavours - ‘Classic’ and ‘Pop’. Changing the plug-in changed curves of desk EQ, for the ‘Classic’ EQ plug-in, bass and treble were shelving EQs at 100 Hz and 10 kHz. ‘Pop’ EQ plug-in had bass control identical with ‘Classic’, though treble control centred at 10 kHz when cutting, and 5 kHz when boosting.

The Fairchild 660 limiter was another weapon in EMI engineers’ arsenal. Delivering warmth and clarity in mixes, Fairchild boosted midrange without compromising treble and bass. Limiters prevented audio levels from going higher than a specified point. Fairchild was excellent for electric guitars, vocals, and drum sounds.

Though engineers at EMI paired Fairchild with a modified Altec compressor, the RS124, Bown marched to his own drum. A compressor cut dynamic range on audio signal. Bown's masterful mix of compression and limiting made for a range of sounds rife with atmospheric tension typified by British rock. A paradoxical space and tension British engineers boosted further with echo chambers and reverb.

From the start, engineers at EMI were pioneers, with microphones placed extremely close to drums, direct injecting guitars into the mixing board, making acoustic guitars sound like thunderous electrics, wiring effects together from spare parts. EMI engineers developed atmospherics that gave recordings unique spaciousness.

In research for Recording The Beatles, Kevin Ryan and co-author Brian Kehew discovered Bown recorded Floyd’s first album with an experimental EMI prototype Zener limiter. Bown combined valve-powered Fairchild and solid-state Zener for precise warm sound.

Ryan notes ‘Bown was using Zener limiters on sessions since early 1966. Other engineers did not; any Floyd sessions recorded by other engineers used the standard Altec and Fairchild blend. Bown’s preference for the prototype limiter was prescient, as Zener became a prime component in EMI’s next generation ‘TG’ consoles – used to record Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and much sought after for unique sound.’

The Zener prototype had faster attack time than Altec, though Bown saw their potential. Zener limiters hard limiting and smooth distortion was critical in shaping Piper.

Bown and studio manager David Harris positioned microphones an hour before the session began. Testament to the Pink Floyd's efficiency, they plugged in and played with little ado. Volume used by the Floyd saturated small Studio 3 with sound. The room had peculiar acoustics, which EMI staff tamed through extensive screens and baffles. Most engineers at the studio tried to minimize bleed by isolating amps and speakers with screens. Not so on the Pink Floyd sessions. They faced one another, with few audio screens between - a practice Peter Bown and Norman Smith established earlier with the Beatles. Ryan notes the only two engineers that did not regularly use screens on sources were Bown and Smith.

Ryan notes, 'Contrast Revolver, recorded by Geoff Emerick with screens, and much of it in Studio 3, with Piper. You sense the difference this isolation makes. The lack of screens on Norman's Beatles sessions he learnt from Peter Bown during his training.' Each engineer had different preferences, though on almost all his sessions Smith used Bown's setup.

However, they did always use screens around the bass amp. Waters' Selmer bass amp and Goliath cabinet was placed behind a small screen in the corner of the room. An AKG D19C microphone was placed inches from the amp's grille. The bass was also simultaneously direct injected into the desk in the control room.
Bown did often use a vocal isolation booth on Floyd sessions. Setting Syd alone with headphones in the booth allowed him to make the best use of his quiet voice without straining.

Jeff Touzeau, writer for EQ and author of Home Recording Essentials, notes Bown placed Mason's drums in the south-west corner of the studio, with tall baffles to the rear and sides of the kit. Bown defied standard pop practice at the studio by putting five microphones on Mason's kit. Bown miked bass drums, cymbal and snare. He also suspended an overhead microphone above drums to capture snare and a general image of the kit below. Bown stood in front of Mason's kit as he played, and listened. Back in the control room, he reproduced Mason's drum sound with added boost from Fairchild limiters.

Wright's organ was placed in the open, with Bown miking the Farfisa Combo-Compact Organ's built-in speaker. Sometimes Wright played the studio Hammond RT-3 organ, useful for church and classical touches. Bown put a microphone a foot away from the organ's rotating Leslie speaker for oscillation effect. With acoustic upright and grand pianos when needed, Wright was meticulous. The staff indulged him on time-consuming overdubs to ensure he got the sound he wanted.

Syd was placed behind baffles in a v-formation, with his amp miked with one U67 microphone, as at Sound Techniques. Bown told Cliff Jones, 'Syd's guitar was always a problem because he would not keep still and was always fiddling with his sound. He used to go and kick his echo box every now and then, just because he liked the sound it made.'

As Ryan explains, 'Bown's microphone choices differed from the standard setup Norman Smith used with the Beatles and other artists. Norman had not used DI on bass or D19c on bass or bass drum. He never used KM56 on drums, or the Sony C38, or the U67 on electric guitar. The one similarity between Bown's setup and Smith's was a Neumann U48 for vocals, though every engineer used the U48 for vocals. The division of labour at EMI ensured the selection of recording equipment was the domain of the balance engineer, not the producer.'

'When Norman moved into a producer capacity, he became an 'ideas' man and left technical concerns to the engineer. Smith acknowledged he was not a technical person. If there was a technical problem during a Floyd session, he might have helped address it if he could, though he was a music person and glad to focus on the music rather than the technical side. Smith joined EMI with the hope of being a producer. He never wanted to be an engineer.'

Touzeau states Altec 605A monitor speakers inside the control room gave a crude hearing of what was recorded onto tape. Over the years, Smith and Bown learnt through trial and error how to compensate for limited frequency range. During the final mixing stage, Bown used the studio's latest innovations to embellish and polish songs. Frequently used during mixing of Piper was the newly invented ADT, or Artificial Double-Tracking. Developed at the request of John Lennon, tired of manually double tracking vocals, ADT created a double-tracked vocal from one vocal track. Taping the recorded vocal off the Studer sync-head and feeding it to another tape recorder, then replayed the copy vocal slightly out of time with the original vocal. Properly adjusted, the effect could be remarkably convincing.

'Used all over Piper,' says Ryan, 'ADT may well be on every song in some capacity. Oftentimes, you hear what sounds like a double-tracked vocal, with one voice in the left speaker and one in the right. In actuality, this is usually a single-tracked vocal, though Bown used ADT to conjure up a convincing double of the vocal in the opposite channel. ADT was useful for adding depth to a stereo mix when mixing from only four tracks. The engineer had a fifth source to play with, and it could be applied to any or all four tracks. ADT was great on instruments as well, not just vocals. ADT was equally useful in mono mixes for creating odd sounding vocals and phasing sounds. ADT added unique depth to mixes.'

The entire mix was swamped in echo, product of the studio's excellent echo chambers. Bown was fond of the studio's underused EMT plate reverbs, embracing their sound long before most of other engineers came around to them. EMT reverb formed a key ingredient in Piper's sound. Forty-plus years on the recordings sound superb. Echo contrasted with severe limiting accented Barrett's dramatic style. The result, taut and sprawling, heightened the mix. The result, a masterpiece of audio engineering given the limitations of recording equipment then. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn stands the test of time.

Bown went on to work as engineer on Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother and Meddle. He also did brilliant work on UFO psychedelic group Tomorrow's sole album in 1967. He further engineered a few sessions for Peter Jenner's ill-fated 1968 production stint with Syd Barrett. Bown returned to work extensively with David Gilmour on Syd's The Madcap Laughs and Barrett.

Bown continued peerless classical work on beloved operas, including Muti's Aida and La Traviata. A mentor to a young Alan Parsons, Bown spent his final years at EMI carefully transferring 78-rpm masterpieces to compact disc. Bown eventually retired in 1991, going on to build his own home studio, where he recorded dozens of bands, with his telltale mixing touch throughout.

Peter Bown died in 1997, aged 71.

An unforgotten hero, the limitless bounds of interstellar sound on Piper, intimate warmth of 'The Scarecrow' or celestial coda on 'Chapter 24', are testament to Peter Bown's subtle brilliance. On 'Feel' or 'Wined and Dined', the feeling you are feet away from Syd strumming acoustic or unamplified Telecaster – is proof of Peter Bown's artful craft.

Home Studio Essentials by Jeff Touzeau

An insightful book filled with tips for your home studio. Touzeau has the rare gift to make the technical accessible to the rest of us. Jeff also wrote a brilliant article, well worth seeking out, on the making of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in the December 2007 issue of American audio magazine EQ.

Recording the Beatles by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew

A 540-page masterwork. The finest book ever written on EMI Studios or Beatles sessions.

Many thanks also to David Parker, whose brilliant Random Precision contains the most comprehensive interview with Peter Bown regarding his work with the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett.

'Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd: Lost in the Woods'
Julian Palacios
Out 29 September 2009


(Julian has revamped Lost In The Woods and it’s chocked full of new material about Syd.)