Between movies such as 1977's Smokey and the Bandit and 1981's The Cannonball Run – both starring Burt Reynolds – I've long dreamt of hitting the open road with adventure at every turn. When the first film debuted in the late 70s, I was driving a 1967 Ram Air Oldsmobile 442. Of course, with that kind of equipment at my disposal, visions of cross country exploits were inevitable. Alas, it wasn't to be. Jobs, money, a switch to a Toyota Celica and a fear of going to jail derailed those fantasies for good. Or so I thought.
Lo and behold, I now have a chance to live out that dream… sort of. Come Sunday, September 23, I am embarking on the 2012 Fireball Run: Northern Exposure, along with three other teammates. The only difference between this adventure and those on-screen antics I was so captivated by is that we can't speed. The Fireball is more like a game of Trivial Pursuit for eight hours each day, for a week, in a moving automobile traveling a circuitous route from Independence, Ohio, to Bangor, Maine. It's not an exact facsimile, but I'll take it.
Ever since Perry Farrell moved his Lollapalooza festival to Chicago, I have managed to attend it every year. In fact, it’s become something of an annual ritual for my older son, Arthur, and me. Like me, Arthur is consumed by music. I have been taking him to concerts since he was a young boy, and I took him to see many established artists, including U2 and Bruce Springsteen. Then as he got more into music, he introduced me to younger up-and-coming artists, and we would go to local clubs together. Arthur now has his own electronic dance music group called Busted Bass, and they have been playing clubs around Cleveland.
Unlike a lot of other festivals, Lollapalooza features a wide mix of music. This year’s lineup included everyone from 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Black Sabbath to Ohio’s hugely popular Black Keys, from such hot electronic dance music artists as Bassnector and Kaskade to the hot British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka, from the folksy young band Dawes to the soulful young band Alabama Shakes.
One of my favorite artists at this year’s festival was the singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. The Austin, Texas ...
From her self-titled debut album in 1971, Bonnie Raitt has established herself as a virtuoso blues musician who sings blues with gritty passion and plays slide guitar with authority, as if the genre’s fundamentals had been etched in her soul. With mentors that included Sippie Wallace, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House, Raitt has demonstrated a studied reverence for old-school country-blues tempered with a contemporary outlook and willingness to experiment. She recorded eight albums for Warner Bros. Records from 1971 to 1986, progressively moving from straight blues into more pop-oriented areas without losing sight of her roots. Raitt's move to Capitol Records was followed by her 1989 breakthrough Nick of Time, which netted four Grammy Awards in 1990 and prompted her to note: “It means so much for the kind of music that we do. It means that those of us who do rhythm & blues are going to get a chance again.”
In this clip, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum VP of exhibitions and curatorial Jim Henke shares the story behind the development and impact of Bonnie Raitt's signature Fender Stratocaster and the jacket she was wearing on one of the most rewarding ...
A lot of rock and roll, and especially Sun-label rockabilly, has liquor on its breath. Eddie Cochran – born in Minnesota, a California transplant at age 12 and a teenager until almost the end of the 1950s – never got ruder than a soda-pop belch, musically speaking. His recordings convey youthful good times without the dark undertow of his southern contemporaries. "Summertime Blues" was a B-side, but not for long. Written by Cochran and manager Jerry Capeheart, it's a concise masterpiece: a protest song without rancor, pointedly funny and propulsive. Cochran's teenage frustration will never be out of date. Ten years after being the biggest hit of a tragically short career, "Summertime Blues" survived a lysergic distortion by Blue Cheer to enter the Top 20 all over again. Two years after that, in 1970, the Who was almost as successful with their version, a longtime concert favorite. Eddie Cochran released only one album during his lifetime, which was abruptly cut short when the taxi in which he was a passenger crashed en route to a London airport at the end of a British tour. Also injured in the accident were rocker Gene Vincent and Cochran’s fiancée, songwriter ...
This year, legendary guitarist Freddie King aka the Texas Cannonball was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His searing, assertive solos and gift for showmanship made him among the most revered and subsequently emulated blues guitarists. He was a formidable figure on the nation's two most prominent blues scenes, earning his explosive nom de plume performing in the state where he was born and emerging as a powerful presence on the Chicago circuit. "If you're a guitar player, you better be a Freddie King fan, or you're probably not very good," noted guitarist Derek Trucks.
At the 2012 Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 14, 2012, in Cleveland, Ohio, Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top inducted King into the Hall of Fame. They also helped lead a jam that included guitarists Joe Bonamassa and Trucks, as they collectively delivered blistering covers of King classics "Hideaway" and "Goin' Down."
In this clip, Dusty Hill talks about playing bass with Freddie King, and Billy Gibbons and Hill share the story of when King introduced them to Muddy Waters during a high-stakes card game backstage. Click here to view more videos from the ...
The Dells are one of the longest-lived rhythm & blues vocal groups. Their origins date back to 1952, and the group’s original lineup – lead tenor Johnny Funches, second tenor Verne Allison, lead baritone Marvin Junior, baritone Michael “Mickey” McGill and bass Chuck Barksdale – changed only when John E. Carter replaced Funches in 1959. Between 1956 and 1992, the Dells racked up an astonishing 46 R&B hits. Eight of those made the pop Top 40, including their signature songs, “Stay in My Corner” and “Oh, What a Nite.” They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
In this clip, curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story behind the Dells and their onstage battle against 1996 Hall of Fame inductees Gladys Knights and the Pips at the Apollo Theater in New York City. The Dells are featured in a special exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
If New Orleans music is a gumbo, pianist Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd – better known as Professor Longhair – is one of the chefs who filled the pot and lit the cooking fire. Variously hailed as “the Picasso of keyboard funk” and “the Bach of rock,” Byrd's syncopated music was as infectious as it was uncategorizable: his playing mixed blues, ragtime, zydeco, rhumba, mambo and calypso, while his hoarse singing voice cracked as it crept toward the high notes. A meandering recording career started in 1949 with two of his most popular songs, "Mardi Gras In New Orleans" and "She's Got No Hair," with the label crediting the tracks to "Longhair and his Shuffling Hungarians." A year later, under a different record company (Mercury) and using his real name (Roy Byrd & his Blues Jumpers), he rerecorded "She's Got No Hair" as "Bald Head," his first and only national R&B hit.
In 1953, while recording for Atlantic (his fourth label in five years ), Longhair cut yet another classic, "Tipitina." Pianists from Fats Domino and Huey "Piano" Smith to Allen Toussaint and Dr. John acknowledge Longhair's influence. The hum-along nonsense syllables and stutter stepping left-hand rhythm of "Tiptina ...
On March 1, 2012, Maureen Mahon, a cultural anthropologist who teaches in the ethnomusicology program in the Department of Music at New York University, will present a lecture entitled “Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton’s Blues and the Sound of Rock and Roll” in the Museum's Foster Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
One of Janis Joplin's prime influences, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was one of the great female blues singers of post-war years. She descended directly from Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and other major vocalists of the classic blues period. Thornton's raw, belting vocal style made her self-composed "Ball 'n' Chain" a study in blues expression. Joplin remade "Ball 'n' Chain" with the same intensity Thornton gave the song. Joplin's dazzling performance of it was a highlight of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Oddly enough, Thornton is far better known for being the first singer to record "Hound Dog" – the tune penned by the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and later recorded by Elvis Presley – than she is for biting blues numbers like "Ball 'n' Chain."