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  •  Thursday: Odds & Ends (36+ / 0-)

    CHEERS to Bill and Michael in PWM, triciawyse plus her new charge Jenny the Cat and ......... a group that makes generals call out 'charge': the C&J cavalry.

    ART NOTES - an exhibition about girlhood in 19th Century American art entitled Angels and Tomboys is at the Brooks Museum Of Art in Memphis, Tennessee through May 11th.

    WITH ITS EXPLOSIVE GROWTH in population, several large states of India are considering breaking into smaller states - based upon some successful examples from the last decade.

    ARCHEOLOGY NOTES - engineers excavating a tunnel to redirect the suburban commuter trains going into Sweden's capital city of Stockholm found what they believe to be Mjölnir - the hammer of the Norse lightning god Thor.

    THURSDAY's CHILD is Rontonton the Cat - a missing kitteh for whom a distraught Brigitte Bardot has offered €600 for her return.

    RAIL NOTES - the South American nation of Paraguay - which has lacked rail service since 1999 - has found that its old steam locomotives and workshops are now a draw for tourists.

    SIGN of the TIMES - after twenty years of post-Communist freedom (both political and artistic) the rise of neo-fascism in the nation of Hungary has seen more than half a million citizens leaving the country ... twice as many as those who left after the Hungarian Uprising was put down in 1956.

    SEPARATED at BIRTH - TV star Jessica Brown Findlay ("Downton Abbey") and Liv Tyler the model.


    .......... and for a song of the day  ......................................................... even if you haven't thought of him in many years, Country Joe McDonald has led a "psychedelic folk-rock band" (as the All-Music Guide put it) named Country Joe & the Fish, has appeared on 33 albums over the years, remained active not only with political and environmental issues (as you might expect) but also veterans' issues (being one himself) .... and not only made the Nixon Enemies List, but was criticized by Bill O'Reilly less than ten years ago. Not too shabby.

    The Washington D.C. native came-of-age in suburban Los Angeles, as his Red-leaning parents fled the nation's capitol when the McCarthy era began. He identifies with his mother's Judaism (who served on the Berkeley, California city council for many years) and the young McDonald became a fan of Dixieland jazz during his early years.

    He enlisted in the Navy in 1959 (at age 17) and served for three years before settling in Berkeley (where he still lives today) busking on street corners. He worked at a guitar shop and played in two bands: the Instant Action Jug Band and the Berkeley String Quartet where he honed his craft. He released an album (with Blair Hardman) in 1964, which sold very little.

    One of his bandmates from Instant Action was lead guitarist Barry Melton (whose day job today is that of an attorney). They came back together when McDonald started publishing a left-wing magazine (Rag Baby) and along with Melton recorded an accompanying EP with the songs I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag and "Superbird," a satire aimed at LBJ.

    McDonald and Melton then formed a band, whose classic line-up featured  Gary Hirsh (drums), David Cohen (keyboards) and Bruce Barthol (bass), who was the only native Californian in the band. The band's name appears to have come from Joe's parents having (supposedly) naming him after Joe Stalin (whose WW-II nickname was "Country Joe") and the rest from a quote from Mao about "the fish who swim in the sea of the people."

    They began to get gigs at the Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms in San Francisco in 1966 and released a second EP with their own songs  "(Thing Called) Love" and an extended (for the time) instrumental entitled "Section 43". They were both (a) representative of the just-evolving San Francisco sound, as well as (b) excellent at self-promoting the band, and were signed by Vanguard Records in December of 1966.

    Their debut album in early 1967 was very popular on the then-emerging FM radio, with previously recorded songs like "Superbird" and  "Section 43" plus tribute songs to two singers flying high in other San Francisco bands: Janis Joplin and Grace Slick. However, the legendary Vanguards Records founder Maynard Solomon objected to including "Fixin to Die" as he thought it would harm the band.

    That song would be released as the title track for the band's second album just five months later; and while it became the band's signature tune the album also included "Who Am I" and "Thursday" as psychedelic ballads. The Fish had a triumphal appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival and underwent an East Coast tour with an advanced light show for the time.

    1968 saw the release of their third album Together - which was their best seller (including tunes such as "The Streets of Your Town" and "Rock and Soul Music", which they featured at Woodstock the following year). But it also led to some personnel changes, as Barthol, Cohen and Hirsh left between Sept '68 and early '69.

    1969 saw the release of their fourth album and, of course, the famous appearance at Woodstock not only by The Fish ... but Country Joe, as well. In the past, the band would ask the group to give them an F - I - S - H ...... but at a Central Park concert before Woodstock, they changed it to .... well, you-know-what .... and for this the Ed Sullivan Show paid them in advance for their upcoming appearance ...... on the condition that they not show up.

    Well, Joe was on the bill as a solo performer ..... and his life was changed by including the (revised) cheer before his classic song .... and if you haven't heard it in years, you can hear at this link that Fixin to Die is a catchy tune, even with its (now) dated lyrics.

    By now, the changing personnel made this tantamount to the McDonald-Melton Band, and so their 1970 fifth album got just some middling reviews. In addition, the two men were arrested for inciting an audience to lewd behavior (McDonald) and possession of marijuana (Melton) and the band split in 1971.

    And he has been a solo performer for most of his life from that point. Some highlights include the following:

    * A Woody Guthrie tribute album from 1971.

    * A recording using the poems of Robert Service from 1971.

    * An album with members of Big Brother/The Fish called the Paris Sessions from 1973.

    * The album Paradise With an Ocean View from 1976 ... with the song "Save the Whales" as his most-played radio song from the time.

    * His 1991 album Superstitious Blues - an acoustic album accompanied by Jerry Garcia.

    * His 1995 album Vietnam Experience - with arrangements by the Englishman Neil Ardley.

    * His most recent recording, Time Flies By from last year ...... new recordings of classic songs, plus originals that cover the breadth of his career.

    In addition, he devotes himself to many causes. Veterans issues - as he is one, himself - play a big role. He works to spread the legend of Florence Nightingale - who could have been the first military nurse of note. And of course, some ecology projects.

    In more recent years: he was sued for copyright infringement in 2003 for his use of the chorus on "Fixin to Die" by the descendants of Dixieland musician Kid Ory from the song Muskrat Ramble - owing to McDonald's childhood Dixieland interest - however, it was unsuccessful as the family waited nearly four decades to object. And in 2004 there was a reunion tour of The Fish - complete with old tunes as well as Bruce Barthol's tune Cakewalk to Baghdad - dedicated to your-friend-and-mine, Richard Perle.

    Country Joe McDonald turned age 71 this past New Year's Day and does tour with his most recent performance last month at the (ailing) Jefferson Starship musician Slick Aguilar's benefit concert. He may be most famous for work he did before 1970, but he's still at work, lo these many years later.

    In 1979, there was a mini-Woodstock reunion concert that took place on my native Long Island, New York at a place called Parr Meadows - a quarter horse racing facility that did not last long.

    Among the performers was Country Joe - and on the live radio broadcast he began by bellowing "Gimme an F!" .... and when the audience responded - part of the reason why they came, perhaps - Joe said quietly, "Thanks ....... I needed that".

    He then launched into this song - which (as you can imagine) struck a chord - from his 1978 Rock And Roll Music From The Planet Earth album .... and below you can listen to Bring Back the Sixties, Man.

    Woodstock is in your mind
    Not the present, nor the past
    It can happen anywhere, anytime
    Bring back the sixties, man

    This might be
    a mountain-moving time
    Close your eyes and you see
    The pictures in your mind

    Woodstock is not a dream
    Not an image on a movie screen
    You can make it up, and if you try:
    Bring back the sixties, man

    "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

    by Ed Tracey on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 05:23:32 AM PDT

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