I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
As the former heavyweight champion Joe Louis said, "You can run, but you can't hide" .....
By Request FATHER-SON? coming from Cedwyn - "I've been watching Frazier on Netflix and damn if our dear Ministry of Truth (a/k/a Jesse LaGreca) couldn't be Kelsey Grammer's love child!" Hmmm ...... could be ... I'm thinking John C. Reilly is Jesse's older brother, too ... readers, what say you?
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted
BRAIN TEASER - try the latest Weekly World News Quiz from the BBC.
ART NOTES - an exhibit entitled Yellowstone to Yukon is at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta through November 15th.
DESPITE being a rather lengthy article (and obviously quite chilling) ... save some time to read this account of the murder spree in Norway last year by Anders Behring Breivik - and how a police sergeant initially thought that the first distress signal (from a quiet, peaceful island) was a joke.
YES, IT'S SHORT NOTICE - but if you will be near Lower Manhattan this coming Wednesday, you have a chance to attend a concert featuring these legends of blues-rock - Johnny and Edgar Winter, Leslie West (of "Mountain" fame), Rick Derringer (Johnny Winter's old partner) and Kim Simmonds (the leader of the veteran Savoy Brown blues band).
ACCORDING TO the English journalist Will Hutton, George Osborne - currently implementing David Cameron's austerity program - is the worst of all the Chancellors of the Exchequer he's ever seen.
POLITICAL NOTES - the French parliament has voted to make the harassment and discrimination of transgender people a criminal offense, as part of a bill addressing sexual harassment.
A FEMINIST PUNK BAND named Pussy Riot has been in a Russian jail (on charges of hooliganism) since March - where they burst into song at a church to protest its support of Vladimir Putin - and if found guilty at their trial (which began this week) they could be sentenced for up to seven years in prison.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the late Memphis resident Jay Parker, the designer of the iconic logo for Sam Phillips' Sun Records label - who has died at the age of 87.
TEN YEARS AFTER the death of the Clash guitarist Joe Strummer his two daughters remember his home life.
POLITICAL NOTES - Milan is now the third city in Italy (after Turin and Naples) to offer civil unions - and Genoa’s mayor stated (during his election campaign) that he was prepared to follow suit.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Sawyer the Cat - a Kentucky kitteh whose leg was somehow trapped inside his collar, and is up now for adoption )as shelter owners believe he will heal faster in a private home).
HISTORY NOTES - at the at the town hall of Paris's third arrondissement: the only surviving police archives of the biggest World War II deportation of French Jews are being opened up to public view for the first time.
INTERESTINGLY - in the north-east Indian state of Assam, demand from the military for bhut jolokia - once the world's hottest chilli - is offering thousands of farmer a way out of poverty.
FRIDAY's CHILDREN are Lenny and Layla the Cats - New York kittehs whose family is being tutored by a cat therapist.
......and finally, for a song of the week ............... while he certainly learned from pioneers such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Guitar Slim, the Chicago blues guitar legend Buddy Guy has been - as he puts it - a "caretaker of the blues: I just take what they taught me and keep adding to it". And has-he-ever ... in a career now in its sixth decade, with fiery guitar licks, showmanship, vocals and some compelling songs written. And he in turn was a major influence on Jimi Hendrix, as Buddy Guy had a louder, more edgy sound that presaged the coming of rock music.
Born in 1936 in Louisiana, he found work performing around Baton Rouge in the mid-50's in the bands of John Tilley and Raful Neal. At age 21, he made the trek that many other southern bluesmen made: to Chicago to ply his trade in the blues, after sending a tape to Chess Records. After overcoming a case of stage fright, his new friendships with Muddy Waters and Otis Rush plus some sizzling performances were enough to land a contract - but at first, with Cobra Records. Under the production of Chess Records studio manager Willie Dixon, Guy had success with songs such as "This is the End" and "Try to Quit You, Baby" before Cobra went bankrupt in 1960.
Moving to Chess Records in its heyday was his break-out - and by now, his songs sounded less like his idols and more his own. "First Time I Met the Blues" and "Let Me Love You, Baby" are performed by many rock stars, as well as "Stone Crazy" and "My Time After a While" (which John Mayall has often performed). In addition, he performed on some of his label-mates' recordings, such as Muddy Waters' "Killing Floor" and the Chess label's last major hit: Wang Dang Doodle as performed by Koko Taylor in 1966.
After Chess Records began to decline in the late 60's, he released some records for Vanguard (including a hard-rocking version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb", believe it or not) and then settled into a partnership with harmonica player Junior Wells - "Buddy Guy and Junior Wells" graced many a marquee - and I got to see the two of them play later in the 70's in New York.
Many musicians refer to the 1980's - after the rise of disco and the collapse of major rock and blues radio shows - as a "lost decade" for the blues. And Buddy Guy was no exception; releasing a few albums to no avail. And while he had no problem with rock stars performing his music - indeed, he's toured and performed with numerous American and British stars over the years - he was dismayed that record companies would play white musicians performing first-rate versions of blues classics, but not B.B. King or Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf (especially during the 1980's).
His re-emergence came after many performers (including Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton) had him open on their tours, leading to a new recording contract at Silvertone Records. And his 1991 album Damn Right, I've Got the Blues achieved a rare level of success for a blues album: gold record status (and which won him a Grammy, as well).
Over the past two decades, he has released several popular albums: Last Time Around - his last recording with Junior Wells before his death in 1998, Sweet Tea in 2001, and his most recent studio album is Living Proof from 2010. He also has a 2009 compilation album that is a good place for any fan of his music to start, and has even put down his electric guitar from time-to-time to play acoustic Delta blues (despite it not being his strongest suit) to showcase some of his own heroes of the genre.
Since 1989, Buddy Guy has owned his own blues club in Chicago entitled Legends - where you can often meet him sitting at the bar when he is not performing or travelling - and just two years ago it moved across the street to much larger quarters, which he hopes will be a mainstay of the blues long after he is gone.
Even if he never played another song, Buddy Guy's legacy is set. He is the recipient of six Grammy Awards, a National Medal of the Arts, Billboard Magazine's Century Award, plus induction into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Just three months ago he published his autobiography and Rolling Stone ranked him as #23 in its 100 Greatest Guitarists list, as well as his song Stone Crazy being ranked as #78 in its "100 Greatest Guitar Songs" of All Time list. And just ask any famous rock guitarist with a strong blues component to their music: and Buddy Guy's name will regularly turn up as an influence.
Fortunately, despite turning age 76 this very week, Buddy Guy is not only not retired, he's as busy as ever: now on a tour that brings him next to Los Angeles on August 7th. And just this past February: he successfully coaxed President Obama into singing the chorus of Sweet Home, Chicago at a White House event celebrating Black History Month.
Of all of his works, it's a song he performed with Junior Wells (which borrows from the song "Hard to Handle" by Otis Redding) entitled A Man of Many Words that is my favorite. And below you can listen to it.
I don't care what nobody says
I'm a man of a many words
I can speak things to you darling
That I can swear that you never heard
I was hauled off to jail late last night
With no one to pay my bail
I rapped strong to the judge early this morning
And the judge put the cops in jail
I rap strong and I know it right along:
Come on mama, let me turn you on