I post a weekly diary of historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I often feature in "Cheers & Jeers".
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
CHEERS to Bill and Michael in PWM, our Wyoming-based friend Irish Patti and ...... well, each of you at Cheers and Jeers. Have a fabulous weekend .... and week ahead.
ART NOTES — opening this Sunday is the exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry (with nearly 70 works by Vermeer and his fellow painters) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to January 21st.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the Harold Stassen of the state of Vermont, Peter Diamondstone — so perennial a candidate, he appeared on the statewide ballot every two years from 1970-2014, representing the left-wing Liberty Union Party he co-founded — who has died at the age of 82.
WEEKEND READS — for those who have not seen them already. Vanity Fair has a story about the lawsuit filed against another billionaire right-winger, Robert Mercer —whose history of racism is not well-known …. and the story by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker about the dangers of Mike Pence — some of which is well-known, some of which is not.
WEDNESDAY’S CHILD is a kitteh badly-burned (and dehydrated) during the Santa Rosa, California fires … but rescued by animal control officers from a storm drain.
PROGRAMMING NOTE — there will not be a Friday Cheers & Jeers posting (nor a Sunday diary of Odds & Ends) for this upcoming week — as I will be travelling to an annual gathering of old chums in Albany, NY (that I always look forward to).
I will return on the first weekend in November.
THURSDAY's CHILD is named Ickle the Cat — whose family was so bored with existing (unimaginative) cat furniture, they began their own company — and have made Ickle his very own ... Indiana Jones bridge.
TRAVEL NOTES — a growing trend is that of sexually-charged vacation destinations — and with business of Hedonism II on a steady rise, one of its co-owners says, “I think this generation is more sex-oriented than the one before them in the Reagan years” …... (we can only hope).
HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY to the film star Marsha Hunt — who appeared in “Pride & Prejudice” and “Johnny Got His Gun” yet ran afoul of the Hollywood Blacklist (and is today a long-time supporter of liberal causes). She is the last surviving person from a 1943 photo of (most) of the stars of MGM Studios. If you click on this link (and enlarge the subsequent image) there is a seating chart: and just a few of the stars shown are Katherine Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Hedy Lamarr, Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Bert Lahr, Donna Reed, Red Skelton and Gene Kelly.
FRIDAY's CHILD is named Inky the Cat — another example of a cat thought too unstable to fit into family life, then successfully given an industrial job (protecting a brewery’s grain from rodents) … and now is more sociable than ever before.
CHEERS to the mayors of San Antonio, Texas and San Jose, California — who submitted a bid to lure Amazon …. but on their own merits, not with mega-tax giveaways that taxpayers will never recoup.
BRAIN TEASER - try this Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.
OLDER-YOUNGER BROTHERS? — the late rock musician Lou Reed and Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons.
...... and finally, for a song of the week ...........................… someone who has been part of the music scene the past thirty-five years has been Robert Cray — a blues guitarist whose style has blended the “Gospel of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Bobby Bland’s soul, Jimi Hendrix’s rock guitar and the Beatles pop sounds”. Taking aim at some critics who consider him to be a watered-down musician (whose music was meant for Starbucks) is the All-Music Guide’s Bill Dahl, calling him “one of a precious few young blues-based artists with the talent and vision to successfully usher the idiom into the 21st century without resorting either to slavish imitation … or simply playing rock while passing it off as blues”.
Born in Columbus, Georgia as an Army brat in 1953, he played in his first band in Newport News, Virginia and later in Tacoma, Washington. He found his calling when seeing bluesmen such as Freddy King, Muddy Waters and especially Albert Collins perform in the Seattle area. His senior class voted to have Albert Collins perform at a graduation party, and Cray even did a tour as part of Collins’ band a few years later.
In the late 70’s, he founded his first Robert Cray Band in the college town of Eugene, Oregon …. and the first time many in the general public ever had a glimpse of him: he had a cameo (as the bassist) in the Animal House band Otis Day & the Knights.
He had an early release on the HighTone label, which led to his first contract with a major label (Mercury Records) in 1982. He had immediate album success with Bad Influence and False Accusations — and it was the mid-to-late 1980’s that was his breakthrough period.
In 1985, he joined-up with his old mentor Albert Collins and another veteran bluesman Johnny Copeland (the father of the popular blues singer Shemekia Copeland) for the album Showdown! — a big-seller in the blues world, and Robert Cray won his first (collective) Grammy.
The next year, he released his breakthrough album Strong Persuader — with a #22 hit single in Smoking Gun along with a minor hit in Right Next Door — and that album led to his second Grammy award. He became popular on MTV and then appeared in the 1987 film Hail, Hail Rock & Roll! — a tribute concert for the career of Chuck Berry — and at this link you can hear/see Robert Cray perform Chuck’s song Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (with Keith Richards and other guest musicians).
In the 1990’s, he was one of several noted guitarists who performed at a show in Wisconsin …. where Stevie Ray Vaughn died in a helicopter crash later that night. He also appeared (along with his mentor Albert Collins) at the Guitar Legends concerts at the 1992 Expo in Seville, Spain.
Another blues legend who took to Robert Cray was John Lee Hooker — and at a Montana concert where the Robert Cray band was the opening act (and John Lee Hooker was the solo headliner) — during the Cray band’s opening set, John Lee Hooker simply walked onstage and joined in (of course, no one objected). Then in 1992, Robert Cray returned the favor as a guest performer on John Lee’s album Mr. Lucky.
Since then, Robert Cray has released several albums, toured with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and others and continues his blend of blues, soul, rock and other influences. He dismisses as “bluenatics” those critics who insist on blues purism, insisting that his style is what has made his career. His most recent recording is Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm — the back-up band from the Hi Rhythm studio in Memphis, produced by Grammy-winning producer Steve Jordan — who has also performed as a drummer with Stevie Wonder, in the SNL band and toured with the Blues Brothers.
Robert Cray has a Fender signature guitar, has won an additional two Grammy awards (after the two already mentioned), was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011 and just this year won a Lifetime Achievement award from the Americana Music Association. His current tour will bring him to the West Coast in November, and as an African-American helping to keep the blues alive, Eric Clapton said that his first reaction to hearing Robert was, "As a blues fan ... we're saved" … with Bonnie Raitt adding, "He’s an original; he's passionate, he's a bad ass and puts on one of the best shows you'll ever see."
On his most recent album, this tune The Way We Are captures the soulful side of Robert Cray ... with a spare guitar solo that matches the mood of the song.
Turn around and close the door
Shed your sadness to the floor
Doesn't matter what's been said
That's just the way we are
Never mind who's wrong or right
'Cause we're together here tonight
And what we’ve brought into the light
Makes us the way we are
Love has a way of always testing you
We've built a home of trust
We can always come back to
Can you imagine us today?
If all our dreams were locked away
And we weren't strong enough to say
That's just the way we are