Happy 100th, Ella! American Musical Legend Ella Fitzgerald Born on this Day in 1917

Happy 100th to The First Lady of Song! Ella Fitzgerald was a versatile, talented, genius of vocal improvisation and style who inspired many. True greatness shone from her very soul!
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GOOD BLACK NEWS

Early Hardship Couldn't Muffle Ella Fitzgerald's Joy Legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald (photo via npr.org)

article by Tom Vitale vianpr.org

Ella Fitzgerald, who would have turned 100 today, was one of the most beloved and versatile singers of the 20th century. In a career that spanned six decades, Fitzgerald recorded hundreds of songs, including definitive versions of many standards. Along the way, she influenced generations of singers.

But the first thing that strikes you about Fitzgerald is that voice.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, who won a Grammy last year for Best Jazz Vocal Album, says a combination of qualities made Fitzgerald’s voice unique. “When you hear the tone of her voice — which has kind of a brightness, kind of a breathiness, but it also has this really great depth, and kind of a laser-like, really clear quality to it — it hits you,” she says.

Salvant, 27, says she learned to sing jazz standards by…

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Tribute: J. Geils

John Warren Geils Jr.: 20 February 1946 – 11 April 2017

Wow – I happened to hear this announced on one of the radio stations that I was listening to when I was out and about earlier today. From CNN:

John Warren Geils Jr., the guitarist and founder of the eponymous J. Geils Band, has died, police in Groton, Massachusetts, said.

Police came to Geils’ home for a well-being check, police Chief Donald Palma said. The 71-year-old was found unresponsive and was declared dead at the scene…The J. Geils Band was one of the most popular American touring bands of the 1970s. It did not achieve commercial fame until the 1980s, when they released radio mainstays such as “Centerfold,” “Love Stinks” and “Freeze-Frame.”

Born in New York in 1946 and raised in New Jersey, Geils’ first love was cars — a passion he inherited from his father along with his ear for jazz, he told Autoweek in 2012. He met band mates Danny Klein and “Magic Dick” Salwitz at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he was studying mechanical engineering. They formed the J. Geils Band in 1967 with lead singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd.

“That was the end of engineering school for all three of us,” he told the magazine.

The group released a string of albums in the 1970s but would not achieve commercial success until the 1980s, starting with the release of “Love Stinks,” its first platinum-selling record, according to Rolling Stone. Their 12th album, “Freeze-Frame,” featured its popular title track as well as chart-topper “Centerfold,” which spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982.”

The J. Geils band was one of my favourites to listen to in high school and afterwards, and I had a number of their albums. You could hear the songs “Centerfold” or “Freeze-Frame” played nearly every day on the radio, and MTV was more than generous with playing those hits, as well as the awesome song “Love Stinks.” From Rolling Stone:

Formed in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1967, the J. Geils Band became fast local favorites and released their self-titled debut in 1970. They broke through on the Billboard 200 in 1973 with their record Bloodshot, and over the course of the next decade honed a sound that blended blues rock, R&B, soul and pop. During the Seventies, the J. Geils Band would release eight studio albums and two live records while touring relentlessly – but they wouldn’t hit their commercial peak until the beginning of the next decade.

In 1980, the J. Geils Band released Love Stinks, their first platinum-selling record, while the following year they notched a Number One with their 12th album Freeze-Frame. That album featured the group’s only chart-topping hit, “Centerfold,” while its title track also reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

However, the band began to fall apart in the aftermath of its success. Wolf did not appear on the J. Geils Band’s final album, 1984’s You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd. The J. Geils Band officially split in 1985, but began to play the occasional reunion show in 1999. In 2012, however, Geils officially quit the group and sued his bandmates for conspiring to go on tour without him and unlawfully using the band’s trademarked name.

Outside of the J. Geils Band, Geils remained busy as a musician. In the mid-Nineties, he released two albums with his band Bluestime and during the 2000s, he returned to his jazz roots with three solo records.”

I often played their lesser-known songs on the radio when I was a DJ, and would get compliments on the song and band trivia that I’d toss in here and there. “No Anchovies, Please” was one that I memorized and would recite to friends at slumber parties – only on request, of course! Many fond memories always come to mind whenever I hear a song from the J. Geils Band, and always listen to them with a smile. I chose five rarely-heard ones to close out this tribute to a musical genius. Rest easy, Mr. Geils – you won’t be forgotten.

R.I.P., James Cotton

James Henry Cotton: 1 July 1935 – 16 March 2017

Every Sunday, I listen to B. B. King’s Bluesville on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. This is how I heard that yet another blues legend has passed on: James Cotton, a.k.a “Mr. Superharp,” the best-known virtuoso of the mouth-harp, died on 16 March at the age of 81.

The “mouth-harp,” better known to the average layperson as a harmonica, is an instrument that is familiar to anyone who listens to and loves the blues, and James was the master! He played with B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Santana, the Grateful Dead, Gregg Allmann, and many others. From Rolling Stone:

Blues harmonica virtuoso and onetime Muddy Waters sideman James Cotton died on Thursday at a medical center in Austin of pneumonia. He was 81. A rep for the musician confirmed his death.

Cotton, who was born on a cotton farm in Tunica, Mississippi on July 1st, 1935, came to prominence in the Fifties when he cut two singles for the fledging label Sun Records and performed gigs with Waters. As a child, he’d become obsessed with harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson II’s King Biscuit Time broadcasts and, at age nine, moved in with the elder harpist to learn the instrument…Cotton, dubbed “Mr. Superharp,” formed the James Cotton Band in 1966, with the group issuing a self-titled debut the next year. His fellow musicians at the time were guitarist Luther Tucker and drummer Sam Lay. Cotton would later find himself playing with Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Hubert Sumlin, and would go on to explore blues-rock with performances with Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, B.B. King, Santana, Steve Miller and Freddie King, among others.

In the Seventies, he recorded for Buddha and Capitol, reuniting with Waters for LPs produced by guitarist Johnny Winter. The first, Hard Again, came out in 1977 and won a Grammy. He also made appearances on albums by Sumlin, Memphis Slim, Steve Miller and others, and welcomed Miller, Winter, Dr. John, Todd Rundgren, David Sanborn and others onto his own recordings.

Cotton continued to record throughout the Eighties, including a run on Alligator Records, and won the Best Traditional Blues Album Grammy for his Deep in the Blues LP in 1997. His most recent album was Cotton Mouth Man, which came out in 2013 and was nominated for a Grammy.”

I don’t think that I can say anything about this man that would do him the justice that his talent and sheer genius deserves, so I’ll let his music speak for him. Rest easy, James…you shall be missed.

Ah, Chuck…

Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry: 18 October 1926 – 18 March 2017

Damn…I was doing some gaming and listening to the 70s station on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and heard of the passing of one of the REAL kings of Rock & Roll, the notable, legendary, musical genius known as Chuck Berry. He passed away today at the age of 90; it isn’t lost on me that he was born on the 18th of October, and left this world on the 18th of March.

He was due to release an album later this year, according to his official website. What a man! What a musician! What a legend! Sheer genius, and that is never a term I toss about lightly. Some people overuse words such as “passion,” “genius,” or “eclectic,” but they really don’t know the true meaning of those words. Not trying to insult those folks; I just feel that they grabbed onto a “clickbait” word in order to drive traffic to their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress sites.

My son just sent me a text about Chuck’s death. That’s one way I know that I have imparted some true knowledge and genuine love of music to at least one Millennial! Most people in his age group say, “Chuck Berry? Should I know who that is?” – but they will mention Justin Beiber, Lady GooGooGaGa, or Nikki Minaj in the same breath, as if those scumwads were worthy of the status of Chuck Berry, David Bowie, B.B. King, Prince, or Jimi Hendrix.

If you know the “Duck-Walk,” then you know Chuck Berry. He made that move famous, just as Michael Jackson was the master of the “Moon-walk.” Chuck’s music was often played on the radio, and “My Ding-A-Ling” was the first one that I recall hearing. He had so many epic, timeless, awesome songs! I don’t think that I can say anything that would truly give due credit to this truly talented man, so I give you my favourite seven hits of his for your enjoyment.

Saturday Songs for “the Quiet Beatle”

George Harrison: 25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001

I wanted to play some Saturday songs in honour of George Harrison, known as “the Quiet Beatle” of “Fab Four” fame. Today marks what would have been his 74th birthday, were it not for his untimely death in 2001 at the age of 58 due to complications from throat and lung cancer. He also survived an attempt on his life in 1999, when a madman broke into his house and proceeded to stab him multiple times. From Wikipedia:

On 30 December 1999, Harrison and his wife were attacked at their home, Friar Park. Michael Abram, a 36-year-old fan, broke in and attacked Harrison with a kitchen knife, puncturing a lung and causing head injuries before Olivia Harrison incapacitated the assailant by striking him repeatedly with a fireplace poker and a lamp.[166][168] Following the attack, Harrison was hospitalised with more than 40 stab wounds. He released a statement soon afterwards regarding his assailant: “[he] wasn’t a burglar, and he certainly wasn’t auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys.”

While I quite like the music that John, Paul, and Ringo put out after the Beatles went their separate ways, I always felt that George was the heart and soul of that group. His spirituality and gentle nature were qualities that I appreciated in him, and felt an affinity with. Here’s my little musical tribute to this legendary genius…enjoy.

10 Life Lessons From Muhammad Ali

I’m going to be reading, and re-reading these, often.
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ALK3R

Delivered with the kind of swagger and charisma that’s impossible to replicate, Muhammad Ali dropped some seriously smart life lessons over the years. Take some notes.

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Real gangsta

This is a REAL man, right here!
“Gangsta” is right…
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Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess

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Tribute: Robert Nesta Marley

Today, 11 May, marks the death anniversary of Bob Marley, noted activist and musician. His legacy of reggae and Rastafari is known, and felt, worldwide. This post is but a tiny tribute to that legendary genius.

From AllAfrica.com:

Thirty five years after the legendary reggae singer Bob Marley passed on, his legacy still lives on, thanks largely to the messages of love and unity that his music espoused.

In memory of this outstanding legacy, birthday anniversary celebrations in honour of the reggae legend have been held across the globe every May 11, the date on which he died in 1981. In Rwanda, the celebrations have come to be synonymous with Mulindi Japan One Love, popularly known as Kwa Rasta in Kimihurura.

This year, the celebrations have been dubbed Bob Marley Festival, and for the first time, will run for three days, from May 11-13.

To headline this year’s event is the Lion Story reggae band from Burundi. The 10-member band first performed in Rwanda in 2012, at the KigaliUp Music Festival. They have since returned to Kigali for a few concerts, although it’s the first time they will be performing at the Bob Marley birthday celebrations in Kigali.

Jackie Robinson Day…2016!!!

Happy Friday – and, happy Jackie Robinson Day to all of the baseball fans in the blog-o-sphere! Here’s a little bit of history about this day, from MLB.com:

“Today marks the 69th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, and once again, MLB and each of its 30 clubs are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the Hall of Famer’s legacy.

On Jackie Robinson Day, all players and on-field personnel across the league will don No. 42 jerseys, as they have done each April 15 since 2009. The number is otherwise retired throughout baseball in honor of the former Dodgers great, who signed his first professional contract with the organization — then in Brooklyn — in 1945. Two years later, on April 15, he started for the Dodgers against the Boston Braves at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, batting second and playing first base. That was the start of a highly productive 10-year career for Robinson, who was already 28 when he broke the color barrier. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1947, the NL Most Valuable Player Award winner and batting champion two years later, and he made six All-Star teams while posting a career average of .311.

Robinson, who died in 1972, also will be honored by MLB with an increased financial commitment to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, as well as special on-field, pregame ceremonies in each ballpark hosting a game today. That includes at Dodger Stadium, where Rachel and Sharon Robinson, the wife and daughter of Jackie, will be guests for the game against the Giants, along with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and Dodgers special advisor Don Newcombe, who played with Jackie in Brooklyn. They will watch Dave Roberts, the first minority manager in Dodgers history, guide his club against San Francisco. “I think I’m going to make a conscious effort tomorrow to really understand and take in the scope and magnitude,” Roberts said Thursday. “It’s a big deal. Jackie’s obviously impacted me and many others, so I want to take some extra time to reflect for sure.” For the players on the field, wearing No. 42 is a valued opportunity to show their appreciation for the doors Robinson opened for future generations.”

Jackie Robinson isn’t the only gentleman who had to deal with the ills of segregation and discrimination during the integration of professional sports in this country, but he is the most well-known in the sport of baseball. Professional sports in this country didn’t even integrate at the same time – for that matter, each sport had various teams which were far slower to do so than others. Such is the history of this country: the legacy permeates every aspect of American life. The things that Jackie Robinson addressed and fought against are still prevalent today. Racism didn’t end with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, any more than slavery did. Jackie Robinson’s legacy is phenomenal and can be seen on every baseball diamond across this country…and, indeed, around the world. Kudos to you, Jackie – you are in the pantheon of the great ones.

What A Weekend!!!

It was a blast…I had an excellent time! It was nice to hang out with family for a bit; especially when everyone’s unscheduled time flowed together perfectly. We got into the Seattle / Tacoma area on Friday afternoon; met up with my son for pizza before he headed off to work, then checked into the hotel for the night. Sent texts to family members and made phone calls, letting them know that I was in town for a Saturday concert. Spent some time with my mom and one of my sisters before the concert, then went and blasted our ears out for a few hours – Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne! The opening band was called Rival Sons and they weren’t too bad. They were your average 70’s / 80’s-style 5-person rock band, including a long-bearded gent on a keyboard, and the lead singer did his bit with a tambourine – good music, and certainly better than most of the headliners that are called musicians these days!

Sunday, we spent with my dad and watched the Super Bowl. I will give the Denver Broncos their due justice – that defensive line was virtually unstoppable. They manhandled poor Cam Newton like a rag doll, and I think his confidence was shattered with the first sack. No, Peyton Manning didn’t have to do a damned thing – it was all the defense. Cam looked like a very sore loser at the end, and Peyton’s shameless shilling for Buttwiper beer and his making out with ‘Papa John’ wasn’t any better. Cam needs to know that he who croweth the loudest sometimes has to eat a bit of crow. Suck it up and give credit where credit is due, okay? Better luck next year.

Monday, we met my brother for lunch, then he followed us back to my mom’s place. Both of my sisters met up with us, and my one sister brought her kids, my nephews and niece. They showed off report cards and their recorder-playing skills…it was relaxing and mellow. Being around family is nice – when you get along, that is! I can’t say the same for my adoptive family, LOL – I have to love them from a distance!

I’m off to the store to stock up on food, and I’ll catch up on reading blogs over the next few days. I need to get some posts ready for the weekend! Also, I wanted to note the passing of Maurice White, the founder and original lead singer of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. From ABC News:

Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums and made hits like “September,” ”Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland,” died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, his brother Verdine said.

White, who was 74, suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and had retreated from the public even as the band he founded kept performing.

“My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,” Verdine White, also a member of the band, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.”

Earth, Wind & Fire, a nine-piece band centered featuring the two White brothers, singer Philip Bailey and the distinctive horn section, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. The band’s most successful period started with the 1975 album “That’s The Way of The World” and continued through the rest of the decade. Other hits included “Serpentine Fire,” ”That’s the Way of the World” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

Chris Rock tweeted his condolences Thursday with a photo of White and the lyrics, “You can’t hide love.” Nile Rogers called White “one of the most amazing innovators of all time” on the social media platform, while Diane Warren said “this world just got a lot less soulful.”

White publicly revealed he had Parkinson’s at the time of the band’s Hall of Fame induction, but he had shown symptoms of the neurological disease back in the 1980s. He stopped touring with the band in 1995 because of weariness from the road combined with his health problems.”

Maurice White: 19 December 1941 – 4 February 2016

One final note…there was a New Moon on Monday…which is a rarity! Enjoy this song in honour of it, and two select songs by Earth, Wind, & Fire.

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