Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I talked about Pete in my last journalism class of the semester -- to which I brought my own banjo for a glorified sort of show-and-tell. I sang the class a song that reminded me of local journalism, including hours sitting in planning and zoning commission meetings trying to uncover behind-the-scenes details like the ones in Hank Bradley's song, "The Mayor Is a Good Old Boy."
I hadn't intended to talk about Pete or how he had inspired my interest in folk music and the banjo back in the 1960s. But while showing the class my old Fairbanks Electric, I mentioned that a previous owner (or a fan of his or hers) had drawn a small kangaroo in pencil on the banjo head, with a cartoon word balloon saying "Hiya, Slim!"
Having mentioned that bit of personal trivia, I asked how many students knew what Pete Seeger had written on his banjo... and we were off into folk-music anecdote land, mentioning Woody Guthrie, Peggy Seeger (who autographed a banjo instruction book for me) and Bruce Springsteen, among others.
Two days later, I saw in my Twitter feed that Pete celebrated his 94th birthday that same weekend... and was singing with Peggy at a concert a few days later. It just shows what a job it is to keep up with the news! (Bill Moyers did a better job than I did that week, pulling out a 1994 interview with Pete for his blog. He also did a great web page about protest songs last year.)
I did get to tell the class about Pete and show them my earlier blog posts here and there on "Newspapermen Meet Such Interesting People" (a song I don't know well enough to sing, fortunately) and related issues:
I also got to tell them that you don't have to rely on me for updates about Pete. Here's where to find him online: http://peteseeger.net
That's when I started writing this blog post... the weekend of his birthday. The "belated" headline is even more true now, a month later: I went back and added the Clearwater links and other information after noticing that I never did hit "Publish" on the original version in May.
Perhaps I was distracted by my other two blogs, or by preparing for class, or for retirement, or even giving the students final grades and writing the after-class updates to my other blog post about teaching journalism. In any case, I'll take it all as a fine excuse to publish a few more links about Pete and music, and to revive this old blog as my space for writing about music, mostly.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
I tend to prefer small venues to crowds myself -- and prefer moonlight to sunstroke -- but the festival has its share of smaller stages and shady corners.
(Folks who paid a last-minute $70 thinking they were going to arrive mid-afternoon for the closing Alison Krause concert -- as if it were a stadium concert -- were certainly disappointed by parking lot and shuttle-bus jam-ups, and then finding no reasonable place to sit and watch on the already well-staked-out concert lawn. Maybe some "acts" are too big for this venue?)
My favorites: Local heroes DotDotDash did a fine morning contradance, which could be an alternative Sunday morning form of worship... and catching part of the two gospel acts later in the day probably provided absolution for saying such a thing. I also thought the Molasses Creek band from Ocracoke Island was charming, playing mostly on the children's area stage, mixing new songs, old songs and humor. (They even did "Sweet Violets" nicely for a Sunday morning, making me wonder whether they have a less kid-friendly late-night version for the Ocracoke saloon trade.)
My big failure was not checking my camera's battery before I threw it in the backpack, and not bringing the spare. I may get some pictures uploaded here from my Droid phone, but there will be better ones elsewhere:
Roanoke Times FloydFest search Slideshow
Sunday, February 05, 2012
- Jimbo's OTR Podcast
- OTR Books
- Silent Radio
- Jimbo's OTR Buffet
- Imagined Plots of Vic and Sade
- otr photo
- Billboard Magazine OTR Review Index
- OTR People
- Vic and Sade Characters
- Comic Weekly Man
- Golden Age Newspapers
- OTR Advertisements
- Say Hello To...
- OTR Casts
- The Mixed-up World of Uncle Fletcher
- Unfishul Lum and Abner Dictionary
- Peabody's Peabrain
- OTR Audio Interviews
- Vic and Sade Notebook
- The Crazy World of Vic and Sade
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I'm exploring how newspaper reporters were portrayed in "popular culture" for a series of articles and maybe a book. The blog will help me sift through and comment on more than 30 years of old time radio: dramatic series, dramatized biographies and historical series.
Why? Partly because I like the storytelling of radio. At its best, it let your imagination paint the pictures, instead of some Hollywood special effects department. Professionally, I'm curious whether any "old media" (newspapers) and "new media" (radio) competition showed up in radio stories, or whether radio simply reflected how important newspapers were in daily life back then.
I also wonder whether radio dramas put newspaper reporters in a better or worse light than Hollywood movies of the same era, including whether radio had strong women reporter characters like the movie portrayals of Hildy Johnson, Torchy Blane and Lois Lane. (For more about the radio version of Lois, and her reaction to that upstart Clark Kent, see this second half of this blog entry.)
So... this old "boblog" blog has slipped off my radar for the past few months. So has music -- the main thing I write about here.
Here's one coincidence: An episode of one of the best old-time radio shows about crime-fighting newspapermen also featured one of my favorite blues singers and guitar players, Josh White.
Listen to Big Town: The Prisoner's Song on another old-time radio blog.
Josh sings original blues songs that parallel the story of the radio play; to be part of the scene, he plays a prisoner on death row.
"He's going to the chair..." the guy in the next cell says. "They let him have his guitar. He wanted it instead of his supper."Incidentally, Josh White's song here is not "The Prisoner's Song" -- that's just the title of the "Big Town" episode.
The other "The Prisoner's Song" was a huge heart-breaking hit in the early days of recorded music, for Vernon Dalhart (a No. 1 hit for 12 weeks in 1925-26).
Since then has been re-recorded many times. I even remember my mother singing it, sometimes just the line, "If I had the wings of an angel..." when she needed a quick escape from whater was getting her down.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Mostly I'm celebrating the discovery that Ellen Kushner's "Sound and Spirit" radio program is available online. I used to be a regular listener to her wonderful mixture of music and stories, but lost track of it when I moved from one NPR/PRI station's listening area to another.
Her website has players and "embed" code for individual episodes. This is my first try at embedding one in a Blogger page. Utterly painless... Odd that it looks like a video player when only audio is involved. The program logo didn't show up properly when I first posted this, but the audio plays -- and that is the point.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Bud Bennett's first few entries look great, from highlighting the library's music collection to pointing out the existence of County Sales in Floyd, an old-time-music record distributor that he and I both discovered, as Bud says, "Back in the mid-to-late 1970s, far from the New River Valley..." (He links to a Roanoke Times story about County that I missed a couple of weeks ago.)
Running into Bud's blog (while on an Interlibrary Loan visit to the library's website) reminded me that I've been neglecting this blog... even more than I've been neglecting my other five or six blogs and Websites.
The most recent things I've posted about music have been some tweets about a local journalist-musician's (highly recommended) new book, which I'll recommend to Bud by posting them here again:
Ralph Berrier's reading at the Radford Public Library even had yodeling! And applause for it -- and his writing... http://bit.ly/9bifS0 http://twitter.com/bobstep/status/21443549249
Rave for Ralph's book: "No matter. If he has yet to master the fiddle, he rarely hits a false note on the page." http://on.wsj.com/cldNOy http://twitter.com/bobstep/status/20497180615
Local journalist fiddler finds fame & WSJ byline with 'If Trouble Don't Kill Me' Book Excerpt - http://bit.ly/boQAK4
Speaking of trouble... This week's Roanoke Times headline about an Appalachian music fan with a Radford University connection was less celebratory, but at least it does have a happy ending:
The university is officially yanking the name off one wing its arts and music building, the part that has been called Powell Hall from one end (and Porterfield Hall from the other).
A few years before I got here, an Appalachian Studies class at the university pointed out that the building's namesake John Powell, along with being a composer and champion of Appalachian music, was a notorious racist.
Plans to drop the name were postponed along with plans to renovate the building, until a call from a Roanoke Times columnist reminded the performing arts school's dean of the issue recently, calling Powell, "a terrible and persuasive racist whose work harmed uncounted Virginians."
Dean Joe Scartelli, now acting provost, got the Board of Visitors to act quickly (if belatedly), officially dropping the name last week. I hope the university facilities folks and website editors scrub it away soon, without whitewashing the historical fact that the school let the name stand for 43 years. Was the naming of the building a conscious act of "whiteness" in 1967? That was a big year in the Civil Rights movement, with an important Virginia case before the Supreme Court, the ironically named "Loving v. Virginia," and a future publisher of the Roanoke Times and Radford board member -- covering the "Mississippi Burning" case for The New York Times.
For anyone not familiar with RU and its arts facilities, here's one last coincidence or bit of irony: While plans to renovate Porterfield/Powell were on hold, the school built a fine new performing arts center next door and named it for Douglas & Beatrice Covington.
Along with being a patron of the arts, Dr. Covington, Radford's fifth president, was the first African-American to head a predominantly white university in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
(One of these is here for comparison...)