Saturday, May 24, 2008

They Don't Do This Anymore

Well, the votes are in and '60s Miles won the poll. So here is your clip, with that unbelieveable group: Miles, Wayne Shorter (ts), Herbie Hancock (pno), Ron Carter (bs) and Tony Williams (dr, and complete with mustache that Miles made him grow so that he could get into the clubs as a teenager when he joined the band). [Thanks to St. Louis Jazz Notes for giving me the idea for this post.]

This is from the Steve Allen show from 1964. I'll have to give credit to Steve for letting Miles blow for about 9 minutes (can you imagine that anywhere on network television these days?). That makes up for Steve not knowing the tune "All Blues" ("...ok, blues of some kind or the other"). Enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's wrong with Gerry Ferraro?

I'm sorry, but the notion of her saying that the Dem race is sexist after the race bomb she threw into the stream this spring gets my goat. It is also prompting this post, which I make with trepidation on the fear that some may find it offensive. [So it might get taken down--feel free to comment that I should remove it.]

At the risk of wading where no white male should go, I'd like to observe that yes, there are, unfortunately, racists and misogynists in the U.S. today, and that many vote with race or gender as a principal (negative) motivating factor. And it's not right in either case, although the dynamics may differ, given that women are not, technically speaking, a "minority". There is a kernel of truth in what Ms. Ferraro said (namely, that Sen. Obama has been helped by his race, to some degree), but it seems to me that one reasonable way to look at the situation is as follows:

1. In case you had not noticed, Sen. Obama is black. That, generally speaking, has not been a plus in national Presidential politics (especially for someone with his name). His race is a factor for many who vote. It is a positive factor for most African Americans, who have a measure of pride in having a wonderfully gifted African American candidate, and as a result that constituency has supported him in great numbers. That does not trouble me. On the other hand, there are many (unfortunately) who apparently have voted against him on account of his race. That troubles me. So the question is, has race been a net plus or a net negative for him?

2. In case you had not noticed, Sen. Clinton is a woman. That, generally speaking, has not been a plus in national Presidential politics. Her name, too, carries some baggage. Her gender is a factor for many who vote. It is a positive factor for many women, who have a measure of pride in having a wonderfully gifted female candidate, and as a result that constituency has supported her in great numbers. That does not trouble me. On the other hand, there are many (unfortunately) who have voted against her because she is a woman. That troubles me. So the question is, has gender been a net plus or a net negative for her?

That's the germ of sense in what Ms. Ferraro said: Obama's race certainly has shaped what his voters have looked like, demographically. (I say 'germ' because I think she actually was trying to get at a slightly different point, but I think that notion that, for some, his race is a positive for him, has truth.)

Whether or not either factor (race or gender), on a net basis, has been helpful or hurtful is the thing that no one has any clue of how to analyze or answer effectively.

Monday, May 19, 2008


The Voodoo Blues Band packed up at 8:00 p.m. sharp last night to head over to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups for a scheduled 8:40 p.m. slot at a cancer benefit for the Siteman Cancer Center hosted by We needn't have hurried--they were running horribly behind (what else when dealing with five blues bands?). We got a chance to see and hear many of our good friends (including the Soulard Blues Band, our "warm-up" act, so to speak--well, at least we hit the stage after them).

It's always a hoot to hit the stage at BB's, consistently rated the best blues club in St. Louis, especially following the Soulard Blues Band, consistently rated the #1 area blues band (even if they were only the #2 band there that night--I mean, seriously, ya gotta have a horn section to really kick it!). We finished off the night helping out our good friend (and great blues diva) Erma Whiteside, who blew the roof off the place. [Steve and Barb, your album cover shot was used on a great poster promoting the event--that shot is everywhere!:]

Next up--we are playing at a new venue in St. Louis, the Gramophone, on Wednesday night at nine. Also, don't forget to check out Blind Willie's daughter Cara, who will be doing a gig at the Lucas School House in Soulard on Thursday night, including Matthew Von Doran on guitar and Dave (Red Clay) Certain on bass. Dave is Certain-ly one of our favorite bass sit-ins on the Sunday jam.

At the end of the month the Voodoo Band will hit the road and be at the Taylorville Blues festival on May 30. Thanks to our friend Dave Beardsley at for getting us out there. Dave is also the webmaster for the Voodoo Band's website (see sidebar for a link).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

One For Chris Matthews

I'm not a huge Chris Matthews fan, generally speaking. But his ripping into conservative radio talk show host Kevin James for not knowing basic history when Mr. James was on to discuss the Bush remarks to the Israeli Knesset is what more media people should do: if a question is fair, keep asking it until you get to the nut of the thing.

Strangely a good week for Obama after losing West Virginia by 40+ points: first, John Edwards. Then, Bush elevates Obama by that crazy speech, so that people have a lot to talk about other than the West VA loss and Obama's weakness among voters who vote based on race.

Friday, May 16, 2008


After a long preamble of "harrumphs" and pompous pontificating from all members (me included) of a little five-some at lunch today, a colleague posed the rhetorical question to the group of how the Cardinals could put Izzy on the disabled list if he didn't really have a disability, wondering whether there wasn't some rule or something on that. My response was that he does have a disability: He can't pitch.

"Reagan" Democrats

What does this even mean?

Of course it is a term all us political junkies have heard and used for years and years--this is nothing new. But the icing on the cake for me must have been the West Virginia primary, and the anecdotal interviews with those infamous "hard-working, white, blue collar" voters. Some of the comments were so blatantly racist it made me sick. Some of the comments I heard were unprompted; people were asked about voting generally, and, despite not being prompted about race, said things like they would never vote for a "colored" (and of course much worse--that's the kind of stuff they'd say to a reporter and then would make the airwaves).

So when I heard one more reference to "wooing the Reagan Democrats", I had a severe twang of "Why???!!!??" I know you've got to 'build a broad coalition to win', but ... words escape me. If you're undecided you must not be thinking about it too hard is all I can say.

Have you ever heard the phrase a "Kennedy Republican" (Maria and Arnold aside)? Guess what: a "Reagan Democrat" is no more a Democrat than a "Kennedy Republican" is a Republican.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Memphis Madness

In the fall of 2006, my friend Matt Farmer called with an improbable boondoggle: grab your horn, we're all going to hang out in Memphis in the Sam Phillips Recording Studio (Sam's next studio after Sun Records--they recorded Mr. Bojangles and Son of a Preacher Man there, among others) while a CD is being cut. Matt's good friend Mark Morse had hired a working rockabilly band (Rockin' Billy & the Wild Coyotes) and decided to cut a CD. They were the real deal (and so was the production team), complete with pompadours and multiple tattoos, and grabbed Neal and me when we came in ("The horn section's here!!"). While they didn't need us on much (maybe less than they imagined after they heard us play), we did make it on to one track (guess which one when you read the tunes). If you want a copy of the CD, Top Dead Center, go to CD Universe (online):

It's really a fun rockabilly CD! My favorite cuts are "Ain't No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down)" and "Shake Your Hips."
P.S., Matt tells me that's a picture of Billy Favata (the slap bassist and one of the "Wild Coyotes") whose likeness appears on the CD cover.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"We're who we've been waiting for..."

A somewhat derided campaign line from one of Barack Obama's earlier acceptance speeches this primary season. I was reminded of it listening to MSNBC this week when Chuck Todd said sometimes you don't see turning points when you are in them. As HC's lead was dwindling Tuesday night in Indiana, the punditocracy was taking that, coupled with the big win in North Carolina, as the effective end of the Democratic primary. (I myself have been known to worship at the altar of Rev. Tim Russert ("we now know who the Democratic candidate will be, and no-one will dispute it")). Todd drew a parallel to the Obama victory in Missouri on Super Tuesday.

Same narrative--Clinton ahead early, but wait, the city vote is coming in late (go St. Louis!) and Obama does much better (winning in Missouri and coming close in Indiana). Two states that border Illinois. And, in Indiana and Missouri, two states that might, without further analysis, appear to favor the Senator from New York. But Todd rightly reminded us of the importance of that win in Missouri, giving Barack a good victory outside the deep South on that Super Tuesday and turning that day more or less into a wash, with a slight nudge to Clinton, rather than be viewed as a blow-out for Clinton. (See two earlier my posts, if interested, in February on Mighty MO, including the fact that George Will said the state to watch on Super Tuesday was the Show Me state. Also see Will's editorial from Thursday of this week--great:

Also, Indiana really is the first time that a narrow loss has been widely construed as a victory, even though the punditocracy had been (wrongly) spouting that margin of victory was the thing to watch in earlier races (not fully appreciating that, mostly, a win is a win). But not so in the dear old Hoosier state.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Two Big Ones Last Tuesday

I'm referring of course to two unbelievable throws by Cardinal center fielder Rick Ankiel to nail two runners at third base in Tuesday night's game against the Rockies (what else did you think I was talking about?).

Third bagger Troy Glaus (the recipient of both missiles) said if he hadn't caught the balls they would have hit the base. Not sure that is true of the second one, but that was the truly astounding one, because he threw it from the warning track near dead center. Both on the fly. Maybe they could put him in as a pitcher--just hit a fungo to him in center field, then have him throw home a perfect strike.

The best part of all was watching the other players (bench included) react to the throws. Like the look on Tony's face when Rick hit that homer in his first game up as a position player last August.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


In response to an email from my Mom on April 22 (date of Pennsylvania primary, for those keeping score at home) that all us political junkies (she and I included) were having a hard time taking it (getting all whipped into a frenzy (even though the media is yanking us around, as she so aptly put it). My response on that date was as follows. I was a bit off, but since it still looks forward even from today, so I might as well post it:

"Let me take all the mystery out of it for you.

Hilary wins by 8%, stays in the race, and you've got two more weeks of "it all comes down to Indiana/North Carolina" (take your pick). More hand-wringing of the sort we've had for 6 weeks (is victory slipping out of the Dems' hands in a "can't miss" year? Are we handing the election to McCain? etc etc).

Then same thing happens in Indiana and NC. And "it all comes down" to Guam or Puerto Rico, or wherever. Then after that, "it all comes down" to what the super delegates do.

[That is not the worst case scenario, I suppose, but it seems to me it is probably the "most likely" worst case scenario. So expect that, and anything better is a bonus.]"

Even if you are a Hillary supporter (and I know a few read this blog), I am assuming this is killing you, too--maybe for slightly different reasons, but it seems crazy now, huh, that it feels so demoralizing on both sides for candidates who are so similar on the issues (compared with the alternative) to be ripping up on each other so bad?


Is it possible the Democratic primary voters in Indiana and North Carolina will actually backlash against the Wright flap, similar to the way New Hampshire voters reacted when they perceived that the press was taking too much glee in the supposed melt-down of the Hillary candidacy and the "end of the Clinton era"? I just wonder if there is a certain segment of the voters who are sick to death of hearing the talking heads pontificate on all the things that are supposed to move us. I don't know, but it occurred to me that there might be a certain segment that just wants to go out and show the press corps (again) that, paraphrasing Sergeant Shultz, "they know nuth-ink".