The READIN Family Album
Me and Gary, brooding (September 2004)


Jeremy's journal

Hay peores cárceles que las palabras.

Nuria Monfort

(This is a subset of my posts)
Front page
More posts about Music

Archives index
Subscribe to RSS

This page renders best in Firefox (or Safari, or Chrome)

Friday, October third, 2014

🦋 12 Gates again

Ok, here is my own version.

posted afternoon of October third, 2014: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Music

🦋 12 Gates to the City

I've been really looking forward for a while to the release of the new Gary Davis documentary, Harlem Street Singer. Saw it last night with old Xyris friend Ed and was not in the least disappointed -- indeed quite the contrary. I am here to tell you about a movie that should not be missed -- if you either (a) dig folk music or (b) think you would like to dig folk music, you ought to see this movie.

Gary Davis might be my very favorite guitar player -- and nicely, Harlem Street Singer provides plenty of commentary from guitarists that bears out this favoriting :) -- perhaps the nicest thing about this movie is the footage -- of Davis playing and singing and preaching and teaching, and also some great concert footage of bands he influenced, including Hot Tuna and the Dead. There are also interviews with guitarists he taught and influenced, including with Bob Weir and Jorma, and a monologue by Woody Mann. Mann is also the producer.

Let me leave you with "12 Gates to the City." This is that miraculous beast, the song that every version of it, is fantastic. In the movie Mann and singer Bob Sims performed a version of it that opened my eyes all over again -- check out this couple of different performances of Davis' tune (or Davis' arrangement of a trad. tune? Not entirely sure)(Hmm, and this seems like it would be a good tune for learning) -- and then watch this movie!

posted afternoon of October third, 2014: 1 response
➳ More posts about The Movies

Friday, May third, 2013

🦋 Let's listen to

Son Thomas.

posted evening of May third, 2013: Respond

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

🦋 Outertainment

So cleek asked what I'm listening to...

For years now I've been hearing of Baby Gramps, every now and then someone would tell me I ought to check his music out. Shockingly, reprehensibly, I ignored this great advice every time it was offered me, and I did not hear a note of his music until last weekend, when I went down to Bordentown to hear Peter Stampfel performing, with Baby Gramps on the same bill.

Turns out they have released a record together, Outertainment, and it blew my mind. There are traditional tunes freaked out beyond all recognition, some fantastic covers (Gramps singing "Surfin Bird" is truly amazing), originals sarcastic, whimsical, sincere. Every song will draw you in and through it.

posted evening of September 6th, 2012: Respond

Wednesday, February second, 2011

🦋 Mmm, blues

I spent a lot of time last night listening to and playing "Mystery Train" -- this was the upshot of cleek's Start Your iPods post for this week. Did not take long for me to find a high degree of assonance between that song and "Meet Me in the Morning" -- well, one thing led to another... Here are some blues tunes for you to listen to.

posted afternoon of February second, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Mix tapes

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

🦋 Blizzard Blues

There is a winter storm warning! 10-15" of snow predicted for this afternoon and tonight and tomorrow... I will be indoors keeping warm. Here is some music to keep warm by.

It is blues guitarist Eleanor Ellis' documentary of a Piedmont Blues house party -- at John Jackson's house in Fairfax Station, northern Virginia. Featuring Jackson and his son James, John Cephas and Phil Wiggins, Archie Edwards, Cora Jackson, Flora Molton and Larry Wise, John Dee Holeman, and Quentin "Fris" Holloway. Lots of talk about the music and the traditions. Thanks to Chris (of the have_moicy mailing list) for the link.

posted morning of December 26th, 2010: Respond

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

🦋 Chimpin' the Blues

A few years old, but new for me: in September 2004, R. Crumb and Jerry Zolten produced a one-hour show on Penn State's wpsu-fm, spinning and chattering and nit-picking Crumb's collection of old blues and gospel records. Lots of great music and talk.

I haven't been able to find the mp3 of the show online anywhere but -- I'm not sure what the nature of that site is, they make you sign up for a free account if you want to listen, it seems benign enough though...

Track listing below the fold.

posted evening of June 16th, 2010: 2 responses
➳ More posts about R. Crumb

Monday, September 28th, 2009

🦋 How come you do me like you do, do, do?

I've gotten interested in this particular 16-bar melody line that I've been hearing in a lot of old blues and jazz tunes -- it is the melody that always makes me think "They're Red Hot!" when I hear it, because Robert Johnson's song is the first one I ever heard with this structure:

I was listening to Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra playing "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?" last week and realized it's essentially the same melody -- since then I've worked out that several other songs on the records that I'm listening to regularly are built from the same elements -- here is a brief playlist of a couple others, including Tommie Bradley's hilarious "Adam and Eve" and a version by "Bogus" Ben Covington.

(And, wow! A 2000th post ought not go unnoticed.)

posted morning of September 28th, 2009: Respond
➳ More posts about Cover Versions

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

🦋 12 bars

Here is the structure of blues as I hear it:

| 2 bars melody, I I or I IV | | X bars fill |
| 2 bars melody, IV IV | | X bars fill |
| 2 bars melody, V I | | X - 1 bars fill, 1 bar turnaround |
I usually expect X = 2, a 12-bar pattern. (The fill is usually all I chord, turnaround is V.) I can picture a slow 15-bar blues with X = 3 -- I may have played this on occasion, not sure. I was really surprised when listening to Mountain Blues & Ballads, to hear Gene Autry's "Black Bottom Blues" -- something just seemed wrong about it and I couldn't figure out what. Come to realize, it's a 9-bar blues -- X is 1! I didn't even know that was possible! A-and later in the same collection, a fiddle blues called "Tipple Blues" (not sure just now, who the artist is -- this is essentially the same melody as "Deep Elem Blues") which unless I'm mistaken, is 10 bars -- X is 2 on the first line, 1 subsequently. So cool, the form is a lot more versatile than I had realized.

(And funny, the thing is I'm pretty sure if I covered "Black Bottom Blues", I would play 2 bars of fill -- that's etched deeply on my brane as the correct amount.)

posted morning of January 29th, 2009: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Mountain Blues & Ballads

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

🦋 Wigs and rats'll get you killed

So I'm pretty mystified by this Lightnin' Hopkins lyric. Leaving aside the obsession with women who wear wigs, what's up with the rats? Am I hearing this wrong?

(I am definitely hearing at least some of it wrong -- "ain't her own line", "all over mine", "I went to swing out" are all approximations.)

Update: I found a more authoritative version of the lyrics at the African-American Registry. "Rats" is correct. (The verse starting "I woke up this morning" is not present in the recording I've been listening to, from Hello Central.)

Update: Aha! Just figured it out! Thanks, unknown browser who came to this site by searching for "are wigs made of rat hair?" -- This is obviously what Hopkins meant by "rats": "wigs (putatively) made from rat hair."

Update III: Another idea comes by way of Martha M. -- "rats" are the structures used to support outlandish early-20th-C hairdos. The OED says,

5. Something resembling a rat in shape.
a. U.S. A hair-pad with tapering ends.
1869 Mrs. Whitney We Girls v. (1874) 98 She can't buy coils and braids and two-dollar rats.
1888 Century Mag. 769 The crescent shaped pillows on which it [hair] was put up, the startling names of which were 'rats' and 'mice'.

posted afternoon of September 9th, 2008: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Songs

Previous posts about The Blues

Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
Check out Ellen's writing at

What do you think?

Jeremy Osner on Fragments

Where to go from here...

South Orange
Friends and Family