Tribute to Donny Hathaway

•May 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Tribute to Donny Hathaway

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Only Rock and Roll

•March 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

i was moved to see Otis Blackwell’s children at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies last night. In fact, I thin it was the part of the ceremony where the songwriter’s were honored that had the biggest impact on me.

Of course, I always love to see Peter Wolf, anywhere, because he radiates love for the music. He reminds me of Joe Strummer, in that there could be no doubt that they both were truly *taken* by rock and roll, r&b, reggae, whatever it was – they were bodily, spiritually, chemically hooked.

Otis Blackwell wrote “All Shook Up”, “Return to Sender”, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Breathless”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Hey Little Girl”, “Fever”, “Daddy Rollin’ Stone” and many more.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Elie Greenwich, who passed away recently, was also inducted, by her sister; there’s a really informativeinerview with Greenwich here.

A Flower is a Lovesome Thing

•March 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m so glad you’ve visited.

This blog was initially a companion site for a bit of teaching I was doing at my son’s school, the Pacific Boychoir Academy. Despite the fact that their bread-and-butter CD was African amerucan spirituals, they did not make much effort to teach African American history in their curriculum. After failed attempts to get them to adjust their approach, I offered to come in and do a series of lectures on my own. I have no formal training in African American history, by the way; but I felt that I had a lot to share and that I could, in some small way, put things in context.

This has been a personal mision of mine for a while, since studying music at Mills and finding that the “20th Century American Music”  course didn’t include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, or John Coltrane (if it included Scott Joplin, it might have only been in reference to his influence on turn-of-the-century European composers). What about Will Marion Cook, James P. Johnson, William Grant Still? I felt that the Music Department either had to change the name of the course, or not excluded Black composers and performers. To rewrite history to exclude African American achievement is to cheat ourselves of the knowledge of who we really are, in the name of education.

Another example. Ten years ago, I took my son to his friend’s 5th birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, and watched this video interpretation of the history of rock and roll. There was not one image of Chuck Berry. No Little Richard. No Fats Domino. No Bo Diddley. They were teaching kids that Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly invented Rock and Roll – by themselves.  Now, it’s likely most of the kids weren’t really watching the film anyway – there’s a lot to do at Chuck E. Cheese. But  Rock and Roll was a marvelous collision of black and white, North and South (not to mention East and West), country and R&B – it was so much more than the sum of its parts, all tied to a moving train! Why not tell the truth about that?  It’s baffling, this lie, because the truth is so much more beautiful, so much richer and deliciously complex. It’s like sniffing at a fake flower, when you couldbe enjoying the living, breathing thing.

My obsession with African American history through Music is that music is my way *in*, and I hope that this website becomes a place that is a resource for my son, and my friends and family, and anyone else who loves it like I do.

I plan to add an updated links page, embed more audio, and, with some help, put some more real history and context into “How I Got Over”.  And certainly, as I learn more about Caribbean and South and Central American musics, more of that will be incorporated as well, since it’s becoming clear to me that we are all America (what else is the bo Diddley beat?) As I compose and perform my own music, I often find myself searching for something that reminds me of someone that sounds like a time and a place that I just have to share with someone, and I hope this blog will become that space for research, discovery and exchange.

Again, thanks for stopping in.

A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing.

please please please

•March 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Class One – By The Waters of Babylon

•May 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment






John Santos & the Machete Ensemble

All God’s Chillun Got Shoes

The Charioteers


Gospel Tradition – Roots and Branches

Amazing Grace

Mahalia Jackson

John Newton

In My Home over There

Cabbage Alley


Art Neville

Anthology DIsk 2

Come and Go to that Land

Congregational Song

Wade in the Water Series Vol. 2 – African American Congregational Singing: Nine

Dry Well Blues

Charley Patton

Founder of the Delta Blues

Gospel Train

Wright Brothers Gospel Singers


Gospel Tradition – Roots and Branches

Hear My Train a Comin’ [Acoustic]

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix


His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Lauryn Hill/Tanya Blount

Charles H. Gabriel/Civilla D. Martin

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

I’ll Fly Away

Linda Tillery

Say Yo’ Business

I’m Going Away

Elizabeth Cotten

Shake Sugaree

I’m Not A Bad Girl

Memphis Minnie (1897-1963)

I Ain’t No Bad Gal

Java Jive

The Ink Spots

Ben Oakland/Milton Drake

greatest hits

Old Ship Of Zion

Bernice Johnson Reagon

Give Your Hands To Struggle

Original E Flat Blues

Fats Waller, Art Tatum

Fats Waller, Art Tatum

Ragtime – Jazz Piano

Scott Joplin –

Rising Sun

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee

Crossroads: Southern Roots

Rivers of Babylon

The Melodians

Bringing Out the Dead Soundtrack

Steeplechase Rag

James P. Johnson

James P. Johnson

Carolina Shout

Sweet Lorraine (1940)

Sidney Bechet-Muggsy Spanier

The Complete H.R.S. Sessions

Terraplane Blues

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

King Of The Delta Blues

Them Bones

Mitchell’s Christian Singers


Gospel Tradition – Roots and Branches

Tiger Rag

Art Tatum

Eddie Edwards/Harry DaCosta/Henry Ragas/James LaRocca/Larry Shields/Tony Sbarbaro

Art Tatum Solos (1940)

Up Above My Head I Hear Music in the Air

Sister Rosetta Tharpe & Marie Knight

The Gospel of the Blues (Remastered)

Walking to New Orleans

Fats Domino

vol 2 trk 22

What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?

George Washington Phillips

Charles Albert Tindley

Gospel Tradition – Roots and Branches

Will The Circle Be Unbroken

Staple Singers

Ada Habershon/Charles H. Gabriel

Freedom Highway

Class Two – Change Is Gonna Come

•May 18, 2008 • 2 Comments





Ain’t Misbehaving

Fats Waller, Art Tatum

Andy Razaf/Fats Waller/Harry Brooks

Fats Waller, Art Tatum

All Blues

Miles Davis

Columbia Years 1955-85: Blues & Standards [Disc 1]

Baby Work Out

Jackie Wilson

Soundtrack-Sweet November

Be My Baby

THe Ronettes


Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers

Duke Ellington/Eillignton/Irving Mills/Juan Tizol



Stuff Smith Quartet

Swingin’ Stuff

A Change Is Gonna Come

Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke

The Man And His Music

Down By The Riverside

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

American Roots Music – CD3

Give Your Hands To Struggle

Bernice Johnson Reagon

Give Your Hands To Struggle

Higher And Higher

Jackie Wilson

Hound Dog

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton

Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller

Jump, Jive & Swing

I’m So Glad (Trouble Don’t Last Always)

Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers

Sam Cooke

His Earliest Recordings

I’m Walkin’

Fats Domino

Dave Bartholomew/Fats Domino

Fats Domino Jukebox: 20 Greatest Hits the Way You Originally Heard Them

I Can’t Help It

Betty Carter

Junior Giscombe

The Betty Carter Album

I Put a Spell on You

Nina Simone

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Enjoy Your Own Blues

I Want To Take You Higher

Sly and The Family Stone

Java Jive

The Ink Spots

Ben Oakland/Milton Drake

greatest hits

The Jitterbug Waltz

Abbey Lincoln & Hank Jones

Thomas “Fats” Waller/Richard Maltby Jr

When There Is Love

The Jitterbug Waltz

Canadian Brass

Fats Waller/Richard Maltby, Jr.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ and other Fa


5/7/2008 9:38 AM


Jitterbug Waltz

Eric Dolphy

Jitterbug Waltz

Fats Waller

Fats Waller

Jazz Greats – I Got Rythm

Jump, Jive, An’ Wail

Louis Prima

Louis Prima

Jump, Jive & Swing

Lord remember me

Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers

Huey Williams/Luther Jennings/Nathaniel Baldwin/Prince Paul/Frank Williams

Greatest Hits


Charles Mingus

Passions of a Man – The Complete Atlantic Recordings

My Favorite Things

John Coltrane

My Favorite Things

Julie Andrews –

On The Street Where You Live

My Fair Lady

On the Street Where You Live

Rickie Lee Jones

Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe

It’s Like This

People Get Ready

Curtis Mayfield

The Anthology 1961-1977 (Disk

Reet Petite

Jackie Wilson

Shake, Rattle And Roll

Big Joe Turner

Jesse Stone

Jump, Jive & Swing


Louis Armstrong

Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish

I Wish You Were Dead, You Rascal You


Nat King Cole

Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish

Love Is the Thing [And More]

The Tears Of A Clown

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles –

Motown 25 -1 Hits From 25 Years (Disc 1) – 12

They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald –

What’d I Say

Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Essential Collection [Cleopatra]

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Amazing Grace

Who’s Loving You

Jackson Five

Tony’s Blues

Will You Love Me Tomorrow


Carole King/Gerry Goffin

16 Greatest Hits

Woke Up This Morning

Sncc Freedom Singers

Crossroads: Southern Roots

Class Three – Redemption Songs

•May 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment






John Santos & the Machete Ensemble

Always and Forever

Luther Vandross

Rod Temperton

One Night with You: The Best of Love, Vol. 2

Bag Lady

Erykah Badu



The Clash

Joe Strummer/Mick Jones

The Singles

Better Together

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson

In Between Dreams

Blue Monk

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Crossroads: Southern Roots

Brother John

The Wild Tchoupitoulas

Arthur Neville, Charles Neville & Cyril Garrett Neville

The Wild Tchoupitoulas

Brother John/Iko Iko

Neville Brothers

Crossroads: Southern Roots

Brown Eyed Blues

Ben Harper

Ben Harper/Juan Nelson

Diamonds On The Inside


Gnarls Barkley

St. Elsewhere

Crazy Baldheads

Bob Marley & the Wailers

R. Marley

Rastaman Vibration


Bob Marley & the Wailers

Bob Marley


Fais Do Do

Kathleen Battle


So Many Stars

Flashlight / Edited

Parliment Funkadelics

Genius Of Love

Tom Tom Club

Tom Tom Club

Tom Tom Club

House of Suffering

Bad Brains

I Against I

How I Got Over

Mahalia Jackson


The Essential Mahalia Jackson

Jah Will Provide

Hugh Mundell

Africa Must Be Free by 1983

Let’s Stay Together

Al Green

Louisiana 1927

Randy Newman & The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra With Members Of The New York Philharmonic

Randy Newman

Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album

Mercy Mercy Me

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

What’s Going on

The Message

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

The Message

A Message To You Rudy

The Specials

Lee “Scratch” Perry/Lee Thompson

The Specials

My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Benny Jones Sr./Charles L. Joseph/Efrem P. Towns/Roger H. Lewis/Jenell Marshall/Kevn Harris/Kirk M. Joseph/Gregory Davis

Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album

O Leãozinho

Caetano Veloso

Caetano Veloso


Paid in Full


Old School Hip Hop

Police and Thieves

The Clash

Junior Murvin/Lee “Scratch” Perry

The Essential Clash Disc 1


TV on the Radio


Return to Cookie Mountain [Bonus Tracks]

Put Your Records On

Corrine Bailey Rae –

Rebel Music

Bob Marley

Redemption Song

Bob Marley & the Wailers

Bob Marley

Legend [Bonus Tracks]

Socio-Genetic Experiment

The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury

St. James Infirmary

Dirty Dozen Brass Band


Star Spangled Banner

Jimi Hendrix

There Is None Like Him

Mississippi Mass Choir

Crossroads: Southern Roots

Tipitina And Me

Allen Toussaint

Roy Byrd/Allen Toussaint

Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album

Track 01

Art Ensemble of Chicago

Track 3

Jonas Muller

East African Prayer Meeting Suite

Try Some Ammonia

Henry Threadgill

Too Much Sugar For A Dime

What More Can I Say

DJ Danger Mouse

The Grey Album


Bob Marley And The Wailers