June 09, 2014

May 05, 2014

I was watching this for reasons I can't fully explain, but digging it. And then the gunfire kicks in at about minute 2, and continuing on, the groom loading it and the bridge emptying the clip. Seriously beautiful. Weddings always make me cry. ok, then it opens up to a whole world of experiences. Like this genius (the AK comes out at :54

February 11, 2014

A friend of mine into playing this stuff just sent this video to me. It is pretty gotdamn good, I must say.

February 08, 2014

ok, just a couple more. All the great bajista Ramón Jazo. Just listen how this guy starts his songs. (Yes, they are all the same, more or less. All perfect). Mujer Idolatrada The singing on this one ain't shabby either, right erhe at 00:52. Aborrezco Mi Vida Soy Muy Pobre with Salome González Adiós Pueblo Ingrato seriously, though. Would more than 50 seconds really change anything in this world except improve it?
You can only listen to the first 50 seconds, but the fiddle-bajo run at the beginning is worth it: S. Ramón and D.Ramirez playing "Por Debajo De Los Árboles"

February 05, 2014

Grupo La Justicia-- mejor trombón mexicano

ok music, but a great album cover. And the video does an admirably shitty job of the simple task of playing a record.

January 23, 2014

January 12, 2014

This is quite great, and something I hadn't heard before--Brother Birch Monroe singing "Boat of Love" live with the Stanley Brothers And Bill singing "Shining path," with Brother Birch. (This is a gospel song and not a song in favor of guerrilla warfare in Peru)

December 05, 2013

I just sold a Gibson banjo today. This was the first Gibson banjo I had, actually the first Gibson instrument I had. I do have a fake Gibson banjo which I am holding on to. I have had two fake Gibson banjos in my time, one a kind of crappy but kind of expensive copy I sold. The crappy but totally inexpensive one I kept. That particular fake Gibson sounds every bit as good as the fake Gibson I sold, think. I still have a fake Gibson guitar and a real Gibson guitar too. The fake Gibson guitar sounds like a piece of shit because it is a piece of shit. But the real Gibson banjo sounded good. It sounded perfect, in fact. It was freaking loud. It was a plectrum banjo, so the real question I kept returning to is--who the hell needs a plectrum banjo, good sounding or not? And a really loud one, if you are not playing Dixieland? And who needs a Gibson plectrum banjo? Many questions. For a time I thought I did, now I have decided I don't. A friend of mine had a good line--the best instrument is always the one you just sold and the next one you are about to get. I think about this all the time because I like to buy and sell stuff, keeping an even flow like the flow of water over the gills of a shark. I was feeling that faux-nostalgic way about the Gibson today before I shipped it out. But I'll take the folding money over that particular banjo.
I don't actually care, but Martin Bashir has left MSNBC because he remarked that someone should shit in Sarah Palin's mouth. The actual context for the remark makes it entirely reasonable, by the way. At least to this independent observer. Why hasn't anyone put up eatshitSarahPalin.com? is it really not worth the 12 bucks it would cost on godaddy? Unsullied thinks it is worth 12 bucks. But maybe not worth the 12 minutes it would take to actually do it. Though perhaps I will purchase it for you, dear reader (I think there is one of you left out there).

November 15, 2013

Ok, I know you have heard about the mayor of Toronto talking about how much pussy he eats, "Oh, and the last thing was Olivia Gondek. It says that I wanted to eat her p****. I've never said that in my life to her; I would never do that. I'm happily married, I've got more than enough to eat at home. Thanks very much," Ford said to reporters." This is good stuff for any week. I am also amused by the gentlemanly way Alec Baldwin's quote was reported: "The actor made threatening comments to a photographer in New York Thursday morning calling him a "c---sucking f-g."

October 31, 2013

I'm getting rid of a lot of records that I've had around for fuck all reason. Just packed up a 20 pound box of soca records. What I was doing with one soca record I don't know, let alone enough to fill a box. I don't even like soca music. In fact, to be honest, I fucking hate soca music. I find listening to it to be excruciating. I came into a box of records and held onto them long enough for me to question my sanity. This is not the first time (holding onto records, I mean). But I do like some of the covers, even if the music sucks.
I have a couple of these Erwin Suess and the Hoolerie Dutchman LPs as well that it is clearly time to send on their way. What I like about these is that the band members all list their day jobs on the back. Erwin himself was an order desk cleark at Farmland Industries Feed Mill, Mankato. I also like that the liner notes list where all of Erwin's six children live(d) and notes that his mother, Dora Suess, was living in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. Erwin Suess died almost exactly a year ago.
seriously, is there any reason to keep this around just to be amused slightly at the albums? Though, mild amusement is not to be undervalued. And not all of this Midwestern polka stuff is terrible. It's just not good, that's the problem. More fun to hear live and dance to then to listen to. Music for not-;listening.

Jesus, use me

No doubt you've heard that hoary old gospel song "He Touched Me." I never got that song. Surely there is another way to express the sentiment. Don't the singers hear what they are singing? Especially 3 part emotive bluegrass singers really digging in on the touched me? Maybe they can be forgiven since that is an older song recorded in more innocent times. Or something like that. I was not surprised to see "He Touched Me" on this treacly album titled "Jesus Use Me" from The Laymen Gospel Quartet. They are a local band, from Poquoson Virginia. There is no comma in the title. But I like the comma, it is more expressive. Anyway the album cover is interesting in terms of what might be called in the time honored phrase "the goddamn common courtesy of a reach-around."
No expression.
I've changed the template of the blog. I'll attempt to change the "close to full neglect" format I have adopted too...
I was driving home today just after 5, and was on a busy street near a large mall here in The 757, which is to say a very public place in a generally well mannered area. I saw something to my left that took me a second to comprehend. It was a woman bent move at the waist, her knees only slightly bent, her pants completely down at her ankles, and her ass facing directly toward the street. A nice parabola of urine was jetting out and landing in the street. It looked kind of theatrical, so dramatic was the bared ass and the jet or urine. It kind of blew my mind. This wasn't someone in need squatting somewhere to piss in the absence of a convenient can. This was someone not giving any shit whatsoever about anything. I've only really seen something comparable in Ulaanbaatar, where I saw people squat and take shits right next to the sidewalk without so much as a how-do. Around these parts, I expect my public urination to be a bit more circumspect. Sometime I will tell you about a 5 am church front yard urination in Manhattan. But not today.

"If you don't like the show, bend over, & I'll drive you to Dallas"

I've been selling off my Redd Foxx records. Yup, these have succumbed to the need for more space. But thankfully youtube preserves it all anyway

May 29, 2013

I've noticed those very pointy boots at Mexican western wear shops but have never seen anyone wearing them and never really understood what they could possibly be for. They look like hyper-exaggerated western boots to the point where they become jester-like. Insane looking, in fact. But of course it turns out that I am just clueless. These boots are an integral part of a music scene called "tribal" that has been raging for a couple of years now. This is not the best video, but gives you an idea

Tribal Dance and the Mexican Pointy Boots from Dario Lopez on Vimeo.

The dancing is very contained. Reading about the scene a bit I loved the line that a guy wearing the boots says: if you don't wear them, girls don't talk to you. There is a lot written about this, but what I really need to do is get a pair of these boots and get to a dance. How else to understand, dig?

March 23, 2013

"new hampshire is mississippi with snow"

This is just a curiosity. If you google the phrase "new hampshire is mississippi with snow" only two things come up. Undismayed was under the impression that it is impossible to google anything and get almost no response. Especially a seemingly common phrase like "new hampshire is mississippi with snow" though now that I posted this, perhaps it will up the search to three. UPDATE: yup, as it turns out, Undismayed is now the principal worldwide purveyor of that phrase. Take that, North Korea "North Korea--the Mississippi of Northeast Asia"

March 20, 2013

I came across this while whiling away my afternoon listening to some balgama videos. It was hard to tell if this is serious at first because it looks so intentionally comical and self-serious. But I've decided that this is indeed serious as a heart attack. It kind of looks like it was filmed in a Mexican drug lord's pafd. The recording engineer in the guayabera lends to this cross cultural confusion. What I like is the portrait of himself over himself and over the orchestra as well. The old school footage of him traveling as a young man is also appealing. Plus the playing is good, so you can't really go wrong.

October 23, 2012

I just heard the sad news that the legendary Kicker Daddy, Country Roland, ascended to heaven on a golden steed. Or, maybe he just died. But if anybody every deserved a golden steed, it was him.
Country Roland was part of a too-rare Texas breed who played straight country music with Spanish singing. This is not in the Freddy Fender, it is pure dance hall stuff.
How old timey was Country Roland? He still had a Myspace page.
There are perhaps better songs, but this video has lots of great old pictures of him
It is weirdly compelling stuff. I have always thought all of his music sounded exactly the same, almost like a spot on karoake machine with a classic country backing track.
Know what I'm sayin?

October 20, 2012

This site, the Cuatro Project is worth poking around. There are a bunch of old recordings of Puerto Rican music, like these from 1900-1929. and a lot of cool old pictures of uncommon instruments, if you are into that sort of thing.

September 18, 2012

This is kind of strange. I sold a banjo resonator to some dude on ebay, who then has turned and listed it for sale himself. This in itself is not actually notable, I have often bought stuff and then realizing I didn’t want it or thought I could make a buck, re-listed it for sale. What is strange in this case is that he reused my original listing and pictures, including the one that had some of my hand in it, holding the resonator. It is like I am flogging goods for this dude. He also copied my listing without changing things in the listing, like the line about selling other stuff, which he is not. And then he inserted a question I had answered into his original listing. So he basically just re-listed it but fucked up even that simple act of theft.

February 07, 2012

Many interesting things afoot in the 757.

For example, the Mo Money Taxes store, a tax loan operation ripping off, sorry, servicing the local community is not cutting the checks as promised. This yielded this fine quote:
""Sorry is not good enough, Mo Money," says customer Rhoda Williams when she found out she would not receive a check today."


Norfolk, really a beautiful area. For meth.

"NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Police, fire, and HAZMAT crews responded to a possible meth lab in the 1200 block of Strand Street Monday afternoon.

The situation kept many people inside their homes, as crews closed Strand Street from Chesapeake Avenue to Alexander Street during the investigation.

"'See the fire trucks man," neighbor Domoneek Gillard said to his son. "Look at the fire trucks.""


Yes, his name is "Domoneek." I am sure he usually just says "It's spelled just like it sounds" since that is no doubt what it is.

Lots of meth around, like in Kill Devil Hills. It is worth clicking through to see the beautiful threesome cooking up the meth.

Vacation capital Virginia Beach also has its charms:

"Virginia Beach police told WAVY.com no investigation is being conducted after a baby accidentally ingested cocaine he found on a spoon in a motel room."

This after finding dogshit in the corner of another room and asking to move. To the coke spoon and crackpipe room.

"Her family noticed the room had a foul smell, and after searching found animal feces in the corner. They called a maid to check it out.

"The maid was kind of bent down like this, saying 'I don't see anything, I don't see anything,'" said Ronald Hartshorn, the child's grandfather, as he demonstrated what happened. "And when I went like this...that's when the crack pipe fell out of the other side of the bed on the floor."

WAVY.com confronted the employee at the front desk. She had no comment, and repeatedly said, "You'll have to talk to my manager about all of that.""



But freedom reigns, as Virginia is finally, finally repealing the law that only allowed we freedom loving Virginians to buy one gun a month.

January 18, 2012

I stumbled across this video and thought it was awesome for any number of reasons, not least because it was filmed tight where I was born (or nearby, since I was born in the hospital and not in the Zuniga service station). The area has changed a bit in the past couple of decades particularly. It is now almost exclusively Mexican, which is a very welcome development. Great food around there these days.

I also have to say, the bajo sexto-snare combo is a purely genius duet arrangement, may very well be the best of the austere arrangements, especially with these harmonies.



And the quality of the shot framing should not go unmentioned.

here is another

December 19, 2011

The passing of Conjunto great Don Amadeo Flores makes it essential that I post to mourn his passing.

One of the Conjunto greats, Don Amadeo was famous not just for his playing and songs but for his especially fine tuning of the accordion.

Here is a really interesting interview
where he talks about tuning accordions.

One polka he was famous for was named after his adopted hometown of Skokie, Illinois, of personal interest to Undismayed:


a nice bunch of his old Ideal Records recordings:
{It doesn't seem possible that its been since April that I've posted here at Undismayed, but things have been busy, to say the least. But all systems are back to go.}

April 28, 2011

If there is any question that Republicans are the stupidest and most cynical coalition of m'fers on the planet, let's take a listen what Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, had to say about Obama being forced to release his birth certificate by... motherloving Republicans:

“As I’ve repeatedly stated, this issue is a distraction. Our economy is strained from out of control deficits, debt and unsustainable entitlements. The president ought to spend his time getting serious about repairing our economy, working with Republicans and focusing on the long-term sustainability of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Unfortunately his campaign politics and talk about birth certificates is distracting him from our No. 1 priority – our economy.”

Uh, what the fuck are you talking about Reince? "HIS campaign politics and talk about birth certificates"?

Isn't it just a wee bit too stupidly obvious to note that it was not Obama who has been bringing this up?

The Republican genius for twisting anything is the same as a wife beater asking "why do you make me do this?"

No, it is not a surprise that Republicans beat their wives. But it is something important to remember. Especially when they start tapping their feet in airport restroom stalls.

April 27, 2011

Pregnant women use big pillows to be marginally less uncomfortable so I've suddenly been forced to pay attention to obtaining them.

There are some fucked up products out there in this genre of consumer product. Consider, for example, the "boyfriend pillow," complete with fake hand and fake shirt.



I can't actually tell if this is a joke. The other stuff that people who buy this buy on Amazon include fake turds and farting banks and other items of high hilarity in the cubicle world. But the boyfriend pillow has the faint ring of truth.

On the other hand, the girlfriend pillow features fake breasts that look like the eyes of a dead monkey in a cartoon -- and must be a joke since any self-respecting dude without a girl friend will sleep drunkenly on the couch, not cuddled with a dumbass pillow.

March 10, 2011

This is an interesting account from Paulino Bernal first signed Ramon Ayala and Cornelio Reyna to Bego records, plus him talking about some great accordionists of the past.



then you'd better skip the talking and give a listen to this

March 08, 2011

I just found out via my old friend with whom I used to travel to see the Sullivan Family that Brother Enoch Sullivan died. He actually died a couple of weeks ago, but the news got to me slowly.

I saw a lot of the Sullivan Family in the 1990s at the Charlotte Bluegrass festival, where they were mainstays. I went to that great festival for a decade straight. I definitely intend to get back to before I go join Brother Enoch.

here is a pretty fair live show of the Sullivan family playing some perfectly old time bluegrass


I take the passing of Brother Enoch to be a sign that I need to get to Undismayed

December 17, 2010

I've had this book around forever called Soviet Prison Camp Speech: A Survivor's Glossary. I used to be into reading about Soviet prison camps, I guess influenced by Ivan Denisovich. Which is something that still haunts me.

Anyway, I regularly decided to get rid of this fucking book, not least because I don't know Russian. But then I open it, and for some reason I always open it to the same page. Which is the definition/ explanation of a phrase which translates into "Where I once had a conscience, now a cunt has grown."

used like this:
Q: "Aren't you ashamed to pad your output?"
A: "Where I once had a conscience, now a cunt has grown."

You can see how useful the phrase is.

I am thinking I should, perhaps, use it in my in-process Unsullied and Undismayed Bible Questions and Answers, but that is for consideration on another day.

Another good Soviet prison camp phrase that uses the ever-useful cunt is "a cunt makes no change!" As in

Q: Give me those boots back
A: "A cunt makes no change!"

ok, now that I've shared these cultural riches I can get rid of this book.

December 16, 2010

This is the ONLY thing that anybody should be giving anybody else for Christmas, the mother of pearl Robert E. Lee truss rod cover for your banjo. Fuck yes it exists. It is currently on Ebay.

It doesn't really even look that much like General Lee. But you can buy it for me anyway.

I think I may start making those Calvin pissing on [fill in thing here] signs for the back of trucks only make it General Lee pissing on [fill in thing here]. Do you think there is a market for such a thing? Seems like a no-brainer,

December 14, 2010

It's been awhile, but nice to be back.

Especially as I make note of the eternal afterlife of blackface performance in American culture.

This time, it is to sell cupcakes: Duncan Hines new "Hip Hop Cupcakes."



the now pulled youtube video can be seen here.

I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time...

October 22, 2010

note to self: hopefully this blog is not becoming only the Mexican singer death watch.

October 21, 2010

It has been a while since there has been a killing of a narco singer. El Halcon de la Sierra, who was a Chalino Sanchez knock off narcocorrido singer, was just killed along with a couple of other people. He was pretty excessive with the narco imagery and apparently lived the life. I think of him as a competitor to El As de la Sierra, but not as good. This video gives you a good sense of his music and his style, such as it was. I like it, the homemade quality is very appealing. All of his songs of course sound exactly the same. And this video is a good example of something we talked about earlier here at Undismayed, the mix of banda, norteno, and even mariachi into a perfect brew:

October 12, 2010

The Colonel has been a bit busy of late. But not posting since August is really shameful.

Today being the 12th anniversary of the death of the great Ruben Naranjo I thought it was essential to get back online and make note of his passing

Here he is at the 1990 Tejano Conjunto Festival:

August 27, 2010

I can't really fathom this massacre of 72 people trying to migrant to the U.S. in Mexico. The numbers are starting to be at a Rwandan level of insanity, no? Drug war violence I can comprehend, but this kind of mass killing is just fucking crazed.

Especially since there recently have been discoveries of some other sites with a great many bodies as well:

"The discovery of the bodies was the largest of at least three such finds this year. In May, 55 bodies were pulled from an abandoned mine south of Mexico City, and in July, 51 bodies were discovered in a field near Monterrey, an industrial and commercial hub in northeast Mexico that had been relatively quiet until this year."


A really staggering number is that 230,000 people have fled Juárez.
A friend of mine was in a part in Portland and above the bar was a jar with something floating in it that was labeled "Elk Cunt."

Nothing else need be said.

August 18, 2010

Having heard way more than freaking enough about the NYC mosque non-issue, Undismayed here goes on record with the idea that no religious institutions of any kind from any religious tradition should be built anywhere in the US and all existing religious buildings should be converted into accordion practice spaces.

Now, onto the only truly sacred thing:

August 16, 2010

Esteban Jordan died a couple of days ago, I just discovered. That is sad, though he has been headed that way with liver cancer for sometime. I'm glad I got to see him play a couple of years ago. Really a wild player, and his band (which included his supremely talented sons) was great.

He was also a hard-ass, no doubt about that.

Good obit in the SA paper.

In that article, Juan Tejada says :"He was the best, and he knew it. And everybody else knew it. He had a lot of soul and was the epitome of what Chicano music is and what Chicano people are.”

Jordan was working on his ultimate project when he died:

"“He was kind of a Howard Hughes kind of guy. Saluté was his little cocoon,” said Grammy-winning producer Gilbert Velasquez, recalling that Jordan kept his audiotapes in an ammo box. “He was a little out there, thinking people would steal it.”"


Here is a good obit from Austin360.com, which has some good quotes:

""I don't give a damn about the audience," he said in a 2001 interview. "I could be playing for five people or 5,000 — it doesn't make a difference. I'm still gonna kick ass. And if you ain't gonna play because there's nobody there, then get the (heck) out of my band.""


and the way he met Valerioa Longoria is incredible:

"Born in the Rio Grande Valley town of Elsa in 1939, Jordan was the smallest and sickliest of 15 children born to migrant worker parents. But he could play every instrument he got his little hands around. First was the harmonica, then a guitar. One night in a labor camp outside Lubbock, a 7-year-old Jordan was playing guitar and heard a sweet accordion sound coming from the lean-to next door. "I stuck my head out and he stuck his head out and we decided to play together," he said. And that's how Jordan met a teenage Valerio Longoria, who would go on to join Santiago Jimenez Sr. (Flaco's dad) and Narciso Martinez in the holy trinity of conjunto accordionistas."

August 12, 2010

I am back stateside and will commence blogging again.





I am pretty stoked to see George Jones play this weekend. He's one of the greats left I wanted to see, and his voice is supposedly still great. Though it is in a big stadium and so something of a drag, I do hate shows in these kind of venues. It is too bad because most of the places he is playing on this tour are pretty small. I've actually never been to the Ntelos Pavilion in Portsmouth so I don't know what it is like actually.

When I looked up Geroge'swebpage I see this awesome news that you can buy George Jones brand coffee, "Possum Brand". All over it, worth the purchase price for the bag alone.

June 21, 2010

Since you were almost certainly wondering if songs would start being written about the gulf spill, you'll want to hear Steve Jordan's "El Corrido del Aceite", recorded back in the 1980s, you can hear it here

June 08, 2010

Blogging has been light, especially given summertime + being gone+ truck accident+ various and other sundry shit.

I spent the usual enviable and long awaited weekend at the Mt. Airy Fiddlers Convention playing music to the exclusion of all else save slaking my well-worn thirst when necessary. Definitely one of the high points of every year. Kick ass old time music in all directions, perfect.

The best line of the year, and perhaps of the past several years, came after I played a tune called "We'll all go to Heaven when the Devil Goes Blind." Now this is a pretty simple tune that I can play--usually. I was a bit rusty. When we finished, a friend of mine known for his sardonic sense muttered "We'll all go to Heaven when the Devil Goes Deaf." Genius.

There was one other contender for the title of best line. Overhead by our friend Tim was this one "Well it had to be 'Beverley Hills Ninja', Chris Farley never made any other ninja movies."

June 01, 2010

I am a very big fan of the late and great Ruben Vela of course, love his puro valle style conjunto, and always will.

The old lady and I even had our picture made with him back in 2007 (in fact, the last time I could drag her to S.A.). (top cropped since the Colonel remains best unseen. But no mistaking my lovely wife's smile:



But even given my unquestioned devotion to Sr. Vela's music, I would balk at the $2500.00 being asked on ebay for his suits (though the cash price is negotiable) That is a per-suit price.

One is a tuxedo, one is two button. Haggar brand. (a quick search reveals that at Sears these suits run $108 new. At JC Penney they are $49.99 new (for the two button 'polyester/viscose with polyester lining,' big and tall size. Ruben Vela's were "short' size. (see above pic). Waist 32, jacket 38, inseam 29.

The suits are overpriced methinks, but the description of the auction is really quite moving:

"In loving memory of Ruben Vela, Sr., 72, who entered the Lord's heavenly kingdom on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.
He was born on May 10, 1937 in San Antonio, Mexico to Alvento and Emilia Guzman Vela. Ruben was raised in Relampago, Texas. He had lived in Santa Rosa for 48 years where he has a street named after him. He was also a Conjunto Regional Star, accordian player and in the Conjunto Hall of Fame."

I will, again, promise to post my pics of the TCF once I dig them off of my other computer, which will happen shortly.

May 28, 2010

Nothing really new in either of these pieces, but they are worth the tiny amount of time it takes to check them out.

This NPR piece on Lydia Mendoza.

And this New Yorker piece on Los Tigres del Norte.

Undismayed's arch side wants to say "nothing like being between 15-50 years late to the dance, whitey" but that seems uncharitable since it is clearly a step in the right direction when people start to notice what is and has been happening in the musical world outside the well trod paths. Though the inclusion of Ry Cooder does seem in notably poor (if, regrettably, inevitable) taste.
Gary Coleman is dead. He had such a short life.

May 04, 2010

This is kind of nuts: Buried in this article about Eva Ybarra is the news that her home in San Antonio was robbed last month. They must have known what to look for:

" Stolen were a priceless Alberto Macias-made bajo sexto, a custom-made guitarra de golpe, a couple of bass guitars, recording equipment, jewelry, gold and personal items.

Adding to her blues, Ybarra lost her home to foreclosure. She's broke."


That last bit seems completely gratuitous, just no luck at all. It is insane that giants and pioneers of conjunto--or of any music-- can be so broke. Foreclosed on, even. It is all hard to believe. Santiago Jimenez, Sr. quit playing music for a time to be a janitor. Instead he should have been granted a full government salary just to play music.

Ybarra's recordings are ok, but she is absolutely great live. I am looking forward to seeing her next week when I finally return to (one of) the homeland(s).
Speed drawing for Christ

This record was a pretty good find> "Evangelist Paul Turner sings: Songs I Draw By and others". I found it at a new, excessively Christian thrift store in Norfolk where all of the employees wandered around with unnerving grins plastered across their faces, including the just-out-of-prison dude with the large cross tattoo on the side of his neck.



It is worth zeroing in on the drawing he has made, especially the lifesaver cross.



Evangelist Paul Turner is from Roanoke, Virginia. On the back of the LP he details how he was drawn to the revival crusade. God gave evangelist Paul Turner another gift: "He also have me a chalk drawing ministry. In each revival service I do a drawing that corresponds with a hymn which takes about 10 minutes." he notes that "most of the songs on this record are songs used in connection with chalk drawings."

The music is the country-studio band type.

A lazy search for the whereabouts of Brother Paul via googling "Evangelist Paul Turner" now brings up the first choice of a blog called "Reverend Bitch, Sir, "The journey of an inner city open and proud gay pastor."

But oh, oh! add in Roanoke and you get to a whole discussion of the wide open field of chalk drawing ministry. Here is a sample of some fine fine work by a preacher in Collinsville, Virginia:



Clearly there is something going on with this type of ministry.

Evangelist Paul Turner signs his name with Mark 11:24. I looked this up, (hoping, I will admit, for something more of the serpent handling flavor) and found this:

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Oh, Lord, I do desire so very many things.

April 27, 2010

"EL Sube y Baja" has been a favorite in these parts recently and this is a good version of it.



These guys have posted tons of videos of all classic and great norteño, all worth consuming the next hour of your time.

April 15, 2010

In case you ever felt righteous about eating agave syrup as an alternative to sugar, turns out that it is worse than high fructose corn syrup and maybe even close to toxic. Or at least according to this guy .

And I was just feeling a bit self-satisfied this past weekend about my margaritas sweetened with just a bit of agave...

April 01, 2010

“We’re not a gang — we’re a union."

Drug gang assasins are really a sensitive lot:

'We are very good people,” said his colleague Nicolas Sosa, and it is hard to tell if he is joking. Slick and muscled, with patterns shaved into his beard and wearing a tight white t-shirt and cowboy boots, Sosa’s looks are marred only by his nose, which is bent to one side. “I am here because I killed two cops,” he said. “I was mad — they stopped me and took my money, and I had a gun.”

Sosa and Saenz are two senior members of the Artist Assassins, a drug gang working in Ciudad Juárez, the most violent city in the world. The 600 Artist Assassins and 1,200 Mexicles, another local gang, are employed by the Sinaloa Cartel — run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the country’s most wanted man — to control the drug traffic passing through Juárez.

But the Artist Assassins and the Mexicles are in the middle of a war with the Aztecas. With 7,000 members the Aztecas are the most powerful drug gang in Juárez and work for the rival Juárez Cartel. The leaders of these cartels are businessmen in hiding and the gangs act as their enforcers on the streets. “The Aztecas have a very different way of thinking to us,” Sosa said. “We live and work very closely. We have values: respect, and the liberty to choose. They don’t. They kill our families, our friends, our kids.
“We’re not a gang — we’re a union. The difference is you can get out if you want to. You don’t have to stay.”

March 31, 2010

The failing economy basically means that any source of revenue starts to look good. Cue the legal pot campaign in California. Letting no crisis go to waste in this regard is something that should be applauded. Once stoned Californians start wiping their asses with dollar bills, which is sure to happen when marijuana is taxed, other states will also legalize pot and then the area of freedom will be that much larger. Or there will just be more weed around and we will still all be slaves, more likely.

Of course all we will get in Virginia as a result of this crisis atmosphere is legalized discrimination against gay people, which is continuing with great vigor ever since the Christian fundamentalist nutjobs took recent control of the state. And I am pretty sure that is not going to be helping out state coffers. It can't be coincidental that the state has begun obsessively re-running the "Virginia is for lovers" ads, with their variously and heavy handed Aryan insinuations.

But here is another interesting idea--officially recognize the value or "cultural merits" of something even though it is illegal. That opens up so many possibilities of things I can think of with cultural merit. Kind of a winking approach to the question of legality.

"HONOLULU — Illegal cockfighting would be recognized for its cultural merits under a resolution advancing in the Hawaii Legislature.

The House Tourism, Culture and International Affairs Committee passed the resolution Monday on a 4-2 vote, sending it to the House Judiciary Committee. The resolution doesn't have the force of law and wouldn't legalize cockfighting, which is prohibited in all 50 states.

But supporters say it would recognize cockfighting's long history in Hawaii and among Filipino migrants who cherish it. They also say cockfighting is widespread on the islands, and legitimizing it could boost the economy."



"Animal rights groups oppose the measure, saying cockfighting is a cruel blood sport.

Before passing the resolution, representatives amended it to include a line saying they don't support gambling or gaffs — sharp knives tied to game birds' legs."


alas, it was shelved.

The whole thing could be seen as something of a gaff...sorry...

March 21, 2010

Ruben Vela just died and his records are not going cheaply.

This mint, unplayed original Elvis single is a better bet than the stock market. Currently it is at 10 grand, up two grand since I looked at it yesterday.

Undismayed is waiting for the very last second to put in a bid...

March 18, 2010

Speaking of overdubs, I have been thinking about them recently in the context of Hank Williams and Chalino Sanchez, who I think are arguably the most overdubbed of all performers. This is, admittedly, a completely invented supposition, but it has the ring of truth.

There are a stunning number of overdubs of both of their material in all genres. These two happen to have almost perfectly malleable styles that can be reborn in a new body for a new life (to paraphrase a song overdubbed for Hank). That is really not something to be overlooked, the ability to meet all markets. Maybe Dylan is one of the few others who could do that without effort. But that was selling the songs, with Hank and Chalino we are talking about the same performances deftly remade into new songs entirely.

Hank's home recordings of the "me and my guitar" era are even remade into fingerpopping kinds of songs with some seriously appalling overdubs (such as "fool about you"). Chalino songs are repackaged on everything from norteño to mariachi. They are all great.

Both of these masters died at the height of their popularity and in their singing prime, so there was a compelling need to find more stuff to sell in the waiting markets.

For Hank it is easy to figure out which were the original recordings because you can hear them and also there are some obsessive discographers out there. For Chalino it is something like trying to figure out which of the gospels came first.

(or do they know that? I can never remember. A good one to save for Undismayed Bible Questions and Answers. No, I have not forgotten about that important work. I am in the interrogative stage.)
I've been listening to these newer narcocorrido singers, an even more intense permutation of the form. It isn't really my thing but it is good to keep on top of these things, especially the harsher lyrics.


The lyrics, what little I can grab from them, are fairly nasty.

Anyway, I was struck by his combination of both accordion and a banda sound, which is unusual, and had developed this whole theory about the need to really push the envelope by playing all the styles at the exact same time.

But then tonight I was listening to Los Alegres de Teran and on "El dinero es redondo" they have accordion, full mariachi accompaniment, and what really sounds like an organ (though it must be the accordion). Oh well, maybe not so unusual Though it occurs to me that some of this could have been later overdubs even though it didn't sound like it.
I am starting to think that the McAllen (TX) Monitor might be the best newspaper in America.

Check out how thoroughly it covers this story of Ramon Ayala's apology and reemergence.

We also get some good detail about the origins of the concert at the druglord's house:

"In early December, Ayala got a call from his promoter at Monterrey Representantes Artísticos SERCA, who said there was work in Puebla, Pue., for a birthday party or quinceañera on Dec. 10. Ayala said he couldn’t make it because he had to be in Odessa, Texas, for another concert the next day.

That was no problem, said promoter Servando Cano. There were plane tickets from Reynosa to Puebla, then back the next morning, which would allow Ayala and the band to get to Odessa in time for the concert.

Ayala did not say who was paying for the tickets.

He agreed to go.

“I thought that we were going to play on a big stage in a ballroom, but when I realized that was not happening, there was no way out and we decided to go ahead with the commitment and played,” Ayala said in Spanish. Two other famous groups were there: Cadetes de Linares and Grupo Torrente.

Ayala was in a small room playing for one man and a woman; More than 20 women arrived later during the performance, he said.

In total there were 28 musicians in three bands playing for about 25 people, Ayala said.

When he was playing his last song of the night, the lights suddenly went off.

Everyone started running, Ayala said. The bands dropped to the floor.

“Then we started hearing the gunfire. We thought that was the end for us, but thank God we are still here,” Ayala said. “We were able to squeeze into a hallway and two grenades were thrown in that direction and made everything tremble.”

Ayala was caught in the middle of a Mexican navy operation intended to capture Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the head of the Beltrán Leyva drug cartel. It is not confirmed if Beltrán Leyva was Ayala’s sole audience. Ayala said he did not know who the man was.

Three gunmen were killed and 11 others suspected of working for the Beltrán Leyva cartel were arrested that night.

“When the gunfire was over, (the authorities) started asking us who we were,” Ayala said. “I told them I was Ramon Ayala. Some of them recognized who we were, so I thought they were going to let us go, but they didn’t.”"


One reason the Monitor is so good is that it includes links to the pdfs of "state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, and U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, both of whom sent letters to Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez on behalf of Ayala" I can't remember ever seeing that in a paper.

Nobody ever writes about Los Cadetes de Linares, who also played. They are a great band, and stretching back for decades have been great. Several years ago I bought a cd of theirs at the Mexican flea market in Richmond on Jefferson Davis Highway and the guy selling it told me I would hate it since it was old. Nope.

Anyway, here is one of their classics, though I think it was a Los Alegres de Teran song,
so enough of that fucking foolishness.

This is so unbelievably great. I can't imagine a worse video, but of that is to be expected and par for the course with this kind of thing. And here Santiago is truly kicking some ass and then you see the audience and it is sparse.

Longtime readers of Undismayed (extinct though they are, but whatever) would remember that this blog actually sprung up as an obsessive response to 9-11 and other things political and then slowly evolved into this hodgepodge of passive reportage about the deaths of conjunto and country musicians. Or so it feels.

But this recent kerfuffle over Israel does make me want to step back and just say what the fuck? I can't think of a more mind numbing topic than the goddamn settlements. But what can the Israelis possibly be thinking? Why give Biden a swirly? Don't they know that HRC wants to take over and drive the Jews into the sea? And why can't they see clearly that it is time to fucking cut and run and stop this foolishness? Time to let the religious kooks know that Israel was founded by socialists not f'ing religious kooks. This game is over, they lost for any number of reasons, but is it really a loss to leave the fetid West Bank? Why constantly make the wrong decision? arrgh.

March 15, 2010

I just heard that the great Ruben Vela died last week. Very sad to hear, he was one of the early original conjunto greats still playing. He started playing when he was 12.



As we posted here last spring, he was still tearing it up when he turned 72 at the Tejano Conjunto festival last year and clearly was still in his prime to the end.


Somewhere I have a picture of me and the old lady standing with the great Ruben Vela in San Antonio, but as yet I haven't unearthed it.

March 10, 2010

I am determined to play this got-damn tune

Last week I watched Mike Seeger's characteristically amazing and effortless and generally all around kick ass demonstration of a huge array of different guitar styles on this dvd and it really struck me what a loss it was that he died. You can listen to it and hear it but watching him break it down so elementally is something else.
The totality of his mastery really was complete and the totality of the loss even more.

Then this morning very randomly I read this section in Dylan's Chronicle where he describes seeing Mike Seeger play one night and describes being blown away. Dylan said Mike "Radiated telepathy." and said it about as well as it could be said: "in order to be as good as that, you'd just about have to be him, and nobody else." (p. 71). Mike was so good that Dylan decided that he should write his own songs. That makes sense.
I think it is cheating to use a Negro Modelo bottle, they have a wide base

February 11, 2010

I smell a rat

The long suffering old lady smelled something unpleasant in a corner of the kitchen and one whiff told me of course it was a dead rat. No mistaking that smell.

Or, more precisely, a motherfucking dead rat. I hate these fucking things. And, I must say, I hate that it falls to me to have to be the one to deal with them. But I am the dude in the house, which means I kills them and I gets to cut open the walls to take out their got-damn stinking corpses.

Allow me to note that I removed said rat while the old lady was in New Orleans. She smelled it and then left town for five days. You get the split screen effect-- one person happily sitting in the sun eating a fried oyster po boy, the more downtrodden person removing a dead rat from a wall while it rains outside...

The temperature plunged and that seems to have encourage rodents to move into the living area, otherwise known as the killing zone. Mother Maybelle and I had scared up a rodent the week before in the boiler room, she chased it and the thing moved so fast I couldn't be sure what it was. I told the old lady a mouse but of course that was bullshit because mice and little and cute and anything of any size is a fucking rat. Rat! It is one thing to have them in garage, where I kill them in a lackidasical fashion, but in the house I must adopt a zero tolerance policy and kill everything that moves, twice, generation to generation and onto their children's children.

So I invested in some of the higher strength rat poison, can't even remember the name, raptor or razor or something. The A list stuff, about twice as much as the other shit that promises to kill thing. It definitely worked because it killed this bastard almost overnight and he was fucking big.

I tried to pick him up with chopsticks but he was too damn heavy, so it had to be pliers. His body was longer than a chopstick and with his tail he was longer than two chopsticks.

The whole time I was doing this I was thinking "Motherfucker! Motherfucker!" I hate doing this.

Anyway, the rat is long gone, along with the smell, and the wall is all fixed now. This spot is, perfectly enough, directly below the area where the kitchen ceiling came down last fall, so once the new roof is on in three days time (or so goes the current plan) I will fix the ceiling and never have to deal with it again until another fucking rat expires behind the wall.


January 22, 2010

Our friends at Burro Hall sent us this news that Mexico has had so much success stomping out the illegal drug trade the only thing left to outlaw are the songs about it.

"A new proposal by Mexico's ruling party could result in musicians being sent to prison for performing songs that glorify drug trafficking.

The proposed legislation would mean sentences of up to three years for people performing or producing songs or films that glamorise criminals.

"Society sees drug ballads as nice, pleasant, inconsequential and harmless – but they are the opposite," Oscar Martin Arce, a National Action party MP, told the Associated Press.

The ballads – known as narcocorridos – often describe drug trafficking and violence and are popular among some norteño bands.

After some killings, gangs pipe narcocorridos and threatening messages into police radio scanners.

Martin said his party's proposal, presented to congress on Wednesday, was also intended to combat low-budget films praising druglords. It remained unclear when it would be voted on.

"We cannot accept it as normal. We cannot exalt these people because they themselves are distributing these materials among youths to lead them into a lifestyle where the bad guy wins," Martin said."


I am sure you all understand how well it works for the government to ban stuff--it makes kids absolutely hate it.

And it is well known that people only do drugs because they like narcocorridos. That is why English speaking American teenagers consume mountains of drugs-- the wild popularity of El As de la Sierra across the suburbs.


Since this is going to mean the end of narcocorridos, I am going to sell my stock in ostrich-shouldered suit manufacturers. That market is going to dry right up.

The article erroneously states that Los Tigres del Norte did not play in the fall because of a narcocorrido when it was actually the bitingly political song "La Granja" that they were forbidden to play

The bottom of that page has this link to some footage of a Mexican jailbreak. Mexico should consider outlawing jailbreaks.

And as long as I am spending my time watching these, you should too. This one of anti-drug violence in Brazil is interesting.

January 21, 2010

January 10, 2010

another one of those "kids these days"

I frequent this Vietnamese restaurant around here, have been going there for years, decent and cheap food. There has always been this nice little kid who worked there, son or nephew of the owner or whatever. I haven't seen him in a while, probably a couple of years, but he was working there tonight-- with a prominent gang tattoo on his neck.

The side of the neck tattoo is always is such a good idea.

I think what I appreciated most is that he speaks in one of the thickest Southern accents you will hear, a great incongruity all around.

I should mention that to him-- "great incongruity"-- and then have this Vietnamese/Good Old Boy/Gang Banger just kick the shit out of the middle aged honky....

only he still is about the nicest kid on the planet, even gave me change out of his pocket so I wouldn't have to break a bill, so no worries there.

unless me lent me the change to make me his bitch?
True, I am old, and only getting more so, and I was a clueless and complete asshole in my youth, as my friends will attest, but just this week I have had a couple of experiences that gave me pause. or, actually, made me wonder what de fuck is up with kids these days.

A former student of mine recently got back in touch. He knocked up his girlfriend. I asked him if he was to marry the soon to be mom and he said "oh, I'm not the marrying kind." While I suppose this is better than getting divorced in a few years, the complete carelessness of the whole thing is something else.

The second moment, at least as grave, was when playing some music and in between tunes this young dude would text his girlfriend. During the tunes, his motherloving phone would vibrate. Seriously, what the fucks? This was about an anti-old timey a thing as could possibly be done, no?

Now you might think that knocking up some chick is worse than texting during a jam session, but I am not so sure about that. Texting while playing music, or even referring to a phone is, functionally and metaphysically, an abortion.

January 08, 2010

I'm not sure what to make about the new security measures or even what to think about the full body scanners, though a scrambled viewing of one of them doesn't necessarily seem to me to be invasive of privacy in the way that (unscrambled) surveillance cameras following your movements all over the place clearly are. We are constantly under watch already.

I believe very strongly in the right to privacy and am even a crank on this subject. I agree that one obvious solution is to find an effective technological solution that allows a full scan without making it individually identifiable.

Put another way, if a terrorist is going to hid explosives under his nutsack, we do need a way to find it. Hopefully a machine that can sense it. Otherwise we are going to be asking security personnel to do the nutsack inspections and they aren't even unionized.

All the squawking makes me want to look up if people freaked out about metal detectors when they were rolled out.

If anything should depress us, it is that there are metal detectors at schools in the U.S. of A, lots of schools, a sign of a seriously demented society that needs these to prevent shootings.

One thing I think is complete bullshit is the weak argument that people who have fundamentalist religious concerns (Islamic, Jewish, presumably some others as well) have concerns about being viewed through this technology. The argument, made here by privacy expert Jeffrey Rosen, essentially means the decision to wear a burqa holds the rest of us hostage.

Well, Lift the nut sack you religious zealots, and keep your laws off of my body. I have no problem with anyone believing whatever they want, but if they are going to be moving through society they can also do the minimum.

I do have a graceful solution. Maybe we should just forget about terrorism and declare war on all fundamentalisms--take them all out, all fundamentalists across the board, and then essentially all of our problems could be resolved as the adults left make decisions rooted in rational thought. WWJD?

(I think my use of italics in this post officially pushes it into ranting territory)
I am not sure what to make of the fact that one of ladies at the local post office is suddenly sporting the exact Sarah Palin hairdo. Maybe it means nothing, but it did kind of freak me out. Or maybe more accurate to say that it fascinated me. I really didn't have any deep thoughts other than uhhh, what the fuck? It is like wearing Marge Simpson's haircut or something, it is so ridiculous.

She (the mail lady, not former Gov. Palin) is also sporting one of those insane strip mall-tans that create the lines around her neck and make her look kind of reptilian.

It is all kind of intense, the tan combined with the Sarah Palin hair.

This lady is actually very nice. All the ladies at the post office are my pals since I usually am there all the got-damn time mailing ebay sales off. Recently I am a bit out of the loop though they are always happy to see me (or pretend*). I haven't been selling anything in the last few months because I've been working too much. It is long since time I quit this "working" nonsense and got back to the essentials of ebay sales, for shit's sake.

One thing that I have long been obsessed with, and probably even blogged about years ago, is her tendency to refuse to use the plural of "cents." It is not because she speaks ebonics, either. And it is way more pronounced than any ebonics speaker in my vicinity (which be my vicinity, by the way). It is so stridently done that it must be a deliberate choice to fuck with people. Why else would you say "that will be 25 dollars and 13 cent"? "seven dollars and 56 cent"? "your change is 78 cent."

So you combine the Sarah Palin hair, the tan, and the "cent"--and you see what I miss about going to the post office.


*how are they going to feel when future President Palin puts me in a Death Camp?

January 07, 2010

Speaking of TV, we dutifully got rid of our old tv last spring when it no longer got channels because of the digital switch over (right, tragically no cable) and we got a new one, which is admittedly pretty sweet the way it lightens up the wheeling a.v. cart, and looks its best at moments like when he just watched Baile Norteño on it the other day. Actually, I watched it, the long suffering old lady hid in the other room. Baile Norteño is worth watching if only to demonstrate how the unbelievably shitty music videos of twenty+ years ago are still being produced for the Mexican markets. Also, the English descriptions of these things are always brilliant because they are inaccurate to flat-out wrong, and because who the hell are they directed toward? Me?

But the point of this is to say that here we have this fancy new TV and even a new antenna , and the wonder of the digital signal is that if you don't get it perfectly you don't get it at all. Gone are the days of fuzzy tv signals, we don't get jack now and we can't even find out the numerous ways that WAVY-TV 10 is on our side.

So fuck the whole 3-D tv thing until they improve the antennas. We need Congressional hearings.
Even by the bootlicking standards of the major press outfits, this roll-out of the Google phone has reached an impressive level of saturation. Why the hell is this? I don't even give the remotest shit about this but could not escape "news" of its many innovative features at each and every of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy news outlets that I listen to and/or read. I would expect this from my local paper--which, after all, only prints press releases or AP stories--but the reputable places with actual reporters really should be ashamed. Since when does a news-free product launch get covered as news?

And as long as I am ranting about the obvious (and be honest, you have missed the ranting with all of this smoke and mirrors about Mexican music), isn't this arrival of 3-D just flat out irritating? If Avatar is so advanced (more on that in a second) then why is it possible that at the same moment this supposedly revolutionary film was released any asshole with 10 grand can buy a TV that supplies it? Doesn't this essentially mean Avatar and the 3-D are product tie-ins for the fancy-panted set, like those Darth Maul glasses at Burger King?

Now on Avatar--I haven't seen it and kind of vaguely wasn't planning to bother. Not that I am opposed to painfully stupid movies, and I like sci fi things generally, I just have few chances to see flicks and the hype was annoying me. But anyway, the New Yorker arrived and I figured I would read David Denby's review (he at least evidently having a brain) and then feel vindicated about not seeing the movie because it was overblown and just kind of a bad movie and all of that. Then, strangely, Denby didn't just like the movie, he freaking gushed about it. To the point that it was clear he is getting some kind of payola.

So clearly everyone is on the take. I want in, show me where to sign. Undismayed wants a 3-D TV.

December 17, 2009



Ramon Ayala has been busted playing at a private party for drug dealers in Mexico and now they are trying to pin money laundering charges on him. This is big news because he is a freaking huge star, it is hard to think of an equivalent situation here. The only part of that that surprises me is that he was busted, which must mean that the Mexican government is trying to send a signal.

I personally would be shocked to find out that musicians deal with drug dealers and/ or launder drug money, especially in a narco states like the United States and Mexico. The only difference between the two might be that the drug money is not rinsed clean through a corporation in Mexico and the talent has to stand tall before the man in a more literal way. Although periodically the state does nab a rapper just to prove some point.

Me, I just think it is charming that drug dealers have Christmas parties. If I was a Mexican drug lord I would definitely have Ramon Ayala play at my party. All of you would be invited.

The weird detail of the Ayala story is that it was the Mexican navy (??)that got him.

What is getting less press is that two hundred sailors of the Navy then appeared in Cuernavaca the next day and assassinated a drug kingpin named Arturo Beltran Leyva, jefe de jefes after a two hour gun battle.

uh, here is where Cuernavaca is

Why the navy? I wonder if this is the last uncorrupted part of the military structure. My suspicious side thinks that maybe the Navy is evening the score out for the Sinaloa cartel, striking deep and even humiliating poor Ramon.

December 05, 2009

"Thank you music lovers!"




I just received word that Jack Cooke, the Norton Flash, died a few days ago. Hee died December 1, which is the same day that Carter Stanley died. Which is kind of spooky.

Tragic loss, he was truly one of the all time great old timers and they aren't minting any more of them. He was of course Ralph Stanley's bass player. He also played guitar with Bill Monroe for four years back in the golden era of the late 1950s, which people forget. jack had a great voice too, one of the best, just exactly the way a bluegrass voice should sound.

And always, hell or high water, when he played with Ralph he sang "sitting on top of the world." And always threw in the tagline above, which is among the greatest of things to say on stage.

I blogged a few years back about his very long awaited solo album, it is a great record with some fine older stuff on it too.

Jack had been the mayor of Norton, Virginia too. One of a kind! Gone but not forgotten!

November 24, 2009

A Charlie Pride for the nuevo world.

This is Timote, also known as 'El Charro Negro', the first African-American ranchera singer.


The music is pretty terrible but the concept is, clearly, brilliant.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops are essentially a blackface band made novel by the fact that the musicians are all black. That is to say that they are trading very heavily on their race in the well trod example of all minstrel blackface bands as they supposedly carry on the tradition of black string band music from North Carolina. Do you have to be black to carry on the tradition of black string band music? The answer seems to be yes. Their race matters more in this emphasis than does their origins or their musicial skill. Their music is adequate and the band is fine and all, but they have become something like a sensation because of the deft way they trade on their race to authenticate their music. Their audience, overwhelmingly white, middle class, and earnest, revels in this faux authenticity bestowed on their music by their heavily laden racial emphasis. A white band trying to do the same thing, and playing such similarly run-of-the-mill music, would be ignored or maybe even ridiculed for caricature.

To give but one example, when there was a cd release for the band at the Mt Airy Fiddler's convention several years ago (their first cd, I am not sure how many they have now) the band played for a large group of entirely 100% white people and then handed out a watermelon. Imagine the reverse.

Anyway, so I have long thought. Now I see that the overwhelmingly white, middle class, and earnest History News Network blog has this post which almost exactly proves my point. In it, the Chocolate Drops are presented as authentic as they play an incredibly dull version of a (white!) song from NC supposedly in some tradition and then is contrasted with the Wiyos, who are identified as "a well-regarded white, urban group, with roots in New York and New Orleans." Why is race so heavily foregrounded in this? The Wiyos do not market themselves as a 'white' band and definitely do not traffic in racial identity as do the Chocolate Drops. Why not just say one is a competent but weak group with celebrity cred playing without inspiration while the other is a very accomplished band playing an infinitely superior version of a great song?

October 27, 2009

I know what you are thinking, and I agree entirely--it was a bit heartbreaking not to go to the Narciso Martinez festival in San Benito, Texas, this past weekend. The core conjunto festival I haven’t been to yet, though much smaller than the San Antonio festival. But it is only a matter of time, I am planning for next year. Looking at the pictures from it was a bit heartbreaking. I’ve actually seen all of those bands save for Los Donneños, surely one the best and among my favorites. Thank god for youtube in that regard. This sounds perfect.

It is hard to imagine a full life without seeing them play. I also may have to just go finally make the pilgrimage to McAllen to DiscosRyN.

Though it is hard to complain too much. One reason I didn’t make it to Texas this fall (besides those two months in California), is that I am heading to Lafayette, LA to the Blackpot festival. Still, to have seen Los Donneños at long last… But certain domestic parties would almost certainly not be sympathetic to this watertight logic.

October 22, 2009

The secret to why seltzer tastes good, discovered.

"Tasting fizz begins with a special protein that’s tethered to sour-sensing taste cells on the tongue, researchers report in the Oct. 16 Science. This protein, the enzyme carbonic anhydrase 4, splits carbon dioxide into bicarbonate ions and free protons, which stimulate the sour-sensing cells.

Scientists have long thought that the taste of carbonated beverages emerged from the physical bursting of bubbles on the tongue, says study author Charles Zuker, a neuroscientist now at Columbia University who did the work while at the University of California, San Diego. But bubbly drinks still taste distinctly carbonated when they are imbibed in a pressure chamber where bubbles don’t burst.
...

Bachmanov calls the new work “elegant.” Taste “is a very challenging system to study,” he says. “Everything is very small but very complex.”

In the bigger picture, tasting carbonation may have allowed animals to sense CO2 produced in foods that had fermented or gone bad, akin to how bitter-sensing taste cells warn of potential toxicity, says Zuker."






Aren't you glad scientists are working on this?

October 21, 2009

Midwestern readers, there is some good son jarocho in Chicago next week that you should see, several shows actually, stretching into the first week of November.

And for those of you away from God's Midwestern Acreage, you might be interested to know that this concert info leds me to discover ArteSalazar, a maker of reasonably priced custommade jaranas in Chicago.

Actually, assuming they are decently made, more than reasonably priced it seems to me, for handmade instruments. Hmmm.

I just missed my chance to send someone to check them out this past weekend when they held a demo on making jaranas, but there are sure to be future times.
I'm back in the 757 from Cali and really happy to back to my home life. As for the broader ghetto context, I am not thinking about it.

My last weekend in SF I was invited to a series of rock shows (my friend out there getting comp tickets to everything that comes to town) none of which I really wanted to attend but I had to be polite so I settled on the Melvins play with the Butthole Surfers (skipping the Jesus Lizard and also the 2 day rock fest on Treasure Island. hard to believe all of this shit was happening on one weekend).

The Melvins kicked some serious ass--they were of course heavy as it comes and also so damned tight it was a marvel. They really are still as great as ever. Listen to their newest record and see if it is not better than any previous. Why fuck with perfection?

The Buttholes are by this point tired and done and the show was a waste of time. If they had any honor they might consider ritual suicide. Or, failing that, retirement. I last saw them 22 years ago at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, the realization that that was more than 2 decades ago has definitely made me feel old. I had seen them in the mid 80s when they were great, and then the last time in 1987 when they started up the whole insane stage show with the films and on down. They are still doing the same shit, minus the girls and the flames, the music pretty dull, and at least at this show were just going through the motions. And if they could give a shit in SF where would they be any good anymore?

Of course the best music I heard over the weekend was a Norteño band playing at some Mexican bar on 16th street.

October 13, 2009

I am not even sure what this kind of music is called, it is from Mauritania and sounds pretty cool:



...if only they would finish tuning...hee hee

I have been listening to some African guitar stuff recently. I know nothing at all about African music and have barely listened to it except some great ngoni music from Mali and that Ethiopian jazz stuff from the 1940s. There is a lot more else to hear, of course, and out here in SF and Berkeley there is definitely a lot of interest in it and a lot of availability. Though I haven't seen many Africans per se, not like I always see in DC where it seems like in the city the bulk of the immigrants are African.

Anyway, I've heard some really good African street musicians out here.

I've also been listening to this collection of Congolese Rumba, which I have to say I got initially solely because of its cover. But it was a good choice.

This is a cool little session between Juan Villareal of Los Cachorros and Ramiro Cavazos from Los Donnenos, certainly one of the great all time great bajo players.



and this is even better, -perfect in fact

maybe one small way to differentiate between old time and bluegrass is that so many old time musician artists are really great artists while bluegrass art as a genre tends toward the style modulating between kitsch and socialist realism.

here is an example

Actually, I have to say that I love this one of Bill Monroe playing in the sunny glade on his way to the Gloryland. Heartbreaking, no?

These paintings definitely share a sensibility with the neo-Confederate art of that dude Mort Kuntsler


(yes I did misspell his name deliberately, to amuse myself. It isn't hard).