Friday, July 12, 2024

THE RULES OF THE BLUES

DUKES FANS: “Woke up this morning, looked around for my shoes..” countless blues songs. Normally in these missives I tend to write about my experiences, thoughts, and observations about the world around us, what I have been up to, etc. I rarely write anything that can be called, “humorous.” But a friend of mine shared something humorous with me that I loved, so I thought I would pass it on. Hope you like it: "Rules of the Blues" by Memphis Earlene Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning..." "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town." The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes... sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound." The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch--ain't no way out. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and company motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chompin' on it is. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster. Good places for the Blues: a. Highway b. Jailhouse c. An empty bed d. Bottom of a whiskey glass Bad places for the Blues: a. Nordstrom's b. Gallery openings c. Ivy league institutions d. Golf courses No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be a old ethnic person, and you slept in it. You have the right to sing the Blues if: a. You older than dirt b. You blind c. You shot a man in Memphis d. You can't be satisfied You don't have the right to sing the Blues if: a. You have all your teeth b. You were once blind but now can see c. The man in Memphis lived d. You have a pension fund Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues Other acceptable Blues beverages are: a. Cheap wine b. Whiskey or bourbon c. Muddy water d. Nasty black coffee The following are NOT Blues beverages: a. Perrier b. Chardonnay c. Snapple d. Slim Fast If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broke-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction. Some Blues names for women: a. Sadie b. Big Mama c. Bessie d. Fat River Dumpling Some Blues names for men: a. Joe b. Willie c. Little Willie d. Big Willie Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit: a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.) b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Melon, Kiwi, etc.) c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.) For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jackleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.") I don't care how tragic your life is; if you own at least one computer, you can't sing the blues Hope you enjoyed this. Hope it provided a laugh and a little relief from this oppressive heat. Hydrate! DUKES GIGS 1)Wednesday, July 17th; Chet Tyson Pavillion; 80Windsor Ave; Narberth, PA; 7PM-9PM; Concerts in the Park 2) August 7th;Kahn Park; 11th & Pine Sts. Phila, PA: 7:30-9PM (rain date August 8th 3) August 10 Nassau Park Pavilion, off Rt 1,Princeton, NJ: sets 5-7:30: https://westwindsorarts.org/event/summer-music-dukes/ We are at three of our favorite outdoor places for our next gigs. Narberth is another one of those cute little suburban towns near near Philly with a variety of great shops, some nice pubs, and tons of great dining spots where you can pick up a picnic meal and bring it with your blanket and lawn chair to the park. Likewise, Kahn Park is an area with great shops and places to dine and pick up food for the concert. And it is in my old stomping grounds where I lived for 10 years during the late 1970’s. Nassau Park is behind a shopping mall, but there is wonderful open seating area right next to a creek. And the creek is regularly visited by a great blue heron. Three outdoor gigs in three great spots; come on out and enjoy outdoor summer gigs with the Dukes of Destiny JOHNNY NEVER & JOHN COLGAN-DAVIS Acoustic Blues, Guitar, Vocals and Harmonica 1)Saturday, July 20, Triple Sun Distillery; 8-11PM; 126 South State Street; Newtown, PA 18940; Phone: (215) 944-3057 2)Friday, July 26; Hummingbird to Mars; W 16th St,Wilmington, DE 19806 (it's around back; ring the bell!) 9 – midnight: Reservations recommended;http://catherinerooneys.com/hummingbird 3)Saturday, July 27) Kennett Square Roots and Blues Festival; Anson B Nixon Park, 405 N. Walnut Rd;Kennett Square, PA; Festival 11 AM - 7:30 PM; The Two Johns: 2:15-3:15PM; https://www.ansonbnixonpark.org/events/2024-roots-blues-festival 4)Wednesday, July 31; Letty’s Tavern;201 State Street, Kennett Square PA 19348; 7-10PM https://www.lettystavern.com The middle to the end of July finds Johnny Never and John Colgan-Davis at several places we have played before and loved. Triple Sun is in the cute town of Newtown, and it features classic drafts and its own brewed whiskeys. There is also a good menu. Hummingbird is one of our favorite spots-a beautiful speakeasy themed restaurant/bar with great food and drinks and a wonderful waitstaff. Letty’s is our monthly haunt in the wonderful town of Kennett Square. Great food and wonderful waitstaff. And Kennett is also hosting an amazing festival featuring many of the area’s top blues players, including Deb Callahan, Slim and the Percolators, Steve Guyger, and of course, The Two Johns. Think of it as a true blues Christmas in July. So come one out; have a blues drenched July with The Johns. Sunday Blues Jam; Jamey’s House of Music; 32  S. Lansdowne Ave; Lansdowne, PA:215-477-9895; House Band from 12-1PM: open jam 1-3:00pm $5 brunch minimum Blues lovers and players have made Jamey's Sunday Blues Jam the place for great blues jamming, inexpensive and tasty eats, craft brews on tap, fresh ground coffee, a great waitstaff, and friendly people who love the blues.  Each Sunday features an hour long set by a house band, and then an open jam until 3PM. Most Sundays the great Philly Blues Kings, featuring guitarist AC Steel and keyboard ace Dave Reiter, do the hour set, and on the second Sunday of the month, July 14th, The Roger Girke-John Colgan-Davis Project do it. Got an instrument? Sing? Just want to listen to some exciting blues? Come on out and take part in this great blues jam with great food and liquid refreshments.  (If you wish to no longer receive these missives, just reply with “Unsubscribe” in the Subject Line) DUKES FANS: “Woke up this morning, looked around for my shoes..” countless blues songs. Normally in these missives I tend to write about my experiences, thoughts, and observations about the world around us, what I have been up to, etc. I rarely write anything that can be called, “humorous.” But a friend of mine shared something humorous with me that I loved, so I thought I would pass it on. Hope you like it: "Rules of the Blues" by Memphis Earlene Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning..." "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town." The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes... sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound." The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch--ain't no way out. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and company motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chompin' on it is. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster. Good places for the Blues: a. Highway b. Jailhouse c. An empty bed d. Bottom of a whiskey glass Bad places for the Blues: a. Nordstrom's b. Gallery openings c. Ivy league institutions d. Golf courses No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be a old ethnic person, and you slept in it. You have the right to sing the Blues if: a. You older than dirt b. You blind c. You shot a man in Memphis d. You can't be satisfied You don't have the right to sing the Blues if: a. You have all your teeth b. You were once blind but now can see c. The man in Memphis lived d. You have a pension fund Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues Other acceptable Blues beverages are: a. Cheap wine b. Whiskey or bourbon c. Muddy water d. Nasty black coffee The following are NOT Blues beverages: a. Perrier b. Chardonnay c. Snapple d. Slim Fast If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broke-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction. Some Blues names for women: a. Sadie b. Big Mama c. Bessie d. Fat River Dumpling Some Blues names for men: a. Joe b. Willie c. Little Willie d. Big Willie Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit: a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.) b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Melon, Kiwi, etc.) c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.) For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jackleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.") I don't care how tragic your life is; if you own at least one computer, you can't sing the blues Hope you enjoyed this. Hope it provided a laugh and a little relief from this oppressive heat. Hydrate!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Black Music Month

<bDUKES FANS “Hot fun in the summertime”…Sly and The Family Stone It is now past mid-June, and summertime is around the corner. As I age, summer is harder for me; heat and especially humidity can be rough for us oldsters. My wife and I came to dislike going through August in Philadelphia, so we started taking two-and three-week camping trips in August in the Northlands. We would head up to each of the Finger Lakes in New York state, occasionally to the Poconos, and once to the Adirondacks. And we almost always ended our Augusts camping outside of Kingston, Ontario and attending the Limestone City Blues Festival in that town. So this June, and the unusual heat wave we are in now got me thinking about that. But it is still June, and this month has one of my favorite celebrations. June was declared National African-American Music Month by President Carter in 1979, and I love the attention that our contributions to the rich stew that is American music gets during this month. There are a lot of great concerts and festivals, and there is also an array of streaming documentaries. Some of them I have mentioned in previous newsletters: Soulsville, USA. about Stax Records, and Standing in the Shadow of Motown, about Motown records. Over the past few months, I have also watched a couple of new to me documentaries about James Brown and Son House. It is always exciting for me to discover new films about people I love and who influenced me, so I recommend these films highly. If you are on this mailing list you obviously know that there are lots of way of celebrating Black music. And the power, joy, and soul stirring depth of the music never stops. It still moves and inspires me. Happy African-American Music Month to you all. James Brown : Bing Videos Son House : Why You Should Listen to Son House | His Life and Music | Delta Blues (youtube.com) Standing in The Shows of Motown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BL9fF4Jtovc Stax: Soulsville USA | Official Website for the HBO Series | HBO.com

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Hot Fun In The Summertime

DUKES FANS: “Summertime and the living is easy..” George Gershwin In a few weeks it will be the time that I recall looking forward to with great joy and delight. Summer vacation will be here, and regular school will be out for several months. I was a public-school student, and I used to look forward to the close of school with great enthusiasm. Summer vacation was the start of new adventures and was a great time. When I was in elementary school summer vacation meant a number of things. I grew up in the AME Church, so there was two weeks of Vacation Bible School. There were also trips to Coatesville, PA to spend a week or two at my Aunt Jane’s house. Seeing my father’s brothers and sisters and other family members and going to sleep to the sounds of the train carrying things to and from Lukens Steel Company are fond memories for me still. Summer also meant playing halfball and hopscotch on the street in my neighborhood with my friends, and eventually playing on a neighborhood baseball team with traveling games in different sections of Fairmount Park. That was a great experience for me as it broadened my sense of the world As I got older, it also meant trying to earn some money for myself. I did that by delivering newspapers, doing shopping for older neighbors, and collecting bottles from people’s trash and exchanging them for dimes and nickels at Dubin’s Lumber yard in the years before recycling. When I was even older-junior high school it meant taking a class or two at the Franklin Institute, which I really loved, and spending time at Bill Bennetts Farm Day camp on the ground of what is now Saul Agricultural high School in Roxborough. I did have to go to summer school once, as I failed Algebra 1. That was a terrible summer. In high school I worked for two summers under a Federal program for youths from low income families. One year I was a janitorial assistant at Central High School, and for the other I was a roadie for the Central High School Orchestra. I loved that! Listening to them rehearse and helping to carry their gear and attending their concerts got me interested in classical music, and that expanded my ears. I am truly grateful for that experience. All of this got me wondering once just where the idea of summer vacation came from. Initially I thought, quite erroneously, that it was a vestige of the days when so many Americans lived on farms and in rural areas. That was not true; it turns out that people in rural areas need the greatest number of workers in spring and fall and not summer for planting and harvesting. Early rural public school calendars reflected that need. The rise of the current form of summer vacation is due, instead, to the urbanization of the country and the desire of some public school advocates and reformers, such as Horace Mann, to bring rural and urban school calendars more in line with each other. It was also believed that 12 months of being in a school building was bad for students emotionally and, especially in hot urban areas, exposed them to disease. So by the late 1800’s what we think of as the “normal” school year was in place in much of the country. By the early 20th century, summer break ax we know it today was an established entity. I like the idea of summer vacation. As a student it gave me time to do things I really liked and learned from, and as a teacher for 40 years it gave me a break to learn new things, not think about school for a while, and to spend important and wonderful time with my family. It was almost always a good time for me. So I am hoping that students, teachers and families alike all have a summer this year that truly works for them. “Homework, they shout; is over and out. Vacation time has begun” (Chuck Berry. (Here is a link to Chuck Berry’s ode to Summer Break: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbhVvJ-KX8U ) (Many people are questioning the need for summer vacation and are arguing for some form year round school. Here is a PBS selection about that:-(you have to go through an intro to a show about disco; hang in) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/debunking-myth-summer-vacation )

The Magic of Surprise

>DUKES FANS: “Being a sentient being makes one capable of experiencing surprise. But surprise is not going to come up to your door, knock, and ask to be let in. To encounter it, you have to be out in the world, heads up, and open to it.” Anon. I love that quote. It is one of the ways I try to meet the world, and if there are times I am not in that frame of mind and I can recall it, it helps me get back to that openness to the world. I am thinking about that quote because of experiences I had Tuesday in the wilds of Phoenixville, one of my favorite towns. I was In Phoenixville to record some harp on a track by my friend Paul Michael, a great guitarist, songwriter, and singer who used to live and play in the Philly aera for years. We did the recording, and I went off to the Phoenixville Library to see if I could display a poster for The Dukes’ upcoming show at Steel City. While in the library, getting water and getting out of the hot sun, the bus I planned to take back to King of Prussia Mall as the first leg of my trip back to Philly arrived 5 minutes early and passed by. Another one wouldn’t come for an hour or so. I was loudly upset for a bit, then I breathed deeply and decided to respond to the situation rather than just react to it. I decided to walk a few blocks further on Main Street to Steel City to get a bottle of water. In so doing I passed a record store-yes, a genuine record store with vinyl records-that I had not noticed before. I went in to see about dropping off a poster, and the sign in the door of the shop announced an LP entitled “Radical Optimism” Hmmm. I went in, introduced myself to Shawn, the owner, showed him the poster, and things somehow took off. We went from talking about what radical optimism meant to both of us, to talking about the blues in Phoenixville-yes, he is a real blues fan-to talking about our youths, what being in a record store means and feels like, and our relationship with blues, jazz, and gospel music. I flipped through various record racks and had the feeling of again picking up, looking at and reading an LP cover. It turned out that Shawn Cephas' father, James, owned King James records, a legendary chain of 3 Philadelphia record stores. One was at 52nd and Market Sts, near where I grew up, and I listened to and bought some of my earliest jazz records there. We then talked about clubs we had both been to, such as The Aqua Lounge, and The Second Fret, and memorable concerts we had been to as well as special moments listening to the radio years ago and before the internet and You Tube. It was an amazingly wonderful experience, and I made a new friend. And it only happened because I missed the bus and for some reason, decided to keep walking instead of stewing in my disapointment a So surprise is out there waiting, and it can come in wonderful and totally unexpected ways. Yes, sometimes surprise brings unpleasant things to us that we have to face and deal with, and that can be painful and tough. But often it is something small and delightful that gives us something that inspires us, makes us smile, brings a laugh, and reminds us that there are good things and good people in the world. We just have to be out there and open to it. (Shwan’s store is Forever Change https://foreverchangesrecords.com Another great record store is Hideaway Music on Germantown Ave in Chestnut Hill : https://hideawaymusic.org )

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The History of Stax Records

 

DUKES FANS:

“Let’s Go to Memphis in the Meantime, Baby”  John Hiatt

   In my newsletter of January 25, I wrote about the experiences Johnny Never and I had in Memphis Tennessee, when we went to compete in the International Blues Challenge. As many of you know, it was a rough trip, with some unexpected happenings that gave a new meaning to the word, “challenge.” But there were some wonderful highlights for me during that trip as well. One of them I mentioned in that newsletter was my trip to the Stax Records Museum on McLemore Avenue. I called it a “pilgrimage,” and indeed it was. Visiting that museum was something I had wanted to do for a while. And it really was a spiritual experience.

   I was and am a giant Stax records fan.  The music of Booker T and The MG’s, Otis Redding, Issac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave…these were some of my favorite soul acts during my teens and early 20’s. The unabashed and unapologetic roughness and deep soul in the voices and the instrumental arrangements moved me deeply and brought me great joy. Motown was big then, of course, and garnered a lot of the media notice and attention, but Stax was gradually getting bigger and bigger, and for a while it was a worldwide phenomenon. And it was a big part of my personal soundtrack, along with acoustic and electric blues.

    As the label grew, Stax musicians traveled the country more and more during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I had the chance to see Sam and Dave and The Staple Singers both live in Philly, and being in the museum helped me relive those memories. There was the organ Booker T used on Green Onions, Al Jackson’s drums, and Duck Dunn’s bass. The museum also featured interviews with musicians, writers and producers talking about how certain songs were written and recorded. It also featured videos of some of the recording sessions. There is an incredibly sad and moving interview with Steve Cropper about having to put together the song Dock of the Bay in the wake of Otis Redding’s tragic death in a plane crash. I cried as I watched that video.

    I mention that now because there is a new music documentary series on Max-HBO network about the history and legacy of Stax Records. Stax: Soulsville U.S.A, tells the history of the label and looks at the incredible roster of writers, musicians, performers, and more that helped what had been a small local label gain worldwide recognition. There are a generous amount of interviews with a lot of the people who were involved with and integral parts of the label and its amazing product. The filmmaker, Jamila Wignot, also looks and the social conditions into which Stax was born and grew, and looks at some effects Stax records and its music had on those conditions. The film also takes a look at the workings of the music industry itself, and the effect that corporate policies can have on a label. It was mostly that and not a decline in the quality of the music that led it to shut its doors in 1975.

   The depth and breadth of this docu-series makes it another addition to my list of great music documentaries. I hope you get to see and enjoy Stax; Soulsville U.S.A. It is a tribute to some of the greatest music and music makers that I have been fortunate  enough to listen to and be inspired by. I am glad to see their story so wonderfully and lovingly told.

(PS- Here is a review of Stax: Soulsville U.S.A.

The Stax Museum: https://staxmuseum.com) 
 (PPS-There was some dispute amongst some African-Americans and some musicians as to which was the “real” soul music in the 60’s and 70’s-Memphis’ Stax or Detroit’s (later LA’s) Motown. I liked Motown-The Supremes, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and especially The Four Tops, but I was a young radical, and I felt I had to criticize Motown’s use of strings and super-polite TV appearances. I have mellowed some, (smile) so I also want to recommend the another great music documentary-Standing in the Shadows of Motown, by Paul Justman and Allan Slutsky Standing In The Shadows of Motown)

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Deep Spring

 

DUKES FANS: 

  

“Every blade of grass has it angel that visits it and whispers, “Grow..grow.”  

                                       The Talmud  

  

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s Party!”  

                                        Robin Williams  

 

This is the time of the year I often refer to as, “Deep Spring.” And this year it is exceptionally “deep.’ The steady rains we have been experiencing have led to an incredibly lush landscape with redbuds, magnolias, irises, roses, various lilies, and more all strutting proudly in gardens all over Mt Airy, Germantown, and Chestnut Hill. And the trees, grasses and bushes are all glowingly green and wildly overgrown. My wife, Penny, both loved and hated this time of the year. She loved it because it put her into full gardening mode-planting, trimming, mulching and more. And she hated it because it meant constant mowing of the wildly growing grass and trying yet again to cut back on the eternal ivy growing on the fences.  

However one feels about it, it is impossible to ignore the growth and natural life that is so boldly present. It is all around us, and it is undeniably here. I know I will have to hire a gardener to do the work that I was never any good at, and I will have to mow the front of the house and cut a lot of weeds. I do not like doing either of those things..(smile) But doing them is another reminder that the Earth and nature are doing their thing, joyously and fully. And we are lucky to be both witness to it, and if wish, participants in it. It is a joyous time. Happy Deep Spring 

DUKES OF DESTINY   
1) Sunday, May 19th RAIN DATE Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Fest; Germantown Ave & Bethlehem Pike: Philadelphia, PA; 11:30-1:45;  Chestnut Hill Home + Garden Festival - Chestnut Hill       
The unofficial return of spring has been pushed back as there was a 70% chance of rain Sunday. So the rain date of Sunday, May 19th will be the return of The Chestnut Hill Home and Garden fest. We have played this gig for a long time and love it. Lots of craft vendors, great food, families galore, and of course, music. Come celebrate spring with the Dukes in the great Chestnut Hill area.      

2) Friday, June 14; Steel City Coffeehouse and Brewery;203 Bridge St; Phoenixville, PA 424- 924-8425; $20/adv; $22 day of show; THE DUKES OF DESTINY LIVE 6/14 | STEEL CITY COFFEEHOUSE & BREWERY  

  We are excited about returning to one of our favorite spots in one of our favorite towns. We have not played here since before the pandemic, and we are looking forward to our return. Phoenixville has a great restaurant and food scene, and Steel City is a great listening room that is now also a brewery with craft brews and great food and snacks. Great sound system; comfortable seats with great stage views, wonderful waitstaff and vibe: we love this place. If you have seen us in Phoenixville before, come on out and welcome us back, and if you haven’t, you are in for a treat.   

3) Friday, June 28; World CafĂ© Live with Johnny Never and John Colgan-Davis as Opening Act; 8:30 PM; 3025 Walnut St; Phila. PA; 20 adv. $25 door; 215-222-1400;    

  We did this double bill last year at WCL, and it was such a wonderful show with such a great turnout that we are doing it again. This is one of our favorite clubs in the area. This place has a great sound system, room to dance, great food and beverages, and a great staff. Johnny Never and John Colgan-Davis, contestants in this year's International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN, open the show with a set of acoustic Delta and Piedmont blues. Then the Dukes do a set of electric blues, including some new arrangements and originals. It will be a night of incredible blues at a fantastic club with great seating, great sound, and wonderful food. Come on out and enjoy. Early reservations are strongly suggested.          

(If you know of a place, club, event, or private party that could use a little Dukes’ energy, let them know about us and us about them. Thanks (www.dukesofdestiny.com)  


ribe” in the Subject Line)

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Joyous Sounds of N'awlins

 

DUKES FANS:     

Another Amazing Burst of Sound, Food, and Culture 

      Back in October of 2022, I wrote a missive about the history of MUZAK. I noted how it served at first to ease people’s nerves and help them adjust to this new thing called the elevator, then to help workers be more productive and positive at work, and then too try to make us less bored and upset in stores, train stations and airports. These days the sound effect is probably not MUZAK; it is often streaming internet channels such as Sirius FM. And the choice in these venues is often soft jazz or soft cover versions of rock hits by bands such as The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan.  

      Last week I was in an airport going to the baggage area, and the comforting sounds were “Further On Down The Road You Will Accompany Me by Taj Mahal, “Further On Up the Road” by Bobby "Blue" Bland, and "River’s Invitation” by Percy Mayfield. And these were the real recordings! This soundtrack could only be happening in one place: I was back down in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

      Last week was the first weekend of JazzFest, and I was down in N’awlins, soaking up the music, the food, the architecture and cultures and having a great time. This was my third time at the Fest, and while I am a year older and it is harder moving throughout the whole festival site, I had a ball. I heard some folks I love that I had not seen in a while: Joe Louis Walker, Rosie Ledet, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Iguanas, and Tuba Skinny. I also got introduced to some folks I had not heard of before; singer/guitarist Mr Sipp, Luther Kent, Marc Stone, and the absolute amazing Midnite Disturbers -- a 12-16 piece horn “jam" band featuring some of the city’s best musicians. Talk about musical overload! 

      As usual, there were also great cultural things -- this truly is a jazz AND HERITAGE festival. There were dances, storytelling, crafts, and music from different Louisiana Native American nations. There were demonstrations of crafts such as woodworking and blacksmithing. There were workshops and demonstrations of cultural sewing design and cooking from African-American, Haitian, French, and Caribbean cultures. One of the great things for me about this aspect of the festival is the large number of children involved in the crafts and music. Louisiana is a place where each of the cultures that live in the state continue to effortlessly pass on their traditions and innovations down to the next generation. JazzFest is one place where the children get to shine, and they had key roles in the presentations. And the student brass bands were spectacular.

      This was my third time at the fest, and I plan to go for at least one of the two weekends for as long as I can. Like last year and this year, I will go a day or two before and stay a day or two after to see more of that wonderful town. This year I had a walking tour of the Treme district, saw the Jazz Museum, spent time again looking at the architecture in the French Quarter and beyond, and had some great seafood. All in all, it was a wonderful time, full of constant, joyous times, and wonderful music. 

      This weekend is the last weekend of the Fest, and it features a lot of diverse people, from The Rolling Stones to Bonnie Raitt to Trombone Shorty. I invite each of you to go to the Festival website, look at the schedule for a given day, and then go to the website or YouTube channel of whichever musicians strike your fancy You will, of course, see many you recognize and have heard. But it may also be good to go and explore the websites or You Tube recordings of some folks with whom you are unfamiliar. There are a lot of wonderful things going on at this fest just waiting to be discovered. Dip your toes in. Enjoy!