Category: jazz music

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 2

In my last post I presented you with the first half of a journey of musical self-discovery I’d recently begun. Now, I give you ….. the rest of it.

DAY 6: Dookie by Green Day – I once heard this album referred to as a “misfit’s manifesto” which couldn’t be more accurate. I was not a popular kid. I did not fit in. These songs spoke directly to me. Not in a literal way. I was not a stoner, wasn’t close to mental breakdown, nor was I as angry and destructive as some of the people in these songs. But subconsciously, the lyrics probably helped me work through some things I dealt with. I’ll never forget how my mom humored me when I remarked that these guys could be the “new Beatles.” I guess it was just a premonition of how important Green Day would become for me, but If you know me well you’ll find that comment pretty hilarious. This isn’t complex music, but it changed me. Green Day was the first band I ever got into who’s music I would go on to buy all of. My wife asked me recently what it was about them that captivated me. I said it was Billie Joe Armstrong’s presence as a front man. It was a confidence – an arrogance even – that I could hear in these songs, later confirmed when I saw him on stage. It was a poise that I could never have, but I felt like in some way I started to develop because of Dookie.

DAY 7: Chronicle by Creedence Clearwater Revival – I strongly feel every American household should contain a copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle Vol. 1. I don’t know that there is any other American band that can boast a better Best Of… album than this. When my parents got me my own computer, it had a CD player, and I inherited four hand-me-down CDs. Greatest Hits compilations from the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band, CCR Chronicle Volume 1, and the Beatles “Blue Album”. Wait, what? Yeah…though I devoured all four, at the time I was more into this than the Beatles. That came later. But CCR first opened me up to music that wasn’t new, a whole new world which led me to explore all varieties of classic rock. I think I have some kind of mystical connection with John Fogerty for two reasons. First, though he was a California boy, his music is sprinkled with references to the Louisiana bayou, and New Orleans. My affinity for that place is equally inexplicable. And second, long ago I noticed that when I hear certain CCR songs, the Dailey side of my family would pop into my head. So either this music was playing prominently during a family gathering long ago and it latched onto my subconscious mind, or this music is just a part of my DNA. Could be either one.

DAY 8 – Anthology 2 by The Beatles – I am not going to try to name one Beatles studio album that influenced me more than the others. Anyway they never would have influenced me were it not for Anthology, particularly the second installment. The three Anthology albums are basically an outtakes dump on a grand scale. While they presented the Beatles in their unpolished form, they were still pretty good. Anthology 2 covers 1965-67 into 1968 a bit. Those 3+ years encompass five Beatles albums if you count the Magical Mystery Tour double EP. Anthology 2 was so stunning to me because it showed how productive and progressive the band was over a relatively short time. Though it excited me like no other music had before, I remember it being a bit unsettling to find that “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “A Day in the Life” came just one and two years after “Ticket To Ride.”

I’ve always been a historian, and I like things to be linear. Anthology 2 is the sound of a band that is going someplace. They know where they are going and what they are doing. Now you see bands “trying something new” for their latest album. They may even do that on every release. But the Beatles from this period were different. Every album significantly built upon what they’d done on the last one. They changed how rock and roll sounds and is made, forever. Anthology 2 changed ME forever. I went on to buy every studio album the Beatles ever made, and very close to every studio album Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison ever made, along with a few from Ringo. How’s that for influence?

DAY 9 – Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” was the first of dozens of former-Beatle solo albums I’d eventually own. This was a huge transition for me in that up until then every pop star I’d followed had either been a teenager or in their 20’s. While classic rock opened me up to the experiences of artists of (roughly) my age group but in a different time period, this album opened me up to the thoughts and style of a much older musician, Paul being in his mid-50s on this record. I was just becoming an adult when this came out so it helped me mature in my musical taste. I found his lyrics insightful and very moving really. “Calico Skies” and “Little Willow” are two beautiful, gentle acoustic ballads that everyone should hear. And he could rock! I mean, nothing on this album is going to melt your face off, but he could still jam. Still can now. And to this day, I almost always refer to a deep conversation as a discussion of “the vast intricacies of life” because of a line from “The Songs We Were Singing.”

DAY 10: “Who’s on First?: Radio Reruns” by Abbott & Costello – Until now my list has been albums that affected me chronologically as I grew. This one screws with my timeline in that (1) it was recorded in the 1940’s (2) I first heard it when I was about ten years old, and (3) its effect on me did not fully germinate until about four years ago. Let me explain. Yes, I was a huge baseball fan, and that is why I got this tape as a Christmas gift. I listened to the “Who’s On First?” bit over and over again, but I liked the rest of the skits, as old-timey as they were. I would let the entire cassette play because I couldn’t skip tracks. This included the two musical numbers on the album. One of them was a ballad called “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” sung by actress Marilyn Maxwell. Fast forward to about 2016-17, and the melody and the evocative lyrics of “moonlight on the bayou”, “Creole tunes” and “magnolias in June” still came back to me sometimes. I was sitting at work one day, tired of the Pandora station I had going, and that tune popped into my head. I decided to start a new station based on Louis Armstrong’s original version of the song. Because of how Pandora works, I was soon flooded with a variety of New Orleans jazz musicians, contemporary and classic, eventually extending to some great funk, rhythm & blues, Mardi Gras Indian songs, and even zydeco. To me, all of these are branches of one genre called “New Orleans music.” Nothing has had even close to this effect on me since I discovered the Beatles over 20 years ago. I rarely listen to anything else now. Because I first discovered it through streaming individual tracks, I can’t pick one album. No matter. My “Who’s On First?” tape is the true source of the discovery. With that, I’m going to go make some red beans n rice now.

A Whole Batch o’ Satchmo: My Top 10 Favorite Louis Armstrong Songs.

This is a random post to demonstrate the kind of content Dailey Freelance might generate for you and your business. I mean if you’re a dog groomer, let’s say, then of course the subject matter would reasonably reflect that. And I look forward to writing about your dog groomer business.

But for the purposes of this post, I felt like writing about my favorite “Satchmo” songs.

I toyed with the idea of making #10 on this list a whole list of songs itself, just to demonstrate that when it comes to Louis, you can’t narrow it down to ten. But we’re going to stick to ten. And now you’ll never know what my also-ran songs were. You’ll be okay. So here we go.

10. Cornet Chop Suey – This is one of the early Louis Armstrong songs that were so mind-blowing when they came out for being almost impossible to put down in musical notation. It’s been done, but Louis put that whole undertaking to the test with this and various other songs (maybe those songs are the also-rans. Who knows?) There simply are not symbols to indicate what he’s doing on some of these songs.

9. Storyville Blues – The red-light district of New Orleans known as Storyville doesn’t exist anymore. In many ways its spirit still hangs in the air, lives on in the people of the city. This version by Armstrong has such a foggy, dreamlike quality to it, that listening to it today, it really does feel like a portal into another place and time. Building on that theme, unlike the other entries on this list, search as I may, I have no idea when it was recorded.

8. S.O.L. Blues – This is a gritty little ditty about bad luck. And yes, the S.O.L. stands for exactly what you think it stands for. There is no profanity in the song, but because of the title, along with the “out of luck” theme of the lyrics, Armstrong was made to re-record this later with a new title (Gully Low Blues) and different lyrics.

7. You Rascal, You – An ode to jealous rage, this song’s lyrics would probably not fly too well today. Lyrics aside, I’ve always heard this as a very early rock n’ roll song. That’s probably why the song has held up so well and there have been so many covers.

6. Ain’t Misbehavin’ – This one was made famous by Fats Waller. I myself became familiar with it through Leon Redbone, an artist who is not from New Orleans, but he should be. Anyway this one is a nice counterpart to the last one in that it is an ode to absolutely loyalty.

5. Riverside Blues – Much like Sidney Bechet’s “All of Me” it begins with a quite long tinkling piano intro, but like the Bechet tune, when Satch starts blowing his horn, he rips this song a new one.

4. A Kiss to Build A Dream On – This song has one of the most powerful solos he ever recorded. I always loved the way it seems to begin a beat or so before you expect it to. It’s almost like, per the lyrics, he’s saying what he has to say before his chance to do so expires.

3. On The Sunny Side Of The Street – Louis Armstrong is one of the only singers who could make such a gruff voice sound so warm, and this song is a prime example of him doing just that. He really does make you feel like you could “leave your worries.” In short, it’s one of those “everything’s gonna work out all right” songs.

2. When The Saints Go Marching In – Before Louis Armstrong recorded it in 1938, this was just a traditional, devotional song. He was the first to record it in a secular, popular music context. Eight decades later, it is practically synonymous with New Orleans. Now there are dozens of songs that are practically synonymous with New Orleans, but this was the first.

1. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? – I heard this song for the first time when I was about ten years old on a cassette tape of an Abbott and Costello radio broadcast. It was sung by Marilyn Maxwell. I didn’t learn till years later that Louis was the original artist. Maxwell and others sing “the moonlight on the bayou” in the song where Armstrong sang “Oh the Mardi Gras, the memories.” While the line Armstrong used immediately evokes images of the heart of New Orleans, to me “moonlight on the bayou” calls to mind more of a rural Louisiana feel.

The more I listened to this song over the years, though I’d never been there, eventually the song planted in my mind what I’d characterize as “reverse nostalgia” for the place. I did “miss” it, somehow. Now that I’ve been there, the sentiment has been confirmed.

The Origins of Things.

I am not just a writer. I am also an historian. Of many things. I have always found myself becoming very curious about the origins of things. What the thing was before it was what it is now, and how it got from there to here. These are the kinds of things I really enjoy doing as a professional blogger . In doing so, I can talk about an interesting aspect of the industry a client is in, and tie it in directly with what their company does!

Here are a few examples:

Let’s say my client is a rock band:

Rock and roll – You might think of Elvis, or maybe Chuck Berry, or “Rock Around the Clock” when they think of the roots of rock and roll music. But it’s a bit of an internet parlor game to find examples of rhythm and blues, swing, or “jump blues” songs from the 1940s or even the 1930s that meets the criteria for being rock and roll. Personally, the earliest examples I’ve found convincing are from the mid-forties. Anyway there are too many candidates for the distinction to mention here. Google “proto-rock” if you want to hear some of them.

How about a record store?:

Jazz music – Most jazz aficionados can probably tell you that jazz began with Charles “Buddy” Bolden’s band from about 1895-1907. But there were various brass bands in New Orleans (the Eureka, the Olympia, etc.) from the late 1870s and certainly in the 1880s. This was not “jazz” but you take what they were doing, you mix it up with some blues and you’ve got a reasonable facsimile of what the brass bands of today are doing. There are mentions of brass bands during the Civil War era (Charles Bothe’s Brass Band). The whole brass craze seemed to have kicked off around 1838 when the local newspaper reported a sudden infestation of every street corner with bands. That’s about as far back as I’ve been able to track it.

But enough music. Let’s say I scored my dream blogging job and got to write for a professional baseball team.

Baseball – The beginnings of baseball are an incredibly murky subject. How the game is played evolved over time, for one thing. But there are other issues. Conventional baseball history goes backward like this:

The major leagues as we know them began in 1901 when the American League joined the National League. The NL had formed in 1876.

The National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs operated from 1871-1875 and is widely recognized today as the first “major league.”

The first all-professional team was the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings (not the same organization as the modern day Cincinnati Reds, nor the Boston Red Sox).

The first players to be paid probably did so in the early 1860s.

The first league, though amateur, was the National Association of Base Ball Players in 1857.

The first set of rules is said to have been written up in 1845 by members of the New York Knickerbocker Club, though there is some controversy about this.

There were clubs forming all over the place in the 1830s who played a game that was a forerunner to what we know as baseball today.

The earliest reference to a ball game being organized ahead of time and reported in a New York newspaper was from the spring of 1823.

In 1792 there was city law in Pittsfield, MA banning kids from playing baseball in town for fear they’d break windows.

A poem from the 1744 “Little Pretty Pocketbook” describes a game that clearly resembles what we know.

That is as far as that one goes, for me. I could go on and on but I won’t.

The D’Sievers Quartet

This one is for the locals again. But if you aren’t from Rochester, and happen to be in town looking for some entertainment, the D’Sievers Quartet is a local jazz band making itself known far and wide.

The bandleader, John Sievers, is an energetic trombonist of eclectic taste, but not so offbeat as to disturb the purists. But he will cover everyone from Thelonious Monk, to Tito Puente to the Beatles, and even the occasional Disney classic for good measure during any given set. He’s a witty, engaging front man who will throw in a dose of self-penned tunes along with those you already know.

Other than Sievers, the band is sort of fluid. In fact tonight’s lineup was playing together as a quartet for the first time. Astounding, as each member was visibly invested in what they were doing. There is nothing better than when nobody in a band stands out because they all stand out.

And they all did.

In jazz, each member of the band will take a solo, so you get to applaud in the middle of a song. These guys give you plenty of reason to do so.

The drummer, Nick Novotny (who also plays with Sievers in another local band, Loudmouth Brass) held down a beat with a business-like authority, yet he was having a blast behind the kit every second of the show. Speaking of the Beatles, throughout the set, he often flashed a devilish grin very reminiscent of Ringo Starr. He’s heavy-handed (except on the ballads – the man knows what he’s doing!) but it is a style that provides a solid foundation for the band.

On bass, Charlie Burket would fly totally under the radar, keeping things flowing nicely, but then out of nowhere, would rise to the surface and make the entire situation nothing but funk. Then as quickly as it came on, he’d retreat again beneath the waves, from which keyboardist Eric Straubmuller emerged.

Straubmuller played with an effortless elegance. He’d take a solid but straightforward solo and pull you into the music so much that before you realized it’s happening, he’d brought the whole thing to a rolling boil. His swift playing brought to mind Yoshitaka Tsuji, the great New Orleans keyboard player with Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers.

So again, if you are in town, look them up to see what venue you can find them at.