The Bottom Line Archive, Harry Chapin Live

One of my regrets even with all the live music shows  I have attended in the tri-state area (425 concerts in 46 years) was never getting to a live show at the Bottom Line. This famous club was located at 15 West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. It was owned by Allan Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky, the Bottom Line opened February 12, 1974 and enjoyed a 30-year run.

The Bottom Line would broadcast live shows in conjunction with top NYC progressive rock radio station, WNEW-FM 102.7. A historic milestone in the club’s history was The Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Bands 10 night “Born To Run” engagement in August, 1975. I recall listening to the raw excitement of those sold out shows on the radio that evening.

Thankfully to Allan Peppers credit and ingenuity I can cancel that regret because we have the Bottom Line Archive.  The treasure trove of live recordings that Alan Pepper is housing is mountainous, over 1,000 live recordings.

Allan Pepper is working with Greg Bendian, formerly of The Mahavishnu Project a jazz-rock fusion cover band that we saw perform at Toad’s Place, Lily Pad room in 2011.

I am very interested in the Harry Chapin recording, HARRY CHAPIN: LIVE AT THE BOTTOM LINE (JANUARY 8-10, 1981) 35th Anniversary Expanded Re-master. The release includes the original set, as released in 1998, PLUS an extra offer a previously unreleased 88-minute show.

I preordered this recording on Amazon which is due to drop on June 30th.

We spent several magic moments in concert and discussion with Harry Chapin in the day. Looking forward to hearing  Harry live in concert once again.

Marking his 2000thperformance (January 8-10, 1981) this release provides a unique snapshot of an artist at the peak of his career – intimate and intense.

I think I will be buying more Bottom Line Archive recordings in the future.

Say No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis

When someone like Bob Dylan says he’s “One of the wizards of modern music,” pay attention. And if you’re a blues aficionado, you need to pay special attention because the Reverend is one of the kings of Piedmont Blues. Ian Zack was very thorough in this well-researched tome, interviewing former students, fans and scrutinizing public records, to put together the bittersweet story of a blind man who grew up the son of poor Southern sharecroppers, then moved to North Carolina where he made his living as a street performer, and finally to New York, where he gained notoriety in the folk boom of the fifties and sixties. Players like Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Stefan Grossman and Ry Cooder consider him a mentor. (There’s even a great story about a shy young guitarist who couldn’t bring himself to play for him. The player? Eric Clapton.) Years after his death, he continues to inspire musicians and fans, even if they don’t realize it. His “Cocaine Blues,” made famous by several including Jackson Browne, is known to many. Still, he’s not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (even though they feature BB King and Buddy Guy) and when Rolling Stone published a list of the top one hundred guitarists, Davis was not included.

This should be required reading for anyone interested in the blues and especially for guitar players. – Courtesy of SingOut Magazine –

Black Light – John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension will be releasing a new album, Black Light this September, 2015.

I have explored ways in music and recorded them with happiness. ‘Black Light’ has opened a portal that is neither Jazz nor Rock, nor Indian nor Blues, and yet all of these: it’s an open door. – John McLaughlin

Black Light includes 8 original John McLaughlin compositions, including a heartfelt homage to his departed colleague, collaborator, and friend Paco De Lucia with whom John McLaughlin had intended to compose an album’s worth of new material just before De Lucia’s untimely passing. McLaughlin has returned to acoustic guitar for a tribute to his friend, entitled “El Hombre Que Sabia” and brings forth from the instrument a depth of sadness and admiration beyond words.

Otherwise electric, Black Light features the 4th Dimension – “my three favorite musicians,” in McLaughlin’s word – in full flight, with their empathy and precision honed on stage and in the studio. The 4th Dimension is composed of the remarkable multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe’s nimble, effervescent electric bass, and the powerhouse drumming of Ranjit Barot.

Following the international release of Black Light, McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension will set out on a world tour, continuing to explore and elaborate upon the album’s genre-defying material.

Every Other Summer – Wilco

Every Other Summer is a documentary about the Solid Sound Festival, Wilco’s three day music and arts gathering that takes place once every two years at MASS MoCA.

I’d love to attend someday. But for now I will soon have this documentary on June 18th.


Los Lobos, Dream in Blue By Chris Morris

Thankfully we have university publishing houses who support and publish important, relevant books about music. One such university publisher is the University of Texas Press. They have an American Music Series which features a half-dozen titles to date.

The book in that series I want to bring to your attention is Los Lobos, Dream In Blue by Chris Morris. This is the first major book dedicated to the eclectic spirit of Los Lobos. A useful cultural history that is sure to please fans and musicologists alike.

Music journalist Chris Morris draws on new interviews with Los Lobos members and their principal collaborators, as well as his own reporting since the early 1980s, to recount the evolution of Los Lobos’s music. He describes the creation of every album, lingering over highlights such as How Will the Wolf Survive?, La Pistola y El Corazon, and Kiko, while following the band’s trajectory from playing Mexican folk music at weddings and dances in East L.A. to international stardom and major-label success, as well as their independent work in the new millennium.

From the East Los Angeles barrio to international stardom, Los Lobos traces the musical evolution of a platinum-selling, Grammy Award–winning band that has ranged through virtually the entire breadth of American vernacular music, from traditional Mexican folk songs to roots rock and punk.

This book is not published yet. It is due to be released in September 2015. Pre-orders can be placed at UT Press at a 33% discount .

The first book review is available on Kirkus. I am stoked and looking forward to getting my copy and learning all I can about the rich history of Los Lobos.

Thank you Chris Morris for authoring this invaluable music book about Los Lobos. The story that must be experienced.

Richard Thompson – Still

Renowned guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson is set to release Still, an album of new music, produced by Jeff Tweedy on June 23rd via Concord Records in the US and June 29th via Proper Records internationally. Still will be available in several configurations including a twelve-track CD, a twelve-track double 180-gram vinyl album and a deluxe CD package that includes the five song Variations EP, from a previously unreleased session.

“Richard’s been one of my favorite guitar players for a very long time,” states Jeff Tweedy. “When I think about it, he’s also one of my favorite songwriters and favorite singers. He’s the Ultimate Triple Threat. Getting to work closely with him on this record was a truly rewarding experience, not to mention a great thrill.  And he keeps alive my streak of working exclusively with artists who make me look good as a producer.”

NPR Music is offering a first listen here. Tom Moon has done a fantastic write up to go with this recording. Give Still a listen, it’s jolly good.


Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard – Django and Jimmie

Sometimes you have to climb above your comfort zone when it comes to collecting music. I purchased the collaboration recording of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, Django and Jimmie. It was an impulse buy I must admit. I’m real glad I bought this Sony Legacy recording. Its undeniable top-notch stuff.

“Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard – Django and Jimmie” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

The recording mix, the session musicians, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s vocals and guitar playing are an absolute delight. The mix of songs unfurled at a rhythmic pace that you’ll settle into so naturally.

There are a couple of special guests who complement Willie and Merle. I especially like “It’s All Going To Pot” sung with Jamey Johnson (who wrote the song with Buddy Cannon and Larry Shell) It was released as the first single on 420day.

Bobby Bare joins Willie and Merle on my album favorite, “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash” written by Merle Haggard. The mutual respect will make the music of your heart smile warmly.

You’re going to treasure this 14 song masterpiece.

Dennis Dunaway – Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!

I am eager to get an autographed copy of Dennis Dunaway‘s forthcoming book, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! 

I’m trying to decide if I attend the official launch at the Strand Book Store in the East Village of New York City on June 9th. This event will feature co-author Chris Hodenfield, live music from Blue Coupe the angry orphans supergroup of Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper), Joe and Albert Bouchard (Blue Oyster Cult) and Manic Panic, Tish and Snooky.

Or attend the July 16th book signing event in Westport, CT at the Barnes & Noble. The pros of the Westport event is it’s much closer, just a car ride of 30 mins without traffic, train and subway fare.. It appears there might be acoustic music that night but probably not the same order of magnitude of the Strand event.