Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Episode 97: "Where Did You Sleep Last Night"

Ladies and Gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, the king of the 12-string guitar, the legendary Leadbelly. This is one of my favorite Leadbelly tunes, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" recorded in 1944. There really ain't a whole lot to say about this one. I just wanted to share a few episodes of the blues with y'all. Just to show how influential Leadbelly was, if you like this song Nirvana actually did a version of this song in their MTV Unplugged concert (check it out on YouTube). Peace.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Episode 96: "The March of Time" Newsreel

Now here's an interesting clip. This newsreel footage is of a legendary music man, Huddie Leadbetter A.K.A. Leadbelly who they say actually sang his way out of prison...not once...but twice!! First in Texas, where he wrote a song that appealed to the governor and got him released from a life sentence. Then in Louisiana, which is where this episode picks up. This newsreel dramatizes what happened to change Leadbelly's life after he met reporter and historian John Lomax (who you can also hear conducting an interview with Uncle Bob Ledbetter in episode 34) and recorded a number of songs for him during his second prison stint, this time in an Angola, Louisiana prison. It was there, that he was "discovered" by Lomax, who was enchanted by his talent, passion and singularity as a performer, and recorded hundreds of his songs on portable recording equipment for the Library of Congress. The following year Leadbelly was once again pardoned, this time after a petition for his early release was taken to Louisiana Governor O.K. Allen by Lomax. The petition was on the other side of a recording of one of Leadbelly's most popular songs, "Goodnight Irene".

But to me...the dialog of this newsreel is what is really interesting about this clip. Filmed in 1935, this was part of an important American journalistic preservation project. Both the film itself, and the musician that it documents. Enjoy it. Peace.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Episode 95: "Viola Lee Blues"

Alright, enough with the political stuff. I've been feeling a little blue lately, (being unemployed is wack) so I thought I'd share some old timey blues with y'all. I love this song, (and I'm trying to learn how to play it on the harmonica, but I got the wrong kind of harmonica) "Viola Lee Blues" by Cannon's Jug Stompers. In 1928, Gus Cannon called up Ashley Thompson and Noah Lewis (in order L to R in the photo above) and they recorded in an old Memphis auditorium as "Cannon's Jug Stompers". Two takes of "Viola Lee Blues" were recorded during a September 20th session with Noah Lewis on Vocals. See if you can understand the lyrics.

And if not, here they are:

Viola Lee Blues (Take 1) by Noah Lewis

The judge he pleaded, clerk he wrote it
Clerk he wrote it down indeedy
The judge he pleaded, the clerk he wrote it down
If you miss jail fellas, you must be Nashville bound

Some got six months, some got one solid
Some got one solid year, indeed Lord
Some got six months, some got one solid year
But me and my buddy both got lifetime here

Fix my supper mama, let me go to her
Let me go to bed, indeed Lord
Fix my supper, let me go to bed
I've been drinkin' white lightnin'
It's gone to my head

I hope y'all dig it too. Peace.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Episode 94: Barbara Jordan

And now, the BMA brings to you one more piece of political oratory. Ladies and Gentlemen, the first woman and the first African-American to give the keynote address at the Democratic national convention, I present to you, from the great state of Texas...Barbara Jordan.


Already deep into this election year, it is good to hear political speeches from the past, and measure for yourself how much and how little have changed.

P.S. I'm still getting the hang of this blogging stuff, hang in there with me. Look, I added a photograph this time. But I see I can definitely jazz this page up a bit. I'm on it. Peace.

Friday, January 18, 2008

MLK Day 2008 video

As an artist, mug shots are always interesting portraits. They are pictures taken at important, dramatic moments in people's lives. Some of them that I see in the newspaper or on TV really make me think about what was that person thinking at that moment. This video is a minute of me trying to interpret that idea. Martin Luther King Jr. is the subject. Peace.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Episode 93: Shirley Chisholm

As election season rolls on and's another political talk, this time a short clip of Shirley Chisholm. If you don't know who she is, look her up.

Thank you sweetspirit4 for your kind and encouraging comment on iTunes. I'm up to 7 now everybody! Keep 'em coming. Peace.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Episode 92: Malcolm X

With the Presidential elections in full swing, I thought I'd share a few political speeches. First up, brother Malcolm. I've had trouble finding out the place and/or time that this speech was given (if anybody out there has any all means pass it on), but I'm guessing around the 1964 election season. But by any means, this is an intriguing speech. Listen and enjoy. Peace.

P.S. Thank you thirdeyehigh for your iTunes comment. That brings my grand total up to ...six!!! I appreciate any feedback that I get, so please continue to leave comments, feedback, suggestions, criticisms, etc. The BMA knows that there are all kinds of media choices out there, and I truly appreciates your attention. And if I can improve the podcast in any way, holla at me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Episode 91: "Hallelujah!" (part 3)

And now...for the exciting conclusion. I love the church revival scene in this part. It's kinda creepy, and it beautifully shows Zeke's fall back into temptation. Not bad for 1929, King Vidor was a skilled director. Ol' Zeke just couldn't stay away from Chick, even though she got him into trouble every time.

Part three moves into Zeke's life with Chick after he leaves his congregation for her (another bad decision). And finally, a chase scene, a confrontation, and a conclusion (although a pretty predictable one). In true old school fashion, there's no glorification of violence or sin here. Just a nice musical and morality tale (think the prodigal son). But overall, I'd have to say that "Hallelejah!" is another old school classic. And a real first of its kind. Hope y'all dig it too. Peace.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Episode 91: "Hallelujah!" (part 2)

The saga continues....and Zeke deals with tragedy. Pretty good so far, huh? Well, part two introduces the religious phase of the story. Zeke feels himself 'hanging on the edge of hell' because of his brother and his dealings with Chick, and with the help of his father Pappy, he turns his life over to the Lord. This movie is a lot like watching a play, and the acting isn't bad. Both Chick and Zeke are some pretty complex characters, as they both find themselves falling in and out of sin (and with each other). It's interesting to see the old school revival's kinda like a traveling outdoor megachurch service. Enjoy, and get ready for the exciting conclusion. Peace.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Episode 91: "Hallelujah!" (part 1)

Another old school cinema classic! Actually, this movie is one of the oldest (1929) I've shown. You can look up for yourself all of the detailed facts and information about how this movie was produced (look up King Vidor too). But in 1929, motion pictures with sound was something brand new...not to mention movies about or starring rural black people. You can tell the difference in production quality with this movie if you compare it to some of the other black movies made even in the late 1930s by Oscar Micheaux and Spencer Williams. But overall this is just a lovable movie. The family pick and sing about their cotton together. The little boys are a dancing trio. And even the little hot thing Chick is fun to watch. So enjoy this movie, and stay tuned because the drama deepens in part two. This first part is more development of Zeke's character. Peace.

(Note: are the little boy's names Sears, Roebuck and Co?)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Episode 90: Zora Neale Hurston

I love these recordings...these are dope. I don't think I'd risk my money playing "Georgia Skin". But "Dat Old Black Gal" and "Uncle Bud" are classic. I had "Uncle Bud " stuck in my head for a long time after I heard it. So thanks Ms. Hurston, for collecting all of these songs, and Happy Birthday (Jan. 7th)! I hope y'all enjoy these as well. Peace.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Just a few announcements...first, to all my political people out there thinking, "man, I'm not really feeling any of these presidential candidates we got running," well, here's one more to consider:

(courtesy of AAO, thanks for the email)

Also, if you haven't already...check out the movie "The Great Debaters" when you get a chance. I got to see it over the holidays, and I give it two thumbs up! It's set in Texas (my home), has a positive message for the youth (always needed), and the little chunky kid in it plays a young James Farmer, Jr. who you can see and hear for yourself in real life in episode 75 debating with Malcolm X, Alan Morrison, and Wyatt Tee Walker. All that debating he did really paid off. Peace.

Episode 89: James Weldon Johnson

Happy New Year everybody!! 2008 is here...and the BMA is still going strong. I hope that this year turns out to be better than the last, for you and myself included.

I thought that I'd start the year off with some inspirational words. So here's author and poet James Weldon Johnson reading from his work "God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse". "God's Trombones" was inspired by Mr. Johnson's frequent travels throughout the country as an NAACP speaker (1916-1931), and in these rare recordings, his only commercial recordings, Johnson reads the first four poems of his collection: the opening prayer and the first three sermons. The recordings were originally issued posthumously - first listed in the Gramophone Shop (New York) Record Supplement for August 1938, less than two months after Mr. Johnson's death in an automobile accident.

Back in episode 73, the movie "Go Down, Death" was based on the fourth part of this recording. Just a side note for ya. Peace.