Volume 2-2013



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MINE YOURS & OURS: That Christmas shot above is a far cry from what is presently happening in the streets of Cairo, Greece, and even Sweden. Here is a plea for a global reset narrated against the awful news that has become the soundtrack of our lives. PLEASE PLAY LOUD ENOUGH TO WAKE THE NEIGHBORS.

NO MATTER WHAT SHE SAID: We have this cat, a Snowshoe Siamese, who my wife named "Magnolia Thunder Pussy" after a '60s San Francisco radio spot, and who came to us as a replacement for our dear deceased cat "Gary Gilmore", also named by my wife. (One can imagine the psychological damage or purr enlightenment the children have endured.) Anyway, "Maggie" was a rescue cat, plucked from the Stanford University campus by a student who found her injured, starving, alone; a refugee from God knows what. Maggie grew to the size of a house living in the student's apartment, but upon graduating Maggie's student-savior had to give her up to move wherever Stanford graduates move to, so she put Maggie on Craigslist and my wife brought this fat cat home. She slimmed down, given some room to roam, and is now a much different cat from that which she was when she came to us - accept for her monotonic meow. I have no idea what this cat is saying. It may be "hello"; it may be "there is a tarantula on your head", I don't know, it all sounds the same. I assume her issues in this song. PLEASE PLAY LOUD SO I CAN CLAIM THIS ON MY RESUME AS A BROADCAST PRODUCTION.



(Click here)

New Releases on RARadio: "Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; "Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; "1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; "We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; "Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY; "I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  "Carriers of Light" by Brendan James; "The Last Time" by Model Stranger; "Last Call" by Jay; "Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" from Actress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; "Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio; Apteka "Striking Violet"; Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along"; Dana deChaby's progressive rock



Memphis Rock'N Soul Hall of Fame - A plea for good intentions

Tim Ryan - Tool Cool for Just One Band

Amy Lavere - Memphis Upright

8 Days to Amsterdam - Memphis Power Pop

Reba Russell - Memphis Queen Rips up "When Love Came to Town"

Matt Nathansan on the SF Links










Learning from Jimmy Iovine

Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine was featured in a recent piece in Rolling Stone, and it was one of those rare celebrity interviews that actually yield insight and useful information for people interested in music production and engineering. READ MORE...



"The Musical Meccas of the World"









Original Musical Compositions and Select Covers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Special Projects




Doug Strobel is a musician who had the good fortune of growing up in the culturally rich San Francisco Bay Area, which over the past 50-plus years has been one of the most sophisticated music meccas in the United States. Roots music, the blues, classic rock and jazz have all been important parts of the Bay Area scene, and the many name players who have come out of this part of Northern California, and those who continue to live here, attest to the power of the music's influence.

With this series, Doug Strobel shares his own musician's odyssey from first recognition of the magical nature of the sounds he heard in his youth through a growing understanding of its complexities. It is a story of how music informs one life, and how one musician absorbed its lessons to develop skills as an arranger, thereby harnessing the voices that guided him on his musical way.

In This Series:

Dylan Goes Electric

Robert Johnson and the Mariachi

You Can't Get There From Here

"Read Don't Play '64"









"Read Don’t Play '64"


RAR NOTE:  I couldn't resist the headline riff above on a song title - "Walk Don't Run '64" - that captures the context of the Doug Strobel piece below. Doug's recollections are of a time capsule nature, harking back to a time when "we" Baby Boomer types were just becoming inspired to "play", in the musical sense. There were just a handful of record companies and teenagers bought "singles" and learned about their recording heroes by devouring, in the intellectual sense of course, the pages of music magazines - Cashbox, Billboard and later Crawdaddy!, Creem, and Rolling Stone in the U.S., and Melody Maker, New Musical Express (NME) or Mersey Beat in the U.K.  People were carefully reading the liner notes on albums, and a whole lot more of us were pouring through the Tiger Beat (premiered in 1965) and The Beatles special magazines that seemed to hit the stores weekly. On the other hand, some of the more precocious among us actually went to the library to get a little more in depth information about music beyond the jangle of the pop-rock on your parent's AM car radio. Here Mr. Strobel shares his experience with learning music starting with the letter "A".

Text Box: HERITAGE: Doug Strobel's '70s-era band Footloose, photographed in Vallejo, California's "Heritage District"

By Douglas Strobel


PART I: Libraries, Letters and Liner Notes

 Before I could play music I could read.

And I did.

I found I enjoyed reading about music. So I did it.

I was hungry for information, insight into the inhabitants of a seemingly alien world; much of it originally focused around what was called the “British Invasion” (early to middle ‘60’s)

Album covers were generally a “tease” as the sensibility was more often “anti information” (Eric’s favorite colour is blue…).

Album art design got “hipper” and the “buy this record, you’ll love it” blurbs were dispensed with. In fact album art became a “scorched earth” kind of hip: nothing left but a picture & song titles.

 I was “forced” to read composer & production credits.

Can you spell serendipity?

Bob Dylan soon filled the breach by going “one better” in artiness by filling his album sleeves (even an additional printed inner sheet) w/prose.

These tongue in cheek ramblings (?) were “interesting” (as in the Chinese curse) but secondary to the offerings etched in vinyl. Still I thank him for a number of allusions to “important artists” “Ma Rainey & Beethoven once unwrapped a bedroll…”

There were “clues” everywhere if only one could follow the threads of this “beat” scavenger hunt. In the days before the information super highway printed matter (often in book form) was the way to pursue these bread crumbs. I am grateful to folklorists, biographers, music critics, et al for their care & attention to detail.

Local radio (A.M.!) published newsletter type “fanzines” to keep us up to date w/the antics of the “on air” personalities…(This is pre Rolling Stone magazine)

While reading the KYA or KFRC fanzine I got a couple of solid pieces of information. These nuggets spurred me to “acts of intention” that were life changing!

I read that the Rolling Stones named themselves after a Muddy Waters song & in the same article I read the name Leadbelly!!

I was drawn to these initially by the very “otherness” of the names of these performers. These artists had not placed songs on the Top 40 in N Ca so I had not heard them directly.

In a matter of a few days I returned from the local library w/The Best of Muddy Waters (no overstatement this) on Chess & a Leadbelly record. (Folkways)

During this period I also had read the names & the pedigree of The Hot 5’s (Louis Armstrong & Co) & JellyRoll Morton. No one in my acquaintance had a cool name like jellyroll & while I didn’t know what it meant I thought I could recognize cool…. I got the Hot Five disc with weirdly “posed” cover & New Orleans Memories (Jelly Roll Morton) from the library over the next few weeks/months. 

There was no turning back after hearing this music. I have never recovered. I didn’t always “get it” right away but it “got” me.

I was hanging out w/some older guys & was also being given some very direct input re: what was “good” music. I was offered a lifetime of names of performers, song titles by people who could play & who spoke w/certainty about what was what & who was “hip” & therefore worth listening to.

Samuel Charters had a pioneering book published in 1959:  The Country Blues. This guy had his fingers in a lot of cool musical stuff & along w/his wife Ann they discovered, documented, promoted, produced, recorded & photographed artists as diverse as The Jim Kweskin Jug Band & Joseph Spence (hint: those are your “clues”) There were few outlets & a fierce but small audience for a publication such as this so my hat goes off to DaCapo Paperbacks for publishing this seminal work & seeing fit to keep it in print.

The Country Blues offered an overview of the music via bios of 12+ key players in this genre. Many of these artists remained unknown to me, aurally, for some years as recordings were pricey & scarce in my immediate environment. The local libraries wealth of resources took some time to understand & appreciate. My friends, The Albright’s had some discs but they also could play so I was torn between listening & watching.

The music called “country blues” were primarily solo, acoustic performances by male performers from the early to late ‘20’s. The sobriquet “country blues” was developed to distinguish the music from the very popular “classic blues” of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, et al. Charters wrote with affection, sincerity, & the passion of a true believer. He made the music seem important & vital. The performances discussed took on the air of “holy grail” & gave the music a kind of “stamp” of authenticity. There was art work from “sell sheets” & advertisements by the record companies included in the book. The artwork was fascinating & very politically un correct by today’s standards but intriguing nonetheless.

I also read a couple of rock & roll “trivia” books that offered a surprising amount of factual “glue” or “cultural velcro” & opened up other areas of interest….songwriters, studio musicians, producers, arrangers, recording studios, specific session anecdotes that are amusing & enlightening.

Biographies, by definition, tell the story of a life. LIFE is not simple or as straightforward as one might hope & reading some biographical offerings was frustrating as the author had his/her own axe to grind & neglected what I wanted to know about in their book.

I have read hundreds of books about every aspect of music: field recording, autobiographies, critical works on songwriters, singers. Biographies on record producers & record companies. The history of WLS radio, Nashville’s Music Row &  The Louisiana Hayride, The Grand Ole’Opry, recording studios & my most recent “Louisiana Music” by Rick Koster. (DaCapo Press)

Louisiana has a rich and diverse musical culture & Mr Koster has done justice to it…a quibble here & there hardly worth mentioning & nothing that will hurt the story or distort the message.

Early Jazz, Blues, Rock & Roll , Rhythm & Blues, Cajun, Zydeco even Hip Hop & Classical musicians who hail from Louisiana are given (sometimes brief) bio’s, discographies & personal input from a fan who is knowledgeable & passionate in equal parts.



PART II: Louisiana

The State of Louisiana is Home to more styles/genres of music than most of the lower 48 put together.

Early Jazz, Brass Band/Funeral Parade Bands: including the current reinvigorated tradition, Cajun, Zydeco, Country, seminal Rock & Roll & R&B from a couple of recording studios, Swamp Pop, Funk, Mardi Gras Indians.

The Piano Tradition alone is staggering: JellyRoll Morton, Professor Longhair, Dr John, Henry Butler, Allen Toussaint, James Booker
New Orleans’ own Louis Armstrong influenced every musician & singer of the 20th century regardless of their own “style”.

These styles are rife with tradition(s) bound in culture(s) of the people who live there and the traceable traditions of the places they came from.
The geography plays an important role: most of New Orleans is below sea level & caused a burial tradition unique to the area.

New Orleans was a “mustering out” point for Civil War veterans & many band instruments were abandoned as ex-soldiers “beat feet” to get home.

The French, Spanish & Caribbean influences combined with the Catholic Church & the institution of Slavery all contributed to the rich, diverse cultural traditions that are ultimately expressed in the Music.

“Louisiana Music” by Rick Koster is an astonishingly cogent peek into the many styles as well as practitioners of said styles.

This guy knows his stuff & loves the music & wants to share the joy & wonder of “it” with us.

He even references the worlds of Classical & Hip Hop as it pertains to the state. Once again DaCapo Press steps up & supports a writer whose mission is slightly left of main stream.

I have read lots of books, articles, album notes about the various styles Mr. Koster covers. He manages to find new “stuff” to talk about & tells the old reliable stories well. Both the novice & the seasoned reader will be enlightened after enjoying this missive.

I was familiar with much of the music, if not all of the players.

He speaks with insight about the traditions & offers a number of “travelogues” throughout the region.

The technology of c.d.’s spawned a huge re-issue market & over the years I have bought lots of discs. I can generally read about an artist & go to my collection & hear the cut being discussed.

I decided to use Mr. Koster’s performers references in a “new school” way. When he mentioned Amede Ardoin or Joe Falcon (both
early recording artists in the Cajun tradition) I went to my web browser & typed the names into YouTube! Thanks to obsessive cyber oriented fans I got to hear a lot of music I did not have in my collection. The section to the right of the primary video is called “related videos” & by perusing these it is possible to get a fairly good “aural” representation of a style & a pretty complete cast of practitioners.

The cast of characters of Cajun/Zydeco Tradition alone is immense & so far I haven’t been able to “stump” YouTube. I am impressed!

There are several video features on this music that are “snippets” of longer documentaries & contain a lot “in situ” footage showing small Louisiana towns where the traditions are still in place & “prospering” as well as hearing some eccentric performers talk about their life & times in a world that has almost passed us by.

You can reference any of these styles via specific performers & access the music on YouTube.

JellyRoll Morton, Dr John, Kermit Ruffin, Louis Armstrong, Moon Mulican, The Hackberry Ramblers, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair…I am excited that you might be finding this wonderful music for the first time….


Douglas Strobel








©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), May, 2013