"Woody Guthrie: Live Wire": A Fascinating Document of One of America's Greatest and Most Radical Folk Singers

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2022 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved Once my husband Charles and I had watched last night’s movies – the 2021 Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival DVD and the Lifetime movie A Dangerous Affair – I played him a fascinating CD I just just got from Woody Guthrie Live Wire, dubbed from a 1949 live recording of the great American folk singer made on a wire recorder. Wire recording was a primitive forerunner of tape recording, and the two worked on the same principle – encoding sound on magnetic material through an electromagnet and playing it back by reading the same magnetic impulses – but wire recording was considerably less practical. To make the system work, the wire had to be preposterously thin – about the width of a human hair – and the wire had to move through the recorder at fast speed to get any decent sound quality. What’s more, the wire would easily snap, resulting in a tangled mess (tape recordings sometimes did that, too

2021 Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival Shows the Traditional Jazz Legacy Is In Good Hands

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2022 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved Yesterday afternoon I ran my husband Charles and I the DVD documentary of the 2021 Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival from Davenport, Iowa in honor of the 91st anniversary of Bix’s death. The DVD was produced by the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Society in his native town of Davenport, Iowa. They were hailing this as the 50th anniversary of the festival even though the usual way these things are reckoned would have made this year’s event the 50th anniversary, since the first one was in 1072/ The festival is always held in early August to coincide with the anniversary of Bix’s passing, and the first one in 1972 featured two musicians who had actually recorded with Bix, trombonist Bill Rank and drummer Chauncey Morehouse. I have a private-label LP of that first Bix festival from August 4, 5 and 6, 1972 and it features the Davenport Jazz Band (with Bill Rank, trumpeter Joe “Wingy” Manone – a Bix contemporary – and p

Hometown Woman Chelsea Chen Returns Triumphantly to San Diego Organ Pavilion August 1

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2022 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved Last night my husband Charles and I went to the Monday night concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion featurng Chelsea Chen, a young Asian-American woman who grew up ini La Jolla and made her first name for herself in San Diego County – though she currently lives with her husband in Zürich, Switzerland, and how she ended up there remains an intriguing mystery. As a local girl who made good Chen attracted a larger than usual audience, including a quite attractive tall, dark-haired man who recalled going to high school with her and is now old enough to be having two kids of his own, whose ages looked to be in the early double digits. (He’s also a candidate for one of the local school boards and said he recognized me from Democratic Party politics in San Diego.) Chelsea began the concert with Edwin H. Lemare’s transcription of the Grand March from Verdi’s opera Aïda , which is forever associated in my m

The Haunting Story of The Beach Boys' "Smile" Well Told in 2004 Documentary

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2022 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved Right now I’m listening to one of the conjectural reconstructions I did of the Beach Boys’ legendary lost album Smile , this time following the track list printed in the album covers from 1966 while Capitol awaited the album – which was in vain because Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys’ leader, principal songwriter and record producer, literally went crazy during the sessions and ultimately abandoned the album. I got inspired to pull out my Beach Boys’ CD’s because last night after the Balboa Park organ concert my husband Charles and I screened a 2004 BBC documentary from their Manchester studios called The Beach Boys: Wouldn’t It Be Nice which was occasioned by the arrival in Britain of the tour Brian Wilson did to support Smile in the version he finally released as a solo album in 2003 with his original collaborator, lyricist and producer Van Dyke Parks. The Beach Boys have been stuck with the image

Isabelle Demers: Magnificent French-Canadian Organinst Plays at Organ Pavilion July 25

>b y Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2022 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved Isabelle Demers is a French-Canadian ( Québecois ) organist who’s played at the Organ Pavilion at least once before her marvelous concert last night, July 25, as part of the Spreckels Organ Society’s annual Monday night summer international concert series. Last night she opened her performance with a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach – to whom she paid tribute as a pioneer of recycling, since this piece betan as a keyboard work for harpsichord, then became a movement of his cantata “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen” (“We must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God”), and was finally transcribed for organ by Marcel Dupré. It never ceases to amaze me that organists continually transcribe Bach’s music for other instruments when he left so much splendid music actually written for organ, but Bach himself moved his stuff around from one instrument or set of i

Yet Another Lovely Musical Afternoon from Martin Green at the Organ Pavilion

>b y Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2022 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved My husband Martin warned Charles and I just got back from the Sunday afternoon concert at the Organ Pavilion with Martin Green of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral as the organist as he was last week. He played a nice little program featuring a couple of pieces from movies, including “Gabriel’s Oboe” from Ennio Morricone’s score for the film The MIssion and the ubiquitous main theme from the original 1977 Star Wars – or, as it’s rather prissily called these days, Star Wars, Episode 4: A New Hope . Martin said he had programmed that in honor of this weekend’s Comic-Con, which wraps up today, much the way he programmed Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow” last weekend in honor of the Pride events. He also said there were people at the morning service at St. Paul’s today who were already “cosplaying” for Comic-Con, since they came dressed as Star Wars storm troopers and the like. (Would the Star War

Cherry Rhodes Gives Uneven Concert at Organ Pavilion July 18

sShe's a Good Musician, But Mujch of Her Repertoire Didn't Show Her Off at Her Best. >by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2022 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved Last night’s entry in the summer organ concert series at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park was the weakest of the season. The featured organist was Cherry Rhodes, who according to our friend Robert Sokolowski must have used a considerably older photo of herself than what she looks like now. (With my deteriorating eyesight she was nothing more than a blur to me, and the next time I go there with my husband Charles I’m going to insist that we sit closer.) Cherry Rhodes began her first set with a performance of a work by Johann Sebastian Bach: the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548, and though she didn’t say a word about it during the concert she threw herself into the plece and gave a galvanic, emotional reading. I love hearing Bach played with real power instead of the superficial treatment