20 November 2014 – Rereading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the millionth time.  Dr. Thompson is the only great artist I know of who is consistently underrated by his biggest fans.  The guy is an artist for the ages, and this one is his best.

21 October 2013 – I’m listening to Dr. John’s amazing rendition of the New Orleans classic, “My Indian Red.”  My goodness!  That thing sends me to a whole ‘nother part of my heart.  Yeah, there are other great versions. (Baby Dodds Trio did the most famous one, and it is superb.) This has very special meaning for me.

21 October 2013 – I don’t usually read self-help/pop psychology books, but I’m reading Rick Pitino’s The One Day Contract, and I’m loving it.

21 October 2013 – I’m listen to two versions of “Second Time Around.”  I’m going back and forth between Frank Sinatra fine vocal version and Count Basie’s instrumental rendition. ‘Both amazing.

25 November 2011 – I’m listening to every version of “Poor Butterfly” and “Blue Room” that I can get my hands on.  I need to learn how to deal with those great (and in my opinion under-appreciated) tunes–I should have starting dealing with them long before now.

26 October 2011 – Around 4:00A.M. this morning, I put together a playlist of all of the Youtube video that feature me.  After I put the playlist together–The playlist is called “My Vids”–I watched the whole thing (about 20 videos).  Some of the moments made laugh.  Others made my cringe.  Some of them were actually decent.  All of them were made up on the spot. If you want to watch, go to my Youtube channel (TonyfromBham) and look for “My Vids.”

23 October 2011 – I just reread that classic introduction to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road by Ann Charters.  I’ve read the book many, many times, and I’ve read Charters’ introduction even more times.  Both are true classics.  After rereading the introduction, I want to dig out my dogeared copy of Charters’ biography of Kerouac.  I’ve read many bios of Jack Kerouac, and hers is my favorite.

18 August 2011 – I’m watching YouTube clips of two great NYC jazz musicians: Cynthia Sayer and Bria Skonberg.  Both are incredible, and there are at least two clips in which they play together.  Cynthia is my former teacher and a good friend.  I don’t know Bria, but I would certainly like to meet her and ask her many questions about her music.

17 August 2011 – I just saw The Maltese Falcon.  I’ve never seen it before now.  Amazing!

10 August 2011 – I’m listening to Duke Ellington as I prepare for work.

10 August 2011 – Watching the Yankees playing the Angels.  What exactly does “The Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim” even mean?  Yankees win 9-3.

28 December 2010 8:01 P.M. – Last night I saw two movies back to back that I have seen many, many times.  At 7:00, I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s and at 9:00 I watched The Days of Wine and Roses.  I believe Blake Edwards directed both.

22 December 2010 9:11 A.M. – I’m listening to Steely Dan and loving it.  I have about three dozen Dan songs in my iTunes library.  All of them are songs to which I’ve been listening for at least thirty years (in some cases much longer).  None of that matters.  I’ll never tire of these recording.

21 December 2010 10:13 A.M. – Now I’m listening to Doc Cheatham.  He did so many fine records.  Right now, I’m listening to the record he did with Nicholas Payton.  Specifically, the tune “Out of Nowhere” is playing right now.  It’s so beautiful!

21 December 2010 10:07 A.M. – A former student just emailed to tell me that he just saw this YouTube clip of me.  I posted it about a week ago.  I’m going to watch it now.  Maybe I can learn something from it.  Here it is:

21 December 2010 10:00 A.M. – I just listened to Led Zep’s “Misty Mountain Hop.”  What a fine piece of art this record is!  Of course, it’s a rock classic, but to me, it has much more in common with Coltrane than it has in common with most rock performances.

24 October 2010 11:16 A.M. – I just watched Cynthia Sayer do “Over the Rainbow” on YouTube. Here it is:

This version is so great.  It’s such a joy to watch her approach this great song with the same natural, easy grace with which she approaches everything.

11 October 2010 6:24 P.M. – I watched two movies today.  One I’ve seen many, many times over the last thirty years.  The other I saw for the first time today.  I had never seen The Blind Side before today.  I was all prepared to hate it, but I really enjoyed it.  The other one was The Last Waltz.  It’s got some very fine musical moments, and the whole thing has a beautiful 70s vibe.

11 October 2010 8:08 A.M. listening to Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band on CD.  Brass band music must be experienced live, but this is all I have right now, and it’s really good.  Listening to this stuff makes me wish I was digging it live on Frenchmen Street.

8 October 2010 1:20 P.M. – No art consumption here.  I’m smack dab in the middle of my school 2010 Fall Technology conference.  We’re knee deep in wikis, CPS clickers, podcasts, iMovie, iDVD, and everything else one could imagine.  I having no problem with learning about this stuff.  I do, however, have a problem with the idea that this stuff is the final goal.  This stuff is a way to get the good stuff across more quickly and efficiently.  That’s it. Somewhere down the line one has to learn the real stuff (literary theory, criticism, philosophy, literary history, the history of ideas, etc.) to have a chance of doing this job well.  When will we have a conference on that stuff?  Don’t hold your breathe.

5 October 2010 12:20 P.M. – I just listened to four Rolling Stones songs (“Brown Sugar,” “Fool to Cry,” “Shattered,” “Miss You”) over and over for all of third period. (That’s about fifty minutes for you nonteachers.) That’s truly high art!  Everything about these songs makes me want to go home and put on fifty more songs by Mick and the boys.  Wow!

3 October 2010 8:25 – I’m getting better.  Three classic movies came on tonight (Splendor in the Grass, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and To Kill a Mockingbird).  I had work to do so I didn’t watch any of them.  That’s good for me.  Usually I watch every classic that comes on.  I did watch one movie this afternoon, a movie called Up In the Air.  It’s great!  A total original.  George Clooney’s lead character has no past, no future, and no real connect to the “real world,” a fact that makes him the only real part of the world he semi-inhabits.  If Rick Blaine from Casablanca is (as some have suggested) the  prototypical modernist American patriot, Clooney’s character is the post-modern American family man.  I’ll think much about this one.

3 October 2010 2:35 – ‘Listening to The Replacements, one of my all-time favorite rock bands.  Tim, the CD I’m playing, is (to me) essential listening.

29 September 2010 5:59 A.M. I’m listening to Herbie Hancock’s Grammy winner, River – The Joni Letters. The rockers who didn’t get why this one was voted record of the year need to do multiple listens to this jewel.

29 September 2010 6:01 A.M. This post isn’t about the art that I consumed.  It’s about the art that I didn’t consume.  I didn’t watch The Magnificent Seven last night on TCM.  There aren’t that many works of art in that rarified strata of canonicity, but this one is in there.  It was on, and I didn’t watch.  That’s rare for me.

25 September 2010 7:11 P.M. – I’m watching A Streetcar Named Desire on television as I practice lap steel.  I never get bored with this fine movie.  Every performance, every directorial decision, every line makes me happy that this movie was made.  Could it be made today?  I don’t think so.  I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think this movie would ever see the light of day in 2010.

23 September 2010 9:20 P.M. – All week, I’ve been dividing up my listening by instrument.  I’m continuing that trend now.  Tonight, I’m listening to my favorite lap steel players.  (No pedals tonight.  I’ll listen to some great pedal steelers another night.) So, who’s on tap tonight?  There are so many: Cindy Cashdollar, Mike Neer, Jeremy Wakefield, Lee Jeffries, Herb Remington, Noel Boggs, Tom Morrell, Tony Locke, Bob Hoffnar.  These are great players and great artists.  They bring such joy into my heart (except when I compare my playing to theirs.  Then, they make me sad).

22 September 2010 6:03 P.M. – I’ve been listening to so much 4-string banjo lately,  I decided to pay a little attention to the four string banjo’s much more famous brother: the 5-string banjo.  I’ve been listening to 5-string CD’s featuring my all-time favorite 5-stringer: Earl Scruggs.  Earl invented an entire style of 5-string playing–the most popular way of playing in fact.  That style, of course, is called Scruggs-style banjo.  The other major style of 5-string is clawhammer or old time banjo.  I like some of that stuff, but I’m concentrating of the Scruggs-style stuff today.  And of course, if I’m going to listen to Scruggs-style banjo, I might as well listen to the best guy at it: Earl Scruggs himself.

21 September 2010 11:07 A.M. – I’m still on a 4-string banjo kick.  I’m listening to three CD’s by Cynthia Sayer back to back to back.  As I’ve said before, Cynthia is one of the three best 4-string jazz banjoists in the world.  She’s also my favorite of the three.  She’s my friend, my former teacher, and someone I hope all of you check out.  The three Cd’s are Jazz At Home, String Swing, and The Jazz Banjo of Cynthia Sayer Vols. I & II.  Jazz Banjo is my favorite.

19 September 2010 11:26 A.M. – I’ve got a tenor banjo gig this afternoon, so I’m listening to recording by my three favorite 4-string banjoists: Cynthia Sayer, Eddy Davis, and Don Vappie.  Of the three of them Cynthia is the only one who doesn’t actually play tenor.  She plays plectrum banjo.  Eddy Davis and Don Vappie both play tenor.  If one has to divide banjos into two groups, those groups would be 4-string banjo and 5-string banjo.  90% of banjos out there are 5-string banjos.  Those are the ones we associate with bluegrass and Earl Scruggs and “Dueling Banjos” and all of that wonderful stuff.  I play 5-string, but not very well, and not on gigs.  On gigs, I play tenor banjo, one of the two types of 4-string banjo. Plectrum is the other type of 4-string.  The neck of the plectrum is longer than the neck of the tenor.  The two instruments are tuned differently.  Plectrum banjos are tuned C, G, B, D.  The tenor, on the other hand, is tuned C, G, D, A.  Other than those two minor differences, these instruments are the same.  They are both played with a flatpick (As opposed to the fingerpicks a 5-string banjoist uses), and they are both used in producing jazz, dixieland, and ragtime music.  Check out the music of Cynthia Eddy, and Don.  You might like it.

17 September 2010 10:48 P.M.  I’m rereading the first few pages of A Confederacy of Dunces, one of my all time favorite novels.

17 September 2010 6:05 A.M. – I’m listening to a couple of reggae CD’s that I’ve been listening to for 25 years: True Democracy and Reggae Fever by Steel Pulse.  These records are important to me for a number of reasons, one of which is that they remind of the guy who turned me on to them: Chris Schmidt.  Chris, you introduced me to much in the short time we were in college together.  Your world was interesting, complex. and real.  Thanks for letting me be a small part of it.

16 September 9:15 P.M. – I just watch four straight episodes of a sitcom called Big Bang Theory.  The main characters on the show remind me of some of the cats with whom I hung out in college.  Keith, Robin, Billy and all the rest of the guys taught me much.  Maybe they didn’t teach me specific stuff as much as they taught me that there was much to learn.

16 September 5:53 A.M. – I’ve got a bunch of Kermit Ruffins tunes playing on my computer.  Kermit Ruffins is so much more than a trumpet player/singer to me: He’s truly the symbol of my beloved city of New Orleans for me–not just the music of the city, but the whole city.  If you want a crash course in New Orleans history, culture, style, politics, art, and point of view, check out Kermit.  Better yet, go to Vaughn’s or Bullets, two of the small hip places he plays in NOLA.  Listen to the art spilling from the speakers.  Talk to him.  Share a little food with him.  You’ll be better for it.

15 September 2010 10:01 P.M. – I’m listening to cuts from several CD’s by the Rebirth Brass Band.  For my money, they’re the heart and soul of the contemporary New Orleans brass band movement.

15 September 2010 6:37 P.M. – I’m listening to jazz guitarist Johnny Smith’s classic CD from the early 60’s, Moonlight in Vermont.  What an amazing talent!  As great as his music is, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good if Mr. Smith hadn’t hooked up with tenor sax genius Stan Getz.  Their collaboration is (for me) on the same level as Miles and Coltrane or Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz.

7 September 2010 9:56 P.M. – Earlier tonight I reread Connie Schultz’s excellent essay called “The Place My Father Didn’t Want Me to See.”  It is so amazing.  This woman is an incredible writer.  I must read more of her stuff.

7 September 2010 9:53 P.M. – I watched two movies as I worked tonight.  I watched Where The Wild Things Are (I think that’s the title.), which I thought was amazing.  I’ve never seen it before.  Before that, I watched for about the tenth time a movie called Model Shop.  It’s interesting, and I like it, but I do not know why.  Both films do much with atmosphere and mood.  Maybe that has something to do with me liking them.

5 September 2010 3:33 P.M. – I’m listening to a bunch of Nat Cole tunes in a row.  Right now, “On the Street Where You Live” is playing.  I’ve heard about a hundred versions of this tune, and Cole’s is easily my favorite.

5 September 2010 10:41 A.M. – I’m listening to Joe Mooney, one of my all time favorites.  His organ playing, singing, and arrangements got my attention 25 years ago, and I’m still listening to the guy’s CD’s.  The interplay between the flute and the guitar is terrific.

4 September 2010 5:26 A.M. – I’m listening to a CD of tunes that my instructors from Jazz Camp 2010  threw together.  The purpose of the CD was instructional, but it’s good stuff nonetheless.  When I listen to it, it reminds me of all of the great times and big time learning I did during my Camp 2010 experience.  As the CD rolls along, I find myself not so much hearing these tunes that I’ve played so many times before (“My Blue Heaven,” “Bourbon Street Parade,” etc.) but hearing those wonderful artists who ran the camp.  Gerald “The Giant” French, Kerry Lewis, Don Vappie and all of the rest did a magnificent job.  You changed me in significant ways this during that week back in early August.  Thank you.

3 September 2010 6:04 A.M. – I spent the last two hours reading and rereading my new copy of Offbeat Magazine.  (I’ve been a subscriber since January, and I’ve reading it for much long than that.) New Orleans restaurant diva Susan Spicer is on the cover.  Some might wonder why a food person is on the cover of a music magazine, but to me putting her on the cover makes sense.  Spicer’s a celebrity in every sense of the word.  It’s no wonder one of the characters on HBO’s  Treme is clearly based on her.  Also, her point of view and persona are so rock and roll.  She’s a rocker–a rocker, not with a guitar and an amp, but with a butcher knife and a grill.

2 September 2010 6:36 A.M. – Just listened to Spotlight on the King Sisters: Great Ladies of Song.  What a great CD!  Those crazy harmonies and wild arrangements make them a group I will always listen to.

1 September 2010 9:31 P.M. – I just watched Picnic, and boy I am glad I did so!  It was just what I needed tonight.

1 September 2010 7:05 P.M. – Picnic starring Kim Novak is starting on TCM.  I’ve seen it so many times, but I can’t resist.  I’ll probably watch at least some of it.  I do love this film.

31 August 6:10 A.M. – I’ve listened to John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” several times this morning.  Of course, I’ve heard this recording literally thousands of times in the last thirty years.  As I listened to it this morning, many of the thoughts that I’ve had about this recording came to my head. (How did he do that?  This is art at the very highest level. I hope I’m never again on a bandstand when this tune gets called.  etc.) But I also thought of a performance of “Giant Steps” that I heard live at Bottle Tree two weeks ago by the Neo Jazz Collective, a group of teenagers.  I’ve got to give ’em credit.  I wouldn’t take that tune on by choice, but they did.  If it wasn’t perfect, who cares.  Go for it Neo Jazz!

30 August 2010 6:51 P.M. – I’m definitely excited right now.  The Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business starts in about five minutes on TCM.  Their comedy is right up my alley.

29 August 2010 9:38 P.M. I just listened to three recorded tunes by my friend Lolly Lee: “Holiday Glo,” Holiday Glo (Alt. Take),” and “Fortuna Ink.” Her voice has that same purity as Claire Lynch’s voice, but Lolly’s point of view is decidedly much more contemporary.  She’s . . . homey with an edge.

29 August 2010 2:50 P.M. – I’m watching the Little League World Series.  I have a $5.00 bet with my mother on the game.  I gave her Hawaii plus two runs.  I feel pretty good about Japan minus 2.

29 August 2010 11:30 A.M. – I’m listening to Eddie Peabody’s live record, Live at the Hacienda.  People put down that record for its corniness, but corniness doesn’t bother me.  There’s an earnestness to his approach, and the banjo playing is on the virtuoso level.  No, it’s not my first choice for a banjo record (a record by Cynthia Sayer, Eddy Davis or Don Vappie would fit that bill) but I am definitely interested in his point of view.

29 August 2010 11:16 A.M. – As I continue to work, I’ve got my iTunes library on Shuffle.  In the last fifteen minutes, I’ve heard Flatt & Scruggs, America, Miles Davis, Sam Rivers, and Donny Hathaway.  Now, Dexy’s Midnight Runners are doing their early 80s megahit, “Come On Eileen.”

29 August 2010 9:34 A.M. – Now that the movie is over, I’ve got work to do.  As I work, I’m listening to an iTunes playlist that I put together of about ten tracks by Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band.  Harold Dejan is very important to me because he was my introduction to that whole bag, that way of thinking about, hearing, and playing jazz.   Thank you Mr. Dejan!

29 August 2010 8:29 A.M. – I just watched one of my favorite movies of all time: 12 Angry Men.  I’ve seen this film many, many times, and I still learn or discover something new with each viewing.

28 August 2010  9:30 P.M. – I just watched an episode of The Suzi Orman Show.  Whenever I’m not working on a Saturday night, I try to watch that show.  Many people tell me how much they do not enjoy that show, but I really do.  What she has said about personal money management has help me tremendously over the years.

28 August 2010 7:05 P.M. – I’m listening to Andrew Bird’s Noble Beast.  I’m trying to figure out why it doesn’t affect me the way it affects so many others, but it just doesn’t.  It’s fine.  It’s OK, but definitely not my thing.

28 August 2010 5:38 P.M. – I’m listening to a song to which I keep going back over and over: “Meet Me on Frenchmen Street.”  It’s a duet featuring two great vocalists/trumpeters from New Orleans: Shamarr Allen and Kermit Ruffins.  I love this recording.  I guess that’s why I listen to it at least once a day.

28 August 2010 5:50 A.M. I am playing an iTunes playlist that i put together of my favorite Claire Lynch songs.  The playlist begins with “Falling In Love,” my favorite Claire Lynch track.  While jazz is definitely my main bag, I certainly have other styles of music in my ear.  Claire’s music is so important to me.  Songs like “Falling in Love,” “Kennesaw Line,” and “Heaven’s Light” (a very fine Christmas tune) are as important to me as anything I’ve ever heard from any genre.

27 August 2010 8:16 P.M. – I’m now listening to Cynthia Sayer’s CD, The Jazz Banjo of Cynthia Sayer Vol. 1 & 2.  It’s been kind of a New Orleans night in terms of the art I’ve been consuming.  I decided to put something on with a decidedly NYC point of view, so I put on the best CD by my friend and former teacher, Cynthia Sayer, the reigning queen of NYC trad. jazz.

27 August 2010 8:05 P.M. – As I read Alvarez’s fine book, I’m listening to “Christmas in New Orleans” by James “Little 12” Andrews.  Andrews may not be the greatest trumpet player in the world.  I have no idea how to even evaluate such a thing.  I do, however, know that he may be my favorite trumpet player.  There is something amazingly honest and sincere about his music.  Whether he’s playing rock, R & B, brass band music, jazz, or any other style, his unmistakable point of view always comes through.

27 August 2010 8:04 P.M. – I’m reading The Biggest Game in Town by A. Alvarez.  This fine book is (on the surface) about big time poker players, but it’s about much more than that.  What a completely original book!

27 August 2010 7:54 P.M. – I just finished watching a documentary called New Orleans Music In Exile.  It features interviews with some of the New Orleans musicians forced to move to other American cities after Hurricane Katrina.  All of the interviews are riveting, but the ones that really standout are Dr. John, Kermit Ruffins, Cowboy Mouth, and Irma Thomas.  Excellent.

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