A Playlist for Dangerous Times 2017-2020

January 30, 2017

If we had a “normal Republican President” it would still be difficult for many of us.  Yet this administration, now one week old, seem to have confused being against the Democrats with being against Democracy.

Art and culture will inspire us, wake us up and move us to action.  Don’t wait for art and music to move you, though.  It’s extremely important to make the right moves in these early stages.   Internet petitions and emails may not have much effect.  Yet  they can’t hurt.  Go back to postal mail.  Piles of letters are more impressive.  Make phone calls.  Go to rallies.  Hit the ground running.  Keep your eyes and ears open.

Talk to people, network, unite, strategize and get to work.  Now’s the Time.

January 29th, 2017


I’ll put out one of these playlists early in the year for the next four years.  I’m sure that there’ll be plenty of new songs and new music that will make the cut.   Some powerful work has not yet been written, performed or recorded.

As for this  year’s list, I’m sure I’ll add to it and refine it throughout 2017.  I’d like to add the release dates next to each song or piece of instrumental music.  This first list will be assembled very quickly, just off the top of my head.

I need to actually get all of these pieces of music together and put them on an actual CD or cassette or in an actual digital file.  Sounds are sound.  Listen up!

  1. The Danger Zone by Ray Charles
  2. Respect by Aretha Franklin
  3. The Fool on the Hill by The Beatles
  4. Thin Line Between Love and Hate by The Persuaders
  5. Hate is the New Love by The Mekons
  6. Now’s the Time by Charlie Parker
  7. The Time Has Come Today by The Chambers Brothers
  8. Get Up, Stand Up Bob Marley and the Wailers
  9. There is Power in a Union by Joe Hill
  10. How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live by Blind Alfred Reed
  11. This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
  12. Winter in America by Gil-Scott Heron
  13. Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash by The Clovers
  14. Lindbergh by Woody Guthrie
  15. The Bourgeois Blues by Leadbelly
  16. Alabama by John Coltrane
  17. The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan
  18. Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  19. Sign o’ the Times by Prince
  20. Fight the Power by The Isley Brothers
  21. People Have the Power by Patti Smith
  22. (For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People by The Chi-Lites
  23. Fight the Power by Public Enemy
  24. Dancin’ In the Street by Martha and the Vandellas
  25. You Haven’t Done Nothing by Stevie Wonder
  26. It’s After the End of the World by Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Research Archestra
  27. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil-Scott Heron
  28. Television, the Drug of the Nation by the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
  29. La Femme Fétal by Digable Planets
  30. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
  31. What the World Needs Now is Love by  Jackie DeShannon
  32. Stop this Car Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
  33. Let’s Face the Music and Dance by Fred Astaire
  34. A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke
  35. Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles

Notes:  Number 31 What the World Needs Now is Love was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  Number 33 was written by Irving Berlin in 1936, A quote from the Mekons’ song Hate is the New Love:  “Everyday is a battle/How we still love the war.”






November 22, 2016

This post will let you in on my creative process.  A lot of my poetry and song lyrics come from playing word games like this.  Sometimes I do so with pen and paper. Sometimes I just work them out in my head. Sometimes I use a dictionary, not this time though. Sometimes, like now, I go totally freestyle.  This list was written very quickly, in 10 or 15 minutes, on November 22, 2016.  My spontaneous mind is often very musical, in its way.

Riffing on the letters D and T, aka DT:

Delirium Tremens

Darn Tootin’

Deep Trouble

Dead Trout

Don’t Torture

Dastardly Trolls

Dangerous Times

Defensive Thinking

Dirty Tricks

Doom Train

Deadly Truths

Damned Tired

Dark Treats

Deliberate Tests

Delusional Theories

Dull Tunes

Dreary Tarantulas

Damaged Things

Doll Tales

Drunken Twerps

Dumb Toys

Deranged  Tomorrows

Dank Tombs

A Postscript:  Here are some runners-up and too the ones that I thought of later including Do Tell, Dog Tricks, Dream Time, Don’t Try, Deadly Toys, Down Time, Defensive Tackle, Deranged Threats and Dopey Theatre.

Gamelan Music of Indonesia

July 23, 2016
A Gamelan Orchestra,circa late 1800's.

A Gamelan Orchestra, East Java, circa late 1800’s.

I’ve long loved the Gamelan music.

I have a small collection of recordings on vinyl, cassette and CD.  One of my favorites is Music from the Morning of the World, recorded in Bali in 1966.

It’s wild and magical music.  It has its own unique sound and sense of rhythm.  I love the unusual instruments and orchestration as well.  It gets quiet at times.  The mood is slow, delicate and lyrical.  Other times it get quite frenzied and intense.  It’s very high energy.

I’d like to read a book or two about this music.  Then I’d like to listen to a lot of it, just bury myself in it.

Then, after intense study, maybe I’ll revisit this topic.  Someday I hope to follow up this post.





The Instruments:




Debussy and gamelan

A selection of Gamelan music out on CD:


I’m sure there are also non-CD recordings available, including plenty of downloads.

Robert E. Brown:


David Lewiston:



My Musical Career

April 28, 2016
Here I am playing musical saw with the Spaceband at last 4th Street Fair, 2007.

Here I am playing musical saw with the Spaceband at the last 4th Street Fair, 2007.

I’ve always been a music lover.  Jazz, blues and experimental music are special favorites.  Yet there’s so much more that I love as well: pop, rock, soul, R & B. Then there’s world music.  Nearly every country has something to offer, often something great, wild or amazing. I even like some classical music, show tunes and country.  Then there’s the work recorded between 1890 and 1920, the early days of recorded music.  That’s great too.   I cut a wide swath.

For years, I walked around singing.  Sometimes I’d sing old songs.  Some of them, I knew the lyrics.  If I forgot some of them, I made things up to fill in the gaps.

I also made up my own tunes.  I’d walk around singing and tried not to let people hear me.   To the jump:

I soon found myself going down the rabbit hole.  I’m still there today.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, I’d do little performances at the Catacombs Coffee House.  I once did poetry and vocals with the jazz group Kuumba.  See the link at the end of this for further details on that.

It started for real in 1988, when I did my first puppet show.  From then on I’d do puppet performances incorporating my made up tunes and lyrics.  The comical-humorous content always meant more to me than the musical content.  I’d get an audience laughing and laughing good.  Yet music was a part of it.  I brought in small instruments, noise toys and drums.  I’d shout, talk in funny voices and I’d sing.

I ended up doing the puppets at art openings or as part of poetry readings.  Once in a while I’d be the opening act for bands.  Sometimes this worked sometimes not.

In 1992, I joined the Don’t Look Now Jug Band.  This legendary Detroit band had been around since 1981.  It was started by Bill Carney, Mike Arbanas and the late Gerald Smith.  I used to see them a lot.  They even served as backup band for the legendary Howard Armstrong aka Louie Bluie.

I need to write a complete history of this band!  Some other names which must be mentioned: Tim Knoll, Olivier Lavergne,  Kelly Craig, Mary Richards, Ralph Koziarski, Larry Gabriel, Matt Greenia, Nancy Greenia, Maryann Angelini, Billy Zook, Mark Jamroz, Joe Simpson, Sally Kaplan, Karina Friedemann, Jere Stormer, Art Mellos, Miriam Marcus, Eden Winter, Sally Barclay and many others.  I must have played at least seventy gigs with this band, yet it may have been as much as a hundred.

It lasted until around 2010, thus close to thirty years.  Often there were ten to twelve people in the band.  I played kazoo.  Eventually I started to sing more, both lead and background vocals.  I also get some sounds out of the saw.

Since then, it’s morphed into a smaller group The Fireflies.  Maybe someday we’ll have a public Don’t Look Now Jug Band reunion. There have been a few reunion jam sessions at private parties. The Fireflies have slowed down since we lost our main two performing venues.  One of these was Detroit’s Steak Hut.  On certain Sunday mornings, we’d literally sing for our breakfast.

Also in the early 1990’s, I was part of the Afraid  of Music band. This only lasted for a year or two.  We played improvisational/ experimental music.  One story was that tried busking on Detroit’s People Mover train.  We’d make music when the train moved and quiet down when it stopped.  We also performed at art openings and bars.

One of my Afraid of Music band-mates was Jim Puntigam.   In 1998, we decided to try it again.  We decided to call the new group the Space Band.  It started off as a five piece band.  Most of us play multiple instruments and we perform in masks and costumes.  Some members wish to be anonymous, thus for now, I’ll not name them here.

Eventually, we added more members and changed the name from the Space Band to Spaceband.  We now usually have eight to eleven people performing.

I’m the front man.  I do lead vocals.  These included chants, sounds, poetry, animal imitations and actual singing.  I also usually play kazoo, electronic kazoo, saxophone, whistles, bells, squeaky toys, drums, percussion, ray gun and more.

I also need to write a more complete history of Spaceband as well.  I continue to do puppet shows and play with the Fireflies. Yet the Spaceband is my primary performance platform.

The Don't Look Now Jug Band at the Rochester Heritage Festival in May 2008.

The Don’t Look Now Jug Band at the Rochester Heritage Festival in May 2008.

From one the the later Don’t Look Now Jug Band Shows:

On my performance with Kuumba.  I think this was in the late 1970’s:





Mario Bauzá at Clark Park, Detroit 1990

January 9, 2016
Mario Bauza, dancing. The singer and the reed section are in the background.

The dancers are up front. The singer and the reed section are in the background.


Mario Bauza, dancing in Detroit, 1990.

Dancers in Detroit, Clark Park in Detroit,  1990.

I think that it was in September or October of 1990 that I got to see Mario Bauzá’s Afro-Cuban Orchestra.  They played a free concert at Detroit’s Clark Park.

It’s possible that they played Detroit’s large jazz festival downtown and then added this as a second concert.  If so, this would be September 1990.

From my photos, I can see a pianist, a singer, a bassist and a five- to six-piece horn and reed section.  I’m sure that there were also a few drummers and percussionists.  This would make it (at least) a ten- to twelve-member band.  Is that his sister-in-law Graciela singing?  I think that she was still with him in 1990.

From Ozzie Rivera: “Graciela did not perform at Clark Park though she did at the following year’s jazz festival.”  See more important information in his comment, below.

I believe that Mr. Bauzá was no longer playing in instrument.  He wrote the arrangements and conducted the band.

Does anyone else have any memories of this show??

Dancers and some of the band.

Dancers and some of the band.

Mario Bauzá  is a legendary figure in the history of jazz.  In the 1930’s he performed with Chick Webb, Don Redman, Fletcher Henderson and Cab Calloway.  Bauzá helped get Dizzy Gillespie into the Cab Calloway orchestra and educated him about the Cuban side of jazz.  He got Gillespie together with Chano Pozo.  From there, Bauzá went on to work with the Machito Orchestra.

Bauzá at the mike, with the singer, bassist and rhythm section.

Bauzá is to the right, with his back turned.  The emcee is at the mike, with the singer, bassist and rhythm section.

Bauzá isn’t as well known as he should be.  I was excited to see this show.  I remember that it was wonderful and truly memorable.  These photos are a bit grainy.  Yet I think that they successfully convey some of spirit of the day, silent as they are.

Bauza and the band.

Bauza and the band.

In the image below, Mario Bauzá is at the right, in the middle of a group of three men. He’s wearing a light gray jacket.

The horn section and some of the audience.

The horn section and some of the audience.




An out-take, a bit blurry.

An out-take, a bit blurry.


Music, It’s the Music!

December 30, 2014

mostly new york 153

I’ve been working on a post about Mario Bauza playing Clark Park in Detroit.   I hope to finish it soon.

I’ve been listening to old Cuban music including singer Benny Moré and conga drummer Chano Pozo.

I still play vinyl, audio-Cassettes and CDs. Most of my radio music-listening is local station WRCJ-FM, more for the jazz than the classical.

I listen to music online occasionally. I haven’t yet really moved over to MP3s, though I have “dabbled in them” a bit.

I hear a lot of jazz, blues and international/world music.

I hear rock, pop, hip hop, funk, oldies, folk and new pop too.  I cast a wide net.  I love a lot of music.  Earfood!  I could start naming names, but what’s the point.

R.I.P. Charlie Haden, Gerald Wilson, Alberta Adams, Horace Silver, Buddy DeFranco and too many others.

I’ll try to get back to posting more here in 2015.






“Le Be Bop!” meets the Parkers!

March 27, 2014


I found this in the “curiosity bin” at the old Sam’s Jams record store.  It was in Ferndale, Michigan.  It was probably in the 1980’s.  I’ve kept it and displayed it at times.

I have no idea who artist is.  This was drawn in pencil on the torn off cover to a set of old 78 RPM records.

This was on the other side:


Detroit’s Sixto Rodriguez, part two

September 20, 2013
Rodriguez at the Old Miami in Detroit, September 2012

Rodriguez at the Old Miami in Detroit, September 2012

It’s been a year since I last saw Rodriguez perform at the Old Miami show.  It was really something.  It was in their backyard and the weather was fine.  They were filming it for a feature on TV’s 60 Minutes program.  There was a large, enthusiastic crowd.

It seemed to be a mix of friends, family and folks who know him from “around the neighborhood” combined with new fans and people from the suburbs.

I was mostly in the front, off to the side of the stage.  He played two sets.  It was a good show.

I’ve seen Searching for Sugar Man several times now, of course.  It won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

He’s been touring overseas and has two shows in New York City next month.  The one at Radio City Music Hall is sold out already.  I wish him all best and hope to see him again sometime.

Rodriguez at the Old Miami in Detroit

Rodriguez at the Old Miami in Detroit




The 60 Minutes Show:


Then there’s his honorary doctorate  from Wayne State University.  This page has a lot of links to articles about  Rodriguez:


There are reports of Rodriguez recording new material:


At the Old Mimi, in front of the stage

At the Old Miami, in front of the stage…

Detroit’s Sixto Rodriguez

August 8, 2012

I’m walking down Forest, between Trumbull and Third.  In the distance, I see an unusual figure.  As he gets closer, I see that the unusual shape of this person is due to a guitar, which he’s carrying on his back (or over his shoulder).  As he gets closer still, I see it’s none other than Mr. Sixto Rodriguez.  I make my hellos, then we both go on our way.

I’m a walker.  I don’t drive.  I’ve ran into Rodriguez quite a bit.  He’s a walker too.  He’s been a vital part of the downtown Detroit scene for years.  I used to run into the late Howard Armstrong (aka Louie Bluie) too.  Walkers!

I remember when Cold Fact first came out.  They used to play it on the local, Detroit alternative FM station, WABX.  I have an issue of BIG FAT magazine, circa 1970.  Jimi Hendrix is on the cover.  He’d just died.  Inside is an ad reading RODRIGUEZ FOR COMMON COUNCIL.  I’m sure it’s the same Rodriguez.  He ran for Detroit’s City Council, right?  If I find the ad, I’ll scan it and add it here.

I didn’t hear of him for a while.  In 1992, I moved down to the Cass Corridor/ Cultural Center neighborhood.  Rodriguez was very much on the scene.  He’d always help with the street fair, the Dally in the Alley.  He talked me into helping take the stage down in 2000.   Despite my having health problems, I pitched in.  He was also active with “my tribe” on Fourth Street.  He’d help with the stages and with the cleanup the next day.

In the late 1990’s, he was telling me stories about playing big shows in South Africa.  I believed him.  I soon had proof though.  The Detroit Public Library had a copy of his “live in South Africa” CD Live Fact.  It seems to have gone missing.  At the time though, I checked it out and enjoyed hearing it.

He’s played shows in Detroit, over the years.  For a long time, it was like a “rare treat'” to hear him play.   Since his two early 1970’s records were re-issued on CD, he’s been performing here a lot more often.  I hope that the new documentary film brings his music to a wider audience.  It seems to be doing so thus far, early on.  As of this writing, I’ve not seen it yet.

Once, I was about to leave a Chinese Food takeout restaurant.  He was just coming in at the same time.  They were playing some curious but cool “Oriental pop music.”  Rodriguez commented “Yeah, I really like this music!”  Enthusiastic!





Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, “Riffs and Contexts”

April 5, 2012
1966 Artwork by Rob Tyner

1966 Artwork by Rob Tyner

Louder Than Love, the new documentary film about Detroit’s Grande Ballroom opens in Detroit tonight.  I won’t be going though.  Both shows are sold out, hours before showtime.  I should have got tickets when I was at the Detroit Institute of Arts last Sunday.  So it goes.

There are two things I forgot.  Rock and Roll is big business and everybody loves the home team.  Hopefully it’ll play elsewhere, and soon.

I never went to a show at the Grande.  I do have memories of driving by it with friends, just to check out the scene.   I think we tried to get into a show once, but it was sold out or decided not to go in.  Thus, I do have vague memories of its exterior, back when it was a going concern.

If I was 2 or 3 years older, I’m sure I’d have gone there.  I did get to see the MC5 and the Stooges, in the early 1970’s.

I’ve gone past its empty, abandoned shell many times.  I’ve seen that.

The picture above was a newspaper ad for the first Grande show.  It may also have been a flyer or poster.

I was going to reconstruct a partial list of Grande shows here.  Then,  I found that that’s already been done at this site here:


Other Detroit Clubs of that era: The Drumbeat Club, The Absolute Zero Coffee house, The Poison Apple, The Raven Gallery, The Et Cetera, The Chessmate, The Living End.

Happening in Detroit: In October 1966, Robert Kennedy visited Detroit.  Vietnam War protests grew more frequent.  In 1967, the scene included Plum Street, John Sinclair and the MC5,  the May “Belle Isle Love In.”  Then there was the Detroit Uprising (popularly known as the Detroit Riots).  1968 was the year of many protests and the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

Some show I’d liked to have seen there: 

On the Jazz and “Rhythm and Blues” fronts, in 1967 on December 29-30, John Lee Hooker in 1968 on August 30 & 31 Howlin’ Wolf on September 6, 7 & 8 B.B. King.  Then, in 1969, on April 18 & 19 Chuck Berry on May 16 Sun Ra & Led Zeppelin and (the next night) Sun Ra & the MC5 on June 27 & 28 Chuck Berry & Slim Harpo on August 15 & 16 Bo Diddley

Then, various pop and rock music, in 1967 on November 25 & 26 The Fugs & The MC5 on December 9 Moby Grape & the MC5.  Then, in 1968, on February 18 The Byrds on March 9 The Who on March 29 to 30 Sly and the Family Stone & the Fugs June 1  Love, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown & the Psychedelic Stooges on July 13 The Who & Pink Floyd on October 12 Eric Clapton sat in with John Mayall as a “surprise guest” (after playing with Cream in another part of town) then on October 30 & 31 the MC5 recorded their first record for Elektra.  In 1969, on February 22 & 23 the Paul Butterfield Blues Band & Van Morrison on April 11,12 & 13 The Velvet Underground & the Nice.  On January 23 1971, Phil Ochs did a benefit for the Winter Soldier investigation.

I could go on and on (Janis Joplin & Big Brother and Holding Company, the Kinks, Tim Buckley etc.)  But yes, there were some sweet shows there, to be sure.

Then, not at the Grande, but produced by Russ Gibb.  On February 23, 1968 Jimi Hendrix played the Masonic Theatre.  Soft Machine, the MC5 and the Rationals opened the show.  On November 12, Hendrix played Detroit again, at Cobo Hall.




The official Grande Ballroom site:


The new Documentary film:


Recent news: