Charles Mingus: Moanin'

Listening to Charles Mingus is my definition of a cathartic experience. I can name only a few artists whose music can cut to the core of me in the same way that his does. It is an earthy, roots-based, bawdy expression of life's emotional range – rapture, euphoria, despair, contemplation, anger, indignation, desire, and on and on.

It's not just the melodies and harmonies that accomplish this, it's the human element of performance personality that solidifies these ideas. It is the musical gestures and shapes. It is the way his musicians embraced production noise as a tool of expression. It is the way the community of performers in the band didn't hold back if they felt compelled to yell, or sing, or vocalize in any capacity during a set. It is an expression of life. Sometimes it is sloppy, seemingly disorganized, and even cacophonous, but Mingus's pen had a direct line to his soul, and his musicians performed with every ounce of vim and vigor they could muster.

Read on for my full thoughts.

Charles Mingus: Moanin'


Chet Baker: Let's Get Lost

Chet Baker (1929-1988) was an American jazz trumpeter and vocalist. I once heard it said that concert promoters were not sure whether they should bill him as one over the other, so they just started booking him as the handsome guy. Either way, Chet had an ability to live on the back end of a beat that was unlike anyone else I've ever heard, and his conversational phrasing was always informed by his skill as a vocalist. Nevertheless, he was also the controversial king of the California Cool School of jazz where his drug habit was just as well known as his musicianship. He was in and out of jail, relationships, musical partnerships, and was perhaps nothing more than a slick con man with a cool smile and a good story to tell. In 1988 he was found dead outside of a Dutch Brothel and although no foul play was suspected, it is presumed that Chet was simply too high and fell out of the window to his death.

If all this sounds like the makings of a good story it's because it is. In 1988 writer and director Bruce Weber complied the story of Chet Baker into a documentary entitled Let's Get Lost. This film is a collection of interviews and footage with Chet's ex-wives, friends, and associated musicians in an attempt to paint the full picture of the man. Watch the documentery and then dig into itunes for some further Chet Baker knowledge. For my money, the album It Could Happen To You is Chet's best work and absoluetly one of my all time top five favorite albums ever. Check it out, you dig?


David Bowie's Space Oddity: The Children's Book

Andrew Kolb has illustrated himself right into my heart with his visual interpretation of David Bowie's classic Space Oddity. This simply put is wonderful. The children's book spin on this song seems so appropriate it's a wonder it took this long for it to happen.

The story is linear, engaging, and allows plenty of room artistic license. The only thing it is missing is animated hand claps. 

Thank you to David Gutowski of the music/literature blog Large Hearted Boy and How to be a Retronaut for bringing this to my attention. 

David Bowie: Space Oddity


Doc Watson

Sadly, Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson died yesterday at the age of 89. With him goes a wealth of knowledge, technical facility, and musical authenticity that the steel string guitar has seldom known. The New York Times has written an absolutely wonderful obituary here which both lauds the man, and gives new comers to his work a succinct history of his importance. I highly recommend reading their eloquent account of his life.

Read on for my full thoughts.

Doc Watson: When The Roses Bloom in Dixieland


Valentine's Day 2012: For the Single People

Earlier today, I posted the first of two Valentine's Day song dedication posts. That one was for couples. But now it's my fellow single people's turn. Our time has come!

Valentine's Day can sometimes be rough when you aren't in a relationship. If you happen to be feeling a little down, I have just the song for you. It's one of my all-time favorite rap songs and one so good, I'm inducting it into The Shrine of Dig. If you didn't guess from the picture, it's Brother Ali's amazing and empowering "Forest Whitaker."

If you would please turn in your Bible to beauty tips from Forest Whitaker, you'll be feeling awesome in no time.

Brother Ali – Forest Whitaker


Still Bill

I just finished watching the beautifully made documentary about Bill Withers' rise to fame from tiny-town West Virginia, Still Bill. I've been thoroughly in love with the man and his music for many years, but this intimate look into his life and thoughts not only reaffirmed my affection but enhanced it. It's a portrait of a truly genuine guy who made no compromises or self-sacrifices in order to become famous. He merely sang from his heart about what he knew, where he came from, and how he got to where he is. Just listening to Bill talk is fascinating. He's full of everyman wisdom, legitimacy, and soul.

I'd highly recommend any fan of music, people, documentaries, or great afros watch Still Bill. Hell, I'd recommend everybody watch it. It's streaming on Netflix right now.


Ben Folds


I'll always love Ben Folds. It's true, the man will always hold a place in my heart. Something about his vocals and piano lines just fuckin' gets me. It's pure nostalgia through and through, I know this. It's also a continuation of my recent pinings for the straightforward pop rock of my childhood.

It's about time for his Shrine induction and a video from my wee high school years.


Son House

Son House (1902-1988) was a Baptist preacher, prison inmate, railroad worker, and legendary blues musician. 

A forthright songwriter – his earnest, open, unmistakable style and message, have earned him a special place in American music history alongside names like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.

"Looked like it was 10,000 people standin' around the buryin' ground. I didn't know I loved her, 'til they let her down."

Son House: Death Letter Blues


The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I

With the vinyl reissue of Emergency & I by the Dismemberment Plan being released tomorrow, it is the perfect time to induct this incredible album into the Shrine of Dig. This is a wholly original, inventive, and amazing album both musically and lyrically. It has meant so much to me and I believe everyone should hear it. Especially anyone in their mid twenties who has ever wondered "What am I doing with my life?"

The Dismemberment Plan – A Life of Possibilities

The Dismemberment Plan – What Do You Want Me To Say?

The Dismemberment Plan – Back and Forth


Thelonious Monk: Underground

Jazz musician, fictitious revolutionary, dancer, and one of the all time best hat wearers ever. Thelonious Monk is relentlessly individual and undeniably influential. His 1968 Columbia release, Underground, typifies his personality, compositional prowess, and piano aesthetic.

Those Who Dig would like to welcome Thelonious Monk into The Shrine

Thelonious Monk: Raise Four