I was very happy to tune in tonight to Fox Sports Network for the first game of the NBA season for the Milwaukee Bucks. Unlike so many fans I refuse to boycott pro sports. I get their anger, but I’ve missed sports in this postpone everything year. Now I can actually see and watch sports on TV, like I have a gazillion times in years past.
When I checked into the Bucks and Boston Celtics there were certain visuals that were plainly obvious. Like the huge backdrop proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.” The wording on the court shouting out the same. The phrases on the back of the players’ jerseys like “Equality,” and “Enough.”
During the first quarter the Buck announcers spent a great deal of time avoiding game play-by-play and analysis for the sake of social commentary. I’ve known Bucks announcer Jim Paschke since the 1970’s. You can’t meet a better guy, and highly skilled in his profession. It was disappointing and annoying to hear Paschke and Marques Johnson acting like a biased one-sided panel on MSNBC.
If this is what to expect the rest of this season, a politicization of ballgames, I’ll still watch. But the sound will be turned off.
Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
This week, pleasant, soothing, melodic music from some fairly recent recordings. Let’s get started!
Hard to believe that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Herb Alpert is 85. But the legendary trumpeter is still going strong.
What a resume: Five #1 hits, nine GRAMMY® Awards, fifteen Gold albums, fourteen Platinum albums. Alpert has sold more than 72 million records. In 1966, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass simultaneously had four albums in the Top 10– and five in the Top 20 at the very same time. No one’s done it since. Herb Alpert also has the distinction of being the only artist who has had a #1 instrumental and a #1 vocal single.
“You know my story — I started playing when I was 8, so I’m hooked on music,” Alpert says on his official website. “I’m seduced by the whole idea of recording. And I met some great mentors in my day.
“When I started playing trumpet, I was inspired by Harry James, Louis Armstrong and Clifford Brown. But when I met Sam Cooke, he was a mentor — and he didn’t know it — by example. He came out of the gospel field and had this soulful quality that was infectious. He said: ‘Herbie, people are listening to a cold piece of wax; it either makes it or it don’t.’
“I’m not kicking back; I’m kicking it forward! I wake up each morning, excited about painting and sculpting and playing my horn. Doing concerts gives me a lot of energy and pleasure. I know I can make a lot of people happy with my music, and I will do that as long as I can. I’ve been very blessed, beyond my dreams.”
His album “Music: Volume 1” features many covers, including a Nat King Cole classic that has an entirely different sound than the original.
Alpert and songwriter Lou Adler met Sonny Bono in the late 1950’s. The aspiring artists were on a mission to gain support from record company executives in Los Angeles. At Specialty Records Bono was the head the record label’s artists and repertory department. Bono was succinct.
“You guys ought to get out of the business,” he told them, “because you don’t have it.”
On Billboard’s chart of the 125 greatest artists of all-time Herb Alpert comes in at #21.
Our next artist has been a musician since the age of five, playing the piano, the violin, and the drums before she settled on the flute.
Reviewer Ronald Jackson says, “Flautist Ragan Whiteside’s star continues to shine brightly with this latest release Treblemaker. Hers is always a refreshing, lilting, and sweet sound, giving life to each and every note on each and every track. The flute is such an especially appealing instrument to me, bringing with it its own sparkling light and soothing texture, and Whiteside firmly embraces its musical majesty.”
Whiteside wrote this happy tune along with keyboardist Bob Baldwin.
Baldwin describeds Ragan by saying, “She not only has THE silkiest and sweetest flute tone in the business, but her tenacity and desire to be recognized in Urban, New-Soul AND smooth jazz genres makes her a musical-force to be reckoned with — mark my words!”
Guitarist Chuck Loeb who composed more than 250 published songs, network television show themes and scores. He wrote music for, performed on albums by, and produced recordings for Bob James, Carly Simon, Dave Grusin, Bob Dylan, Art Garfunkel, Johnny Mathis, Gato Barbieri, Spyro Gyra, Astrud Gilberto, David Benoit, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Jr., and many others.
In 2001 the NY Times called Loeb “The Clark Kent of jazz guitar.”
Loeb died in 2017 of cancer at the age of 61.
In the 1960’s the Jazz Crusaders was influenced by hard bop, their sound marked by a familiar tenor sax/trombone combination. Jazz fans liked them, but so did folks outside the jazz community.
So as not to be pigeonholed the group dropped “Jazz” from their title and adopted a fusion style. Because they enjoyed crossover success they secured gigs opening for acts like The Rolling Stones.
“Put It Where You Want It” became a signature piece for the group in 1972.
Guitarist Paul Brown covers that classic in his album “One Way Back.” Brown’s take is energetic, bold, fiery, and bluesy.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
Go out and by a CD!
We close with another remake of a hit, this one with a Wisconsin angle that’s definitely raw compared to the previous tracks and our theme this week.
Chi (pronounced “shy”) Coltrane was born in Racine in 1948. She was one of seven children born to a Canadian mother and a German violinist father. As a child she studied a number of instruments and gave her first piano recital at the age of 12. In 1970, she formed Chicago Coltrane, playing blues, funk and gospel in local clubs and bars.
Columbia Records signed her in 1972 and her first album was released that year. Coltrane’s first single, “Thunder and Lightning” reached number 17.
Here’s a short clip.
During the 70’s and 80’s in America, Chi was called “The First Lady of Rock” and in Europe she was dubbed “The Queen of Rock” where she was also voted “Top Female Artist” for two consecutive years, and held the #1 position in the Musik Express Popularity Poll in Western Europe.
Keyboardist Kirk Fischer brings a high-energy performance to Coltrane’s big hit. Fischer’s version was arranged by Greg Adams, formerly of Tower of Power, and features a driving saxophone by Greg Vail.
“I loved this song the first time I heard it,” said Fischer. “I revved up the B3, laid down the groove, and got out of the way.”
Regular readers know that I, a music lover who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, two of the best music decades by far, am not a fan at all of 80’s music. In my view top notch pop music died on January 1, 1980.
I understand there are exceptions to a rule. This week, we have one of those exceptions.
What could the exception be if I found the 80’s to be musically reprehensible? (BTW, the topic of 80’s music is a friendly occasional debate I have with my somewhat younger wife).
The Go-Go’s were the first all-female band to play their own instruments, write their own songs and reach No. 1 on the album charts.
From their halcyon days as America’s sweethearts to their current status as superstars who pioneered a genre, The Go-Go’s preside over an amazing three-decade reign as high pop priestesses. The internationally-loved pop hitmakers helped cement the foundation of the early 80’s pop-rock sound without the aid of outside composers, session players or, most importantly, creative compromise.
Their story truly is a punk version of the American Dream. They came, they saw and they conquered the charts, the airwaves and, with their kicky kitsch appeal, pop culture in general.
Sure, before the Go-Go’s debuted in May of ’78, there were other all-female bands, but to a man (ahem, or in this case, woman) there was usually a seedy, cigar-chompin’ guy lurking just behind the curtain, pulling strings, writing songs and shaping the image as his gals danced on his string. But The Go-Go’s didn’t need a doctor in their house. No Phil Spector, Kim Fowley or Sonny Bono plotted their moves. It was their baby right from the start and they nursed the bouncing infant on a diet of non-stop nocturnal nourishment in dank clubs all across the city.
Here they are in 2016 doing their biggest charting record.
A new Showtime documentary, The Go-Go’s chronicles the band’s meteoric rise to fame rooted in L.A.’s colorful early-1980s “new wave” scene. The documentary airs tomorrow, August 1.
No hard-hitting politics. Movie nostalgia’s the topic this time. Today’s read is from Bryan Reesman, a New York-based reporter, author of the book “Bon Jovi: The Story” and host of the podcast “Side Jams.”
Here’s an excerpt:
ZAZ (David Zucker) revolutionized movies by crafting a comedy that made you laugh because some aspects felt inappropriate, others broached edgy topics, and others still seemed illogical but somehow worked. The jokes piled up quickly and audiences had to ride the joke flow, expecting the unexpected.
Forty years later, “Airplane!” feels so wrong for its politically incorrect jokes and raunchy theatrics, but that’s actually what makes it so right: It reminds us of the importance of pushing boundaries at the same time that it gives us a playbook for doing so in a good-natured rather than vicious or belittling way.
For Further Information Contact:
State Senator David Craig
Senator Craig Responds to Evers’ Unlawful Mask Mandate
Madison, WI —Today, Senator David Craig (R-Town of Vernon) issued the following statement in response to Governor Tony Evers’ illegal mask mandate (Executive Order 82):
“Once again, Governor Evers has exceeded his authority with his unlawful mask mandate. The Governor knows full well that this order will fail a legal challenge. His intentional abuse of power should concern all Wisconsinites who hold the rule of law dear.
“While he plays to his political base in Madison and Milwaukee, everyday Wisconsinites continue to wait for unemployment checks, struggle to navigate business shutdowns, and wonder when the constant torrent of heavy-handed orders will end. The legislature should act immediately to block this unlawful rule.
Senator Craig represents the 28thSenate District which includes parts of Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Walworth counties.
“Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.” Twitter
“People should not have to choose between voting and preserving their good health and that of their families. Because no matter what you do and when you go out, you bring it home.” Nancy Pelosi calling for expanded mail-in-voting
According to the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures), supporters of all-mail elections allow persons to cast a mail-in vote from the comfort of their home and helps people avoid wait times at polling places. Other pro factors cited by supporters are that it reduces the cost of elections, offers flexibility and reduces the needs of infrastructure and personnel to conduct the election. Americanpress.com
These testimonials by liberal outlets that deny voter fraud are not surprising. The blunt fact is you’re an absolute fool if you trust your sacred vote by dropping it in a mailbox.
The incredibly biased news media is rightfully targeted by the right for their unending and clear allegiance to the Democrat Party. But every once in a while there comes a flagrant act of journalism as my old colleague at WTMJ Charlie Sykes often remarked.
In this instance a reporter utilizing an experiment supplied proof that in-person voting must happen and the integrity of the election is at stake.
As executive director of Summerfest parent company Milwaukee World Festivals from 1983 to 2003, Black was instrumental in turning Summerfest into the landmark event it is today, said Bob Babisch, who has led the festival’s talent buying team since 1978.
Milwaukee wouldn’t be the City of Festivals, and Milwaukee’s Summerfest wouldn’t be one of the world’s largest music festivals, without Black.
“It was about building the visibility not only of the festival but the city of Milwaukee,” Babisch said.
Black did that by touting an employment program for Milwaukee teens through corporate funding, he said, and helping grow the size and stature of other festivals housed at Maier Festival Park, including PrideFest, Milwaukee Irish Fest, Festa Italiana and German Fest.
“We would have meeting after meeting to make sure that anything we can do from our side to help them, we were there for them,” Babisch said. “They became part of the Summerfest family.”
I can personally attest to what Babisch said.
Bo Black and state Senator Alberta Darling were very good friends. In the late 1990’s when I worked for state Senate Republicans, Darling asked me if I would do a favor for her friend.
I got in contact with Black who said Darling told her I could conduct interviews and distribute sound bites to radio station news departments for broadcast. Black inquired if I could do that with not only her, but representatives of the various ethnic festivals held on the Summerfest grounds as a means of promoting those events.
On my own time I scheduled taped interviews with festival leaders and then sent sound bites to stations the week of each ethnic fest. It worked so well we did this for a few years. I was not compensated by Summerfest. My favor was strictly volunteer and I was glad to oblige.
Black staunchly supported all the festivals and their folks were grateful and deeply respected her. I know oh so well.
UPDATE: To a comment below.
When she was named executive director, it surfaced that Black had been on the cover of Playboy magazine, in a football jersey in an issue from 1967.
When asked about in 1983, Black responded: “If I were a man being named to the job, would anyone really care about a 16-year-old picture?” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“I lived in fear it would come up,” Bo says.
It did, in newspaper articles when she became an assistant to Mayor Henry Maier and again when she became executive director of Summerfest music festival.
Nobody seemed to care. A columnist at the Milwaukee Journal wrote that she was qualified for the job. That was all that mattered. The Arizona Central