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Mike Craver
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Winter 2009/2010

The Karaoke Murders

Whatever else you do, don't sing "I Did It My Way" in a Filipino karaoke Bar. The odds of you getting murdered while doing so are pretty high. Nobody knows exactly why. Also, it's not a good idea to sing John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" in Thailand; a man in a bar killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang that one. Also, you better think twice before singing Coldplay's "Yellow" in Seattle. A woman punched a man out for singing that one. But, back to the Phillipines: the good news is if you're gay, and unemployed, you might find a job there. It seems that many Filipino karaoake bars employ gay men, who are seen as neutral, to defuse tension among the male patrons. Gay men aren't seen as rivals for the women's attention, and they are encouraged to use humor to disarm the vibes that lead to this kind of violence.
Norimitsu Onishi's news report is a very funny read!

"I don't believe the good Lord would let me live three score and ten and then kill me and throw me in a lake of fire, gnashing and gashing of teeth, and he a-looking at me. Why, ain't no need of praising him if he gonna do that. Don't never feel sorry for you. Laugh at your calamities. That's the biggest lie that's ever been told! I ain't scared of being french fried that way! No!"

This comes from 'the last Black medicine show performer' Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson. There's a stream of an excellent film about him, made in l972 in Pittsboro, NC, by Tom Davenport. I remember seeing Peg Leg Sam at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill in the early '70's. FMI and link to stream.

Rosy Kirk writes about a new production of Radio Gals she is directing:

"Rehearsals are going really well. I love my cast. The Swindle Sisters are a hoot. OB and Gladys are married in real life and madly in love so the chemistry is sizzling. I think my Hazel is the best Hazel of all time. You have to fasten your seat belt when she sings A Gal's Got To Do. We are having an ice storm here so I had to cancel practice today. But, the Vikings are playing so all is not lost!"

The production is at the historic Androy Hotel, Hibbing, MN ("just a block or two from Bob Dylan's old house") and runs March 3-14, 2010. Featuring Bobbi Sajevic, Susan Michaels, John Michaels, Beth Sajevic, Iris Kolodji, Cory Kolodji, Chris Snyder, and Diana Giombetti. FMI

"Good Ol' Girls"

"Good Ol' Girls" is having it's Off Broadway premiere. Opening night is Feb. 13th. The show is directed by Randy Myler, and features Lauren Kennedy, Sally Mayes, Teri Ralston, Gina Stewart and Liza Vann. "Good Ol' Girls" was written and adapted by Paul Ferguson, from stories written by Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle. Songs by Matraca Berg and Marshall Chapman, conceived by Matraca Berg. Presented as a limited engagement, in The Black Box Theatre at The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, New York City.

Arctic Terns

I didn't need much to convince me that birds are god-like and superior creatures, but if I needed more then I certainly I heard it last night on the BBC. Researchers, using tiny geolocating tracking devices, have determined that Arctic Terns migrate each September from Greenland to the Weddell Sea, on the shores of Antarctica. They stay there for five or so months and then migrate back up to Greenland. The terns don't fly in a direct line going down but hang along the coastlines of Western Europe and Africa, and then take a refueling stopover near the Azores. Their round trip equals about 43,000 miles. The tiny 3.5 ounce birds may live up to 34 years. Making this migratorial journey over their long life span equals roughly three round trips to the moon! FMI

Music of the Spheres

Santa Claus brought me a beautiful set of windchimes this Christmas. They are made by an outfit called "Music of the Spheres" in Austin, Texas. They are amazing and beautiful chimes, more like a musical instrument than something to hang on your porch. The company crafts them to A=440 pitch and they are available in over a dozen modes and tunings, and five different tone ranges, from soprano to "basso profundo" (which boasts 14' pipes and a weight of over 200 lbs!) I guess you have to have a pretty tall porch for that one. You can go to the website musicofspheres.com and check all this out and even hear samples. I love the sound of my chimes (which are pentatonic) -- it is beautiful, subtle, never intrusive.

“What the average citizen doesn’t explicitly understand is that a significant part of the government’s plan to repair the financial system and the economy is to pay savers nothing and allow damaged financial institutions to earn a nice, guaranteed spread,” said William H. Gross, co-chief investment officer of the Pacific Investment Management Company, or Pimco. “It’s capitalism, I guess, but it’s not to be applauded.” NYTIMES 12/16

An Appreciation of My Friend Mr. Watson

Went to Jim Watson's Christmas show last night at the Cave. He is amazing. He's pretty good at this stuff. The place was hot and crowded but the people were really into the music. The first set he did mostly mid tempo and thoughtful Christmas songs. Somebody (Joe?) said Watson should make a Christmas album. If anyone should, he should. (Even more than Bob Dylan -- sorry Bob!)

For the second set Watson handed around song books and everyone sang along to the carols, as is the Watson Christmas Cave Show Custom. Chapel Hill folks love this stuff. Me too. Jim has been doing his Christmas show now for 24 years. He works hard at them and practices the songs a lot, according to his wife Anne.

I remember one day long ago we were doing an in-store promo for Merchants Lunch at a record store on Franklin Street. We had brought in our instruments and were doing a short set right there in the midst of the aisles filled with bins of vinyl. A friend of mine had come to listen.

"You sounded pretty good," my friend said to me, "but my eyes kept going to Watson. He has star quality."

("Damn!" I remember jealously thinking to myself.)

But my friend was right. Watson does have that esteemed quality. I've known him and played music with him for years, through thick and thin. And he always just stands up there and commits to it 100 pecent. I have never known him not to, no matter what. Never moody, never tempermental. And he has surely learned from the years of tirelessly working and doing it well -- his voice is always clear as a bell, his diction perfect. And it comes across, because people like to listen to him and he makes them smile and makes them happy -- old folks, young folks, family, strangers, hipsters, squares.

I left after the second set, because I had a long drive back. But Watson always does a third set at his Cave show.

"Not just two sets, like these wimps today," he quipped.

Somebody else (Joe?) was saying it's also because Watson is 100 percent comfortable with himself and who he is. One can't say that about a lot of people, particularly in this Age of Anxiety and Uncertainty. (But then, what Age isn't?) Which makes one appreciate people like Watson all the more. Deck the Halls!

photo: Tom and Gail Watts, 2005

Yesterday's Papers:
Summer Fall 2009
Spring 2009
Fall/Winter 2008/09
Summer 2008
Spring 2008
Fall/Winter 2007
Summer 2007
Spring 2007
Winter 2006/07
Fall 2006
Summer 2006
Spring 2006
Fall Winter 2005
Spring Summer 2005
Fall/Winter 2004/05
Summer 2004
Winter/Spring 2004