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The Legacy of World War II

4 Dec
The week of December 7 is a week in which every Japanese-American has to face the legacy of history. I will admit, with much shame, that as a knucklehead adolescent I tended to make fun of Pearl Harbor Day, oftentimes threatening to go down to Cricket Hill and bomb the Eskimo totem pole. As I got older I started to realize that this was no joking matter, especially when I became a professional musician. One December 7 found me playing a cocktail reception at the military installation at O’Hare, in a room decorated with photos of the U.S.S. Arizona, and another December 7 found me playing a community theater performance out in Elgin; I was in the washroom, in a stall, and overheard two old guys at the urinals asking each other where they were “on that day”; one of them had been at Pearl. I stayed in the stall until they left. And I once dated a woman, a Southern belle, who warned me that her father was never to know about our relationship, because he had survived Pearl Harbor. People died, and people remember.

Of course, that cuts both ways. One of my best friends’ family has roots in Hiroshima, and I can only imagine what his feelings are every August 6.

Throughout most of my life I’ve been aware that there’s a disconnect between what we were taught in history classes at school and what my family related to me. Ever since I was little I knew that my whole family had spent most of World War II “in the camps,” and that the adult men in the family had also served in the United States Army overseas. It wasn’t until I became a hippie that the inherent weirdness of that started to sink in. And even at this late date in history I continue to run into friends who have no idea what “the camps” were, or about the history of the Nisei in World War II was.

I’ll try to be brief; in 1942 president Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order wdc-japanese-internment-announcement9066, which commanded all United States residents of Japanese ancestry to report to “relocation centers,” which were in essence concentration camps. The camps were located in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. By all accounts life in the camps was no picnic; I remember my mom and aunts talking about the sand blowing in through cracks in the walls and covering everything while they slept (snow, in the winter). You were only allowed to bring what you could physically carry, or lash to your vehicles, so almost everyone lost their homes, their farms, their businesses, their land, and most of their possessions unless they were lucky enough to have neighbors who’d watch over their interests (most did not; this resulted in what was essentially a land-grab by the Anglo Californians). And although many of the Japanese-Americans were understandably bitter and dispirited, the majority of them remained determined to prove that they were good American citizens. In this spirit thousands of young men volunteered to serve in the Army.

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Go For Broke

Most of them were placed in two special units, the 442nd Combat Regiment and the 100th Battalion. Eventually the two units were consolidated, and included a Field Artillery battalion. The 442nd/100th served in the European theater; very few Japanese soldiers fought in the Pacific, although some served in intelligence positions, as interpreters. The 442nd/100th were the most-decorated units in the war, with

amongst the highest casualty rates as

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Uncle Mark

well. My Uncle Mark was in the 442nd; my dad was not, although he did serve in Italy. I never got the story of why he didn’t go with the 442nd; he was younger than Mark, which might explain it (he was a company bugler). The 442nd’s motto was “Go For Broke,” which was also the title of a movie starring Van Johnson, about the unit. That movie is part of every Japanese-American of my age’s upbringing; I’ve probably seen it dozens of times, and most of my friends own copies of it, as do I.

The most famous legend of the 442nd’s history is the story of the Lost Battalion. Units of the 141st Regiment were cut off and surrounded by Germans in the Vosges mountains; suffering great casualties, the 442nd rescued them. The 442nd’s K Company suffered 386 casualties out of their 400 men.

So, I realize that I’m not responsible for Pearl Harbor, just as I realize you’re not responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But I feel justifiable pride in what the guys in the 442nd/100th accomplished, and I do wish that it was a better-known aspect of World War II history, as I also wish the Relocation Centers were too. And ever year on December 7 I’ll dwell on these thoughts.

Steve Hashimoto

This post appeared a couple years back in News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at steven.hashimoto@sbcglobal.net

 

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Steve Hashimoto

 

On DBX

11 Aug

Here’s a vide of Dorothy McDaniel, Stick Gilbert, and me (Kent McDaniel) jamming live on WDBX 91.1. Carbondale. Rolling with some Jimmy Reed.

 

Hash’s Faves: Jefferson Airplane

5 Aug

I just happened to stumble upon a couple of videos on YouTube of the Airplane’s performance at Woodstock in 1969 which blew me away, and got me to thinking in a more critical way about the whole band, not just Casady, who I’ve said before is one of my all-time favorite bassists.

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Signe Toly Anderson

The band’s history is pretty convoluted; formed in 1965 by singer Marty Balin and guitarist/vocalist Paul Kantner. Balin ran a seminal music club in San Francisco, the Matrix, and envisioned a house band for the club that would follow the lead of bands like the Byrds, melding folk music with rock and roll. Other members of what would become the Matrix’s house band included singer Signe Toly Anderson, acoustic bassist Bob Harvey, drummer Jerry Peloquin and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, a friend of Kantner’s who had just moved to the Bay area from Washington D.C. It was Jorma who suggested the band’s name. Peloquin quit over his disapproval of the band’s drug use, to be replaced by drummer Skip Spence, who would later form the band Moby Grape. Harvey’s bass playing wasn’t fitting the band’s vision, so Kaukonen summoned his Washington friend Casady to move out west.

The band started to gain popularity, playing some significant gigs and attracting attention from record companies; they cut their first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, in 1966. Anderson became pregnant and quit the band, to be replaced by Grace Slick,who was in a band called The Great Society who had opened for the Airplane at a gig, Spence also quit, to be replaced by Spencer Dryden; this, in my opinion, was the classic band lineup. The band would go through several different metamorphoses, eventually becoming the Jefferson Starship, and later simply the Starship, and many of those bands were very good, but in my opinion none of them had the magic of the classic band.

Spencer Dryden

Spencer Dryden

Watching the Woodstock performances clarified some things for me, but I’ve always loved the band, and have often thought about what made them so special. The first thing that struck me about the Woodstock performances was Dryden’s short drum solo that introduces the song “3/5ths Of A Mile In 10 Seconds; I thought, “He’s really an r&b player!” I’d previously thought of him as being part of the band’s jazzy contingent; the band always seemed to contain several separate and distinct (and oftentimes overlapping) stylistic “cliques” – Casady and Dryden were the jazzers, Kaukonen and Casady the blues guys, Kantner and Slick the folkies, and Balin was the r&b guy. Now I think that Dryden belonged in both the jazz and r&b camp. Analogous with the Beatles, whose greatness (in my opinion, of course) resulted from the combination of personalities and musical tastes, the Airplane stumbled upon a magical combination whose whole was greater than its parts. Another thing that struck me about the Woodstock videos was the entire band’s willingness to improvise; even though they were obliged to play their greatest hits, they tried to stretch them (the performance of “Somebody To Love is especially adventurous). Casady is ferocious here; listen to what he does with the relatively simple 3-chord song Volunteers”.

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Paul Kantner

Kantner always seemed to be kind of the odd man out, musically, but I’m coming around to thinking that he was the glue that held the various factions and styles together. While his voice is an acquired taste, his vocal timbre and the harmonies that he sang were the perfect bridge between Balin’s soulful style and Slick’s near-operatic acrobatics. The Airplane’s 3-part harmonies were unique; most pop bands sing in more-or-less traditional “barbershop” harmony, but the Airplane’s harmonies tended to owe more to Gregorian chant and medieval music, and much of that came from Kantner; Balin sang harmonies that owed more to soul music by way of gospel, while Slick’s came out of folk music, which in turn sometimes originated in Irish and Scottish drone harmonies, enabling Kantner’s ideas to mesh better with Balin. As a rhythm guitar player, Kantner somehow manages to stay out of the way of Kaukonen and Casady, in much the same way the Bob Weir managed to stay out of Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh’sway in the Grateful Dead. I wish Balin hadn’t played that damned tambourine so much; in the Woodstock videos pianist Nicky Hopkinsis an almost invisible special guest (the camera only shows him briefly), contributing beautiful little lines here and there, as he was wont to do as a star sideman of that era.

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Jorma Kaukonen

I might mention here that the Airplane were also among the first rock musicians who I was aware of who loved to jam, and who didn’t consider their band a sacrosanct entity. Much like jazz players, they often welcomed other Bay area musicians onto the stage and into the recording studio, and I always eagerly scanned the liner notes of their albums to see who was guesting. The San Francisco musical community, which included the Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Crosby Stills and Nash, Janis Joplin, Santanaand other groups, as well as Los Angelenos the Byrds, was an incestuous one, in a mostly good way. One of my favorite albums is David Crosby’s _If I Could Only Remember My Name, which features a staggering number of players from all of those bands, and the first iteration of the Starship, a solo album by Kantner called Blows Against The Empire,_ also is a star-studded affair. Frank Zappa was also a sometime partner-in-crime.

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Grace Slick

One cannot ignore or fail to mention the effect that Slick’s sex appeal had; after all, even in these PC times you have to acknowledge that rock and roll is largely about sex, and Slick was the fantasy of countless hippies. The legend is that the band, who were supposed to close out the Saturday night show, didn’t go on until early Sunday morning; in the delay, evidently, many drugs were consumed, and Slick looks especially tripped out, but somehow still gorgeous. I was also impressed by how into the music she was (perhaps a byproduct of the chemicals), but in a non-show-bizzy way. They were hippies, and I love that she (as well as Joplin and Joni Mitchell and Mama Cass) didn’t seem to have a stage “show,” didn’t seem to have little bits that they’d do at preordained parts of songs every time they performed that song. Every time I see video of the band performing, at some point the camera lingers lovingly on Slick, and I can never help but think, “Good God, she’s beautiful!” Sorry, mea culpa.

Doors The Matrix

The Doors performing at The Matrix

By the time of the Woodstock performance, though, the wheels were already starting to come off. The internal personal dynamics of the band were always a bit fraught, complicated, it must be said, by sex. Again, they were hippies, and they were supposed to believe in freedom in all things, but human nature will have its way, and Slick was involved in relationships with not only Casady and Kantner but also (allegedly) with Jim Morrison,as well as many others, no doubt. Balin had withdrawn from much of the group’s business and musical decisions, and Kaukonen and Casady had started their side project, Hot Tuna, in part because the Airplane was working less, and they simply wanted to play. Jorma’s charmingly forlorn songThird Week In Chelsea, on the album Bark,chronicles his frustration with the band situation and forecasts its eventual demise; to her eternal credit, Slick agreed to sing harmony on it. Kantner would actually quit the band at one point, and Balin started playing rhythm guitar. By the time of Bark, Dryden had been replaced by Joey Covington, who had been playing with Hot Tuna. Violinist Papa John Creach became an official member of the band. Balin was not on the album, having quit the band, so although there are parts of the record that I like, this was no longer, for me, the Airplane.

Kantner and Slick were now parents; I do like that they still had enough of a sense of humor to name their 1973 non-Airplane/Starship record Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun; Kantner’s Teutonic temperament had always been one of the sources of contention within the band. The band officially ended in 1972, to eventually evolve into the various Starship iterations. They did some reunion gigs in 1989, and (I didn’t know this strange fact) both Kantner and Signe Anderson died on January 28, 2016. Dryden died in 2005.

The Starship continues, with Chicago-area singer Cathy Richardsonably filling Slick’s sandals. Hot Tuna continues to perform.

You can watch the Woodstock performances here:

Once you’re there, I think you’ll find several more videos from their Woodstock set.

This post is reprinted from News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at steven.hashimoto@sbcglobal.net.

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Steve Hashimoto

 

Write-up from C’dale Times

3 Aug

Here’s an article Carbondale Times ran about Dorothy and me back in June. We appreciate it, and like the new merging of Carbondale Nightlife with Carbondale Times.

The McDaniels make downtown Carbondale debut at PK’s

By Dakota Holden

updated: 6/22/2018 5:44 PM

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The McDaniels will make their debut at PK’s in Carbondale June 23. The blues and rock will start at 9 p.m.

The McDaniels are Kent (guitar, vocals) and Dorothy McDaniel (bass).

Kent McDaniel originally performed in Carbondale in the 1970s with The McDaniels Brothers Band, splitting shows with Shawn Colvin, opening for Earl Scruggs, and often sharing the stage with Tawl Paul. The McDaniel Brothers were a PK’s regular, playing every Thursday night until Kent moved out the region.

Kent moved to Chicago in 1980. He tells Nightlife he bumped into Dorothy riding the train into the loop. She was going to her oboe recital, and he was on his way to see Koko Taylor. They decided to attend both events with each other. They later married and started a family of their own. They have been playing music together ever since as The McDaniels. In the past year, they both moved to Carbondale.

“No matter where I lived, I have always searched for a place that felt like home,” Kent says. “When I moved back to Carbondale, it finally felt like home.”

Since their return, they have hosted and performed on WDBX, played small shows at Tres Hombres and Celebrate 618, and now PK’s for their first full-length show.

The McDaniels have an interesting combination of influences. Dorothy grew up playing with a strong classical background, teaching Kent theory and how to read sheet music. In return, he taught her the art of improvisation and memorization of music.

The McDaniels have been working with Jim Foerster at Mole Hole Studios on new music and are excited to release their recordings. Their song “When the Blues Come Knocking” features B.B. King-style rhythms and tasteful leads as well as beautiful background vocals.

The McDaniels’ debut will feature guests including Stick Gilbert (percussion), Lew Hendrix (banjo) and Tawl Paul. It also happens to be Kent McDaniel’s birthday that night, so make sure to give a proper Carbondale welcome.

Music is available through kentmcdaniel.bandcamp.com.

Who: The McDaniels

When: June 23

Where: PK’s

Ghost Riders in the Sky

24 Mar

Sky 3I recorded a version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (see icon below). I always thought the song was interesting  but never bothered to learn it. Then my friend Tony Weisskopf wrote a parody of it called “Ghost SFPAans in the Sky,” and once at a party during ContraFlow I told her I’d record it. Which I eventually did. When we finished it, I thought the music sounded interesting, like a spectral stampede across the sky. I decided to record the actual lyrics to the music as well as Toni’s parody. The result is below.

 

 

GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY

 

An old cowboy went riding out one dark and windy day

Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way

When all at once a mighty herd of red-eyed cows he saw

Plowing through the ragged sky and up a cloudy draw

 

Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel

Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel

A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered cross the sky

For he saw the riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry

 

Yippie I A Yippie I O, ghost riders in the sky

 

Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat

They’re riding hard to catch that herd but they ain’t caught em yet

For they got to ride forever on that range up in the sky,

on horses snorting fire. As they ride on hear them cry.

 

Yippie I A Yippie I O, ghost riders in the sky

 

As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name

If you want to save your soul from hell ariding on our range

Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride

Trying to catch The Devil’s herd across these endless skies

 

Yippie I A Yippie I O, ghost riders in the sky

 

Ghost riders in the sky

 

Credits: Dorothy McDaniel, bass; Chris Butler, percussion; Bob Swenson, vocal harmony; Dan Marsh, harmonica; Me, guitars and vocal.

 

 

The McDaniel Bros. Band @ Carries (Spring, ’78)

12 Mar

The playlist below is four songs by The McDaniel Brothers Band, recorded Spring of 1978, at Carries, a late night roadhouse located out in the county between Carbondale and Murphysboro. Carries closed at 4 AM and the bands played from something like 11:30 PM to 3:30 AM. The songs were recorded live on a two track reel to reel. Considering, the tape’s sound quality was okay. Only, starting with the fourth song, the vocal level got drastically lower. So I’m including the first three songs, and one of the later songs. The vocals on it are pretty low, but we liked to jam out on a song sometimes, and I wanted an example included.

I got the tape from Tawl Paul a little after my wife Dorothy and I moved back to Carbondale from Chicago. We saw him at PKs, and he said, “Hey, man, I been meaning to tell you. I got this old tape. I don’t how I ended up with it, but I think it’s The McDaniel Brothers Band.”

I was pretty sure which tape he meant, cause I only I remember us taping one gig. Turned out it was the tape I was thinking of. Tawl Paul only had one tape, but two reel to reel tapes were recorded that night. I’d sure like to get my hands on the other one.

The guys in the band were John Zurek on drums, Rick Stoncious on bass, Doug McDaniel on rhythm guitar and vocals, Kent Mcdaniel (me) on lead guitar, and Gary Victorene on pedal steel. Here’s the songs.

 

Much thanks to Jim Foerster of The Mole Hole Studio, for getting the most out of those two track tapes in digital form.

 

mcdaniel bros band

L-R  John Zurek, Rick Stoncious, Doug McDaniel, Kent McDaniel, Gary Victorene

 

Good Rockin: The McDaniels on DBX

19 Feb

 

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Dorothy and I returned to our favorite radio station WDBX for an hour set back in December. It was just the two of us, playinga mix of blues, country, jazz, and folk, but I’m gonna tell you, we were rocking pretty nice. There’s a recording of the set, below. I hope you give it a listen and use some headphones when you do. It’ll be worth it.

 

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Loy Addington

We want to thank WDBX for having us on. And especially Loy Addington, host of Lonesome Roy’s Country Hoedown. Every time  we get together with him, it feels like a
party to us.

 

 

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WDBX in Carbondale, IL