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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

 

 

 

 

Ghost SFPAns in The Sky

15 Feb

I’m posting audio below of a filk song Toni Weisskopf wrote to be sung to the tune of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” The lyrics are below the audio icon, and below them a glossary to the various jargon from sci-fi fandom contained in the song.

I told Toni that I’d have it recorded by last May. The good news is that I’m not quite a year behind schedule.

Ghost SFPAns in the Sky

By T.K.F. Weisskopf Reinhardt

(after Stan Jones, 1948)

 

At DSC a fine young fan got on
the waitlist today
Upon a couch he rested as
He went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd
Of old SFPAns he saw
Plowing through the lobby
And some of them could draw.

[Verse 2]
Their hands were still on fire and
Their stencils made of steel
Their glasses black and shiny and
Their hot breath he could feel
A bolt of fear went through him as
Their comments made him sigh
For he saw the SFPAns drinking hard
And he heard their mournful cry

[Chorus]
Minac I owe! Minac aiee!
Ghost SFPAns in the sky

[Verse 3]
Their eyes were blurred, their faces gaunt
Their shirts all soaked with sweat
They’re writing hard to match page count
But they ain’t caught Lon yet
Cause they’ve got to write forever at
That con up in the sky
Al’s typer snorting fire
As they write on, hear their cry

[Chorus]
Minac I owe! Minac aiee!
Ghost SFPAns in the sky

[Verse 4]
As the SFPAns rumbled by him
He heard Ned call his name
If you want to save your soul from hell
From page counts in our range
Then Jophan change your ways today
Or with us you will write
Trying to match Hank’s golden wit!
And with Dolbear an Ignite!

[Chorus]
Minac I owe! Don’t make me OE!
Ghost SFPAns in the sky
Ghost SFPAns in the sky

 

Glossary

 

DSC – Deep South Con. One of the oldest science fiction conventions that happens in the southern U.S. Been going fifty-four years now.

SFPA – Southern Fandom Press Alliance. SFPA is a science-fiction apa (amateur press alliance) founded circa 1962. Members all send fanzines into the Official Editor (OE), who assembles them into packages called “mailings” containing one copy of every zine and sends them out to each member. Apas used to be the heart of much of the most exciting activity in sci-fi fandom. Mailings could run close to a thousand pages. Membership rosters were limited, and fans often spent years and years on a waitlist before gaining entrance into to the more respected apas. With the advent of the internet, apas have generally experienced dwindling memberships. And though most of the great apas continue, few if any have a full roster these days. In its day SFPA was one of the great ones, and many sci-fi professionals and well-known fans got their start in SFPA.

SFPAn – A member of SFPA. Pronounced Seffpan.

stencils– Mimeograph stencils. Before photocopiers and home computers, most fanzines were printed on mimeographs. The text would be cut into a stencil using a typewriter with the ribbon removed. The stencils would them be attached to a large curved ink pad, which could be turned by hand to print the individual letter sized pages that were fed one by one into an open ended tray that the ink pad would run over.

Minac – Minimum activity. In order to stay in good standing, apa members have to contribute a certain amount of pages. (Often six pages every other time a mailing is sent out.)

page count– the number of pages in an entire mailing or the number of pages contributed by a member to a mailing or over a period of time.

Lon – Lon Atkins, a long time member and OE of SFPA, who contributed prolifically, perhaps more so than any other member in SFPA’s history.

Con – Convention, in particular a sci-fi convention.

Al  – Al Andrews, a founding member of SFPA, good guy, and co-editor of a respected fanzine called Iscariot. Late in life he was gifted an electric typewriter by some of his fellow SFPAns.

Ned–  Ned Brooks, a SFPA member for over forty years, who was also SFPA’s official archivist. Over the course of his fannish life, Ned assemble a collection of tens of thousands of fanzines, which included a complete run of SFPA’s mailings. The collection is now housed at the University of Georgia.

Hank – Legendary sci-fi Fan Hank Reinhardt, a collector, editor, writer, active member of SFPA and The Society for Creative Anachronisms, and all around wild man.

Dolbear –  Dennis Dolbear, a fan whom I never knew, but who I know was loved throughout sci-fi fandom.

OE – Official Editor. See SFPA, above.