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Hash’s Faves: “Seven Come Eleven”

10 Jul

Charlie-Christian-solosThis week’s pick is one of the tunes that was on that reel-to-reel bootleg that introduced me to jazz; “Seven Come Eleven,” by Charlie Christian, with the Benny Goodman Sextet, Benny on clarinet, Christian on guitar, Lionel Hampton on vibes, Fletcher Henderson on piano, Artie Bernstein on bass and Nick Fatool on drums.

Even at this late date I think it’s impossible to overstate Christian’s impact. He was one of those rare players that completely revolutionized his instrument, like Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Blanton, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Jaco Pastorius or Buddy Emmons. Certainly there had been guitarists who played single-note lines, and Christian wasn’t the first to amplify his guitar, but Charlie’s melodic and rhythmic vocabulary was unprecedented. This may be a bit of a stretch, but I hear similarities between him and Ornette Coleman; both came out of the Southwest, and there’s a certain stringent, desert-like aridity to their lines.

I also think that at this late date in jazz history it’s easy to forget what a great player Goodman was. I think he suffers from what I think of as the Miles Davis syndrome, in that people (well, us musicians, anyway) automatically think of his terrible reputation as a person and turn our minds off when we hear his playing. But, you know, the cat could play, and another extremely important thing to remember is that, even though he sometimes treated the black members of his bands badly he was among the first white bandleaders to hire black musicians, and he was certainly the leader with the highest visibility (Jimmy Durante was actually the first).

Producer John Hammond, one of music’s great talent scouts, learned about Christian through the pianist Mary Lou Williams, and recommended him to Goodman. His tenure with Goodman thrust him into the spotlight; his recordings with Goodman have been the Holy Grail for jazz guitarists since their creation. Sometime in the early 1940’s he started making the jam sessions at Minton’s Playhouse in New York city, and he’s credited as being one of the inventors of bebop; indeed, the term itself is thought to be Christian’s description of his playing style.

He died at the age of 25 from tuberculosis. His influence extends beyond the world of jazz; blues, rock, rockabilly, country and bluegrass guitarists all owe Christian a debt.

You can listen to it here:

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


Steve Hashimoto


Hash’s Faves: “Ramblin’ Jack & Mahan”

22 May

Guy-ClarkTexas singer/songwriter Guy Clark died on March 17. He was part of the great Texas songwriters’ tradition, and considered a big fish in a big pond that included Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Willie Nelson, Mickey Newbury, Waylon Jennings, Joe Ely, Kris Kristofferson and many others. Probably his best-known song was ”Desperadoes Waiting On A Train,” but many of his songs were covered by many great singers. Clark also had one of “those” voices, a voice that expressed many hard years of wild livin’, a voice that compelled you to listen to the words it was singing. He was also a luthier, and evidently a fine one. Texas is crying this week.

This week’s pick is Guy Clark’s “Ramblin’ Jack and Mahan,” from his 1992 album Boats To Build. It’s Clark on guitar an vocals, Verlon Thompson on guitar and vocal harmony, Travis Clark on bass and Kenny Malone on drums and congas.

boats-to-buildThis was the first Clark album that I bought, and although there are many great tunes on the record, this one just grabbed me. I have a confession; I truly believe in reincarnation and past lives, and I firmly believe that in a previous life I was a Texan, perhaps a Native American (I know the mental image of me outdoors is unimaginable for many of you, but I can read animal tracks and I’m a good spotter). I love everything about Texas music, and for some mystical reason the entire mythology of Texas touches something deep down in my soul. The Mahan referred to is rodeo rider Larry Mahan; saying that Mahan is a rodeo rider is kind of like saying Charlie Parker was a saxophone player. And Ramblin’ Jack is, of course, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, neé Elliott Charles Adnopoz. Elliott is one of those semi-mythical characters on the folk music scene; born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents, he reinvented himself as an itinerant guitar picker and singer, running away from home as a teenager to join a rodeo, later hoboing around America with Woody Guthrie, and greatly influencing a young Robert Zimmerman along the way.

I love this verse:

So, ol’ ramblin’ Jack said, he said, “I recall a time 
I set my soul on fire just for show. 
All it ever taught me was 
The more I learn the less I seem to know.” 
Ol’ Mahan crawled out from behind a couch and said, “Jack…” 
He said, “As far as I can see, mistakes are only horses in disguise. 
Ain’t no need to ride ’em over 
’Cause we could not ride them different if we tried.”

Those are words to live by, my amigos.

You can listen to it here:

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

Hash’s Faves: “Things We Said Today”

1 May
Things_We_Said_TodayThis week’s pick is some Beatles music, the Lennon/McCartney composition ”Things We Said Today.” It was written and recorded in 1964, originally intended for use in the film A Hard Day’s Night, but didn’t make the cut. It was released on the soundtrack album, though. This was still in the time period when the boys were recording as a self-contained unit, so it’s John Lennon on guitar, piano and vocals; Paul McCartney on bass and lead vocals; George Harrison on guitar and vocals; and Ringo Starr on drums and tambourine.

I’ve been participating in a class on the Beatles with guitarist/vocalist/composer John Kimsey and I’ve come away from it with lots to ponder. One of the subjects he covers is the different approaches to composition that Lennon and McCartney use; although, as in life, there are always exceptions, a rule of thumb is that Lennon’s melodies are more horizontal and static than Paul’s, and that Paul tends to use more sophisticated chord changes. Another general rule of thumb is that John’s lyrics tends to be more inward-looking while Paul’s are more extroverted and cheerful. And in a way, those two rules-of-thumb are intertwined; John tends to write melodies that won’t detract too much from his lyrics, while Paul is a bit of a show-off; he has a wider vocal range and he likes to use it. Paul is also famous for occasionally coming up with melodies and plugging in nonsense words until he can get around to writing proper words, the most famous example being ”Yesterday,” the original working lyric of which was “Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs.” Applying these rules of thumb, however, would result in misdirection here. One might assume that John wrote the A sections, which are relatively static, while Paul wrote the free-ranging bridge, but most sources say that this is entirely a Paul composition. One might also think that John had a hand in the lyrics, which are a bit gloomy and introspective, but again they’re entirely Paul’s work.

The lyrics, I’m sure, were the soundtrack to many an angst-ridden adolescent’s life; I know that every time I broke up with a girlfriend this was my go-to song.

You can listen to it here:

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


Kent McDaniel

26 Mar

at the heartland

 Guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Kent McDaniel plays blues, roots rock, country, and jazz.  He works as a single, as a duo with his wife Dorothy sharing the vocals and adding flute and keyboards, or with a drummer and bassist as The McDaniel Trio.

An SIU grad originally from Metropolis, Kent stayed in Carbondale several years after graduation playing music full time. He then moved to Chicago, where he played for many years. Since moving back to Carbondale recently, he’s appeared regularly at such venues as PKs, Tres Hombres, 17th Street Bar B Q, Fuzzy’s, and Brews Brothers and on WDBX’s Lonesome Roys’s Country Hoedown. He also hosts Down Home Cookin’ Friday afternoons on WDBX. And he produced the popular recent album by blues legend Tawl Paul, That’s Just how I Am, for which he also provided the lead guitar and wrote five songs.

Kent’s original songs stream for free at Band Camp

Below are two videos of him performing live.  The first one shows him performing as a single and singing some country. Under it are audio recordings of two songs from a recent live appearance  on WDBX radio by Kent and his wife Dorothy. You’ll hear how they sound as a duo on these. Below those is a video of Kent with a drummer and bassist playing as a trio at the Custer Street Fair in Evanston, Illinois. 


Feelin’ Single/Seeing Double (Recorded at home for a Closed Mic Fundraiser)

Audio Recording of 2  Songs from Kent and Dorothy’s recent Live Performance on WDBX

Pride & Joy (Kent McDaniel Trio at Custer Street Fair in Evanston, IL.)

“Barsoom” (A Filk Song)

23 Feb



This is the edition of A Princess of Mars that I first read

 I’m posting a recording  of  “Barsoom,”  a filk song Gary Robe ran in his fanzine Tennessee Trash for the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) a few years back. At the time, I commented on it in my zine, Dumbfounding Stories, and Gary’s next issue featured a revised version of the lyrics, which I also commented on. This process continued back and forth in our zines for almost a year. For trufans and Burroughs Bibliophiles the title will be a tipoff: the song concerns Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels. Many moons now, I been meaning to record Gary’s finished version of the lyrics. When I got ready to finally do it, I noticed that his finished product was one verse shorter than John Prine’s “Paradise,” to which the music of “Barsoom” is set. I came up with another verse for the recording (verse two), and I made two or three tweaks to Gary’s words–which I hope he’ll forgive me.

I hope you’ll click on the audio icon below and check out the lyrics beneath it. If you like filk, and especially if you like filk and Edgar Rice Burroughs, I think you’ll be glad you did.




A big box of books handed down generations

We found Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars

All summer we spent meeting adventure

With Captain John Carter and his green buddy Tars


And Edgar won’t you send me ‘neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars

I’m sorry, cadet, you’re too late to go there

The lander’s cold data has turned it to Mars!

We flew in airships, rode thoats cross the wastelands

Lived by our wits and our swords of cold steel

Faced foes and monsters and found our one true love

It was larger than life and realer than real


So what can you do with a dusty dead planet?

Make it our second home with some water and air!

It’ll take some nerve and a few generations

But someday we’ll send John Carter up there!


Grandpa will you see me to the Moons of New Barsoom?

The colony’s ready; I’m starting to pack!

Heads up, Grandson; just get up on that spaceship!

Cause the Terraform Project’s done brought it all back!


And Edgar won’t you send me neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars?

No problem, my friend; it’s all there in the pages

Just remember it’s Barsoom; it never was Mars!

“Barsoom” was recorded in Garage Band. I’m doing all the parts except the bass, which my  wife, Dorothy, added.

dumbfounding stories 2 cover

Cover by Pablo Vitruvian



Hash’s Faves: “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

17 Feb

ProclaimersThis week’s pick has a little bit of a backstory – it’s the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the band The Proclaimers. It’s from their 1988 album “Sunshine On Leith.” The Proclaimers are the brothers Charlie and Craig Reid (Charlie on guitar and vocals and Craig on vocals); the band on that album included Jerry Donahue, acoustic and electric guitars; Gerry Hogan, steel guitar; Steve Shaw, fiddle; Stuart Nisbet, pennywhistle and mandolin; Dave Whetstone, melodeon; Pete Wingfield, keyboards; Phil Cranham, bass; and Dave Mattacks and Paul Robinson:, drums and percussion.

So – I’ve always liked this song. I first heard it when it was popular; I was briefly in an 80’s rock band (a band that only rehearsed; we never gigged because we couldn’t find a singer to commit), playing songs by The Motels, Prince, Big Country, The Police, etc. I don’t think we played this one, but I was listening to pop radio a lot then, trying to absorb the vibe. What brought this tune back to mind for me was that I had to write a chart for a cover version of the song for an upcoming wedding; the cover is by a band called Sleeping At Last, some local guys from Wheaton, IL. Their version is very pretty, and at first I thought, “Well, this is an interesting take on the song.” But the more I thought about the more I disagreed with their take on it (I bet some of you may even know these guys; I hope you or they won’t be offended). The Reid brothers’ lyrics are romantic and sentimental, but what, in my opinion, makes this a great pop tune is that the performance does its best to subvert the sentimentality. Going the emo route is almost too easy. I’d even venture to say that the Reids, as Scotsmen, can get away with singing something this sentimental, but someone from Wheaton – well, maybe not.

Great cover versions very often find different interpretations, but I think a truly great cover also avoids the easy solution. Billy Stewart’s outrageous version of “Summertime”; Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” or “Hey, Joe”; The Animals’ “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (it was originally recorded by Nina Simone); Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends”; Jefferson Airplane’s “The Other Side Of This Life;” even Miles Davis’ versions of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” I’m also a fan of respectful covers (Brooks and Dunn’s version of B.W. Stevenson’s “My Maria” immediately comes to mind), and don’t get me wrong, I respect what the guys from Wheaton tried to do; they had a concept and they went for it, and I hope they sell a million CDs and get the hell out of the Bible Belt. But The Proclaimers had the right idea to begin with.

My bands do a lot of cover versions; I’ve been lucky enough to inherit arrangements from the guitarists Steve Hutchins and John Rood Lewis, both of whom I think are inventive reinterpreters of pop tunes. I’ve tried my hand as well, and I think I’ve some up with some good efforts. Covering tunes is truly an art, but sometimes you just can’t improve on the original version.

You can listen to it here (warning: the video is comprised of clips from the Johnny Depp movie Benny and Joon, which utilized the song on the soundtrack):

Hash’s Faves: “The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil”

31 Jan

After_Bathing_At_Baxters.net_Last week I said that I was tired of writing about dead people, and Lord, I still am, but this one’s kind of personal.

With all due respect to Glenn Frey and Mic Gillette, both of whom were fine musicians whose work I greatly loved, when I heard about the death of Paul Kantner Thursday night I felt something more than the tug of nostalgia. Kantner was the leader of the 60’s San Francisco band Jefferson Airplane, a band that provided the soundtrack to some of the formative years of my life (singer Marty Balin started the band, but Kantner evolved, or some say bullied his way, into the leadership role). The band went through many changes, including several name changes, but for me the classic lineup included Kantner on guitar and vocals, Balin on vocals, Grace Slick on vocals and occasional keyboard, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady and drummer Spencer Dryden. Kantner was probably the weakest member of the group; Balin and Slick were strong singers with remarkable instruments, Kaukonen was (and is) a good guitarist with strong roots in country blues, Casady remains my favorite bass player of all time, and Dryden brought a certain jazz sensibility to the band. Kantner was not a great guitar player, and his voice had a quality that, as they say, took some getting used to. Many of the songs that he wrote for the band were not the band’s best, and many of them have not aged well.

But that’s precisely why he was so important to the band, I think. He was the political conscience of the band, and he wrote about things he felt strongly about, whether anyone liked it or not. My favorite songs from their recordings tend not to be Paul’s tunes – they actually ranged pretty far for a band of that era, when bands took it as a point of pride to write their own material. They covered songs by David Crosby, the enigmatic Fred Neill, Judy Henske (actually, a song that she sang a lot, ”High Flying Bird,” by Billy Edd Wheeler) and traditional folk and blues tunes. Kantner was generous about sharing writing duties on their records with all of the other band members – none of that “Okay, George and Ringo get one tune each!” business. To my knowledge he never took a guitar solo, and he only occasionally sang lead. He had a unique ear for harmony as a singer; the chief difference between the Airplane’s harmony singing and everyone else’s (Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Beach Boys, The Band, The Eagles) was that they based much of their part-singing on quartal rather than diatonic harmony (a trait they shared with the Engish band Pentangle). Kantner seemed to gravitate towards harmony lines that created a feeling of suspension and ambiguity.

They were simultaneously a product of the time (the hippie 60’s) and creators of the zeitgeist. Whether this was a conscious effort on Kantner’s part or just the way that things happened, the band behaved much like a jazz band, in that musicians were always sitting in and guesting on their records and gigs; the Airplane famously lived in a communal house at 2400 Fulton in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, and I think he also saw the band as a communal family. Kantner himself often alluded to his Teutonic tendency towards control, but I’d have to say that during those early years he didn’t seem like a guy who felt like he had to protect his turf.

He co-wrote the version of ”Wooden Ships,” with David Crosby and Stephen Stills, that appears on the JA album ”Volunteers,” and I think it’s superior to the version on CSN’s debut album. Of course CSN’s version is gorgeous and the playing is competent, but the Airplane’s version has some rough edges, especially in Kantner’s vocal verses, that humanizes it, and it has a wider story arc and a more interesting dynamic.

In 1971, with the Airplane in the throes of dissolution, Kantner released a curious “solo” album called ”Blows Against The Empire,” credited to Jefferson Starship. Later on the Airplane would be officially called the Jefferson Starship, but that was really a different band than this one, and the spin-off band, called Starship, was another completely different animal. The Blows Against The Empire band was an ad-hoc bunch of San Francisco players, including members of The Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills and Nash and Santana (many of whom would also make the unjustly obscure David Crosby solo album ”If I Could Only Remember My Name”). The theme of the album was one of Kantner’s personal obsessions, a science-fiction conceit of leaving Earth and colonizing other planets; he and Slick (Crosby’s hilarious nickname for the couple was Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun) had just had a daughter, China, and I guess he really didn’t like the school district. The album’s kind of a mess, but I also find it charming that Kantner could talk his record company into it.

Kantner died from complications from a heart attack, He was 74 years old.



In honor of Kantner’s memory, this week’s pick is ”The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil,” by The Jefferson Airplane. The song was written by Kantner, who plays guitar and shares lead vocals with Grace Slick and Marty Balin. This is a live version, featuring a pretty cool solo by bassist Jack Casady; guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and drummer Spencer Dryden round out the classic lineup. For a sonically better version check out the original recording on their 1967 album ”After Bathing At Baxter’s.”

This song kind of typifies for me the things that I loved (and that many people hated) about this band, the three-part vocals, the wild and wooly solos, the opaque, surrealistic lyrics. Yes, Grace often sings flat, but I tend to blame the monitor situations (and maybe the acid). And Kantner’s voice is an acquired taste, but he fills a nice little sonic niche between Balin and Slick. In this video (which I have never seen before) it’s obvious that Balin and Slick are like fire and ice at the heart of the band, contributing different kinds of soulfulness. Kantner is the architect and the intellect, staying out of the spotlight but definitely the man behind the curtain. Kaukonen is the flash and Dryden is the glue, but it’s obvious that Casady is the throbbing engine that drives the band.

You can view the video here:



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


Over Yonder And Round The Bend

30 Jan


I just like this pic

We just finished recording a new song for our next album. The tune’s called “Over Yonder & Round The Bend.” I feel great about how it came out, and hope you’ll give a listen. The audio’s below. Lyrics, too.




































I wrote the song and am on guitar and vocals. Andrew MacCrimmon is on drums,  Gus Friedlander’s on banjo, and Dorothy McDaniel’s singing harmony. I recorded most of the tracks on Garage Band, and Robert Marshall mixed and mastered them at The Cave Recording in Evanston, Illinois.

To hear the other songs in the can for our next album click here: www.





Hash’s Faves: “Upa Neguina”/”O Morro Nao Tem Vez (Favela)

25 Jan

elis-regina1This week’s pick is from Brasil, a samba medley of the songs ”Upa Neguinha, O Morro Não Tem Vez (Favela)” and another song that I’m not familiar with, but I bet there are a bunch of you out there that can help out. They’re performed by the great singer Elis Regina and Jair Rodrigues. Upa was written by Edu Lobo and Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, and O Morro by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. Both songs portray the political scene in Brasil in the 60’s, when it was ruled by a military dictatorship and the gulf between the wealthy and the impoverished was great.

Even with the poor video quality, Regina’s life-force is almost overwhelming; I have to admit that I’m in love with this woman, as most of Brasil was. It looks like the last half of this clip was a mini-documentary about life in the favelas, and if anyone knows anything more about I’d love to know.

My introduction to Brasilian music was through my friend, the late Mexican guitarist/singer Miguel Bermejo, and my education, like many others in Chicago, continued with the band Som Brasil (Made In Brasil), which had a long residency at the much-lamented club The Jazz Bulls. The band, of course, has had many members, but in the time that I regularly went to see them the band was comprised of leader/pianist Breno Sauer, vocalist Neussa Sauer, saxophonist Ron DeWar, guitarist Akio Sasajima, bassist Paulinho Garcia and drummer Luiz Ewerling. Neussa was very much influenced by Regina, and Breno was there at the beginning of bossa nova, back in Rio. Som Brasil’s sole album is extremely rare but worth searching for; it’s some of the most life-affirming music you’ll ever hear.

“O Morro Não Tem Vez” is extremely popular amongst jazz players, and in Chicago Som Brasil’s version was what most of us base our interpretations on. Brasilian Portuguese is a language that resists literal translation, I think; the title can be loosely translated as “There Are No Opportunities For The Hills.” The favelas, or slums, in Rio are mostly located on the mountainside of Corcovado or Sugarloaf Mountain; when it rains torrentially, the favelas often get washed right off of the mountainside. There’s a more-or-less literal translation of the lyrics online that says “The mountain has no chance, but when it gets it’s chance the whole city will sing.” Many of the Samba Schools originate in the favelas, and I guess the reading means that Carnaval time is the only time when the favelas get to be heard by the world, through the music. “Upa Neguinha”” means, more or less, “Rise up, Black Boy!”, a call for revolution that somehow slipped by the official censors.

You can listen to Regina’s video here:

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


An Amazing Cover

7 Jul


Amazing Stories, May, 1962 Amazing Stories, May, 1962

This cover, by George Schelling for the May, 1962 issue of Amazing Stories, is one of my all time favorite pieces of of sci-fi art. I’m not sure what I like so much about it. I suspect the composition is very nice. I also think that the colors and shading on the space station are beautiful. I love the sense of vastness in the space-scape background. And the crashing spaceship conveys a lot of energy. I mean, man, you can almost hear the impact and feel  craft’s speed, can’t you?

Probably the whole of the piece is greater than the sum of its parts, too.

The cover illustrates “The Stars My Brothers” by Edmond Hamilton, who along with E. E. Smith is credited by many with creating the space opera genre back in the thirties and forties. George Schelling, its painter, worked as a sci-fi…

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