Wednesday, December 12, 2007

He brought the Delta blues to players,
audiences here
Jerry Ricks, 67, a Philadelphia-born guitarist whose expert finger-picking was a direct link to the Delta blues, died Monday in a clinic in Croatia.

His death was announced by the Croatian Music Union, according to an Associated Press report. He had been living in the Balkan nation since early summer.

In August, Mr. Ricks went to a hospital, complaining of headaches and dizziness. Doctors determined that he had a brain tumor. He underwent repeated surgeries for removal of the nonmalignant growth and for a subsequent infection, his partner of 17 years, Nancy Klein, told The Inquirer in October. At the time, he was making a slow but steady recovery.

Mr. Ricks learned to play guitar from some of the greats as they came through Philadelphia clubs in the 1960s: Josh White, Mississippi John Hurt, Brownie McGhee, the Rev. Gary Davis, and Skip James. He in turn taught an authentic style of country blues to legions of guitar students in Philadelphia.

"Jerry was not just a wonderful musician - and he was a terrific guitarist - but he was basically a folklorist and a scholar," said the folk singer Mike Miller. "He just became involved in the history of the music and the people who made it."

Over the years, Mr. Ricks moved in and out of Philadelphia to find work, living in the Mississippi Delta, the Jersey Shore and most recently the Croatian coast.

When he recorded, he went by "Philadelphia" Jerry Ricks to distinguish himself from another musician.

Friends of Mr. Ricks' gathered in October to raise money for his medical expenses. The show, which included performances by Shemekia Copeland, David Bromberg and many friends from the Philadelphia folk revival, brought in more than $10,000, organizers said.

"A lot of people at the benefit said they took their first guitar lessons with Jerry," said the folk singer Saul Brody. "There was quite a range - blues bands, many of whom had studied with Jerry and felt he was one of their original influences, and folkies like myself, who were part of that scene and felt a lot of affection for him."

In a 2000 interview with The Inquirer, Mr. Ricks said of his music: "I never tried to walk in my mentors' footsteps. And nobody ever asked me to carry on their legacy after they were gone. I just had an honest relationship with these people and their music, and I followed my nose around."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lynda's "Jersey-Fresh" Latke Recipe

It started when Pearl informed me that she was accepting my invite to our impromptu First Night latke celebration, which has become a part of our life here in Teaneck. 

Before I continue, I want to point out that in this picture I am standing with Sarah, proprietor of Le Sabon (locations in Manhattan and Teaneck), who gave me this adorable Koogle apron. She joined Pearl and me and our tribes for the gathering.

Having clarified all this, let's continue:

Around noon on the first day of Chanuka (which I always forget) I invite the neighbours. It separates the men from the boys in the sense that not everyone is as spontaneous as those of us who show up to the house. We had a pretty decent crowd last night, and there was lots of laughter, music, mass consumption and some imbibement.

Okay, so back to Pearl. She can't eat wheat. So sometime in the recent past I made a special batch of latkes for her that had no flour in them. I made two kinds -- sweet potato, and also the standard 2-cent plain variety. Hers had the taste and consistency of a really nice, homey hash brown. 

This year we decided to forego the flour and only make latkes from local Jersey farm-fresh produce. And voila, the Jersey latke for you to try at home:

5 lb. bag of white or yellow potatoes
3 lb bag of yellow onions
2 tsps. iodized salt per batch
12 eggs
1 bottle of olive oil (preferably extra virgin, and the greener the better)
Three or four large bowls
One roll of paper towels
Spatula and/or kitchen forceps

Turn on NPR and put on your rubber gloves. Lay a large dish towel on the floor in front of your stove. You MUST wear shoes that cover your toes, and do not wear drapey clothes as the spattering oil is a real fire hazard. No joke.
Get out your old grater and one large bowl.
In the sink, fill a second large bowl with warm water, and plop in around 5 lb. of potatoes.
When you are certain they are nice and clean, start grating everything, including the skins. Make sure to turn your potatoes so that the skin gets grated and does not stick to the potato. Five pounds will fit nicely into a large bowl. Optional: dump the grated potatoes into a colander and let it drain in the sink to get the potato juice out. 

Peel three or four onions and slice them in half. Dice into tiny pieces and place in a bowl.

Get out your favourite iron frying pan. Throw out your teflon...did you know that the fumes of your burning teflon pan can kill your canaries and even make you sick? Pour in the olive oil and watch the heat level (I recommend medium high) since this is a heavier oil than the generic crap they've been passing off as vegetable oil down at the supermarket. 

In a separate bowl, take two handfuls of potato gratings and a small handful of onions. Break two eggs into the mess and mix. Cup your hand and throw in enough salt to taste - between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. Do not fear the salt shaker -- that Weight Watchers frozen entree you had today at lunch had at least three times as much salt. When it's all mixed together and a bit wet, take a tablespoon and drop the batter into the hot oil.

Brown both sides well until crispy. Be careful of the spatter. That is why I suggest draining the potatoes. It helps keep spatter to a minimum, but you cannot be careful enough.

Meantime you will take a large plate and cover it with two sheets of paper towels. After you take your latkes out of the pan, you will lay them down on the paper towels just to pat them dry a bit. Make sure to change the towels when they get too greasy and soggy. Serve as they come out. There's nothing worse than a lukewarm or cold latke.

Latkes are best enjoyed with sour cream or that delicious home-made apple sauce that you had prepared earlier in the day. Do I need to tell you how to do that, too? I'll save that for another time.

Tzim gezint! Bon appetite!

Season's Greetings!
Thanks to Paysach Olson for sending this to me. It was too good not to share!

Monday, December 03, 2007

“If you don’t take an interest in politics,
politics will take an interest in you."

Trumped by Traffic Jams

None of my friends knows what to do about the upcoming State Duma elections. Some think that it would be wrong to vote for United Russia since it has turned the campaign into a Soviet-style farce. Others understand that the ruling party’s platform is vague, but they believe that the policies of other parties are even worse. Almost all of my friends who previously voted for Yabloko or the Union of Right Forces are now disappointed by those parties’ leaders and consider them to be marginalized or outright clowns. Some want to vote for Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party, either because they are entertained by his scandalous statements or simply because they want to avoid voting for United Russia. Many die-hard anti-Communists are even planning to vote for the Communist Party as a protest vote against United Russia. Still others are planning to deface their ballots or tear them up.

Many people are sick of the elections, perhaps even nauseous. And these are not the people who are typically apolitical in other countries — the poorest and least educated segment of society. In Russia, political indifference is widespread and even fashionable among wealthy people as well as the so-called middle class.

During my call-in radio show, I often wonder whether it makes sense to talk with callers about the elections and politics in general. They find politics boring no matter how it is presented. I have reached the conclusion that they don’t want to hear anything at all except updates on traffic jams.

I think that the sociological phenomenon of Russia’s voting patterns is worth studying because it overturns many assumptions. For example, according to various surveys, about 60 percent of voters believe that the Duma elections will not be conducted fairly, but about the same percentage of people nevertheless plan to vote — despite knowing almost nothing about the platforms of the major parties. Voters don’t know what Putin’s Plan is, nor do they want to find out more about it. As expected, few people found the campaign’s televised political debates interesting.

Even though it has been 15 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it would seem that Russians don’t react negatively to modern-day versions of Soviet propaganda. Nobody gets upset when local authorities round people up to participate in pro-government meetings or when students — usually known for their love of freedom and independence — attend mass rallies to avoid getting bad grades from their professors.

It is as if the last 15 years have had no impact whatsoever on the country. The old Soviet mentality is alive and well, and people are returning to their former ways. They believe this is what constitutes the much longed-for “stability” that the authorities constantly claim has arrived. They refuse to see the connection between the fact that they spend hours stuck in horrendous traffic jams and their complete indifference to the political process and elections.

These traffic jams and the vast problems of everyday life all stem from the fact that Russia is badly managed and that governmental institutions do not function properly.

Yet, Russians are unable to acknowledge their own responsibility for the country’s poor governance — that governmental institutions are substandard because the people themselves allow them to be so bad. To make matters worse, many Russians take pride in their lack of interest in politics. Perhaps there is some truth to the much-quoted saying that every nation deserves the type of government that it has.

There is another expression that is pertinent to this issue: “If you don’t take an interest in politics, politics will take an interest in you.” It was true back then and it is true today.

Georgy Bovt is a political analyst and hosts a radio program on City FM.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Finally...A Time For Celebration!

Pictures and video tells all!

Yona's bat mitzvah was a joyous occasion. Everyone had a great time. It was a very green affair, with local produce supplied by Abma Farm, and a small half-peck bag of apples on each table in lieu of flowers. One of our guests took the apples home, made applesauce for her father who was in hospital, and reported to us that he ate and enjoyed. Now, that's something you just cannot do with flowers!

We're trying to get the magnificent slideshow that was created by Marty up and running. I'll post again when it's ready to go.

Meantime, Marty is moving on in his life and congratulations are due to my very talented husband for an incredible decade at the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. I really don't know who else could have pulled off the feat that he managed, nor does anyone else know how he did it.

Check out this vid, produced by Walter Schlomann of Salt and Pepper Media:

The Good-Lord-Willing, there will be many more happy occasions to celebrate!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am proud to be a Dorky Nerd Queen. This is what my kids have been saying about me for years. So I took the test. No surprises here. says I'm a Dorky Nerd Queen.  What are you?  Click here!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The following event is before Yona's Bat Mitzvah weekend extravaganza, but I'm singing in this show and wanna see you. Come say hi and lemme hear your voice!

You are invited to the

Second Annual All-Star
New York Yiddish Singalong


Robert Abelson, Michael Alpert, Phyllis Berk, Joanne Borts, Caroline Chanin,
Adrienne Cooper, Ron Eliran, Michael Fox, Rebecca Garfein, Sarah Gordon,
The Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus, The New Yiddish Chorale,
Binyumen Schaechter, Reyna & Temma Schaechter ("Di Shekhter-tekhter"),
Basya Schechter, Elizabeth Schwartz, Lorin Sklamberg, Jeff Warschauer

Accompanied by an all-star Klezmer ensemble, including
Margot Leverett, Joey Weisenberg and Jake Shulman

Musical Director - Zalmen Mlotek
Emcee - Corey Breier
Producer - Moishe Rosenfeld

Thursday, October 25, 2007, 7:30 PM
at Congregation Rodeph Sholom
7 West 83rd Street, New York City

Come sing your heart out - in Mame-loshn!

General admission:
$18 Advance Purchase; $20 Day of the Event.
VIP seating (with a post-concert reception):
$50 Advance Purchase; $60 Day of the Event.
Group discounts - (10 or more purchased in advance) - 15%

For tickets and information:
212-608-0555 or 212-683-7816

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dear Friends, I'm posting some news from Clay Eals. He interviewed me about my musical mentor, the late, legendary Steve Goodman. Here's a bulletin he sent out which is worth being seen by all you nice people, too. You can help support the legacy of Steve's music by purchasing Clay's book. Details below.


Steve Goodman:
Facing the Music

by Clay Eals

(To contact me, please don't hit "reply" to this message. Instead, use this link: <>. If you hit "reply," your message will go to my webmaster, not me.)

Gang:Check out several exciting new developments this fall relating to my Steve Goodman biography:"Facing the Music" reaches YouTubeTraveling banjoist and singer/songwriter Rik Palieri, based in Burlington, Vermont, interviewed me for 30 minutes about "Steve Goodman: Facing the Music" on Aug. 23 for Lake Champlain Access Television. Courtesy of producer (and singer/songwriter) Rebecca Padula, the interview is now easily accessible worldwide at For easy instructions on how to see the interview, visit my site at <>, click on the reviews tab and scroll down. Rik did a great job with the interview, and I'm grateful to him and Rebecca for giving it such prominence.

XM Satellite Radio features Goodman tribute

Four times this month, XM Satellite Radio subscribers will be able to hear the tracks on the tribute CD that accompanies "Steve Goodman: Facing the Music." The 90-minute program, including track intros that I recorded Aug. 15 at XM in Washington, D.C., will air (all times Eastern) at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16; 3 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20; and 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22. For easy instructions on how to subscribe at a special "friends and family" discount, visit my site at <> and click on the schedule tab.

Thanks to Mary Sue Twohy at XM for the visibility (XM's The Village has 1 million subscribers), and to Buddy Mondlock and Mike Lindauer, for the initial suggestion."Go, Cubs, Go" into the post-seasonThe Chicago Cubs have won the National League's Central Division and soon will play in the NL Division Series. If they win that series, they will advance to the League Championship Series. If they win that, they will advance to the World Series, something that has not occurred -- as Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" reminds us -- since 1945. Countless Cubs fans are riding high on Goodman's "Go, Cubs, Go," which was played at the close of every Cubs victory at Wrigley Field this season.

To read a great Chicago Tribune column about the song by Eric Zorn, visit my site at <> and click on the reviews tab.Other great press about the Goodman bioEddie Huffman did a long and insightful essay on the book, focusing on Goodman's "Banana Republics," in the St. Croix Source. SingOut! and Harp magazines and the online Green Man Review also have weighed in. And the two-week online conversation about the book on The WELL last month went great.

To see all of these pieces, including The WELL transcript, visit my site at <> and click on the reviews tab.Back to Chicago in November!Lake Forest College, which Steve Goodman attended in 1967-68, is hosting me for a program of reading and music at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, Thanksgiving week. The event will be held in the LFC Chapel, north of Chicago. Musicians will include Fast & Cheap (a faculty band), Harry Waller, Jim Polaski and Norm Siegel. LFC professor Rand Smith also has invited me to speak that afternoon in his class, "Roots Music in American Society."I also look forward to a reading/music event on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, and to radio interviews on WELY, Ely Minnesota, and WUSB, Stony Brook, New York.

For details, visit my site at <> and click on the schedule tab.Many thanks once again to everyone who is helping to get the Steve Goodman biography into readers' hands, including my conscientious webmaster, Valerie Magee, and her son, Doug.

Clay Eals1728 California Ave. S.W. #301Seattle, WA 98116-1958(206) 935-7515 (home)(206) 484-8008 (cell)ceals@comcast.net

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A remote shiva visit:
More about our beloved Dad, Father in Law
and Zaidy

We visited Dad just before the kids went off to camp. It was a great time, and he was so lively and beautiful to be with. Here's one snippet of Dad singing "Kinder Yor'n" and you can find the rest of the snippets at

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My dad's updated funeral information

The funeral of Abraham Moshe Szedlecki, son of Daniel Szedlecki
Feb. 14 1914 - Sept. 15 2007

DATE Sunday, Sept. 16
TIME 1 p.m.
PLACE Beth Radom Section, Mount Sinai cemetery (Wilson Avenue just east of Keele Street)

The graveside funeral will be officiated by Rabbi Steven Schoenfeld of Beth Radom synagogue, which was our family's shul since my parents first came to Canada in 1953.

Immediately following the funeral, shiva will be held at Terrace Gardens (Bathurst Street, immediately south of the 401), which is where Dad lived out his final year. Mincha/maariv will be conducted at 7.30.

We will be sitting shiva at our home in New Jersey beginning Monday and concluding the following Friday morning. The shiva house in NJ will be open from 2 pm and we will have a mincha/maariv minyan at the house.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Abraham Szedlecki, z"l
Feb. 14, 1914 - Sept. 15, 2007

My father, Abraham Szedlecki, died peacefully today -- Saturday, Sept. 15, at 3.05 a.m. - of complications due to pneumonia. He was 93 years old. We are in the midst of funeral arrangements and are trying to book an 11 a.m. graveside funeral this Sunday, Sept. 16, at the Beth Radom section of the Mount Sinai cemetery on Wilson Avenue just east of Keele St. The funeral home is Steeles Memorial Chapel, and details will be hopefully be posted late Saturday night at

Lynda Kraar

Friday, August 24, 2007

Love in the Time of Christiane Amanpour

After a thankfully uneventful flight home to the metro NYC area from Tel Aviv, I am writing. I might as well -- I've been up since 4 a.m. and am now updated on all the football scores from Europe and the Middle East.

Of course, I'm still kvelling over this...

...but I have been advised by those who truly love me and care about me that it's best to get over it, move on and start concentrating on things like Yona's bat mitzva, our new business and office space, the start of a new school year and our immense social and family obligations.

But before I get too distracted by being focused, here's a word or two about what else you might have missed if you were not in Israel this summer, or if, like me, you were napping on the plane.

I missed what was apparently the jihad that Christiane Amanpour has unleashed via her CNN series on religion. It would be surprising if any level-headed Moslem or Jew were grateful that at least their side was fairly depicted in a most balanced way. Thankfully there was no plain evidence in view of anything that had been created for the CNN screen.

Has Beckham made an impact, Stateside? Can anyone tell me? I'm really in the dark on this one.

Israel is insanely loyal to its football, as evidenced by a public service commercial on TV, which shows a fervent couch potato ignoring the whole family and shooshing everyone who strays in front of his treasured team on the little screen. Finally, it's his wife who pays the ultimate price when he swats her to the floor for tresspassing on his match, in front of all his kids. "If you have a problem, get help," the ad cautions. The drama surrounding players, coaches, leagues and violent donnybrooks in the stands is fueled further by the occasional outburst of anti-semitism in the stands of other countries between the Israeli fans and the other team loyalists. In other words, we Jews have attained our equality, at least in the football arena.

I confess -- I am a Maccabi Tel Aviv fan. My dream match would be:

Maccabi Tel Aviv v. Widzew Lodz.

And since I know that a Teaneck v. Toronto game is not likely anytime soon, that would be the closest thing to my two alter egos duking it out on the field.

All this random and very luxuriant rumination was made possible thanks to my eight-hour nap on the plane. And that was made possible thanks to the fabulous company of my friend Marissa James in Jerusalem. She is in Jerusalem for a year on a cantorial study program at the Jewish Theological Seminary. We sang together in the Jewish People's Philharmonic Chorus this past June. I could rave about her forever, but while I was peacefully snoozing at 38,000 feet, Marissa blogged about our day together. I could not say it any better. So here's her entry.

Back to laundry and unpacking..................


Monday, August 06, 2007

Bragging rights:
I did it! I won first place in the Tel Aviv Open Scrabble tournament!

Check out the tourney details here or here, if you prefer: Tee hee!



Monday, July 16, 2007

I love you, Yona, but......

The Camp Shalom Visitors Day was more like the Camp Massad Reunion Day for us old farts! Thanks for a great day, honey. It was really great to see you before our big trip abroad. I miss you and love you. And yes, people with two digits in their age CAN have a facebook!

mum-zed and the MartMan

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Sheinem Dank, New York City!

What a spectacular day for singers and audience alike!

Binyumen Schaechter is the kind of musical director with whom any serious musician would relish an opportunity to work. It is my pleasure and privilege to be part of this magnificent chorus.

We not only sing these songs - we truly experience them. Based on the reception we got, I think we get our point across. It is a humbling experience to be standing side by side with such splendid, talented singers. May we go mi'chayl l'chayl together! Ooooh-mayn!

Highlight personal moment: We are posing for a group shot which will be taken on the count of three. Someone from our group calls out with a heavy Litvak accent, "Eints, Tzvei, Drei! (one, two three!)" and my darling daughter Miriam the Poylisher instantly shakes her head from side to side and retorts, "Aynts, Tzvay, Dray!" Big shout out to mo' peeps from Lodz!

Big thank you to those of you who helped make this concert such a success. And if you could not make it, I would have loved for you to be there, so I'm providing for you a highlight, "Hey Tzigalekh," by Mordecai Gebirtig (1877-1942), featuring a breath-taking solo by soprano Judith Bro. More clips to come on YouTube.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Jewish People's Philharmonic Chorus sings Songs of Mark Warshawsky and Mordecai Gebirtig

Binyumen Schaechter, Conductor

NEW YORK CITY -- I am thrilled to have the great honour of participating in a presentation of choral arrangements of famous and lesser-known songs by the great Yiddish songwriters Mark Warshawsky and Mordecai Gebirtig. This is a Yiddish program with English translations.

Here is a picture of Mordecai Gebirtig. I could not find a pic of Mark Warshawsky (1840-1907). But I am providing you links to info about both composers.

When: Sunday, June 10th, for two shows: 2:00; and 4:30
Where: Hebrew Union College, 1 West 4th St. (b/w. Broadway & Mercer St.), New York, NY
Adults: $15; Seniors (65 and up) and students,
with ID: $10

PHOTO ID required, all adults age 18

For more information:

This is probably the best online Yiddish radio station I've ever heard.

I believe our show is sold out by now, but if you make it down to the venue, please come by and say hi!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Peerie Willie Johnson: The Guitar World Loses a Master

(Pictured, from left: Tom Anderson, fiddle, and Peerie Willie Johnson)

Yesterday I received an email from a banjo player in the Shetland Isles named Gary Peterson who informed me that "Peerie" ("little") Willie Johnson had passed away at the ripe age of 86. I did not know Gary; nor had I seen wee Willie in many a year, but I had listed him high up as one of my influences on myspace and that is how Gary found me to tell me the news.

I wrote back to Gary [slightly edited]:

I am deeply saddened to hear of Willie's passing. Was he ever a huge influence on my guitar playing and also as a very decent human being.

When I was a 17 year old pip at the Mariposa Folk Festival in my hometown of Toronto, back in the late 1970s, it was Willie who tolerated me and actually welcomed me sitting at the hem of his garment, listening to him and absorbing everything I saw.

He taught me the concept of passing and melodic chords. He showed me some neat inside chords and I clearly remember him teaching me the very cool passing chords that I use on songs like Lady Be Good: "Put your fingers here on this fret...mute that string with the inside of your run that chord down four frets, strumming each as you can thumb over if it's easier..." and so on. We talked about Les Paul and Django Reinhardt. Willie was one of the first grown ups (if not THE only grown up at the time!) to take my passion for the guitar seriously.

I spent three delicious days with him, hanging around and watching, watching, watching. I never heard on recordings what I heard him play in our precious moments together and I will treasure that memory forever.

Today I find myself with teenage guitar students and I only hope that they feel I take them as seriously as Willie took me.
Having recounted for you my personal memoir of Willie, I urge you to read the obituary and learn something wonderful and life affirming about this wee giant; about how to lighten up, kick back and enjoy what precious time we have here on earth. And also the life-altering impact that your words and deeds might have on a young person many years hence.



Peerie Willie Johnson
Influential folk guitarist of Shetland

Sunday Independent
Published: 29 May 2007
William Henry Johnson, guitarist: born 10 December 1920; married 1953 Ethel Johnson (deceased); died Lerwick, Shetland 22 May 2007.

Peerie Willie Johnson was a self-taught master guitarist, revered for his skill as an accompanist and as an influence on generations of musicians in his native Shetland and beyond. He was known for his unique "dum chuck" rhythmic playing style, which fused elements of jazz and western swing with Shetland's traditional folk idiom. In 2005 the Shetland Arts Trust celebrated his achievement with the inauguration of the "Peerie Willie Guitar Festival".

Nicknamed "Peerie" (Shetland dialect for "small") because of his height, Willie Johnson grew up on the remote, windswept island of Yell, one of the most northerly and sparsely populated of the Shetland islands. During a childhood illness that kept him housebound for months, he developed a love of jazz and western swing while listening to American forces short-wave radio. Fascinated by the complex chords of the jazz guitarist Eddie Lang, he began to figure them out on a ukulele that his mother had bought him. When the limitations of the instrument later became apparent, he progressed to guitar, joining his first local band at the age of 14.

In 1936 - by which time he had also fallen under the influence of the music of Django Rheinhardt - a chance encounter in a music shop led to him joining the Islesburgh Dance Band, led by the fiddler Dr Tom Anderson, whom he would accompany on and off throughout much of the latter's life. He and Anderson also formed another group, in 1938, called the New Players Dance Band with the piano/organ player Billy Kaye, but they disbanded when Kaye and Johnson were called up in 1940.

While stationed in Sullom Voe on mainland Shetland, Johnson played with an RAF band, thus meeting many British jazz musicians. After the Second World War, he moved to London and briefly made a living playing with a number of his wartime contacts, though he was hampered by his inability to read music. He soon returned to Shetland, settling in Lerwick and marrying Ethel Johnson (no relation) in 1953.

He lived off odd jobs and the income his true vocation brought him on occasional tours with other musicians. His collaborations with Anderson resumed, and in 1958 he travelled to London with the Shetland fiddler Willie Hunter for a performance at the Royal Festival Hall. That same trip, he and Hunter stunned the staff at Abbey Road Studios by recording both sides of a joint LP (never released) for the BBC in a morning's work, polishing off a bottle of whisky between them in the process. "The second half of the album is much better than the first," Johnson observed.

Hunter and Johnson also performed regularly together at the Edinburgh Festival between 1973 and 1980. A modest man who underestimated his own abilities, Johnson never made a solo album, recording only as an accompanist to others, such as Anderson, the pianist Violet Tulloch and the fiddler Aly Bain, who he joined on tour with the Boys of the Lough in the US in 1978/9.

Johnson's distinctive playing can be heard on Scottish Violin Music (1963), Shetland Folk Fiddling Vol 2 (1978), Cathal McConnell's 1978 solo d├ębut On Lough Erne's Shore, and Aly Bain's First Album (1984), which contains Johnson' best known piece, an interpretation of the tune "Margaret's Waltz". Johnson also appeared on Silver Bow - Fiddle Music of Shetland (1995).

In 1988, Aly Bain began hosting Down Home, a Channel 4 series on which Johnson regularly featured. Johnson and Hunter later made several appearances on Norwegian television and radio.

Johnson's playing style is widely credited with influencing not just his contemporaries, but also a number of younger musicians including the Wrigley Sisters, from Orkney, and the jazz guitarist Martin Taylor. In 2005, Taylor travelled to Shetland to make a BBC radio documentary about Johnson. He recalls him thus:

I don't think I've ever met another musician who was so full of music. It's almost as if he was more than a musician. Every atom in his body was music, and his enthusiasm was quite amazing. If he was in the Lounge [his local bar] and someone started to play, he just picked up whatever instrument was there, whatever just came to hand, he was just so natural.

Jon Lusk

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I have a few interesting gigs coming down the pike and if you visit you can read all about them. In order to prepare you, my gentle visitors, I offer you this clip from my most favourite, deffest guy, Socalled. Enjoy, and get in the groove.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

By popular demand for those outside the GTA,
here's the pic from the Toronto Star that ran

with Greg Quill's fabulous Mother's Day article.
Caption: Yummy mummies, from left: Joy Rose, hostess Erica Ehm, organizer Lynda Kraar and B-Girl Cynthia Ross.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The Kraars are back in NJ after an exhilarating weekend in Toronto. Mamapalooza Toronto 2007 was a stunning array of Mom talent. Although everyone was a highlight, the crowd particularly went crazy for veteran punkers and soul survivors Zr04 and the B Girls, who dominated the Toronto punk scene in the 1970s. How truly exciting to have them grace our stage, with their kids in tow. What an inspiration to the younger moms, such as Sisters3, who now know there is life after 30.

Here are a few pics from our exciting, landmark event at Healey's. We'll be posting more pics in a bit. For now, enjoy!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

MAMAPALOOZA at Healey's tomorrow -
Mother's Day...doors at noon. Be there!


The mother of all concerts

More than 17 maternally enhanced artists set to rock the city with second Mamapalooza concert at noon tomorrow

May 12, 2007 04:30 AM Greg Quill, Entertainment Reporter

Of all the reasons to pick up an instrument and rock out in public, motherhood seems the most unlikely.

But membership in the Mama Nation is the prime qualification for performer status at tomorrow's second Toronto edition of the Mamapalooza Festival, the local offshoot of a growing New York-based franchise that boasts its own satellite radio program, a line of merchandise and 40 similar events staged in May all over North America, Britain and Australia.

You have to have your own material and some actual performing experience as well, says Toronto-born ex-pat, New Jersey-based singer-songwriter Lynda Kraar, co-organizer with seasoned local promoter Gary Topp, of the event at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse tomorrow.

More than 17 maternally enhanced artists – both homegrown and imported, they include Kraar, Ardene Shapiro, Zro4, Maria Kasstan, The B-Girls, Kathryn Rose, Arlene Bishop, Sandi Marie Porter, Heather Katz, Ilana Waldston, Michele Mele, Laura Fernandez, Lenka Lichtenberg, Sisters of Sheynville, The Sisters Three, Lara Berlin, Lynn Harrison, Naomi Macklem-Tremblay, Barbara Stokes, Marianne Girard, Zoe Chilco and host Erica (Yummy Mummy) Ehm – will hit the stage between noon and six.

"The original idea was for musical mothers to play for each other in a community that makes room for children and family members of both sexes," Kraar said in a recent interview from her home in Teaneck.

Like most of the acts on the bill, Kraar put her musical life to the side to raise children, but a series of coincidences in 2005 – the year her mother died – led her across the river to the heart of Mamapalooza territory in New York City, where reconstituted rocker Joy Rose had established an annual Mother's Day festival and a figurehead for the movement in her band Housewives On Prozac.

"It was a milestone for me, one of the best times in my life," Kraar said of her first Mamapalooza experience. "I just had to bring it back home to Toronto."

She did that for the first time last year, and with Topp's help staged a one-day festival that sold out virtually overnight and instantly became a fixed item on the city's cultural agenda.

"Toronto is ideally suited to Mamapalooza," she said. "It's an easy-access city for families with kids, it's liberal-minded and family-friendly, and the cultural mix is so rich – everyone is wide-eyed about everyone else."

For 50-year-old mother of four Joy Rose, who started the Mamapalooza ball rolling in 2002 in the belief that if people made more time for music, dancing and art they'd be less inclined to make war, the annual festival is "a celebration of the rearing momhead that has been with us throughout history.

"My idea was to create stages for women who had stepped away from their passion, women of a certain age, with a certain look, women who were no longer welcome in the music industry – professionals and semi-professionals who wanted to keep their music going now that their children are grown.

"And my hope is that it will grow into a women-owned business that will support itself and help careers blossom," added Rose, who won't be at the Toronto Mamapalooza.

That's exactly what former Toronto punk rocker Cynthia Ross hopes will happen with the reformed B-Girls, once darlings of the city's crash-and-burn culture and former touring mates of The Clash, no less.

With a son and a daughter in their 20s, Ross and her erstwhile bandmate Zenya, now a yoga instructor, have started playing again, partly in response to resurging interest in pre-grunge Toronto rock and power pop. They've already performed at the Radio Heartbeat Festival in New York.

"I was in a club in Brooklyn a month ago and they were playing our records, along with The Diodes and Teenage Head – all Toronto bands," she said.

"And apparently we're huge in Japan as well.

"I'd never heard of Mamapalooza, but when I checked out the website ( and saw they were serious about promoting women in the arts, we had to be a part of it."

Just the facts
WHO: Mamapalooza
WHEN: Tomorrow, doors at noon
WHERE: Jeff Healey's Roadhouse, 50 Blue Jays Way
TICKETS: $15,;
kids under 13, free


Mamapalooza: Celebrating moms! Moms show their artistic side and rock out at the second annual Mother's Day event!

By Karen Bliss

For the second-year, Mamapalooza's unique celebration of motherhood will take place in Canada this Mother's Day (May 13). The self-proclaimed movement encourages "moms who rock" to emerge from domesticity and day jobs and let loose their dormant artistic side.In this case, about 20 moms will hit the stage at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse in Toronto with families in tow to marvel from the sidelines.
"You never saw anything like it," says Lynda Kraar, founding coordinator of the Canadian event. "It's just moms getting all giddy and their kids are just looking at them like, 'I never saw mom having such a good time.'"

Kraar will perform and co-host the afternoon (1 to 6 p.m.) with Yummy Mummy television host Erica Ehm.

Other performoms include The B Girls, Kathryn Rose, Arlene Bishop, Heather Katz, Michele Mele, Lynn Harrison, Marianne Girard, and Zoe Chilco."It's a strong bond," says Kraar who stayed in touch with moms from last year's inaugural Canadian Mamapalooza.

"The thing that made us distinct when we were younger is you get the calling to be a musician and it really shapes who you associate with growing up. Your friends tend to be artsier than kids that go into professions or go into the work force.

"When you have kids, you get isolated and then when you have an opportunity like this to get your voice back -- because it's like you've had laryngitis all these years -- and it's great to associate with other people who experience what you do on a regular basis. And some of the people get into music a lot later in their life, but there's still that bond."

Kraar, now 47, fronted Lynda Marks & The Marksmen for 16 years in Toronto beginning in the late '70s, before moving to New Jersey in 1985. She has two daughters, ages 17 and 13, "both musical," she makes a point of adding.

She first read about Mamapalooza three years ago in a USA Today article.

"I thought, 'Wow, that's really fascinating. I'm just like a lot of other people who had a unique life before the kids came and then had a happily average mothering life.'"

Founded in 2002 in New York by Joy Rose of a band called Housewives on Prozac, Mamapalooza has a big mission statement, as posted on its web site,, a part of which reads: Dedicated to serving, promoting, celebrating, encouraging, inspiring and awakening ALL mothers through the media and performing fine arts. Musicians, authors, comics, dancers, filmmakers, designers, craftswomen, educators, and community leaders coming together in a collaborative effort to highlight the challenges of motherhood in an ever-evolving personal, social, cultural, sexual and political landscape.

"The whole reason I became involved was my mother was dying of cancer," recounts Kraar, "and she died 13 days before Mamapalooza and just before my birthday, so two weeks after she died, I found myself onstage. I had a house full of people, seven women from England who were performing in an punk-art band called The Mothers, and they stayed in the house with me during that time. It was an absolutely perfectly timed celebration of life -- just phenomenal."

Learn more about the event by going to
Photo courtesy Erica Ehm

Thursday, May 10, 2007


...presented by the Yummy Mummy Club and co-hosted by yours truly and Erica Ehm!

WHEN: Sunday, May 13 (Mother's Day), doors @ noon
WHERE: Healey's - 56 Blue Jays Way
$$$ : 15 bucks; kids under 13 FREE!
Come early to assure a great seat!


Scroll down for all the details. Click on our performers' links to hear them and learn more about them. See you there!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thanks to the Toronto media for helping get out the word about Mamapalooza Toronto! Read on:


Mamas ready to rock


Forget about "Desperate Housewives", there's nothing needy about these rock 'n' roll mamas. Certainly motherhood can conjure up images of minivans, car-pooling, SUV-sized strollers and Saturday afternoon baseball games, but what about wailing guitars, rock tours and weekly jam sessions?

Welcome to the real meaning of multi-tasking. Between helping with homework and lunch preparation, one group of moms regularly ditch the kitchen in favour of rehearsing, working out catchy guitar hooks and performing live on stage.

Now they're getting pumped to hit Toronto on Mother's Day (May 13) for the Mamapolooza Festival, a tour amplifying the talents of musician moms, beyond, of course, solid child rearing.

The lineup of 20 bands or so -- including Sisters of Sheynville and the B Girls will perform at Healey's.

At the helm of the Toronto happening is Lynda Kraar. She turns 48 this month, is the mother of two teenage daughters, ages 13 and 17, and has stopped the tedious process of dying her hair to cover up grey. She now flaunts a shade she refers to as "gun metal."

While just two years shy of turning the big 5-0, Kraar says she's nowhere near ready to set down her guitar.

"You're gonna have to pry that guitar out of my cold, dead hands," laughs Kraar.

Originally from Toronto and now based in New Jersey, Kraar says the festival brings a certain kind of mama together -- and they rock.

"Some women are hard-wired to drop everything once they have kids," she says. "I put my guitar down at the end of the eighth month of pregnancy because I couldn't handle the smoky bars ... but for some people, the switch goes off."

Still, motherhood isn't exactly ignored at Mamapolooza. In fact, the theme serves as hilarious lyrical fodder with tunes poking fun at parent-teacher meetings, changing dirty diapers and getting kids to eat their dinner.

With Kraar's country-infused tune, Suburban White in a White Suburban, it's clear she's no June Cleaver.

"Performers who are mothers congregate differently," she says. "Sure you see them at the park because they need to take their kids there, but you'll also see them on MySpace clustered together."

The festival, which debuted in New York in 2002 and now takes place in more than 30 locations, brings a certain balance to motherhood, explains the singer/guitarist.

"You can have your life back," Kraar insists.

Advanced tickets to Mamapolooza are $15 and are available at Rotate This, Sam the Record Man and online at:


Rock 'n' roll plays on as fountain of youth

May 04, 2007 04:30 AM
by Josey Vogels and Li Robbins

Adventures in Aging

"Your momma don't dance and your daddy don't rock 'n' roll."
Are you kidding? Not only does your momma dance, this Mother's Day she definitely rocks 'n' rolls. So forget the flowers, give her a pink Daisy Rock guitar and send her to Mamapalooza.

Yep, there's a crazy little thing called Mom Rock – bands with names like The Mydols and Housewives on Prozac – bringing Mampalooza to a bar near you on May 13. More on that later.

Aging moms aren't the only ones squeezing into their leather pants, though. Iggy Pop has a new album. The Police are reuniting. Genesis are getting back together.

And Mick and the boys, well, they just won't go away. We can just see it: The Rolling Stones 2087 tour, sponsored by Cryonics Inc. – because, baby, rock 'n' roll will never die, not if boomers have anything to do with it!

We get the moms rebelling against the mommy-can't-rock stereotype. But what is it about rock 'n' roll that makes boomers so clingy? Why not middle-aged moms who play Indonesian gamelan, or lead Bavarian polka bands?

Perhaps it's because, for the "My Generation" generation, rock 'n' roll was "the best days of their lives," the music they associate with their younger selves – and you know how much boomers like their youth serum.

But you'll be relieved to know youthful vanity isn't the only thing keeping us stuck in a musical time warp.

Blame it on your brain. According to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music, the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease occurs less frequently when it comes to music. Apparently, those going doolally can "still remember how to sing the songs they heard when they were 14."

Even more frightening, Levitin says our musical tastes are pretty much cemented by the time we hit 20. So, because of our overly emotional amygdala and flirty neurotransmitters, we're musically stuck – teenagers forever.

Sure, some of us try to open ourselves up to new music later in life. But between our who-has-time-to-keep-up-on-music lives and our stuck-in-the-musical-past brain, our playlist can look something like this:
Your teenagers won't run from the room: Neil Young.

Memories of arena rock: Yes.
Kitsch value: Neil Sedaka.
Contemporary but dinner-party safe: Norah Jones.
Barista sanctioned we-are-all-one world music compilations.

What to do? You could turn to corporate efforts to shake off your inner rock' n' roll child. Please don't, though. Not if they're anything like the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) attempts to make music "relevant and so cool."

Funny, we just didn't realize that AARP's "hottie over 50," "babelicious baldy" James Taylor was relevant and cool.

Said babelicious baldy's manager did raise an interesting point in The New York Times recently, though, saying: "As much as (our generation) were once intuitive discoverers of music, we've lost that intuition. Now we have to be spoon-fed."

Fine, but we'd like to think we can still hold our own spoon. And, nowadays, it's even easier to dig in, with music blogs, Internet music recommender services and by making friends with music journalists ... (Hey, it works for Josey.)

But if you're determined to wax nostalgic, at least take a cue from the Zimmers (Google "youtube zimmers"), a band of seriously aging Brits who got out of their rockers to rework The Who's youth anthem, making a new statement about their own generation. They must have realized that if you want it to, music can provoke new thoughts, inspire new feelings.

Sure beats constantly trying to "get ourselves back to the garden."

Oh, and Mamapalooza – hosted by Yummy Mummy Erica Ehm, with a Jeff Healey autographed Daisy Rock guitar up for raffle – rocks Jeff Healey's Roadhouse from 1 to 6 p.m., May 13, 56 Blue Jays Way.



Rockin' Moms Hit the Stage this Mother's Day Price: $15, free for children under 13, Jeff Healey's Roadhouse
Sun May 13, 2007 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Good For: Kids, Family Official Site:

Editor's Profile

Being a mother isn’t all about casseroles, soccer carpooling and scrap-booking. Oh, no.

For many moms, it’s about getting down with your bad mommy self and rocking out. After all, anyone who’s heard songs such as Housewives on Prozac’s “Pee Alone,” “Eat Your Damn Spaghetti” and “Fuzzy Slippers” knows that Moms have enough angst-ridden material to put most metal bands to shame.

This Mother’s Day, it’s Mom’s turn to play - at Mamapalooza. This special concert will feature a lineup of rockin’ mom musicians who take their mommy angst to the stage.Originally founded by Housewives on Prozac’s Joy Rose, Mamapalooza was brought to Toronto by musician Lynda Kraar, who will be performing at this year’s event.

Joining her will be Ardene Shapiro, Zro4, Maria Kasstan, The B-Girls, Kathryn Rose, Arlene Bishop, Sandi Marie Porter, Heather Katz, Ilana Waldston, Michele Mele, Laura Fernandez, Lenka Lichtenberg, Sisters of Sheynville, The Sisters Three, Lara Berlin, Lynn Harrison, Naomi Macklem-Tremblay, Barbara Stokes, Marianne Girard and Zoe Chilco. The evening will be hosted by Erica Ehm. Dads, kids and other mom-lovers are also welcome. Kids under 13 get in for free.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


GOT ***MILF***? You betcha.

Be patient -- Mama will tell you all about Mamapalooza...

...and the MILFs, of course. :)

Mamapalooza Toronto
is coming out of the kitchen
and kicking out the jams!

Mark your calendars: SUNDAY, MAY 13, 2007, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. And prepare to have your mind blown! Here is an update about The Yummy Mummy Club Presents Mamapalooza Toronto, the hottest Mother's Day ticket in town. Be sure to check out our mamas, learn more about them, and hear the amazing music they make.

Please visit the Yummy Mummy Club and League of Rock and our other sponsors.

Learn more about Mamapalooza, the truly international movement that celebrates mothers and their creative performance.

This year we have moved from the Lula Lounge to the larger Jeff Healey's Roadhouse on Blue Jays Way. We want to be sure we can fit you all in. Healey's is centrally located downtown with plenty of nearby parking. With the magic touch of superstar promoter Gary Topp, we anticipate a sellout for the second year straight. Please invite everyone you know to join us. What a great way to celebrate Mother's Day.


The great blues guitar virtuoso and all-round legendary musician and club owner Jeff Healey will autograph a guitar for us from our sponsor, Daisy Rock Guitars, which we will raffle off at the event. The proceeds go to the charity of Jeff's choice. Developing....

The Yummy Mummy Club is now a partner with Mamapalooza in presenting our event. Erica Ehm has agreed to help host the show. Please visit the Yummy Mummy Club and sign up at

Since you are wondering, according to to the Yummy Mummy Club, the current definition of a MILF is:





Agree? Disagree? Think you can do better? If you're a Yummy Mummy, your opinion matters! Share your thoughts and win prizes at

Learn more about the League of Rock while you're partying at Mamapalooza. League of Rock founder Terry Moshenberg will be in the house. See how you can make the League of Rock a part of your life.

Here's a peek at the Mamapalooza
"army" of Mom rockers...

Lynda Kraar/ Ardene Shapiro / Amir Gamliel/Miriam Borden/Yona McGraw/Fay Gamliel

Maria Kasstan

THE B GIRLS [see pic below] [WOW! Cynthia with Stiv and Sid]

[caption] B-Girl Cynthia Ross visited Los Angeles with Stiv a few months prior to the band's tour, and started the B-Girl buzz going. After the Whisky dates, the B-Girls found themselves adding backing vocals on the Blondie track, "The Tide is High," which became a hit single.

Xenia of the B Girls [pic below]

Kathryn Rose

Arlene Bishop

Sandi Marie Porter and band

Heather Katz

Ilana Waldston

Michele Mele

Laura Fernandez

Lenka Lichtenberg

Sisters of Sheynville

The Sisters Three [see pic below]

Lara Berlin

Lara's career in music began behind the camera as a producer of music videos for Canadian musicians such as Bryan Adams, Kim Mitchell, Rush and others. It was during that period that she began to establish herself as a musician and performer. She is the winner of the Houston International Film Festival's Gold Award for children's environmental work.

Lynn Harrison

Naomi Macklem-Tremblay

Barbara Stokes

Marianne Girard

Zoe Chilco

Zro4 [pic below]

Sunday, April 15, 2007

An Event of Note:
Laura Nyro Memorial Concert

On April 28th there is to be a beautiful evening of Laura’s songs in Ithaca, New York commemorating the 10th anniversary of Laura’s passing.

Hosted and organized by her brother, Jan Nigro, you are invited to join him for a celebration of Laura’s extraordinary music. Jan has enlisted the talent of a number of singers/musicians to perform nearly 30 legendary songs written by Laura that span the four decades of her working life.

Jan Nigro worked with his sister playing guitar on “Smile” and “Mother’s Spiritual” in addition to composing for National Geographic and Disney. He is the co-founder/songwriter and performer with the award winning group, Vitamin L and is currently composer-in-residence for the Hangar Theatre’s “Project Four."

Margaret Dorn has performed with more artists of fame than can be reported in full, however among them are: Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, Lionel Ritchie, Donald Fagan, Michael Bolton, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross and the Chieftains. In short, a lot of heavies.

Diane Garisto toured extensively for many years with Laura as one of her cherished “Harmonies”, as Laura named her back-up singers. Additionally, Diane sang on Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” and Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. She toured with Steely Dan and recorded with Laurie Anderson, George Benson, Donald Fagan, Carly Simon to name a few notables.

Margaret Wakeley has worked throughout the United States and Europe. She made her NYC debut at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre with “An Evening of Perfect Relationships…and Other Romantic Fantasies” which drew such praise that the club extended her debut. She is an award winning songwriter and recording artist.

Molly MacMillan is a well known musician residing in Ithaca. She has been a featured pianist at many jazz festivals including Ottowa, Montreal, Buffalo and the Thousand Islands, and Corning’s Crystal City. Molly plays a beautiful piano with her tasteful comping and her melodic solos.

Where: Ithaca, N.Y. at the Ithaca High School’s Kulp Auditorium - 1401 N. Cayuga St.
When: April 28th 8 p.m.
Cost: $15.00 at the door.
Questions: email

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

BIG BIG BIG Mamapalooza Announcement!

Watch for it! We got us some big news coming up. I'll post more soon. Waiting on a couple more confirmations. Hey,'s huge. Check back here real soon and get your cash ready. You're gonna wanna spend Mother's Day at the biggest, bestest party in town.


Friday, April 06, 2007


"....the rules of motherhood are being
radically rewritten--with a snarl,
cymbal crash and power E-chord that
would make the lads in AC/DC
stand and salute."
- USA Today

1-6pm Mothers' Day - Sunday May 13
50 Blue Jays Way, just below King


Recruitment is still underway
for moms who strut their stuff.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I am a Digital Goddess!!!

Yes!! I figured it out. And my apologies to my Scrabble friends at the Internet Scrabble Club for not being as attentive as usual. I've been lurking there, watching games and chatting while testing out various programs and finding my old songs to convert to readable formats. So instead of adorable pictures of my cute kids from their younger years, my desktop is now cluttered with shareware that can turn my mpeg4s and wavs into mp3s. Do you have any idea how this has tranposed me from a lowly nerd to a haughty geek? I thought I was totally analogue. Phew!

It has been brought to my attention that while I'm so busy heralding the accomplishments about others or the world around me, very little is actually known about my art or music. I am not the most forthcoming and am a very private person, believe it or not. So I will try to describe the music. Pardon moi if I do not divulge about the "why" of my songs and instead focus on the "how." Just easier for your humble blogger.

Before I go on, let me add that I decided to post the above picture of multi-instrumentalist Al Watsky (left), me and SoCalled (right, with corned beef sandwich) so that you would not be bored with what I'm about to talk about, namely, me. It was taken on Yona's phone last summer in Riverside Park, NYC. I also want to mention that SoCalled is an amazing guy. If you do not believe me, then check out his "These Are the Good Old Days" vid on YouTube. Ouph/e! See? There I go again. Distracting you.

Okay. About me. Um, my "myspace" is very much under construction and needs tons of work, but you can check out three of my songs at Pictures? Another time, amigo. First thing's first.

There you will find:

1. Tonight
2. Birds Can Swim (Fish Can Fly)
3. Lord of the Universe

They come from various places in time and space. "Tonight" was originally an uptown Bronxy doo-wop until Denis Keldie gave it a Barry White mojo feel and slowed it down dramatically. The instrumentation is low- to no-tech and includes a huge chromatic harmonica, acoustic guitar bass, and a Moog synth. See what else you can recognize in the layers there. It's a Protools recording, made in Denis's basement.

"Birds Can Swim (Fish Can Fly)" is inspired by Shalom Aleichem who asked, "A bird may love a fish, but where will they build a house together?" This song attempts to explore that. Because I think a lot of birds out there ended up with fish and face a lifelong balancing act. This was recorded at Wellesley Sound in downtown Toronto with great people like Denis, Dennis Pendrith on bass and Bucky Berger on drums. I set it to a Cajun beat, which is pretty normal for a Canadian girl with a guitar, I think!

"Lord of the Universe" is modeled after a liturgical poem that most people of the Big Three organized faiths can instantly recognize. I wanted to write a rip-snorting soca for Jouvert Morning, and voila. I did a rough mix on my Fostex X-15 and mailed it to my friend and producer, Ronnie Payne. I had sung a bit around St. Martin (French side) in the past with Ronnie at the keyboard and we had the good chemistry, so we kept in touch. We recorded the track in his home studio in Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten (Dutch side). My arrangement. The singer was a local guy whom the producer thought would add a little island flavour to the piece.

You should know that I had intended to upload a fourth tune, which is a ska I wrote about my old house in Kensington Market, affectionately known as the Hotel Kensington, but the file was too big for MySpace. So if any of you know how I make the file fit, get in touch. Anyhow, it is a great, pumpin' ska with a horn section, recorded in London's funky Camden Town, with drums by Jah Bunny who is Mr. Riddum on the international reggae scene. Paul McCartney signed him with his band, the Cimerons, back in the 1980s. Bunny put together a kick-ass bunch of studio guys, some of whom I knew from the reggae scene in Toronto. We had a ball with the track. Later I took it to Toronto and Denis Keldie sweetened it a bit. So I hope to get that one up somewhere -- maybe as a download. Getting there slowly but surely.

I hope you enjoy the tracks. I have a bunch of analogue stuff I am furiously digitizing from my club dates and hope to compile them. I know it won't happen in time for Mamapalooza, but somewhere down the road we will celebrate!!!

Upcoming posts to watch for - my appearance dates. Hope to see you again real soon.


PS -- I'm on the road again. Have a love-filled, meaningful and peaceful holiday.