MONDAY MORNING PLAYBACK
A few of my favorite things from the week that was:
Jennifer Downham, “Groove Garden” farewell (Saturday, KFAI-FM). Downham is a Minneapolis radio treasure, and every Saturday evening for the past 14 years, the community-radio volunteer/fearless leader would spin her heart out, as she dipped into her own collection of hip-hop, soul, funk, blues, rock, and anything else that tripped her wire. This final edition of the Groove Garden was an especially sweet spin, from the topicality of Brother Ali’s “Uncle Sam Goddamn” and Nas’ “Black President” to the schmaltz of Larry Graham’s “One in a Million You.” Before she signed off, Downham recounted some career highlights in an email, including, “A caller who said that staying home on a Saturday night cleaning his bathroom was actually enjoyable and a collect call from Stillwater prison letting me know that 200 of my best fans were tuning in.” Not a bad demographic; here’s to you, Ms. Downham. Many more here.
Chris Koza, “The Dark, Delirious Morning.” In my dog-walking travels of late, I’ve been meeting a lot of dogs named Grace. No coincidence, if you ask me, as we could all use a shot of grace these days, or at least a good excuse to invoke the word at any given turn. To that end, Koza’s latest is a stunning work of true grace and elegance: If it’s true, as Aldous Huxley said, that “after silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music,” then these 12 songs blur the line between silence and sound and the ineffable spaces between as powerfully as any mystical singer/songwriter of yore ever has. When Koza sings, to an ornate backdrop of acoustic and electric guitars, “we will survive, we will go on, we will get by,” he sounds like a prophet of hope, a calm voice amidst the chaos, a pal in the passenger seat. Highly recommend to fans of My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Hennepin Avenue at two in the morning, suicidal Vikings fans, etc.
The Rolling Stones with Buddy Guy, “Champagne & Riffer” (cut from Martin Scorsese’s “Shine a Light”). Finally got a chance to see this on the small screen over the weekend, and I fell in love all over again with the no-Botox blues bad-asses, especially here, testifying for the medicinal qualities of healthy hedonism for the AARP crowd (um, try to forget that President Clinton was in the audience, sitting with his wife and mother).
The Mekons, “Maverick” (cut from the 1988 album “So Good It Hurts”). In Bill Moyers’ famous 1988 “Power of Myth” interview with Joseph Campbell, the journalist asks the thinker to describe himself, and Campbell doesn’t hesitate to call himself “a maverick.” To be sure, Campbell is the penultimate maverick — an intensely curious and learned man — but these days every John, Dick, and Sarah is a change agent and self-described maverick. Here’s the real deal.
The Jayhawks, Live in Spain. Yes, they reunited — for the Azkena-Vitoria festival in Spain last week — but until they play their hometown, the bootleg video below will have to do. Minnesota music fans, start your salivary glands.
Bon Iver, “For Emma, Forever Ago” (blogotheque video). Nothing short of hypnotic.