What are you doing for Zero Day?

The City of Arcata wants you to do something for nothing today — at least to think about it. We’re to think about moving toward Zero, where you throw nothing away since you haven’t generated any waste (well, less anyway). Wednesday, Hump Day, 11/15, halfway through November, it’s officially Zero Waste Day in Arcata. Time to do something. I have something planned.

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The city announced ZWD with this press release, ending with a question.

The air is crisp and trees change color as fall arrives with Thanksgiving just around the corner. While the holiday season is a happy time for all, it can also be the most wasteful time of the year. For example, Americans spend approximately $3.2 billion every year on wrapping paper and single-use gift bags, most of which are sent to the landfill. On November 15, 2017, the City of Arcata in collaboration with local businesses and organizations will be celebrating Zero Waste Day to promote the concepts of zero waste and to encourage the community to participate in practicing zero waste principles.

To help combat these issues, the City of Arcata recently adopted the Zero Waste Action Plan to divert at least 90% of waste generated in the community from landfills and incinerators within 10-15 years. Zero waste is a community-wide movement that requires participation from everyone. To help you reduce your waste, the City will also be releasing a Zero Waste Guide for Arcata residents on Zero Waste Day.

From 11am-2pm on November 15, the City of Arcata will be partnering with the North Coast Co-op and several local waste reduction groups including Zero Waste Humboldt, Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT), Waste Reduction & Resources Awareness Program (WRRAP), and the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) to demonstrate ways that you can reduce your waste. Stay tuned for events on November 15, and learn how you can participate in helping Arcata reach our Zero Waste goal. What will you do to make a difference?

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There’s action at the Co-op starting at 11 a.m. running until 2 p.m. with all this including the chance to get more stuff:

• Zero-Waste Living Starter Pack Giveaway
• Motor Oil Pan Giveaway• Q&A with the Co-op’s Sustainability Coordinator
• Drop-in workshops & other sustainable crafts with W.R.R.A.P., HSU’s Campus Center for Appropirate Technology and Zero Waste Humboldt
• Earth machine compost bin demonstration with the City of Arcata
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Also, ask the folks at the NEC about their “Adopt-a-Block” campaign where you can help clean up after litters who don’t put their trash where it goes (usually the dump).

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And check with Surfriders on the big Trash Bash running until Nov. 30.

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Mick McAuley, an Irishman, one night only, and more at the Crib…

via email from The Crib

Why: to be amazed by the breadth of expression a mere diatonic accordion is capable of.

Hello House Concert Ears;

It’ll be quite a coup to have a player the caliber of Mick McAuley holding forth in the intimate surroundings of the humble digs. Mick has been traveling the world playing great theatrical stages with SOLAS, arguably one of the finest gatherings of Irish traditional musicians ever, for the past 20 years. Now he’s rediscovering the joy of playing solo in cozy spaces for small appreciative audiences (that’s US!) where he highlights his singing/songwriting and guitar as well as some of the fiery squeezebox playing he was known for with SOLAS.

Mick’s website describes him thus: “Mick McAuley is an Irish musician, composer and songwriter who has recorded and toured internationally for many years. While his music is rooted firmly in the Irish tradition, he has been part of a movement which continues to push the musical boundaries of that tradition to bring Irish music to a wider and more diverse audience around the world. As a long-time member of the Irish-American ensemble SOLAS, he recorded and toured nine albums with them and received widespread international acclaim. The Boston Herald hailed SOLAS as “the best Irish traditional band in the world”.

As is beautifully common in Ireland, Mick grew up in the embrace of a musical family supported and nurtured by a community of older musicians who gave freely of their time, talent and music to ensure the passing of that centuries-old cultural tradition. By his teens, he was also seeking out more contemporary singers and musicians. He played with Ron Kavana (Alias Band), Terry Woods (Sweeneys Men, The Pogues) while in London in the early ’90s and began to tour at that time with the acclaimed Irish singer Niamh Parsons. Mick found the ideal balance of traditional and contemporary in the instrumentals and songs of the newly-formed Solas while in the bustling Irish music scene of New York in the mid-’90s.

A multi-instrumentalist, Mick plays accordion, melodeon, concertina, whistles and guitar and has been a guest on many recordings and performances including Patti Larkin, Paul Brennan (Clannad), Susan McKeown and Mick Hanly among many others and more recently spent time playing melodeon for Sting in his Broadway production “The Last Ship.”

His debut solo album An Ocean’s Breadth (Shanachie Records) was awarded “Best Celtic Album” of the year by Washington Post.

Spring 2016 saw the long-awaited release of his solo album HIGHS AND BELLOWS. It is an acoustic selection of traditional and original instrumentals and songs recorded in the New Inn.

There’s more information on music at the CribConcerts website as well as news about everything coming up. Concerts are accompanied by customary fresh bread, soup, drinks & conviviality that supports the house with music usuallly starting at 7. Hope to see you there!

Next up at the Crib, Sunday, Nov. 19, Hot Damn Scandal:

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Hot Damn Scandal finds its songs under park benches and in forgotten alleyways. The resulting outlaw ballads, dirty jazz, circus freakouts, shanty-rags, string band funk, lonesome heart-breakers, and whiskey bottle love songs blend together in a sweet song syrup somewhere between a ramble and a roar. Sometimes called ‘Tipsy American Gypsy Blues’, Hot Damn Scandal pulls no punches and and puts thunder in your molasses.

Manatee Commune comes to town (tonight) whatever that means…

MANATEE COMMUNE ON TOUR 2017 from Grant Eadie on Vimeo.

I’ve been writing the Hum long enough so that I’m on dozens off mailing lists alerting me to the latest info on all sorts of artists. Earlier this week an email came from Ryan Romana, a publicist who works for a firm known as Press Junkie.

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It announced, “Manatee Commune in Arcata on 11/12, Drops New Single “Like Me” and let me know an electronica act was playing the The Jam this Sunday for what is known as Sundaze, a regular thing at the club that been running for years. A link to his new song with vocalist Siena Liggins.

Crystalline synthesis and ridiculously catchy melodies mark Manatee Commune’s latest single featuring Detroit native Siena Liggins. A classic story of the inevitable drama that comes from any intimate relationship meshed with carefree, light-hearted production and danceability, evoking  sense of acceptance for the emotional throws of having a significant other.

Around the same time I received a Facebook invite to the same show from my friend Marjo Lak, a DJ from Brazil originally who is part of the local Deep Groove Society. She part of the show Sunday along with Fresh Depz, about whom I know nothing.

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From Ryan the Press Junkie, I learned that Manatee Commune is the nom de plum of Grant Eadie, a 20-something e-artiste from Bellingham.

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He’s been at it for awhile going far enough to land an interview on NPR after he was a finalist in the Tiny Desk contest with a clever entry in which the room where he playing on a tiny desk is taken away to reveal that he’s actually playing on the side of a mountain somewhere in the Northwest.

He switches back and forth from a mixer to drums then a viola, which is where he started in music (after switching from violin). I imagine he’ll have a similar setup at the Jam. I like the mix of organic sounds with synthesizers, especially when he adds some soul via guests vocalists. It’s not likely that he’s at a level where he’d be touring with Siena, but you never know, she could be his girlfriend.

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I always like to hear what Marjo is up to. She moved from Brazil to Humboldt a few years ago, bringing what she calls “Butter Music Brazil” with her.

“It’s a record label started by a DJ collective with five DJs who started doing festivals and parties together,” said Lak, who talked with me for the Hum awhile ago . “It’s a label I carried with me — it’s kind of developed into a style with electro-minimal house, heavy bass lines and groovy beats.”

Integrated with her dance music is an environmental and spiritual ethic. Lak originally came here to study Chinese medicine and natural foods at Heartwood Institute. “Then I got stuck here,” she told me with a laugh. “I got married and stayed.”

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Marjo Lak – photo by Bob Doran

“I think modern society has changed the way we use music in gatherings,” she continued. “If you go back to older cultures, music is part of every gathering for spiritual experience where people sing and drum and pray together.  The whole idea is to bring back that sort of reconnection with nature and Earth and create a sacred space where we can dance. We share what we [believe] — basically that we want change, to change our relationship with Mother Earth and with nature.” Sounds like a good idea to me.

The Hum: Absynth Q released

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I was thinking about what I might write about the Hum this week when I received at Facebook message from Michael Simon “Tofu” Schwartz, the soundman who also plays drums for Absynth Quartet.

“Can we talk about the new AQ CD release?” he wondered.

“Sure,” I replied. I’d actually messaged the band earlier with a question based on the title of their new release, “What Do All These Knobs And Switches Do?” but no one had responded. I mentioned this when I ran into Tofu at the Tom Rush show at the Old Steeple, so he was basically catching up.

“This is the first one with just the Quartet,” Tofu began. The fact that what had previously been a quintet and now has renamed themselves to become a quartet is actually quite significant.

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I’ve been following the fortunes of the various members of Absynth for more than a decade, through several albums that included a changing lineup.

The original core was three string players: Ian Davidson on banjo, Ryan Roberts on guitar and Chris “Bird” Jowaisas on mandolin. A bass/drums rhythm section filled the bottom. Tofu and bassist John Ludington joined a few years ago.

The last AQ disc was Telepathy with Glowbugs, released in 2014. Since then Bird left the band. He wrote almost all the songs on Telepathy, aside from two songs by John, and one, a gypsyish waltz called “Drago’s Valse,” written by Ryan and Bird. His departure was difficult for all concerned.

This time out as the knobs turned on the new record?   

“John wrote most of the songs, but Ian has one and Ryan has two,” said Tofu. “We recorded this whole album at Ryan’s studio in Arcata, slowly over two years.”

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The band did not give me an advance listen, so I’m not certain how it all turned out, but John’s role should change things considerably. I always felt Mr. Ludington’s quirky songs add a different flavor, something that was not utilized to its full potential. He can add a twisted twist to the classic AQ “fire-breathing indie grass” formula that takes things in a new direction. For example we have the first “single”:

Absynth Quartet – Shores of Turpentine from Neeti Fidurko on Vimeo.

So, what exactly ARE all those buttons and knobs for?

“One knob is for irony. We dial in the presence while switching between the past and the future,” said Tofu.

And how much do electronics play into the sound?

“All three of the string players use a vast, yet tasteful array of pedals and effects to shape our sound. Some add sustain, while others, like the pink bunny, are a sort of probability engine that is still being tested.”

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Does he employ any electro fx? Ian plays a space age “banjo” that probably goes beyond pink bunnies, and there’s that “array” of effects.

How do you fit in drum wise?

“I am the last acoustic instrument in the band, an acoustic stringband, no less 😀

At what point did you join the quintet? “Ryan and Ian and I started jamming in the late ’90s with some others. I joined the band in 2005, just after they released Flying Baby Swing. John joined in 2010, just after we’d finished IOTA.” They’ve come a long way (baby).

At Humbrews Friday Diggin Dirt will open the show. “They have become a super tight funk band, with killer vocals and arrangements,” said Tofu, and I agree, indeed, very funky.

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AQ guests that night include John’s special friend Andrea Zvaleko singing on one song, with Tim Lane from Likwifi on another.

Also, “The horns from Digging Dirt will join us for a few tunes, as will their drummer, Joey. We worked out something special on the drums.”

I’m sure the whole thing will special. Can’t make to Arcata?

“FYI we will be livestreaming video of the event with three cameras and a soundboard feed.”

 

Very cool. I may see you there…

More things to do over the weekend? Coming soon…

Tom Rush has no regrets…

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Fall is here and the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love is officially over, and with it the little jump in interest about the hippie era, which was in some ways was already coming to an end in 1967. Shortly after that time my hippie sister and her hippie boyfriend stopped renting their Victorian apartment in the Haight and took off on a trip in their VW van looking to join the fabled back-to-the-land movement.

While they were exploring the North Coast, they left a box of record albums with me. I was living in the ‘burbs with my folks, and absorbing new music all over, with my FM radio tuned to the underground station, and taking occasional trips to the Fillmore, the Avalon and Golden Gate park for historic concerts.

Tom Rush - The Circle Game. Elktra Asylum 7401B-2. 1968(89)

That box of albums contained some real treasures. I discovered the Jim Kweskin Band and others from the East Coast music scene, in particular the Boston folkies, among them Tom Rush, a singer/songwriter who had a warm and friendly voice and an attitude that matched.

On his first (eponymous) record he mixed songs from the public domain with some by bluesman and a couple by Woody Guthrie. His next albums showed him to be a master at discovering new songwriting talent, first by including the work of James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Jesse Winchester, then Joni Mitchell, whose “The Circle Game” was the title track on his third record.

Introducing the song back in 1968, before she had released her own version on Ladies of the Canyon, Joni noted, “This is a song that’s been recorded by a couple of friends of mine, so maybe you know it a little better than the other ones.” Those friends were Tom Rush and Judy Collins, who had an ever bigger hit with it. 

The song was part of a song cycle on Tom’s record, a tale of a failing love affair that ends with a fine song he wrote himself, “No Regrets.” I imagined it was a song that spoke to my breakup with a teenage crush, but truth is I was really too young for those feelings.

 

I promise you’ll hear that one when Tom comes to Ferndale for a show Wednesday (Oct. 4) at the Old Steeple, (aka Ferndale Music Company), an excellent venue where I’m becoming a regular. I know we’ll hear some new stuff since Tom has a new record in the works via a Kickstarter-type funding site PledgeMusic.comPretty sure there are a few tickets left. Check it out. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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Merle sings us back home…

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It was a sunny morning in 2004, country music icon Merle Haggard was at his home near Lake Shasta, a place he calls Shade Tree Manor.  I called Merle to talk about a show he had coming up at the Eureka Theater. The hot topic on TV the night before was the 40th anniversary of the Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan.

What have you been up to lately?

I’m fixin’ to go out on another tour; it’s what I’ve been doing for 40 years, since exactly the same time The Beatles came to America. I was already out there playing.

Do you remember where you were playing back then?

Sure, I was playing around Southern California. It was just before I put the band together in ’65. I was workin’ what you call one-nighters – just myself and a bass player, doing clubs in the Southern California area, which in those days were many. What you have now, you have one club in Los Angeles, the Crazy Horse. Well, there was about 40 or 50 Crazy Horses, clubs in every town from San Diego all the way to Seattle. It was all open territory for me, and that was what I was doing, I was jobbing those clubs.

The title track on your latest record, Haggard Like Never Before, is about longing for home. It leads me to believe you’d just as soon be at Shade Tree Manor instead of “singing in a honky tonk, working for the door.” With all the records you’ve made, I’d think you’d never have to get out from under those trees again.

I don’t have to go out on the road, except to keep my 67-year-old body useful. It has to be used–and the only thing I know how to do is what I’m doin’. If I don’t do that, then I sit here and deteriorate–osteoporosis becomes a killer. I’m 67 years old and I was supposed to be dead two years ago, according to the stats and all that. I don’t listen to the doctors.

Do you have anything in particular in mind for this coming trip out to the coast? Is it part of a longer tour?

Well, we do certain sections of the United States each year. The dates in California are places we hit on an annual basis. [Eureka is] a job we could play about once a year. Those are valuable to me; I don’t live in Nashville and there’s not many places you can drive to within 500 miles, so you can be home the next night. I have about 5,000 miles on my ass every trip that nobody else hears about because I choose to live out on this end of the country and work. The center of the country is probably where I should be. But Eureka is close by. You know I lived over there one time for a couple of months. I worked in an Arcata plywood factory.

So it’s really true. I have a friend who worked in the mills. He said that was the legend: that you worked here when you were on the lam.

Yeah, they arrested me in Arcata. I was 18 years old. They came out, I was pulling green chain at the plywood mill there.

Had you skipped out on bail or something?

They’d put me on a road camp. They gave me 90 days for petty theft and it was all a misunderstanding. I was running an honest junk dealership and I got into it with a guy who had some junked cars out in the middle of nowhere, no fences, no signs, nothin’.

I had three men workin’ for me out there; we’d been out there three days carrying this goddamn bunch of old junk somebody had thrown down a ravine, and the police came down on me. I looked up, it was about noon, we were all stripped to the waist, working our asses off hauling this iron. They come down and told us we were on private property and I’d been stealing their shit for a year.

I said, `Does it look like I’m out here stealing stuff? I’ve got a goddamn bunch of guys hired’ and the cop said, `It’s true, there’s no sign that says this is private property.’

The guy [who owned the property] said, `I don’t have to have any goddamn signs.’ He said, `I want these people arrested.’ I told the guy I`d return everything I`d taken. I said I did not intend to be a thief, that’s why I was out there working at noon. He didn’t care.

So they arrested me and I went to jail for 90 days, and I was really pissed, `cause I really hadn’t done anything. It was a really big deal in my life. I went to jail and got sent out to a road camp; I just didn’t stay. I was there about five days, then I left and caught a ride with a guy coming north. I wound up in Arcata working in that plywood factory.

And they tracked down the wanted man?

They came in there and handcuffed me, threw me down spread eagle, then took me away. Once again they came in and arrested me when I was workin’. That was two, three times in a row. What if I’d been trying to do something wrong? That was one of the reasons Ronald Reagan gave me an unconditional complete pardon for everything I was charged with. That was an unusual thing for a man my age, `specially because the celebrity factor was working against me.

I suppose since you wrote a number of songs about your misdeeds, they could take your songbook and read it in court as evidence.

When reading through my record, you can find in there that I was never represented; I was railroaded again and again. All I ever did was grow up too quick. I was always going to work somewhere and somebody’d come arrest me. (He laughs.)

And you really did turn 21 in prison.

I really did. And it was a shock to me. That was not where I wanted to be at 21. (Laughs even louder.) There seemed to be a period in my life where it was just out of control; nobody could’ve changed it. It was like somebody was purposely causing these things to occur so I`d have something to write about. If it wasn’t for the cops and ex-wives, what would a guy have to write songs about?

We lost a great one today. Fare thee well, Merle. Thanks for all the songs…

interview by Bob Doran – 2003

Dan Hicks

Hot Licks and more…

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While you would not necessarily call Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks a jazz band, Dan Hicks was booked at the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival in 2005 when I interviewed him. Mr. Hicks was certainly a jazzy guy, and he has always instilled his catchy acoustic tunes with elements of jazz.

“I’m hard to categorize,” said Hicks, when I called him at his home in lovely Marin County. “The categories don’t cover me. We play all kinds of things. If you have a radio station that says, ‘Oh, yeah, we play everything,’ then I get to be on that station.”

Hicks began his musical life as a sixth grader drumming in the school band in Santa Rosa where he was raised. “And I was in the high school marching band,” he recalled. He also played big band tunes in the school dance band. “My high school band teacher helped me get into jazz. We’d do jam sessions at noontime: He played piano and we had a bass player. He was a good mentor.”

When he graduated from Montgomery High in 1959, rock ‘n’ roll was going strong, but he says he preferred swing music. “I liked Benny Goodman better than I liked Ricky Nelson.”

A few years later as the ’60s turned psychedelic, he found himself attending San Francisco State, living in the city. “By that time I was playing guitar, playing around the city, doing my folk thing; I’d go to hootenannies and stuff. I had a few actual gigs playing all kinds of different folk tunes, “San Francisco Bay Blues,” a few of my own songs, but not a lot, maybe one or two. I was a folk-nik.”

A short foray into rock came when he met the members of The Charlatans, a bluesy outfit based in the Haight-Ashbury district in need of a drummer.

Was he a hippy? “If I had to put a label on it, I go more for hipster. I guess I might have been in the hippy movement there: I had long hair. I was in a rock band, one of the bands that played the halls. I took LSD. I smoked a little bit of marijuana. I lived right on Haight and Ashbury. I don’t know, maybe if it walks like a duck… But hipster is more like it.”

Playing drums with The Charlatans afforded him a few opportunities to present his own material and he still performed solo gigs. “I had my single act thing going with a guitar and eventually I expanded that. I added bass and violin, then added the girl singers, then another guitar. I thought of it as a folk act.”

The band borrowed elements of Gypsy jazz, a la Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s Hot Club of Paris, adding jazzy swing-style vocal parts to add color and body to original, often sardonic songs penned by Dan.

“I liked it better than The Charlatans,” said Hicks. “I could sing lead, I was writing my own songs. I could hear the singing; it wasn’t a loud thing. Ralph Gleason [the late music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle] wrote a good review at one point when I did kind of a debut in the city, so I decided to get out of The Charlatans and go with the Hot Licks thing.”

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[photo by Herb Greene]

The timing was good. Music fans of the day were open to new sounds. And it was a period when San Francisco rock was a hot commodity. “Big companies were coming in signing groups. It was the happening thing. Epic Records showed up with a couple of guys. They saw us perform and arrangements were made to be on that label.”

The eponymous Dan Hick and His Hot Licks was recorded in Los Angeles in 1969. More albums followed after a switch to the Blue Thumb label. The band was going strong, but Hicks was not happy.

“I was tired of being a band leader. Personalities started getting kind of bitchy. I felt like I’d created a monster, so I just said this thing is over with. ‘That gig we have in Sacramento next week, that’ll be our last gig,’ I said, said I. That’s what happened.”

Hicks hit the club circuit again almost immediately playing with a smaller group that eventually took the name Dan Hicks and the Acoustic Warriors. “People always wanted to know ‘Where were the girls?’ and all this stuff. It didn’t stop [even though] I think I played a lot longer with the Acoustic Warriors than I did with the Hot Licks.”

Then, around the turn of the century, he agreed to revive the Hot Licks. “I had a friend who knew this guy who had a record company. I guess he was a fan of the Hot Licks when he was a kid; now he owns a record company, the Surfdog label. He kind of talked me into using the girls again, using the name, Hot Licks, again. I balked at it at first. I’d kind of been there, done that. I thought the Hot Licks means a certain personnel, but not really — it could be anyone. So I put it together slowly, tried a couple of girls for some local gigs. I always liked the full sound with the girls and that instrumentation. I guess I warmed to the idea — and I kept going.”

In 2001, the revitalized Hot Licks released Beatin’ the Heat, a mix of old material and new with cameos by Bette Midler, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Waits and Brian Setzer. That was followed by a live disc and a DVD recorded on his 60th birthday with just about everybody he’d ever played with taking turns on stage. Selected Short came next, a collection of new Hicks songs written with the same ironic attitude as his work from the ’70s, this time with guests including Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffett.

It’s hard to say whether or not he is glad to be playing with a reborn Hot Licks band. His dry humor is hard to read over the phone. “People associated me with the Hot Licks name all the time, so I didn’t really have too much trouble going back to the name,” he said. “It’s my name anyway. I’m doing some of the old songs of course. And I’m doing new stuff too, that’s for sure. They’re good songs, so why not?”

Why not indeed. His band delighted the audience at the jazz fest in 2005, when I talked to him. He kept on playing those great songs until a bad liver took him from us. Here’s one from a couple of years ago.