Posts Tagged ‘Robert Lockwood Jr.’

Saturday Single No. 449

June 6, 2015

Entropy, as the word is used informally, means that things deteriorate. Things change and not – in terms of their usefulness – for the better.

(If you’re interested in what the word means in formal use, go ahead and Google it, or look it up on Wikipedia. Unless physics is your deal, you’ll be lost. As for me, I’m no physicist, and I don’t even play one on TV, which is why I went with the informal use of the word.)

We’ve had, in the past few weeks, several examples of that informal use of the word “entropy” right here: My folding chair here in the EITW studios gave a creak and a groan the other day, and then tilted rapidly to its right as its leg separated from the rest of it. I found myself on the floor, slightly dazed but not at all damaged. The same, of course, could not be said for the chair, which had entropied itself into an appointment with the dumpster across the way.

I pulled the old kitchen chair – part of a set of four purchased, according to family lore, by my dad’s sister and mother for my parents shortly after their wedding in 1948 – out from its place by my keyboard, and I used that at the computer for a few days until I could get to one of the discount retailers here on the East Side. I got that done the other day and now use what I believe is Folding Chair No. 3 for my follies here and elsewhere online.

Another chair, the green recliner on which the Texas Gal rests in our living room, provides another example of entropy at work, and that’s perhaps not surprising: She bought the chair shortly after she moved to Minnesota from Texas in the autumn of 2000. It was intended for my use, but it and I never matched well, so it became her chair by default. A few months ago, the bolt that supported the back of the chair came loose, and the chair listed rapidly to the left, shearing off a small screw as it did.

I took a look at the damage, and I was able to put the offending bolt and its nut back in place, but the absence of the small screw left the chair leaning permanently left, an appropriate position for the Texas Gal politically but one not so comfortable for such mundane matters as watching television or stitching pieces for a quilt. That was a few months ago. In recent weeks, the chair has been making an odd groaning noise when the Texas Gal sits down (and sometimes even when she’s not in the chair, a fact that startled Oscar the cat the other day). And last evening, as she watched television and went through the mail, something poked her. She and I agree that it’s time for a new chair.

We hope that we can take care of that quickly, but you know how things go. Yesterday afternoon, I headed out to pick up the Texas Gal after work so we could make a quick trip to the big discount emporium across the river and north of the city, and as I did, the car – a 2007 Nissan Versa that’s given us few problems – rumbled louder than it ever had. I listened to it pensively as I drove downtown, and then we both listened as we made our way north. There’s a rumble and a rattle, which makes us think that a bolt holding a clamp has come loose, a problem that can be solved easily and cheaply.

That’s what we hope to hear, anyway, when we take the Versa up to our nearby auto shop this morning. (The shop’s main business is tires, but we’ve brought both of our vehicles there for other repairs and have been pleased with both the cost and the quality of the work performed.) We’ll do that this morning, not long after this piece is finished. And if our hunch about the cost to repair the rumble and rattle is accurate, then our plan is to head to one of the nearby discount stores and look for a recliner that the store’s website says is on sale this week.

If we get more expensive news about the car than we’re hoping for, well, we’ll regroup and figure things out. And all we can do is hope that we replace the Texas Gal’s chair before something else around here breaks down and needs replacing.

And here’s a pertinently titled piece of music: For his 2000 album, Delta Crossroads, Robert Lockwood, Jr., took on several of the songs written by his quasi-stepfather and mentor, Robert Johnson. Here’s Lockwood’s take on “Stop Breakin’ Down,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

A Landmark Preserved

July 9, 2013

A few times over the past five years, I’ve written about the building at 508 Park Avenue in Dallas, the building where Robert Johnson spent two days recording in 1937. I’ve written about the possibility that the building – dilapidated and in a difficult neighborhood – might be torn down. I’ve written about the sessions that Eric Clapton conducted there in 2004, recording several of Johnson’s songs in the same room where Johnson recorded them in 1937. And I’ve written about my two visits to the building, about standing at its doorstep and standing in the same place where both Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton had been.

But I’m not sure I ever shared here the very good news that, through a project headed by the Stewpot – a homeless shelter across the street from 508 – and the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, the building at 508 Park will be preserved and will become the centerpiece for what’s being called the Museum of Street Culture. The vacant building on the north side of 508 has been razed to create a space that will include an amphitheater, and a now-vacant lot on the south side of the building will become a community garden.

The plans for the museum and its programs are available at the website for the Museum of Street Culture, a website that includes a photo of Steven Johnson, the grandson of Robert Johnson, standing in front of the building where his grandfather recorded some of the most influential songs in blues history.

Here’s my photo of the door of 508 from one of my trips to Dallas.

And here is a selection – offered once before, in 2009 – of covers of some of the songs that Robert Johnson recorded during his two sessions in 508 Park Avenue in 1937:

A Six-Pack of 508 Park Avenue
“Stop Breakin’ Down” by the Jeff Healey Band from Cover To Cover [1995]
“Malted Milk” by Eric Clapton from Unplugged [1992]
“Traveling Riverside Blues” by John Hammond from Country Blues [1964]
“Love In Vain” by the Rolling Stones from ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’ [1970]
“Stones In My Passway” by Chris Thomas King from Me, My Guitar and the Blues [1992]
“I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man” by Robert Lockwood, Jr. & Carey Bell from Hellhound on My Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson [2000]

Bob Kuban, Knickerbockers & Blues

February 1, 2012

Originally posted February 26, 2009

Well, what do we find in videoworld this morning?

First, here’s a longish piece by Anne-Marie Berger of St. Louis television station KETC, a look at the life and times of Bob Kuban – of Bob Kuban and the In-Men and “The Cheater” – for the station’s Living St. Louis feature. The piece originally aired April 10, 2006, and it’s pretty well done:

Here’s a grainy video of the Knickerbockers surrounding by dancing teens as they lip-synch their way through “Lies.” The YouTube information dates this one in November 1965, just before “Lies” entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the first week of December. One of the guys even fake-plays a saxophone, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard sax in the mix. Maybe that was the group’s way of pointing out to viewers that they weren’t really playing their instruments?

Then, here’s a live performance of Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago” by the late Robert Lockwood, Jr. The 2004 performance took place at the Palace Theatre in Grapevine, Texas. Others on the bill that evening included Pinetop Perkins, Henry James Townsend and David “Honeyboy” Edwards. A CD of the night’s performances, Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas, went on to win a 2007 Grammy Award for best traditional blues album.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll find one reason or another to take a look at what we were listening to as February turned into March in 1976 and I walked across a stage to receive my college diploma.

A Landmark In Peril

February 1, 2012

Originally posted February 23, 2009

Twice during trips to visit the Texas Gal’s family in the Dallas area, she and I have driven into the heart of downtown Dallas, to a portion of the city whose good days are long gone. There, we’ve visited Park Avenue and the building at 508, where Robert Johnson recorded thirteen tracks over a two-day period in 1937. As well as taking pictures, I’ve stood on the front step, sharing the same space once occupied by both Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton.

The other week, the Texas Gal’s mom and sister sent me a clipping of a story from the Dallas Morning News, detailing the uncertain future of the building at 508 Park Avenue.

(It seems that the links to the images that ran with the story are no longer working. [Nor, for that matter, is the link to the story.] Here’s a photo of the front door of the building that I took on one of our two visits to Park Avenue.)

It would be nice to have the building saved, of course, both for its exterior architecture and for its place in music history. But I’m guessing that won’t happen. In the meantime, here are cover versions of some of the songs Robert Johnson recorded during his two days in Dallas in July of 1937.*

A Six-Pack of 508 Park Avenue
“Stop Breakin’ Down” by the Jeff Healey Band from Cover To Cover [1995]
“Malted Milk” by Eric Clapton from Unplugged [1992]
“Traveling Riverside Blues” by John Hammond from Country Blues [1964]
“Love In Vain” by the Rolling Stones from ‘Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out!’ [1970]
“Stones In My Passway” by Chris Thomas King from Me, My Guitar and the Blues [1992]
“I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man” by Robert Lockwood, Jr. & Carey Bell from Hellhound on My Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson [2000]

*I was too pessimistic, it seems: According to this piece in the January 26, 2012, edition of the Dallas Observer, the building at 508 Park Avenue will be restored and become the site of the Museum of Street Culture. That will include a recording studio on the floor of the building where Robert Johnson and others played, and – according to the January 26, 2012 piece – a memorial of some sort in the corner of that floor where Johnson and other musicians actually sat or stood to record. Note added February 1, 2012