Posts Tagged ‘Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite’

Sorry, Not Today

May 17, 2022

Originally posted August 26, 2009

A Six-Pack of Tomorrows
“Today Was Tomorrow Yesterday” by the Staple Singers from “City in the Sky” [1974]
“Tomorrow’s Going To Be A Brighter Day” by Jim Croce from “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” [1972]
“Getting Ready For Tomorrow” by Johnny Rivers from “Changes” [1966]
“Tomorrow Never Comes” by Big Head Todd & the Monsters from “Sister Sweetly” [1993]
“After Tomorrow” by Darden Smith from “Darden Smith” [1998]
“Beginning Tomorrow” by Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite from “The Joy” [1977]

‘Beginning Tomorrow . . .’

February 25, 2014

I’ve no doubt posted this tune here before, but here are Terry Garthwaite and Toni Brown with a 1977 cover of “Beginning Tomorrow,” a tune that their earlier band, Joy of Cooking, had included on its 1972 album Castles. The cover comes from Garthwaite and Brown’s 1977 album The Joy.

And I’ll be back tomorrow.

Hand-Ground Coffee, Home-Made Music

June 24, 2011

Originally posted April 28, 2008

One of the greatest day-to-day pleasures in my life is coffee.

There are others, of course: The love and companionship of the Texas Gal, certainly, and the joys of music, writing and reading. In terms of the order of those five pleasures entering my life, coffee came third, after learning to love reading and music. I learned to love writing a little later, and I encountered the Texas Gal and all the riches she brought to my life most recently of all.

I have written and will no doubt write again of various aspects of all five of those pleasures. Today, coffee is on my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, the Texas Gal and I drove to Maple Grove, the suburb on the northwestern edge of the Twin Cities where my sister and brother-in-law live. For her birthday, they’d given the Texas Gal a gift card for Trader Joe’s, a chain of fascinating grocery stores, one of which had opened in Maple Grove. Our plan was to shop there for a while, check out a few of the other stores in the newly developed shopping area and then meet my sister and her husband for a Chinese dinner.

All went as planned. We bought some interesting groceries, among them some breads without white flour, some snacks, two Spanish side dishes with, respectively, white beans and lentils in tomato sauces, and a few other things. I also pulled from the shelf two canisters of whole bean coffee, one labeled “Dark Sumatran” and the other “Moka Java.” And we went to a bookstore and then on to dinner.

At dinner, we heard tales of the trip to Hawaii from which my sister and brother-in-law had just returned and then we discussed the goings-on in all our lives. The food was delicious and the conversation fun. As we were leaving, my sister handed to me a half-pound bag of Kona coffee beans from Hawaii, which are among the most expensive beans in the world.

So I had plenty of coffee beans when we got home that Saturday evening just more than three weeks ago. I also had about a half a can remaining of my regular coffee, French Market, a brand sold out of New Orleans. Since then, I’ve been experimenting, trying to determine the best amount of beans to grind of each of the three types to make ten cups of coffee. (My coffee maker holds twelve cups, but my thermos bottle only holds eight; so I brew ten cups, drink from a large mug and keep the remaining eight cups hot in the thermos bottle. If you leave brewed coffee on the hotplate of the coffeemaker for more than a few minutes, it burns the coffee.)

The Kona beans are the best of the three types, a dark roast with some almost sweet undertones. The Sumatra is darker, with a heavier body. And the Moka-Java – the Moka beans coming from Ethiopia and the Java beans from the Indonesian island of the same name – is lighter. And in the back of the coffee cupboard, I found some beans I got as a gift shortly before we went to Maple Grove, a pretty standard blend, but better as fresh-ground than are grounds dipped from a can (although the French Market is pretty good for canned coffee).

So I’ve been having a pretty good time each morning deciding which of the four coffees to grind and brew. I use an electric grinder that I’ve had for a few years; it has a whine that irritates the cats. And I guess it irritates me, too.

Years ago, when I began to dabble in grinding coffee, I got a hand-cranked grinder as a gift. A few years later, when it began to break down, I got another. They both worked well, but in 1999, I became highly sensitive to tobacco smoke and quit smoking when my throat closed up one Saturday evening. After that, I learned that being in an environment with a lot of smoke had contaminated the coffee grinder (and lots of other things, too, which I may write about at other times). So I went without a grinder for a while.

A couple years later, I got the electric grinder as a gift. It grinds exceedingly fine, even when set on coarse, and that’s – not to make a joke – fine. I don’t dislike it, but in the years I’ve owned it, I’ve found that I don’t get as much satisfaction from pushing a button and hearing the grinder whine as I used to get from turning a crank and feeling the resistance of the beans as they were turned into coffee grounds. I think a lot of people will identify with that feeling, that satisfaction gained by doing something by hand that more often than not is these days routinely done by machine.

So when the Texas Gal asked for suggestions for my birthday – which is still some months off – I said I wanted a hand-cranked coffee grinder. She asked for suggestions, and – being the thoroughly modern fellow I am – I emailed a suggestion to her. We’ll see.

Why discuss this today? Because first, I’m once again grinding my own coffee every day after going some time without doing so very frequently, and even using an electric grinder, that brings me some satisfaction. And second, when I listened to today’s album share, I closed my eyes and thought: What does this remind me of, make me feel like, put me in mind of?

And as I heard The Joy, a 1977 collaboration between Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite, I thought of things being done by hand: playing acoustic instruments, sewing quilts, making tables and, yes, grinding coffee. The record has that same hands-on homemade feeling as do the three records that Brown and Garthwaite made with Joy of Cooking in the early 1970s.

There’s some electric instrumentation here, certainly: John Blakely is credited with electric guitar, Elvin Bishop adds slide to “Till Your Back Ain’t Got No Bone,” and William D. Smith is listed as playing electric piano. But the bulk of the record’s sound – from the first strains of Van Morrison’s “Come Running,” through the end of Judy Mayhan’s “Wrap the World” – is of music being made by hand, of music that could have been made at home. And it’s a very sweet sound to hear.

Highlights? The flowing unselfish love song “You Don’t Owe Me Spring,” the funky “Morning Man” – a tribute to a disk jockey – and “Maybe Tomorrow,” with its sweet optimism, are favorites of mine. The mellow “Feel Like Heaven” has its moments, and Bishop’s slide guitar and the horns of Steve Madaoi and Jim Horn makes “Till Your Back Ain’t Got No Bone” about as driving a workout as you’re going to find on The Joy.

Production was credited to Michael Stewart, with James Gadson co-producing “Beginning Tomorrow.”

The credits list Brown on piano and vocals; Garthwaite on vocals, guitar and voice box; Reggie McBride on bass, James Gadson on drums; Steve Mitchell on drums (“Spring” and “Feel Like Heaven”); Smith on electric piano; Blakely on electric guitar; Bishop on slide guitar (“Till Your Back Ain’t Got No Bone”); Taj Mahal on harmonica and dobro (“Come Running” and “Morning Man”); J.D. Mannis on pedal steel (“Snow”); Steve Madaio and Jim Horn on horns; Jimmy Roberts on sax and flute (“You Don’t Owe Me Spring”); Bill Napier and Johnny Rotella, clarinets (“On the Natch”); and the duo called Honey Creek (Michelle Harris and Marjie Orten) on dulcimer and mandolin (“Wrap the World”).

Tracks:
Come Running
You Don’t Own Me Spring
On the Natch
Feel Like Heaven
Till Your Back Ain’t Got No Bone
Morning Man
Snow
Beginning Tomorrow
Steal Away
Wrap the World

Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite – The Joy [1977]

A Baker’s Dozen (Plus) From 1977

April 18, 2011

Originally posted April 25, 2007

Today’s Baker’s Dozen actually numbers twenty songs. I decided to add some bonus material because I won’t be posting again for a little more than a week. The Texas Gal and I are heading south tomorrow to visit her family in the Dallas area and do some touring in San Antonio and around Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

So I thought I’d give you some extra tunes today. Don’t listen to them all at once! (I couldn’t help it: My dad used to give me similar warnings about my allowance, back when a quarter really could buy something.)

A note about how I compile the Baker’s Dozens: I generally sort the year’s songs by running time and set the RealPlayer on random. If I don’t have a selected starting song – I did not this week – them I start with the shortest song I have for that year (usually a television theme or something negligible) and then go from there. The only rules I have are not to post something I’ve posted since I began the blog in January, and only one song per artist.

But I screwed up midway through this batch. I have a lot of odd stuff in the collection – fight songs, commercials, television themes and other stuff – and at about No. 10, the RealPlayer landed on a 1977 recording of the national anthem of the Soviet Union. I found it recently at a site that offers hundreds of mp3s of songs from that nation’s 74-year existence. When the anthem popped up, I thought, “That’s just a little too odd for my audience,” and I hit the advance button, got a repeat performer, got another repeat and another repeat and got lost.

So I started over again, somewhere around the entry from Chicago, and when I got to the end of eighteen songs, I thought, well, I should put the Soviet anthem in anyway, so I made it a twenty-song selection, adding the Thelma Houston tune through a random jump.

And I got to thinking about the Soviet anthem. About forty years ago – which is not that many years ago, as these things go – acknowledging some affection for that particular piece of music could have left one open to criticism. Anything that had even a slight whiff of respect or affection for the USSR was suspicious. I recall a presentation to one of the local civic organizations – Elks, Moose, Lions, Eagles, Rotary, I don’t remember which one – sometime in 1969, I think, when the speaker pointed out that the Beatles, by opening their 1968 self-titled album (the “White Album”) with “Back In The USSR,” were proclaiming their intent to indoctrinate their listeners with their Communist views. While the kids in the audience snorted and rolled their eyes, our parents nodded and made mental notes to see what we were listening to.

(For the record, my parents were far more upset by “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” than they were by “Back In The USSR,” which was a Chuck Berry/Beach Boys pastiche/tribute, anyway!)

But I do acknowledge a fondness for the Soviet anthem, partly because it is a stirring piece of music, to my ears, and partly because hearing it reminds me of watching the Olympics during my younger years and seeing red-clad athlete after athlete standing atop the awards platform with a gold medal as the anthem echoed through the arena. (I especially recall the Soviet gymnasts and my admiration for the dark elegance of Ludmilla Tourischeva.)

Anyway, here’s today’s augmented Baker’s Dozen, from the year of 1977.

“Native New Yorker” by Odyssey, RCA single 11129

“Wings” by Rick Nelson from Intakes

“The Trumpet Vine” by Kate Wolf from Lines On The Paper

“Velvet Green” by Jethro Tull from Songs From The Wood

“Jammin’” by Bob Marley & the Wailers from Exodus

“Kitty Come Home” by Kate & Anna McGarrigle from Dancer With Bruised Knees

“Swayin’ To The Music (Slow Dancing)” by Johnny Rivers, Big Tree single 16094

“I Got The News” by Steely Dan from Aja

“Moolah Moo Mazuma (Sin City Wahh-oo)” by the Sanford-Townsend Band from Smoke From A Distant
Fire

“Morning Man” by Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite from The Joy

“I Can’t Be Satisfied” by Muddy Waters from Hard Again

“Mississippi Delta City Blues” by Chicago from Chicago XI

“Sunshine Day” by Osibisa from Welcome Home

“Hog Of The Forsaken” by Michael Hurley from Long Journey

“Running On Empty” by Jackson Browne from Running On Empty

“Fantasy” by Earth, Wind & Fire from All ‘N All

“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees from Saturday Night Fever soundtrack

“Something So Right” by Phoebe Snow from Never Letting Go

“Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Thelma Houston, Tamla single 54278

National Anthem of the Soviet Union by the Red Army Choir.*

A few notes:

“Wings” is pretty indicative of the country-rock direction Rick Nelson was taking during the 1970s. He didn’t have a lot of chart success, but he was still recording music well worth hearing, and did so until his untimely death in 1985.

Speaking of musicians and untimely deaths, Kate Wolf is not nearly as well known as most of the musicians here, and that’s a shame. “The Trumpet Vine” is from her second album, Lines On The Paper, and – like much of her work – is a quiet celebration of domestic harmony and simplicity. Her folk-influenced work – which ended with her death from leukemia in 1986 – is well worth seeking out.

“Moolah Moo Mazuma (Sin City Wahh-oo)” is, I think, the Sanford-Townsend Band’s attempt at cataloguing and criticizing the excesses of L.A. It’s not a bad recording, but the guys seem to have their tongues thrust pretty firmly in their cheeks, which doesn’t work. You either preach against the decadence or you celebrate it, I think. And the S-T Band doesn’t pull it off nearly as well as the Eagles did a few years earlier with “Life In The Fast Lane” or as well as David & David did in 1986 with “Welcome To The Boomtown.” Still, it’s a fun cut.

I’ve posted some work by Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite here before and talked about their work with Joy of Cooking. “Morning Man,” from what I think was their final piece of work together, has some of the ambience of their Joy of Cooking recordings.

Muddy Waters’ performance on this version of “I Can’t Be Satisfied” is a delight. Produced by Johnny Winter – who also plays guitar – the album Hard Again marked a late-in-life comeback for Waters, one of the five or six largest figures in Twentieth Century American music.

I did not know about Michael Hurley until a few years ago, when the producers of HBO’s Deadwood used “The Hog Of The Forsaken” in one of the show’s first-season episodes. It’s odd, all right, and I plan to explore Hurley’s music further.

I wondered, as I let the RealPlayer run, which – if any – of the hits from Saturday Night Fever would pop up. That it was “Stayin’ Alive” seems appropriate. Although many of the songs from the movie’s soundtrack are fun to hear, “Stayin’ Alive” has an iconic power that sums up the movie – and the era the movie celebrated and created – in a way that nothing else from the soundtrack could (with the possible exception, I guess, of the Trammps’’).

*After a few years of digging and listening, I’m almost certain that the performance of the Soviet National Anthem is by the Red Army Choir, so I’ve changed the listing and the tag  from  “unknown choir.” Note added June 12, 2011.

The Sound Of Home-Made Music

April 17, 2011

Orginally posted March 2, 2007

Well, we got socked in by the snowstorm: It rolled in just about 10 o’clock yesterday morning, and there are still a few vagrant flakes flying as I write this twenty-four hours later, with what appears to be about fifteen to twenty inches of white stuff on the ground. (According to the local paper’s website, we got a little more than eight inches, but I know that twice yesterday, I cleaned about six inches off the car, and a look through the window shows another five to six inches on the car this morning.)

So the Texas Gal, like many in the area, I assume, stayed home from work today. We’ll likely go out for a walk in the fresh snow this afternoon. And right now, having ripped two LPs for today, I’m thinking about a warmer time: the summer of 1977.

St. Cloud’s East Side, where I grew up (and where I live now), has always been kind of the city’s stepchild. With maybe twenty percent of the city’s population, the East Side kind of thrums along under the radar of those who live west of the Mississippi River. Its main street – East St. Germain – has long been home to a fascinating mix of stores and institutions. Forty years ago, that mix included a local bank, an independent bakery, a grocery store that cut its own meat and made its own sausages, a jeweler, a hardware store, a drug store, a funeral home, several bars, and a TV repair shop owned by a member of the John Birch Society.

The bakery is still there. About twenty years ago, a large regional bank bought the bank and then closed it, with the building then becoming home to another local bank. One of the bars still attracts a motorcycle-riding crowd. That’s all that’s left from forty years ago, except for the sign high on the side of the building that used to be home to Fred’s TV: “Get US Out Of The United Nations,” it still pleads.

And then there’s the storefront just half a block from the river that for a short time in 1977 was the home of the East Side Café, a vegetarian restaurant that featured good food, cheap beer, and an old piano that was only slightly out of tune. I don’t recall what was in the storefront before the café, and since the East Side Café’s brief life in 1977, it’s been occupied by several other restaurants and cafes. Today it’s the home to the Somali Cofe, a gathering place for St. Cloud’s growing Somali population. (The building in the next block that used to be Fred’s TV is now home to a food market specializing in goods that are halal, or prepared according to Islam’s dietary requirements; I often wonder how Fred the John Bircher would feel about that!)

But this isn’t about Islam or the Somalis or Fred the Bircher. This isn’t even a lament about how hometowns change. This is about the East Side Café and music. Very often during that summer of 1977 – my last in town before I headed off elsewhere to be a reporter – my friends and I gathered at the East Side and found two or three people there with acoustic guitars. I’d sit at the piano, and we’d run through an odd repertoire of early 1970s singer-songwriter tunes, some Top 40, some traditional folk and a few originals. We weren’t great, but we were pretty good, and more importantly, we had fun.

The East Side Café and our acoustic jam sessions came to mind today because of the two LP’s I ripped to share today: Cross Country by Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite from 1973 and Toni Brown’s self-titled record from 1974. The two of them – Brown and Garthewaite – were the focal points and main vocalists for Joy of Cooking, a Berkeley-based group formed in the late 1960s that was the first major rock group fronted by women.

Brown and Garthwaite formed the band in 1967, drawing on Berkeley’s lively folk community. For six years and through three albums – Joy of Cooking and Closer to the Ground in 1971 and Castles in 1972 – Joy of Cooking found a home on the lighter side of rock, mixing folk-rock with elements of country and the more literate and more intelligent portions of the burgeoning singer-songwriter movement. It was a nice mix of sounds, with Garthwaite’s occasionally bluesy vocals blending nicely with Brown’s more folk- and country-tinged offerings, all laid on a sweet acoustic foundation. “We were folkies that plugged in,” Garthwaite told an interviewer a few years ago when the group’s albums were released on CD.

It’s a homey sound, one that was consistent through all three albums. And the sound of Joy of Cooking, I learned during the 1990s when I finally bought the group’s records, was the same kind of sound as the one my friends and I had stumbled through during our evenings at the East Side Café (though we obviously were far less proficient than were the members of Joy of Cooking).

The records I share here today don’t quite have the same sound. Cross Country is the result of a trip that Garthwaite and Brown took to Tennessee in 1972 while the other members of the band were beginning work on either Castles, the final Joy of Cooking album, or on the group’s unreleased fourth record (the liner notes are unclear). While traveling, the two of them wrote ten songs inspired by their journey, eight of them written by Brown – who’d always been Joy of Cooking’s main songwriter. They added a song by Dennis Linde to their ten, and the resulting album – recorded in Madison, Tenn. – features several of Nashville’s better-known musicians, including Vassar Clements on fiddle and Charlie McCoy on harp. Released in 1973, it’s a far more country-ish record than the Joy of Cooking releases, but it’s still vital. Garthwaite and Brown seem to feel at home in the country idiom, even though they were only visiting.

Toni Brown is a little less distinctive. Recorded in 1974, it has Garthwaite providing some back-up vocals but no help from the other members of Joy of Cooking. It tends to drift a little more closely than the group’s albums did toward the shallow end of the singer-songwriter pool. It’s still a nice listen, though, and the songs show Brown’s craft and talent well, even if the production by Chip Young sometimes threatens to overwhelm them. (The rip of Toni Brown also has more pops than I’m happy with; the vinyl wasn’t in as good as shape as I remembered or hoped. But it’s still very listenable, I think.)

All three of Joy of Cooking’s original albums are available on CD, as is Complete Joy of Cooking, which has all thirty cuts from the three albums. American Originals, an anthology released in 1993, is out of print and sells for around $25 to $35 used and for more than $70 new. As well as a “best of” selection taken from the group’s three released albums, American Originals also includes a couple of cuts from Cross Country and three from the unreleased Same Old Song And Dance. (It also includes a cut called “Refer to the Ground,” the origins of which I’ve not been able to track down; it may be from Same Old Song And Dance, or it might be from another album. Anyone know?)

Enjoy!

Toni Brown – Toni Brown [1974]
(50.77 MB rip from vinyl at 192 kbps)

Cross Country – Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite [1973]
(49.57 MB rip from vinyl at 192 kbps)

Just One Of Those Days

April 27, 2010

I had planned an episode of the Ultimate Jukebox today, but I’m just not up to it. It’s just one of those days. But there’s another day to come. Here are Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite from Joy of Cooking with “Beginning Tomorrow,” a track from their 1977 album, The Joy.

We’ll see you tomorrow.