Six More Weeks of Winter

Famous groundhog weather expert, Punxsutawney Phil, has predicted six more weeks of winter in response to seeing his shadow this morning at Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania. Groundhogs, or whistle pigs as they are sometimes called, are traditionally associated with Candlemas, a Christian holiday that has long been paired with prognosticating.

Though Groundhog’s day has nearly passed, why not repeat the day’s festivities tomorrow and rent Groundhog Day (1997) starring Bill Murray? Or stock up on woodchuck fact and fiction to pass the long winter nights to come.

New from Belle and Sebastian next week

Next week, on February 7, Belle and Sebastian will be releasing their sixth album - The Life Pursuit. “Written almost entirely by frontman Stuart Murdoch, [it] is a magnificently assured and diverse pop record. With nods to such influences as Cornelius, Manfred Mann, and David Bowie, "The Life Pursuit" mingles the folky, be-sweatered pathos of the group's earliest work with joyfully satirical late 60's sunshine pop, and the sophisticated 80's-influenced work reminiscent of their prior album, 2003's "Dear Catastrophe Waitress". –Amazon.com

If Horses Could Talk

Grace Archer would be in even more trouble. Eight years ago the CIA put Grace and her young daughter under protective custody on a small horse farm in Alabama, a place where she can use her uncanny talent for handling horses to good purpose. Needless to say, evildoers and Iris Johansen have other ideas.

On the Run is a runaway good story from one of the best suspense writers around and the audio version is sure to be in the running for an Audie Award this year. A sequel is all but guaranteed.

Wilson Pickett and the Beatles' Hey Jude

Wilson Pickett (In The Midnight Hour, Land of 1,000 Dances, Mustang Sally) died of a heart attack on January 20 at the age of 64. He was totally sweet. It's really sad that he died, but it's a good excuse to rave about one of my favorite songs of all time, his cover of Hey Jude.
He recorded Hey Jude at Muscle Shoals Studio, in Alabama, after playing for most of his career on Stax Records, with Booker T and the MGs. The first time I heard it I really wasn't so sure about it because he really, really souls up the vocals in that way that can tire you out (you know, like when people really over-soul the Star-Spangled Banner). But upon several listens, I got pretty addicted.
It starts out pretty tame, just going through the motions of Hey Jude. Then this AMAZING bass line comes in and makes it all funky. And when they hit the bridge, the horns come in and swing it a little, and the bass is really solid and does this great staggered rhythm. And we go through this a few times, and then Pickett just wails, and the outro hits really hard. And Pickett's just screaming, and Duane Allman kicks out these totally awesome guitar lines, and the bass and drums are driving really hard, but the horns keep swinging! And Pickett just keeps screaming, and if you're wearing headphones, you can faintly hear in the background a chorus of female singers really low in the mix doing the whole "na na na na" thing, and the fact that it's hard to hear just makes it that much more awesome. And it just fades out like that and you can hear Wilson saying "It's gonna be all right" but at this point you just don't care because you're just astounded at how much that song rocked you. And then if you're me, you hit repeat and turn it up some more.
Anyway, the world will miss you, Wilson Pickett, but thanks for totally wailing and recording it for us. Because that song is AWESOME. (this entry is from my son’s blog)
Pickett’s Hey Jude is on three CDs in the library collection: In the Midnight Hour: and Other Hits, A Man and a Half: the Best of Wilson Pickett, and The Very Best of Wilson Pickett.

What's Your Favorite Work by Mozart?

Mozart

Today is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th birthday. Radios around the world are devoting the entire day to his music, counting down his top 10, 50 or 100 greatest musical compositions. 100,000 British classical music lovers have already voted Mozart's 1791 'Clarinet concerto in A Major' as his greatest work.

What's your favorite?

29th Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Ark logo

This weekend is the 29th Ann Arbor Folk Festival at Hill Auditorium, an annual benefit for The Ark. This year's lineup includes The Robert Cray band, the Lyle Lovett Trio, Iris Dement, the Holmes Brothers, and Jonatha Brooke. Also included are top-notch regional acts, from Ann Arbor guitarist Bill Kirchen and Ypsilanti's Mady Kouyate, a Senegalese-born player of the kora, a 21-stringed harp, to 97-year-old Wade Mainer, a Flint native who taught Earl Scruggs the banjo.

For more information on performers, showtimes and tickets, check out The Ark's website.

Vive la musique!

Mes petits choux, you must know the divine Edith Piaf--she is very classique. But there is more: pour yourselves a nice cup of coffee, get a slice of gateau or another delight from the creperie, and imagine yourself in a Parisian Cafe with these compilations of French music. If perhaps you are more inclined to the contemporary, preferring the Pompidou to the Louvre, you might try One Step Forward or Princesses Nubiennes from duo Les Nubians. Last but not least, try Air, French Band.

History Bits - African American

A bit of African-American history can start in picture books with Charlie Parker Played BeBop and a recording of his music Diz 'n Bird at Carnegie Hall for ambience.

Time For a Vacation

St. Barts is probably overrated. And if Bill Bryson hasn’t been there and done that, it’s not worth doing anyway. Instead, let’s virtually vacation via Bryson’s books on CD. Take a trip down the Appalachian Trail in A Walk in the Woods and you’ll have to pull the car over when he describes the various instructions he received for bear encounters.

Anglophiles will want to listen to Notes From a Small Island describing his whirlwind trip around the Sceptred Isle. To complete your world tour, visit Australia with In a Sunburned Country.

To the Moon and Back

Dava Sobel turns her considerable talents to the The Planets in her latest science-is-for-everyone book on compact disc. This is a more personal and poetic undertaking, a collection of essays on the planets that range into discussions of metaphysics, astrology, music, art and biography.

Once you’ve heard Planets, you’ll want to listen to her other highly acclaimed books. Longitude is the story of the race to find a solution to “the longitude problem” that made exploration and maritime travel so dangerous. The book that garnered her so many awards and bestseller status, Galileo’s Daughter is narrated by one of the best readers out there, Recorded Book’s George Guidall.

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