Posts Tagged ‘Spencer Wiggins’

‘Come On In My Kitchen . . .’

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Come on into the kitchen here at the studios. You need an invitation? Okay, here’s one by a British blues musician named Paul Williams, from his 1973 album In Memory Of Robert Johnson:

Looking at the record jacket shown in the video, a blues fan sees a couple of errors. Robert Johnson did not die in a hotel room but rather in a house in Greenwood, Mississippi (at 109 Young Street, if the late Honeyboy Edwards’ commentary in the 1991 documentary The Search For Robert Johnson is accurate). And Johnson was twenty-seven when he died, not twenty. But the mistakes on that jacket simply illustrate how little was known about the man forty years ago when his music had already inspired a generation of blues artists through whatever 78s had survived nearly forty years and through two LPs released by Columbia.

Anyway, you’re in the kitchen. Over there, on the right, is the stove. In a 1929 recording, Blind Willie McTell warns Bethenea Harris that “This Is Not The Stove To Brown Your Bread” (with Alfoncy Harris adding guitar in the background). But the oven’s been in use, according to Spencer Wiggins, who wants to know “Who’s Been Warming My Oven” in a track recorded for Goldwax sometime around 1967 but not released at the time:

And over there, on the left, is the refrigerator. Alice Cooper sang in 1970’s “Refrigerator Heaven” about being frozen until a cure for cancer was found, but that’s happening in some lab, not in my kitchen. So we’ll turn a little bit and head for the counter, and that’s where we find Dolly Parton’s “Old Black Kettle” waiting for soup or stew or whatever we’ll have for dinner this evening, as it has been since she sang about it in 1973. And next to it we find breakfast: The “Second Cup Of Coffee” that Gordon Lightfoot’s been sipping since 1972 and some “Shortnin’ Bread” courtesy of Mississippi John Hurt, probably from 1966.

And then we’re out the door for the day.

Some Walkin’ Goin’ On

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to get back – if only in a small way – to writing and editing for actual compensation. So I began thinking and writing down ideas. As I wondered where I might find a market for editing and proofreading, I realized that across the river there is a state university with something like 16,000 students, the vast majority of whom will have to write one or two research papers a semester.

So I put together a one-page promotion piece with the bottom edge of the page turned into tear-off slips with an email address. And I spent two hours yesterday morning walking around the campus of St. Cloud State, pinning my promotional piece to public billboards. I learned that some classroom buildings – generally those recently constructed or remodeled – have no public bulletin boards. In the buildings that have generally retained their purposes and designs since I was a student at SCS a good many years ago, however, the bulletin boards remained.

I probably put up about thirty-five pieces yesterday in six different buildings, and I likely walked a little more than a mile to do so (maybe more; I had to double back several times in buildings to get to all the corridors, and several of the buildings had two or three stories). It’s been a while since I walked that far. Now, I have no doubt that being more active is a good thing, and a few aches and pains in the long run will be a small price. But this morning, it’s a little hard to move.

So here are a few tunes about walking.

“Walkin’ Up Hip Street” by Tower of Power. This lively and funky instrumental comes from TOP’s 1975 album Urban Renewal. The album went to No. 22.

“Walking Out On You” by Spencer Wiggins. I’ve mentioned Wiggins before, who recorded a series of lively soul singles for the Goldwax label without having much, if any, of a chart presence. This 1966 track was released as Goldwax 312.

“Walk On” by the Reindeer Army. I know nothing about the Reindeer Army although I can make two assumptions: First, the group found its name in a line from Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Second, the group sounds like a collection of studio musicians. Other than that, this 1970 release on Laurie is a blank. I found the track in one of the massive Lost Jukebox collections that one still might be able to find by hanging around blogs and boards.

“A Walk in the Black Forest” by Horst Jankowski. This instrumental with the jaunty solo piano was a No. 12 hit in 1965 for German jazzman Jankowski. (Say those last three words real fast, if you can!) He reached the Hot 100 again later that year when “Simpel Gimpel” went to No. 91.

“Walk On Water” by Ambergris. I wrote about Ambergris and shared the band’s lone album – from 1970 – five years ago, which is something like a hundred years in blogtime. For those who love horn bands, the group is still a fun listen. Back then, I wrote that “Walk On Water” was one of the album’s highlights, a judgment that still holds.

“Walking Blues” by Son House (with Willie Brown on guitar, Joe Martin on fiddle and LeRoy Williams on harmonica). This is one of the classic songs in the blues canon, and this take was recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax near Memphis in 1941. House first recorded his version of the song in 1930 for Paramount, and that performance was pretty strong although it’s difficult to listen to because of the poor quality of the surviving recordings. House’s performance here for Lomax is pretty powerful, too.