The More or Less Daily News is a five-day per week, Monday through Friday, column. The feature's originator and chief writer, Mold "Moldy" Man, welcomes your emails; he can be reached at email@example.com.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Cold. That pretty much sums up the physical context in which we all…or most of us…find ourselves plugging along this week. They’re calling it a massive polar cold front, which, according to the weather dude I watched on TV last night, has the potential of becoming the most frigid in recorded history. Thirty below in some parts of Nevada last night. So why am I telling you this? I mean, obviously you don’t need me to tell you how cold it is, right? Here’s what I think. I think sometimes people state the obvious because they believe that in some way it will make them feel better. (In this case, feel not quite so cold.) You know, like, it’s taking some action to address the situation, even though the action is meaningless. Well, if that’s the case, it didn’t work. My fingertips are so cold I can’t feel them hitting the keyboard. Take care of yourself today. And if you’re in Reno, do not leave your house. Very, very cold in Reno today.
MILESTONE--It’s 1982 and a new recording project sweeps across of bluegrass world like few efforts ever before. Sugar Hill Records can barely contain itself, saying in a press release that the record …”is a gem of classic, rarely heard traditional country duets, with touches of gospel and bluegrass--just vocals, guitar and mandolin.” Only two artists are heard on the recording, and they “sing in earnest close harmony, evoking the Brothers Louvin, Delmore, and Everly. The recording has a spare quality that gives this set a timeless feel. There are no fancy or showy displays of gee-whiz instrumental wizardry--just two friends playing traditional music with quiet dignity and heartfelt simplicity.” Of course you’d expect Sugar Hill to wax poetic about one of their new releases but, the thing is, pretty much everybody everywhere who hears the collection of the ten songs feel just as strongly that something very rare and very wonderful has been created. And thirty years later, the collaboration between Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice continues to reside in a special, set apart place for lovers of this music of ours. Wrote one enthusiast at the time, “Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice have long been recognized as terrific musicians and vocalists but together, they are spectacular. The blending of their voices, the melodic picking, and the love they clearly have for these songs make this CD rank as one of the best. If you only have one bluegrass CD (and you're not a real fan), this is the one for you. Click here.
Herb would know, wouldn’t he--Thanks to Kathy Kallick for pointing me in the direction of an extraordinarily bookmarkable web site. If their feature this week is any indication of the work they do, I’ll be headed back there a lot. Here’s a nibblet of what you can expect to find…
“ Herb Pedersen On Songwriting --Herb Pedersen began his music career in the early ’60s playing 5-string banjo and acoustic guitar with people like David Grisman, Butch Waller, David Nelson, and Jerry Garcia. His recording discography is like a who’s who of the singer/songwriter scene. Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Johnny Rivers, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Jennifer Warnes, John Prine and Jesse Winchester have each collaborated with Herb over the years. From Carnegie Hall to the Ryman auditorium, he’s been enjoying every minute of it.
Rick: The first time I heard your name was during a Seldom Scene show in the late ’70s at the Birchmere in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C. John Duffy was introducing a song you wrote — Wait A Minute — before setting free his brilliant tenor voice that needed no microphone in that jam-packed room. What’s the back story on how you introduced John and the band to that song?
Herb: I met John Duffey at the Red Fox Inn probably around 1968 when I was in The Dillards band and we were playing over at the Cellar Door in D.C. We talked a bit about The Seldom Scene, and he asked if I had any tunes they could check out for an upcoming album. I had just written Wait A Minute and Old Train, so I gave him a cassette of the two tunes. They cut both of them, and titled the album “Old Train.”
Back stories aplenty in this interview. If you have time, treat yourself. Click here.
MOLDY MAIL BAG--“Dear Mold Man, lest you forget, every time someone makes a typo, the errorists win! Accurately yours, Kurt from Markleyville.” Dear Kurt, awfully decent of you to point this out; a little help proofing the 6,000 or so words of copy I write each week would be an even greater help.
Seventy-five years old this year--One of the things you hear people remark about the Wizard of Oz is that it’s been beloved by so many generations of people; somehow, they marvel, the film just doesn’t seem to get old or dated. I believe that’s true but I’m not quite sure why. Clearly its themes of personal quest, of the battle between good and evil, of coming of age…its performances by some of the best singers and dancers of all time…a musical score that, once heard, takes up permanent residence in the hearts and minds of audiences…and its gorgeous sets, which seem as surreal today as they did back in 1938, offer some explanation. But I think there’s more to the appeal of the Wizard of Oz than that. I’m just not sure what it is. In any event, here’s meant to pay homage to this wonderful film on its seventy-fifth birthday. (You may have noticed that I’m sort of laying low on lists these days; wouldn’t want our readership getting the idea that we’re slacking off over here and Mold News Central….
FIVE THINGS YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T NOTICED DURING THE THIRTY OR FORTY TIMES YOU’VE WATCHED THE WIZARD OF OZ
1. Dorothy's Cruller. Just before singing "Over the Rainbow," Dorothy takes one of the "just fried" crullers Aunt Em offers the farmhands. She takes a small bite, tosses a piece to Toto and from there it seems to vanish. But watch closely, she's still holding it as she begins to sing and at the beginning of the second verse, she tosses the remainder into the barnyard (hopefully Toto saw it!).
2. Miss Gulch's Umbrella. As Miss Gulch pulls up to the Gale farmhouse, you can see an umbrella strapped to the front of her bicycle. This is an "insider" allusion to the water allergy of her Ozian alter ego, the Wicked Witch of the West. In the original L. Frank Baum book, the Witch carries an umbrella, not a broom.
3. Dorothy's Dresses. Here's a question sure to stump family and friends: How many dresses is Dorothy seen wearing? The answer is two, not one. When Dorothy meets Professor Marvel, he glances at a portrait of Dorothy and Aunt Em in their Sunday best -- both are wearing wardrobe only seen for this brief moment. (Look closely: the professor never returns the photo either!)
4. The Coroner's Death Certificate. When the Munchkin coroner pronounces the Wicked Witch of the East "really most sincerely dead," he displays the official death certificate which is dated May 6, 1938 -- exactly 19 years after L. Frank Baum, author of the original Wizard of Oz book, passed away.
5. Toto's Deleted Dance? When dance director Bobby Connolly was interviewed in 1939, he discussed the challenges of teaching the Munchkins how to dance in unison but he also mentioned that Toto's trainer was tone deaf, so Connolly had to give the trainer the music cue a couple beats ahead so the trainer could translate the signal to the dog. When "Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead" is reprised, Toto trips down the steps of the city hall and falls in line behind the Munchkin soldiers with no further explanation -- was this the "Toto Trot" to which Connolly was referring?
There are actually another five and you can read them by clicking here.
J.D.’s Stuff-You-Don’t-Need-to-Know--Lizzie Borden was acquitted. (Although the jury could agree on the fact that she’d killed her parents, they couldn’t ever settle on just how many whacks it took her.)
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