Category Archives: music

Trouble in Mind

Trouble in Mind is a song that has been around the block a time or two. It was written by a jazz piano player named Richard M. Jones and recorded first in 1924 by Themla La Vizzo (vocals) and Jones on piano.

Here’s an old-time version by the Locust Honey String Band…

Jerry Lee Lewis does a great version….

It works as a Western Swing tune too. Here are Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.

And it’s a pure blues…Big Bill Broonzy






T-Model Ford

At one time I listened to a lot of blues music. Back in the early 80s when I was in university, I would go into the listening room at the York U library and sign out all sorts of obscure blues records, and sit down at one of the listening stations – each one of them had a turn-table and head-phones, and listen while I worked on assignments (some days I may have done more listening and less working).

I was attracted to blues that emphasized the song and the groove and I was never much interested in extended blues guitar solos.   Over the years, my musical tastes changed quite a bit, and I found myself listening to less and less blues, but still there are some performers who get my attention anytime I hear them. T-Model Ford is one of those. Ford was born in the early 20s and passed last summer. He didn’t start a musical career until he was in his early 70s. Here are a few performances I really enjoy, found on YouTube…


Country & Western

Remember Country & Western music? Somewhere along the way the “Western” part disappeared and everything went to hell. Let’s listen to some vintage Ernest Tubb…

And here’s Floyd Tillman Drivin Nails in my Coffin…

Remember Lefty Frizzell? Saginaw Michigan…

Let’s close with the Pavarotti of the Plains, the most excellent Don Walser singing his signature tune Rolling Stone from Texas. (Warning: contains awesome yodelling)

The Chemnitzer Concertina

As most of you know, I enjoy all kinds of musical instruments. The Chemnitzer Concertina is one that is on my list to learn one day. It’s a free reed instrument like an accordion, it’s diatonic and it’s bisonoric. Diatonic only means that it’s tuned to a particular scale so it  has some built-in structural limitations which help give the instrument its character. Bisonoric means that you get one note when you depress a button and push air through the bellows but a different note when you pull air through the bellows. In that way, with the bass and chords on the left and the melody notes on the right, it’s sort of like a diatonic button accordion. It’s really closer to a bandonion though than any other instrument I can think of. In this next video you can see a tango orchestra with a row of bandonion players. The tune is La Cumparsita, perhaps the most famous of the tangos and this video is fantastic.

Quite a number of American polka bands use Chemnitzer concertina as a key melody instrument. In those bands the accordion is treated as a rhythm instrument and the accordionist shakes the bellows to drive the beat. A good example of this type of instrumentation is one of my fave polka bands, a group from buffalo called The Dynatones. Sometimes this group has been referred to as Scrubby and the Dynatones. Scrubby is Dave “Scrubby” Seweryniak, and he played the Chemnitzer concertina and sang for this group for many years.

Here they are performing Blondie’s Polka…

The following video I’ve posted before but it’s so good it deserves a little more attention. It’s from 1966 and features Li’l Wally on concertina playing Johnny’s Knocking on the Lawrence Welk television show – sung in both Polish and English

What’s better than one Chemnitzer concertina player? Two in one band of course. This features Jerry Minar and Dale Pexa on concertinas and this combo even has a banjo player!

Have I featured the music of Pokey Lafarge here before?

If not, it’s about time I did. He’s got a lot happening if you ask me. Here is Pokey Lafarge with his very hot band performing Sadie Green…

and how about Going back to Arkansas, featuring Dom Flemons, who you may know from the original line-up of the Carolina Chocolate Drops…

…and finally a solo performance of one of his own tunes, Josephine


Jet fuel for the time machine

We found some great fuel for the time machine this afternoon at Nice Old Stuff – a recording by Hank Barns and the Country Squires with Calls by Smilin’ Ed Hayes, called Swing your Partners. Cuts include:

Arkansas Traveler; Birdie in the Cage; Bile that Cabbage; Ocean Wave; D&A Reel; Caballero; Red River; Duck for the Oyster; Tennessee Wagoneer; Darling Nellie Gray and Jitterbug. It was recorded in 1957. Fantastic!

Here’s Red River

By the way, the photo to the left of the album cover is the wonderful Ellie Mae.

Mean it too…

I’ve been listening David Bromberg’s music quite a lot lately. I really appreciate how eclectic he is, rambling all over the music landscape. He’s a wonderful guitarist and he plays other instruments such as mandolin as well. Here’s a live performance of You’ve got to Mean it Too, which is on his Only Slightly Mad recording.  What a beautiful tune.  This is from eTown, shared from the YouTube.

I highly recommend Mr. Bromberg’s recordings, and particularly his last two, Only Slightly Mad and Use me.