Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

DFRW: The Baseball Glove

glove.jpegA radio segment I produced airs this weekend on PRI’s Studio 360. It’s about the design of the baseball glove and features Bob Clevenhagen, who’s been the head designer at Rawlings for 30 years–in fact, he’s only the third head designer in the company’s 130 year history.

You can listen to the piece here.

Same day, different Paddy

From the Playboy Blog, 3/20/08

chieftains.jpgAs Conor and Rocky pointed out on Monday, the idea that U2 has come to represent Ireland’s music is heresy to us Irish Americans. So this St. Patrick’s Day I found myself craving some real Irish melody, or as my dear mother calls it, “deedly-dee music.” As luck would have it, The Chieftains were tuning up just down the street at Carnegie Hall, so I headed over to celebrate my heritage the traditional way.
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Bam Gets Staxed

soulive.jpg

From the Playboy Blog, 2/20/08

As Alan Evans settled in behind his simple four-piece drum kit, he politely exhorted the audience, “Please don’t feel obligated to stay seated.” It was clear that he and his band, Soulive, were more used to jazz and dance clubs than the ornate opera house at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where they were kicking off the 175-show Brooklyn Next festival. There was some hesitation in the audience ranks until a gentleman chimed in from the back of the room: “Stand up, bitches!” With that, the predominantly hipster crowd thronged into the aisles and the band launched into its trademark hybrid of jazz, funk, soul, and rock.

Soulive recently signed with resurrected Stax records, the Memphis label that boasted Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Isaac Hayes. The Evans brothers, Alan on drums and vocals and Neal on keyboards, kept Stax’s soul intact. Alan’s rhythms were airtight and on the few occasions that he sang, his voice had a gravelly quality reminiscent of his predecessors. Neal laid down fat bass lines with his left hand while pounding Jimmy Smith-style organ solos with his right and occasionally throwing in effects on a fourth keyboard with whichever hand was momentarily free.
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The Pen is Mightier than the Needle

beautiful_boy.jpgFrom the Playboy Blog 2/27/08

A dark past opened into a bright present this week for contributing editor David Sheff and his son, Nic. The pair just released concurrent memoirs dealing with Nic’s long and harrowing methamphetamine addiction. David’s book, Beautiful Boy , has been selected as Starbucks’s next featured title and both books received great write-ups in the New York Times last Thursday and this Tuesday. Janet Maslin praised the “sturdiness and sense” with which David deals with a crisis that “goes well beyond the horrors of garden-variety substance abuse.” Amazon’s David Callanan called Beautiful Boy “achingly honest,” and Publisher’s Weekly said it’s “a hopeful book, coming at a propitious moment in the meth epidemic.”
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His Place Downtown

From the Playboy Blog, 3/03/08milton.jpg

Touring from venue to venue is a real test of a band’s versatility. So when you’re lucky enough to catch one in its niche a good show is virtually guaranteed. Thus, New York folk-rocker Milton’s kick-off-your-shoes bar music has been thriving in weekly sets on his home turf, the aptly named Living Room; the Lower East Side bar has crammed in loyal Milton fans every Wednesday night in February.

Milton’s music clearly descends from the likes of the Band, King Harvest, and Van Morrison. His songs are tight and melodic, albeit less groundbreaking than the work of his predecessors. For me, the band’s draw comes less from the melodies than from a texture that plays particularly nicely in an intimate bar. Milton’s voice is a deep rasp that sounds carefree but never misses a note, perfect for the band’s relaxed, swinging tunes. Oxford grad Frank Campbell’s jangling barroom piano intros and solos inject liveliness in an ensemble that might otherwise be weighed down by more mundane guitar chords, particularly on pop-ier songs like “Her Place Uptown.”
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