Music Monday: My Boy Lollipop

Millie Small’s version is unbridled fun:

This 1987 news segment is pretty interesting:

SHe seems to have spent time recently in the studio, but I don’t know whether anything will come of it.


This This Week In Zoe News #4: Folk DJ List Charting for January 2018

It’s been a couple of weeks without any news of note, but things have picked up this week. I’m not sure about the shape of the news the last few weeks before “Whistle Down The Wind”‘s release in the first week of March. Clearly review CDs are out there. I don’t know if some pubs will hold on to their reviews for very close to the launch.

Anyway, onward!

FolkDJ charting

I was wondering what happened to the Folk DJ charts for 2018 as I didn’t see an update for January in the usual places. Turns out they were revamping the website! It looks very nice now. And Zoe shows up in the charts nearly a year after the release of “Small Brown Birds”.

Category Item Rank plays Notes
Album Small Brown Birds 41 20
Song Welcome in Another Year 6 14 This is from Bonfires, but may be getting notice from being on the first Hudson Harding Holiday Sampler.
Song The President Sang Amazing Grace Zoe 23 11
Artist Zoe Mulford 21 40 Tied with Pete Seegar!

Note that her total plays is greater than the SBB plays or the SBB + Welcome In (34). So there were 6 addition plays not otherwise accounted for.

Zoe wasn’t charting at all in January 2017, so this is pretty good. February 2017 was  when Small Brown Birds hit the airwaves, so next month will give an interesting year on year comparison. Whistle Down the Wind comes out in March which should give an interesting boost.

Radio Interview and Folk Alliance

On the last day of their touring last month, they stopped by to record an interview with Genevieve Tudor for her Sunday Folk show. (She called Zoe “delicious”…how did she know?!) It’s still up on the BBC website, so give it a listen!

Zoe is in the US this month (she left…last Thursday? yes…boo!) primarily to attend the 2018 annual Folk Alliance International conference (they don’t have permalinks for this year, apparently, booo!). You can think of it as a very extended hiring fair with a bunch of other activities tacked on. As you can she from her lovely flyer, she has 6 or so showcases lined up. She also has a slew of people (esp. UK folks!) lined up to meet or maybe stalk…schmooze at least. She’s met Richard Thompson already, but chickened out on giving him a copy of her cover of Vincent St Lightening.

Whistle Down the Wind

We have a few new reviews, but only one mentions “The President Sang Amazing Grace” at any length.

Mark Moody (rating 9):

As to the topical or perhaps universal, this is of course an area that Baez has flourished in over the decades. The most obvious song is Zoe Mulford’s ‘The President Sang Amazing Grace’ that again Baez takes to some other level. The song recounts the recent Charleston church massacre in the gun culture South with the unsuspecting allowing sin to enter their domain (the song evokes Woody Guthrie’s story songs like ‘1913 Massacre’ so strongly). In order to firmly document the story, the song highlights Barack Obama’s eulogy for the slain.

Maurice Hope doesn’t mention it.

This month’s Uncut specifically calls it out as “marred” by, roughly, preachiness (though they don’t say it’s bad. There’s really too little detail to figure out what’s going on. They give the album, overall, an 8/10.)

Music Mondays: Videos with Continuous Motion

Last Monday I dug up this video of a Take On Me cover by Reel Big Fish:











It’s just them “walking” through some tunnels with the illusion of mostly forward motion. And…I really love it. It made me thing of Supergrass’s Alright video:










(For UKers:









The forward, linear motion isn’t quite as continuous but it does dominate.

The Pretty Reckless’s Make Me Wanna Die has the lead singer walking forward with the camera while taking off her clothes and a bunch of other generic hard rock stuff (flames, etc.)






I tend to think that the simple walking while singing was the effective bit! (The Pretty Reckless have a bunch of interesting videos, but often kinda overdo it.)

In the Letter From an Occupant Video, none of the New Pornographers move much, but the camera does in an infiniteish zoom:




I could have sworn that the Dead South had some moving, but they just walk in place while the background shifts. It gives the feel of linear motion though:

Ingrid Michaelson’s Still the One doesn’t quite fit in this mold as we get a lot of different views and the motion is rarely into the camera, but the spirit seems similar. There’s nearly always forward motion of some kind. I think it’s pretty neat. The dancer is just so into it.

In comments on such videos there’s the complaint that some such videos are “low budget” which is maybe true? But the technique is effective and relatively few of these are truly super low budget or as low budget as people think. The Reel Big Fish probably had several takes and had to get folks like the flipping mascot on board. More to the point, who cares? It’s fun and feels “in tune” with the performance.

Music Monday: John Henry

The Smithsonian Folkways label is a treasure trove, for sure. It has a ton of great and historically important music. They have a lot of educational material, but not a lot of free material (alas). They are non profit, so maybe more money goes to the musician or supports their archival work. On the other hand, esp for their older stuff, it’d be great to have a large library of great work available to all. They should be optimising for access!

Alas, their free offerings are rather paltry. However, they currently have a nice “John Henry” Cephas & Wiggins available:

Ah, John Henry. A great story and great song. When we left North Carolina for Maryland, we through a farewell bash in our apartment complex’s social room. We billed it as a sort of “farewell concert/song round”. Tons of Zoe’s music buddies show up and we had a blast.

The absolute, bone shaking, heart exhilarating performance was our good friend Reagan Cole (RIP) playing John Henry. Here’s a recording that just does not remotely do justice to the performance I experienced:

I saw one of the most buttoned up people I’ve ever known pounding a table in time. I remember the vibrations of that performance. It was one of the absolutely finest musical experiences of my life.

There are a plethora of wonderful interpretations (BelefonteMississippi Fred McDowell <– GREAT video! among others), but for me it will always be that moment when leaving North Carolina banging on a table while saying goodbye.

Music Monday: Take On Me

“Take On Me” is a classic pop song with an distinctively awesome video :

The rotoscoping is amazing. The flickeriness with the extra lines make it so interesting and engaging to watch even though the rest is kinda meh and the “story” nonsense. The bits that aren’t rotoscoped stand in stark contrast as visually boring. And yet it doesn’t feel busy or seizure inducing. It’s a very obvious effect done with an exquisitely subtle touch.

Lake Street Dive did a very polarising variant:

That trumpet! It’s very very strange and it’s. It clear that it’s meant to be likeable. (The singer hits a few key notes flat too.) However, the rest is pretty fun. It is, overall, very much in sharp contrast to the unrelenting pop precision of the original.

It turns out that there are a lot more covers than I’d ever thought. Just swing covers abound:

There are quite a few punk or metal covers but they seem rather meh.

Anni B Sweet has a slowed down, acousticed up version without the iconic high notes:

There are several other similar versions (with or without the high notes) but by far the best is by A-Ha:

Stunning. Morten Harket can definitely still hit the final note in the chorus (at 55+) but the dramatic jump down is perfect for this contemplative version.

This parody version has one pretty good joke taken rather too far:

And of course, “Take On Me” inspired one of the two best literal music videos:

This This Week In Zoe News #3: Moer Tour, Some Tools, and a bit of Quiet

Not much going on this week, mediawise. Zoe and Tom play four gigs (Wednesday daytrip, then on the road down South for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…Busy!).

I generally do a “past 24 hrs” search on Google to find stuff. But this week I tried a “past week”….it’s weird. There’s lots of junk in all searches. For example, any site that lists recent articles in a side bar is going to throw up a lot of junk on a week to week basis.

But these searches don’t compose. If you saved 7 days of past 24 hour searches you’d get a lot more than one “past week” search. Which is unnerving!

Small Brown Birds Reviews

Ian Croft for Rock and Reel

This is a lovely humane album which manages to straddle both sides of the Atlantic without compromising either.

Mike Davies for FATEA

When the new Joan Baez album, Whistle Down The Wind, is released in March, it’s highly likely that one of the songs to be rightly singled out for particular praise will be ‘The President Sang Amazing Grace’, a number that tells the story of the 2015 Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston and President Obama’s subsequent eulogy. However, you can get to hear the song before then courtesy of the woman who wrote it, Philadelphia-born and (intermittently) Manchester-based clawhammer banjo-player Zoe Mulford, her own vocal often likened to Baez.

Whistle Down the Wind

There’s an interview with Baez in UK Uncut:

Talking exclusively in the current issue of Uncut, the 77-year-old says that, “At the moment, seeing beyond this one is hard to do. Mostly because it’s gets harder and harder to sing… I can still manage it in a lower range but it’s not easy.”


Bambi Eyes

My first round grading music of choice is ABBA. We had a bunch of their albums as a kid. They have a large number of catchy enough songs to provide momentum and generally are cheery (which helps keep my spirits up).

My ear and brain are generally wired to do silly song hacks—writing new lyrics, mishearing lyrics, etc. And so I present to you the hacked version of the ABBA hit Angeleyes:

Ah-ha-ha, ah-aaaah
Ah-ha-ha, ah-aaaah
Ah-ha-ha, keep thinking ’bout his bambieyes
I keep thinking, a-aaah

Last night I was taking a walk along the river
And I saw him together with a young girl
And the look that he gave her made me shiver
‘Cause he always used to look at me that way
And I thought maybe I should walk right up to her and say
Ah-ha-ha, it’s a game he likes to play

Look into his bambieyes
One look and you’re hypnotized
He’ll take your heart and you must pay the price [of a flamethrower]
Look into his bambieyes
You’ll think you’re in paradise
And one day you’ll find out he wears a (deer) disguise
Don’t look too deep into those bambieyes
Oh no no no no

Ah-ha-ha, ah-aaaah
Ah-ha-ha, ah-aaaah
Ah-ha-ha, keep thinking ’bout his bambieyes
I keep thinking, a-aaah

Sometimes when I’m lonely I sit and think about him
And it hurts to remember all the good times
When I thought I could never live without him
And I wonder does it have to be the same
Every time when I see him, will it bring back all the pain?
Ah-ha-ha, how can I forget that name?

Look into his bambieyes
One look and you’re hypnotized
He’ll take your heart and you must pay the price
Look into his bambieyes
You’ll think you’re in paradise
And one day you’ll find out he wears a disguise
Don’t look too deep into his bambieyes
Crazy ’bout his bambieyes
Once he took my heart and now I pay the price
Look into his bambieyes
You’ll think you’re in paradise
And one day you’ll find out he wears a disguise
Don’t look too deep into those bambieyes
Oh no no no no

Ah-ha-ha, ah-aaaah
Ah-ha-ha, ah-aaaah

Ah-ha-ha, keep thinking, ah-aaaah
Keep thinking ’bout his bambieyes
Ah-ha-ha, keep thinking, ah-aaaah
Keep thinking, I had to pay the price

It works surpisingly well.

The Czars’ slowed down, acoustic version is far inferior to the ABBA one, fwiw. I mean, really awful.