Music Suffers More Loss

Closing Thought–26Oct20

It has been a bad year for music…..rock and country…..and the losses are not finished yet.

Arlo Guthrie, the son of famed folk singer and activist Woody Guthrie has decided that he will no longer tour and give live performances….

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant—but it appears we’ve seen Arlo Guthrie tell us that in person for the last time. In lengthy posts on his Facebook page and website, the 73-year-old folk singer announced Friday he’s retiring from performance immediately. He’s canceled numerous shows he had planned around the country for the next year and said he won’t be booking any more, per the AP. “It’s been a great 50-plus years of being a working entertainer, but I reached the difficult decision that touring and stage shows are no longer possible,” he said in the statement titled “Gone Fishing.” Guthrie didn’t respond to email and phone messages asking to elaborate, but he indicated in his statement that health issues played a major role. He said he’d suffered two strokes in recent years, including a serious one that hospitalized him for several days last year.

The son of folk music legend Woody Guthrie rose to overnight fame in 1967 with the release of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” a hilarious 18-minute talking blues ballad about how his Thanksgiving Day 1965 arrest for littering kept him out of the Army during the Vietnam War. He went on to record more than 30 albums, write several children’s books, and occasionally appear in TV shows and films, including playing himself in the 1969 movie “Alice’s Restaurant.” Guthrie, who frequently declined to play “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” for audiences over the years, had planned to perform it at next year’s shows. In July he released a new song, Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More,” and indicated Friday that his retiring from the stage doesn’t mean he’ll go away completely. “In fact, I hope to be a thorn in the side of a new administration pretty soon,” he said in a veiled reference to President Trump.

This is not the only bad news……country rock musician Jerry Jeff Walker has died…..he was most famous for the hit song Mr. Bo Jangles….

Jerry Jeff Walker, a Texas country singer and songwriter who wrote the pop song “Mr. Bojangles,” has died at age 78. Walker died Friday of cancer, family spokesman John T. Davis told the AP. “He had battled throat cancer for many years, and some other health issues,” Davis said Saturday. Walker emerged from New York’s Greenwich Village folk scene in the 1960s and he was a founding member of the band Circus Maximus. He moved to Texas in the 1970s and in 1972 scored a hit with his version of the Guy Clark song “LA Freeway.” Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band in 1973 recorded an album live in Texas called “Viva Terlingua” that became a classic of the country-rock scene. Walker had since released more than 30 albums.

In 1986, he formed independent music label Tried & True Music and released albums under it. Walker was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2017, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, he told the Austin American Statesman in 2018. “I guess I took my singing for granted, and now I don’t,” he told the newspaper. In 2017, it was announced that Walker had donated more than 100 boxes of his music archives to The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, including tapes, photographs, hand-written lyrics, and artifacts. Walker’s survivors include his wife, Susan, son, Django, and daughter, Jessie Jane.

But for me his best song was …..

I’m an old fart so I remember both these artists as if they were here yesterday…..

The one I did not know was Viola Smith the World’s Fastest Girl Drummer”…..

The “fastest girl drummer in the world” is gone. Viola Smith, a swing musician who fought for female inclusion in the big-band era, died Wednesday at home in Costa Mesa, Calif., the Washington Post reports. She was 107. At a time when jazz giants like Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman dominated the dance-band world, Smith led her own group—the all-female Coquettes—with a 12-drum kit that featured two big tom-toms by her shoulders. The band was best-known for the playful arabesque “The Snake Charmer” with Smith’s dramatic drum-frills. She also made waves with a 1942 DownBeat essay called “Give Girl Musicians a Break!” that urged top band leaders to include more women—especially with so many men fighting in World War II.

“Instead of replacing them with what may be mediocre talent, why not let some of the great girl musicians of the country take their places?” she wrote. “Girls work right along beside men in the factories, in the offices. … So why not in dance bands?” They mostly didn’t, but Smith found steady work in Phil Spitalny’s all-girl band—which played in the Abbott & Costello comedy Here Come the Co-Eds—and later in the Kit Kat Band jazz quartet heard in the musical Cabaret on Broadway, per the Guardian. Born in Wisconsin in 1912, Smith lived much of her life on the road, then moved to New York, and later settled in Costa Mesa. She left no immediate survivors. “I really had a charmed life,” she told Tom Tom in 2013. “Unless people call drumming work. Then I worked hard in my life.”

They will be missed.

Thanx for the memories.

2 thoughts on “Music Suffers More Loss

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