Kraak and Smaak break it on down

No, ‘Kraak!’ and ‘Smaak’ are not just the first things that Scooter Libby will be experiencing in the big house (check out Wonkette’s top 10 prison nicknames for Scooter Libby – my favorite is “Yellowcakes”); Kraak & Smaak are actually 3 Dutch guys (Oscar de Jong, Mark Kneppers and Wim Plug) who have an appreciation for funky breakbeats. I’ve been hearing them quite a bit on Sirius Satellite Radio (Boombox channel).

The song that’s been growing on me is “Money in the Bag”. So I checked out their web site and found a really cool live performance of the song from August 27th at Uitmarkt Amsterdam. I grabbed the audio and have the mp3 below. I also include another tune that was offered on their site.

Sometimes you just need to kick back and let some Dutch dudes get seriously funky.

Kraak & Smaak: Money in the Bag (mp3) – sorry about the low audio level – crank it up a couple notches & go check out the video on their site though (from their home page, click Media).

Kraak & Smaak: Set Fire (mp3)

Breakbeat Bonus: I found an hour long breakbeat podcast on Influenza’s (a DJ duo from Vancouver, BC – shout out to Gerry!) web site: SickBeats.com. You can download it here or from their Home Page.

Strays Don’t Sleep

UPDATE – 12/7/2005 “For Blue Skies” was on “One Tree Hill” tonight. Mp3 below…. For all you people who like that sound, that’s Matthew Ryan on vocals. Check out his stuff (some links below).

I’ve blogged about Matthew Ryan a couple times before. I just found out about his latest project, a band called Strays Don’t Sleep, which consists of Ryan (vox, guitars, keys), Neilson Hubbard (vox, guitars, synth), Brian Bequette (guitar, loops and keys), Billy Mercer (bass guitar) and Steve Latanation (drums).

I just eat up the atmosphere Ryan evokes in his music. Quiet, stark, and desparate with a tinge of hope. These songs from Strays Don’t Sleep fit that mold. The CD is apparently only available in the UK right now through Bjork’s label, One Little Indian. But looks like it should be released in the US soon. They have a cool My Space site you can check out, as does Matthew Ryan, both of which are streaming tunes. Also, if only for aesthetic quality, check out their official web site. You can get lost staring at some of those cool videos / images running throughout their site (I recommend clicking into the Pictures section and watching that beautiful specimen sit down on the bed over and over).

Strays Don’t Sleep: For Blue Skies (mp3) – – the song is also available on iTunes. Support the band, go buy this great song!

World Series: Home to Houston via Chicago

This Steve Earle tune has been zippin’ through my head for the entire MLB playoffs. So now that the Houston Astros have made it to the World Series, I figure I’d celebrate the moment with a very non-celebratory song: “Home to Houston”. Steve writes it from the perspective of a Texas truck driver who heads off to Iraq for a quick buck, and regrets it from the get-go. “If I ever get home to Houston alive, I won’t drive a truck anymore.”

Steve Earle
: Home to Houston – from The Revolution Starts Now

And to complement it (hats off to the Chicago White Sox), here’s another uplifting tune whose opening line is “I dreamed about killing you again last night and it felt alright to me.” That Jeff Tweedy, he’s a charmer…

Wilco: Via Chicago – live from American Stars & Bars. Studio version comes from Summerteeth.

I Love You Gypsy Woman

Not sure how long it will last, but all you Boss fans check out Amazon.com‘s home page as soon as possible. They have a great clip of Bruce & the E Street Pimps – er – Band performing “Born to Run” at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1975. It’s no doubt taken from the forthcoming 30th Anniversary ‘Born to Run’ box set (coming out No. 15th), which includes a DVD of the full show.

So like a sign from the heavens, it must mean I should blog another Boss tune. Tonight’s journey takes us to the 1994 release ‘A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield’, which includes some greats like Eric Clapton’s “You Must Believe Me”, Lenny Kravitz doing “Billy Jack”, and this take on “Gypsy Woman” by one Mr. Springsteen. I love the Hammond B3 on this. That’s the work of Tommy Sims.

Bruce Springsteen: Gypsy Woman (mp3)

The Boss’ Lost Radio Show

It’s been a while since I’ve paid homage to the Boss, so tonight is the night. On March 9th, 1974, a 24 year old Bruce and the boys strolled into Houston’s KLOL-FM for a sit down interview and performance. The show made its way on to a bootleg entitled ‘The Lost Radio Show’. It’s an amazing snapshot of Bruce’s life at the time. ‘Born to Run‘ would be released a year later, and he had released his 2nd album ‘The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle‘ several months earlier (Sept. 11, 1973).

So here’s my picks. “The Fever” is a Bruce-penned tune that stayed in the vaults until it was finally released on 1999’s ‘18 Tracks‘. “Something you Got” was written by New Orleans native Chris Kenner (1929-1976), and was covered by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Dr. John, and Jimmy Johnson. Kenner is best known for writing “Land of 1000 Dances”.

Bruce Springsteen:
The Fever (mp3)
Something you Got (mp3)

Sunday Mood Music: The Swan

I heard a familiar and very beautiful piece of music the other day on Sirius (David Johansen’s Mansion of Fun). The amazing thing about music is its timelessness. When Camille Saint-Saëns sat down and wrote “Le Cygne” (“The Swan”) as part of a larger work called ‘Le carnaval des animaux’ (‘Carnival of the Animals’) in ’86 – 1886 – who would’ve thought that almost 120 years later, some American in the Arizona desert would be meditating to it on his drive home from work? Well Camille, you live on in your work, and as duly impressed and touched by this piece of music as I am, I want to share it with my small slice of the blogosphere.

So Yo-Yo Ma sits down with his cello, accompanied by two pianos, and churns this out:

Yo-Yo Ma: Carnival of the Animals: The Swan (mp3) – Composed by Camille Saint-Saëns (1886)

Listen to my Banjo

So I download a helluva lot of music from MP3 Blogland. So much so that sometimes I don’t actually hear the tunes until months later when I’m kickin’ back listening to my mp3 collection on shuffle. It was recently that I came across a tune by The Woes that was posted on Bars & Guitars back in the spring. The tune is “Blackbird” and it features a banjo, an accordion, harmonica, bass, and gravelly voiced singer Osei Essed. The banjo and the chord changes reminded me of another tune by Philly’s Marah: a song called “Phantom Eyes”, from their amazing late 90’s debut, ‘Let’s Cut the Crap and Hook Up Later on Tonight’.

So I put ’em together for your listening pleasure. Compare, contrast and comment. Look ma, I’m podcasting! Sort of… I guess…

I call it… Black Phantom! (mp3)

00:00 – 04:06 :: The Woes“Blackbird” – from a 7 song EP entitles ‘Coalmine’ – apprarently not to be found for sale, but check out their My Space site, where they have a few additional tunes you can stream.
04:07 – 06:35 :: Marah “Phantom Eyes” – from ‘Let’s Cut the Crap and Hook Up Later on Tonight’ [Buy]

Monday at the Movies

Been in the blues frame of mind of late. So out came the soundtrack to the movie ‘Rush’, put together by one Eric Clapton. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first release that “Tears in Heaven” was released on. On the 2nd to last track of the soundtrack, Buddy Guy joins in and belts out the Al Perkins / Willie Dixon tune “Don’t Know Which Way to Go”.

It’s classic, vintage, down home, slap yo booty and call me in the morning b-l-u-e-s, baby. Check out Buddy’s wails of desparation in his singing. Especially his opening verse a minute & a quarter into it. “Think I’m leaaavin’ in the morning…” Oh lawd.

Buddy Guy & Eric Clapton: Don’t Know Which Way to Go (mp3)

Mister Earle and his post big house blues

Sundays are for playing music that matches your end of the weekend BLAHS. This tune has been my woe-is-me companion since I discovered Steve in the mid-90’s thanks to the formerly good Phoenix radio station KZON (a station whose only saving grace these days is their 4 hours of Howard Stern every morning).

I got the chance to see Steve around that time at the now defunct Rockin Horse saloon in Scottsdale (burned to the ground I think). Steve had just completed his stint in the big house due to his recurring problems with drugs, and he was embarking on the best musical journey of his career. His first album after the drug & jail adventures was ‘Train a Comin’, released in 1995. It was an acoustic journey made up of old and new songs alike, as well as a great covers of “I’m Looking Through You”, “Rivers of Baylon”, and “Tecumseh Valley”. The highlight of the album for me though – due to my fondness for the melancholy tunes – is “Goodbye”.

Last verse:

I only miss you here every now and then
Like the soft breeze blowin up from the Caribbean
Most Novembers I break down and cry
But I can’t remember if we said goodbye

Sniff. Damn Steve. I hope this tune turns someone out there on to Mr. Earle. I reckon it will.

Steve Earle
: Goodbye (mp3)