My Best Birthday Gift Ever – Music

Some highlights and stories from this year's very enjoyable Prince Edward County Jazz Festival. I've had my nose to the grindstone pretty good for a while now and this has had me feeling every inch of my age and then some. My birthday came and went on August 16 in Picton and joining the 56-year-old club would normally have lead to some angst and hand-wringing over what a drag it is getting old, as The Rolling Stones once put it. Funnily enough though, one of the many nice things about this Jazz Festival was that it gave me a whole new perspective on age and aging, I'm not quite as worried or bugged about it anymore.  At least not all the time, only when I'm schlepping the damn bass around. For years I was often by far the youngest guy in most bands, but this is no longer usually the case for obvious reasons. The house rhythm section for a lot of this festival was me, with Bernie Senensky on piano, age 67, and Brian Barlow on drums, 60 and also the Creative Director of the whole works. This requires of him an awesome level of organization, versatility and energy which he has in spades; the man runs on fumes, makes espresso seem slow. So here I was, much older but again the youngest guy in the band, a small, selfish comfort made irrelevant because these two came at me with so much musical energy, moxie and spirit at all times that I never even considered their age.  Have you ever noticed that when you see someone at the top of their game and really having fun, you don't more [...]

The Death of Fun – Where Have You Gone, Puddin’ Head Jones?

Have you noticed how nicknames have pretty much disappeared from jazz and baseball? What happened, where did they all go? There's still the odd half-decent one around, like say Joey Bats, or Trombone Shorty. But these days it seems the only celebrities in any number with colourful nicknames are rap or hip-hop "artists", and I'd happily say goodbye to their soubriquets if it also meant the musical genre would just disappear, forever and without a trace. Forgive my white-ass, hidebound and middle-aged attitude, but I need a little more wit and romance in my music than sampled rhythm tracks and the rhyming of "bitch" with "snitch" can provide. Otherwise it's pretty Slim Pickens...... sorry..... slim pickings these days, a far cry from the past when the two fields were knee-deep in nicknames. Consider jazz figures for a minute : Jelly Roll, Satchmo, King, Duke, Count, Fatha.  Bunk, Bix, Bunny, Cootie, Wingy, Jabbo. Bubber, Baby, Muggsy, Bumps.  (Rubber baby buggy bumpers.)  Yank, Nappy, Chippie, Matty, Miff, Stuff, Big Tea and Toots. Tricky Sam, Rabbit, Bean and Pres. Big Sid, Little Jazz, Jaws and Sweets. Big-Eye, Cat's-Eye, Lady Day, The Rockin' Chair Lady. The Brute, Bud, Dodo, Bird, Dizzy, Buzzy, Floorshow, Flip. Zoot and Zutty. The Lion, The Beetle, Pinetop, Fats, Slim and Slam, not to mention Bam. Klook, Newk, Bags, Babs, Jug, Keg, Philly Joe, 'Trane and Cannonball. Lots of Reds, Shortys, Pee Wees, Luckys. Busters and Bucks, Papas and Kids. Oh baby......... Nowadays, more [...]