Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cuca Records at the Mills Music Library

One of the things I love most about my job as the Ethnic American Music Curator in the Mills Music Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is that we get an acquisitions budget each year and I am allowed to spend part of it on things I feel make important contributions to the Wisconsin Music Archives. Among my various projects within that mission is completing the Cuca Records catalog. There are so many incredible records on this Sauk City, WI label and its subsidiaries, and fortunately the founder--Jim Kirchstein--is still around to talk about it with us (or, as it were last week, with Bill Malone on his Back to the Country program on radio station WORT--which was recorded and archived in the Wisconsin Music Archives). Here are just a few of the gems I have acquired for the Mills Music Library within the past month, but if anyone else has any Cuca Records for sale, please do let me know. More importantly, if anybody wants to hear these records or take on a Cuca-related research project, come visit us at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Memorial Library. So far we've tracked down 293 45s and over 100 Cuca LPs, but there's still a pretty good way to go before the collection is complete.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Recording in Austin, TX with Frankie Miller and Friends

There are good days. And there are great days. And sometimes even phenomenal days. And then there are the kind of days like my May 15th when you go to Austin, TX to catch up with old friends and you decide to book a recording session at Cris Burns's Ameripolitan Studios with some of your favorite musician pals and you invite Starday (and Columbia and 4star/Gilt-Edge and Stop and United Artists) recording star Frankie Miller to the session and he with his daughter and son-in-law and grandson drive three hours each way so that he can sing some duets with you 

and they turn out dynamite and then Frankie hands you a welcome to Texas gift-bag that includes your most wanted LP and he signs it to you 

and then Dale Watson comes by to check out the session 

and then your friend and the daughter of Arlie Duff (Starday's first ever star) comes by and takes some really cool photographs of the session (thanks again, Kristy!) and then you have an amazing Mexican dinner with dear friends 

and then your buddy puts you on the guest list to see him and Heybale tear it up at the Continental Club and at the show you see several friends you haven't seen in 10 or more years and even some friends from the ARSC conference in San Antonio the previous week and you dance all night 

and, to sum it up succinctly, a grand time is had by all. That was my kind of day last week. Too good for words, really. I can't wait to share the recordings with everyone once the new project is ready. Until then, I give my many thanks to everyone who made it such a special day: Tom and Rose Umberger, Cris Burns, Kevin Smith, Bobby Trimble, Bobby Horton, Frankie Miller, Sandra and Greg and Nathan Wilson, Bear, Dale Watson, Kristy Duff Wallace, Redd Volkaert, Dallas Wayne, Bobby and Stephanie Marlar, Jennifer Lee Vaughn, Steve Ramm, and of course, my mother.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Guitar Cultures Around the World, at IU this Fall

I'll be teaching my Guitar Cultures Around the World course at Indiana University this fall. If anybody knows any interested undergrads in Bloomington, I'd be mighty grateful if you shared this flyer with them. It'll be a 2nd eight weeks course that counts towards GenEd A&H credits as well as Global Civilizations and Cultures credits, and as of today we still have 17 available seats.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Global Business Institute 2016 - Kelley School of Business, Institute for International Business

Now that the 2016 Global Business Institute is officially over, I must thank both the fine folks at Indiana University’s Institute for International Business for hiring me yet again (cheers to you Stephanie!), the PA and CL staff this year, as well as all 100 students from across the Middle East and North Africa for an incredible summer. I’ve posted notes in previous years about the details of the program and what it is about so I won’t go into those here, but I still want to take a moment to remember a few of this year’s highlights, share some photos, and express my gratitude for a great summer. After my third year working with this program, I again emerge exhausted and groggy, but also incredibly inspired and thankful to have encountered so many motivated and inspiring students from around the globe.

It’s next to impossible to pick out just a few highlights from the last month because in between classes the whole month was packed with fun adventures--hiking through Bradford Woods, celebrating the 4th of July with BBQ and games, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, rockin’ out on Karaoke Night, all of the performances at Culture Night-- but for me, my favorite moments came during those many one-on-one moments: Visiting Cascades Park with Lana and talking about feminism and art and her goal of starting a community art school in Palestine;

discussing the need for environmental awareness and how Ali, Umair, Taha, Ayesha, and Maria’s business plan will make life better in Pakistan;

hearing Mohamed’s own socially conscious songs about education reform and the need for gender equality in Tunisia and performing one of them with him at Culture Night;

playing guitar (and also shopping for guitars) with Sam and Migo;

talking about medicine and dogs with Shehryar, who at 21 years old has already written six (6!!!!) books about dogs and dog-care (dude, i’m still wanting to read the rest of your book on Pugs!);

talking with Yasser about his work in Jordan with education programming for Syrian refugees;

busting into the IU football stadium for a photo shoot with Hamzah (were those gates supposed to be locked?);

talking about the importance of learning foreign languages in Morocco and plans to become a university educator with Mohamed;

saving Yousef’s life; talking comedy (and of my apparent doppelganger, Arron Crascall) with Sarah; discussing landscape architecture and the current urban planning needs in Egypt with Reem; talking with Şeyma from Tunisia about teaching music and then performing ‘Misirlou’ together at Culture Night as well as playing some Hoagy Carmichael together on piano (btw, you are a fantastic music teacher, Seyma!);

And so many more. Seriously, you guys ROCK!!!! There were a thousand more conversations about politics, religion, lifestyles, incredible business projects, jokes, and fascinating people over lunches, dinners, walks to and from class, as well as during some intense ping pong matches and I treasure each of them. I couldn’t possibly mention them all or everyone, so instead I give a sincere thank you to ALL GBIers for the good conversations, hearty laughs and chuckles, but more importantly for the friendship!
Speaking of ping pong, this summer was filled with some of the most intense ping pong games I have ever played and I feel super fortunate to just barely escape the month undefeated (approximately 1,000-0, but with several ties to be sure)... Anas, Abderrahmen, Shorafa, Salem, Malik, Shahrukh, Essa, Ali, Sam, Khalil, Reem, Walid, Ibrahem, Troudi, Yasser, Farah, Yousef and many more, thank you for the many games and super competitive sporting breaks throughout July! (And who has that photo of a bunch of us at the ping pong table??)
I also want to send my many thanks for the wonderful gifts I received this month. ندين الشاعر, this is my new favorite shirt!

Zakaria, I’m still rockin’ that cologne and now I smell like a million bucks! Cheers!

My fridge looks way cooler now thanks to Taha. I’m a richer man thanks to Ahmed (lookout Egypt, I’ve been bankrolled!). My keyholder and bookshelf are now rockin’ thanks to Sam, Yousef, Soufiane, Troudi, and Rami. I don’t even know who left the black suede shoes in the donation pile but I took them because they are sweet and they fit me perfectly. Thanks! And to Shehryar, Abderrahmane, Muhammad, Azeem, Nour, and Abderrahmen--many thank you’s for all the food and food points. Your contributions will keep me fed all the way through the winter!

Lastly, Lana and Reem, your gifts were handmade and very personal so they warrant their own posts, which I will be making soon, but know that I love, love, love them. Thank you!

To everyone in GBI, thanks again! It’s been a great summer in Bloomington, IN with many friendships and connections forged, and I look forward to keeping in touch and following y’all’s successes over the years. If I can ever be of assistance here in the States, just let me know. I’ll be happy to help however I can. And of course, the next time I find myself in Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Egypt, or Tunisia, expect that I’ll be knocking on y’all’s doors! And know that I’m absolutely going to do it some day!
Cheers, Nate

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mayf Nutter, Environmental Awareness, and Starday Records

After teaching a whole semester of Socially Conscious Songwriting at Indiana University and helping students to write about important social matters in song, I've developed a soft spot for all the Starday artists who tackled important social issues. One of them was Bakersfield artist (via West Virginia), Mayf Nutter, who recorded his anti-pollution number, "Simpson Creek (Won't Ever Run Clear Again)," back in 1970 (Starday 45-910). 

This was after his stint as Del Shannon's lead guitar player, around the same time that he was fronting the New Christy Minstrels on Columbia, and just before his Capitol sessions with Merle Haggard's Strangers and Buck Owens' Buckeroos. Apparently there were two seperate releases of this single and the flipside of Starday 45-9101 is a series of anti-pollution public service announcements (among the earliest environmental awareness recordings--I'm looking at you Joni Mitchell). 


But just recently I discovered that the promo came with the PSAs for radio use, but that the stock copy actually had a little stand-up joke-ish bit on the flip called "The Other Side." It's less than a minute, but it's pretty funny stuff to hear on a record. Last week Mayf celebrated a birthday (Oct. 19), so Happy Birthday, Mayf! Thanks for the great tunes and thanks for taking a stand on important social issues! In case y'all want to hear it, I made a YouTube video with "Simpson Creek," "The Other Side," and the three alternate PSAs on environmental awareness. Three Cheers for the environment!