Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Video of the Week + Happy Holidays - "Green Onions" - Booker T & the MGs

Not only is it a holiday tomorrow, but I'm also taking another day off! So three days! I've always wondered what it would feel like to be at home on Saturdays!

So enjoy the holiday; I know I'll be at home, given the traffic looks like this:

So to enjoy this lovely news, I'm sharing with you what to me is the ultimate victory song. I'll take my eggs with green onions for breakfast this weekend thank you very much.

This classic track from '62 is an iconic instrumental from Stax Records, THE original R&Bers and dubbed the "greatest backup band in the world": Booker T (piano) & the MG's. Many of you probably heard this song without knowing who performed it. Big "like" to Donald "Duck" Dunn (on Fender P-bass) and Steve Cropper (on Fender Telecaster).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gig Bag Review: SKB Universal Case

My new bass gig bag (soft case) arrived by Aramex yesterday!

Talk about solid... this is a hard case that can be strapped on the shoulder!

It's built tough and protective without being a burden. It can be positioned on it's side like a hard case too! Has 3 huge pockets and a small compartment inside under where the bass lays.

Very sturdy and safe. Highly recommended!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Video of the Week: "Memphis Soul Stew" - King Curtis

You want real Soul & R'n'B?

Then watch this live clip from the great horn player King Curtis; Jerry Jemmott on bass just rips the groove and each member adds his own touch to the stew!

Love this track!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Days of Old: My Beirut Music Story

I left Beirut in 2005 (one week prior to the assassination of PM Rafic Hariri) back to Kuwait, for economical reasons after completing my AUB studies.

During the years of 2002-2005, I was in various bands, the longest being in Evergreen.

I also recorded along with Evergreen band mate Fouad, a soundtrack for Al-Jazeera.

Thought I would share some photos of those days:






Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Honorable Thanks: Blog Post featured on Kuwait Music!

I just wanted to thank the fabulous team at for mentioning my most read/commented on blog post about "A Love Supreme".

The Original Post

The KM Link

Thanks again for their support of this blog and being the leaders of music in Kuwait!

More Blues Humor

Content from Here's the link: The Blues

Sample from the site:

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Short Story using Jazz Terms and Artists.

From: Jay's Page. Thought this is brilliant!


It was a balmy night and I was feeling thelonious. I hadn't had any tatum in so long I could have bixed a choirgirl. But I wouldn't have to - the moment I entered the Luboff Lounge, the babe with the giant eubies fixed me with a "come duke me" look. She uncrossed her legs and I could see almost all the way to birdland. I felt a tingle in my tito puente, and with a smile, I had her. This was it. No sooner had we closed my front door than this hot django had grabbed me by the hines and pulled me close. I insinuated my hand under her sweater until I found one of her brubecks, then I slowly traced a circle around her lee konitz. "Oh, baby", she cooed, "you make my red norvo wet." She unzipped my getz, and reached in to cradle my johnny hodges in her hand. "I'd love a little mingus, darling. My Gillespie is aching." By this time my king oliver was ready to take a solo; I could hardly wait to coda, but I obliged her. She hoisted her skirt, and I saw that she wasn't wearing any basies. I dove right into her satchmo and attacked her lennie tristano. "Ooh," she moaned, "I want your krupa! Zoot me! Miff me! Fill my cootie Williams!" I was ready - almost. I felt my pocket. Uh oh. "Sorry, sweets" I said. No blakey tonight. I'm all out of condons."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Blues Report: Blog Stats so Far

After 2 months of serious and continuous blogging, I'm happy to announce that Speakin' the Blues is off to a great little start.

While the blog is still not mature, nor part of the scene, the results show me that the STB is on a nice little path.

Here's some quick info:

- Over 2,000 unique views
- June blog views have outpaced May's views, and the month is still not over.
- Most viewed post: A Love Supreme: Spiritual Guidance
- Post with most comments: A Love Supreme: Spiritual Guidance
- A little over 50% of the audience is from Kuwait
- A little over 30% of the audience is from the United States
- The remaining percentage is divided between Western countries (Canada, Germany, etc).
- Lebanon and UAE make up less than 5% of views.
- Twitter is the main referral site
- Most famous commenter: Russ Davis, host of VOA Jazz America and MoJa radio host.

Looking forward to serve the blues, jazz, and local scene lovers. Thanks for supporting and taking time to read the blog!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vintage Challenge Results: I am Dissapoint

Back in May I challenged Kuwait to bring forth to me vintage guitars/amps to see and inspect.

The results: nothin'.

I asked around to see if anyone can direct me to a place, such as the Friday Market, to find some vintage instruments, but no leads have been found.

I'm really interested to find some equipment here! So keep can eye out!

Kuwait City Parkin' Blues: Park Harder

A while back I posted a rant that I couldn't find parking near my office.

On Thursday, going back home, I noticed cars parked INSIDE the construction area where the roads are being re-asphalted, rerouted (part of the ongoing 1st Ring Road works).

Here are a few snaps:

People... this is 1) Not safe for your car 2) Delays ongoing construction. I know parking can be a bitch around this area, but don't resort to such tactics.

Perhaps it's time for a new mutli-level parking lot in this area, not a new office tower (none of which have their own parking.)

The crusade for parking continues!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jazz meets Hip-Hop: "Cantaloop" - Us3

The Video of the Week is a hit song from 1993 by British jazz-rap group, Us3. It was released by Blue Note Records (only the most famous Jazz label ever), and included samples of classic jazz recordings, including the introduction by Pee Wee Marquette from a live Art Blakey recording session at the Birdland club. It does however, feature a live trumpet by Gerard Presencer.

The title references Herbie Hancock's record, Cantaloupe Island, which is the heaviest sample and most recognized theme on the track.

Who said you can't mix genres?

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Essential Blues: "Folk Singer" - Muddy Waters

Got enough of Muddy yet?

This album, released in 1964, took a different turn from Muddy's usual electric blues. It's a full on acoustic album, and played in a very minimalist style, which gives it a dark and haunting sound of his old classics and new material.

Featuring a young Buddy Guy on guitar, the great Willie Dixon on upright bass, and Clifton James on drums, and Muddy on slide guitar, the sounds are so mellow and played with such little effort, but the result is a deep and full sound.

Muddy also gets a solo track, "Feel like Going Home"... so chilling to hear.

So, go get this album, ranked number 280 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For Lebanese nostalgics: Triangle Juice!

I was able to find this relic of the past in Kuwait... it was (and is still) popular in Lebanon. Triangle shaped juice. This one is Top Juice, the competitor to Bon Jus.

Going to Ghalayini's in Hamra and ordering mana2ish zaatar with this thing... speaking in the street dialect "2a3tina banjeeseh" (Bon Jus). Good old days!

It's got to be pineapple... anything else is shit. One thing to remember... this is not pure juice... it's flavored water. But dammit it's good.

Found in Lebanese import stores (Lama, etc).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Busted by Cops Blues (and fined too)

Last night while driving with my wife in Salmiya, I got pulled over by a roller (cop). There were 3 others next to their police cruiser, stopping almost everyone and fining away.

So I got fined for not wearing my seatbelt... caught red handed and guilty as charged. Had to sign the ticket too.

Moral of the story? When you see pigs, RUN!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Case for Muddy Waters: Bob Dylan's "Modern Times"

Modern Times is a great album by Bob Dylan released in 2006. Won Grammy's and all that. And while I love a lot of the music, something strikes me as odd.

Two of the tracks, "Someday Baby" and "Rollin' & Tumblin" are most greatly known for being Muddy Waters songs, the former being called "Trouble No More". These two tracks go uncredited (along most of the other songs Dylan adapted).

Those songs were recorded in the early 50's by Muddy Waters, and while many blues songs in the past were adapted and rearranged by almost all, usually credit is given where due. Dylan in the past always cited his influences... but not this time.

So this is a public service announcement; keep tradition alive by citing your influences, and give credit where it's due.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Release: The Robert Johnson Centennial Collection

The Robert Johnson Complete Centennial Collection has been released.

Contains all recordings made by Robert Johnson, including many goodies. Pricey ($350!!) but a "standard" edition is available.

If you like Delta Blues, a collector, or just getting to the Blues, this is the collection to get.

Lazy Saturday Blues

Most of you in Kuwait are probably dozing off or going to the beach by now. Some of us though have to work Saturdays. Guess who is one of 'em?!

So thought I'd ramble a bit here...

1) Dusty weather = ruined weekend
2) Heat = energy drain
3) Traffic = increased stress
4) Politics = two sides bickering over issues that take precedence over the needs of the people

On a positive note, songwriting for the Mojolaters is going smooth... lots of new material.

I also would like to share this website: I Get Blues, which is a nice little humor site regarding blues music.

I'll be back tomorrow; in the meantime, enjoy your day off you bastards (lucky bastards).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Video of the Week - "Moanin" - Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

This track is from 1958. Art Blakey (drummer) is best known for his hard-bop jazz style. "Moanin" is his best known track; adding heavy blues influences as can be heard in the introduction.

Lee Morgan (trumpet) is so wild on his solo, both on the original recording and in this live video.

Enjoy, and have a good weekend!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Love Supreme - Spiritual Guidance

This album by John Coltrane, released in 1965, remains his defining moment in his career.

Coltrane, at this point in his life after all the drugs and fast life, sobered up, and found the light that is God. He portrayed his love for God through this album. And thus the journey begins.

Spread across 4 tracks, and all recorded in one session, is a testament to his hard-bop influences and free-jazz, a style he would later expand upon immensely until his death in the late 60's. This album is not just a jazz album; it is a step towards enlightenment. This album has to be heard and felt.

The first track, "Acknowledgement", sets the tone, a mellow sound, with Coltrane towards the end of the song, chants "A Love Supreme" with overdubbed vocals, the only time his voice is heard on a recording.

"Resolution" & "Pursuance" have extended piano solos, and the tenor sax of Coltrane brings out the excitement in these uptempo tracks.

"Pslam" is the most poetic; he wrote out a poem to God, and then played the sax NOTE FOR NOTE in the syllables of the poem. Love through music... not words. A Love Supreme.

It is with this work that John Coltrane was immortalized and named a Saint by the African Orthodox Church... the miracle of bringing music and the listener to love God.

Get this album now... rated 47 in Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Parking Lot Blues - Insanity Edition

After a long day dealing with Ministry bureaucracy, I finally got to my office in Kuwait City.

As usual, the parking behind my office in Fahed Al-Salem Street after 11AM is full and it takes forever to park.

So arriving at 11:30, I finally found a parking spot at 12:15PM. Yes... FORTY FIVE MINUTES just to park my goddamn car.

This is due to having one parking lot for not less than 4 office TOWERS, banks, and everyone trying to book a summer vacation (this is the Dawliah - ie where almost every tourist/travel office is grouped - parking lot).

So I cannot see any alternative solution, since no one is allowed to park outside on the street, and the closest public parking is across the street near Muthana, which is not a viable option for me.

In addition to that, it's an expensive parking! A full day from 8am to 5pm will cost you 550-600 fils. Thats 16.5 - 18KD a month just to park!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Devil & The Blues: Blood Brothers

The devil has been associated with the Blues since Robert Johnson's legend about him selling his soul to the devil, after meeting him at a crossroads.

The devil is a metaphor, a personification of the evil that causes the blues (cheating women, gambling, big boss man, poverty etc).

It is known that the Blues masters are not followers of the occult or devil worshipers; on the contrary they were merely expressing the power of the devil and how to overcome it, and usually the songs describe the dangers of these temptations.

Here are a few blues songs related to the devil:

- Robert Johnson: "Crossroad Blues"
- Skip James: "Devil got my Woman"
- James Cotton: "Dealin' with the Devil"
- Big Bill Morganfield: "Whiskey"
- Sunnyland Slim: "The Devil is a Busy Man"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Video of the Week - "Born Under a Bad Sign" - Albert King

Another video by one of the three "Kings" of Blues (BB King, Freddie King, and Albert King), this song was recorded in 1967, and became one of the top blues standards.

Albert King is left handed, and was known for playing a right-handed Flying V guitar just flipped over. Even kept the strings in the same right handed position!

So enjoy this song and have a good weekend!