It Has Been a Big Week for Toronto’s Sultans of String!

Jamming with Anwar resizedSome weeks are more eventful than others and it has been a big week for Toronto’s Sultans of String. This week my client, 2x Juno nominated and multi award-winning world music supergroup, Sultans of String have lots to be excited about!

First, after ten years with the same website, the band has a brand new look over at www.sultansofstring.com designed by Dana Whittle of Vizou. Head on over and take a look and if you haven’t already signed up to their mailing list you can do it now right from the Home page.

This week, for the second week in a row, Sultans of String’s latest album, Subcontinental Drift, charted at No. 1 on the National International Chart of !Earshot Magazine. Congratulations guys!!

FireShot Capture 31 - _ International _ Dec 15, 20_ - http___www.earshot-online.com_charts_index.cfm

Sultans of String are turning world music on its axis, thrilling their audiences with their genre-hopping passport of Celtic reels, flamenco, Gypsy-jazz, Arabic, Cuban and South Asian rhythms. This group celebrates musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity and you can observe this fact for yourself by viewing their two new videos for songs from Subcontinental Drift featuring sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid (whose music appeared in the Oscar winning films Life of PiKama Sutra, and Love Guru).

On Tuesday, December 15, 2015, CBC Music premiered Sultans of String’s version of Bob Dylan’s iconic folk song, “Blowin’ In The Wind.” This video contributes to the fundraising initiative for Lifeline Syria. You can watch it now, exclusively, at:

http://music.cbc.ca/#!/blogs/2015/12/Premiere-Sultans-of-String-release-new-video-for-Bob-Dylans-Blowin-in-the-Wind

Yesterday, Glide Magazine premiered the band’s video for “Enter The Gate” in their article and interview with band leader and violinist, Chris McKhool in:

SULTANS OF STRING SOAR WITH WORLDLY JAM ON “ENTER THE GATE”

Watch “Enter The Gate” now at:

http://www.glidemagazine.com/153220/video-premiere-sultans-string-enter-gate/

Both videos were filmed in the great, multicultural, cosmopolitan city of Toronto and are a testament to Sultans of String’s love of their city, their neighbourhoods and their community. This group of extraordinarily talented gentlemen are all advocates for world peace, ecosustainability and arts education among other causes.

Stay tuned for more exciting news from some of Toronto’s favourite sons as Sultans of String continue to tour across Canada and the United States in 2016.

The Legendary Leon Redbone Comes To Kingston on Tues., Nov. 29th!

Another music legend comes to Kingston!  The rumours you may have heard recently are true – Leon Redbone, the reclusive and enigmatic musical icon will be coming to Kingston on Tues., Nov. 29th.  His origins may be a mystery but there is no doubt that his talent and musicianship are of the highest calibre.  This will be an evening not to be missed!

Tuesday, Nov. 29th, 2011 – 8 pm
Chalmers United Church, Barrie St. at Clergy, Kingston
Tickets: $25 + HST, available at Grand Theatre box office (613-530-2050), online at www.kingstongrand.ca and at Brian’s Record Option.

LEON REDBONE

Over the course of his legendary 35 year – 15 album career, Leon Redbone has continued his love affair with tunes from the turn-of-the-twentieth century.  He is a master guitarist, dry comedian and warm and witty singer whose concerts include forgotten old pop songs, classic ragtime, flapper-era radio ditties, blues from the likes of Lonnie Johnson or Blind Blake, and jazz standards by Fats Waller.

Redbone’s career first gained momentum in the early ’70s when Bob Dylan came to Toronto Island’s Mariposa Folk Festival specifically to see him.  Most folks were introduced to the man during his network debut on Saturday Night Live in 1976, where he showcased his indelible version of Walkin’ Stick.  In a year typified by amplified arena rock, Redbone’s intimate, low-key delivery proved to be a jolting and welcome contrast.  Since then the opportunities for this unlikely figure to impose himself on pop culture have been plentiful.  He appeared as a wise, animated snowman opposite Will Ferrell in the hugely popular family comedy Elf.  His duet with star Zooey Deschanel on the seasonal standard Baby, It’s Cold Outside served as the picture’s theme song.  Over the years, Redbone has also provided TV title tunes to Mr. Belvedere and Harry and the Hendersons, and had a memorable guest role as a quixotic, guitar-wielding guardian to the character Corky on ABC’s critically acclaimed series Life Goes On.  New York choreographer Eliot Feld recently created the ballets Mr. XYZ (featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov) and Paper Tiger, which were woven around Redbone’s signature songs.

If there is one common element to Redbone’s diverse music it’s his mastery of his acoustic guitar.  It is easy to get lost in his stage exploits (which often gravitate between vaudeville and performance art) and overlook what a truly fine player he is – fingerpicking with a ragtime bounce or jumping between chords with the effortless grace of a hurdler.

No description of Redbone omits the fact that he has been a singular force in bringing a style and period of music to many people who may not have heard it otherwise.  While critics may argue about the emphasis placed on his persona, his reverence for the music has never been questioned.  With a desire to remain true to himself – whoever he is – and Blind Blake, Jelly Roll Morton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and the rest of his idols, Redbone is as much an educator as a performer, a professor of one of the richest periods in American music.  And although he told Rolling Stone’s Weitzman, that regarding himself, “I don’t want them to know anything that they don’t know already,” he’d like more people to know about this music.

For information please contact:

Al Rankin
613-353-6650
alrankin@xplornet.ca

Rankin Productions Presents Music Legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott in Kingston on Fri. Sept. 23!

A MESSAGE FROM AL RANKIN

Hi friends, neighbours and music lovers,

Holy smokes!

This is truly a great one folks…

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the music legend who has had a huge influence on the lives and careers of countless musicians around the world (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits among many others) is coming to Kingston! He’s been around a long time but he’s still putting out great music (as evidenced by his 2009 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album).

This is an opportunity to spend an evening with a true music legend. Jack is not only a uniquely gifted singer and songwriter, he’s also a famously engaging raconteur and he certainly has a wealth of stories to tell.

This is a small venue and it should sell out pretty quickly. The tickets don’t go on sale to the public until late next week but as a subscriber to Al’s mailing list you have first crack at them at a special advanced price of just 25 bucks!  Just email Al at alrankin@xplornet.ca and he will save you tickets. Pick them up at Brian’s Record Option anytime before Sat. Sept. 10.  Here are the details and some bio on 2 time Grammy Award winner Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT
Friday, September 23 – 8 pm

Octave Theatre, 711 Dalton Ave.
Tickets: $25 in advance, available at Brian’s Record Option, 381 Princess St. Reserve by emailing Al if you’re on his mailing list and then pick them up at Brian’s by Sept.10.

Ramblin’ Jack Bio (from his official website)

“Nobody I know—and I mean nobody—has covered more ground and made more friends and sung more songs than the fellow you’re about to meet right now.  He’s got a song and a friend for every mile behind him.  Say hello to my good buddy, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.”

Johnny Cash, The Johnny Cash Television Show, 1969

One of the last true links to the great folk traditions of this country, with over 40 albums under his belt, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is considered one of the U.S.A.’s  legendary foundations of folk music.

Long before every kid in America wanted to play guitar — before Elvis, Dylan, the Beatles or Led Zeppelin — Ramblin’ Jack had picked it up and was passing it along. From Johnny Cash to Tom Waits, Beck to Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder to Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead to The Rolling Stones, they all pay homage to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

In the tradition of roving troubadours Jack has carried the seeds and pollens of story and song for decades from one place to another, from one generation to the next. They are timeless songs that outlast whatever current musical fashion strikes today’s fancy.

“His tone of voice is sharp, focused and piercing.   All that and he plays the guitar effortlessly in a fluid flat-picking perfected style.  He was a brilliant entertainer….  Most folk musicians waited for you to come to them.  Jack went out and grabbed you…..  Jack was King of the Folksingers.”

Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One

There are no degrees of separation between Jack and the real thing. He is the guy who ran away from his Brooklyn home at fourteen to join the rodeo and learned his guitar from a cowboy.  In 1950, he met Woody Guthrie, moved in with the Guthrie family and traveled with Woody to California and Florida, from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters. Jack became so enthralled with the life and composer of This Land Is Your Land, The Dust Bowl Ballads, and a wealth of children’s songs that he completely absorbed the inflections and mannerisms, leading Guthrie to remark, “Jack sounds more like me than I do.”

In 1954, along with folksinging pals Frank Robinson and Guy Carawan, Jack journeyed south through Appalachia, Nashville and to New Orleans to hear authentic American country music.  He later made this the basis for his talking song, 912 Greens.

In 1955 Jack married and traveled to Europe, bringing his genuine American folk, cowboy and blues repertoire and his guitar virtuosity, inspiring a new generation of budding British rockers, from Mick Jagger to Eric Clapton.

When he returned to America in 1961, he met another young folksinger, Bob Dylan at Woody Guthrie’s bedside, and mentored Bob.  Jack has continued as an inspiration for every roots-inspired performer since.

Along the way he learned the blues first-hand from Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, the Reverend Gary Davis, Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Jesse Fuller and Champion Jack Dupree.

He has recorded forty albums; wrote one of the first trucking songs, Cup of Coffee, recorded by Johnny Cash; championed the works of new singer-songwriters, from Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson to Tim Hardin; became a founding member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue; and continued the life of the traveling troubadour influencing Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Tom Russell, The Grateful Dead and countless others.

In 1995, Ramblin’ Jack received his first of four Grammy nominations and the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album, for South Coast (Red House Records).

In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Jack the National Medal of the Arts, proclaiming, “In giving new life to our most valuable musical traditions, Ramblin’ Jack has himself become an American treasure.”

In 2000, Jack’s daughter, filmmaker, Aiyana Elliott produced and directed The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack, her take on Jack’s life and their fragile relationship, winning a Special Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival.

Through it all—though agents, managers, wives and recording companies have tried—Jack resisted being molded into a commercial commodity.  He played his shows without a written set list or including any songs that did not ring with his gut feeling of what mattered to him.

Ramblin’ Jack’s life of travels, performances and recordings is a testament to the America of lore, a giant land of struggle, hard luck and sometimes even of good fortune.  Ramblin’ Jack takes us to places that spur us on to the romance and passion of life in the tunes and voices of real people.

At eighty years of age, Ramblin’ Jack is still on the road, still seeking those people, places, songs and stories that are hand-crafted, wreaking of wood and canvas, cowhide and forged metal.  You’ll find him in the sleek lines of a long haul semi-truck, in the rigging of an old sailing ship, in the smell of a fine leather saddle.

Better yet, find him at The Octave Theatre in Kingston on Friday Sept.23!

The Herald by Dean J. Baker

Book Review
Title: The Herald
Author: Dean J. Baker
Publisher: Mad Poet Press
Released: 2010
Pages: 50
ISBN: 978-1-926825-24-3
Stars: 4.0

Dean J. Baker is an edgy, opinionated Canadian poet whose work has been complimented by no less an authority than Irving Layton. I cannot disagree with the Nobel Prize nominee when he states that,

“Dean is a combination of thought and torment that has made him write more than a Baker’s dozen of fine poems…he might produce a collection that could astound us all.”

Baker’s compilation of poems entitled The Herald prove that he is a contemporary wordsmith of the finest caliber who injects each line with keen observation, poignant beauty and pain. He obviously writes from experience and reminisces about everything from childhood (Rice Lake, 1962) to relationships (License and A Friend), failed romance (Pollyanna and Matins) and the torment of his muse (A Jealous God).

One can sense the influence of Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan in particular with a pinch of Mordecai Richler attitude thrown in for good measure. However, Baker’s voice is uniquely his own and he knows how to wring emotion as well as remarkable, visceral landscapes from his pen.

Some of my favourites from The Herald include The Uselessness of Want, The Life of the Sensitive Kid, The Poetry Hotel, Coming of Age, Last Romantic, Invitation and…

This Earth

What was I running from
when everything was
beside me

Shaking at the thought
of you, inside
each move I made

When I couldn’t say
who was called that night
into silence

whispering
in my pain
You

You
it is myself
I come upon like this

Dean J. Baker has a somewhat lewd sense of humour (that I can often appreciate) which is more evident in his descriptive and satiric prose, Baker’s Bad Boys, dedicated to his brother Terry and their naughty childhood delinquent poo-flinging escapades; and at times, an irascible intellect that does not seem to suffer fools gladly.

Baker is also a romantic 21st century man whose non-conformance to political correctness probably gets him into hot water with women but I’m sure they never stop falling for his astonishing way with words.