First there was Greg Brown. I had the audacity to call him America's greatest songwriter, which he is. I failed to mention that he is also a storyteller on the level of Will Rogers, a live performer beyond the par of Bruce Springsteen, both of which are also true. His performance at the First Presbyterian Church on January 18 is the closest I've gotten to God in a church or anywhere else. I laughed too hard and wept a bit, too, and my soul was saved. After the show, Brown went down to the Loggerhead in the Grove for clams and Bud, and proved himself something else: a gentleman, a nice guy, a regular normal human being. Don't come across those much any more.
But was I right? Hard rockin' Ralph Cavallaro, manager of Quit, was at the show, and he told me Brown blew him away, that the guy was everything I cracked him up to be. However, Rob Worman, an attorney in Broward County, called me out. In a thoughtful essay, he wrote that credibility is all. He thought I was "spewing journalistic jargon" and that there are always arguments to invalidate the claims of "best" anything. But Worman also felt the need to state this: "It didn't take two minutes of the show before my buddy Bryan and I almost lost our shit. When we weren't grinning uncontrollably over the guy, we were sitting with our jaws hung open. And it's not like Brown is some guitar god or anything. He is just it. His songs, his delivery, his personality, his facial expressions, his characters, his philosophy on life, his anecdotes all combined to make it one of the most enjoyable performances I have seen, ever." Nicely put. And I believe every word.
Second on the C tip is Billy Mann. I wrote a glowing profile of the singer, and felt no qualms about the fact that he works at New Times, that his desk is about a free throw from my office. To my great delight, no one questioned my opinion or alleged any favoritism. If you do harbor any doubts, though, see and hear the Mann at Washington Square the next two Thursdays. There was one problem with the story. The portrait of Mann was shot by photographer Sid Hoeltzell, whom we neglected to credit. Hey, that's what this space is for. See accompanying photo, and credit, where credit is due.
Also recommended: Medicine Man tonight (Wednesday) at the Ambassador and next Wednesday at Summers.
If there were such a thing as a blues mogul, which there isn't, 'cause the blues don't pay, Mike Cotton would be it. The Shades of Blue bassist, promoter, DJ, et cetera is currently conducting weekly classes covering all aspects of the biz. Call him at 786-8647.
Congrats to Michael Tilson Thomas for his two Grammy nominations.
A pair of winners: This Friday Mary Karlzen, with band, appears at the Reunion Room. Head to Churchill's Hideaway on Saturday to experience the reincarnated Martyrs with Ian Hammond.
Butthorn of the week: The Guardian Angels held an anti-rape demonstration outside the Mike Tyson trial. What? No pro-rape counter-demonstration?
The media circus: Jorge Mouth Canosa and Dave Lawrence should settle their differences like grown men. Call that teevy show The Grudge Match and set something up, guys.
More media circus: With regard to Haitian refugees, TV news uses the word "rescue" instead of "interdict." That word choice is either disturbing, or a riot.
Pet corner: A short essay by Chief Seattle (c. 1786-1866), who "ceded" land to the whites, is making the rounds of zoos in various cities. It's the essay with the famous "man is a strand in the web of life" sentiments. My mom sent me a copy. I don't know if George "Wetlands Will Not Stand" Bush has read it. A brief excerpt: "We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat.... As we are part of the land, you, too, are part of the land. This earth is precious to us." Mom added a note in the margin: "Poor drunk Indians - makes you wonder who the real heathens are. Too bad no one listened." Too bad.