I came across the band known as The Codetalkers in a round-about fashion.  I was looking for some Derek Trucks music online and stumbled across a bootleg copy of a show The Codetalkers did at Ripplefest on June 17, 2005.  Seems that Derek sat in with the band on a cover of the Cream song “I’m So Glad” (actually it’s an old Skip James song first recorded in 1931).

No longer a cohesive group, The Codetalkers were formed in Savannah, GA in 1999.  They caught the attention of Col. Bruce Hampton with their tight balance of jazz, bluegrass, rock, blues, and funk.  Hampton played with them for a while (he’s on guitar on the boot I have) but eventually left to avoid the rigors of touring.

The band was made up of Bobby Lee Rodgers, (lead vocals, electric banjo, guitar, “air trombone”), Mark Raudabaugh (drums, vocals) and Andrew Altman (bass, vocals).  Widely versed across genres, the band layered in a mind-bending array of improvisations.   From what I could hear on the bootleg, they really cooked.

They were taper friendly and supported the notion that the live music recordings could be shared and traded.  They were apparently also known for their stage antics but I haven’t found proof of this.  I also havent found any of their albums yet but I’m looking.

“Release the hounds!!!”


The group leader and principal composer, Bobby Lee Rodgers,  was one of the youngest professors ever to teach at the Berklee College of Music.

The group disbanded in 2009 for reasons related to financial management.




[Second in a multi-part retrospective leading up to the release of The Endless River scheduled for October 2014.]

Find Part One of the retrospective here:

The period of 1968 thru 1977 covers a lot of change and a great deal of international success for the band.

David Gilmour (2nd from left above) joined Pink Floyd as the fifth member in December 1967. Gilmour came on at a salary of £30 per week, and a month later was announced as the band’s newest member.  Barrett was a becoming more non-functional but was to stay on as a non-performing member and potentially a writer.

According to Gilmour, the band was on their way to a gig and someone asked if they should stop to pick up Syd.  The answer was “Nah, let’s not bother”, signalling the end of Barrett’s tenure with Pink Floyd.  In March 1968, the band met with their business partners to discuss the band’s future plans and Barrett agreed to leave.

As Barrett was the main creative force behind the band, his departure shifted the songwriting to Roger Waters.  Gilmore took on Syd’s vocal parts but eventually the band shifted the set list to avoid Barrett compositions and focused more on Waters’ and Wrights’ works with songs like “It Would Be So Nice” and “Careful with That Axe, Eugene”.


Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
In 1968, Pink Floyd returned to Abbey Road Studios to record their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets.

The LP included Barrett’s final contribution to their discography, “Jugband Blues” which included Barrett’s last contribution to the band “Jugband Blues”.  On the day after the album’s UK release, Pink Floyd performed at the first ever free concert in Hyde Park.

In support of the album that summer, they returned to the US and toured with Soft Machine and The Who.  It was their first significant tour although their singles release (“Point Me at the Sky”) did no better than the singles since “See Emily Play”.  They wouldn’t release another single until 1973’s “Money”.ntil their 1973 release, “Money”.

Ummagumma (1969) represented a departure from their previous work. Sides one and two contained live performances recorded at Manchester College and a music club in Birmingham. Sides three and four contained an experimental contribution from each band member.  Despite the departure, it was favorably reviewed and climbed the charts.

In October 1970, they released into Atom Heart Mother .  It’s been noted as among their most difficult and contentious to record and this acrimony led Gilmour to be dismissive of it (“rubbish”) and Waters to comment that he’d prefer it be “thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again”.  It was their first number one hit.

They headed into the studio following the Atom tour and began a long effort to create “Meddle” (1971).  Again great reviews followed but more importantly the album cemented David Gilmour as a creative force within the band.  Long considered one of the all-time rock guitar gods Gilmour started to shine during this period (and as far as I can tell hasn’t dimmed a bit).

The Dark Side of the Moon

Among the most important milestones in rock history, Dark Side of the Moon was released in March of 1973.  I previously blogged about DSOTM here:

Engineered by Alan Parsons (of the later Alan Parson Project) at Abbey Road Studios, the album was an instant success.  The band credits Parsons (who also worked on The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be) as a key contributor to the album’s success. I won’t repeat my treatment of DSOTM here but please take a moment and check out my earlier post.


Wish You Were Here
Although I’m a big fan of Dark Side, Wish You Were Here (1975) edges it out as my favorite Floyd album.  The guitar work s beyond compare and the band was at the peak of it’s songwriting talents.

Returning to the studio after the Dark Side tour, the band set to work quickly on their 9th studio effort.  Parsons passed on the project (he was established as a musician by then) and the band later described the entire effort as “difficult” and “tortuous”.

Waters soldiered on and Gilmour stepped up.  The album addressed Syd’s departure and mental state quite directly and Waters later commented “Because I wanted to get as close as possible to what I felt … [that] indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd.”

Animals (1977)

With the iconic Battersea Power Station in London on the cover, the band started work on Animals.  They had recently bought a group of church halls in Islington and set to work converting them to a storage area and their own recording studios.  This among my least favorite Pink Floyd albums and although I picked up a used bargain bin copy to round out my Pink Floyd collection, it doesn’t get much airplay.


The Kooks

OK. I need to admit upfront that I think the guy on the left in the above photo has an uncanny resemblance to a young John Lennon. And, no, it isn’t Julian.

Back in 2004, The Kooks formed in Brighton, East Sussex, in 2004.

The Kooks are Luke Pritchard (vocals/guitar), Hugh Harris (lead guitar/synth), Alexis Nunez (drums), and Peter Denton (bass guitar).  The describe themselves as a “pop” band and that’s exactly correct.  They also say that their tunes are “catchy as hell”.  Right again.  Despite comparisons to Arctic Monkeys, they’ve honed their own sound quite well.

They debuted on Virgin in 2006 with the album Inside In/Inside Out (2006).   Right up the UK charts to double platinum.  Forget Arctic Monkeys.  They’re soaring like those other Liverpoolian lads, The Beatles.

They had huge success with “She Moves in Her Own Way” (added below) and followed up with repeated releases. Yep, you guessed it.  They were all “catchy as hell”.




One of the most recognizable choruses in rock ‘n’ roll, The Animals released “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” in 1965.   Penned by famed songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil at The Brill Building in NYC, it quickly became an anthem for soldiers stuck in the mud and muck of Vietnam.

The song was originally written for The Righteous Brothers (Barry and Cynthia had also hit gold with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” for the brothers) but it ended up with The Animals producer and they recorded it first.  The original lyrics were reworked and the allusion that the song took place in working class Britain – the roots of The Animals.

“In this dirty old part of the city
Where the sun refused to shine
People tell me, there ain’t no use in tryin'”

The song reached #13 on the US charts but stalled at #2 on the British charts.  It was barred entry into the #1 slot by The Beatles’ “Help”.  Rats!


[Trivia: There are two versions of the song only distinguished by the US version lyric "See my daddy in bed a-dyin'," while the UK version uses, "Watch my daddy in bed a-dyin'."  The US version was an alternate take that was mistakenly used.]

Bruce Springsteen was quoted as saying “That’s every song I’ve ever written. That’s all of them. I’m not kidding, either. That’s ‘Born to Run’, ‘Born in the U.S.A.'”



Rock River by Deena. Cover painting by Lila Shoskes

I’ve been on the road for a few weeks of vacation and work but back now and foraging through the inbox to listen to some new music.

And as you know, I love a new musical discovery.  Not new  to everyone else necessarily but new to me.  Just as good!

I’m thrilled to have come upon Deena Shoske’s newest release “Rock River”.  Upon my very first listen I felt like I was slipping into an old pair of broken-in jeans and t-shirt.  I was immediately at ease and found the CD staying in the player on repeat.

From the opening track “My Own Advice” to the closer “When I Fall” every track is a finely crafted song perfectly delivered with a tighter than tight supporting band and backup vocals.  I’d be breaking some sort of guitarist code if I didn’t also give some respect to Rob Friedman and Jon Fried who back up Deena.  Really well done.

Reminscent of Jewel to my ears with a touch of Iris DeMent without the southern twang.


For youz Joisey guys and gals, you may remember Deena from her days in the indie band The Cucumbers who tore up the Hoboken and North Jersey music scene back in the ’80’s.  They had a hit with the single “My Boyfriend”.

If you’re up for some great tunes, with a great band, and a top-shelf singer…look no further.


Find out more here:




Charlie Haden (1937 – 2014)

Tough weekend for my musical heroes….

I was just digesting the news of Tommy Ramone, the last remaining member of The Ramones, passing away at his home in Queens on Friday and I heard that Charlie Haden passed away on the same day.  I heard about Charlie’s death when Bob Brainen dedicated his WFMU show to him on Saturday morning.

In the same stratosphere of Mingus and Jaco, Haden was widely regarded as one of greatest jazz bassists of the modern era.  I’ve been a fan for years and count his 2001 release Nocturne as one my All-Time Top Ten Jazz Albums.  It won the Grammy that year for Best Latin Jazz Album and remains in my regular rotation.

Charlie Haden

Born in Shenandoah, Iowa Haden was mostly known for his work with free-jazz pioneer saxophonist Ornette Coleman, pianist Keith Jarrett, and his Liberation Music Orchestra, a group he co-led with pianist Carla Bley.

Here’s a wonderful story Charlie related to bassist Flea back in 2007…
Flea: The most incredible thing about the upright bass—the few times I’ve played one—is the way you can feel the whole thing vibrate when you have it up against your body. It’s like your body is resonating with the instrument. It’s a very fulfilling feeling.

Haden: It is! That’s why I stand so close to the instrument when I play. I put my head next to it. One night in 1959 I was playing at the Five Spot with Ornette, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins, and I always play with my eyes closed—but I opened my eyes, and there was some guy onstage with his ear next to my ƒ-hole. And I was like, “Who is this guy?” And Ornette was like, “That’s Leonard Bernstein!” And I was like, “Okay . . . .”

Although he grew up on a farm, his family was very musical and performed regularly on the radio as a country and folk music group known as The Haden Family Band.  Charlie made his professional debut as a singer at the age of two!  He was a vocalist until he contracted a form of polio that affected his throat and face muscles.  He was no longer able to sing and turned to the double bass.


Turning down a scholarship to Oberlin College (they didn’t have a jazz program) he headed west and after attending the Westlake School in LA, he started playing jazz professionally with Paul Bley.  He eventually landed with Ornette just after OC’s milestone The Shape of Things to Come.  Haden’s country and folk influences were the perfect match for Coleman’s Texas blues and microtonal jazz elements that were blossoming in the free jazz movement.

Spirituality (from Wikipedia…)

While he did not orient himself with a specific religious orientation, Haden was interested in spirituality, especially in association with music. His teaching method relied heavily on spirituality. He believed that in order to establish an individual musical voice, one must first establish a spiritual posture. This physical and mental position will allow the individual to find their own unique musical voice and bring it to their instrument. He also encourages his students to enter a meditative state when they play, one in which they focus solely on the present moment: “there’s no yesterday or tomorrow, there’s only right now,” he claims.  In order to find this state, and ultimately to find one’s spiritual self, Haden urged that one must have humility and respect for beauty; they must be thankful for the ability to make music, and to give back to the world with the music they create. He claimed that music taught him this process of exchange, so he teaches it to his students in return.  Music, Haden believed, also teaches incredibly valuable lessons about life: “I learned at a very young age that music teaches you about life. When you’re in the midst of improvisation, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow — there is just the moment that you are in. In that beautiful moment, you experience your true insignificance to the rest of the universe. It is then, and only then, that you can experience your true significance.”


Pink_Floyd_-_all_members Pink Floyd – January 1968 – from the only known photo shoot of the band together at the time.   Left to right: Mason, Barrett, Gilmour (seated), Waters, and Wright The news earlier this week that Pink Floyd would release an album of new material recorded during The Division Bell sessions back in 1993 was big news for Floyd fans who have been complaining (bitterly) that the 20th anniversary re-release of The Division Bell  contained no new material or even outtakes. It made me realize that although I covered the late Syd Barrett’s birthday back in January and the 40th Anniversary of the release of Dark Side of the Moon, I haven’t really done them justice for not only a body of work that is, to this day, largely unsurpassed by others but also the extent to which they played a role in my own musical development. pink-bbb In a sort of twist on the old “youth is wasted on the young” adage, progressive rock is also.  The music that bands like Pink Floyd, Procol Harum and King Crimson were creating back then was evolved and quite complex.  No “three-chords and the truth” to quote Dylan here.  No short 4/4 finely crafted pop tunes out of these guys.  They had clearly moved beyond the blues-based ministrations of The Beatles and The Stones.  With influences ranging from classical music to German modern music, and jazz, bands like Floyd were called “art rock” for a reason.  Progressive?  Indeed. gilmore 1963 – 1967 / Formation From Wikipedia…

Roger Waters met drummer Nick Mason while they were both studying architecture at the London Polytechnic at Regent Street.  They first played music together in a group formed by Keith Noble and Clive Metcalfe with Noble’s sister Sheilagh. Keyboardist Richard Wright, a fellow architecture student, joined later that year and the group became a sextet named Sigma 6, the first band to include Waters, who was at this time playing lead guitar; Wright, who at first played rhythm guitar since there was rarely an available keyboard; and Mason on drums.  The band started performing during private functions, while rehearsing in a tearoom in the basement of the Regent Street Polytechnic. They performed songs by the Searchers and material written by their manager and songwriter, fellow student Ken Chapman.

Sigma 6 went through a number of other transitory names, including the Meggadeaths, the Abdabs and the Screaming Abdabs, Leonard’s Lodgers, and the Spectrum Five before settling on the Tea Set…  In 1964, as Metcalfe and Noble left to form their own band, guitarist Syd Barrett joined Klose and Waters.  Barrett, two years younger, had moved to London in 1962 to study at the Camberwell College of Art.  Waters and Barrett were childhood friends.

In late 1965, they became the resident band at the Countdown Club, near Kensington High Street in London, where from late night until early morning they played three sets of ninety minutes each. During this period, spurred by the group’s need to extend their sets in order to minimise song repetition, came the band’s “realisation that songs could be extended with lengthy solos”, wrote Mason

The group first referred to themselves as the Pink Floyd Sound in late 1965. Barrett created the name on the spur of the moment when he discovered that another band, also called the Tea Set, were to perform at one of their gigs.  The name is derived from the given names of two blues musicians whose Piedmont blues records Barrett had in his collection, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. They developed their repertoire and played more around the London scene, eventually securing a record deal with EMI in early 1967.   Their first recordings were the tracks “Arnold Layne” and “Candy and a Currant Bun” as its B-side, both of which they recorded on 1/29/1967.  EMI released “Arnold Layne” (it was avoided by some radio stations as it spoke of cross-dressing) but it received attention.  This was followed by the second single “See Emily Play”, on 6/16/1967. It fared slightly better than “Arnold Layne”.  It was around this time that Syd Barrett started to come apart at the seams largely due to LSD use. PinkFloyd-album-piperatthegatesofdawn_300 The band released their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, on 8/5/1967.  The title refers to the god Pan in from the book “The Wind in the Willows”.  it was the only Pink Floyd album that Barrett was to lead.  His erratic behavior grew worse and the band was forced to cancel some notable gigs that had been lined up to support the album. A change was in the air…. My other Pink Floyd posts…. All tracks from Piper At the Gates of Dawn:

  1. “Astronomy Domine”
  2. “Lucifer Sam”
  3. “Interstellar Overdrive’