Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ask Mr. Music with Jerry Osborne

I am continuing our feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 23rd year of syndication (1986-2008), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on. Be sure to stop by Jerry's site ( for more Mr. Music archives, record price guides, anything Elvis, buy & sell collectibles, record appraisals and much more. I thank Jerry for allowing the reprints.


DEAR JERRY: I recently picked up a box of 78s at an estate sale, most of which appear to be old-time blues.

Even though I recognize very few of the recording artists and do not own a 78 rpm player, I say this because so many have titles ending in the word “blues.”

One of these is “Muskadine Blues” (Regal 3296), by Little Walter Trio, which I'm hoping you can tell me a bit about.

For starters, what or where is Muskadine? I've not heard this word before. Even my huge dictionary jumps from musk to muskeg. No entry begins with m-u-s-k-a.

It would also be nice to know when this record came out, and a value estimate.
—Mel Otis, Port Washington, Wisc.

DEAR MEL: Record labels are a legendary source of spelling and grammatical errors, and your Regal disc is an example.

The title should be “Muscadine Blues,” just as nearly all other recordings of muscadine-related songs.

Your dictionary should include muscadine, and define it as a grape or berry, native to a climate found mostly in the southeastern states.

Recorded in 1950, Little Walter's tune is about drinking wine made from muscadine grapes.

Besides harmonica wizard Little Walter, his Chicago-based trio includes Muddy Waters and Leroy Foster, both of whom are very well known.

In early 1953, when Little Walter's records became regulars in the Top 10, Herald reissued “Muskadine Blues,” hoping to jump on the bandwagon. As such, their single came out credited only to him (no “Trio”), and with a very different title: “Take a Walk with Me” (Herald 403). As a result, recent albums on compact disc combine both titles into one: “Take a Walk with Me (Muskadine Blues).”

Either the Regal or the Herald 78 can now sell in the $750 to $1,000 range.

Inspired by Little Walter's Regal original, and its unusual spelling, a record label named Muskadine came along in 1971 and began a fine series of various artists compilations honoring Chicago blues history. Their first LP, “On the Road Again (Anthology of Chicago Blues 1947-1954),” includes their namesake Little Walter Trio track, along with cuts by these other windy city blues legends: Baby Face Leroy (Foster); John Brim Trio; Othum Brown; Delta Joe; J.B. (Hutto) and His Hawks; Floyd Jones and His Trio; Johnny Shines; and Snooky & Moody (Muskadine LP-100).

As for other recordings with this tasty theme, here are some interesting variations: “Muscadine Wine” (Ken Will Morton and the Wholly Ghosts); “Muscadine Wine” (Keith Sewell); “Muscadine Wine” (Sam Hunt); “Muscadine Wine” (James Day and Fish Fry); “My Muscadine Wine” (Little Jimmy King and the Memphis Soul Survivors); “Yesterday's Muscadine Wine” (Syrup); “Muscadine” (John Balch & Jack Pearson); “Muscadine” (Langer & Raabenstein); and my personal favorite, a solid blues instrumental titled “Muscadine Blues,” by Skeebo Knight.

For the perfect companion piece to today's Chicago-blues-harmonica theme, read on:

DEAR JERRY: During the last week of September, one of the celebrity guests on the Bonnie Hunt Show was Elisabeth Moss, a star in the award-winning Mad Men TV series.

Of course they talked about Mad Men, as well as Moss' first Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Peggy Olson.

Then, almost as an aside, Elisabeth commented about growing up in Chicago (as did Bonnie Hunt) with both parents being musicians. Without mentioning their names, she stated her mother was one of the world's most famous female blues harmonica players. Then they went on to another topic.

Who is this famous harmonica player whose identity remains a mystery?
—Sheri Nordland, St. Louis.

DEAR SHERI: It does seem odd to have such a renown blues legend for a mother, yet keep her name a secret.

With apologies to Elisabeth, her folks are now officially outed. Her parents are Ron and Linda Moss.

And to say mom is “one of” the world's most famous female blues harmonica players is an understatement. She is the most famous!

Linda has been playing harmonica professionally since age 15, backing many big name blues bands and singers from the Chicago area and beyond.

Just a few of those whose recordings include Linda are: Muddy Waters; Junior Wells; Son Seals; James Cotton; John Lee Hooker, Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes, Melissa Ethridge, Phil Upchurch, and the Edgar Winter Group.

More recently, Linda's harmonica artistry is featured with Kelly's Lot, a California-based blues-rock band.

IZ ZAT SO? The name Kelly's Lot comes from Kelly's Lot, a used car business (motto: "If you want a good deal, go to Kelly's Lot"), operated by Kelly Zirbes in Marina Del Rey, California.

Kelly's passion for singing and entertaining, coupled with a struggling market for car sales, motivated her to drive Kelly's Lot in an entirely different direction.

Five successful albums later, and a few years, have proven Kelly's decision to be exactly the right one. On any given night, Kelly and Perry Robertson, with their band, are likely performing somewhere in California, though this month (October) they are on their second European tour.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

Grammy-Award Winning Wyclef Jean To Release Explosive New 13 Song EP

DJ Drama Presents Wyclef Jean AKA Toussaint St Jean 'From The Hut To The Projects To The Mansion' on November 10th


NEW YORK, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Wyclef Jean returns to his hip-hop roots with the gritty release of "DJ Drama Presents Wyclef Jean AKA Toussaint St Jean From The Hut To The Projects To The Mansion," a collaboration with DJ Drama to be released November 10, 2009 on Carnival House via Megaforce/RED. The EP also features Eve, Timbaland, Maino, Cyndi Lauper, Lil Kim, among others.

Toussaint St. Jean, the title character of Wyclef's new EP, is a persona suggested to Wyclef by his friend and collaborator T.I. The character Toussaint is loosely based on the 18th-century Haitian revolutionary hero, Toussaint L'Ouverture, a figure who brought Haiti to significance on the international stage. Wyclef, who is originally from Haiti, inhabits the role of Toussaint and recreates himself in the spirit of a noble fighter, a man who says exactly what is on his mind. Toussaint's rhymes hit hard, in a "militant style," and make his words felt -- and remembered.

And so what's the difference between Wyclef and Toussaint? "Toussaint is more direct," Wyclef says. "He ain't going to sugarcoat nothing. Whatever he's thinking, he's going to tell you. It's like, I've still got this machete -- my tongue is sharper than it's ever been." To help create suitable musical settings for the grisly tales Toussaint has to tell, Wyclef turned to DJ Drama, who has worked extensively with T.I. "I asked myself, 'Who's the toughest guy out there?'" Wyclef says. "Then I said, well, DJ Drama is pretty badass. So I called him and asked if he'd be interested in doing a mixtape. He heard what I was up to and he said, 'We gotta do a book -- this is a novel!'" He got excited, and it became more like an EP than a mixtape.

The track that best captures the feelings that motivate "Toussaint St. Jean" is the intensely dramatic "The Streets Pronounce Me Dead," a chronicle of Wyclef witnessing his own metaphoric funeral. It's a commentary on Wyclef's sense of himself as a forgotten man on the hip-hop scene, despite the groundbreaking impact of his former group, the Fugees, whose 1996 album "The Score" is the best-selling hip-hop album of all time, with sales of nearly twenty million copies worldwide. The song cites the flood of younger rappers -- Akon, Lil Jon, Kanye West, among them -- who have risen up as Wyclef has gone onto prominence as a solo artist and producer for the likes of Shakira, Mick Jagger, Bono and John Legend.

Tracks like "Warriorz," "Letter From the Penn" and "Toussaint vs. Bishop" paint riveting pictures, "hood stories," as Wyclef describes them, of street life and its consequences. The gripping storytelling in those songs recalls the raw environments in Haiti and Brooklyn from which Wyclef emerged -- "from the hut to the projects to the mansion," as he memorably puts it in "Slumdog Millionaire." It's a story arc that these songs make compelling.

Wyclef views the message of "Toussaint St. Jean" as "not everything that appears bad is really bad, because the real bad men move in silence. So be careful what you emulate, because it's could get you six feet deep. If you don't see me with a gun, it doesn't mean that the guy with the gun is badder than me. I've been in those communities, but you've got to rise past that world." And, as always with Wyclef, there's more to the story than meets the eye. "Toussaint St. Jean" represents just the first step on the road to another album he intends to release in 2010 titled simply "wyclefjean." The album will reflect a three-dimensional portrait of an artist for whom the gritty sagas of Toussaint St. Jean are just one part.

Wyclef, who is also known as one of the hottest music producers today has worked with every major artist from Bono to Shakira to Santana. His 2007 written and produced "Hips Don't Lie" featuring Shakira was a #1 hit around the world, further expanding his utopian multi-cultural appeal. His extensive humanitarian work with his Yele Haiti organization which he founded in 2005 has brought much needed worldwide attention to his native Haiti. His inextricable relationship with fans is unprecedented. In a matter of a few months, Wyclef's Twitter following was over 1 million -- in a sense, his fans are considered an extension of him.

Wyclef Jean is set to release his self titled LP "Wyclef Jean" in March 2010 through Columbia Records.


1.Interlude - From The Hut, To The Projects, To The Mansion
2.Warrior's Anthem
3.The Streets Pronounce Me Dead
4.Slumdog Millionaire feat. Cyndi Lauper aka Luscious Loo
5.Interlude - Every Now & Then
6.Walk Away
7.More Bottles feat. Timbaland
8.You Don't Wanna Go Outside
9.Toussaint vs. Bishop
10.Interlude - The Struggle
11.We Made It
12.Suicide Love feat. Eve
13.Letter From The Penn
14.Robotic Love
15.Gangsta Girl feat. Lil Kim
16.Interlude - Tell The Kids The Truth
17.The Shottas

SOURCE Megaforce/RED

Music News & Notes

The Faces Reunion: More Than A One-Off

The Faces reunion in London on October 25 might not be just one show, as the band explains below:

The band are playing a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall, in aid of the PRS For Music Members Benevolent Fund and, says drummer Kenney Jones, more shows might happen.

“Don’t rule that out. We got together before Christmas last year to have a laugh and rehearse. And the intention then was do some special shows in 2009. But then our schedules got in the way. However, when the PRS [Performing Rights Society] asked if we’d pay at their 75th anniversary gig, we jumped at the chance, Especially, because the charity attached to this has done so much to help Ronnie’s family [this being late bassist Ronnie Lane, who died in 1997].”

Jones says he is proud of the way that The Faces have become such an enduring influence.

“It’s down to the great songs, I think. That’s what survived. And we always knew how to have fun as well. We enjoyed rock’n'roll!”

Apart form Lane, also missing at the Royal Albert Hall is frontman Rod Stewart. But he simply cannot get over to London.

“Rod was desperate to do it, but he’s got a lot of promotion for his new album in America, and has had to pass. But this is being done with his blessing.”

Joining Jones, guitarist Ronnie Wood and keyboard player Ian McLagan is former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who’s played with the band before ["He's virtually become a regular member now"]. But who’ll be on vocals?

“That would be telling! We’ll have a few different ones. A mixture of our contemporaries and younger vocalists.”

Also billed to appear at the Royal Albert Hall gig are Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall, Spice Girl Mel C and Kiki Dee. Does this mean one or more of them will also step up to sing with The Faces? Who knows?

For further info, go to


Tom Waits New Music

This 2-CD set chronicles Waits' Glitter and Doom tour of the U.S. and Europe, drawing performances from the 17 tracks from ten different cities. The first CD carries the music tracks while the second CD is Tom's Tales, a 35-minute compilation of Waits' between song banter on a variety of subjects from the ritual of insects to the last dying breath of Henry Ford.

The music covers all eras of Waits' career and reinvents many of the songs with new rhythms and arrangements.

Record Collecting - North of the Border

Exhibitors say today's young music fans are rediscovering the sounds of the '60s and '70s on vinyl


In the late 1980s, the big record companies declared that vinyl was a dead format and compact discs were the way of the future.

Collectors, however, continue to buck the trend and prefer to listen and seek out their favourite music on the big 12-inch discs.

"A lot of people still prefer the sound and the large format artwork," says David Eisener, who runs Select Sounds, a record emporium in Bedford, N.S. "They like the format and want it on vinyl, especially the classic rock albums, because that's the way it was intended to be listened to."

Eisener is one of many exhibitors bringing loads of vinyl records to Moncton for this Saturday's Fall Record Expo. The expo, now in its seventh year, will bring together dozens of exhibitors from all over Atlantic Canada with thousands of albums and 45-rpm singles for collectors to pore over.

There will also be lots of audio gear and music-related collectibles.

The expo will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Main Street in Moncton. Admission is $32, or free for children under 12.

For many music collectors, the 12-inch vinyl album represents the golden age of music production when bands and record companies released elaborate fold-out covers complete with photo booklets, lyric sheets and artwork.

When record players were replaced by compact disc players, many collectors replaced their albums with CDs and their collections were scattered to the winds. The prized albums usually ended up in cardboard boxes at flea markets and yard sales for 50 cents or $1 each.

Eisener started his store in 1994, a time he says was the low end of interest in buying vinyl. But he saw business pick up after four or five years and, today, collectors of all ages are still seeking out prized copies of classic albums by such timeless performers as The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, The Eagles and U2.

The collectors are also looking for more recent vinyl copies of newer albums by bands like the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, along with the collectible rarities, limited editions and bootlegs that put vinyl into the realm of obsessive hobbies like hockey cards and comic books.

Eisener says collectors come from all ages and demographics. Surprisingly, many of the collectors are in the 15-25 age group, people who are seeking out albums that are older than they are. One of the reasons for this is that album collecting can help music lovers trace and understand the history and evolution of pop and rock music.

For example, many of today's bands say they were influenced by such '70s supergroups as Led Zeppelin. But when you dig back a bit deeper, you will find that the Zeppelin musicians drew their inspiration from many sources of blues, reggae, folk and rockabilly. Indeed, the story of rock music's evolution shifts like the tide from one side of the Atlantic to the other over time with each generation adding its own ingredients to the recipe.

Many of the collectors are people who grew up with vinyl and got rid of most of their collections years ago, but recently decided to dust off their turntable and get started again.

Eisener says collecting vinyl is reasonably cheap with most records selling in the $5 to $20 range, allowing collectors to gather together a portfolio without spending too much money. And while there are some big-money collectibles floating around, they rarely land on the counters at record stores in Atlantic Canada.

Marty LeBlanc, who runs the Live Wire record shop on Mountain Road and has been organizing the Record Expo for seven years, says some exhibitors travel to Japan and bring back imports and collectibles from around the world.

LeBlanc says record shop owners and appraisers rely on several "bibles" to determine a fair price for a true rarity or collectible.

Collectors have quite a few resources and numbers to check, to find out whether an album is actually worth a lot of money or simply a counterfeit or reissue of something more famous.

One of the most sought-after collectibles is the infamous "butcher cover" of The Beatles' Yesterday and Today album. Released in June of 1966, the album included such big hits as Yesterday, Drive My Car and Day Tripper. The cover photograph showed The Beatles dressed in white butcher smocks covered in fresh-cut meat and cradling decapitated dolls. The photo was so shocking to the industry that all copies of the album were recalled after the first day of release. The record company made up stickers with a much tamer photo of The Beatles posing in a travel trunk, and had them pasted over the offensive cover. A few of the original "butcher cover" albums survived and have been appraised at over $10,000.

LeBlanc says old Beatles, Elvis Presley and other classic rock bands are among the most popular, and people also love to collect the lunch boxes, jigsaw puzzles, toys and other marketing memorabilia that go along with the hobby.

People can also find turntables, speakers, amplifiers and needles to keep their stereo sets humming so they can enjoy their collectible albums.

"The real collectibles are like a fine wine. You have to crack it open once in a while and enjoy it," he says.

LeBlanc says all tables for the expo are sold out but people can bring parts of their own collection to sell to the exhibitors.

"Sometimes you have a gem and sometimes you don't."


'NCIS' Soundtrack Features New Songs From Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and More

The second soundtrack from one of nation's highest rated TV shows will feature exclusive music by Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Joss Stone and John Mellencamp, CBS Records announced Monday. 'NCIS: The Official Soundtrack -- Vol. 2' will highlight the songs used in this season of the CBS show, which stars Mark Harmon as a Naval detective.

"People really pay attention to music that's good on television shows," Larry Jenkins, the head of CBS Records, tells Spinner. "In a lot of ways it serves the purpose that radio used to serve."

The blend of music and drama is expected to help both 'NCIS,' which features music from top acts as a major component of the show, and the performers, who gain exposure to a wide audience -- an estimated 20 million viewers per week.

"You have the sort of unveiling going on week after week on the show," Jenkins says. "Before the season even begins, CBS Records trolls its artists to see who has new music they can offer "NCIS. We send the tracks as we get them."

Here is the tracklist for the compilation, which is scheduled for release on Nov. 3.

1. Bob Dylan, 'California'
2. Norah Jones, 'That's What I Said'
3. Joss Stone, 'Every Time I Turn Around'
4. Sick Puppies, 'That Time of Year'
5. Sharon Little, 'Genie in My Dreams'
6. John Mellencamp, 'Someday the Rains Will Fall'
7. Sheryl Crow, 'Murder In My Heart'
8. Keaton Simons, 'Grim Reaper'
9. Otis Redding, 'I've Got Dreams to Remember'
10. Michael Weatherly, 'Bitter and Blue'
11. Saosin, 'Move Slow'
12. Tom Lehrer, 'The Elements'

Pop Singer Al Martino Passes Away at 82

Pop singer Al Martino passed away on Tuesday afternoon at his childhood home in Springfield, Pennsylvania. He was 82.

Martino had seven top twenty hits and six top 20 albums, but he may be best known for playing the part of Johnny Fontaine in the movie The Godfather.

Martino was born October 7, 1927 as Alfred Cini to Italian immigrants. He spent his early life working in the family masonry business but had an ongoing love for music. When his childhood friend, Alfredo Cocozza became an international superstar under the name of Mario Lanza, Cini decided to make a go of the business.

Changing his name to Al Matino, he moved to New York in 1948 where he eventually won first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. Soon after, he signed to a small independent label, BBS, recording Here in My Heart which went on to become an international hit, going to number one in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Capitol Records took notice and signed Martino who had a few more hits in the early-50's before his career suddenly took a detour. According to legend, his contract was forcibly taken over by a mafia based management team who demanded $75,000 in protection money. Unable to make the payment, Martino and his family fled to England where his career continued to flourish.

By the time he was able to return to the U.S. in 1958, the public had mostly forgotten him and rock and roll was the music of the day. He signed with 20th Century Fox Records where he recorded a couple of albums but sales were slow and the label dropped him. Martino decided to finance his next record himself and The Exciting Voice of Al Martino got him resigned as an artist at Capitol.

Martino worked relentlessly to reestablish his career, playing many tour dates and appearing as often as possible on TV. The hard work payed off in 1963 when I Love You Because made it up to number 3 on the Pop and number 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts. From that point on, he became a standard part of the AC chart, scoring twenty more top ten hits.

In 1966, Martino released his signature song. Spanish Eyes, based on an instrumental hit by Bert Kaempfert, made it to number 15 on the Pop charts and spent a month at the top in Adult Comtemporary.

In the early 70's, Martino's friend Phyllis McGuire brought him to the attention of Francis Ford Coppola who was making a film version of the book The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Specifically, she thought the part of Johnny Fontaine fit Martino perfectly. Fontaine was based on Frank Sinatra and his fight to be cast in From Here to Eternity, but much of the fictional singer's story also was familiar from Martino's 50's connections. He was cast in the film and the exposure allowed him to continue recording through the rest of the decade.

Martino and Capitol parted ways in the early-80's and the singer continued to tour behind his large catalog. He returned to recording in 2000 with the album Style.