Hard work Trumps Talent

Just picked up a book by Matthew Quick (of Silver Lining Playbook fame) called Boy 21. Skimmed the first few pages and the main character’s father threw this nugget out in the first 5 pages. “Hard work beats out talent in the last of the race.” I have read about that far and to be honest that quote stopped me cold in my tracks.

This is so often true and in the music industry, or any industry for that matter, the talented, the one who have been told they are great their whole lives jump out of the pond and into the river which ultimately leads to the sea and on into the ocean, provided they make it that far. Along this journey the talented start running into many things, namely, other talented people, some kind of talented people with no drive, and some people with a little talent and the will to move mountains a spoonful at a time. If I am a betting man and these three are my choices I take the latter every time.

Why? Because the world is filled with talented people but so few who are actually willing to put in the “sweat equity” to keep at it until the job is done. This is not to say that there are not immensely talented people out there with just as immense amount of work ethic. There are and these people are often called genius, and rightfully so. But sometimes having just the spark of want and culminating it with a go “with-it-ness ” makes all the difference.

I had a basketball coach in middle school who used to run us like dogs who owed him money. I mean beginning of practice you started running, practiced, and then at the end it was followed by a good half mile and more suicides than I thought I could take. He used to say “boys the difference at the end of the game is who is holding their shorts. If you look over and it is late in the fourth quarter and one team is holding their shorts most of the time they are going to lose.” It was all about conditioning, to be the ones with air for the last quarter, to be the guys not holding their shorts when go time arrived.

We all miss the mark and get discouraged in this life, regardless of our passions and the task we chose to pursue but I have noticed, looking in retrospect, and doing that big evaluation we all probably do I see those hurdles don’t seem so cumbersome and the mistakes I made in the past I don’t make any more. Why? Because I have conditioned myself not to make them. And man I made them but in the now, going forward, I learned and I would not have if I had quit or given up.

It is the struggle in these days which defines us. Or better yet how we respond in the struggle. If you have talent use it wisely and stick to it when things don’t go your way. Keep a journal and look back from time to time at those patches that were not so smooth and then look how you made it through. The same goes for the person who does not quit and has just a bit of the old spark of talent.

Yet at the end of the day, when I am at the ticket window placing my bet, I will put it right on the nose of that rough horse whose coat might not be as shiny and may even have some scars on it. Heck that horse might finish the race dead last but I know it will be back the next time to pay off eventually.


Hambone Willie: The West Tennessee Connection to the American Song

Here we have an interesting point in American music history:


Hambone Willie Newbern and his version of Roll and Tumble Blues

I have been doing some reading on West TN Blues and have known this but am just know realizing how seminal many artists from West TN were on the blues at large. Exhibit number one: Roll and Tumble Blues. Though not the first to record this tune (Gus Cannon Jug Stompers whose Noah Lewis was from Henning, TN) his arrangement was used by Robert Johnson for his “Possession Over Judgement Day” and Muddy Waters’ version by a similar title. So here is where I am right now. Are the Delta Blues really just West TN Blues morphed into something else due to the artist’s own take on the originals?

Obviously there were songs floating about all over America’s South, specifically along the areas on the East and West of the Mississippi River. What I find particularly interesting is the attention paid to the more “noted” performers (Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, etc.) and the assumption that they were the seminal influence on the music’s coming of age. When in reality they were an early link in the chain with other links preceding them, if not simply in a historical context. Of course the tunes played by Hambone Willie Newbern and Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers had to have come from somewhere also. Yet is it possible that West Tennesse can lay as much a claim to being grandfather’s of “the Blues” as anyone else?


More about Hambone Willie Newbern Below.

Little is known about blues songster Hambone Willie Newbern; a mere half-dozen sides comprise the sum of his recorded legacy, but among those six is the first-ever rendition of the immortal Delta classic “Roll and Tumble Blues.” Reportedly born in 1899, he first began to make a name for himself in the Brownsville, TN area, where he played country dances and fish fries in the company of Yank Rachell; later, on the Mississippi medicine show circuit, he mentored Sleepy John Estes (from whom most of the known information about Newbern originated). While in Atlanta in 1929, Newbern cut his lone session; in addition to “Roll and Tumble,” which became an oft-covered standard, he recorded songs like “She Could Toodle-Oo” and “Hambone Willie’s Dreamy-Eyed Woman’s Blues,” which suggest an old-fashioned rag influence. By all reports an extremely ill-tempered man, Newbern’s behavior eventually led him to prison, where a brutal beating is said to have brought his life to an end around 1947. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/hambone-willie-newbern#ixzz25ywWe8dQ


Poor John’s Mind

Sleepy John Estes

I pontificate on this man for more than one reason. Here lately I have been reading Sweet Showers of Rain by Samuel Charters who documented a great amount of blues culture and in an eloquent fashion I might add. I was enamored with John Estes upon first hearing his mournful cry of a voice. He had me in the first few lines and then to realize he was only a few miles from my childhood home even made it a bonus. It helped me realize the fertile ground from which I come was a literal hotbed of American music.
Guaranteed if you hear some hipster band aping the blues in some way it was originally inspired by some black sharecropper or field hand or roustabout lurking within a hundred mile radius of where I type this from. I go back and forth with the blues as a musical form and do not want to get into any arguments about what does or does not constitute blues or if there even really such a thing. Not my purpose. It is more leaned towards the reasons why.
The “blues” in some respects, and definitely in the case of John Estes and others (Yank Rachell and Hammie Nixon), was the only option for some men. And when you hear their mournful cry it is not for dramatic effect, often it all they usually possessed, the will to make a noise in the dark bleakness of this life. I am not trying to wax poetic. Don’t mis-take me on this essential point. The music they created is great for lack of so much else. When you hear them they are truly giving you all they had. And we are blessed for it. There is something very deep in that, that inside the struggle, where many men or women simply give up there is that spark of human spirit which allows a person to balm their misery with song.
If you get the chance I suggest you try some out for yourself.

Singularity: Piercing the veil of Rock Stars and Beyond

Ok first Check out this on FB: Awkward Band and Musician Photos
It is burst a gut funny. But beyond the humor it leads to an interesting aspect of the coming singularity. The page itself is a spoof page meant to be funny and illicit humorous comments and LULZ. I can see several thousand Memes sprouting from the volume of this page alone and it has just gotten started. But what is really interesting to me as an observer is the exchange I found below:

It is the FB fan site of one of the bands who are awkwardly portrayed on the FB site. They are getting flack from people on their own site which 20 years ago, first would have been unheard of, and second not possible due to the lack of media resources. Now one can simply create a FB site and the entire world can join in on the tomfoolery. My point is not to make fun of anyone’s awkward photos. I probably have a few hundred of them myself. The point is the access people have to share these sort of experiences which, 20-30 years ago, would have been limited to “yeah those guys suck” or “that one guy looks sort of odd” and never left a person to person or group conversation. Now the whole world is privy to the conversation and it surely pierces the veil of being a ROCK STAR. Perhaps that is just what it has always been: a veil. Granted some bands are just better than the other 4000 gabillion others but that is not the point either. This band King Kobra, who apparently were somewhat noteworthy, have had to delete comments from people who are just after LULZ or are being honest. Rock Stars never had to contend with that sort of nonsense back in the day.
Which leads me to wonder this: if Rock Stars are susceptible to this type of shenanigans who is really safe from this type of public scrutiny? Again I might be making a mountain out of a mole hill or a dung heap but seriously are we not moving towards something? People’s ability to shred a conception of FAME at will in a few keystrokes has to be downright horrifying for those running the smoke machines and the guys holding up all the mirrors and even more so for the guys paying them.

Bring in the Clowns

I have had time to absorb both the RNC and DNC. Fact checkers can run amok about how close either side hit at least middle on the needle of truth. To be honest, from where I sit, both sides lauded some pretty large zingers which might have some possibility to fire up their respective bases yet fall flat on their face when the flash light of fact shows the smoke and reflects back in the many mirrors propping the whole thing up. It’s what they do and it is to be expected, from both sides.
President Clinton obviously carried both conventions by giving perhaps one of the greatest speeches I have ever personally witnessed. It was that darn good and probably pretty close to spot on with its obvious leanings into hyperbole, which too is to be expected.
Yet what is becoming more and more obvious is the rift which keeps heading towards chasm level within the GOP. I am not, by any means, lamenting this because frankly I think they have lost touch with reality for the common person. The Reagan mythology which so many of them love to cling too, were the man alive and attempting to steward the GOP, would fall flat on his face in the climate so many fringe lunatics, who now divide the party, have created and refuse to pull away from.
Interesting to me is how they have lulled the Tea Party into their demise. I could see it coming even back in 2009 when they were pulling the party too far off messages which relate to the common man. Mike Lofgren saw and sees this too. And just by chance you are not familiar with the man let me simply put it like this: this fellow is no lightweight in GOP circles. If he were a football icon Vince Lombardi would not be an unrealistic analogy.
Yet they persist on and will persist on until common sense prevails within their ranks. President Clinton very clearly pointed this out and spoke to one of the main reasons that the Obama administration has been stalemated and cut off at the pass so many times. Their unwillingness to compromise, on any issue, has lead us to where we are. President Clinton was able to reach across to the common sense leaders of the GOP in his days because statesmanship requires this of both sides in order to work effectively. This is not even in the game plan and it has hurt the GOP much more than they are willing to admit.
Can Romney win? I don’t think so. Will it be close? Yes.
Yet in the end it will be up to the coming leadership, Jeb Bush, and those yet only piercing the horizon, to Shepherd the party back to an “everyman’s Party” and not the fringe it has become.

And this from Colorado

I hate to admit this but this caught my eye on the HUFF POST. They are not that reliable but I vetted this and these two professors in Colorado have deduced that Mitt Romney will win in a landslide. Their diametric has some valid points and I, by all means am not a professor, but I have some experience in playing the odds.
Their contention, and mind you their prediction model has predicted every presidential race since 1980, is that economic indicators are what reads the tea leaves. They predict Romney winning 320 to 218. Who am I to argue with two guys who have been doing this since 1980?
Here is the problem if you seek out other very relevant models.
1) Romney has not moved past 191 in the states he is most likely to win for quite some time. I have been following for the last 6 months and this number has not eclipsed the 191 mark, ever.
2) “The model also suggests that Romney will win every state currently considered a swing state which includes Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Colorado.” According to these guys these 9 states, all the major “battleground” states will go to Romney. I think this is some shark jumping. True a great deal can happen between now and then. This would require all 9 of the states to go strictly to Romney. I just don’t see this. And neither does Real Clear Politics. Which has Obama sitting at 221 coming out of the gate. Which leaves only 49 electoral votes to be had. Again Romney, as on most other projection models, still sits in his 191 chair with 79 votes to be gathered up.
3) This election may come down to the wire but I am not sure that Romney will catch up. Other projections have Pennsylvania leaning Obama. Some have him winning outright and that is considering the questionable voter ID kerfuffle. If this states, with so many intangibles taking place, falls Obama then the ones, minus the same intangibles, are fully in play for the President and makes his road to 49 more electoral votes pretty clear. Penn has 20 so that knocks the number down to 29 votes. That would only require Florida to fall to Obama and game over.

Professor Berry even warns “As scholars and pundits well know, each election has unique elements that could lead one or more states to behave in ways in a particular election that the model is unable to correctly predict.”

As they say in professional sports “that is why we play the game.” And the Game is ON!