RARWRITER PUBLISHING GROUP PRESENTS

CREATIVE CULTURE JOURNAL

at www.RARWRITER.com      

--------------------"The best source on the web for what's real in arts and entertainment" ---------------------------

Volume 1-2016

MUSIC    BOOKS    FINE ARTS   FILM   THE WORLD

ARTIST NEWS    THIS EDITION   ABOUT   MUSIC   MUSIC REVIEWS  BOOKS  CINEMA   FASHION   FINE ARTS  FEATURES   SERIES  MEDIA  ESSAY  RESOURCES  WRITTEN ARTS POETRY  CONTACT  ARCHIVES  MUSIC LINKS

                                 

RARWRITER for your MOBILE DEVICE

JOIN THE LIST

Use this link to add your email address to the RARWRITER Publishing Group mailing list for updates on activities associated with the Creative Culture and Revolution Culture journals, and other RARWRITER Publishing Group interests.

 

ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.

RARADIO

(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"On to the Next One" by Jacqueline Van Bierk

"I See You Tiger" by Via Tania

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock

 

_______

MUSIC LINKS

"Music Hot Spots"

LOS ANGELES

SAN FRANCISCO

NEW YORK CITY

NASHVILLE

CHICAGO

AUSTIN

DENVER-BOULDER

MINNESOTA

SEATTLE

NEW ORLEANS

PHILADELPHIA

BOSTON

PORTLAND

DETROIT

MEMPHIS

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

FLORIDA

ARIZONA

INTERNATIONAL LINKS

UNITED KINGDOM

EUROPE

JAPAN

SCANDANAVIA

AUSTRALIA

CANADA

ASIA

 

Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page

ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance" -AVAILABLE NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM AMAZON.COM. Use this link.

CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.

 

EXPLORE THE KINDLE BOOK LIBRARY

If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.


 

 

 

Folk Music  

Inside Llewyn Davis

 

by RAR

 

In 2014, the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan) released Inside Llewyn Davis, their exploration of the phenomenon of the "Folk Music Revival" of the 1950s and early 1960s, and most specifically the era in which folk music morphed into strains that are still a big part of pop music today.

Inside Llewyn Davis was a beguiling character study of a single representative  - roughly based on the life of folk music hero Dave Van Ronk - and the societal and psychological forces that were driving fundamental changes in that dusty and multi-faceted musical form in that era.

Folk music, in its 20th Century incarnation, was brought to life by a renewed interest in the 1930s in folk dancing. Perhaps it was a reaction to the hedonism of the 1920s, but for some reason during the Great Depression Americans began to realize a renewed interest in square dance and other manifestations of down home entertainment. Folk dance, and folk music, provided an inexpensive, low-profile way to satisfy ancestral stirrings that had been brought to life by international conflict, because from the Spanish-American War of 1898, and thereafter, Americans were reminded daily that the world was getting smaller, and in the process group identification was receiving greater and greater focus.

One could argue that the seeds of western folk music were planted with the American Revolution, beginning in 1765, and then were further cultivated by the 1789 French Revolution, both of which forwarded the notion that individuals should be allowed freedoms to determine the courses of their own lives. This was heady and optimistic stuff, but it also created a dissonance between the sovereignty of individuals and ideas about the fiduciary responsibilities of the governments under which they lived. While most people could figure out ways to sustain their existences, there were times in everyone's life when they needed help, or assistance, and the sources of such assistance were typically church groups and the government. The world has been locked in this conundrum ever since freedom began to clash with need and dependency, and since empathy began to clash with self interests. What is the proper place for people to turn for assistance?

In the mid-1800s this question produced the ideology of Communism (Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels), under which individual freedoms would be sacrificed in return for government-provided economic and social security. The surrender of individual freedoms was, of course, anathema to western ideology, and this took on particular significance when in 1905 rebel forces aligned with the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party overthrew Tsarist rule of Russia. This set the stage for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, after which the world was presented with two diametrically opposed types of government, each of which would fight for dominance.

In the U.S., "right-wing" politicians dug in their heals. They began to see a logic in involvement in foreign wars, and they began to see government assistance programs as extensions of a communist philosophy that, if allowed to spread, would ruin the form of government that they vowed to defend.

Living under the yoke of these extreme ideologies were common folks who experienced boom and bust cycles as their shaken-up worlds struggled to find equilibrium. World War I introduced a generation of Americans and Europeans to a new kind of war. It pitted man against machine and chemicals in ways so horrific that it traumatized the world, and produced the Treaty of Versailles, which set the stage for a second world war twenty years later. In the interim, the western world experienced an economic bubble and a decade of excess, followed by economic collapse (15 percent drop in the worldwide gross domestic produce, 1929 to 1932), and a devastating climatic event (the "Dust Bowl") in the western U.S.. Unemployment in America in that period rose to 25 percent, officially, and in cities people were lining up at soup kitchens.

The urge within the human spirit to replace our worries and cares with moments of refreshing distraction produced the folk revival of the 1930s, and in a time when people could see a movie for a quarter (that equals well over $3 in today's money) Hollywood experienced a "golden period". The movies of that period were extraordinarily literate, because reading remained another of the things people did to improve themselves through education and exposure to information that they had no other way to access. Reading also provided distraction, though neither books nor films avoided critical examination of the developments taking place in the world at that time. Director Frank Capra created American Madness, in 1932, about a corrupt banker, and in 1936 the film Black Legion depicted the story of a man whose disappointment in the workplace leads him to xenophobia and enrollment in the Ku Klux Klan. Films like these would soon thereafter become governed by movie studio executives who were in the grip of political and ideological influences that were leading inexorably to World War II. Certain types of political messaging became subject to prohibition and censorship.

This Land Is Your Land

Wandering around the country, in the midst of all this, was Oklahoma troubadour Woody Guthrie, the composer of "This Land Is Your Land". Before becoming a star performing on radio in Los Angeles, he made his mark traveling with the farm community that was abandoning the Oklahoma Dust Bowl in favor of the rich lands of California. Many of those desperate folks, depicted by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath, found the going tough on the west coast, too, and many eventually returned to Oklahoma. Those that stayed experienced a kind of American xenophobia against people from other states. Some California mothers instructed their children to stay away from the children of "Okies".

World War II created an incredible dilemma for the people and the government of the United States. The war in Europe was one for which some German-born U.S. citizens returned to Germany to fight for their homeland. It wasn't because they were in allegiance to Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party, but because their countrymen were suffering under the cruel reparations outlined in the Treaty of Versailles -- a long hangover from World War I -- and they were trying to rebuild a proud national identity. There was a Nazi Party in the United States -- the German American Bund (1936) -- comprised of 5,000-to-10,000 Americans of German descent, that had been more-or-less sponsored by Nazi Deputy Fhrer Rudolph Hess. American banker Prescott Bush, and his Union Bank Corporation, financed the German war machine until he was shutdown by the Alien Property Commission, after which he became a U.S. Senator. (Prescott was the patriarch or the Bush family that has brought us U.S. Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, as well as presidential candidate Jeb Bush, and the lesser known Marvin Bush, who was the principal officer in charge of the company that provided security for the World Trade Center, destroyed on September 11, 2001).

By 1941, Woody Guthrie was a big star and that's when he labeled his acoustic guitar with a message reading "This machine kills fascists". That same year, folk legend Pete Seeger joined with Guthrie, Josh White, Lead Belly, Cisco Houston, and Bess Lomax Hawes, to form the Almanac Singers. Folk music became politicized in overt ways.

Folk music, beginning in World War II, changed from being a third-person story-telling exercise to being a first-person expression of thoughts about who we are, and about our place is in this world.

The defeat of Nazi Germany spelled the end of that fascist rule, but it also marked the beginning of the Cold War. Americans had played a key role in the defeat of Adolph Hitler, but it had been the overwhelming power of the Russian army that had been responsible for Hitler's defeat. There was a real fear in the U.S. government that the army of Joseph Stalin would sweep across Europe in the vacuum left by Nazi Germany, and expand the range of communist rule, seen as a direct threat to American-style democracy. To combat the Russian threat, the U.S. government welcomed former Nazi security officers and research scientists into their intelligence community, leading to the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which exploited Nazi advances in key disciplines. This also set the stage for a coming wave of political paranoia that would become known as the McCarthy Era, when investigations into the ideological commitments of individuals would lead to the "black-listing" of people considered to have communist sympathies.

Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax, and Lee Hays started printing a quarterly called the People's Songs Bulletin in 1946, aimed specifically to promote songs about the plight of the working man. This encouraged the publication of other folk music magazines, including Sing Out! and Broadside. Then in 1948, Seeger and Hays joined with Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert to form the seminal folk quartet The Weavers. They turned folk music into a pop culture phenomenon, scoring big radio hits with Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene", "So Long It's Been Good to Know You (Dusty Old Dust)", and "Kisses Sweeter than Wine". They also scored big with the Israeli dance song "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena", but in 1950 it came to a crashing end when Seeger was listed as a subversive in the publication Red Channels. Decca Records dropped The Weavers and Seeger and Lee Hays were called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. Folk music became associated with left-wing, subversive activity. Driven from the airwaves, it became an underground activity, banished to coffee shops, home parties, and events that became known as hootenannies.

New York City's Greenwich Village became one of the few centers for folk music during this period, and there was born the legend of Dave Von Ronk, "The Mayor of MacDougal Street". He was notable for bringing ragtime guitar music into the folk spectrum, which inspired the playing styles of many folk artists thereafter. The list includes Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Patrick Sky, Phil Ochs, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Guthrie Thomas, and even Joni Mitchell.

Llewyn Davis World

This is the world in which Inside Llewyn Davis is set, and for all of the reasons described above it was a strange place, populated by college kids attracted to the sing-along opportunities around which some of "modern folk" was based, and earnest hipsters, influenced by the Beat jazz of the '50s, for whom folk was a serious message music. There was a clear crossover between those two extremes, which only added to the surreal quality one feels in so much of the folk music of the era.

In the Coen Brothers film, Llewyn Davis is brilliantly portrayed by Oscar Isaac, a merchant marine (like Van Ronk) and coffee house folk singer whose legitimate talents go unrewarded for reasons his character may have stopped trying to understand. He produces a beautiful sound, but gives off a personal energy that is somehow nullifying. Listeners don't respond to him. Even those who recognize his talent suggest that he would be better off working as a group member, where his personal attributes wouldn't be so much on display. 

The actor Oscar Isaac performs a feat with Llewyn Davis that even the film's director and producer had suspected might be simply impossible. They needed an actor who could effectively portray this low voltage, and yet hot-simmering, character in ways that wouldn't make it impossible for audiences to reject him. Moreover, they had to have an actor who could sing songs live, in their entirety, and do it effectively enough to keep the audiences attention while convincing them of his legitimate talent.

For much of the movie, Llewyn Davis sings beautifully but without emotion, as if he isn't fully committed to the things he feels deeply. This is key to understanding the turmoil taking place within the Davis character. He doesn't really believe in himself. Then near the end of the film there is a moment when Oscar Isaac, as Llewyn Davis, suddenly demonstrates a brief moment of obvious passion, and in that moment we as audience members perk up a bit and notice him in ways different than we had before. It is a tremendously nuanced performance, made possible only by the extent to which Oscar Isaac can be perceived as a legitimate folk singer, which is something the Julliard-trained Isaac was not prior to taking on the role of Llewyn Davis.

Bob Dylan World

Inside Llewyn Davis ends with a new figure moving into frame from the background; a character representing Bob Dylan.

Dylan is the true embodiment of the person Llewyn Davis probably wishes he could be: the troubadour who cuts through the white noise of the Kingston Trio brand of folk to connect with audiences on a visceral level. Dylan showed up late in the folk revival and he was pushing the form out of shape, bending it inexorably toward a new form of expression that would meld meaning-heavy folk with beat-heavy rock. He was the folk singer come full circle, from a troubadour telling tales of things that happened to someone to a diarist telling tales about things that happened to him personally. The young Dylan was apparently beset by personal conflicts because so many of his early songs pointed an accusatory finger at people who had betrayed his friendship or otherwise committed crimes against his sensitivities. He basked in schadenfreude, relishing the discomforts of people whose frailties had brought them to sorry ends. "How does it feel when you got no secrets to conceal?" Even Dylan's protest anthems "Blowin' In the Wind" and "The Times They Are A Changing" are harangues, in their fashion, clear challenges to those natures within mankind that would repeat destructive ways and cling to conventions that are no longer working.

Bob Dylan was the attitude of Llewyn Davis confirmed and justified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the record, my grandfather John Frick was a fiddle player who regularly played local events in the 1930s through the 1950s, in California, Kansas, and Nebraska, calling square dance and playing songs of an earlier time that spoke to the issues that concerned the average working man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coen Brothers Interview

video

 

Woody Guthrie

 

 

Big Bill Broonzy

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

  ARTIST NEWS    THIS EDITION   ABOUT   MUSIC   MUSIC REVIEWS  BOOKS  CINEMA   FASHION   FINE ARTS  FEATURES   SERIES  MEDIA  ESSAY  RESOURCES  WRITTEN ARTS POETRY  CONTACT  ARCHIVES  MUSIC LINKS

Copyright July, 2016 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)