Evelyn McDonnell, Lauren Onkey, and Shelby Morrison. Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives
Sam Cooke used to carry a small wooden ukulele with him on tour. As countless YouTube troubadours and Amanda Palmer have recently discovered, the four-stringed downsized guitars are sweet-sounding instruments that are easy to play and even easier to transport. I love the idea of the soul singer crooning “You Send Me” gently over plucked nylon strings, on a bus, in a hotel room, backstage before a show.
Sam Cooke’s ukulele
It’s an intimate image, an imagined moment of a deceased artist’s life that became partially real for me last weekend when I saw Cooke’s uke in the vault at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. It was one of many pieces of cultural history I got to witness, even touch, as exhibitions coordinator Shelby Morrison gave me a VIP tour of the climate-controlled room: Chrissie Hynde’s bicycle-club (not biker club) jacket, postcards from Patti Smith, the hat from Lady Gaga’s meat dress. On January 25, I spoke about the Runaways at the Hall of Fame’s Library and Archives (which is housed in a separate building from the museum). Yes, the boys club let the stone thrower in – more on that later. Continue reading
The awards choices sucked. Lady Antebellum? Really?! But it was an entertaining spectacle, for old-fashioned commercial mass culture. It was ridiculous that here in LA, where the damn thing was happening, we had to wait three hours to watch it. That makes no sense in this day of Twitter. And put it on the Internet, CBS. You’re just losing potential markets.
Cee-Lo Green and the Muppets. I have no idea what the Gwyneth was doing there, but loved the George Clinton/Labelle/Elton John/peacock outfit. And that Al Green voice.
Mick Jagger. He looked so tiny he would break, and then he ran all over that stage. Sounded good too (esp. after Dylan), and singing Solomon Burke — he sure knows how to rip black people off!
Lady Gaga. No, really. If she were David Bowie, you’d love her. Okay, the song is totally “Papa Don’t Preach.” Favorite comment from my student livebloggers: “Was she born with those shoulders?”
Janelle Monae/B.O.B./Bruno Mars: It was a good night for pompadours.
Skylar Grey: Amazing voice. Not sure why that angry white rapper kept getting in her way.
Aretha tribute: The divas oversang, but still.