Blu Lu Barker, the Unsung Songstress of New Orleans

•October 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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Singer Blue Lu Barker was born, raised, and buried in New Orleans; her funeral even turned into a popular video broadcast spotlighting the town’s jazz funeral traditions. Like many early Louisiana performing artists, claims to her paralyzing influence over the entire country’s jazz and blues scenes tend to be made with great regularity. Thus the tale of Blue Lu Barker is one in which jazz critics on one side of the fence comment on her limited vocal range, while others come up with quotes such as this one, attributed to legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday: “Blue Lu Barker was my biggest influence.” In both the ’30s and ’40s she was one of the more popular blues performers, often appearing alongside artists such as Cab Calloway and Jelly Roll Morton. Sometimes it was her husband, musician Danny Barker, who opened the doors to musical groups such as Sidney Bechet‘s, but no bandleader ever tossed her offstage when she clambered up for a vocal, especially once she started cutting hit records. Barker’s most famous recordings were done in 1938. “Don’t You Feel My Leg” was a well-crafted song that seemed to encourage promiscuity and restraint simultaneously, always a good thing for the music business. The song got a second round of popularity in the ’80s courtesy of Maria Muldaur. The early Barker material features her husband on banjo and guitar and the couple would continue performing together until his death. Her career continued after that, all the way up to a last recording taped live in 1998 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. That’s unless the video of her funeral is counted, as her presence is majestic enough to almost be considered a performance. Players who are still alive and jamming at this event include the majestic Big Al Carson on tuba.
Barker was born Louisa Dupont Barker and her father ran a grocery store and pool hall, cashing in big time during prohibition with a stock of bootleg liquor. At 13, she left school and married Barker. In 1930 the couple moved to New York, hooking up a variety of performing situations including the contact with Morton. At the 1938 Vocalion session during which she cut her first vocals, the producer checked her out and came up with the Blue Lu Barker stage name. The couple were contracted to Decca in the ’30s and the Apollo label the following decade, joining a roster at the latter label that included rhythm & blues and jazz greats such as Wynonie Harris, Dinah Washington, and Luis Russell. One of the couple’s Apollo sessions even featured a jam with the mighty Charlie Parker. Blue Lu Barker was inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame in 1997, one year before she died. ~ Bio Courtesy of Eugene Chadbourne at Pandora.com

Definition of Sorora Mystica

•September 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment
John Collier 1887

John Collier 1887

Alot of people have been asking me what my blog name/social media alias means: Sorora Mystica literally translates to Mystical Sister, and she is the sole assistant to the Alchemist. She brings the balancing force of feminine and masculine principles in the physical and psychic work of the Alchemical process. She is the assistant to the chemical work and the mirror for which the Alchemist reflects. She is a vehicle for transference and the key to the Alchemists individuation.

•August 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I want to go home but I don’t know where that is anymore.

It’s Always Cold In California

•August 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It was in those beginning days of summer, after the heartbreak and in between the excitement of landing a pioneer in the West Coast and the beginning of schedules, jobs and paying rent…It was an ephemeral pre cursor to normal life, the American  fantasy that still lived on. A whirlwind of cigarettes and walking, buses and trains, parks and cool, cool evenings. The golden uncharted days that still were drenched in the powerful passing magic of L.A. and a future that couldn’t be envisioned yet. Anything was still possible in those beautiful and transient times and it felt like it would last forever. Should last forever. I was a star, an invincible warrior, a glamorous traveler in a new and strange land with a guide that set my heart and body on fire. And then suddenly, it was all gone.

And part of me knows you’ll never come back for me, and part of me knows that you will xo

Truth

•July 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I am I and you are you

I do my thing and you do your thing

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine.

If by chance we find each other it’s beautiful,

If not it can’t be helped.

Fritz Perls

-From Gestalt Therapy Verbatim 1969

Harbinger of Broken Hope: Lana Del Rey and Ultraviolence

•July 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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Lana Del Rey. The ethereally sad glamour girl from our generation singing talk of unrequited love, careless distraction, Ultraviolence, lame hipster girls who smoke dro, and time out of mind in an America gone wrong. Ultraviolence is the simultaneous death and birth of our generations idea of American cool, the myth of the West Coast, and the deadly glamour of love affairs that are made of smoke and broken mirrors.

There’s a big difference between who Lana Del Rey IS and what she represents. She is speaking from the heart about heartbreak and knowing what its like to just want to disappear, but not being able too. All the while she brazenly faces the unknown as a fire walker who takes that last breath before stepping on the hot coals.

I hate to say this, but if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. If you’ve never been a broken hearted sad and well read girl from Upstate New York, the music probably isn’t going to ring THAT true to you. But if you ARE, (Chaya Pierson and Oriana Fine I’m looking at you….) then you REALLY get it. You’ve stood in her shoes, you’ve seen what she’s seen and you’ve felt what she’s felt. You know about the pain and loss of an America gone awry, you know what it’s like to wait for someone who never comes, you know what Ultraviolence means and you know how to stay graceful through all of it. 

Lana’s new album is a departure from the hip hop backed Born To Die days of a few years ago. She’s burrowed down the rabbit hole of darkness just a little further, lending a more woozy California swing to her sad melodies and escalating minor chords. Her lyrics are also drenched in California references, painting a rich and vibrantly lit black and white landscape for Lana to tirelessly and languidly stroll through. From love affairs ending in “Cruel World”, “Ultraviolence” to new ones beginning (or never really getting off the ground,) with “Pretty When I Cry”) she takes us from the past to the present with unflinching honesty, sadness, and the psychedelic surrealness of someone who knows their way around the terrain of synchronstic experiences of loss and love. Someone like Lana couldn’t get hurt that hard without throwing herself into full throttle right? She not only sings the tales of experiences that she threw herself into, but also throws her voice, her range, her style full throttle into the album. We hear a Lana Del Rey who’s taken the trip, and found herself at the other end. She’s no longer Lolita lost in the hood, she’s the sarcastic ex freaknik who’s seen the dessert, drank the kool aid, bought the leather jacket and lived to tell the tale, American flag in tow. 

The narcotic swing of the songs only further accentuates the death of the American dream, “Money Power and Glory” reads like a hypnotic psycho Funeral March of Generation Y….A Generation beat down by rap music, the hyper materialism of the 80′s and the true death of the American Dream. The surreal surf rock riffs of ” Shades of Cool”  and “West Coast” serve to reinvent the genre, taking us out of the stale idea of Dick Dale and Pulp Fiction, and launching us straight into modern day Los Angeles. Seeing the world in black and white and seamlessly uniting the glamour of the mid 1960′s with the gritty glamorous uncertainty of today.

The boldest move on the album is “Fucked My Way Up to the Top”, which matches the fresh and witty sarcasm of “Brooklyn Baby” with an angry vengeance. An answer to all the people saying she has indeed fucked her way up to the top, she writes a song about it. Bringing back a super trill goth-hop beat and soaring vocals with a little twist of crazy, Lana sets the record straight, even saying she got tested and she passed (yes). Ballsy move Lana. Cheers.

The crowning jewel of the album though, is the title track, Ultraviolence. With its sad, bangy piano ad its soaring viola solos, and consistent but thrashing drums, Lana sings of being in love with an abusive cult leader named Jim, and feeling like abuse equals love. This is my favorite song on the album for clearly personal reasons. Ultraviolence was inspired by the Crystals 1963 song “He Hit me and if Felt Like a Kiss” and the song feels like it brings us not into 1963 but straight into the surreal and creepy terrain of 1969..(also another shout out to Upstate NY in Ultraviolence,  Lana sings “we can go back to Woodstock, where they don’t know who we are”)

The album feels like a weathering a  cool storm in a convertible.  A magical summer thunder shower with rainbows, broken hearts and mirrors, that ends in a cleary, ultra starry sky. It both mourns and gives hope, it both inspires and at times, terrifies. It is both nostalgic and brand new, like walking off the edge of the past into the unknown. And I certainly know what that feels like <3 

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He holds me in his big arms drunk and I am seein stars

•June 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 
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