Well it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, what with the hiatus and all. Let’s see what’s up.
Bethany Yarrow, daughter of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, has an album out with “renowned cellist Rufus Cappadocia,” according to Purdue student paper The Exponent. It’s called 900 Miles, and it’s traditional folk with “an alternative edge, funk, groove and world music.” Among the cuts on the record: “St. James Infirmary.” I haven’t heard this yet, but more soon on that front.
Here is an article from the Chicago Sun-Times about The Old Town School of Folk Music, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2007. (Here’s the history of the school.) This occasion is being marked a bit early by the release of a four-CD set called The Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook. And yes, “SJI” is on it. Again, more later on this.
Texasgigs.com reviews an Irvin Mayfield performance in Richardson (outside of Dallas) Texas:
After a seductive love song entitled “Ballad of the Hot, Long Night,” which was then followed by an up-beat Latin number honoring Tito Puente, the NOJO ended the evening with “St. James Infirmary” — an emotional piece in the vein of the traditional New Orleans funeral processional. The song began dreary and mournful as the wailing brasses symbolized the march to the grave. But the tone gradually shifted into a parade-like cavalcade that Mayfield had referred to beforehand as nothing short of “a rejoicing of life.” Young couples throughout the packed performance hall tapped their feat and smiled while a bold few waved handkerchiefs above their heads as they danced up and down the aisles. And all throughout the audience, the pepper-gray heads of elderly jazz lovers bobbed ever-so-slightly to the rhythm.
During the hiatus, I got a note from somebody saying that while my SJI essay mentioned Arlo Guthrie having recorded “Streets of Laredo,” I’d failed to point out that he also does “SJI.” It’s true, and it seems to be part of his regular set these days, per this concert review from The Ann Arbor News.
Here is a Desicritics review of a DVD called From the Big Apple to the Big Easy, which includes a Kermit Ruffins “SJI” take.
And finally, here’s oddest “SJI” reference in the news: A column in the Palm Beach Post, making fun of Florida politician Katherine Harris, who I guess thinks the media is out to get her, includes this sarcastic line: “I suppose she will expose me and all the other [cynical media] members, and our long-range plot to overthrow morality and replace it with fun. She might even divulge our short-range plan to replace the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ as our national anthem with ‘St. James Infirmary Blues,’ which is much easier to sing and sounds great in a baseball stadium.”