Mud Morganfield and his half-brother “Big Bill” Morganfield play the blues. Sometimes they play together. I have a live recording of the two playing at the Chicago Blues Festival, doing songs such as Mannish Boy, Nineteen Years Old and Forty Days and Forty Nights, all songs that you can instantly recall as being standards sung by blues legend, the late Muddy Waters. No coincidence there because both the Morganfields are his sons. Remember Muddy Waters’ real name was McKinley Morganfield. Muddy died in 1983 but his two sons in their 50s–Mud’s the older one—keep his trademark Chicago blues sound and legacy alive. They play gigs. They cut records and have a considerably big fan following among blues aficionados. Read more

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I have no idea what the lyrics in the music of Iceland’s Sigur Ros mean. They sing in Icelandic and I don’t think this column will be read by too many people who are familiar with that language, which, incidentally, is one of the few Nordic languages that have undergone the least degree of change from its root, Old Norse, the ancient language spoken by the Vikings. But the meaning of the lyrics is not what you should be looking for when you spin something by Sigur Ros. I was pointed to the band some years back by a friend with more adventurous taste in music than mine who’d slipped me a burnt disc with their second album, Ágætis Byrjun (which apparently means ‘good beginning’) with these simple instructions: “Go home. Switch off the lights. Play this. Sit back and shut your eyes.” Read more

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It was intended to be a nice road trip. It was an extended weekend. Two men. Two women. A child (a very well-behaved one). A great car – one of those luxury SUVs that cost more than what my flat did when we bought the latter. A destination tucked away in the upper reaches of Kumaon where email reaches you only in fits and bursts. It helped that both the men – one young and the other middle-aged – enjoyed driving with the former being an expert driver and an information whale on SUVs. We had everything we would need up there in the hilly nook we were headed for – a case of wine, light woollens and so on. The only thing left was the music we’d listen to on the way. Read more

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In one of the early episodes from the first season of Treme, the American TV drama series themed on post-Katrina New Orleans, Elvis Costello drops in at a club to watch one of the flood-ravaged but still music-drenched city’s leading lights, jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, play. Ruffins, of course, has no idea about who or how big the English singer-songwriter Costello is. When, during a break, someone tells him he should go and say hello to his famous fan, Ruffins, whose gigs usually end with a free-for-all cook-out that he does himself for his audience, is reluctant. “So, do you want to spend all your life playing small clubs and doing your barbecues in New Orleans?” asks the rather surprised man. “That’d be alright,” says Ruffins with a smile. Read more

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