What We’re Listening to This Week

Music to crack a dam with, no further comment necessary.

Katie Lee: Colorado River Songs

Katie Lee: Glen Canyon River Journeys

Dana Lyons: Cows with Guns: the Cowpie Nation Cowpilation

Dana Lyons: Ride the Lawn

Bill Oliver: Friend of the River

Walkin’ Jim Stoltz: Vision

Walkin’ Jim Stoltz: Web of Life

Dakota Sid and the Badland Serenaders: Live at Josiah Stillwater Cooper’s Saloon

Love: Love (WEA International)

RIP Arthur Lee.



I spent a week in LA recently helping produce my good buddy Quiltman Sahme’s CD of Native singing accompanied by guitar and piano music. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to the rough mix of the music created by Quilt and members of Bad Dog — John Trudell’s band — of which Quilt is a member, along with guitarists Mark Shark and Billy Watts. Bad Dog’s keyboardist Ricky Eckstein is doing the real mixing work. Quilt’s tongue-in-cheek title is “Quiltman’s Greatest Hits: Volume 1.”

It was only my second ever trip to LA and it was quite an education. The first night we met a lot of the activists working to save the South Central Farm. And, of course, we hung out with the band and many of Quilt’s buddies from the music scene.

Which brings me to what I’m listening to now: Jackson Browne’s “solo acoustic Vol. 1.” Jackson produced a couple of John Trudell’s CDs (which I’ll get to soon). He (and John) also has been there with us on issues for decades from stopping Nukes to saving Ancient Forests. Everyone I’ve ever met over the years who is associated with Jackson is a fine human being — some of the best.

And, solo acoustic Vol. 1 is one of the best CDs of recent vintage. Some of my friends have never understood my love of Browne’s music, considering it “very slick Southern Cal pop rock.” (Anyone who thinks thus should read Dave Marsh’s superb liner notes on Jackson’s Greatest Hits CD. Marsh can tell it far better than I.) One of my friends upon hearing this acoustic CD with just Jackson singing his songs with just himself on guitar or piano completely changed her mind.

Jackson’s lyricism, musicality and just plain old good-heartedness are all prominent on this. And, one would hope Vol. 1 in the title augers at least a Vol. 2 in the works ­ while we were there Jackson was working on a CD of live performances he did with the great guitarist David Lindley last year.

Vol. 1 has many of his great anthems and some of them are better than the “pop rock” versions — the version of “These Days” is outstanding (though I can still hardly believe he wrote it at sixteen.) The version of “Your Bright Baby Blues” is also the best I’ve heard.

The anthems “The Barricades of Heaven,” “Fountain of Sorrow,” “For a Dancer,” “For Everyman,” “Lives in the Balance” and “The Pretender” are all flawlessly performed. Interspersed with the music are tracks of Jackson telling tales and talking about the music — sometimes hilarious; like his tale of “Take It Easy.”

One version of the CD www.jacksonbrowne.com/thesedaysradiospecial even includes a one hour radio interview and a version of his great Christmas song “The Rebel Jesus”(written for a compilation with The Chieftans).

The two Browne-produced John Trudell CDs www.johntrudell.com are “Blue Indians” and “Graffiti Man,” which Bob Dylan called the “best album of the year” when it came out.

If you haven’t yet taken in the work of this great poet and former head of the American Indian Movement, check these two CDs out.

I’ll let you know when we get Quiltman’s Greatest finished.