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My new Nation column is called “What Are Republican Donors Thinking?” It asks the question: “One has to ask: Why are these people so stupid?” and was published for subscribers last Wednesday night. Paul Krugman wrote a column this morning asking: “If they’re so rich, why aren’t they smarter?” It’s five days later, but because I was paywalled—everybody knows it’s a great idea to paywall a column about the media—and Paul was not, he wins again.
The Allman Brothers final Beacon Shows
John and Bucky Pizzarelli at the Café Carlyle
Buster Poindexter at the Café Carlyle
Rudy Van Gelder 90th birthday celebration at Dizzy’s and Blue Note’s 75th anniversary singles box set.
I saw the Allman Brothers twice in their final run at the Beacon (and anywhere else). The first night was sublime, at least after “Jessica,” in the second set. The final night, you may have heard, they played three sets, ending at about 1:30, and were so terrific they made the whole thing even sadder. I got into a mini-argument with Steve Earle because he thinks the Tedeschi Trucks Band has great material and is poised to become the next great jam band. I think their material is really weak, but that they are poised to become the next great jam band. That’s because Derek is probably the most exciting and expressive guitarist alive, and never more so than when he is playing with Warren Haynes and Gregg Allman—whom I have thought to be the world’s greatest white blues singer for the past forty or so years—is on vocals. The whole thing is so damn annoying. Nothing besides Bruce has ever been as reliably great as the Allman Brothers at the Beacon, and now it’s gone. But thanks to my great friend Danny, I must have seen at least thirty of them, and while the ones with Clapton and Phil and Bob were thrilling, Tuesday night’s was the best. You can read about that here.
Ironically enough, the following night, (on little sleep) I got to see two more really great guitarists at much closer range and without so much emotion, but still, John Pizzarelli and his 88-year-old dad, Bucky played a marvelous set at the Café Carlyle. John’s patter is almost as good as his playing, which is, as the saying goes, really saying something. He is charming and funny and self-effacing, affectionate toward his old man but also teasing in a way that includes all of us. There was considerable potential for disappointment owing to the last-minute absence of the luminous Jessica Molaskey, and I have to say, no one was more disappointed than I was. But I was taking my mom, and you know, good Jewish boy and also, and when old people make plans, they really can’t handle change. (Though John mentioned that when he called Bucky to ask him to substitute for Jessica, he already had his tux on.) Anyway, what Thanksgivings these people must have. (I’m assuming no seders.) The highlights of the show for me were the opening numbers, all Ellington, but played unlike Duke ever did. Bucky’s fingers are a wonder at this age, even if his patter is mostly a series of growls. And what versatility! After the show, I told John about the Allmans the previous night. He said that if I had told him earlier, they would have done “Elizabeth Reed.” I half believed him.