This Historic Day In Music: Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger was born in Patterson, New York on this day, May 3, in the year 1919.

Pete performed in public for the first time on Sunday, March 3, 1940 on the stage of the Forrest Theatre in New York City. His unplanned, walk-on appearance was part of a star-studded presentation organized by “The Theatre Arts Committee and Will Geer of the Tobacco Road Company” called “A ‘Grapes of Wrath’ Evening.” The 20-year-old rookie sang the outlaw ballad “John Hardy,” accompanying himself on the 5-string banjo.

On January 18, 2009, Pete Seeger performed in Washington, D.C. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His highly-anticipated performance was part of We Are One: The Barack Obama Inaugural Celebration. The 89-year-old veteran performer played his 5-string banjo and led the audience of nearly 400,000 people in singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (Pete’s grandson), Bruce Springsteen and the Inaugural Celebration Chorus assisted Pete during his performance.

If you’ve not seen Pete’s Inaugural Celebration performance, you should. I cheered the live broadcast from my living room and have watched the video clip below several times. I’m still in awe.

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No. 7

Today is sixstr stories’ seventh birthday.

What better way to celebrate than with a brand new song?! Especially if that song has seven verses! (Ok: it has eight.)

I wrote “Weekdays, Weekdays” with my grandson in mind and, well… just for the fun of it.

I hope you have fun with it, too.

Happy Birthday, sixstr stories! Here’s to many more.

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This Historic Day In Music: The Kansas City Five

On Friday, March 18, 1938, record producer John Hammond gathered five Jazz musicians in a New York City recording studio for a recording session.

The musicians were: Buck Clayton, trumpet; Eddie Durham, trombone & electric guitar; Freddie Green, rhythm guitar; Walter Page, bass; and Jo Jones, drums. They were, at the time, all members of the Count Basie Orchestra.

This ensemble, tentatively called Eddie Durham & His Base Four, cut four numbers that day: “Laughing At Life,” “Good Mornin’ Blues,” “I Know That You Know” and “Love Me Or Leave Me.”

Those recordings were designed to be the first in Jazz to feature the electric guitar.

“Laughing At Life” was the first piece that the group recorded.

Dave Oliphant wrote in his 1996 book, Texan Jazz, that Eddie Durham’s performance on “Laughing At Life:” “abounds with riff-like figures as well as sixteenth-note pickups to boppish licks. He leaps from low to high notes, plays bluesy, falling-off moans, and utters sudden whines in the upper register.”

Listen for yourself. (You’ll be glad you did!)


John Hammond had originally produced this session to be released by Brunswick Records. But when they declined, he sold the sides to Milt Gabler of New York’s Commodore Music Shop. Somewhere along the line, the name of the group was changed so as to be perfectly clear about the geographically-specific style of Jazz that they played.

“Laughing At Life” b/w “I Know That You Know” by the Kansas City Five was released as Commodore Records #510, a 78 rpm disc, in 1938.

“Laughing At Life” was written in 1930. The song’s music was composed by Bob Todd and Cornell Todd and the lyrics were penned by Charles Kenny and Nick Kenny.

Ruth Etting, “America’s Sweetheart of Song,” was the first to record “Laughing At Life,” waxing her rendition on September 29, 1930, for Columbia Records.

Scott Yanow, writing in the All Music Guide to Jazz, sees Eddie Durham’s work on the four Kansas City Five recordings as being “among the first worthwhile examples of the electric guitar on record.”

This is a recording studio photo of Eddie Durham, circa 1940.


J.T.L.Y.K.: The majority of the sources that I used in putting together this post listed March 18, 1938 as the date of the Kansas City Five recording session. However, a couple of sources did have the date as March 16, 1938.

Good music doesn’t get old, whatever its birthdate.

P.S.: If you’re interested in reading more about some of the other early recordings that feature an electric guitar, go into the Archives for June, 2010 and check out my post of June 15 called Recent Discoveries.

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This Historic Day In Music: Nina Simone

The 4th Annual Boston Globe Jazz Festival was held the weekend of January 31 and February 1, 1969. The festival’s venue was the War Memorial Auditorium in the Prudential Center on Boylston Street in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. (Tickets were $5.50, $4.50 and $3.50.)


I attended the Saturday evening, February 1 performance with Alan, my friend and bandmate, and his father. It was my first Boston concert.

The 8 pm show featured trumpeter & vocalist Hugh Masekela; singer & pianist Nina Simone; Blues singer & electric guitarist B.B. King; and pianist & synthesizer player Sun Ra with his Arkestra.

Remarkably, I still have snapshot memories of all four performances. And even though Nina Simone is one of the two artists from that evening (the other is B.B. King) who had the biggest impact on me, I could not even begin to tell you what she played that night.

Until now.

Thanks to a bit of luck and the wonders of the internet, I found a review of the entire festival that had been published in the May 1, 1969 issue of Down Beat magazine. It was written by Alan Heineman, one of the magazine’s chief music critics at that time.

According to Mr. Heineman, Nina Simone and her band opened their set that February night with a slow but forceful reading of the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” They carried on with a joyous performance of “In The Morning” (aka “The Morning of My Life”) by The Bee Gee’s, followed by another Dylan song, “I Shall Be Released.” Nina then kicked into a rousing medley of “Ain’t Got No” and “I Got Life” from the Rock musical Hair and segued into her (not The Beatles’) “Revolution.” She closed the set with her superb interpretation of the Leonard Cohen song, “Suzanne.”

I recently discovered as well that Nina Simone had recorded her gorgeous rendition of “I Shall Be Released” just a few weeks prior to the Boston Globe Jazz Festival. On Wednesday, January 8, 1969, at RCA Studios in New York City, accompanied by a five-piece band and two background vocalists, Nina played piano and sang on this recording.



(If you enjoyed that piece, let me recommend a CD: Just Like A Woman: Nina Simone Sings Classic Songs Of The ’60’s. This 2007 RCA/Legacy, Sony BMG collection includes “I Shall Be Released,” “In The Morning,” “Suzanne” and eleven other exemplary recordings.)

Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933. She was the sixth child of Mary Kate and John Divine Waymon. Mary Kate was a Methodist minister and John was a handyman. They raised their family in the town of Tryon, North Carolina.

Eunice began learning to play the piano at the age of three. She made her concert debut at the age of twelve performing a recital of classical piano music. Throughout high school, Eunice aspired to become a concert pianist. After her graduation in 1950, she spent the summer at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. She then applied for a scholarship to attend the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Despite a well-received audition, Eunice’s application was denied.

In 1954, Eunice took a gig at the Midtown Bar & Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She created a stage name, “Nina Simone,” (“Nina” is Spanish for “little girl” and “Simone” came from the French actress, Simone Signoret) because she didn’t want her mother to find out about her performances at the bar. Mary Kate would have considered the Jazz and Blues music that Eunice played and sang to be the “Devil’s Music.”

Nina Simone recorded her first album, Little Girl Blue, in 1958. Her forty-fifth and last album, A Single Woman, was released in 1993.

Nina Simone’s music was and always will be impossible to classify. She drew from Jazz, Blues, Classical, Gospel, Pop, Folk, Soul and Broadway show tunes. The only label she would allow was “Black Classical Music.” In 1997, she told a writer for Interview magazine: “My choices were intuitive and I had the technique to do it.” Ben Edmonds wrote in the liner notes to the CD mentioned above that whatever song Nina chose to sing, “Once done by her, it (became) simply a Nina Simone song.”

Nina Simone/Eunice Kathleen Waymon passed away on April 21, 2003 in Carry-le-Rouet, Bouches-du-Rhone, France.

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(Going, Goin’) Home (Coming, Again)

I was born in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Over the course of the sixty-something years since, I’ve lived in a handful of locations around the Granite State. Besides Exeter, I’ve taken up residence in North Conway, Raymond, Dover and Hampton Beach.

Well, my wife and I recently joined the ranks of down-sizing baby boomers and, since the end of December, I am once more living in Exeter.

No small accomplishment. Therefore, this post.

There were many contenders for a recording to accompany this missive. Among them were:

“Goin’ Home” – the 11-minute-plus track by The Rolling Stones from the album, Aftermath (1966);

“I’m Going Home” – as performed by Ten Years After at the famous Woodstock Music & Art Fair in August, 1969 and included in the 1970 documentary film of that event;

“Home Again” – by Carole King and part of her 1971 album Tapestry;

and “Homecoming” – by Josh Ritter, from Sermon On The Rocks, his 2015 album.

I also thought of:

“Homeward Bound” – by Paul Simon and released in 1966 on Simon & Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme album and “My Hometown” – by Bruce Springsteen from his 1984 album Born In The USA.

But the piece that musically best fit the bill was (drum roll, please…):

“Going Home (Theme of Local Hero)” by Mark Knopfler.

To me, “Going Home” sounds like moving; from the initial idea to the unpacking of the last box, all in 5 gorgeous minutes of music.

Listen for yourself. (Headphones recommended.)



The inimitable and brilliant Mark Knopfler plays the acoustic and electric guitar on that track; Michael Brecker is the saxophonist; Alan Clark covers the various keyboard duties; Tony Levin plays bass and Terry Williams is the drummer.

“Going Home” is the theme music of Local Hero, a charming British film, written and directed by Bill Forsyth in 1983.

All of the music for Local Hero was created and performed by Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter Mark Knopfler. (Knopfler was, at the time, internationally well known as the leader of the very popular British rock band, Dire Straits.) The music from the film was released in March, 1983, on an album also called Local Hero. (Highly recommended!)

And yes, Carole King, it is very nice to be home again.

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Pat The Fish

I first took my daily morning walk on the concrete-paved promenade of New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach State Park back in October. Starting that morning near the southern end of the park, I began looking for some kind of landmark that I could use over the next couple of months as a turn-around point for the routine of my walk.

I soon found exactly what I was looking for.

I found the fish.


The fish is a granite sculpture entitled “Pale-scaled Snapper.” It was created in 2011 by Alexander Renard, an Armenian-born artist who, at the time, resided in Eliot, Maine.

The sculpture is one of several art works installed in the park by the N.H. State Council on the Arts during the Hampton Beach State Park Redevelopment Project that ran from May, 2010 to November, 2011.

“Pale-scaled Snapper” is approximately 46″ long, 23″ tall and 12″ wide. It is displayed on a large round, two-tiered, concrete and granite pedestal that is located on the southern end of the Park’s Central Beach Access. The pedestal elevates “Pale-scaled Snapper” so that it is eye-to-eye with a six-foot tall admirer like myself.

That October morning, as I turned at the Central Beach Access to head back south, I had a thought: “Pat the fish.”

So, I did. (And still do.)

“Pat the fish”

As the phrase rattled around in my head for the next few days, I decided that it would make a good title for a new instrumental guitar piece.

Here, many stolen moments later, is what I came up with:

“Pat The Fish” – created and performed by Eric Sinclair.

“Pat The Fish” was recorded in the guest bedroom of our rented Hampton Beach condominium on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 30, 2016. I used the GarageBand app in my iPad outfitted with an external Zoom iQ6 XY Stereo Microphone.

Hampton Beach State Park was established as a state park in 1933. It is 1.2 miles long and extends along the southern half of New Hampshire’s coast line. The Park is bordered on the west by Ocean Boulevard/Route 1A.

P.S.: On the morning of the day after Thanksgiving, “Pale-scaled Snapper” had something in its mouth. The space had been carefully filled with a fish-sized meal of mashed potatoes, green peas, carrots and turkey. The next day, the food was gone!

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A Thanksgiving Song (Reprise)

The other day, I was telling a friend about this song and I couldn’t quite recall all the details of its story. As I searched the sixstr stories archives, I thought, “Time for a reprise!”

So, here’s to Lydia Maria Child and here’s to you, with best wishes to you and yours for a very happy Thanksgiving Day!


I know what you’re going to say.

“‘Over The River And Through The Woods’ is a Christmas song.”


Here’s the story.

The words to “Over The River And Through The Woods” were taken from a poem.

The poem was called “The New-England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day” and it was written by Lydia Maria Child. The original 12 verse poem was included in Ms. Child’s book, Flowers for Children, Vol. 2 and was published in 1844.

Lydia Maria Child was born on February 11, 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts. She was a prolific author, a journalist and an active antislavery and women’s rights activist. Her first novel, Hobomok: A Tale of Early Times, was published in 1824. Her last publication, Aspirations of the World, came out in 1878.

Lydia Maria Child passed away on October 20, 1880 in Wayland, Massachusetts. She was 78 years old.

No one seems to know who set the poem to music or when. One source suggests 1870 and another cites a published version of the song dated 1897. One source believes the melody to be “an old French Folk tune.” The song is generally listed as being “traditional,” or authored by “Anonymous.”

I’ve long enjoyed this song, both the words and its jaunty, infectious melody. We have home videos of past Thanksgivings with me merrily whistling the tune in the background, a soundtrack for the family craziness.

For your Thanksgiving listening pleasure, I have arranged and recorded a fingerstyle, acoustic guitar arrangement of this timeless song. Here, too, are the lyrics, if you’d like to sing along! (Good luck with the second and third verses!)

“Over The River And Through The Woods” – arranged and performed by Eric Sinclair.


Over the river and through the woods, to Grandfather’s house we go;

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the woods, oh, how the wind does blow!

It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go.


Over the river and through the woods, to have a full day of play;

Oh, hear the bells ringing, “Ting-a-ling-ling!,” for it’s Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the woods, trot fast my dapple gray;

Spring over the ground just like a hound for this is Thanksgiving Day!


Over the river and through the woods and straight through the barnyard gate.

It seems that we go so incredibly slow, it is so hard to wait.

Over the river and through the woods, now Grandmother’s cap I spy.

Hurrah for fun, the pudding’s done, hurrah for the pumpkin pie!


This post (in a slightly different form) originally appeared in sixstr stories on November 28, 2013.

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Moving Day

That it is: the day that my wife and I say “Farewell!” to our house and home of 36 1/2 years.

I’ve known and loved Jim Kweskin’s recording of “Moving Day” for way longer than that.

I can think of no better soundtrack for this day.

Take it, Jim.


“Moving Day” was published in 1906. Andrew B. Sterling wrote the words and Harry von Tilzer composed the music.

The song was first recorded by Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers sometime between 1926 and 1931.

Jim Kweskin and The Neo-Passe Jazz Band included their rendition of “Moving Day” on their truly joyous 1967 album, Jump For Joy.

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A Somewhat Recent Rediscovery

James McMurtry’s debut album, “Too Long In The Wasteland,” came out in August of 1989. After hearing “Painting By Numbers,” “Talkin’ At The Texaco” and the title song on the radio, I soon added a copy of this intriguing singer/songwriter/guitarist’s record to my collection.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that as much as I enjoyed “Too Long In The Wasteland,” I kind of lost track of James McMurtry until this past Spring. In May, my beloved Prescott Park Arts Festival in near-by Portsmouth, NH released their 2016 schedule and James McMurtry was booked as part of their River House Restaurant Concert Series. I immediately marked the Thursday, September 1st date on my calendar and began doing some research.

I soon discovered that McMurtry was touring in support of his most recent (February, 2015) and highly acclaimed album, “Complicated Game.” After a visit to the iTunes store, three of the songs from the album were getting frequent plays on my iPod, especially the album’s first track, “Copper Canteen.”

Now, I’m a sucker for a country waltz with a descending bass line, so McMurtry had my attention at the intro. But when he sang the first line, I was completely hooked.

Give a listen for yourself.

That song is definitely going to be on my list of the “Best of 2016.”

I did go to see James McMurtry and his band perform at Prescott Park on September 1st. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of exceptionally fine songs played by a four-piece, down-to-business band of road warrior musicians. The setlist included several songs from the new album (including “Copper Canteen”) and even “Painting By Numbers” from his first. I picked up a CD copy of “Complicated Game” at the merchandise booth after the show and was lucky enough to be able to get James to autograph it!

I’ve made a promise to myself to not lose track of James McMurtry again.

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Not Just Another “B”


Yes, “B.”

Let me explain.

For quite some time now, I have been aware that an inordinately high number of all of the musicians and bands that I’ve ever seen perform live have the letter “B” as the first letter of either their forename, surname or, in the case of the bands, their title.

I’ve even made a list.

Here’s the bands: The Band, The Beach Boys (not with Brian Wilson), Blue Oyster Cult and The Byrds. (That would be the 1971 version with Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Gene Parsons and Skip Battin.)

Now, the surnames: Joan Baez, Sam Baker, William “Count” Basie, Chuck Berry, Jackson Browne, Kenny Burrell and Gary Burton.

The forenames: B.B. King, Bette Midler, Bill Evans (the Jazz pianist), Bill Morrissey, Bill Staines, Bill Wyman (bass guitarist with The Rolling Stones), Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Bob Franke, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Cockburn, Bruce Hornsby, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Guy and Buddy Miller.

Finally: Banana (aka Lowell Levinger) with The Youngbloods and Ringo Starr, a Beatle.

Quite the list, if I do say so. However…

Not one “B” on that list has had a number-one album in each of the last six decades.

And all of those artists and bands combined have not compiled a list of accolades that includes ten Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, a Special Tony Award, four Peabody Awards, nine Golden Globes, three People’s Choice Awards, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

There is only one artist in the history of popular music whose resume looks like that and I am quite pleased to say that I can now add her to my list.

On Tuesday, August 16, 2016, Barbra Streisand’s nine-city, North American concert tour – the retrospective Barbra: The Music… The Mem’ries… The Magic! – came to the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Thanks to the combination of my daughter’s mad on-line ticket-scoring skills and the amazing early-Christmas-gift-giving generosity of her & my son-in-law and my son, my wife (the big – make that “huge” – Streisand fan in the family) and I were not only able to attend the concert, but we had really good seats!

Ms. Streisand and her 13-piece band started the night beautifully with – what else?! – “The Way We Were.” Over the course of the highly-entertaining 50-minute first set, Ms. Streisand consummately performed a collection of eight songs and a three-song medley. [A passionate “Being At War With Each Other,” a simply gorgeous “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and the energetic medley of “Woman In Love/Stoney End/No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” were, to me, among the most memorable numbers.]

Between each song, Ms. Streisand engaged the audience with some conversation and an interesting, often humorous background story about the next number. Her reminiscing would be highlighted with photographs and film clips presented on the massive video screen that stretched across the back of the stage.

The second half of this superb concert included more of Ms. Streisand’s magnificent vocalizing, intimate storytelling and the outstanding playing of her first-rate band. The setlist of classic songs included “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” and – much to my wife’s great delight – “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (from Ms. Streisand’s 1968 movie, Funny Girl).

At the end of the show, Ms. Streisand honored her totally adoring (except for the small number of rather vocal Republicans in the house) and unashamedly enthusiastic Boston audience with three fabulous encores: “People,” “Happy Days Are Hear Again” and “With One More Look At You.”

Musical, memorable and magical, indeed.

I must add that my wife and I and the other 14,000 fans gathered in Boston’s cavernous TD Garden last Tuesday would not have been able to enjoy Barbra Streisand’s stellar performance nearly so completely had it not been for the rich and remarkably crystal-clear sound that was produced by the expansive state-of-the-art sound system and the obviously-gifted crew of audio engineers who ran it.

Bravo to one and all!

For your listening pleasure, here’s the original soundtrack recording of Barbra Streisand singing “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl.


Welcome to my “B”-list, Barbra Streisand! It is truly an honor to have you there.

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