Worldly Wednesday: “Bassama Bissarma,” Abdel Gadir Salim


Salim is one of the most famous singers and band-leaders to come out of Sudan.  Born in the Nuba Mountains, Salim has been playing traditional Sudanese music since the 1970s.

Sudan is an incredible country.  Home to at least six different civilizations and kingdoms over the past few thousand years, Sudan also created a system of pharaonic kingship like Egypt – the great temple of Ramses II is found on the border between Egypt and Sudan.  The Meroe Pyramids, nestled together like a modern cul-de-sac, are on my list of things to see.

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The ceaseless rhythm of this song’s 6/8 time signature reminds me of the gait of a lumbering camel up and over and down sand dunes.


Modernism Monday: “Din Daa Daa” The Roots


The exceptionally funky band The Roots cover the exceptionally cool George Kranz.  This track is basically a vehicle to showcase Questlove’s amazing drumming and general rhythm skills.  But I love it for its spare modernism.  It reminds me a lot of what would happen if Bobby McFerrin and Laurie Anderson got together.  It’s an amazing and fun soundscape until 3:20 when the rest of the song drops.

Sacred Sunday: “Wade In The Water,” The Staples Singers


Sorry for leaving you stranded yesterday, Tune-Up Nation.  Chateau Yankette lost power.  It was very sad.  But we’re back up and running today, just in time to run outside and trudge through three-feet-high snow drifts just to finally get out of the damn house.  That said, the city is really beautiful in its snow blanket, and now that the sun is out, everything looks shiny and clean.  It’s also marvelously quieter than it usually is – no honking, no construction, no sirens.  It’s delightful.



Funk Friday: “Fresh Static Snow,” Porter Robinson



The Feds shut down at noon today, which put everyone on the road and on the Metro at the same time, which went totally fine by the way thanks for asking (oh how it hurts to lie).  But now we are ensconced in our homes, or in the homes of our friends in my case, watching the rising snow drifts and the synchronous diminution of city activity.  So crank that bass up and let’s get down to business.

Termagant Tuesday: “Dear Old Stockholm,” Eddie Higgins Trio


On this day in 1520, Sten Sture the Younger (you remember him), the regent of Sweden, was mortally wounded at the Battle of Bogesund and died on the ice of Lake Mälaren.  Sture’s big thing was independence from Denmark, which, while that’s clearly been taken care of by now, remains an amusing point of contention between these two countries.  Ikea (you remember Ikea), a Swedish company, has a puckish habit of naming their flooring after towns in Denmark.  “Oh ho ho!” you might say.  “How very puckish!”

Well, yeah, but if Burberry named their door mats “Boston,” “New York,” and “Philadelphia,” it might be a little annoying.  (Then again, Americans are narcissistic enough to think of it as a compliment, so IDK.)  Klaus Kjoller, of the University of Copenhagen, discovered that Ikea had named foot-wiping items after Danish towns, concluding this was an insult because, rationally, “Doormats and runners, as well as inexpensive wall-to-wall carpeting, are third-class, if not seventh-class, items when it comes to home furnishings.”  Burn!

Charlotte Lindgren, an Ikea spokesperson, responded by explaining that, even if this HAD been a thing Ikea had done intentionally, which it totally wasn’t so stop alleging it was, it’s a compliment!  “These critics appear to greatly underestimate the importance of floor coverings.  They are fundamental elements of furnishing. We draw worldwide attention to Danish place names with our products. That has to be a positive thing.”  Snap!

So, today, give thanks for Sten – for fighting for Sweden’s independence, and for insuring that one of the world’s largest, most confusing meatball-and-furniture companies can foment mild diplomatic spats with their rugs. Skål!

Funk Friday: “Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine,” Lettuce


Curried tuna salad sandwich with avocado

• 4 oz. can of tuna
• ½ carrot, diced
• ½ celery stalk, diced
• 2 tbs. red onion, diced
• 1 tsp. curry powder
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 2 slices bread
• ½ avocado

Place bread in toaster.
Toss tuna with curry power, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Scoop avocado out of its skin, and spread on toast, using a fork to mash into the bread.
Place tuna (or egg) mixture on the avocado toast bread.
Delicately season with salt and pepper again, to taste.
Serve open face.

…What? So what this isn’t about the music, or a funny story, or whatever? I just gave you the recipe for a delicious sandwich. Get your own blog.

Worldly Wednesday: “Hang ‘Em High,” Jackie Mittoo



Jackie Mittoo was a baller keyboardist from Jamaica.  This is my favorite song of his, and has been on heavy rotation today, seeing how I need continuous energy injections for this last leg and the last leg of this trip.

Sort of apropos of this song, I want to call your attention to an interesting story going on this week.  In a suburb of Denver, Colorado, this week, a group of high school students staged a walkout to protest changes to how American history is taught.  The local school board had voted to turn the dial down on certain portions of American history that, according to the school board, “encourage or condone civil disorder.”  I think these students are gutsy heroes.  Civil (emphasis on civil) disobedience is one of the highest forms of patriotism because it shows you are actively engaging with your country.  To read more, go see the good people at the Christian Science Monitor.


Funk Friday: “If You Don’t Get It The First Time,” The JB’s and Fred Wesley



This morning, I was so spacey that I stepped off the wrong train (the yellow) to wait for the right train (…the yellow) because I thought I was on the wrong train (the green) and as such I’d need to change at Mt. Vernon Square for the right train (the yellow).  And then the yellow came, again, but I couldn’t get on because only the front half of the train doors opened, and I was at the back half, so the train just…left.

Then I finally, miraculously, got to work, and was in line to purchase my bagel and cream cheese, and the guy in front of me had just gotten his change, when another employee said “I can take you over here,” and “over here” was in the absolute back of the store.  Ohhhhkay.

Yesterday I absolutely killed it in a presentation to one of my directors and got a bushel of kudos, after a few weeks of crazy stressing that I was going to bite it, and months of anxiety before that thinking I wasn’t making any progress.  But I was.  …Huh.

My point?  Nothing is static.  Everything changes.  Just keep breathing.  And maybe get a trombone.  That seems to help, too.

Termagant Tuesday: “Rockhouse,” Ray Charles



Making it happen.  That’s what we do here at the Tune-Up.  We make things happen.  We also use our powers of analysis, persuasion, and charm to convince others that no only do we know what’s up, but that others should follow our lead.  And, we drink cocktails on city rooftops.  Thought leaders, thing-happen-makers, cocktail-drinkers.  How very soignée.