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  • Writer's picturejim lenz


Great week, wasn’t it? Makes me think spring has sprung.


I know, it’s Illinois, and Illinois will break your heart every time, at least as far as weather goes. I’ve lived here off and on for almost three quarters of a century, and lately it’s become less predictable than ever. But I still have hope that the worst of winter is behind us. Yes, storms and hail are predicted for sometime in the next couple days. Yes, a major snowstorm is still a looming possibility. I don’t care. Winter comes because people let it into their hearts, and it goes when they cast it out.



Okay . . . it’s a little more complicated than that, but you know what? Positive vibes can’t hurt and they may even help. Who knows? So keep those positive vibes coming, folks, and winter will retreat.





In the meantime, it’s time for









Some friends of mine just returned from a month overseas and when we got together, they asked me what was new. But then they immediately added that OLLI Pirate Radio had kept them completely informed about the weather and gas prices back home.


So . . . what else were you interested in?


I admit I talk about the weather a lot, but that’s only because I care! I care about you, of course. But the weather affects me as well, particularly with respect to the amount of sunlight we get. It’s not like I’m stricken by Seasonal Affective Disorder or anything, but I do feel more cheerful on a bright, sunny day. Music is almost as good a tonic, though, and so sometimes I find myself whistling a tune inspired by inclement weather, and that’s a sort of sunshine, isn’t it?


We had a lot of foggy weather the last week or so, and here’s a song I found myself whistling as a result. It a George and Ira Gershwin tune from 1930, originally sung by Fred Astair in the film A Damsel in Distress. Probably the most famous recording of it was by Frank Sinatra in the 1950s, but Willie Nelson recorded it in 2018 for his album My Way, which was a tribute to Frank Sinatra, with whom Nelson became close friends later in life.


Now that must have been an interesting friendship.


Please enjoy Willie Nelson singing “A Foggy Day.”




Last Thursday I attended Krannert Uncorked and heard a Midwest regional funk band play as part of the launch of WILL’s Midwest Soul station, 101.1. Gotta tell you, 101.1 has already become my favorite radio station—great mix of jazz, blues, and funk.


The band was Dexter O’Neil and the Funk Yard, and I loved them. O’Neal, the band’s front man, is a central Illinois singer and guitar player, now based in Chicago, and he’s got a great voice and a very solid band behind him. I particularly liked the sax player, Paul Weddle. Instrumentally, his sax sort of anchor’s the band’s sound, and they picked songs that really lean on that.


Weddel, I discover, also tours as part of the current lineup of the Classics IV, the 60’s band best known for “Stormy,” “Spooky,” “Traces,” “Cherryhill Park,” and “Every Day with You Girl.” Many of the original members later formed the Atlanta Rhythm Section, but more on them in a later episode.


For now, just enjoy this video of an earlier configuration of Dexter O’Neil and the Funk Yard, from 2013, with “Play That Funky Music White Boy.” This performance features Eric Jackson on sax.




That’s pretty good, but in the last ten years they’ve gotten better. They rocked the house last Thursday, no doubt.



They played a lot of covers, and one of them was by the Doobie Brothers, a band I liked a lot but I’ve only played one of their songs (“Black Water”), about a year ago. That’s an omission I mean to correct right now.


The song Dexter O’Neal sang was written by Doobie Brothers band member Tom Johnson, or at least the lyrics were. The music was sort of a group effort, an ad-libbed on-stage jam they performed for several years before Johnston wrote words for it and the band recorded it. It appeared on their 1973 album The Captain and Me.


So please enjoy the Doobie Brothers playing “Long Train Running.”





Man, I like that. And the band nearly didn’t record it, because some of them didn’t think it had merit. I disagree, and fortunately several band members did as well.



And now we come to the part of the program dedicated to the featured artist of the month, and this month it’s Amy Winehouse. You know, we kinda have a funk thing going, and Winehouse excelled at funk and soul, so why not stick with that?


Back in 1966 Motown Records produced a song that got recorded by three top artists in very short order: Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Miracles, and Marvin Gaye. All of them did well, but Gaye’s version, the third one released, became a true soul classic, and was the highest selling single for Motown up to that time. Twenty years later it was immortalized in the California Raisins commercials. (Great commercials!)


Fast forward twenty more years and we have Amy Winehouse performing the song live at Jools Holland, as a duet with English singer/musician Paul Weller. Please enjoy them singing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”






So, that’s it for this week, folks. I usually finish up with some sort of weather-specific advice, but as muddled as the weather predictions have been, it’s hard to say. So instead, I’ll go out on a limb and predict fair weather for all of this week, with mild temperatures, and some sunshine every day.


And if they had banks for inspired, brilliant predictions, that would be the bank you could take this prediction to.


See you next week.

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