Friday, December 31, 2010


The Hog and Harold Maier "The King of Bardstown Rd."

Since it's the last day of the year the Hog thought he would start it off with a little jazz. Here's the late, great saxophonist James Moody scatting his heart out.

"The question is, what should one do, stroke, poke or stoke? I choose to
stoke, keeping the flame burning by feeding it, rather than snuffing it out,
either by neglect or lustful satisfaction.

Yardhog's Journals


There is a fire
That lies within
Stoke it

Below the surface
Stoke it

Do no resist
The erotic pull
Stoke it

In it's power
Creation lives
Stoke it

Danny O'Bryan

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Gail Wynters and Tim Whalen perform at Dr. Ken Beilman's 2007
"Celebration of Jazz"
photo by Danny O'Bryan

4 AM, The approximate point in time, not during normal human waking hours, at
which the mind becomes most responsive and flexible in stimulus response,
facilitating clear expression of ideas. Increased activity of dopamine at 4
AM seems to be related to positive mood and abstract thinking, possibly
leading to higher motivation. This might also be related to why food tastes
better, on average, at 4 AM. Considered by leading scientists to be the best
time for coherent and creative communication (Casoria, 2010).

Monday, December 27, 2010


Old Man's Blues

No more spunk
No more funk
No more jazz
No more razz-mataz
No more come
No more came
No more in
No more out
Juiceless useless
Without a

Danny O'Bryan

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shining Like the Sun

Blues singer and guitarist Steve Ferguson in front of his house on
33rd Street in Louisville's West End in the early 1960s.

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:18

Yesterday was a whirl-wind of synchronicity for the Hog. It happened shortly after he'd finished recording his "Jazz Insights" 91.9 Radio show in downtown Louisville. On the way home he stopped on Frankfort Ave. to buy a tote bag for all the various and sundry crap he's been carrying around lately. Yes, the Hog has become a new age bag lady saddled with a Kindle, camera, recorder and tons of periodicals and books.

He'd just gotten to the street corner in front of Carmichael's Books when he noticed a small women wearing a toboggan and heavy clothing moving toward him. "Hi Danny." It was Sheri Ferguson, blues guitarist Steve Ferguson's widow. He asked her if she knew a good place to buy tote bags.
"Sure "Just Creations" right down the street has a ton of them."

He took her advice and found a perfect tote bag. A wildly colored pink, green and yellow affair made in Cambodia out of old rice bags. Just the kind of flash the Hog had envisioned. Now he was off to the bookstore.

Soon as he walked in the front door he saw him. Oh my God, looking up at the stacks, red faced and looking better than he did ten or fifteen years ago, the professorial Charles Breslin.

"Oh Danny, nice to see you. I've been thinking about you ever since professor Richardson died."

Breslin was on the Hog's Masters Thesis committee back in 1981 along with UL professors Harold Richardson and Leon Driscoll.

Driscoll and Richardson hated one another and would disagree for the sport of it, so if it hadn't been for Breslin's participation, the Hog would never have achieved the lofty title of Master of Humanities or as the Hog's wife D. likes to say "Masturbator of Arts."

In any case it was nice to see Breslin looking young and fit at 82.

"Danny, he said, pointing the finger of one hand in a threatening gesture, every time I see you I think of that commercial where you said, "Be There!"

He was referring to the television spot the Hog and four or five very tired strippers did for Channel 32 back in the late 70s. They had stayed up all night after performing at Colonel Morris' Lounge on Fifth Street in downtown Louisville to do a quick commercial for the club.

"Come to beautiful downtown Louisville to see the best in burlesque entertainment at Colonel Morris' Lounge. Blonds, Brunettes, Red Heads. Be there or be square!"

The damn thing ran for months on late night TV so, the Hog got a bit of a reputation for ill-repute.

But back to the story. The Hog had ventured into the bookstore to get a look at "Crossings. Historical Journeys Near Louisville's Merton Square," a brand new coffee-table size volume by Clyde F. Crews.

On March 18, 1958 Thomas Merton stood at the corner of fifth and Walnut St. (now Fourth and Muhammad Ali) and had an epiphany. He suddenly recognized his connection with humanity and wondered "if it were truly possible to convince people they were "walking around shining like the sun."

The Hog realized that Colonel Morris' Lounge was just a parking lot away from the historic corner. And the Hog had spent some time using a phone booth that was located
on said spot after telling jokes and bringing on the girls at the strip-club, where he actually spent quite a bit of time sitting back-stage reading Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson amid pasties and odoriferous g-strings.

Yes, the Hog himself had experienced an epiphany of sorts near that famous corner and had taken a hysterical if not historical journey there. It is a small world after-all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Necessity of Sadness

Toilet Talk
photo by Danny O'Bryan

On Prosac

So much happiness! It seems
everything I touch shines back, all smiles.
Sadness, that old sot, has packed his bags;
sorrow's folded up her tents, moved on;
anger's banished. What more
could any monarch hope for?

But is this what I wanted, after all?

Sufficiency, serenity, and pleasure
always at my table, in my bed?
What do we do with such a glittering world
that has no room for what you once held dear?
And who will teach me now
to spin straw back from this heavy gold?

Ronald Wallace

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Another Year

In the rose garden in the park
let us learn how little there is
to fear
from the competition of conflicting
and avoid comparisons,
alone in that still place.
The slender quietness of the
is of a virtue all its own...

William Carlos Williams

A civil servant doesn't make jokes.

A man with a soul is not like every other man.

Eugene Ionesco

Monday, December 20, 2010


Twice Used Books, Seattle, 2007
Photo by Danny O'Bryan

 "I find myself going through cycles, as if I were the earth moving in
orbit around the sun. During my warm periods, when the sun, "creation" and
"imagination" is closest, I am very alive and full of ideas and joy. But when
I switch trajectories and move away from the "sun" I am cold and fall into
despair. When I am cold I drift away from people. I become very alienated and
despair flows in unabated.

Yardhog's Journal

Song and Dance
by Jonathan Greene

At the mall

the granddaughter whines
'I need' with an insistence,
an urgent test of familial bonds.

The old man mimicking,
'You need, like a hole in the head'
-but this is all a ritual,

the back & forth ploys,
well-rehearsed melodrama
and pantomime.

She sways, one foot to another.
They both know he will give in,
despite at first the necessary protests.

The twelve-year-old has calculated
how 'love' comes in handy at such times.

This silly plastic handbag that today
means the world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lion in Wynters

Versatile Cleo Laine brings special style to Louisville

Louisville - For a woman who has been described by critics "not only as an astonishingly original jazz artist but the greatest living all-around singer," Cleo Laine is extremely modest.

"I've always wanted to sing and be onstage," she said. "Early in my career I wasn't fussy. I would have sung with anybody."

Luckily her husband, British saxophonist Johnny Dankworth, whose band she joined in 1953, was more than just anybody. The two artists created a musical union that has thrilled audiences for more than three decades.

Laine and Dankworth will appear at a Yellowstone Superpops concert with their Quartet and the Louisville Orchestra on Saturday.

Over the years, Laine, a native of England has received Grammy nominations as best female vocalist in three categories: jazz, classical and pop.

"I can't say I knew much about jazz until I joined John. People called me a blues singer simply because I was a contralto. I guess the timbre of my voice was ideally suited for that bluesy sound," Laine said.

In 1966, she won the best jazz vocal performance Grammy for her RCA recording "Cleo at Carnegie - the Tenth Anniversary Concert. That same year, she starred on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

Which does she prefer: acting or singing?

"Singing is much easier for me than acting because I do more of it," Laine said. "But when I get into a stage play or a musical, I enjoy it immensely. I love it while I'm doing it."

Laine's voice is an amazing instrument. She can pass through several octaves with skill of an opera singer.

How did she develop her unique style?

"I never wanted to copy anybody," Laine said. "But I had to listen to other singers. I wanted to attain the technical skill of one singer, the glorious sound of another and the dramatic ability of another one."

Laine's latest album, "Woman to Woman," is a showcase of songs written by women. They range in style from Melissa Manchester's "Come in From the Rain" to Billie Holiday's "Fine and Mellow."

Her Louisville performance is sure to be as eclectic. Dankworth will conduct the Louisville Orchestra during the concert.

Dankworth said he and Laine first began performing with symphony orchestras during the mid-1970s.

"Suddenly I found myself having to write musical charts for symphony orchestras instead of big bands," Dankworth said. "No doubt the one in Louisville will please us, and we will get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Danny O'Bryan
Lexington Herald
February 4, 1990

from the up-coming book Derby City Jazz.

Since the Hog has been living in a world of synchronicity, it's not surprising that he should have run across this old review in one of his journals a day or so before hearing singer Gail Wynter's perform at "Ramsi's Cafe of the World" last night.

One thing I particularly remember from the Laine interview was when she said "People don't have any ears," meaning the general public and many so called "musicians" have little ability to discern whether a singer is good, bad or indifferent.

A case in point is Wynter's, who moved to Lexington, Ky last year after living in Louisville for nearly ten years in virtual anonymity despite having lived and worked in New York City with some of the finest jazz musicians on the planet for nearly 20 years starting in the 1970s.

In the "Big Apple" Wynter's was praised by iconic jazz writers like John S. Wilson in the New York Times and Annie Ross, of the famed singing group "Lambert, Hendricks & Ross named Wynter's as her favorite jazz singer in Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler's final "Encyclopedia of Jazz."

But the proof is in the pudding. This morning the Hog is listening to several cds Gail Wynters lent him last night to have duplicated. They are some of her past performances with a cast of heavy weight musicians like bassist Rufus Reid and saxophonist Arnie Lawrence.

They are simply astounding. Wynter's voice which has a touch of Billie Holiday with a gospel/blues coating is powerful. She knows how to hold notes and paint emotional pictures that tear at the heart. Her timing is impeccable

Wynters is much more than a singer, she is a member of the band.

At a concert recently at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville pianist Harry Pickins introduced Gail Wynters to the audience "a musician." It's about time she got that recognition.

The good news is that Wynter's will soon be inducted into "The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame" in Renfro Valley. Better late than never.

luv, yardhog

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Male Bonding

Another synchronicity, this morning, I picked up a book from a pile on the floor, looking for a poem to post, cracked it and it opened to this one. Odd, since watching the Friday Night Fights was about the only thing I ever really did with my father in the 1950s. I suspect I'm not the only one.

luv, yardhog

Every Friday night we watched the fights

Me, ten years old and stretched out on the couch;

my father, in his wheelchair, looking on

as Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson

fought and won the battles we could not.

Him, twenty-nine, and beat up with disease;

me, counting God among my enemies

for what he'd done to us. We never touched.

But in between the rounds we'd sing, how we'd

Look sharp! Feel sharp! & Be sharp! with Gillette

and Howard Cosell, the Bela Lugosi of boxing.

Out in the Kitchen, my mother never understood

our need for blood, how this was as close as we'd get

to love-bobbing and weaving, feinting and sparing.

Ronald Wallace

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby it's cold outside!


To capture the moment

To feel it's pulse

To see the stream has been muddied

I am busy reshaping the stars

I cannot be bothered with your

Earthly pleasures

All these rantings and ravings

Have nothing to do with magic

Only the ears of butterflies

And birds

And the delicate moths


Let the Angels in

Let them into the Market


Feel, see, and breathe

Jack Micheline's last poem
February 25, 1998
San Francisco

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From my up-coming book "Derby City Jazz."

From the up-coming book "Derby City Jazz."

It's about 9 p.m. on Wednesday night in the backroom of the Rudyard Kipling Restaurant, 416 West Oak Street. A large piano sits on a makeshift stage in the center of the room. A set of drums sit idly by.

The room is otherwise deserted.
But not for long.

Soon, several musicians, one of them carrying a large acoustic bass, begin to gather on the previous desolate stage. Smiles are on their faces and expectation is in the air.

Other musicians join in and for the next few hours the room reverberates with the sound of a music some people claim is rather hard to find in Louisville these days, jazz.

It's 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday night and the back room of the Twice Told Coffee House, 1604 Bardstown Road, is jammed with college-aged youth, plus occasional older patrons who look as if their youth, if not their spirits, evaporated sometime during the last two decades.

Seconds later, three fresh faced musicians, who look as though they could be the children or the grandchildren of the Rudyard Kipling musicians, come on stage.

The leader, a boyish, bespectacled youth, cozies up to the electronic keyboard, which sounds just like a Hammond B3 organ, and launches into the opening chords of Miles Davis' "Seven Steps to Heaven."

Yes, Virginia, there is jazz in Derby City. All you have to do is look for it.

The Wednesday night jam session at the Rudyard Kipling, where local musicians are invited to come and "sit in" with the band, is the latest attempt to solve the dearth of jazz in Louisville.

Organized by veteran jazz singer Sandy Neuman, the jam session provide local jazz musicians with an outlet to perform their art.

Harold Maier, co-owner of the Twice Told Coffee House, has been featuring jazz since his business opened last fall.

Pianist Todd Hildrith's trio, known as the Java Men, guitarist Jimmy Raney and pianist Steve Crews are just a few of the musicians who appear at the Twice Told on a regular basis.

Maier, who originated the annual Jazz at the Water Tower Festival in the early 1990s, believes that jazz is a vital art that still contains an element of anarchy and protest. And he is happy that younger audiences are responding to it. But he said many of the older jazz fans in the city are staying away.

"You never see people from the Louisville Jazz Society here. It's like we don't exist," Maier said.

No doubt about it, there are three faces of jazz in Louisville, the old, the young and the black.

Anyone who has attended the excellent "Midnight Ramble" series at the Kentucky Center for the Arts will attest to the fact that audiences for this event remain predominantly black despite the fact the series has featured some of the finest jazz performers in the business.

Can the jazz community in Louisville afford the schism? I think not. Jazz, "America's "classical music," has nothing to do with skin color or age. It is a music of the spirit that should bring us all together.

Danny O'Bryan
LEO magazine
June 9, 1993

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The Girl

with big breasts
under a blue sweater

crossing the street

reading a newspaper
stops, turns

and looks down
as though

she had seen a dime
on the pavement

William Carlos Williams

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yellow Pages

"The thing I like about the Old Man is that he's willing to talk about what he knows, and he never talks down to a kid, which is me, who wants to know things. When you are as old as the Old Man, you know a lot of things that you forgot you ever knew..."

Robert Ruark
"The Old Man and the Boy"

Found the book on the floor next to my computer this cold morning. It's pages dry and yellow. A little Crest paper-back from 1962, it's cover page inscribed "Danny O'Bryan 305." That was the Hog's "home room" at Flaget High School back then, and the book was one of the first he can remember being really moved by. He would take it to class and read it when the strict Catholic Brothers weren't looking. Ruark was a columnist for "Sports Afield" magazine and a fan of Ernest Hemingway. Thank you Mr. Ruark for your contribution to the Hog's education.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Fire Inside

The Bare Tree

The bare cherry tree
higher than the roof
last year produced
abundant fruit. But how
speak of fruit confronted
by the skeleton?
Though live it may be
there is no fruit on it.
Therefore chop it down
and use the wood
against the biting cold.

William Carlos Williams

The Hog can feel the "biting cold" this morning as the writes this post up early in the a. m. He also now knows the meaning of a "three dog night," having spent most of the last eight hours cuddled up to a tiny, furry pocket heater named Rufus T. Firefly, his trusty Yorkie Pin.

The cold is upon us but the Hog is still on fire having spent most of the day Sunday sweeping out his cave. It's amazing the detritus 14 months of darkness will accrue.

Many projects still on tap. At least two books and a play in the works, plus an article on the "Va Va Vixens" I've promised. I'll be interviewing the girls next Sunday. Still looking for a female piano player for a new duo. Also this week will begin a new series of "Art Posies" with artist Evan Lebowski.

The only way to fight depression is to be absorbed in "creation." Be "on-to" something - A Quest!

luv yardhog

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Beginings

Let It Be Known, the Hog is on Fire!
Papa's got a brand new blog, the first in five years, thanks to his knightly Web Master, Logan Weiler III and he's eager to play. Logan is the man who designed the Hog's web page in 2005 and he's definitely not lost his touch.

The Hog's almost too excited to type. But first things first. This morning when he opened the Courier Journal's "Scene Magazine", the publication he used to write for in the 80s," he noticed
an ad for a "Naughty Volvo" that "whips curves into submission." I always knew men viewed cars as sex objects but this publication is supposed to appeal to women. Obviously, the ad writers know something I don't. In any case this new, sexy Volvo comes with what appears to be tinted windows.
That means you can do any damn thing in it you want. Take it off, take it off, take it all off.