CD: Plugged In by Dave Edmunds

From the mid-1970s into the 1980s, English guitarist, songwriter and song interpreter and singer Dave Edmunds was the standout artist celebrating American rock and country roots known today as Americana music, and with Nick Lowe led what was my favorite live band, Rockpile. But somehow I missed this 1994 minor gem of his that I recently came across on Spotify. It's a nicely true-to-spirit one-man recording that may lack the more organic vibe of his band albums yet nearly 20 years after its original issue still sounds vigorous and fresh. Few musical artists brought the richness of roots music into a contemporary context with the feel and affection for those early styles as Edmunds did in his heyday and continued to do after a bit of a downward slide on this set. As he sings in the title chorus of one of its songs, "I Love Music," and this collection reminds me how much I love the American tradition that came to fruition in the 1950s in the hands of a capable renewer of its pleasures.

TV Series: Inside Comedy hosted by David Steinberg

I just came across this Showtime series in which comedian and director Steinberg interviews fellow comedians in its second season, and enjoy it immensely even if it does have one serious shortcoming: Steinberg seems to never do the basic research on his subjects that a good interviewer should. But it's a minor flaw at best thanks to his stature in the comedy community, in-depth appreciation for and knowledge the art, personal warmth and ability to draw out his guests to speak about the development of their craft, their influences and their accomplishments in a way that brings the viewer into the world of comedy in an instructive and enlightening way. Though the talks feel like a casual discussion of their field and work among a range of comedy professionals, it's also like a master class in standup, improv and comedy movies and TV shows. I'm now inspired to seek out season one and hope that the many more interviews that Steinberg has already done will soon show up in a third season.

DVD: Wanderlust

And speaking of comedy, although this 2012 release starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd bombed at the box office, it's nonetheless enjoyable diversion that explores the culture clash and personal transformations that occur when a New York City yuppie couple land on a hippie-style commune. The humor can be silly yet is never stupid (as is the case with far too many contemporary comedies) and it never beats you over the head with its social and cultural commentary. If you come across it on cable, Netflix or at your rental store, it offers a pleasant movie experience with enough chuckles and fun to make it worth your while.

From The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2013



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