Are you ready for the night train?

Dear music writers of America:

I hope you haven’t submitted your Album Of The Year ballots yet … because, as 2015 approaches its twilight, the voice of the diddley bow is once again heard in the land.


Yup. Proud to announce the arrival of Night Train To Sideways as a name-your-own-price download on Bandcamp.

It’s the fifth Kurt Blumenau recording (I hesitate to call them “albums”), and the second to feature the unaccompanied growl of the diddley bow.

Why do I do this? Mainly because I like the noises I make, and think somebody somewhere else might like ’em too.

So, I raise a one-stringed (though not one-fingered) toast to somebody somewhere else.

PS: Screeds-and-links for my previous recordings are here, here, here and here.

PPS: Anyone sending me a screenshot of a Night Train To Sideways track playing in their iTunes, phone or other digital music outlet wins lunch and a beer if we’re ever in the same place at the same time, as well as my undying gratitude.

My head’s all full of stuffin’.

I’m wrestling with a writing challenge that doesn’t fit into the confines of this blog — or at least it doesn’t yet — and that demands more of my little brain than I’m used to giving.

While I get that straightened out, I might slack off a bit (more) on my rehashes of 40-year-old records other people have commented on infinitely better than I have.

In the meantime, I haven’t inflicted any one-string performance art on you recently.

So, enjoy:

Satan doll.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passing of Duke Ellington. (Someone that suave doesn’t just die; they pass.)

Wonder what he would think if he saw one of his most famous compositions poorly performed on an instrument resembling a tuned chainsaw.

Going off the rails.

‘Bout time we had another diddley-bow post.

Tonight’s victim — er, honoree is one of the staples of the aspiring heavy-metal guitarist’s repertoire.

As with so many other songs, though, you don’t need six strings to play it; that’s just a common misconception.

On a related note, thanks to all of you who made In The City of Churches and Cannons, the experimental free-jazz diddley-bow album of the year, the 509th most popular experimental album on Bandcamp last week.

Here’s how I figure that:

Bandcamp’s “best sellers” screen shows eight albums at a time. And, I had to scroll back to page 64 to find mine, where it was fifth listed. Thus, I reckon it was the 509th most popular experimental album of last week.

(Its achievement might have been greater; it might have been in a 309-way tie for 200th for all I know. But, I will content myself with what is visible to me.)

I'm bigger in Japan.
I’m a bigger deal in Japan.

If you haven’t yet checked out ITCOCAC, give it a listen.

It’s good background music for shelling pistachios, heavy petting, or scouring the bathtub grout. And best of all, it’s free. So, take two if you want.

(That would get it up to 475th, at least.)

From the Valley: Kurt Blumenau, “In The City Of Churches And Cannons.”

Another in my intermittent series of posts about online releases by Lehigh Valley-based performers.

I am proud to announce the release of the finest avant-garde free-jazz experimental diddley-bow album of 2014.

At least so far.


Regular visitors to this blog have already learned to dread my periodic stabs at diddley-bow playing (and “stabs” indeed seems like le mot juste, doesn’t it?)

Up to now I’ve confined myself to covering the most treacly hits of the Seventies. But that wasn’t good enough. I decided I needed to go farther out.

So what we have on In The City Of Churches And Cannons are five distorted, raucous, wandering, whinnying, semi-sorta-tonal diddley bow solo performances.

It’s not quite the Metal Machine Music of diddley bows — though I might have that in me yet; don’t count me out.

But some of it reminds me distantly of someone like Albert Ayler, or of the noises Jerry Garcia used to wring out of his guitar when the Dead would go really, really out. So I labeled it “avant-garde” and “free jazz” and “experimental” on Bandcamp, and here as well. Each label sorta seemed to fit in its own way.

Most people will probably settle for labeling it “shit.” But, who knows? There might be a couple madmen out there who enjoy listening to these noises as much as I enjoyed making them.

For them, I am only too glad to perform a public service.

In The City Of Churches And Cannons is available as a name-your-price Bandcamp download here.

Turn it up. And enjoy.


Yeah, one of these days I’ll actually write some more posts. For now I’m having fun riffing.

* * * * *

It occurred to me today that I managed to make it through this Christmas season without hearing practically any Christmas music.

There were a couple of spins of the “Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack — which stays out all year, and is almost not even a Christmas album any more in my house.

There were also a couple spins of “Wonderful Christmas Time” … one view of an animated video for Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” … a little bit of the Harry Connick Jr. Christmas album … and a couple of random crooners served up by an online radio station.

Still, considering the sheer amount of holiday music that gets played this time of year, I managed to avoid just about all of it. Except for one dreadful version of “Santa Baby,” I don’t even remember noticing any in the supermarket.

No Bruce, no Mariah, no Waitresses, no Band Aid, no John Denver and the Muppets, no Bing and David, no “Little Saint Nick,” no nothin’.

(No Adam Sandler, either, and three cheers for that much.)

I didn’t hear today’s selection at all this Christmas, either.

But it found its way into my head, more than once. And you know what happens when songs find their way into my head.

Jazz odyssey.

Time for a little something different on the diddley bow.

I did four or five takes of this and every one had something I didn’t like. This one’s probably the best, anyway.

Not linking to the version that inspired this b/c it would just show how dreadful mine is.

Happy Christmas Eve.

Up your nose with a rubber hose.

I think I have yet another aspiration for my diddley bow playing: I want to be like a ballpark organist.

You know how songs that are familiar always sound kinda off when a ballpark organist plays them? Like, maybe they’re not quite playing the right chords, or they’re not phrasing the melody the way it is on the record?

(I assume some of you out there remember ballpark organists. Nowadays they just play the original records, I think.)

For some reason, I was about halfway through my latest diddley bow song when I thought it sounded like something a ballpark organist would play. It sounded more or less right, and also not right at all.

I’m not sure what any of that means, but enjoy.

The guy who composed and originally performed this song is big into American roots music, by the way. He plays in jug bands for the love of it. So surely he wouldn’t mind the idea of a diddley bow player interpreting his music, however sloppily: