If you follow this blog, you know how much I've enjoyed Leon Russell's music since the first time I saw and heard him in 1970 when he fronted the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" band for Joe Cocker when its tour stopped at SUNY New Paltz. As the kids used to say, I have most of his albums. And I've seen him in concert a handful of times, including one of his two visits to Bearsville and last summer in Red Hook. But Russell has been an acquired taste over the last several decades, despite his many admirers within the music industry, largely because he has generally chosen to stay out of the limelight, playing small venues and making his music a secret except for his most ardent followers. Until now. Thanks to Elton John, who reached out to his old mentor after a 40-year disconnect, Russell is all over the press and on TV these days. John and Russell have just issued a favorably reviewed "The Union" CD and played it in its entirely the other night at a cable-televised (Fuse) live concert in front of an adoring audience at New York City's Beacon Theater. John and Russell also guested and played on ABC's "Good Morning America" and "The View" and a tour has been launched. As for those of us who've remained on the Leon Russell bandwagon all these years, it's nice to know we no longer have to answer the question, "Leon, who?"*
In New Haven the other night, I sampled a local favorite - mashed potato pizza - at an in spot called The Bar. Sorry to say I didn't get across the street to Louis' Lunch. Legend has it that Louis' is where the hamburger was born. (As for the mashed potato pizza, let's just say I prefer a more conventional pie, with, say, sausage and mushrooms.)*
What was NPR chief Vivian Schiller thinking when she canned commentator Juan Williams for what he said about Muslims on Fox News? Williams thinks she was looking for an excuse to get rid of him because he does appear on Fox News. If so, this wasn't it. Williams said he gets nervous when he sees a Muslim on an airplane. He wasn't being bombastic, as are others on Fox News; he was just expressing a feeling that, sadly, many have shared since 9/11. Point is, it was part of a broader discussion with Bill O'Reilly and another conservative analyst in which Williams (one of Fox News' house liberals) was being the voice of reason. NPR and Schiller come off far worse in this brouhaha than does Williams.*
You suppose tonight's Yankees game will be completed in under four hours?