• Call me a heretic, but in the past I've never been much of a fan of Jerry Garcia's guitar playing with the Grateful Dead. Lordy, Lordy, take me down and dip me in the river of forgiveness. This Tuesday the Acoustic Disc imprint releases another collection of the late artist's recordings with mandolin virtuoso David Grisman from the 1990s, and I'm simply bowled over by the six- and four-string interplay between the two.
• One of rock archeology's greatest finds has been presented in an absolutely gorgeous new softcover book, set in motion when photographer Elaine Mayes found rolls of her own film in a New York attic some 30 years after their original exposure at the Monterey International Pop Festival.
• Topaz Records has just released a salute to yesterday's hip-hop artistry with the Old School New Style tribute compilation, breathing fresh life into a baker's dozen of classics such as A Tribe Called Quest's "Left My Wallet in El Segundo" and Spoonie Gee's "Love Rap.
• I've always said that if I make it to the pearly gates, I'd like to hear Jimmy Martin's voice or the hillbilly boogie of the Delmore Brothers in the heavenly house band. One of founding pioneers of bluegrass is graced with a fascinating DVD documentary this week from Straight Six Films.
• Next week the foundational powerhouse of Motown, known coolly as The Funk Brothers, will be honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an edition in the label's 20th Century Masters/Millennium Collection CD series.
Author, musician, and filmmaker Michael Dean has just released the follow-up to his excellent $30 Film School guide with a new 518-page tome sharing lessons from his hard-knock years touring with his band Bomb and the 12 records he's created.
• Hey! You've got history in my heavy metal! No, you've got heavy metal in my history! Former Judas Priest vocalist Tim Owens is now a part of Iced Earth, with a new album due this Tuesday that focuses on historical people, places, and events such as Attila the Hun, the Red Baron, Waterloo, Gettysburg, and Valley Forge.
• The Neverland Ranch burns like a scene out of Equus, and major record labels are diving for a warm seat in a game of musical chairs. Even Wal-Mart is taking a stab at the MP3 game as iPod devices, cell phones, and PDAs morph into the next killer application.
• Jack White of the White Stripes has his touch all over the soundtrack to Cold Mountain, released this week on DMX/Columbia Records. Alongside songs by Alison Krauss, Tim Eriksen, and the Sacred Harp Singers, White contributes two originals and covers of material written, or made famous, by Ralph Stanley and Howlin' Wolf.
• Are we there yet? Are we in the festive mood? C'mon, set the road rage aside and give in to the twinkling lights and falling snow, even if only in your mind. Need a nudge? Ivan Pavlov and I suggest baking peanut-butter cookies and getting lost in the spell of new holiday music, from sentimental to silly, softly soulful to house-rocking.